Policy

California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?

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In the future, historians may likely mark the 2010 midterm elections as the end of the California era and the beginning of the Texas one. In one stunning stroke, amid a national conservative tide, California voters essentially ratified a political and regulatory regime that has left much of the state unemployed and many others looking for the exits.  read more »

The State Government Deconstructors

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The results of the mid-term election of 2010 will be written over the next two years. Can the Republicans really make good on their promise of fiscal discipline? A glimpse of our future federal budget may be seen in the fiscal actions (and inaction) of America’s governors. Most states are struggling to balance budgets in troubled economic times with projected shortfalls nationwide of more than $100 billion for Fiscal Year 2012. Federal bail-outs are no longer an option. The hard choices are tax increases, reduction of services or innovative fiscal solutions like deconstruction.  read more »

Building Sustainable Economies in West Africa – One Farmer at a Time

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Among farmers in western Africa, the passion for agriculture runs deep. Kwabena (Koby) Yeboah farms near the village of Gomoa Adumase about 45 minutes outside of Accra, Ghana in West Africa, driven by his focus and intent to succeed.

Koby started farming five years ago at the age of 22. “I love the outdoors, working with my hands and making things grow,” he says.” I also enjoy hunting too, anything to be outside.” It’s a familiar refrain you’ll hear from almost any farmer you visit in North America. It’s all about the outdoors and a certain respect for the land. (Photo)  read more »

Livability and All That

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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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 »