Urban Issues

The Blue-State Meltdown and the Collapse of the Chicago Model

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On the surface this should be the moment the Blue Man basks in glory. The most urbane president since John Kennedy sits in the White House. A San Francisco liberal runs the House of Representatives while the key committees are controlled by representatives of Boston, Manhattan, Beverly Hills, and the Bay Area—bastions of the gentry.  read more »

The Next Culture War

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The culture war over religion and values that dominated much of the last quarter of the 20th century has ended, mostly in a rout of the right-wing zealots who waged it.

Yet even as this old conflict has receded , a new culture war may be beginning. This one is being launched largely by the religious right's long-time secularist enemies who are now enjoying unprecedented influence over our national politics.  read more »

Housing the Next Generation with Old Shipping Containers

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If the predictions are accurate, America will have to house some 100 million more people by 2040 to mid-century than is now the case. Despite the current round of foreclosures and rising apartment vacancy, over the long term the demand for humane, affordable, sustainable housing is going to escalate dramatically in the coming years.

In this recessionary time, it may be tempting to ignore the coming boost in housing demand. Yet eventually growth will pick up and the housing market will become re-invigorated. Nonetheless, the problem of meeting the demand for affordable housing will remain.  read more »

Urban Backfill vs. Urban Infill

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By Richard Reep

Wendell Cox recently reported on the state of so-called “urban infill” efforts, and analyzed which cities are experiencing an increase in their density. This report shows some surprising trends. Cities such as Pittsburgh, which claim to be successful at “infilling”, are actually dropping in density, in part because of low birth rates and lack of in-migration.  read more »

Forcing Density in Australia's Suburbs

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Australia is a continent sized country with total urbanized area of only 0.3%.  As is the case with the USA, the population is increasing as a result of natural growth and immigration. The country is blessed with a sunny climate and enough space to enable its inhabitants to enjoy a relaxed, free lifestyle.

Given this, one would expect there would be little support for the higher density housing ideology of the Smart Growth advocates. Yet since the early 1990s the Australian Federal Department of Housing has been pushing exactly this approach.  read more »

Subsidies, Starbucks and Highways: A Primer

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At a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, responding to comments about large transit subsidies, remarked that the last federal highway bill included $200 billion in subsidies for highways.

The Senator should know better. The federal highway bill builds highways with fees paid by highway users, not by subsidies.  read more »

The Next Global Financial Crisis: Public Debt

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The cloud of the global financial meltdown has not even cleared, yet another crisis of massive proportions looms on the horizon: global sovereign (public) debt.

This crisis, like so many others, has its root in the free flow of credit from the preceding economic boom years. The market prices of assets were rising steadily. Rising valuations, especially where they were based on improving revenues from robust economic activity, led to rising income streams for governments. This encouraged governments to borrow more, perhaps often to expand services – and the bureaucracy required to offer services – although sometimes to improve infrastructure.  read more »

Tracking Business Services: Best And Worst Cities For High-Paying Jobs

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Media coverage of America's best jobs usually focuses on blue-collar sectors, like manufacturing, or elite ones, such as finance or technology. But if you're seeking high-wage employment, your best bet lies in the massive "business and professional services" sector.

This unsung division of the economy is basically a mirror of any and all productive industry. It includes everything from human resources and administration to technical and scientific positions, as well as accounting, legal and architectural firms.  read more »

Washington, DC: The Real Winner in this Recession

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No matter how far the economy falters, there is always a winner. And no city does better when the nation is at the brink of disaster than Washington, DC. Since December 2007, when the current recession formally began, the nation has lost approximately 6 million jobs. Only two states, Alaska and North Dakota, have lost a smaller percentage of jobs than Washington, DC, which has seen a job loss of 0.6%, or 4,400. Simply put, Washington has done better in this recession than 48 of the fifty states when it comes to job performance.  read more »

Enviro-wimps: L.A.'s Big Green Groups Get Comfy, Leaving the Street Fighting to the Little Guys

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So far, 2009 has not been a banner year for greens in Los Angeles. As the area's mainstream enviros buddy up with self-described green politicians and deep-pocketed land speculators and unions who have seemingly joined the “sustainability” cause, an odd thing is happening: Environmentalists are turning into servants for more powerful, politically-connected masters.  read more »