Middle Class

Love and the City

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It has been said that the modern city is soulless, that it is heartless, and that it is brutal. The modern city represents in its scale and complexity one of the most extraordinary of human inventions, but there is also no doubt that everywhere in the world it is also one of our biggest failures.

The dysfunction of a city in the past was an inconvenience. The dysfunction of a city in the future will be a profound disaster for that city and, ironically, a profound opportunity for another city, of a smarter city. It will be an opportunity for a city that has found out how to position itself better in the world of cities, but more importantly in the eyes and hearts of its citizens.  read more »

The Overdue Debate: Smart Growth Versus Housing Affordability

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American households face daunting financial challenges. Even those lucky enough not to have suffered huge savings and retirement fund losses in the Great Recession seem likely to pay more of their incomes in taxes in the years to come, as governments attempt pay bills beyond their reasonable financial ability. Beyond that, America's declining international competitiveness and the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve Board could well set off inflation that could discount further the wealth of households.  read more »

Will Ideology or Pragmatism Rule American Politics?

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Now that the dust from the midterm elections has settled, America remains just as divided as before on what type of governing approach it favors. As the LA Times’ Gregory Rodriguez, points out, if the United States “was a cartoon character, it would be a cheerful fellow with his head in the clouds and his feet planted squarely on the ground.”  read more »

How Liberalism Self-destructed

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Democrats are still looking for explanations for their stunning rejection in the midterms — citing everything from voting rights violations and Middle America’s racist orientation to Americans’ inability to perceive the underlying genius of President Barack Obama’s economic policy.

What they have failed to consider is the albatross of contemporary liberalism.  read more »

Livability and All That

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Livability is one of those once innocuous words, like sustainability, that now receive almost unquestioned acceptance in the bureaucracy, academia and the media. After all, words like sustainability and livability have no acceptable negative form. Who could be in favor of anything unlivable, insensitive, unhealthy or unsustainable?  read more »

The Two Worlds of Buenos Aires

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Central Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the world's great tourist destinations. Days could be spent walking among its narrow streets admiring the plentiful art noveau, art-deco, beaux-arts and other architectural styles. The triumphal Avenida 9 de Julio is one of the world's widest boulevards with two interior roadways of up to seven lanes and two service roads of two lanes, with a Washington Monument type obelisk at Avenida Corrientes (Top photo). Avenida 9 de Julio is bordered by buildings that are both ordinary and impressive, such as the Colon Opera House.  read more »

Asia’s Go-to Cities: Moving Between Mumbai and Singapore

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As someone who has lived in both Singapore and Mumbai, I can appreciate both in their uniqueness. Each city has its own unique place in the world, neither lesser than the other.

In 2006, I left behind a slightly laid back, well run Singapore, a city trying to come to terms with its boring and over-regulated image. The Singapore of 2010 that I returned to, as a newspaper put it recently, has “grown up‟. It is a speeding, futuristic looking city.  read more »

Greetings From Recoveryland: Ten Places to Watch Coming Out of the Recession

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Like a massive tornado, the Great Recession up-ended the topography of America. But even as vast parts of the country were laid low, some cities withstood the storm and could emerge even stronger and shinier than before. So, where exactly are these Oz-like destinations along the road to recovery? If you said Kansas, you’re not far off. Try Oklahoma. Or Texas. Or Iowa. Not only did the economic twister of the last two years largely spare Tornado Alley, it actually may have helped improve the landscape.  read more »

The Smackdown Of The Creative Class

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Two years ago I hailed Barack Obama’s election as “the triumph of the creative class.” Yesterday everything reversed, as middle-class Americans smacked down their putative new ruling class of highly educated urbanistas and college town denizens.  read more »

Cruising Into Student Debt

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I once calculated that, for the cost of four years of education at a private American university, a student could take 105 cruises around the world. For the comparison, I chose only cruises that cost about $1,900, as who wants to go through college stuck with an inside cabin? As I imagine it, Cruise College (school motto: “Go Overboard on Learning”) even has some similarities to the landlocked undergraduate experience.
For all I know it may exist, given that higher education is one of the few growth sectors in the U.S. economy.

Despite the decline of American business, private colleges, state universities, night schools, and for-profit continuing education have boomed.

Harvard College will get about 30,000 applications for the 1,700 places in next year’s freshman class. At the same time, there's a strong demand for education at community  read more »