Middle Class

East of Egan: Success in California is Not Evenly Distributed

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The New York Times ran a Timothy Egan editorial on California on March 6.  The essay entitled Jerry Brown's Revenge was reverential towards our venerable Governor.  It did, however, fall short of declaring Brown a miracle worker, as the Rolling Stone did last August.  These and other articles are part of an adoring press's celebratory spasm occasioned by the facts that California has a budget surplus and has had a run of strong job growth.  read more »

The U.S. Cities Profiting The Most In The Stock Market And Housing Boom

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If anything positive can be said for the current tepid economic recovery, it has been very good to those who invest in the stock market or own real estate.

Property owners have been able to reap higher rents and sale prices, and the stock market has soared while the overall economy has registered only modest gains. However, only a precious few have benefited from the bull market on Wall Street.  read more »

Bubble Trouble in Silicon Valley

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Third-generation venture capitalist Tim Draper believes he has a solution for California's problems that will make the Silicon Valley safe for its wealthy: secession. In a recent interview, Draper suggested that California be divided into six states, including one dominated by the Valley and its urban annex, San Francisco.  read more »

Boeing’s Long Shadow

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The recent wrangling over decisions on where to build the next version of Boeing’s 777 has left a residue of bitterness and rancor around the Puget Sound region. Were the Machinists forced to give too much? Were the taxpayers squeezed too far? While views will differ on those questions, one thing is clear: jobs lost at Boeing are very difficult, if not impossible to replace.  read more »

Drought Stokes California's Class War

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As all the Californians who celebrated the deluge of rain that fell the week before last know, it did not do much to ameliorate the state’s deep drought. We are likely to enter our traditionally dry spring, summer and fall in a crisis likely to exacerbate the ever greater estrangement between the state’s squabbling regions and classes.  read more »

What America’s Fastest-Growing Economies Have in Common

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Midland and Odessa in West Texas. Pascagoula, a port town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Fargo and Bismarck, the two largest cities in North Dakota. These were among the USA’s 10 fastest-growing metro economies in 2013, as ranked by growth in real gross metropolitan product (GMP), and they have a few things in common.  read more »

The U.S. Middle Class Is Turning Proletarian

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The biggest issue facing the American economy, and our political system, is the gradual descent of the middle class into proletarian status. This process, which has been going on intermittently since the 1970s, has worsened considerably over the past five years, and threatens to turn this century into one marked by downward mobility.

The decline has less to do with the power of the “one percent” per se than with the drying up of opportunity amid what is seen on Wall Street and in the White House as a sustained recovery. Despite President Obama’s rhetorical devotion to reducing inequality, it has widened significantly under his watch.  read more »

Searching Out The Half-Full Glass

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There is a shiny, brittle skin to the economic recovery that conceals an unhealthy flesh underneath. It is tempting to call this condition a glass half empty. But seeking the healthy and the fit in nontraditional places has become a quest for more and more Americans who are leading us down a pathway that diverges, from the mainstream towards a new future. Out of earshot of the mainstream media and off of Main Street, there is a glass half full.  read more »

The Illusions of Charles Montgomery's Happy City (Part 2)

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This is the second of a two-part series discussing Charles Mongomery's Happy City. Read part one here.

‘The system that built sprawl’

Montgomery faces the hurdle of explaining why, if low-density suburbs cause unhappiness, so many millions of people, over so many decades, across several countries, flocked to that way of life. As he writes, ‘since 1940, almost all urban growth has actually been suburban.’ He must account for this fact, even though it means little to him personally. For the green-tinged intelligentsia, working and middle-class people are pawns who rarely think for themselves.        read more »

America's Glass Half-empty, or Half-full?

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The stock market is high, real estate prices have resurged, even the unemployment rate is dropping, yet Americans still feel pretty down about the future. A survey released in January by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research had 54 percent of respondents expecting American life to go downhill over the coming decades. In a December survey, 23 percent of respondents said things will improve over time.  read more »