In this high-tech information age few look to the most basic industries as sources of national economic power. Yet no sector in America is better positioned for the future than agriculture--if we allow it to reach its potential.
Like manufacturers and homebuilders before them, farmers have found themselves in the crosshairs of urban aesthetes and green activists who hope to impose their own Utopian vision of agriculture. This vision includes shutting down large-scale scientifically run farms and replacing them with small organic homesteads and urban gardens. read more »
Denmark is a good microcosm. It holds lessons for us here in the States, good and bad. I felt that way when I first lived there in 1971, when I researched my doctoral dissertation there in 1977, and I feel that way now.
Denmark is a mixed-economy (free market competition with a large public sector), social welfare, multi-party democratic country that, because of its small size and international exposure, is affected more quickly and deeply by social, economic and political forces at work in the Western (and wider) world. read more »
By all historical logic and tradition, Wall Street’s outrageous bonuses—almost $20 billion to Goldman Sachs alone—should be setting a populist wildfire across the precincts of the Democratic Party. Yet right now, the Democrats in both the White House and Congress seem content to confront such outrageous fortune with little more than hearings and mild legislative remedies—like a proposed new bank tax, which, over the next decade, seeks to collect $90 to $100 billion. This amounts, on an annual basis, to about half of this year’s bonus for Goldman’s gold diggers alone. read more »
It's delightfully easy to blast Las Vegas… or simply to make fun of it. It is the world capital of shamelessness, so it is more or less beside the point to criticize. Yet with the debut of the colossal $8.5 billion CityCenter, Vegas makes pretension to "sustainable urbanism." Even by Vegas standards of hype, this is mendacity at a colossal scale. read more »
Much has been made of California's struggles, but some still say California's best days are ahead of it. In this calculus, innovation in high tech, biotech, green tech, clean tech, any tech will ultimately pull the state out of its current funk and to even greater success tomorrow. Promoters of this view cite an impressive roster of statistics around venture capital, patents, new business formation, etc., along with obligatory anecdotes of ambitious new startups with world changing products (coming soon) and their slick, dynamic founders. read more »
The opening last week of the world's tallest building, the half-mile-high Burj Dubai, has largely been greeted with guffaws and groans. The Daily Telegraph labeled it "the new pinnacle of vanity"--"a purposeless monument to the subprime era." The Wall Street Journal compared it to the Tower of Babel. (When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, in the throes of the greatest financial crisis of the 20th century, it was met with similar jeers. The then-tallest building in the world was called the Empty State Building, and it remained vacant for several years.)
Yet the Burj's completion--indeed the whole wild enterprise known as Dubai--could signal a potential opportunity to the global community: turning the place into the headquarters for that other misguided ship, the United Nations. read more »
On May 12, 2008, Chinese architect Stepp Lin was focusing intensely on his professional licensing exam in a testing center in central Chengdu when suddenly he felt someone bumping his desk. By the time he looked up to see what it was, most of the other exam takers were frantically fleeing for the exit. It turns out that what he was feeling were the tremors of what was to be the most devastating earthquake to hit China in recent memory. read more »
“Esau for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” - Hebrews 12:16-17
Built from 1933-1936, the Bay Bridge linking San Francisco to Oakland was an engineering marvel of its day. A complex series of multiple spans, when it opened – six months ahead of the more famous Golden Gate Bridge – it was both the longest suspended bridge deck in the world and the longest cantilever bridge in the world. The western suspension bridge section, technically two bridges in one, had to settle for being only the second and third longest suspension bridges in the world. read more »
When Michael Bloomberg stood on the steps of City Hall last week to be sworn in for a third term as New York City's mayor, he spoke in upbeat terms about the challenges ahead. The situation, however, is far more difficult than he portrays it. American financial power has shifted from New York to Washington, while global clout moves toward Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Even if the local economy rebounds, the traditional media industries that employ many of Bloomberg's influential constituents likely will continue to decline. read more »
The economics of professional football bring more than a few words to mind: scam, hoax, boondoggle, rip-off, racket, con, scheme, fix, subsidy, loophole, ruse, handout, set up, monopoly, and — well, why not — Jimmy Hoffa who, according to urban legend, was interred in the end zone in Giants Stadium.
An insider trading scheme dressed up as a professional sport, pro football finance incorporates everything fishy in the worlds of municipal finance, urban planning, government subsidies, cable television, and, even sometimes, sports. read more »