Middle Class

How California Went From Top of the Class to the Bottom

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California was once the world’s leading economy. People came here even during the depression and in the recession after World War II. In bad times, California’s economy provided a safe haven, hope, more opportunity than anywhere else. In good times, California was spectacular. Its economy was vibrant and growing. Opportunity was abundant. Housing was affordable. The state’s schools, K through Ph.D., were the envy of the world. A family could thrive for generations.  read more »

The Crisis Next Time: Public Finance

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The financial crisis of 2008 paved the way for the employment crisis of 2009, which has now paved the way for the upcoming public finance crisis of 2010. Most federal, state and municipal budgets are strained to the breaking point while the economy still has not found its footing. Meanwhile our national politics is obsessed with expensive overhauls of environmental policy and healthcare reform. Our latest policy strategy is an attempt to borrow and spend our way to prosperity, ala Japan of the past twenty years.  read more »

The Suburbs are Sexy

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The Administration’s Anti-Suburban Agenda: Nearly since inauguration, the Administration has embarked upon a campaign against suburban development, seeking to force most future urban development into far more dense areas. The President set the stage early, telling a Florida town hall meeting that the days of building “sprawl” (pejorative for “suburbanization”) forever were over.  read more »

The Green Movement's People Problem

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The once unstoppable green machine lost its mojo at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. After all its laboring and cajoling, the movement at the end resembled not a powerful juggernaut but a forlorn lover wondering why his date never showed up.

One problem is that the people of earth and their representatives don't much fancy the notion of a centrally dictated, slow-growth world. They proved unwilling to abandon either national interest or material aspirations for promises of a greener world.  read more »

Nurturing Employment Recovery

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President Obama's quick exit from Oslo and late arrival in Copenhagen suggest he's finally ready to shift focus from Nordic adulation and fighting climate change and diplomacy to fixing the American economy. About time. As former Clinton adviser Bill Galston observed recently, the president needs "to pivot and make 2010 the year of jobs."

White House operatives, as well as the Democrats in Congress, know high unemployment could bring big political trouble next year. But in their rush to create new jobs, policy makers would do well to focus on the quality of jobs created over the next year and beyond.  read more »

What To Look For In Healthcare Reform: Location, Location, Location

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A Reuters article that was widely picked up around the globe recently raised the question, Are Doctors What Ails US Healthcare? Comparing the New York suburb of White Plains to Bakersfield, California, the article uses the evergreen two-Americas paradigm to discuss disparities in health care.  read more »

Demographics May Be Destiny, but Mind the Assumptions

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Demographic projections have become an essential tool of national, state and local governments, international agencies, and private businesses. The first step in planning for the future is to get a picture of what the terrain is going to look like when you get there. That’s mainly what I do for clients, audiences and subscribers, and demographics provide the frame (like assembling all the straight-edge pieces of a jigsaw puzzle first).  read more »

Is Obama Separating from His Scandinavian Muse?

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Barack Obama may be our first African-American president, but he’s first got to stop finding his muse in Scandinavia. With his speech for the Nobel, perhaps he’s showing some sign of losing his northern obsession.

On the campaign trail, Obama showed a poet’s sensitivity about both America’s exceptionalism and our desire to improve our country. His mantra about having “a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas” resonated deeply with tens of millions of Americans.  read more »

Capping Emissions, Trading On The Future

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Whatever the results of the Copenhagen conference on climate change, one thing is for sure: Draconian reductions on carbon emissions will be tacitly accepted by the most developed economies and sloughed off by many developing ones. In essence, emerging economies get to cut their "carbon" intensity--a natural product of their economic evolution--while we get to cut our throats.

The logic behind this prediction goes something like this. Since the West created the industrial revolution and the greenhouse gases that supposedly caused this "crisis," it's our obligation to take much of the burden for cleaning them up.  read more »

Growing Today's Green Jobs Requires Solid Economic Development Policy

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I was hired for my first Green Job, thirty-four years ago, shoveling horse stalls for a barn full of Tennessee Walking Horses. The droppings and bedding that was removed from the stables was then composted and applied to my employer’s crops in lieu of chemical fertilizers. You don’t get much greener than that!  read more »