Root Causes of Detroit’s Decline Should Not Go Ignored


Recently Detroit, under orders from a state-appointed emergency manager, became the largest U.S. city to go bankrupt. This stirred predictable media speculation about why the city, which at 1.8 million was once America’s 5th-largest, declined in the first place. Much of the coverage simply listed Detroit’s longtime problems rather than explaining their causes.  read more »

America Hanging in There Better Than Rivals


To paraphrase the great polemicist Thomas Paine, these are times that try the souls of optimists. The country is shuffling through a very weak recovery, and public opinion remains distinctly negative, with nearly half of Americans saying China has already leapfrogged us and nearly 60 percent convinced the country is headed in the wrong direction. Belief in the political leadership of both parties stands at record lows, not surprisingly, since we are experiencing what may be remembered as the worst period of presidential leadership, under both parties, since the pre-Civil War days of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.  read more »

What Detroit Has Really Taught America


Nothing. Seriously. Not a damn thing.

Oh, the occasion is being used to opine on our state of affairs, but nothing is structurally taking shape in America to prevent the next Detroit from occurring. In fact, Detroit is occurring every day inside most of us. We are all getting bankrupt in so many little ways.  read more »

Young Tech Tycoons Pushing Left Coast Ahead Of East In Democratic Power Structure


There are two deep-blue regions that are critical to the Obama administration: the Northeast and the coastal region between San Jose and Seattle that truly deserves the moniker of the Left Coast. They dominate the Democratic donor list, and provide the administration with most of its appointees and much of its ideological moorings.  read more »

Entrepreneurs Turn Oligarchs


For a generation, most Americans, whatever their politics, have largely admired Silicon Valley as an exemplar of enlightened free-market capitalism. Yet, increasingly, the one-time folk heroes are beginning to appear more like a digital version of President George W. Bush's “axis of evil.” In terms of threats to freedom and privacy, we now may have more to fear from techies in Palo Alto than the infinitely less-competent retro-Reds in North Korea.  read more »


Should Uncle Sam Chase a Scandinavian Model?


When American progressives dream their future vision of America, no place entices them more than the sparsely populated countries of Scandinavia. After all, here are countries that remain strongly democratic and successfully capitalist, yet appear to have done so despite enormously pervasive welfare systems.  read more »

Is the “Rust Belt” a Dirty Word?


Many people hate the term “Rust Belt”. They dislike the aesthetics of the Rust Belt. For others, the term is less loaded, but rather a moniker denoting who we are. Consider me in the latter camp. But I often cross paths with those who loathe the term, or more exactly any notion of there being a Rust Belt culture.  read more »

The Truce That Could Save American Cities


Some states, such as New York and California, are loudly proclaiming that they have returned from the fiscal abyss. Maybe for now, but the future doesn’t look so good when long-term debt and pension obligations are factored in. Taken together, our 50 states owe $1 trillion in unfunded pension obligations.  read more »

Public Unions for Private Benefits: Public Sector Unions Enrich their Members by Distorting State Finances


Concerned citizens of California are already familiar with the undue political influence of California’s prison guard union. According to Tim Kowal of the Orange County Federalist Society, the union raises $23 million dollars per year and spends $8 million of it lobbying. As a result, the state has found it impossible to engage in meaningful reform of its correctional system.  read more »

The Hall of Gimmicks


Occasional Urbanophile contributor Robert Munson has talked about how Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was among the first to recognize that there was a “taxpayer strike” in America. That is, given the breakdown in the social contract in our cities, taxpayers were increasingly unwilling to pour money down a rat hole.  read more »