Politics

Finding the Good in This Bad Time

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This year's best places rankings held few great surprises. In a nation that shed nearly 6.7 million jobs since 2007, the winners were places that maintained or had limited employment declines. These places typically had high levels of government spending (including major military installation or large blocs of federal jobs) or major educational institutions. Nor was the continued importance of the energy economy surprising in a nation where a gallon of gas is still about $3 a gallon.  read more »

Guns, Guts, And Geithner

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Calls for more bank regulators remind me of a regulatory go-round with an erratic European bank chairman to whom I once reported. Almost eighty years old, with a failing memory and a fondness for mid-day Martinis, he once interrupted a luncheon to call his wife and ask that she send his revolver over to the bank.

At one time in his life he might have had a license to carry a firearm, but the permit had long expired. He wanted the great equalizer on this particular afternoon because the television was full of possible terror threats against financial interests, and he figured, after his second highball, that outside agitators  read more »

Contemporary China's Mirror Image: Imperial Germany

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China has emerged as the bad boy on the global scene, pushing around executives at Rio Tinto, attacking Google, and humiliating Barack Obama at the Copenhagen Climate Talks. Speculation is growing about China’s rising power and the country’s leaders are displaying a discouraging sense of hubris. There is growing fear that the autocratic Middle Kingdom will soon dominate the world.

These fears have parallels with another rising power of a century ago: Imperial Germany. Both emerged quickly on the global scene and did so with an enormous chip on their shoulders. Like China today, Germany was a little late coming to the industrial revolution, though its cultural contribution to European civilization and in turn to American civilization was enormous  read more »

We Need a New Ross Perot

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Is it time to bring back Ross Perot? Not the big-eared, chart-crazed egomaniac and his Texas cigar boat, but a nascent movement like his among independents that can transform today’s stale and essentially self-destructive debate between two equally bankrupt parties.  read more »

Leading a Los Angeles Renaissance

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Surprisingly, despite the real challenges Los Angeles faces today, the city is out in front of many of its urban competitors in transforming its capacity to provide a safe place to raise and properly educate children, exactly the criteria Millennials use in deciding where to settle down and start a family. It is the kind of challenge that cities around the country must meet if they wish to thrive in the coming decade.  read more »

The Great Deconstruction - First in a New Series

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History imparts labels on moments of great significance; The Civil War, The Great Depression, World War II. We are entering such an epoch. The coming transformation of America and the world may be known as The Great Deconstruction. Credit restrictions will force spending cuts and a re-prioritization of interests. Our world will be dramatically changed. There will be winners and losers. This series will explore the winners and losers of The Great Deconstruction.

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The phrase, The Great Depression, was coined by British economist Lionel Robbins in a 1934 book of the same name.  read more »

Power in Los Angeles: The High Price of Going Green

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Greece and Los Angeles are up against a financial wall. Los Angeles had its bond rating cut on April 7. Greece managed to hold out until April 9. Greece has endured public employee strikes as it has attempted to reign in bloated public payrolls. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa drew the ire of the city's unions and city council opposition in proposing two-day a week furloughs for city employees.

A Bankrupt Los Angeles?  read more »

Transit in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles officials hope to convince Congress take the unprecedented step of having the US Treasury to front money for building the area’s planned 30 year transit expansions in 10 years instead. The money would be paid back from a one-half cent sales tax (Measure R), passed by the voters in 2008. That referendum required 35% of the new tax money to be spent on building 12 rail and exclusive busway transit lines.

Measure R was not the first instance of Los Angeles officials committing to spend 35% of a new one-half cent sales tax on new transit lines.  read more »

Jobs Will Rule November

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Health care lays behind him, financial reform and climate change ahead, but for President Barack Obama--and his opponents--there is only one real issue: jobs. The recent employment reports signal some small gains, yet the widespread prognosis for a slow, near-jobless recovery threatens the president and his party more than any major domestic challenge.  read more »

Queensland, We’ve Got a Problem

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Queensland Premier Anna Bligh MP has a problem. Reacting to sensationalized media reports of runaway population growth as well as an infrastructure lag revealing itself in everything from mounting congestion to a lack of hospital beds, Queensland residents are starting to say ‘enough.’ The prospects of continuing population growth at around 2.5% or 100,000 people per annum, despite the economic benefits this brings, are increasingly unpopular, something that gets the attention of most politicians.  read more »