Fracking Offers Jerry Brown a Watershed Moment


The recent announcement that Jerry Brown is studying "fracking" in California, suggests that our governor may be waking up to the long-term reality facing our state. It demonstrates that, despite the almost embarrassing praise from East Coast media about his energy and green policies, Brown likely knows full well that the state's current course, to use the most overused term, is simply not politically and economically sustainable.  read more »

U.S. Could be Courting Trouble in Europe


One of the most fascinating aspects of Barack Obama's presidency stems not so much from his racial background, but his status as America's first clearly post-European, anti-colonialist leader. Yet, after announcing his historic "pivot" to vibrant Asia, the president, the son of an anti-British Kenyan activist, recently announced as his latest foreign policy initiative an economic alliance with, of all places, a declining, and increasingly decadent, Europe.  read more »

The Real Winners Of The Global Economy: The Material Boys


Something strange happened on the road to our much-celebrated post-industrial utopia. The real winners of the global economy have turned out to be not the creative types or the data junkies, but the material boys: countries, states and companies that have perfected the art of physical production in agriculture, energy and, remarkably, manufacturing.  read more »

Natural Gas Boom: The “Janus” Effect


The last five years have seen a revolution in terms of the amount of inexpensive U.S. natural gas made available for consumption in power plants, road fuels, and as a feedstock for new and expanded petrochemical plants. We are now even debating the advisability of large volume natural gas exports in the form of liquid natural gas (LNG).    read more »

Why it's All About Ohio: The Five Nations of American Politics


Looking at Tuesday’s election results, it’s clear the United States has morphed into five distinct political nations. This marks a sharp consolidation of the nine cultural and economic regions that sociologist Joel Garreau laid out 30 years ago in his landmark book “The Nine Nations of North America.”

In political terms there are two solid blue nations, perched on opposite coasts, that have formed a large and powerful bloc. Opposing them are two almost equally red countries, which include the historic Confederacy as well as the vast open reaches between the Texas panhandle and the Canadian border.  read more »

Prairie Populism Goes Bust As Obama’s Democrats Lose The Empty Quarter


Along Phillips Avenue, the main street of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the local theater’s marquee is a tribute to the late Senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern, who was buried last month, and is still regarded as a hero by many here. But with McGovern gone, it seems that the Democratic tradition of decent populism he epitomized was being interred along with him.  read more »

The Rise of the Great Plains: Regional Opportunity in the 21st Century


This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin; Delore Zimmerman, Mark Schill, and Matthew Leiphon of Praxis Strategy Group; and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.

For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.  read more »

As Partisan Rancor Rises, States That Back a Loser Will Be Punished


Never mind the big-tent debate talk from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney about how their respective politics will benefit all Americans. There’s a broader, ugly truth that as the last traces of purple fade from the electoral map, whoever wins will have little reason to take care of much of the country that rejected them.  read more »

Obama Fuel Economy Rules Trump Smart Growth


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just finalized its regulation requiring that new cars and light trucks (light vehicles) achieve average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025 (4.3 liters per 100 kilometers). This increase in the "CAFE" standard (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) is the second major step in the Obama Administration's program to improve light vehicle fuel efficiency. In 2010, EPA adopted regulations requiring 35.5 MPG average by 2016 (6.6 liters per 100 kilometers).  read more »

The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election


Much is said about class warfare in contemporary America, and there’s justifiable anger at the impoverishment of much of the middle and working classes. The Pew Research Center recently dubbed the 2000s a “lost decade” for middle-income earners — some 85% of Americans in that category feel it’s now more difficult to maintain their standard of living than at the beginning of the millennium, according to a Pew survey.  read more »