Small Towns: The Value of Unique Places

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Rural and small towns suffer from a loss of faith in their place, and seem desperate to be recognized in our new, standardized world. Plenty of our developed land remains specific and even unique, but the highway does not go to it. Outside the cities, unpretty feed stores, the availability of tractor parts, and the presence of cattle hardly contribute to scientifically measured success. The refuge of the individual, the ability of a person to see his or her life as meaningful while it is separate and apart from a larger mass, is crippled.  read more »


America's Largest Commuter Sheds (CBSAs)


Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) is the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) way of defining metropolitan regions.  The OMB (not the Census Bureau) defines criteria for delineating its three metropolitan concepts, combined statistical areas, metropolitan statistical areas, and micropolitan statistical areas. The CBSA has obtained little use since this adoption for the 2000 census. According to OMB:  read more »

Stack and Pack vs. Smear All Over


I drove out to a distant suburb recently to attend to some business and I passed by a cluster of billboards on the side of the freeway that got me thinking. The general gist of the slogans asserted a conservative anti-government anti-urban rebellion. These are clearly people who don’t want density and public transit imposed on them by pointy headed liberal idiots. I have to admit I have some sympathy for this perspective, although probably not for the same reasons as the billboard people.  read more »

The Cities Winning The Battle For Information Jobs 2015


We are supposed to be moving rapidly into the “information era,” but the future, as science fiction author William Gibson suggested, is not “evenly distributed.” For most of the U.S., the boomlet in software, Internet publishing, search and other “disruptive” cyber companies has hardly been a windfall in terms of employment.  read more »

Small Regions Rising


In the last 25 years there has been a huge change in the level of competitiveness of smaller urban areas – by which I mean the small end of the major urban scale, or metro areas of about one to three million people – that has put them in the game for people in residents in way they never were before.

I recently gave the morning keynote at the Mayor’s Development Roundtable in Oklahoma City and talked a bit about this phenomenon, as well as how these generally younger and sprawling areas ought to be thinking about their future.  read more »

Democrats Now the Party of Plutocracy


There’s more than a bit of cognitive dissonance in the merger of Democrats with plutocracy – rule by the wealthy. After all, the party’s brand is supposed to be “party of the people.” For Democrats, the allure of corporate cash – in campaign contributions and, later on, in of corporate patronage – may be overwhelming, but it does pose a threat to the party’s positioning.

To be sure, the Republicans are not exactly a primary vehicle for social democracy, but at least they generally don’t generally sell themselves this way. This differs from the almost comic attempt of Hillary Clinton to run as the candidate of the abandoned middle class.  read more »


The California Dream has Moved Away

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Southern California faces a serious middle income housing affordability crisis. I refer to middle income housing, because this nation has become so successful in democratizing property ownership that the overwhelming majority of middle income households own their own homes in most of the country.  read more »

Why We Should Nourish Strong Families


Every social, economic, and public policy issue can be seen, at its base, as a family issue. The data and evidence are overwhelming, and have been for decades: family structure is the principal variable in the entire list of economic and social indicators.  read more »

Smaller Stars: The Best Small And Medium-Size Cities For Jobs 2015


A look at job growth in America’s small and medium-size cities provides a very different, perhaps more intimate portrait of the ground-level economy across a wider swathe of the country than our survey last week of The Best Big Cities For Jobs. It takes us to many states that lack large cities, particularly in the Midwest and South.  read more »

Are Suburbs Causing Crime?


Reihan Salam, often an insightful critic, argues in Salon that poverty has come to the suburbs at a higher rate than it has grown in big cities because poorer service workers have followed the service jobs required in the suburbs. This has caused problems.  read more »