Policy

Detroit Future City

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Recently the Detroit Works Project released their long awaited strategic plan for the city. This is the one led by Toni Griffin that produced a lot of public controversy because of suggestions it would result in the planned shrinkage or decommissioning (or even forced residential relocations) in sparsely populated neighborhoods.  read more »

Demographic and Economic Challenges: The 9th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

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The just released 9th Annual Demographia Housing Affordability Survey (pdf) indicates that housing affordability has deteriorated modestly in the last year. A number of major metropolitan areas remain severely unaffordable.

Highlights: Metropolitan Areas

Among the 337 Metropolitan markets analyzed, Hong Kong remained the most unaffordable, with a median multiple (median house price divided by pre-tax median household income) of 13.5, up nearly a full point from last year's 12.6.  read more »

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 »

Demography as Destiny: The Vital American Family

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Recent reports of America’s sagging birthrate ‑ the lowest since the 1920s, by some measures ‑ have sparked a much-needed debate about the future of the American family. Unfortunately, this discussion, like so much else in our society, is devolving into yet another political squabble between conservatives and progressives.  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 »

Central Banking's Hogwarts Syndrome

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Central banks—the US Federal Reserve is one—come with the mystique of Oz. While the Fed fiercely denies that it is powerful enough to cure recessions with a click of the heels, there are those who believe it's true. If, however, you look behind the velvet curtains and columned lobbies, you will find good men, but bad wizards. In mid-December, the bank’s Open Market committee pledged $85 billion a month until unemployment drops below 6.5 percent. Such policies are a long way from Kansas and prudent finance.  read more »

Subjects:

The Gun Control Debate That Went MIA

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Intellectually -- despite the events in Newtown, Connecticut -- I can appreciate that the “right to bear arms” is a fundamental constitutional guarantee, inherited from both the Glorious (1688) and American revolutions. I still wonder, though, whether it applies to a society in which most people live in suburban condos and tract houses, which are largely absent of Redcoats or the Hole in the Wall gang. Why have guns in our lives? We know the status quo ante of the 18th century Second Amendment isn’t working. The issues surrounding guns failed to make even a cameo appearance in the recent election, and, when they have been raised in the recent past they certainly did not elicit the same tears that they did at the Newtown press conferences.  read more »

Subjects:

Born Into Ruin: How the Young are Changing Cleveland

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It’s true. I am not happy all the time living in Cleveland. But I don’t want to be happy all the time. That’s unnatural. Said Nietzsche:

“Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.”

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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 »