Livability and All That


Livability is one of those once innocuous words, like sustainability, that now receive almost unquestioned acceptance in the bureaucracy, academia and the media. After all, words like sustainability and livability have no acceptable negative form. Who could be in favor of anything unlivable, insensitive, unhealthy or unsustainable?  read more »

Currency Wars: The Yuan and The Dollar Face Off

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In the currency wars looming between the United States and China, everyone is focused on the decline of the U.S. dollar and the overvaluation of the Chinese renminbi. In the standoff, China maintains a low valuation for the yuan — the unit in which the renminbi is denominated — against the dollar, insuring that Wal-Mart can fill its aisles with goods that cost less than the patio furniture and video games made in Paducah, Kentucky.  read more »

The Post Election Deconstructors


Mid-term Election Accelerates Federal Deconstruction

The mid-term election of 2010 has already been labeled a political earthquake. It was more like a shift of tectonic plates than a mere earthquake, and its results may be felt for decades. The landmark election signaled the beginning of deconstruction at the federal level in the United States. The Young Guns of the Republican Party (Representatives McCarthy, Cantor and Ryan) will lead a freshman class of 65 new members of Congress on a budget crusade to rein in government spending. Their first act will be to return federal spending to 2008 levels. There will be many acts to follow. These Congressmen will follow the lead of the “Deconstructors” who began deconstruction at the state level earlier this year.  read more »

New Index Estimates New House Cost Impact of Land Regulation


In recent decades, an unprecedented variation has developed in the price of new tract housing on the fringe of US metropolitan markets. Nearly all of this difference is in costs other than site preparation and construction, which indicates rising land and regulation costs.  read more »

The Privatization-Industrial Complex


“I think this is just the latest way for people to make money off state and local governments. This is the new way the investment banks, their lawyers, and consultants squeeze the taxpayers....They’re going around making these deals, and it’s very lucrative. It’s like a circus coming to town.” - Clint Krislov

Privatization has long been advocated by many conservatives as a good government measure. Traditionally, privatization was used a tool that subjects government monopolies to competition from the marketplace, driving down costs and improving quality of service. Privatization pioneer Steve Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and now deputy mayor of New York City, used to apply what he called the “Yellow Pages test.” If he could open the Yellow Pages and find several companies providing a service, he wondered why government should be in that business.  read more »

Portland's Runaway Debt Train


Tri-Met, the operator of Portland's (Oregon) bus and light rail system has been in the news lately, and in less than auspicious ways. For decades, the Portland area’s media – as well as much of the national press – has been filled with stories about the national model that Tri-Met has created, especially with its five light rail lines.  read more »

A Price on Carbon: the New Greenmail


Hidden from view during the Australian election, a carbon price is back on the political agenda. This comes as no surprise. Anyone following the debate, however, will see that it has nothing to do with the environment. For some time we have been urged to “act now”, but the grounds keep shifting and changing. Early on it was the drought. Then the Great Barrier Reef. After that the Bali Conference. Then the election of Barack Obama. Next came the Copenhagen Conference. Then being “left behind” in clean technology. Now, apparently, “inaction will cost more in the end”.  read more »

Living In Denial About Transportation Funding


The reaction of various advocacy groups to President Obama’s recent call for a $50 billion stimulus spending plan for transportation infrastructure was predictable. They applauded the President’s initiative and thought that Congress should promptly approve the spending request. The benefits of investing in infrastructure are undisputable and the need for funds is urgent and compelling, they (or their press releases) proclaimed.  read more »

The EPA: Leading Into A Rain Garden?

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Newly-installed solar Panels on the White House are an obvious signal that this administration wants to lead by example. Conservatives will no doubt find ways to ridicule the panels, and liberals will praise them as a display to the world that we are a green nation. About one year ago, on Oct. 5, 2009, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Like the white house solar panels, this EO also is intended to urge federal agencies to lead by example.  read more »

Green Jobs for Janitors: How Neoliberals and Green Keynesians Wrecked Obama's Promise of a Clean Energy Economy


In August 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Lansing, Michigan, to lay out an ambitious ten-year plan for revitalizing, and fundamentally altering, the American economy. His administration, he vowed, would midwife new clean-energy industries, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and create five million green jobs. "Will America watch as the clean-energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany?" Obama asked. "Or will we create them here, in the greatest country on earth, with the most talented, productive workers in the world?"  read more »