Politics

As the North Rests on Its Laurels, the South Is Rising Fast

800px-Belle_of_Louisville_2.jpg

One hundred and fifty years after twin defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg destroyed the South’s quest for independence, the region is again on the rise. People and jobs are flowing there, and Northerners are perplexed by the resurgence of America’s home of the ignorant, the obese, the prejudiced and exploited, the religious and the undereducated.  read more »

No Solar Way Around It: Why Nuclear Is Essential to Combating Climate Change

headsandmain.jpg

Nobody who has paid attention to what's happened to solar panels over the last several decades can help but be impressed. Prices declined an astonishing 75 percent from 2008 to 2012. In the United States, solar capacity has quintupled since 2008, and grown by more than 50 times since 2000, according to US Energy Information Administration data. In 1977, solar panels cost $77 per watt.  read more »

The Unexotic Underclass

middle_class.jpg

The startup scene today, and by ‘scene’ I’m sweeping a fairly catholic brush over a large swath of people – observers, critics,  investors, entrepreneurs, ‘want’repreneurs, academics, techies, and the like – seems to be riven into two camps.

On one side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems – capital B, capital P: clean energy, poverty, famine, climate change, you name it.  I needn’t replay their song here; they’ve argued their cases far more eloquently elsewhere read more »

The Mad Drive to Subvert Democracy in Toronto

368px-Rob_Ford_Mayor.jpg

Let me stipulate that I think Toronto’s Rob Ford is a terrible mayor. In fact, while I might not go so far as Richard Florida, who labeled Ford “the worst mayor in the modern history of cities, an avatar for all that is small-bore and destructive of the urban fabric, and the most anti-urban mayor ever to preside over a big city,” I’m willing to say he’s probably in the running for the title.

The roots of Rob Ford lie in “amalgamation,” the forcible merging of the city of Toronto government with various of its suburbs by the Ontario provincial government. The idea was cost savings, but of course costs went up.  read more »

Market Surge Confirms Preference for Homeowning

bigstock-Real-estate-background-17119544.jpg

Ever since the housing bubble burst in 2007, retro-urbanists, such as Richard Florida, have taken aim at homeownership itself, and its "long-privileged place" at the center of the U.S. economy. If anything, he suggested, the government would be better off encouraging "renting, not buying."  read more »

Religious Freedom Lures Many to U.S. from Asia

37805863_f6fb3d575a.jpg

It's been two decades since California Gov. Pete Wilson used grainy ads of undocumented immigrants – "They keep coming" – as an effective means of stoking fear of newcomers and assuring his re-election. Yet, increasingly America's immigration realities are moving far beyond the mojado paradigm of the 1990s in ways that challenges the stereotypes of both conservatives and progressives.  read more »

America’s New Oligarchs—Fwd.us and Silicon Valley’s Shady 1 Percenters

800px-Zuckerberg_meets_Obama.jpg

When Steve Jobs died in October 2011, crowds of mourners gathered outside of Apple stores, leaving impromptu memorials to the fallen businessman. Many in Occupy Wall Street, then in full bloom, stopped to mourn the .001 percenter worth $7 billion, who didn’t believe in charity and whose company had more cash in hand than the U.S. Treasury while doing everything in its power to avoid paying taxes.

A new, and potentially dominant, ruling class is rising. Today’s tech moguls don’t employ many Americans, they don’t pay very much in taxes or tend to share much of their wealth, and they live in a separate world that few of us could ever hope to enter.  read more »

Why Gentrification?

gentrification.jpg

The mostly commonly chosen means, or at least attempted means, of revitalizing central cities that have fallen on hard times is gentrification.  Gentrification is the process of replacing the poor population of a neighborhood with the affluent and reorienting the district along upscale lines.  This has seen enormous success in large swaths of New York and Chicago, but even traditionally struggling cities like Cleveland have seen pockets of this type of development downtown.

What makes gentrification so attractive as a redevelopment strategy? There are many reasons.  read more »

The Cleveland Miracle That Should Never Have Been

cleveland-house.jpg

“[T]he most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” Writer David Foster Wallace

The story of the three Cleveland women kidnapped over 10 years ago and recently found alive in a house on the city’s Near West Side has captivated the national imagination. There is the miracle aspect from the fact that such situations rarely end this way.  read more »

Can Public Banks Help Fix Local Finance?

422px-Day_21_Occupy_Wall_Street_October_6_2011_Shankbone_3.JPG

Are public banks the answer for the recession-induced decline in municipal revenue and other ills that plague our cities? It’s a solution being discussed in more than one American city.  

Mike Krauss, a founder of the Public Banking Institute and a chairmen of the Pennsylvania Pubic Bank Project, both non-profits that promote public banking, said this month an ad hoc committee made up of Philadelphia City Council members and civic groups started working on the adoption of language for a public bank in the city. He also said the measure is being adopted out of a need for “affordable and sustainable credit.” The PPBP is leading the effort for public banking in the city.  read more »