California's high-speed rail project is setting speed records, not on tracks, but rather in cost escalation. Last week, the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) announced that the Bakersfield to Merced section, part of which will comprise the first part of the system to be built, will cost between $10.0 and $13.9 billion. This is an increase of approximately 40 percent to 100 percent over the previous estimate of $7.1 billion, an estimate itself less than two years old. read more »
The riots that hit London and other English cities last week have the potential to spread beyond the British Isles. Class rage isn’t unique to England; in fact, it represents part of a growing global class chasm that threatens to undermine capitalism itself. read more »
Mark Duggan, father of four, was armed with a Bruni BBM semi-automatic pistol when he was shot dead by armed police on 4 August. Despite initial reports Duggan did not fire on the officers from the Trident Police Unit, an armed force dedicated to dealing with “gun related murders within London’s black communities”. read more »
Demographic transformations are changing how the American people vote. In 2010, only 15 per cent of Americans claimed to be completely unaffiliated independent voters, while 48 per cent identified with the Democratic Party and 37 per cent with the Republican Party. Back in the 1990s, party identification was at 44 per cent each. read more »
Los Angeles today is a city in secular decline. Its current political leadership seems determined to turn the sprawling capitalist dynamo into a faux New York. But they are more likely to leave behind a dense, government-dominated, bankrupt, dysfunctional, Athens by the Pacific.
The greatness of Los Angeles stemmed from its willingness to be different. Unlike Chicago or Denver or New York, the Los Angeles metro area was designed not around a central core but on a series of centers, connected first by railcars and later by the freeways. The result was a dispersed metropolis where most people occupied single-family houses in middle-class neighborhoods. read more »
This piece originally appeared in the Village Voice.
After a charmed first decade in politics, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is mired in his first sustained losing streak.
His third term has been shaky, marked by the Snowpocalypse, the snowballing CityTime scandal, the backlash to Cathie Black and "government by cocktail party," and the rejection by Governor Andrew Cuomo of his plan to change how public-school teachers are hired and fired. With just a couple more years left in office, Bloomberg is starting to look every one of his 70 years.
Soon, he'll be just another billionaire. read more »
During his Twitter-fed Town Hall, President Obama admitted that the housing market has proven one of the “most stubborn” pieces of the economic recovery puzzle to try and fix. The President --- as well the Congress and the building industry --- should consider a new path to a solution for housing by tapping the potential of the very generation whose votes brought Barack Obama into the White House in the first place. read more »
Unemployment over nine percent, the highest rate this far into a “recovery” in modern times, reflects only the surface of our problems. More troubling is that over six million American have been unemployed for more than six months, the largest number since the Census began tracking their numbers. The pool of “missing workers” – those neither employed nor counted as unemployed – has soared to over 4.4 million, according to the left-of-center Economic Policy Institute. read more »
Advocates were ecstatic when President Obama had $8 billion for high speed rail put into the stimulus bill. His administration planned to make HSR one of the cornerstones of its infrastructure investment program. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Europe to check out HSR there in person and came back proclaiming, “High speed rail is coming to America.” The $8 billion, we were told, was a down payment, and that in little more than two decades, America's largest cities would be linked by a web of high speed trains. read more »
Last week’s disappointing job reports, with unemployment rising above 9%, only reinforced an emerging reality that few politicians, in either party, are ready to address. American society is becoming feudalized, with increasingly impregnable walls between the classes. This is ironic for a nation largely defined by its opportunity for upward mobility and fluid class structure. read more »