Tom Daschle appears before the Senate this week for confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. While Daschle knows his stuff on health care (see his book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis), the discussion is likely to be sidetracked by those who champion a reliance on insurance companies, or on piecemeal reform starting with children. Or, as I’ll discuss here, on a wrong-headed impulse to depend on the states to create new health care models. read more »
These are tough times for Michael Bloomberg's free-spending "luxury city." High-end condominium speculators – long considered impervious to the mortgage crisis – are shivering in the bitter cold this winter. Four billion dollars in building projects have been postponed or canceled outright, in large part because Wall Street's bonus babies are getting a tad less than they are accustomed to.
Despite this, I would suspect most of America thinks Wall Street, and New York's financial community, has not suffered enough. Industry bonuses are still expected to total well over $20 billion – small compared to last year's stupendous $33.2 billion, but not an insignificant New Year's present for the very people who have played a crucial role in wrecking the world economy. read more »
San Francisco: A Chevron employee is forced to move his family of four into their Mitsubishi Gallant after being laid off…
Atlanta: Jeniece Richards moved from Michigan to Atlanta a year ago, but despite her best efforts, and two college degrees, remains homeless. She is living in temporary housing with her two children and younger brother…
Denver: As Carrie Hinkle’s hours dwindled, she was forced to choose between paying rent or buying food for her daughter. The two are now working with local agencies towards permanent housing, again…
These stories, plucked from the headlines of the past months are more than the typical holiday coverage. They show faces of the newly homeless, growing as the economy crumbles and opportunities fade. read more »
Economic segregation may be a foregone conclusion, as studies have long suggested. For one thing, our first tendency is to buy the best place we can afford, intentionally locating to those parts of a region that appeal to others with similar buying power. Secondly, we tend to buy something most suitable to our tastes, which steers us into areas populated by those with similar viewpoints.
The implications for contemporary planning processes are profound, especially since current best practices revolve so much around form and style and take so little measure of economics, choice, and consequence. read more »
By Richard Reep
“I had two rules for Christmas this year:
1. Under 13 years old only;
2. Internet only.”
–overheard at Stardust Video and Coffee in Orlando, Florida.
One of the most distinctive benchmarks of contemporary American life, the classic indoor shopping mall, is now gasping for survival. The two rules expressed above were commonly heard during this shopping season, calling into question whether the 20th century indoor shopping mall will survive in its present form. read more »
As store earnings plunged last week, the National Retail Federation proposed that the country create the mother of all sales by suspending taxes on all purchases. These tax holidays would occur in March, July and October and be national in scope.
The bill, they suggested, should be picked up by – who else? – the federal taxpayer, who would make up for the lost local revenues even for the five states without sales taxes. The rationale, suggests the Federation's chairman, J.C. Penney Chief Executive Myron Ullman III, in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama, would be "to help stimulate consumer spending as one of the first priorities of your new administration." read more »
Once the bastion of a thriving rural middle class, Oregon’s rural communities are now barely scraping by. The state’s timber industry employed 81,400 residents at its peak in 1978. At the time, the industry made up 49% of all manufacturing jobs in the state according to the Oregon Employment Department.
Since then, the recessions of the early eighties and nineties, increased land-use restriction, decreased timber supply, global competition and automation of the timber industry have devastated rural communities that relied on once-plentiful timber jobs. read more »
Shortly after my piece on Phantom Bonds, Blame Wall Street's Phantom Bonds For The Credit Crisis, posted here on NewGeography.com in November, a friend called from New York to ask if I’d seen the latest news. Bloomberg News reported on December 10 that “…The three-year note auction drew a yield of 1.245 percent, the lowest on record... The three-month bill rate [fell] to minus 0.01 percent yesterday.” The US Treasury is seeing interest rates on its notes that are “the lowest since it started auctioning them in 1929.”
My friend is an intelligent person, a lawyer who managed to accumulate more than $1 million working a 9-to-5 job in a not-for-profit firm and retire in her 50s. Some of her portfolio is in Treasury bonds, so she had a lot of questions. In the course of our conversation, it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to explain all she needed to know on the phone, despite her background. I decided to write this short owner’s manual. read more »
Aspen is a great town. Its uniqueness extends beyond its spectacular geography to its amenities, people and community spirit. It’s a world-class, year-round Rocky Mountain resort offering great food, music, skiing, shopping – great everything – right in the middle of a real, functioning, small American community.
It’s no surprise people like it, want to keep it going. And not just the good, smart people who live in Aspen full-time and those who own second homes there (including some of the wealthiest people on Earth), but the thousands of good, smart people who visit every year to address big issues at the Aspen Institute and numerous other forums. These include elites of American arts, sciences, politics and economics with amazing amounts of brainpower and money at their disposal.
But geographic realities plus inexorable economic, demographic, and social trends are conspiring against the best of intentions. The future of Aspen – playground to the smart, rich and famous – may soon become untenable. read more »
With his foreign policy team now in place, President-elect Barack Obama certainly will be urged to make his first forays into high profile places like Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, as well as to greet his devoted fan base in Europe.
But before heading off on the diplomatic grand tour, he might do well to turn his attention first to the country with which we have the closest political, economic and environmental ties: Canada. Although not as momentous or sexy a locale as Paris or Jerusalem, Ottawa could well hold the key to developing a bold new strategy for America in an increasingly incoherent and multi-polar world. read more »