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The state of Florida has repealed its 30-year old growth management law (also called "smart growth," "compact development" and "livability").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 »

Los Angeles Downtown Stadium Cloaked in 'Green' Snake Oil

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AEG's downtown stadium in Los Angeles isn't just a playground for really big guys or just another site for really rich guys to consume conspicuously in luxury boxes. If you believe the chorus of hype, Farmers Field also grows good jobs, solves the city's debt crisis, transforms downtown Los Angeles into a nicer version of Manhattan, and builds strong bodies eight ways. It may even cure cancer.

But the downtown stadium - if it's built - isn't going to be particularly "green" in ways that matter.  read more »

A Decade in College Degree Attainment

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This week the Census Bureau released its 2010 data from the American Community Survey. The ACS is what contains many of the core demographic characteristics that are frequently opined upon, such as college degree attainment, commute times, etc.  read more »

States with Largest Presence of STEM-Related Jobs

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Few would argue that STEM-educated workers are vital to advancing innovative ideas and new products. But here’s another fact borne out by labor market data: The regions with the strongest presence of STEM-related employment are heavily dependent on government funding.  read more »

Smart Growth (Livability), Air Pollution and Public Health

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In response to the outcry by job creators about proposed new Nitrogen Oxides emission regulations, the Obama Administration has suspended a planned expansion of these rules.

The Public Health Risks of Densification  read more »

Gassing Up: Why America's Future Job Growth Lies In Traditional Energy Industries

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In his new book, The Coming Jobs War, Gallup CEO James Clifton defines what he calls an “all-out global war for good jobs.” Clifton envisions a world-wide struggle for new, steady employment, with the looming threat of “suffering, instability, chaos and eventually revolution” for those who fail to secure new economic opportunities.

In the U.S., this conflict can be seen as a kind of new war battle the states, each fighting not only for employment but for jobs that pay enough to support a middle-class lifestyle.  read more »