Economics

The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian

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The biggest issue facing the American economy, and our political system, is the gradual descent of the middle class into proletarian status. This process, which has been going on intermittently since the 1970s, has worsened considerably over the past five years, and threatens to turn this century into one marked by downward mobility.

The decline has less to do with the power of the “one percent” per se than with the drying up of opportunity amid what is seen on Wall Street and in the White House as a sustained recovery. Despite President Obama’s rhetorical devotion to reducing inequality, it has widened significantly under his watch.  read more »

Has Scott Walker Really Turned Around Wisconsin?

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I’ve seen a few pieces in the conservative press lately boasting about Scott Walker’s performance as governor of Wisconsin. For example, the American Spectator ran an article called “Wisconsin Thrives Under Scott Walker“:  read more »

Possible Sign of Trouble for Los Angeles

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A quarter century ago, the Los Angeles-Orange County area seemed on the verge of joining the first tier of global cities. As late as 2009, the veteran journalist James Flanigan could pen a quasiserious book, “Smile Southern California: You're the Center of the Universe,” which maintained that L.A.'s port, diversity and creativity made it the natural center of the 21st century.  read more »

How a Few Monster Tech Firms are Taking Over Everything from Media to Space Travel and What it Means for the Rest of Us

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The iconic view of tech companies almost invariably stress their roots in people’s garages, plucky individual entrepreneurs ready to challenge all comers. Yet increasingly the leading tech firms – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and especially Google – have morphed into vast tech conglomerates, with hands in ever more numerous, and sometimes not obvious, fields of endeavor.  read more »

America's Glass Half-empty, or Half-full?

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The stock market is high, real estate prices have resurged, even the unemployment rate is dropping, yet Americans still feel pretty down about the future. A survey released in January by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research had 54 percent of respondents expecting American life to go downhill over the coming decades. In a December survey, 23 percent of respondents said things will improve over time.  read more »

Blue-Collar Hot Spots: The Cities Creating The Most High-Paying Working-Class Jobs

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It’s a common notion nowadays that American blue-collar workers are doomed to live out their lives on the low-paid margins of the economy. They’ve been described as “bitter,” psychologically scarred and even an “endangered species.”  Americans, noted one economist, suffered a “recession” but those with blue collars endured a “depression.”  read more »

Rich, Poor, and Unequal Zip Codes

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Income inequality is an increasingly dominant theme in American culture and politics. Data from the IRS covering mean and median income of filing households for 2012 by zipcode allow us to map and interpret the fascinating geography of income differences. Where are the richest areas, the poorest and the most unequal?  read more »

Selfies Replace Focus on Big Picture

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Maybe it's my age, but, somehow, the future does not seem to be turning out the way I once imagined. It's not just the absence of flying cars, but also the lack of significant progress in big things, like toward space colonization, or smaller ones, like the speed for most air travel or the persistence of poverty.  read more »

Subjects:

Why State Economic Development Strategies Should Be Metro-Centric

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Globalization, technology, productivity improvements, and the resulting restructuring of the world economy have led to fundamental changes that have destroyed the old paradigms of doing business. Whether these changes are on the whole good or bad, or who or what is responsible for bringing them into being, they simply are. Most cities, regions, and US states have extremely limited leverage in this marketplace and thus to a great extent are market takers more than market makers. They have to adapt to new realities, but a lack of willingness to face up to the truth, combined with geo-political conditions, mean this has seldom been done.  read more »

The Divisions In The One Percent And The Class Warfare That Will Shape Election 2014

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There’s general agreement that inequality will be the big issue of this election year. But to understand how this will play out you have to go well beyond the simplistic “one percent” against everyone else mantra that has to date defined discussion of inequality.  read more »