Middle Class

Failing Economies Shorten Lives

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A recent study has come up with some shocking news: life expectancy of the least educated white Americans, both men and women, is going down. White women without a high school diploma now live five years less on the average than they did 20 years ago: for white male dropouts, the decline is three years.

This is a calamity matched only by the six-year decline in longevity among Russian men in the waning years of Communism there. But that decline, blamed on rampant alcoholism, has been mostly reversed.  read more »

Is Urbanism the New Trickle-Down Economics?

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The pejoratively named “trickle-down economics” was the idea that by giving tax breaks to the wealthy and big business, this would spur economic growth that would benefit those further down the ladder. I guess we all know how that worked out.  read more »

Britain's Housing Crisis: The Places People Live

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For twenty years British house building has fallen behind demand, forcing up prices and rents. Here's a series of photos showing some of the things people have had to do to live.

Victoria Campbell was living in a shed in her parents' garden in Havant, while she and her fiance saved up for a deposit, but the Council has told her that she has to move out.  read more »

Demographic and Economic Challenges: The 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

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The just released 9th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey (pdf) indicates that housing affordability has deteriorated modestly in the last year. A number of major metropolitan areas remain severely unaffordable.

Highlights: Metropolitan Areas

Among the 337 Metropolitan markets analyzed, Hong Kong remained the most unaffordable, with a median multiple (median house price divided by pre-tax median household income) of 13.5, up nearly a full point from last year's 12.6.  read more »

Rust Belt Cities: Invest in Odysseus, Not Barney Fife

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Given its legacy of shrinking, the Rust Belt has issues. The issues arose naturally, and relate to the fact things leave, or that so much has left. Particularly, when things leave, the mind—both the individual and the collective city mind—can get protective and restrictive. Neediness arises. The smell of desperation ensues like a pall that can tend to hang over cities, influencing decision making on all levels.

Enter “brain drain”, or that term coined to refer to the outmigration of an area’s educated citizens, particularly it’s young.  read more »

Globalization: Too Many Americans Are Dropping Under the Radar

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By the time I arrived in Silicon Valley in 1986 California's middle class economy was already being remade by globalization. Globalization's dramatic impact on northern California hit me square in the face the moment I arrived at my first career expo later that year at the Westin Hotel in Santa Clara. There I found myself surrounded by a multitude of H‑1B workers from all over the world, excitedly speaking in a myriad of languages. I was staggered. Born in the U.S.A., I felt like a foreigner in the land of my birth.    read more »

“Livability” vs. Livability: The Pitfalls of Willy Wonka Urbanism

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livability: (livable) fit or suitable to live in or with; “livable conditions”.

“Livability” has been a buzz word in city development for some time, and for good reason, as who doesn’t want livability, outside the zombie cohort? Things get hairy, though, when “livability”—as an economic development strategy—gets unpacked, because questions arise: “Livability” for whom? “Livability” at what cost?  read more »

Is America's Future Progressive?

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Progressives may be a lot less religious  than conservatives, but these days they have reason to think that Providence– or Gaia — has taken on a bluish hue.

From the solid re-election of President Obama, to a host of demographic and social trends, the progressives seem poised to achieve what Ruy Texeira predicted a decade ago:  an “emerging Democratic majority”.

Virtually all the groups that backed Obama — singles, millennials, Hispanics, Asians — are all growing bigger while many of the core Republican groups, such as evangelicals  and intact families, appear in secular decline.  read more »

America the Mostly Beautiful

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In the fall of 2010, as part of a book project, ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald retraced the route John Steinbeck took in 1960 and turned into his classic “Travels With Charley.” Steigerwald drove 11,276 miles in 43 days from Long Island to the top of Maine to Seattle to San Francisco to New Orleans before heading back to his home in Pittsburgh.  In “Dogging Steinbeck,” his new e-book about how he discovered “Charley” was not nonfiction but a highly fictionalized and dishonest account of Steinbeck’s real trip, Steigerwald describes the America he saw.

"Big."

"Empty."

"Rich."

"No change since 1960."  read more »

Obama’s Energy Dilemma: Back Energy-Fueled Growth or Please Green Lobby

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Talk all you want about the fiscal cliff, but more important still will be how the Obama administration deals with a potential growth-inducing energy boom.  read more »