Are America’s Rich More Generous?


In 2009, the two richest men in America organized a confidential dinner meeting of billionaires in New York City, hosted by David Rockefeller. Guests included George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, and Oprah Winfrey. The topic of discussion was philanthropy. Each billionaire was asked to describe his philosophy of giving. CNN-founder Ted Turner told the story tale of how he had made a spur-of-the-moment decision to donate $1 billion, most of his future, to the United Nations. During this dinner, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started the biggest fundraising drive in history. Setting examples though their own charity, Gates and Buffet initiated “The Giving Pledge”, a campaign encouraging billionaires to commit the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. So far around 113 billionaires have agreed to the pledge.  read more »

The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs 2014


In the town of Verona on the rural fringes of Madison, Wisc., there’s a Google-like campus that houses one of the country’s most rapidly growing tech companies, and one of the least well known. Founded in 1979, the medical software maker Epic has grown to employ 6,800 people, most of whom work at its 5.5 million-square-foot headquarters complex, which sprawls over 800 acres of what was farmland until the early 1990s.  read more »

Taking a Back Seat to Texas


The most important news recently to hit Southern California did not involve the heinous Donald Sterling, but Toyota’s decision to pull its U.S. headquarters out of the Los Angeles region in favor of greater Dallas. This is part of an ongoing process of disinvestment in the L.A. region, particularly among industrially related companies, that could presage a further weakening of the state’s middle class economy.  read more »

Reversing American Decline

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Across broad ideological lines, Americans now foresee a dismal, downwardly mobile future for the country’s middle and working classes. While previous generations generally did far better than their predecessors, those in the current one, outside the very rich, are locked in a struggle to carve out the economic opportunities and access to property that had become accepted norms here over the past century.  read more »

Connecting Citizens to Economic Opportunity

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I recently received an email from the folks behind the Meetings of the Minds conference asking if I’d participate in a group blogging event they were doing by writing a post on the topic of “How can cities better connect all their residents to economic opportunity?” As this is a topic I personally care quite a bit about, I was happy to do so. They will be linking to responses to other people’s answers should you be interested.  read more »

The Best Small And Midsize Cities For Jobs 2014


In the classic television show “The Honeymooners,” many jokes were wrung out of bus driver Ralph Cramden’s membership in the International Brotherhood of Loyal Raccoons, headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota. When Ralph mentioned in one episode to his wife, Alice, that among the privileges is that they could be buried at the “Raccoon National Cemetery” in Bismarck, Alice’s reply was that it made her not know “if I want to live or die.”  read more »

Are States an Anachronism?


Obviously states aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but a number of folks have suggested that state’s aren’t just obsolete, they are downright pernicious in their effects on local economies.

One principal exponent of this point of view is Richard Longworth, who has written about it extensively in his book “Caught in the Middle” and elsewhere. Here’s what he has to say on the topic:  read more »

Stop Favoring Investors, Speculators over Middle Class


I, like most members of the middle class, particularly in California, just paid a tax bill that seemed less like my fair share than a shakedown by the Mafia. Increasingly, for people who run small businesses or earn a decent income, the tax bite is becoming ever more like in Europe, with total bills in high-tax states like ours reaching upward of 40 percent. It’s like paying the bill for a big dinner without eating the food – we get hammered like Swedes but without the free education, health care and other benefits of a more conventional welfare state.  read more »


The Best Cities For Jobs 2014


As the recovery from the Great Recession stretches into its fifth year, the locus of economic momentum has shifted. In the early years of the recession, the cities that created the most jobs — sometimes the only ones — were either government- or military-dominated (Washington, D.C.;  Kileen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas), or were powered by the energy boom in Texas, Oklahoma and the northern Great Plains.  read more »

Should Middle Class Abandon the American Dream?


Over the past few years, particularly since the bursting of the housing bubble, there have been increasing calls for middle-class Americans to “scale down” from their beloved private homes and seek a more constrained existence. Among these voices recently was Michael Milken, for whom I have worked and have enormous respect. He suggested Americans would be better off not buying homes and living smaller, for the sake of their own economic situations, families and the environment.  read more »