This year’s presidential election is fast becoming an ode to diminished expectations. Neither candidate is advancing a reasonable refutation of the conventional wisdom that America is in the grips of a “new normal” — an era of low growth, persistently high unemployment and less upward mobility, particularly for the working class. read more »
In an election pivoting on jobs, energy could be the issue that comes back to haunt Barack Obama and the Democratic Party as the cultural and ideological schism between energy-producing Republican states and energy-dependent Democratic ones widens. read more »
President Obama’s recent “do it myself” immigration reform plan, predictably dissed by conservatives and nativists, reveals just how clueless the nation’s leaders are about demographics. Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration crackdown also broke down along predictable lines, with both parties claiming ideological victories.
Yet the heated debates are missing the reality of immigration and its role in America’s future. In reality America needs more immigrants, but with a somewhat different mix. read more »
Barack Obama’s political base always has been more “creative class” than working class—and his policies have favored that base, seeming to cater to energized issue and identity constituencies including African-Americans, Hispanics, gays, and greens, often at the expense of blue-collar workers. read more »
They may not win their first championship against Miami’s evil empire, but the Oklahoma City Thunder have helped to put a spotlight on what may well be the most surprising success story of 21st century America: the revival of the Great Plains. Once widely dismissed as the ultimate in flyover country, the Plains states have outperformed the national average for the past decade by virtually every key measure of vitality — from population, income and GDP growth to unemployment — and show no sign of slowing down. read more »
If you’re an enviro-regulator with a mission, preventing “sprawl” has been ideologically trendy in recent decades. You have successfully predicated your argument on past-history soils-management technological inadequacy, it must be enormously threatening to look back and realize that technology has been gaining on you and is now capable (in engineering terms) and affordable (in end-user cost terms) of enabling just the sorts of rural development the majority of the market-for-housing wants, but you’ve been trying so hard to prevent: Currier-and-Ives-tradition large-lot houses in the countryside. read more »
The Midwest’s troubles are well-known. The decline of manufacturing has resulted in job losses and dying industrial towns. The best and brightest have fled the flatlands for more exciting, sunnier, mountainous, or coastal places where the real action is. Even Peyton Manning has left the heartland for the Rockies. read more »
The conventional wisdom is that the world’s largest cities are going to be the primary drivers of economic growth and innovation. Even slums, according to a fawning article in National Geographic, represent “examples of urban vitality, not blight.” In America, it is commonly maintained by pundits that “megaregions” anchored by dense urban cores will dominate the future.
Such conceits are, not surprisingly, popular among big city developers and the media in places like New York, which command the national debate by blaring the biggest horn. However, a less fevered analysis of recent trends suggests a very different reality: When it comes to growth, economic and demographic, opportunity increasingly is to be found in smaller, and often remote, places. read more »
While not immune to the recession, the upper Great Plains is in a different economic situation from the rest of the nation. Growth coupled with low unemployment means more strain on the region’s workforce, making it tougher for employers to find the workers they need. It's not so much about jobs anymore, but about finding the right workers. read more »
Not all of them are “clinging to guns and religion,” as Barack Obama famously said in 2008, but Rick Santorum has catapulted to the top of the Republican field by connecting with a bitter streak among rural voters. This is bad news for the Republican party and for rural America, which in fact has some pretty good reasons to be optimistic. read more »