Middle Class

Rust Belt Cities: Invest in Odysseus, Not Barney Fife

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Given its legacy of shrinking, the Rust Belt has issues. The issues arose naturally, and relate to the fact things leave, or that so much has left. Particularly, when things leave, the mind—both the individual and the collective city mind—can get protective and restrictive. Neediness arises. The smell of desperation ensues like a pall that can tend to hang over cities, influencing decision making on all levels.

Enter “brain drain”, or that term coined to refer to the outmigration of an area’s educated citizens, particularly it’s young.  read more »

Globalization: Too Many Americans Are Dropping Under the Radar

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By the time I arrived in Silicon Valley in 1986 California's middle class economy was already being remade by globalization. Globalization's dramatic impact on northern California hit me square in the face the moment I arrived at my first career expo later that year at the Westin Hotel in Santa Clara. There I found myself surrounded by a multitude of H‑1B workers from all over the world, excitedly speaking in a myriad of languages. I was staggered. Born in the U.S.A., I felt like a foreigner in the land of my birth.    read more »

“Livability” vs. Livability: The Pitfalls of Willy Wonka Urbanism

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livability: (livable) fit or suitable to live in or with; “livable conditions”.

“Livability” has been a buzz word in city development for some time, and for good reason, as who doesn’t want livability, outside the zombie cohort? Things get hairy, though, when “livability”—as an economic development strategy—gets unpacked, because questions arise: “Livability” for whom? “Livability” at what cost?  read more »

Is America's Future Progressive?

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Progressives may be a lot less religious  than conservatives, but these days they have reason to think that Providence– or Gaia — has taken on a bluish hue.

From the solid re-election of President Obama, to a host of demographic and social trends, the progressives seem poised to achieve what Ruy Texeira predicted a decade ago:  an “emerging Democratic majority”.

Virtually all the groups that backed Obama — singles, millennials, Hispanics, Asians — are all growing bigger while many of the core Republican groups, such as evangelicals  and intact families, appear in secular decline.  read more »

America the Mostly Beautiful

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In the fall of 2010, as part of a book project, ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald retraced the route John Steinbeck took in 1960 and turned into his classic “Travels With Charley.” Steigerwald drove 11,276 miles in 43 days from Long Island to the top of Maine to Seattle to San Francisco to New Orleans before heading back to his home in Pittsburgh.  In “Dogging Steinbeck,” his new e-book about how he discovered “Charley” was not nonfiction but a highly fictionalized and dishonest account of Steinbeck’s real trip, Steigerwald describes the America he saw.

"Big."

"Empty."

"Rich."

"No change since 1960."  read more »

Obama’s Energy Dilemma: Back Energy-Fueled Growth or Please Green Lobby

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Talk all you want about the fiscal cliff, but more important still will be how the Obama administration deals with a potential growth-inducing energy boom.  read more »

Off the Rails: How the Party of Lincoln Became the Party of Plutocrats

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For a century now, Republicans have confused being the party of plutocrats with being the party of prosperity. Thus Mitt Romney.

To win back the so-called 47 percent—an insulting description Romney doubled down after the election when he blamed his loss on Obama’s “gifts”—Republican might look farther back, past Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to their first president, Abraham Lincoln.  read more »

Review: Driving Detroit, The Quest for Respect in the Motor City

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For more than a century, the city of Detroit has been an ideological and at times actual battleground for decidedly different views about the economy, labor and the role of government.  At one time it was the center of a can-do entrepreneurialism that helped launch the American automobile industry.  By 1914, for example, no fewer than 43 start-up companies were manufacturing automobiles in the city and surrounding region.  Following a wave of sit-down strikes that began almost immediately after FDR’s landslide victory in 1936, the economic character of the city changed dra  read more »

The Biggest Losers In The 2012 Elections: Entrepreneurs

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Who lost the most in economic terms Tuesday? Certainly energy companies now face a potentially implacable foe — and a re-energized, increasingly hostile bureaucratic apparat. But it’s not them. Nor was it the rhetorically savaged plutocrats who in reality have been nurtured so well by the President’s economic tag team of Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner.  read more »

A Racially Polarized Election Augurs Ill for Barack Obama’s Second Term

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President Obama, the man many saw as curing the country’s “scar of race,” won a second term in the most racially polarized election in decades. Overall, the Romney campaign relied almost entirely on white voters, particularly in the South and among the working class. Exit polls showed that almost 60 percent of whites voted for Romney.  read more »