A Little Snooki in the French Presidential Campaign

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As a reality television series, it’s hard to beat the prime-time adventures of the French presidential election; as endless as the Republican primaries, but racier than Snooki's antics on “Jersey Shore”. This ought to give pause to anyone who is relying on Parisian politics to save the European Union.

To ensure that the Élysée Palace is inhabited occasionally by bigamists (François Mitterand), megalomaniacs (Charles de Gaulle), diamond smugglers (Valéry d’Estaing), or influence peddlers (Jacques Chirac), the presidential electoral system works like this: In the first round on April 22nd, candidates from a diverse number of parties across the spectrum will face off. If none of the candidates get more than 50 percent of the vote (unlikely), a runoff is then held two weeks later, featuring the top two finishers of round one.  read more »

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The Right Steps to a Post-College Job

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What will become of today's middle class college students after they graduate? Opposing points of view come, on one side, from a voice of the education establishment, the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AACU), and on the other from rhetorical bomb thrower and author Aaron Clarey Worthless: The Young Person’s Indispensible Guide to Choosing the Right Major.  read more »

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Alternative Growth Paths for Sydney: A New Report and its Implications

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Population growth in Australia is double the world average and the New South Wales Department of Planning has projected that the population of the Sydney region will increase by 57,000 people annually. How will these extra people be housed?  The NSW Government follows the usual doctrines based on higher population densities. Its planning policy, known as The Metropolitan Strategy, works on locating some 70% of new dwellings within existing urban communities (in-fill) and 30% in new greenfield sites.   read more »

The Urban US: Growth and Decline

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The urban population of the United States is now 249 million, according to the 2010 Census, 81 percent of the total. This is impressive, and not all surprising for a large developed economy. Yet the urban population --- meaning cities, suburbs and exurbs --- is not everything. And in many ways for everything from food, resources and recreation, the urban areas still depend on the nearly sixty million who live in rural America  read more »

Enjoying the Kool-Aid in Omaha

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I left Santa Monica for Omaha less than 3 months before the collapse of the global financial infrastructure in September 2008. The impending problems in housing and credit markets – obvious from early 2007 and exacerbated by the pile-on effect of derivatives gone wild – were increasingly in the bank of my mind. I made the decision to leave the dense urban population center of southern California and head to a place where —as recently described in an episode of The Walking Dead – there is a small population and lots of guns. I figured if the world was going to fall apart (something short of being over-run by zombies but worse than a minor recession) I’d rather not be sitting with my back to the ocean and no boat.  read more »

Still Moving to the Suburbs and Exurbs: The 2011 Census Estimates

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The new 2011 Census Bureau county and metropolitan area population estimates indicate that Americans are staying put. Over the past year, 590,000 people moved between the nation's counties. This domestic migration (people moving within the nation) compares to an annual rate of 1,080,000 between the 2000 and 2009. Inter-county domestic migration peaked in 2006 at nearly 1,620,000 and has been falling since that time (Figure 1).  read more »

Peyton Manning for President?

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Is the free agency of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, or the trade of the evangelic Tim Tebow to the New York Jets a far more compelling story than anything yet to emerge from the presidential election news?

Compared with Peyton Manning’s dignified handling of his neck injuries and his complicated departure from Indianapolis, Mitt Romney seems about as stately as those hair-rinsed, middle-aged men who show up on halftime advertisements with that Viagra look in their eye. (In Romney’s case he is trying to get a few primary delegations to head upstairs.)  read more »

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'Protestant Ethic' 2.0: The New Ways Religion Is Driving Economic Outperformance

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In this season when most Americans are more concerned than usual with spiritual matters, it may be time to ask whether religion still matters. Certainly religiosity’s worst side has been amply on display in recent years, from the fanaticism of Islamic terrorists to the annoying sanctimoniousness of Rick Santorum.  read more »

Smart Growth: The Maryland Example

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This is Part Two of a two-part series.

Evidence that people just don’t like Smart Growth is revealed in findings from organizations set up to promote Smart Growth. In 2009, the Washington Post reported, “Scholars at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education found that over a decade, smart growth has not made a dent in Maryland's war on sprawl.”  read more »

Smart Growth and The New Newspeak

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It’s a given in our representative system that policies adopted into law should have popular support. However, there is a distinction to be made between adopting a policy consistent with what a majority of people want, and pushing a policy while making dubious claims that it harnesses “the will of the people.”  read more »