Middle Class

The Precariat Shoppe

screen-shot-2017-08-02-at-7-06-06-pm.jpg

The precariat is a term coined to describe the segment of the population that lives without security or predictability. These days it often refers to the former American middle class that’s currently experiencing reduced circumstances. There’s always been a precariat, but it usually includes a minor subset of the population that no one really likes or cares about. Indentured Irish servants, black slaves, Jewish and Italian sweatshop workers, Mexican field hands, Puerto Rican cleaning ladies… It’s a long list.  read more »

Postcards From the Zombie Apocalypse

johnny-zombie.jpg

I’m regularly accused of being a doomer whenever I point out the obvious – that many aspects of how we’ve organized our affairs over the last several decades aren’t meant to last. So they won’t. The end of Jiffy Lube and Lean Cuisine isn’t The End. Civilization will carry on without them, I assure you. But when it’s suggested that our current set of arrangements won’t last forever people immediately imagine Mad Max, as if no other alternative exists. Things are going to change. They always have and they always will.  read more »

Why the Greens Lost, and Trump Won

34326936541_ee6ff0f30d_z.jpg

When President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, embraced coal, and stacked his administration from people from fossil-fuel producing states, the environmental movement reacted with near-apocalyptic fear and fury. They would have been better off beginning to understand precisely why the country has become so indifferent to their cause, as evidenced by the victory not only of Trump but of unsympathetic Republicans at every level of government.  read more »

Can California Survive a Tech Bust?

Yahoo_Headquarters.jpg

California’s economic revival has sparked widespread notions, shared by Jerry Brown and observers elsewhere, that its economy — and policy agenda — should be adopted by the rest of the country. And, to be sure, the Golden State has made a strong recovery in the last five years, but this may prove to be far more vulnerable than its boosters imagine.  read more »

Inequality and the 2016 Election Outcome: A Dirty Secret and a Dilemma

Hillary_Clinton_vs._Donald_Trump_-_Caricatures (1).jpg

The presidential election of 2016 occurred at the crest of a national debate over economic inequality,  deeply researched by economists and sociologists since the 1990s, widely perceived to have risen sharply since the 1970s, and a focus of the first serious left-wing insurgency the Democratic Party in four decades, that of Bernie Sanders. Can class and inequality help explain the election result?  The answer appears to be that they can, quite strongly, but in ways that may seem surprising.  read more »

Why Socialism Is Back

Jeremy_Corbyn_leadership_election_rally_August_2016.jpg

Even as Venezuela falls deeper into crisis, and the former Soviet bloc nations groan under its legacy, socialism is coming back, and in a big way. Its key supporters are not grizzled pensioners yearning for Marxist security, but a whole new generation, most of whom have little memory of socialist failure.  read more »

The Grenfell High-Rise Fire: A Litany of Failures?

Grenfell_Tower_fire_(wider_view).jpg

At this writing, the London (Kensington) Grenfell high-rise fire has taken a confirmed 58 lives, with an unknown number missing and many more sent to hospitals. The 24 story low income housing tower block caught fire on Wednesday, June 14. It was virtually all consumed, as shown in the photograph above.  read more »

The New American Heartland: Renewing the Middle Class by Revitalizing the Heartland

heartland-cover.jpg

This is the introduction to a new report written by Joel Kotkin and Michael Lind with a team of contributors. Download the full report (pdf) here.

The greatest test America faces is whether it can foster the kind of growth that benefits and expands the middle class. To do so, the United States will need to meet three challenges: recover from the Great Recession, rebalance the American and international economies, and gain access to the global middle class for the future of American goods and services.  read more »

The Springfield Strategy

screen-shot-2017-04-27-at-10-25-22-am.jpg

I just enjoyed an adventure in Springfield, Massachusetts with Steve Shultis and his wife Liz of Rational Urbanism. Steve does a far better job of describing his town and his philosophy than I ever could, but my interpretation can be summed up with an analogy about an old college room mate.  read more »

Father of the Bernie Sanders Presidency

Bernie_Sanders_in_Littleton,_NH,_on_August_24,_2015_(20703289249) (1).jpg

President Trump’s elite-managed populism opens a path for a more genuine version.  read more »