Honolulu: Mega Rail Project in a Micro City

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An exorbitantly costly rapid transit heavy rail project has been proposed for the small Hawaiian island of Oahu, where the leading metropolis, Honolulu, ranks 53rd in population among U.S. cities, with less than 500,000 people. If the project moves forward it will be the world's only elevated heavy rail in a metro area with a population of under four million.  read more »

Australians Are Getting A Carbon Tax They Don’t Want

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Within weeks, the Australian government is expected to announce a package of measures including a carbon tax to stimulate renewable energy sources and abate carbon emissions. Officials, activists and journalists around the world will hail Australia as a courageous and forward-looking country, ready to take its responsibilities seriously. Some will rebuke their own governments for being less bold. Yet they will ignore an inconvenient detail. According to opinion surveys, at least 60 per cent of Australians strongly oppose the tax.  read more »

Living and Working in the 1099 Economy

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We used to call it “Free Agent Nation.”  Now, it seems like the new term of art will be “The 1099 Economy.”   While the names may change, they all point to a phenomenon of rising importance: the growing number of Americans who don’t have a “regular job” but instead work on individual contracts with employers or customers.   These folks don’t get the traditional W-2 paystub at the end of the year; they report their taxes with the IRS form 1099.  read more »

Drones on the Prairie

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When the Base Realignment and Closure Commission was drawing up its list of military installations to close back in 2005, consultants assured the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, that its Air Force base would be spared. Days before the list was made public, though, word leaked out that Grand Forks was on the chopping block, after all.  read more »

The Evolving Urban Area: Seattle

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Lunching at Seattle's Space Needle, the casual observer might imagine that one of the nation's most dense urban areas is spread out below. To the immediate south of the Space Needle is one of the nation's premier downtown areas. In 2000 downtown Seattle had the seventh largest employment base in the country and was one of the most dense. Its impressive, closely packed buildings witness a storied past.  read more »

Will J.R. Recognize the New Dallas?

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In the sixties and seventies, Dallas’s prime tourist attraction was an assassination site. The town seriously needed a new image. It got one in a soap opera that revealed a city besieged by blonds, big  hair and big homes. “Dallas,” which premiered in 1978, did for Big D what “Sex in the City” and “Seinfeld” did for New York: it painted a portrait of the city for the world.  read more »

Can Florida Escape the Horse Latitudes?

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When it comes to the winds of change, Florida remains in the horse latitudes.  This zone of the Atlantic around 30 degrees latitude was so named by ship captains because their ships, becalmed in the water, seemed to move faster when they lightened their load by throwing off a few horses.  Florida’s governor Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to create 700,000 jobs in this state, appears to have adopted the same tactic by throwing overboard the Department of Community Affairs, the state agency that regulated real estate development.  Other bureaucracies may be next in line  read more »

The New State of Coastal California?

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In 2009, former California legislator Bill Maze proposed dividing his state, hiving off thirteen counties as Coastal (or Western) California (see map). Maze, a conservative from the agricultural Central Valley, objects to the domination of state politics by the left-leaning Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas. The initial impetus for his proposal was the passage by state voters in 2008 of Proposition 2, requiring larger pens and cages for farm animals.  read more »

Growing a Productive Urban Economy

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Suggestions that we can grow the Auckland, NZ economy by encouraging business into the central business district (CBD) in the interests of innovation do not reflect the weight of experience.  Sure, higher order professions have tended to concentrate there, and become relatively more important as manufacturing, retailing, and distribution have decamped.  And in Auckland, at least, tertiary education has become a major player in the CBD.  University employment has boosted the scientific as well as education sector.  read more »

What To Look For In The Next President

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As the 2012 election approaches, America is in a state of malaise. Massive debt, unfettered spending, economic decline and partisan divide have served to undermine the great American narrative that is predicated on optimism and a “can do” attitude.

As I assess the candidates for President, I will be looking for the one who most fully understands why we need to resurrect the compelling narrative for America. The compelling narrative has four basic components:  read more »

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