Demographics

The Populist Dilemma

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The recent upsurge in support for populist conservatives, not only across Europe, but in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and even India has inspired talk of “a nationalist revival” and “the cosmic magnetism” of Donald Trump and Brexit. Here, it is argued, is a movement that finally can take on both the Green-oriented and increasingly authoritarian left.  read more »

From Madera and Joplin to New York: Dispersed, Not Dense Urban Areas Dominate GDP

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For some time, the mainstream press and conventional urban planners have been obsessed with a “dense urban” narrative. This is largely a myth, as has been demonstrated by resurgent growth in suburbs and exurbs.  read more »

Wildlife Crime Threatens Species and Fuels Transnational Crime

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If you’ve ever seen a herd of elephants moving majestically across an African savannah, you’ll always remember the experience. Equally memorable yet horrifying is the sight of a dead animal killed by a poacher for its tusks.  read more »

Class, Empathy, and the Green New Deal

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The recent debate over the Green New Deal got me thinking about a lecture I gave in 2018 at the Columbia University Seminar on Energy Ethics. The faculty who attended were mostly environmental lawyers and scientists. I am neither. But they asked me to discuss “The Fragility of the Blue-Green Alliance” – not so much the formal partnerships between union and environmental groups but rather the complex challenges of bridging differences between workers and environmentalists.  read more »

Localism: A Call to Civic Action

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If you ask an American to tell you about their country, they’ll probably paint a bleak picture. Civic bonds are fraying. Division and tribalism dominate the news. The public is losing faith in democracy as the most effective way to govern. At a time of rapid demographic and cultural change, with frustration over economic inequality reaching a boiling point, our national politics has not found a way to generate consensus.  read more »

How Vital Is Transit to Your Region?

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Transit ridership is plummeting almost everywhere, yet officials in many cities are still devising hugely expensive plans for transit projects. One such city is Austin, whose leaders are talking about spending between $6 billion and $10.5 billion on new transit lines (and the final cost always ends up being more than the projections).  read more »

Bremerton, Washington: Challenges of an Industrial Town

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Recent statistics from Indeed.com show that Washington, DC, the winner of the HQ2 contest, ranks second only to San Jose in the percentage of high-tech job listings. This tells us that most of the 238 cities that submitted bids --- despite assurance from Amazon --- were never seriously in the running. If mid-sized places like Indianapolis did not really stand a chance, however, what does that tell us about the economic prospects for smaller, more industrial places that have virtually no software companies?  read more »

The New Shame of Our Cities

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A metropolitan economy, if it is working well, is constantly transforming many poor people into middle-class people, many illiterates into skilled people, many greenhorns into competent citizens. . . . Cities don’t lure the middle class. They create it.
—Jane Jacobs  read more »

The Plight of the Midsized Midwest Industrial City

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Bloomberg’s Justin Fox tweeted out a link to this piece from a professor in Peoria, Illinois who left a coveted tenure-track position because he couldn’t bear the thought of living there. Here’s an excerpt:  read more »

Trouble for the Bubble Down Under

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In a remarkable and most unexpected outcome, Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has retained the country’s leadership at the recent Australian Federal Parliamentary election (18 May, 2019). Morrison’s victory confounded a wide array of commentators, academics, advocacy groups, industry groups, all of the opinion polls, most of the media and a host of fringe political groups who not only predicted victory for the Labor opposition but an emphatic one.  read more »