One of the most fascinating aspects of Barack Obama's presidency stems not so much from his racial background, but his status as America's first clearly post-European, anti-colonialist leader. Yet, after announcing his historic "pivot" to vibrant Asia, the president, the son of an anti-British Kenyan activist, recently announced as his latest foreign policy initiative an economic alliance with, of all places, a declining, and increasingly decadent, Europe. read more »
What Killed Downtown?: Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls
by Michael E. Tolle
For those of us who have grown dyspeptic on the over-indulged topic of the collapse of the American city center, Michael Tolle’s What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls earns much of its anodyne appeal by straying from a commonly accepted convention in urban studies—that an analysis of the socioeconomic decline of a community should draw heavily upon socioeconomic variables. Isn’t there another way to get the point across? And more importantly, aren’t there other contributing factors? read more »
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory made waves when he said on syndicated radio that he wants to encourage the funding of four-year programs that align with the job market — not those, like gender studies, that do little to help a graduate’s employment prospects. read more »
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower"
Behind every sociological movement is a psychology. The ever-growing creative classification of America is no different. The following teases the psychology of the movement apart.
Why do this?
Because it is needed. The costs of blindly acquiescing to copycat community building are too great. These costs are not simply aesthetic, even economic, but are costs in the ability to distinguish creativity from repetition, and ultimately: truth from fiction. read more »
Readers of this forum have probably heard rumors of gentrification in post-Katrina New Orleans. Residential shifts playing out in the Crescent City share many commonalities with those elsewhere, but also bear some distinctions and paradoxes. I offer these observations from the so-called Williamsburg of the South, a neighborhood called Bywater.
Gentrification arrived rather early to New Orleans, a generation before the term was coined. Writers and artists settled in the French Quarter in the 1920s and 1930s, drawn by the appeal of its expatriated Mediterranean atmosphere, not to mention its cheap rent, good food, and abundant alcohol despite Prohibition. read more »
For the past century, California, particularly Southern California, nurtured and invented the suburban dream. The sun-drenched single-family house, often with a pool, on a tree-lined street was an image lovingly projected by television and the movies. read more »
President Barack Obama's proposed tilt of U.S. priorities toward the Pacific – and away from the historical link to Europe – represents one of the most encouraging aspects of his foreign policy. Although welcome, we should recognize that this shift comes about three decades too late and that it may miss the rising geopolitical centrality of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. read more »
The last five years have seen a revolution in terms of the amount of inexpensive U.S. natural gas made available for consumption in power plants, road fuels, and as a feedstock for new and expanded petrochemical plants. We are now even debating the advisability of large volume natural gas exports in the form of liquid natural gas (LNG). read more »
There is a crisis in America that’s not being attended to. It is the housing crisis, and its tentacles reach deep into the decline of the American middle class. Particularly, the interlocking dynamics of foreclosure, abandonment, and blight are draining the net worth of millions of Americans. The solutions to date have been piecemeal and ineffective. read more »
Whatever President Obama proposes in his State of the Union for the economy, it is likely to fall victim to the predictable Washington gridlock. But a far more significant economic policy debate in America is taking place among the states, and the likely outcome may determine the country’s course in the post-Obama era. read more »