Toyota: How Mississippi Engineered the Blue Springs Deal

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A big crowd gathered earlier today to welcome the first Corolla that rolled off the assembly line at Toyota’s tenth U.S. plant in the tiny hamlet of Blue Springs, Mississippi. Situated in Union County, just 17 miles from Elvis’ hometown of Tupelo, the new plant is the latest new automobile manufacturing facility to fly the flag of a foreign manufacturer in the Deep South.  read more »

The New World Order: A Report on the World's Emerging Spheres of Influence

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This is the introduction to a new report, "The New World Order" authored by Joel Kotkin in partnership with the Legatum Institute. Read the full report and view the maps at the project website.

The fall of the Soviet Union nearly a quarter of a century ago forced geographers and policy makes to rip up their maps. No longer divided into “west” and “east”, the world order lost many of its longtime certainties.  read more »

Do Standardized Tests Raise Dropout Rates?

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The No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002. Among other things, it required standardized testing of students, beginning in 2003. The scores are used to evaluate the quality of the schools.

It sounds reasonable. Congress certainly thought so. It was co-authored in the Senate by Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), while John Boehner (R-OH) and George Miller (D-CA) introduced it into the House. It passed both houses by huge bi-partisan majorities, 91-8 in the Senate and 384-45 in the House.  read more »

Subjects:

The Secret of Where Good Energy Comes From

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In the wake of Solyndra's failure, pundits have latched on to a simple, compelling narrative: government can't do energy right.

From synfuels to solar panels to "clean coal" (written, inevitably, with knowing quotation marks), demonstration projects funded by the Department of Energy are described as one failed white elephant after another. Today the DOE is the agency everyone loves to hate (and, at least in Texas Gov. Rick Perry's case, the agency to forget).  read more »

California’s Jobs Engine Broke Down Well Before the Financial Crisis

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Everybody knows that California’s economy has struggled mightily since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The state’s current unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, is a full 3 percentage points above the national rate. Liberal pundits and politicians tend to blame this dismal performance entirely on the Great Recession; as Jerry Brown put it while campaigning (successfully) for governor last year, “I’ve seen recessions. They come, they go. California always comes back.”  read more »

The Caribbean Tech Tide Rises

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The Caribbean has been a long-standing destination for holiday travelers, with its stunning beaches, clear waters, and the 20th century's plummeting costs of long haul travel. The shift away from its historical sugarcane exporting heritage and towards tourism made the region heavily reliant on the world economy. A realization of this dependency has resulted in another shift: a reach to further develop digital and technological industries.  read more »

Subjects:

Does a Big Country Need to do Big Things? Yes. Do We Need a Big Government to do them? No.

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TV network MSNBC's left-leaning commentator Rachel Maddow has opened herself up to ridicule by the conservative blogsophere over her advert featuring the Hoover Dam. The thrust of the spot is that “we don’t do big things anymore” but that we should. But critics say the dam couldn’t be built today due to environmental opposition to exactly these kinds of projects. Indeed many in the Administration and their green allies are more likely to crusade for the destruction of current dams than for the building of new ones.

Both sides have their points.  read more »

Women Ascendent: Where Females Are Rising The Fastest

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You can find the future of the world’s women not in Scandinavia or the U.S., but among the entrepreneurs who line the streets of Mumbai, Manila and Sao Paulo. Selling everything from mangoes to home-made blouses, these women, usually considered the very bottom of their home country’s employment barrel, represent the cutting-edge of progress for women in the 21st century.  read more »

Domestic Migration: Returning to Normalcy?

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Even as the troubled economy has continued to hobble along, there may be hints that the domestic migration patterns from before the Great Financial Crisis could be returning at least in some states. This is evident in the recent national interstate migration data from the American Community Survey. This analysis reviews annual interstate migration data from the beginning of the Great Financial Crisis to 2010, with broad comparisons to earlier (2001-2006) data from the Census Bureau population estimates program (Note 1).  read more »

Occupy Wall Street: About D@%& Time!

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"Privileged people don't march and protest; their world is safe and clean and governed by laws designed to keep them happy. I had never taken to the streets before; why bother? And for the first block or two I felt odd, walking in a mass of people, holding a stick with a placard..." Michael Brock in John Grisham's The Street Lawyer (Doubleday, 1998).  read more »