Surprise: Higher Gas Prices, Data Shows More Solo Auto Commuting

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Despite higher prices and huge media hype over shifts to public transit, the big surprise out of the 2010 American Community Survey has been the continued growth over the last decade in driving alone to work. Between 2000 and 2010, driving alone to work increased by 7.8 million out of a total of 8.7 million increase in total jobs. As a result, this use of this mode reached 76.5% of the nation's workers, up from 75.6% in 2000. This is the largest decadal share of commuting ever achieved for this mode of transport.  read more »

Primatene And The War on (Asthma) Drugs

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On December 31, 2011, Primatene Mist, the only over-the-counter asthma inhaler still available, will be taken off the market. The ban is being pointed to as an example of regulatory overreach by the Obama administration. As a physician and asthma specialist, I have been observing the Primatene controversy for — without exaggeration — decades, and have concluded that there’s blame enough to share between both the pro and con government regulation camps, as well as the pharmaceutical and financial industries.  read more »

Obama's Off-target Class War

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For many conservatives, the notion of class warfare that President Barack Obama now evokes is both un-American and noxious — a crass attempt to cash in on envy among the masses. Yet the problem is not in class warfare itself — but in being clear what class you are targeting.  read more »

Silicon Valley Can No Longer Save California -- Or The U.S.

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Even before Steve Jobs crashed the scene in late 1970s, California’s technology industry had already outpaced the entire world, creating the greatest collection of information companies anywhere. It was in this fertile suburban soil that Apple — and so many other innovative companies — took root.

Now this soil is showing signs of exhaustion, with Jobs’ death symbolizing the end of the state’s high-tech heroic age.  read more »

Six Adults and One Child in China

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On a Saturday afternoon at The Bund, Xiao Ming (or “Little Ming”) clings tightly onto the hands of his paternal grandparents. His maternal grandparents walk slightly ahead, clearing a path for him in the midst of all the buzz and traffic. Retracing the imprints of their imaginary footsteps, Xiao Ming takes his first tentative steps as a three year old in town for the first time. Slightly behind him, the watchful eyes and ready hands of his own parents spur him on. 1  read more »

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Australia’s Carbon Tax Battle: Where it Fits into the Global War

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Next week Australia's Parliament is set to pass a carbon tax that has proven so divisive it may bring down the Labor-Green government. By setting a low price on carbon, returning the money raised to industry and consumers, and relying so heavily on offsets, the legislation is further proof of the iron law of climate policy. A better way forward would be for Australia to impose a modest fee on coal mining and use the money to support its advanced manufacturing industries and innovation to make clean energy cheap. Below is our take on the legislation in Australia's news magazine, Crikey.  read more »

Florida Repeals Smart Growth Law

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The state of Florida has repealed its 30-year old growth management law (also called "smart growth," "compact development" and "livability"). Under the law, local jurisdictions were required to adopt comprehensive land use plans stipulating where development could and could not occur. These plans were subject to approval by the state Department of Community Affairs, an agency now abolished by the legislation. The state approval process had been similar to that of Oregon.  read more »

Brain Drain or Birth Dearth?

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Observers and advocates on Long Island — New York's Nassau and Suffolk counties — have repeatedly used age group population estimates to bolster land use policies based on their preferred narrative. The assumption? Young adults are moving away from the region in large numbers due to the high cost of living, particularly housing prices. So, the story goes, the suburban pattern must be broken, and small, high density housing units must replace detached, single-family homes as the dominant urban form if young adults are to be retained.  read more »

Are We Headed For China's Fat Years?

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Chan Koonchung’s chilling science fiction novel The Fat Years — already an underground sensation in China — will be published in the U.S. January 2012. The book, first published in Hong Kong in 2009, is partly so chilling because it reveals a scenario that is all too plausible. Set in 2013, it takes place after a second financial crisis  (euros, anyone?) that all but destroys the Anglo-American economies and ushers in “China’s golden age of ascendancy.”

The nation that leads the world in The Fat Years is less bleakly dystopian than the Stalinist state portrayed in George Orwell’s 1984 or the biologically controlled society of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Yet it is supremely authoritarian — harassing and even executing the rare dissident and putting drugs in the water supply to inflate a sense of well-being among the masses.  read more »

For High-Speed Rail It Looks Like the End of the Line

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With its vote on September 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee ended the rail boosters’ hopes of getting a meaningful appropriation for high-speed rail in the new (FY 2012) fiscal year. It probably also dealt a decisive death blow to President Obama’s loopy goal of "giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail."  read more »