America's Engineering Hubs: The Cities With The Greatest Capacity For Innovation

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America has always been a nation of tinkerers. Our Founding Fathers, notes author Alec Foege, were innovators in areas ranging from agriculture (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson) and electricity (Benjamin Franklin) to the swivel chair (Jefferson).  read more »

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Aspirational Cities: U.S. Cities That Offer Both Jobs and Culture Are Mostly Southern and Modest Sized

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A city at its best, wrote the philosopher René Descartes, provides “an inventory of the possible.” The city Descartes had in mind was 17th-century Amsterdam, which for him epitomized those cities where people go to change their circumstances and improve their lives. But such aspirational cities have existed throughout American history as well, starting with Boston in the 17th century, Philadelphia in the 18th, New York in the 19th, Chicago in the early 20th, Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by midcentury Los Angeles, and San Jose in the 1980s.  read more »

Humiliating Detroit

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As I’ve noted before, Detroit is all too frequently just a blank screen onto which people project their own personal bogeymen. So liberals see in Detroit racism gone wild, America’s comeuppance for its love affair with the automobile, and corporate greed. Conservatives see the ultimate end result of unions and where liberalism will take the US as a whole if it isn’t stopped.

There’s a bit of truth in all of these.  read more »

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Should Uncle Sam Chase a Scandinavian Model?

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When American progressives dream their future vision of America, no place entices them more than the sparsely populated countries of Scandinavia. After all, here are countries that remain strongly democratic and successfully capitalist, yet appear to have done so despite enormously pervasive welfare systems.  read more »

Bruce Springsteen: The Wrecking Ball Strikes Europe

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It makes sense that the European continent would enthusiastically welcome Bruce Springsteen this summer on his Wrecking Ball Tour. Europe is in its second year of a prolonged recession, and its economic union looks like a failed savings and loan association. As he has in the past, the Boss is making The Grand Tour. Instead of gracing luxury hotel suites, though, he’s filling up the kinds of cost-overrun stadiums in Barcelona, Paris, Düsseldorf, and Cork that are one reason the European Union is starting to look like Youngstown.  read more »

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America's Emerging Housing Crisis

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The current housing recovery may be like manna to homeowners, but it may do little to ease a growing shortage of affordable residences, and could even make it worse. After a recession-generated drought, household formation is on the rise, notes a recent study by the Harvard Joint Center on Housing Studies, and in many markets there isn’t an adequate supply of housing for the working and middle classes.  read more »

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Manufacturing in Los Angeles: A Test Case in Why Increasing Concentration Isn’t Always a Positive

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What comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles’ big industries? Motion pictures and other entertainment sectors, yes. Real estate and corporate headquarters, too. But probably not manufacturing.

No other sector, however, contributes more to the Los Angeles metro area’s gross regional product – the final market value of all goods and services in a region – than manufacturing. It accounted for 11% of L.A.’s GRP in 2012, narrowly beating out the real estate and rental and leasing sector (10%).  read more »

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

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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 »

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Is the “Rust Belt” a Dirty Word?

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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

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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 »

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