Middle Class

Britain Fears a Developer’s Charter

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The UK Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announced that there were only 127,780 new housing completions last year in Britain. British house building activity is down to levels of after the First World War, when reliable industrial records began, and still falling. In 1921 the British population was nearly back up to 43 million following the slaughter of the First World War. In 2011 the population of England, Wales, and Scotland is approaching 61 million people. By 2031 the British population is expected to be closer to 70 million.  read more »

The Last Patrician: Romney Falls From Favor as America Loses Faith in Old Money

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Mitt Romney’s collapse in South Carolina reflects the larger, long-term decline of the American patrician class he represents. That decline was accelerated by the 2008 financial meltdown that resulted in both the wave of populist anger now being channeled by Romney’s Republican competitors, and the rise of the new post-industrial elite championed by President Obama.  read more »

This Is America's Moment, If Washington Doesn't Blow It

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The vast majority of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, and, according to a 2011 Pew Survey, close to a majority feel that China has already surpassed the U.S. as an economic power.

These views echo those of the punditry, right and left, who see the U.S. on the road to inevitable decline.  Yet the reality is quite different. A confluence of largely unnoticed economic, demographic and political trends has put the U.S. in a far more favorable position than its rivals. Rather than the end of preeminence, America may well be entering  a renaissance.  read more »

Mistaking an Aberration for the End of Home Ownership

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It is well known that home ownership has declined in the United States from the peak of the housing bubble. According to Current Population Survey data, the national home ownership rate fell 2.9 percentage points from the peak of the bubble (4th quarter 2004) to the third quarter of 2011.  read more »

Martin Luther King, Economic Equality And The 2012 Election

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In the last years of his life Dr. Martin Luther King expanded his focus from political and civil rights to include economic justice. Noting that the majority of America’s poor were white King decried the already huge gaps between rich and poor, calling for “radical changes in the structure of our society,” including a massive urban jobs program.  read more »

Three Cheers for Urban Sprawl

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“Hands off Our Land!” screams the Daily Telegraph, like some shotgun-toting red-faced farmer.  The newspaper, on behalf of the reactionary toffs who form the least pleasant section of its readership, has launched a campaign directed against ‘urban sprawl’ (ie. the rest of us).

On a good day, the Telegraph serves up enlightened articles by progressive liberals like Janet Daley and Simon Heffer and Jeff Randal (I’m talking about real liberals here, not American Trotskyites).  But then it disappears under the desk, drinks some devilish, bubbling potion and emerges looking like Mr Hyde, all wonky teeth and messy hair.  “Hands off Our Land” is the Telegraph at its worst - a campaign to thwart the government’s all-too-modest suggestions to reform Britain’s vicious planning laws.    read more »

Urban Legend: Wei Ping Contemplates Motherhood

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Driving through the bustling Orchard Road in the heart of Singapore, Wei Ping stares at the shiny new Prada hoarding. Maybe she should ”invest” in a new Prada bag. She must watch out for the next big season sale. Her birthday is a distance away but ever since she and her husband had started talking about the baby, she needed some retail therapy to lift her mood.  read more »

The U.S. Needs to Look Inward to Solve Its Economy

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Over the past months as the global economy heads for another recession, U.S. lawmakers have done their best to deflect blame by focusing on various external forces including the most popular straw-man of the day: China’s currency.

Almost every year for the last few years, Congress and the White House have pressed China to revalue its currency, the renminbi. And every time this happens, China responds that it will do what it always does: let it appreciate gradually, at about 5% per year as it has done for the last several years.  read more »

The Driving Decline: Not a "Sea Change"

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The latest figures from the United States Department of Transportation indicate that driving volumes remain depressed. In the 12 months ended in September 2011, driving was 1.1 percent below the same  period five years ago. Since 2006, the year that employment peaked, driving has remained fairly steady, rising in two years (the peak was 2007) and falling in three years. At the same time, the population has grown by approximately four percent. As a result, the driving per household has fallen by approximately five percent.  read more »