What Boomers Are Choosing

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In 1989, a man came to my office and introduced himself as the vice president of development for the Del Webb Corporation.  He retained my firm to prepare a master plan for their first active-adult community outside of their typical desert southwest market. 

This led me to an exploration of what made a successful active adult community.  I learned they required unique and distinct considerations quite different from those used in more conventional master planned communities.  During the information gathering process, I toured each of the Sun City projects, interviewing staff and visiting residents to understand the qualities and features which attracted buyers and provided the lifestyle sought by retirees.   read more »

The Texas Story Is Real

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Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the Republican presidential nomination race bragging about the job creation record of Texas during his term as his primary pitch to a nation starved for jobs. This triggered a flurry of debate on whether or not Texas is really all Perry claims for it. But while there is certainly nuance in numbers, and Texas doesn't win on every single measure, on the whole it seems indisputable that Texas did very, very well during the 2000s.  read more »

Subjects:

Why the Eurozone Will Come Apart

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Europe has been in the news a lot lately. One day it has a plan to, temporarily at least, deal with the debt problems of delinquent members, and markets climb. The next day there is a glitch and markets fall. What is going on here? Why are markets so spooky?

We’re witnessing what are almost surely the dying gasps of the European Union (EU) as we know it. By that, I mean the number of countries in the Euro’s common currency zone will decline. The markets are spooked, because how it happens will have huge economic consequences.  read more »

Subjects:

Being Dense About Dwellings: Check the Numbers!

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Recently I suggested that in New Zealand we are heading into the perfect housing storm. Now we have news that house prices and rentals are on the climb again, although stocks remain tight, as an annual inflation rate of 5.3% hits a 21 year high.  The economists are suggesting this is good news, although it means interest rates may have to be pushed up sooner than expected.  read more »

Declining Birthrates, Expanded Bureaucracy: Is U.S. Going European?

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To President Barack Obama and many other Democrats, Europe continues to exercise something of a fatal attraction.  The “European dream” embraced by these politicians — as well as by many pundits, academics and policy analysts — usually consists of an America governed by an expanded bureaucracy, connected by high-speed trains and following a tough green energy policy.

One hopes that the current crisis gripping the E.U. will give even the most devoted Europhiles pause about the wisdom of such mimicry. Yet the deadliest European disease the U.S. must avoid is that of persistent demographic decline.  read more »

The Crisis of the "Gentry Presidency"

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The Obama administration’s belated attempt to address the looming employment crisis — after three years focused largely on reviving Wall Street, redoing health care and creating a “green” economy — reflects not only ineptitude but a deeper crisis of what is best understood as the “gentry presidency.”

Unlike previous Democratic presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama’s base primarily lies not with the working and middle classes, who would have demanded effective job action, but with the rising power of the post-industrial castes  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Milan

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Italy's population growth has been stagnating in recent decades, but has turned around during the last decade, with the annual growth rate increasing 16 times (from 0.04 percent to 0.69 percent). According to United Nations data, Italy added more international migrants in the 2000s (3.8.5 million) than it added people in any ten year period since 1960. Some of the strongest growth has been in the Milan metropolitan region, which has begun to grow again after years of stagnation.  read more »

The Ambiguous Triumph of the “Urban Age”

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In its State of the Population report in 2007, the United Nations Population Fund made this ringing declaration:  “In 2008, the world reaches an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas.”  read more »

Waging a Green Jihad on Suburban Homes

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It seems rarely a month passes without some new assault on the lifestyle and housing choice preferred by the overwhelming majority of Australians: the detached suburban home. Denigrated by a careless media as ”McMansions” or attacked as some archaic form of reckless housing choice which is suddenly “no longer appropriate” (according to some planning or environmental fatwa), the detached home is under a constant assault of falsely laid allegation and intellectual derision.  read more »

Beyond Words: A 9/11 Remembrance

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On September 7, 2001, a Friday, the communications staff of New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gathered to plan for the week ahead. I had joined the Giuliani administration the previous April as a speechwriter, one of three on the mayor’s staff.

The biggest event on the schedule was the primary election on Tuesday, September 11, when New Yorkers would choose each party’s nominee to succeed Giuliani. The mayor would be casting his own ballot at Public School 66 on East 88th Street at 7 a.m., followed by a fairly routine round of staff meetings.  read more »