Portland's Runaway Debt Train

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Tri-Met, the operator of Portland's (Oregon) bus and light rail system has been in the news lately, and in less than auspicious ways. For decades, the Portland area’s media – as well as much of the national press – has been filled with stories about the national model that Tri-Met has created, especially with its five light rail lines.  read more »

The Urban Bike Tribes of Los Angeles

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A recent Los Angeles Times article chronicled a showdown between drivers and bicyclists, inspired by the installation of bike lanes and — more significantly — the reduction of auto traffic lanes on a San Fernando Valley boulevard. The change was clearly intended to encourage cyclists, but I had to wonder: Which ones? In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, even the bike riders are divided, loosely, into different tribes.  read more »

A Price on Carbon: the New Greenmail

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Hidden from view during the Australian election, a carbon price is back on the political agenda. This comes as no surprise. Anyone following the debate, however, will see that it has nothing to do with the environment. For some time we have been urged to “act now”, but the grounds keep shifting and changing. Early on it was the drought. Then the Great Barrier Reef. After that the Bali Conference. Then the election of Barack Obama. Next came the Copenhagen Conference. Then being “left behind” in clean technology. Now, apparently, “inaction will cost more in the end”.  read more »

Environmental Consequences of Low Fertility Rates

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But isn’t it great news for the environment that we are having fewer children?”

We should always stress the positive in life. Were it not for the dramatic slowdown in birthrates that began the late 1960s and 70s, the apocalyptic warnings of overpopulation then voiced Paul Ehrlich, the Club of Rome, and many others could well have come true in short order. We are lucky that they did not. But it is not clear the “the planet” is any better off as a consequence.  read more »

Living In Denial About Transportation Funding

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The reaction of various advocacy groups to President Obama’s recent call for a $50 billion stimulus spending plan for transportation infrastructure was predictable. They applauded the President’s initiative and thought that Congress should promptly approve the spending request. The benefits of investing in infrastructure are undisputable and the need for funds is urgent and compelling, they (or their press releases) proclaimed.  read more »

The EPA: Leading Into A Rain Garden?

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Newly-installed solar Panels on the White House are an obvious signal that this administration wants to lead by example. Conservatives will no doubt find ways to ridicule the panels, and liberals will praise them as a display to the world that we are a green nation. About one year ago, on Oct. 5, 2009, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.” Like the white house solar panels, this EO also is intended to urge federal agencies to lead by example.  read more »

Who’s Racist Now? Europe’s Increasing Intolerance

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With the rising tide of terrorist threats across Europe, one can somewhat understandably expect a   surge in Islamophobia across the West. Yet in a contest to see which can be more racist, one would be safer to bet on Europe than on the traditional bogeyman, the United States.

One clear indicator of how flummoxed Europeans have become about diversity were the remarks last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that multi-culturalism has “totally failed” in her country, the richest and theoretically  most capable of absorbing immigrants. “We feel tied to Christian values,” the Chancellor said. “Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here.”  read more »

Chicago’s Eroding Competitive Performance (Chicago vs. New York)

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A lot of my thinking on Chicago has been shaped by an overarching view of its performance. Believe it or not, I used to be a huge Chicago cheerleader. I don’t think there’s any doubt that during the 1990’s, Chicago rediscovered its mojo and was really tearing up the charts of performance for big cities. But something changed in the mid-2000’s. I date it to the opening of Millennium Park. Millennium Park was a huge home run for the city, and obviously a key positive part of Mayor Daley’s legacy, no matter what the cost over runs.  read more »

Subjects:

Green Jobs for Janitors: How Neoliberals and Green Keynesians Wrecked Obama's Promise of a Clean Energy Economy

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In August 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama traveled to Lansing, Michigan, to lay out an ambitious ten-year plan for revitalizing, and fundamentally altering, the American economy. His administration, he vowed, would midwife new clean-energy industries, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and create five million green jobs. "Will America watch as the clean-energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany?" Obama asked. "Or will we create them here, in the greatest country on earth, with the most talented, productive workers in the world?"  read more »

The Future of a Hub: Can Singapore Stay On Top of the Game?

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Viewed from a broad, historical perspective, Singapore’s position as a hub is far from inevitable or unassailable. History shows that hubs come and go. Malacca used to be the centre of the spice trade in Southeast Asia. Venice was the centre of East-West trade throughout the Middle Ages. Rangoon, now Yangon, was the aviation hub of Southeast Asia before 1962.  read more »