In the end Appalachia remained out of sync with much of America this year. West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and much of the hill country went for John McCain. Senator’s Obama’s message of “hope” did not play as well here as elsewhere.
This may seem a bit odd. The major targets of the election were Joe six-pack, Joe the plumber; Joe the ordinary man. Joe represented the disaffected males, the lost ones yearning for a simpler time and a better time. Enough Joes in other states voted for Obama to get him a spectacular victory in places like Ohio, Florida and Michigan. read more »
Just months ago, urban revivalists could see the rosy dawn of a new era for America's cities. With rising gas prices and soaring foreclosures hitting the long-despised hinterland, urban boosters and their media claque were proclaiming suburbia home to, as the Atlantic put it, "the next slums." Time magazine, the Financial Times, CNN and, of course, The New York Times all embraced the notion of a new urban epoch.
Yet in one of those ironies that markets play on hypesters, the mortgage crisis is now puncturing the urbanists' bubble. The mortgage meltdown that first singed the suburbs and exurbs, after all, was largely financed by Wall Street, the hedge funds, the investment banks, insurers and the rest of the highly city-centric top of the paper food chain. read more »
The financial collapse dominates the news, but its unregulated rise is not unrelated to the relative decline of manufacturing over the last quarter century, and the outsourcing of much of industrial production. One consequence of this de-industrialization and financialization of everything has been an astounding increase in inequality, a massive concentration of wealth at the very top and the squeezing of the middle classes.
Places that remained strong in manufacturing tend to have had and still have lower inequality than places more dependent on services, lowly to professional, and experienced a smaller change in inequality. read more »
Unless something completely unexpected occurs, the presidential election has been settled, with Barack Obama the clear winner. Yet, except for the Republican Party’s demise, the most important issue of this era — the future of the middle class — remains largely unaddressed.
Indeed, even as social polarization has diminished — a change that is reflected in Obama’s electoral success — economic polarization has intensified. Globalization and the securitization of almost everything have created arguably the greatest concentration of wealth since before the Great Depression. read more »
What are your favorite cities in the US and abroad? Chances are you like cities for their vibrancy, diversity, people, foods, smells, sights, sounds, and opportunities for work, learning, play and life.
These cities can only exist with vibrant middle classes to do the work, pay the taxes, and sustain life (including birthing the kids that are the city’s future). read more »
As the financial crisis takes down Wall Street, the regular folks on Main Street are biting their nails, watching the toxic tsunami head their way. But for all our nightmares of drowning in a sea of bad mortgages, foreclosed homes and shrunken retirement plans, the truth is that the effects of this meltdown won't be all bad in the long run. In one regard, it could offer our society a net positive: Forced into belt-tightening, Americans are likely to strengthen our family and community ties and to center our lives more closely on the places where we live. read more »
The global financial crisis has drawn greater attention to the world of the super rich and to the astounding increases in inequality since 1980, returning the country to a degree of inequality last seen in 1929 or perhaps even 1913. In the year 2006 alone, Wall Street executives received bonuses of $62 billion. Financial services increased from 10 percent of all business profits in 1980 to 40 percent in 2007, an obscene and indefensible development that now threatens the rest of the ‘real economy’.
Here’s what happened to income and wealth between 1970 and 2005 read more »
Twenty some years ago my husband, 2 young sons and I moved from our cramped 16-foot wide attached row house in Brooklyn’s trendy Park Slope to a free-standing, 7-bedroom Victorian house in the Ditmas Park section of Flatbush with stained glass windows, pocket doors, original wood paneling, a back yard, front porch, driveway and 2-car garage in a little-known, tree-lined neighborhood about 10 minutes away – on the other, high-crime side of Prospect Park. Friends thought we’d taken leave of our senses! read more »
Even after the burst of the housing bubble, the American Dream of home ownership has remained alive in some places. As it turns out the “bubble” was far from pervasive, and as Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman indicated in The New York Times, the housing price increases were largely limited to the areas of the nation with stronger land use regulation.
In all, at the peak of the housing bubble, 46 of 129 US markets had house prices at or below the historic ceiling of three times household incomes (see 4th International Demographia Housing Affordability Survey. Before the bubble, nearly all markets were at or below that norm, but many have risen to double, triple or even more than three times the standard. read more »
Consider the following two apparently contradictory sets of statistics:
From the Republican convention and much of the media, you’d get the impression that class voting has turned upside down—that the Democrats are the party of the “elite” and the Republicans the new friends of the “working class”. read more »