The Expanding Economic Pie & Grinding Poverty

century-park-2011.jpg

A review of data from the past 200 years indicates not only a huge increase in the world's population, but an even more significant increase in real incomes. This is illustrated using the data series developed by the late Angus Maddison of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that included historic estimates of economic performance by geographical area (nations and other reported geographies) from 1500 to 2000.  read more »

Where Americans Are Moving

bigstock-Dallas-skyline-26199572.jpg

The red states may have lost the presidential election, but they are winning new residents, largely at the expense of their politically successful blue counterparts. For all the talk of how the Great Recession has driven people — particularly the “footloose young” — toward dense urban centers, Census data reveal that Americans are still drawn to the same sprawling Sun Belt regions as before.  read more »

Millennials Ready to Play Key Role in Housing Market Recovery

bigstock-Real-estate-background-17119544.jpg

Recent data from a survey commissioned by Better Homes and Garden Real Estate (BHGRE) suggests a pent up desire among 18-35 year olds to own a home of their own that could easily fuel a real estate boom for at least the rest of this decade.   read more »

Off the Rails: How the Party of Lincoln Became the Party of Plutocrats

bigstock-Lincoln-Memorial-305498.jpg

For a century now, Republicans have confused being the party of plutocrats with being the party of prosperity. Thus Mitt Romney.

To win back the so-called 47 percent—an insulting description Romney doubled down after the election when he blamed his loss on Obama’s “gifts”—Republican might look farther back, past Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to their first president, Abraham Lincoln.  read more »

Detroit: America's Whipping Boy Needs a Second Chance

Abandoned Detroit Homes.jpg

Every so often, Detroit seems to pop up in our popular consciousness in a negative way.  Ever since the ’67 riots, a steady stream of bad press has altered the national perception of the Motor City.  Right now the city’s efforts to prevent state takeover because of its fiscal problems seems to shape discussion about Detroit.  The most recent demonstration of this is the State of Michigan’s proposal to make Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, the jewel of the city’s park system, into a state park through an extended lease agreement.   read more »

What is a Half-Urban World?

smallurban.jpg

Within the last couple of years, the population of the world has become more than one half urban for the first time in history. By 2025, the world's urban areas are expected to account for 58% of the world population, rising further to two-thirds in 2050. This represents a huge increase from the 29% that was urban in 1950, or estimates of approximately 10% (or less) in 1800. (Figure 1).  read more »

Faking It: The Happy Messaging of Placemaking

bigstock-happy-smiley-25475741.jpg

Picasso said “Art is a lie that tells the truth”. Nowadays, there’s less truth to that, as the creative process is increasingly about prettying up and papering over what’s broke.

More on that shortly, but first, about the breakage: it’s legitimate. Said Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz in a recent NY Times piece that plain-talks our economic conditions: “Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, which means increasing inequality, which means a weaker economy.”

That assessment—from a very smart man studying the problem—isn’t good. But in the American feel-good milieu you wouldn’t know it: “We’re coming out if it.” “Tomorrow is forever.” “Start-ups will save the U.S.” Etc. And while tone deaf, this kind of brushing off of problems isn’t new, but part of what social critic Barbara Ehrenreich refers to as America’s “cult of cheerfulness”, and it’s a “cult” that has spawned a longstanding and growing American feel-good industry.  read more »

Review: Driving Detroit, The Quest for Respect in the Motor City

driving-detroit.png

For more than a century, the city of Detroit has been an ideological and at times actual battleground for decidedly different views about the economy, labor and the role of government.  At one time it was the center of a can-do entrepreneurialism that helped launch the American automobile industry.  By 1914, for example, no fewer than 43 start-up companies were manufacturing automobiles in the city and surrounding region.  Following a wave of sit-down strikes that began almost immediately after FDR’s landslide victory in 1936, the economic character of the city changed dra  read more »

Petraeus's Turf: The South Tampa Scene

Gasparilla; Tampa FL 2010.jpg

Bimbo eruptions are never fortunate occurrences, least of all for the bimbos involved. When they occur in South Tampa, they carry the sordid spectacles to new frontiers. A gentle but feisty cultural mix of blue-collar, white-collar, and varied ethnicities stretches between Old Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay on a peninsula tipped with MacDill Air Force Base.  read more »

Subjects:

The Rise of the Third Coast

bigstock-New-Orleans-Morning-969398.jpg

In the wilds of Louisiana’s St. James Parish, amid the alligators and sugar plantations, Lester Hart is building the $750 million steel plant of his dreams. Over the past decade, Hart has constructed plants for steel producer Nucor everywhere from Trinidad to North Carolina. Today, he says, Nucor sees its big opportunities here, along the banks of the Mississippi River, roughly an hour west of New Orleans by car.  read more »