High Confidence Not Translating to High Math Scores for American and European Students


Swedish fourth graders are leading the world in mathematics, followed closely by those in other developed European nations, at least if we look at students’ reported self-confidence in the subject. Fully 77% of Swedish students at fourth grade express a high level of confidence about their learning, compared to merely 5% who express a low level. In Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Norway seven out of ten students have high confidence about their mathematics knowledge. One in ten or fewer have low confidence.  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 »

Why Trayvon Martin Defines Sanford, Florida

Sanford, FL by Christine Wood.JPG

For other rural cities in America, Sanford, Florida, home of the George Zimmerman trial, is useful as a cautionary tale: Define yourself now, before an incident like the shooting of Trayvon Martin defines you.

All of Florida is once again in an uncomfortable position, this time with the Zimmerman verdict. The state has by now earned a solid last-place position in its contribution to America’s culture. Its poor history was topped by its performance in the 2000 presidential election, but it includes lurid crimes going back well over a century. Most Florida residents quickly change  read more »


Detroit, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?


Thou wouldst fain destroy the temple! If thou be Jesus, Son of the Father, now from the Cross descend thou, that we behold it and believe on thee when we behold it. If thou art King over Israel, save thyself then!

God, My Father, why has thou forsaken me? All those who were my friends, all have now forsaken me. And he that hate me do now prevail against me, and he whom I cherished, he hath betrayed me.

Lyric excerpts from the Fifth and Fourth and Words, respectively, of the Seven Last Words of Christ orchestral work by Joseph Haydn.

I’m pissed.  read more »

What Detroit’s Bankruptcy Teaches America


As has long been expected, the city of Detroit has officially filed for bankruptcy.  While many will point to the sui generis nature of the city as a one-industry town with extreme racial polarization and other unique problems, Detroit’s bankruptcy in fact offers several lessons for other states and municipalities across America.  read more »

XpressWest Las Vegas Train: Where are the Venture Capitalists?


Recently, the US Department of Transportation indefinitely suspended a federal loan application for the XpressWest high-speed rail train from Victorville California to Las Vegas.  read more »

Singapore Needs A New Sling


Over the past half century, the tiny city-state of Singapore has developed arguably the most successful formula for growth and social uplift on the planet. Like the famous Singapore sling — a tropical cocktail blending gin, grenadine, sweet and sour mix, cherry brandy and club soda — the city’s mandarins created the perfect recipe for rapid economic growth by combining its strategic location and hard-driving, largely Chinese population, with first-class infrastructure, a relentlessly improved local workforce and an opportunistic immigration policy designed to fill gaps in the labor pool.  read more »

A Suburban Economic Future?


The basic, often unappreciated, fact  about economic life in Australia’s  metropolitan regions are that most of the jobs are in suburban locations. Our central business districts (CBDs) – prominent though they are – account for only around 10% of all metro wide jobs. That rises to maybe 15% if you include inner city areas. But still, 85% of everyone else who calls Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne home works somewhere other than the CBD or inner city.  read more »

Metropolitan Dispersion: 1950-2012


America has become much more metropolitan since 1950, when the Office of Management and Budget released the first modern criteria for determining the boundaries of metropolitan areas. Metropolitan areas are the economic or functional definition of the "city." They are otherwise known as labor markets and include the physical "urban area" (the area of continuous development) as well as economically connected rural territory from which people commute into the urban area.  read more »

Will Europe Hit a Demographic Tipping Point?


The best hope for the youth of France, according to a recent New York Times op-ed, is, well, to get out of France.  Youth unemployment in France is running at 26%.  No wonder some might believe their best opportunity lies elsewhere, including their old colony of New France (Quebec). 

But this punishing level of unemployment is only slightly worse than the EU-wide rate of 23%. Countries like Spain and Greece have astonishing youth unemployment rates of nearly 60%. What does the future of these countries’ youth look like? Or their adults for that matter? Maybe it’s a future on another continent, including former colonies.  read more »