Policy

Live from Honolulu: HART Rail, a Megaproject Failure in the Making

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Typically very few people pay attention to the goings on in the small state of Hawaii. How bad can possibly things get there? Well, a lot of people recall Boston’s Big Dig, the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco with a final price tag of about $15 billion. What if I tell you that tiny Honolulu is building a rail system that’s expected to cost at least one-half the cost of the Big Dig? On a per-capita basis it would be the nation’s largest infrastructure fiasco by far.  read more »

Cleveland Renaissance Fair

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So much talk of the Cleveland comeback with our downtown building boom and Republican National Convention-fueled makeover makes it difficult not to think about our mid-1990s civic renaissance. In 1995, The New York Times headline proclaimed " 'Mistake by the Lake' Wakes Up, Roaring" as downtown's stadiums and lakefront development created a "new face and new style of a city that for a long time had little panache."

But it wasn't just the media who became enchanted with our freshly minted charms — even the scholars were feeling it. The academics, however, had a Lake Erie-sized caveat. There was a divide in the region's comeback, noted the authors of the 1997 study "The Rise and Fall and Rise of Cleveland," with areas separated by characteristics of "capital investment and disinvestment, industrialization and deindustrialization, suburbanization and ghettoization, white flight and a black underclass, the growth of services, and a [high-skill and low-skill] dual economy."  read more »

Why High Taxes Aren’t the Only Reason GE Left Connecticut

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General Electric, unhappy with a recent corporate tax increase in Connecticut, has now announced that it is relocating to Boston’s south waterfront. Indeed Connecticut’s tax climate is bad, ranking 44th according to the Tax Foundation, but GE’s move points to much bigger problems in the state.  I examine this in my new piece over at City Journal. Here’s an excerpt:  read more »

Is California’s Economy Swell?

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Every now and then, something happens to cause California’s comfortable establishment to celebrate the state’s economy.  Recent budget surpluses and jobs data have provided several opportunities, never mind that these are hardly summary statistics.  They don’t tell the complete story.  read more »

New Report: Building Cities for People

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This is the introduction to a new report: “Building Cities for People” published by the Center for Demographics and Policy. The report was authored by Joel Kotkin with help from Wendell Cox, Mark Schill, and Ali Modarres. Download the full report (pdf) here.

Cities succeed by making life better for the vast majority of their citizens. This requires less of a focus on grand theories, architecture or being fashionable, and more on what occurs on the ground level. “Everyday life,” observed the French historian Fernand Braudel, “consists of the little things one hardly notices in time and space.”  read more »

What Does It Mean to Bring Buffalo Back?

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Prior to the holidays City Journal published  my major essay on Buffalo in their fall issue.  Here’s an excerpt:

Local planner Chuck Banas observes that while Buffalo’s regional population today is roughly the same as it was in 1950, the urbanized footprint of the region has tripled. “Same number of people, three times as much stuff to pay for” is the quip—and it’s true. Physical capital must either be maintained at great cost in perpetuity or ignored and allowed to become a drag on the city. Between 1980 and 2011, according to the University of Buffalo Regional Institute, Buffalo-area governments issued permits for almost 60,000 new single-family homes—while regional population declined. Given the gargantuan scale of state aid to the region, this is clearly not market-rate development.

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Seeing the West as Worse

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“Hey-hey, ho-ho, Western culture’s got to go.

– Slogan from 1988 Stanford University protest led by Jesse Jackson.

In the aftermath of San Bernardino and Paris massacres, our cognitive leaders – from President Obama on down – have warned Americans not to engage in what Hillary Clinton has described as “a clash of civilizations.” But you can’t have a real clash when one side – ours – seems compelled to demean its traditions and values.  read more »

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San Francisco With 200,000 More People — Would we be Better Off?

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You want something truly scary? Take a look at these mockups of what San Francisco might look like if we build all the housing that the developers say we need.

According to writer Greg Ferenstein,  read more »

The Fall of Rahm Emanuel

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Rahm Emanuel, a man of obvious talent, drive, and leadership capacity, should have been an ideal person to run a big city like Chicago. Unfortunately, because of his stubborn unwillingness to admit and compensate for his flaws, that was not to be.  After barely limping across the finish line in his re-election bid and tamping down the fallout from Moody’s downgrading the city’s debt to junk status, Emanuel has now been rocked by a truly huge scandal.  read more »

Los Angeles: City Of Losers?

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When I arrived in Los Angeles four decades ago, it was clearly a city on the rise, practicing its lines on the way to becoming the dominant metropolis in North America. Today, the City of Angels and much of Southern California lag behind not only a resurgent New York City, but also L.A.’s longtime regional rival, San Francisco, both demographically and economically.  read more »