Suburban Nation, but Urban Political Strategy


Ideologues may set the tone for the national debate, but geography and demography determine elections.

In America, the dominant geography continues to be suburbia – home to at least 60 percent of the population and probably more than that portion of the electorate. Roughly 220 congressional districts, or more than half the nation’s 435, are predominately suburban, according to a 2005 Congressional Quarterly study. This is likely to only increase in the next decade, as Millennials begin en masse to enter their 30s and move to the periphery.  read more »

Prosperity Index Shows That Democracy Still Works Best


With the Cold War well behind us, the real choice between systems lies in a growing variation in the form of capitalisms. Choices now range from the Chinese Leninist model – essential centrally planned exploitation of the greed gene – to various kleptocracies, divergent Anglo-American systems and varied forms of European capitalism.

None of these systems are likely to excite the most rabid Hayekian, especially now that the once free market haven Hong Kong is being integrated into the Chinese command and control system. But still, according a new study by my colleagues at the Legatum Institute, when it comes to delivering the best economic environment for people and families various forms of liberal capitalism still perform best.  read more »


Shifting Voter Demographics: America is a Different Country


As we head to the unpredictable 2010 elections, many pundits have been left scratching their heads and admitting that they really have no idea how this election is going to turn out. Nate Silver, today’s most careful analyst of election statistics and forecasting, examined a variety of indicators and concluded that there were more closely contested and hard-to-predict congressional races this election than ever before.  read more »

Portland's Runaway Debt Train


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

Bicyclists in central LA.jpg

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


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


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


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?

EPA building, DC.jpg

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


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 »