Policy

Atlanta: Ground Zero for the American Dream

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The Atlanta area has much to be proud of, though it might not be obvious from the attitudes exhibited by many of its most prominent citizens. For years, local planners and business leaders have regularly trekked to planning’s Holy City (Portland) in hopes of replicating its principles in Atlanta. They would be better saving their air fares.  read more »

Who's Dependent on Cars? Try Mass Transit

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The Smart Growth movement has long demonstrated a keen understanding of the importance of rhetoric. Terms like livability, transportation choice, and even “smart growth” enable advocates to argue by assertion rather than by evidence. Smart Growth rhetoric thrives in a political culture that rewards the clever catchphrase over drab data analysis, but often fails to identify the risks for cities inherent in their war against “auto-dependency” and promotion of large-scale mass transit to boost the “sustainability” of communities.  read more »

The Gero-Economy Revs Up

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Green jobs? Great. Gray jobs? Maybe an even better bet for the new jobs bill. If there is a single graphic that everyone concerned with the nation’s future should have tattooed on their eyeballs, my vote goes to the one on your left. Here is its central message:

Forty years from now, one out of four Americans will be 65 or older.

Twenty million will be over 85.

One million will be over 100.  read more »

Reforming Anti-Urban Bias in Transportation Spending

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State governments have to stop treating transportation like yet another welfare program.

Among urban and rural areas, who subsidizes whom?

It's methodologically difficult to measure net taxation, but the studies that have been done suggest that, contrary to the belief of some, urban areas are big time net tax donors. For example, a recent Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute study found that Indiana's urban and suburban counties generally subsidize rural ones.  read more »

Memo To Obama: Banks Are Beautiful

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In his search for what Theodore Roosevelt called “a good, safe menace,” President Barack Obama has settled on the nation’s largest commercial banks, which as late as last year’s bailouts were still considered the best hope for economic salvation.

At first Obama was content to rail about the filthy lucre of banker bonuses. Then he got the idea of maybe hitting the bonus babies with special taxes. But the reason that the Secretary of the Treasury is often the former chairman of Goldman Sachs is because the bank is one of the instruments that keeps the government afloat.  read more »

Connecting Facts to Forecast 2010

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Anyone can figure out the State of the Union by taking a good look around. I mean, I was born in the afternoon – but not yesterday afternoon – I don’t need four days of press coverage and a long speech by the President to tell me that Americans are suffering.

This time of year, though, everyone is looking for some hint of what is to come. Even the most rational among us are tempted to seek out some prediction of the future. Economists often rate high on the list of seers sought out by most Americans – right up there with stock brokers, Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network, and Joan Quigley (White House astrologer to the Reagans).

In this article, I’ll give you a few of my own predictions and then invite you to tell me the subject areas you want predicted. When pressed for my vision of the future, I like to add up what I already know to arrive at what I think will happen.  read more »

The Death Of Gentry Liberalism

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Gentry liberalism, so hot just a year ago, is now in full retreat, a victim of its hypocrisy and fundamental contradictions. Its collapse threatens the coherence of President Barack Obama's message as he prepares for his State of the Union speech on Wednesday.  read more »

Housing Unaffordability as Public Policy: The New Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

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The just released 6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey shows some improvement in housing affordability, especially in the United States and Ireland but a continuing loss of housing affordability, especially in Australia.  read more »

Phoenix, Put Aside Dreams of Gotham

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Now that Phoenix's ascendancy has been at least momentarily suspended, its residents are no doubt wondering what comes next. One tendency is to say the city needs to grow up and become more like East Coast cities or Portland, Ore., with dense urban cores and well-developed rail transit. The other ready option is always inertia - a tendency to wait for things to come back the way they were.

Neither approach will work in the long run.  read more »

Suburbs & Cul-de-Sacs: Is The Romance Over?

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The Virginia Department of Transportation does not like cul-de-sacs. You know, those little circles that suburban home dwellers worship so much and pay a premium to be located on? Under its regulations, all new subdivisions must have only through streets. Essentially, no more cul-de-sacs. Getting rid of these desirable dead-ends, according to the DOT, will improve safety and accessibility for emergency vehicles.  read more »