Purple Politics: Is California Moving to the Center?


You don't have to be a genius, or a conservative, to recognize that California's experiment with ultra-progressive politics has gone terribly wrong. Although much of the country has suffered during the recession, California's decline has been particularly precipitous--and may have important political consequences.

Outside Michigan, California now suffers the highest rate of unemployment of all the major states, with a post-World War II record of 12.2%. This statistic does not really touch the depth of the pain being felt, particularly among the middle and working classes, many of whom have become discouraged and are no longer counted in the job market.  read more »

Perspective on G-20: Don’t Trip on those Green Shoots


Everywhere you look – from the White House to Wall Street – they are painting a sunny picture of recovery, free from any gloomy ideas. Bernie Madoff is in jail, Goldman Sachs is repaying their bailout money, and everywhere they look they see “green shoots.”

Yet according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the US economy and federal government are headed for doom. We are on a completely unsustainable path economically and financially.  read more »

Pittsburgh Renaissance?


In the third of a three part New Geography series on Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit, Aaron Renn assesses Pittsburgh’s value as a model region for other cities suffering decline.

As the G-20 leaders prepare to convene in Pittsburgh, expect the recent chorus of praise for that city's transformation to reach a crescendo. Pittsburgh, once the poster child for industrial decline and devastation, is now the media darling as an exemplar of how to turn it around. The New York Times talks about how “Pittsburgh Thrives After Casting Steel Aside” while the New York Post informs us that “Summer in Pittsburgh Rocks”. The Economist named Pittsburgh America's most livable city. This emerging reputation for cracking the code on revitalization is prompting struggling burgs like Cleveland and Detroit to ask what lessons the Steel City holds for them.  read more »

Hyping Pittsburgh: With the Global Economy in Dire Straits, Hell with the Lid Blown Off Never Looked Better


As host of the G-20 summit, Pittsburgh briefly will sit in the global spotlight. In this second article of a three part series featuring Pittsburgh, rust belt observer Jim Russell digs into migration and education trends and what it may mean for the region.

Chris Briem (the blogger behind Null Space) jokingly called it the “Mystic Order of the Yinzerati”. He would later take the idea about the influence of Pittsburgh expatriates more seriously. I’ve referenced talk about a conspiracy theory involving the diaspora and how the current US President seems to favor the Steel City. How else does one explain the location of the upcoming G-20 economic summit?

Site Selection magazine is the latest conduit for Pittsburgh’s aggressive image makeover. By now, the narrative is polished. As an active consumer of all media about Pittsburgh, I find the story stale.  read more »

Play It Cool at the G-20, Mr. President


Barack Obama goes to this week's Pittsburgh G-20 with what seems the weakest hand of any American president since Gerald Ford. In reality, he has a far stronger set of cards to play — he just needs to recognize it.

Our adversaries may like our new president, but they don't fear him. And, on the surface, why should they? The national debt is rising faster than the vig for a compulsive, debt-ridden gambler. And our primary rivals, the Chinese, continue to put the squeeze on American producers by devaluing their currency, subsidizing exports and penalizing imports.  read more »

Baseball Goes For Broke

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Other than the banking business, is there an industry more dependent on government handouts, sweetheart tax breaks, and accounting gimmicks than major league baseball?

What other than a baseball depletion allowance explains the economics of a team like the New York Yankees, which is paying Alex Rodriguez $275 million over ten years while building a new $1.3 billion stadium and charging front row season tickets holders $800,000 for a box of four seats?  read more »

Healthcare: The Cost Of The Greatest Wealth

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This week and over the coming weeks the media and the nation will once again focus on healthcare. Before we launch into the next phase of the argument, though, we should first dismiss a couple of “Red Herring” claims that we spend too much on health care.  read more »


The Costs of Climate Change Strategies, Who Will Tell People?


Not for the first time, reality and politics may be on a collision course. This time it’s in respect to the costs of strategies intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” bill still awaits consideration by the US Senate, interest groups – mainly rapid transit, green groups and urban land owners – epitomized by the “Moving Cooler” coalition but they are already “low-balling” the costs of implementation.  read more »

The Kid Issue


Japan's recent election, which overthrew the decades-long hegemony of the Liberal Democratic Party, was remarkable in its own right. But perhaps its most intriguing aspect was not the dawning of a new era but the emergence of the country's low birthrate as a major political concern.

Many Japanese recognize that their birth dearth contributes to the country's long-standing economic torpor. The kid issue was prominent in the campaign of newly elected Democratic Party Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who promised to increase the current $100 a month subsidy per child to $280 and make public high school free. The Liberal Democrats also proposed their own pro-natalist program with a scheme for free child day care.  read more »

Alaska To Stimulus Funds: Yup, We'll Take 'Em

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Earlier this month the Alaska state legislature, in a special session, voted 44-14 to accept $28.6 million in stimulus funds that Sarah Palin had rejected in May. Sean Parnell, Alaska’s governor since Palin's resignation, says the money will be used primarily for energy efficiency improvements in public buildings.

The tale of the showdown between Palin, the state legislature, and the federal Department of Energy may ultimately reveal as much about state sovereignty under the current administration in Washington as it does about Alaska's internal politics.  read more »