The fortunes of the city of Chicago have become clouded in recent years as concerns over its weakening finances and heavy debt obligations have grown. The tally for the unfunded public employee debt obligations of Chicago’s overlapping units of local governments (including those for public schools, parks, and county services) is now approaching $30 billion. Moreover, the city government has been criticized for its practices of funding current public services with proceeds from the issuance of long-term debt and the long-term leases of public assets (such as its parking meter system). read more »
We’ve come to the end of another year at New Geography. Here’s a look back at the most popular pieces from 2013. Happy New Year, and thanks for reading.
12. The Rust Belt Roars Back from the Dead In December, Joel and Richey Piiparinen laid out the case for the rustbelt resurgence based on human capital and a new maker economy. This piece also appeared at The Daily Beast.
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Is the demise of the ruble, together with falling crude oil prices, comeuppance for President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist dreams? That’s certainly the storyline of those holding faith in economic sanctions. In their eyes, he foolishly land grabbed eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and in exchange got back a cratered Russian economy, with a debased currency and little access to Western financial markets. Heck of a job, Vlad.
The victors, presumably, are the sanction wizards of Washington and London who stared down the barrels of Putin’s tanks and fifth columnists. read more »
In the past, this season was marked by a greater interest in divinity, the family hearth and the joy of children. Increasingly our society has been turning away from such simple human pleasures, replacing them with those of technology.
Despite the annual holiday pageantry, in the West religion is on the decline, along with our society’s emphasis on human relationships. Atheism seems to be getting stronger, estimated at around 13 percent worldwide but much higher in such countries as Japan, Germany and China. “The world is going secular,” claims author Nigel Barber. “Nothing short of an ice age can stop it.” read more »
The Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), signed into law by President Clinton in 1998 and extended three times since, was scheduled to expire on November 1, 2014 if Congress did nothing – which they are very good at. ITFA placed a moratorium on new taxes either for Internet access services or for products and services not already taxed in local commerce. A more definitive action, the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), has been attached to various versions of the ITFA renewals. read more »
Once giants walked this earth, and some of them were Democrats. In sharp contrast to the thin gruel that passes for leadership today, the old party of the people, with all its flaws, shaped much of the modern world, and usually for the better. Think of Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman, John Kennedy, or California’s Pat Brown, politicians who believed in American greatness, economic growth, and upward mobility. read more »
Here’s the bitter reality for business in much of California: there’s no cavalry riding to rescue you from the state’s regulatory and tax vise. The voters in California have spoken, and with a definitive, distinctive twist, turned against any suggestion of reform and confirmed the continued domination of the state by public employee unions, environmental activists and their crony capitalist allies. read more »
Where Cities Grow: The Suburbs
The massive exodus of people from rural areas to urban areas over the past 200 years has been called the "great urbanization." For more than two centuries, people have been leaving rural areas to live in cities (urban areas). The principal incentive has been economic. But most of this growth has not taken place close to city centers, but rather on or beyond the urban fringe in the suburbs (and exurbs). Appropriately, The Economist magazine refers to the urbanization trend as the "great suburbanization," in its December 6, 2014 issue (PLACES APART: The world is becoming ever more suburban, and the better for it). read more »
Urban America is often portrayed as a tale of two kinds of places, those that “have it” and those who do not. For the most part, the cities of the Midwest—with the exception of Chicago and Minneapolis—have been consigned to the second, and inferior, class. Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit or a host of smaller cities are rarely assessed, except as objects of pity whose only hope is to find a way, through new urbanist alchemy, to mimic the urban patterns of “superstar cities” like New York, San Francisco, Boston, or Portland. read more »
Perhaps nothing better illustrates the notion of urban revival in America than the comeback of many downtown districts. Yet if these areas have recovered some of their vigor, they are doing so in a manner that hardly suggests a return to their glory days in the first half of the 20th Century.
Instead what’s emerging is a very different conceptualization of downtown, as a residential alternative that appeals to the young and childless couples, and that is not so much a dominant economic hub, but one of numerous poles in the metropolitan archipelago, usually with an outsized presence of financial institutions, government offices and business service firms. read more »