Are America’s Rich More Generous?


In 2009, the two richest men in America organized a confidential dinner meeting of billionaires in New York City, hosted by David Rockefeller. Guests included George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, and Oprah Winfrey. The topic of discussion was philanthropy. Each billionaire was asked to describe his philosophy of giving. CNN-founder Ted Turner told the story tale of how he had made a spur-of-the-moment decision to donate $1 billion, most of his future, to the United Nations. During this dinner, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started the biggest fundraising drive in history. Setting examples though their own charity, Gates and Buffet initiated “The Giving Pledge”, a campaign encouraging billionaires to commit the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. So far around 113 billionaires have agreed to the pledge.  read more »

China's Ascent in World Transport


After years of closing the gap with the United States, China built enough freeways in 2013 to amass the greatest length of freeways in the world. Between 2003 and 2013, China expanded its national expressway system, with interstate (motorway in Europe) standard roadways from 30,000 to 105,000 kilometers (18,000 to 65,000 miles). This compares to the 101,000 kilometers (63,000 miles) in the United States in 2012.  read more »

Urban Core Jurisdictions: Similar in Label Only


The fortunes of U.S. core cities (municipalities) have varied greatly in the period of automobile domination that accelerated strongly at the end of World War II. This is illustrated by examining trends between the three categories of "historical core municipalities" (Figure 1).  read more »

Ukraine Watch: Kiev in the Media Center Spotlight


This spring I traveled from St. Petersburg to Kiev, by way of southern Russian and eastern Ukraine. The newspapers were filled with reports of American policymakers gushing over how mobs in Kiev deserved the inalienable rights of freedom fighters and self-determination. Mobs of Russian mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine, who set up automobile tire and sandbag roadblocks, were condemned for threatening world peace.  read more »

Crimea and Ukraine: What Putin Could Learn from Yugoslavia


While American government officials respond to the Russian Anschluss in Crimea by mobilizing their Twitter feeds and making the rounds of the Sunday morning meetings of the press, the Moscow government of Vladimir Putin reinforced its occupation forces around Simferopol and Sebastopol, perhaps at some point passing out small Russian flags to local sympathizers, who can wave them gratefully when the symbolic gates between Russia and Crimea are thrown open.  read more »

Freedom and its Fruits: Fertility Over Time in Estonia


Estonians and Latvians are the only independent nations in Europe with fewer people now than at the beginning of the 20th century. It is written in The White Book, 2004, about losses inflicted on the Estonian nation by occupation regimes. During the whole period (1940-1991) nearly 90,000 citizens of the Republic of Estonia perished, and about the same number of people left their homeland forever. It happened in a nation with a population number of about one million. Another nation, through centuries, gradually perished and disappeared from this territory: the Livonians.  read more »

Switzerland: Why EU Immigrants Were Headed Off at the Pass

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The only time the Swiss make US headlines, other than with the occasional Olympic biathlon medal, is when a majority of the voters exercise their franchise by voting down minarets or, as happened this month, banning free immigration from the European Union.

As the most democratic country on earth — major political questions are submitted to a popular vote — Switzerland allows what are called popular initiatives on any issue that can muster 100,000 signatures on a petition. It’s the only country in Europe that operates like "The Gong Show".  read more »


The Changing Face of European Economics: Liberalism Moves North


Where do we find the nations with the highest tax levels? In the mid-90s the answer was quite clear: in Western Europe. Both Denmark and Sweden had a tax rate of 49 percent of GDP in 1996, followed closely by Finland with a 47 percent level. The tax burden was somewhat lower in France, Belgium, Austria and Italy, where rates ranged from 42 to 44 percent of GDP. Thanks to its oil-wealth Norway could afford a Nordic welfare model with 41 percent taxes, the same level as the Netherlands which had recently slimmed down its welfare system considerably. These Western European welfare states were the nine OECD countries with the highest tax rates. The tenth country was Eastern European Hungary with a rate of 40 percent.  read more »

Female Executives Across the European Union


A great divide exists between European countries when it comes to the issues of women’s career opportunities. Some countries have high female work participation and values that promote gender equality, while others lag behind. But a closer look shows that the share of women in managerial positions is in odds with other indicators of equality. Scandinavia, where we might expect to find most female directors and chief executives, has in fact the lowest share.  read more »


Derailing Europe's Bike Trains

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In a fit of what now appears to have been madness, over the last ten days I attempted to live the life of a small plastic figure in an architect’s model community. I wheeled my bike through railroad stations, and took eco-friendly cycle lanes. The goal was to use only a combination of trains and my bicycle to attend a series of meetings in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.  read more »