Stimulus Plan Caters to the Privileged Public Sector

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Call it the Paulson Principle, Part Deux.

Under the now thankfully-departed Treasury secretary, we got the first bailout for the undeserving – essentially, members of his own Wall Street class.

Now comes the Democratic codicil to the P. Principle. It's a massive bailout and expansion of the public-sector workforce as well as quasi-government workers in fields like health and education.  read more »

This Perp Walk Needs Handcuffs

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Do many of us truly understand the scale of one trillion dollars? The following executives have been called to Capitol Hill to explain what they did with their shares of the $750 billion bailout:

- Mr. Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.
- Mr. James Dimon, Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- Mr. Robert P. Kelly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of New York Mellon
- Mr. Ken Lewis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America
- Mr. Ronald E. Logue, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, State Street Corporation  read more »

Wisconsin Checks Out The Finland Club

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Our Central Wisconsin delegation journeyed to Finland in October, 2008. We definitely learned a few lessons that we’ll apply here at home, with the hope of moving our ability to compete globally to a much higher level.

“Finland is not a country, it is a club” stated one of the many presenters we heard during our study tour. This perspective of how Finns see themselves says something valuable about what they believe it will take for them to compete in the changing global economy: a whole lot of cooperation, strong relationships and inter-connectedness!  read more »

Seattle Joins the Recession

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At the time of the election, less than 3 months ago, Seattle seemed to be riding above the fray, escaping the worst features of the recession, such as mass layoffs, even despite weakness in the housing market. Seattle area voters even approved a series of huge tax measures, including $30 billion for rail rapid transit, befitting what folks here like to consider a world-class city.

The story recently is much more somber, reeling somewhat from a series of high-level hits to the economy.  read more »

Musings on Urban Form: Is Brooklyn the Ultimate City?

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It’s clear we need a new lexicon for emerging urban forms that are neither urban nor suburban in character. Yet when you raise that issue, you elicit some strongly held views — most of them negative — about whether anything other than a “real city” with its bad sections, panhandlers, and industrial areas can qualify as urban.

I feel it is increasingly difficult to make such distinctions. This is particularly true as we observe the rapidly changing character of inner-ring suburbs in particular, as well as the innumerable “new towns” that have sprouted up in what would otherwise clearly be suburban or even exurban locales.  read more »

Public Pension Troubles Loom for State and Local Governments

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We have watched with trepidation as the stock market declines and along with it the value of our retirement accounts. Yet with our personal accounts, it’s our own problem. When it comes to public pensions, it’s the taxpayer’s problem. Underfunded pensions could cut two ways, leading to much higher taxes and/or cuts in government spending.  read more »

Reviving the City of Aspiration: A Study of the Challenges Facing New York City's Middle Class

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For much of its history, New York City has thrived as a place that both sustained a large middle class and elevated countless people from poorer backgrounds into the ranks of the middle class. The city was never cheap and parts of Manhattan always remained out of reach, but working people of modest means—from forklift operators and bus drivers to paralegals and museum guides—could enjoy realistic hopes of home ownership and a measure of economic security as they raised their families across the other four boroughs.  read more »

Obama: Only Implement Green Policies that Make Sense in a Time of Crisis

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With the exception of African-Americans, the group perhaps most energized by the Barack Obama presidency has been the environmentalists. Yet if most Americans can celebrate along with their black fellow citizens the tremendous achievement of Obama’s accession, the rise of green power may have consequences less widely appreciated.

The new power of the green lobby — including a growing number of investment and venture capital firms — introduces something new to national politics, although already familiar in places such as California and Oregon. Even if you welcome the departure of the Bush team, with its slavish fealty to Big Oil and the Saudis, the new power waged by environmental ideologues could impede the president’s primary goal of restarting our battered economy.  read more »

Housing Prices Will Continue to Fall, Especially in California

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The latest house price data indicates no respite in the continuing price declines, especially where the declines have been the most severe. But no place has seen the devastation that has occurred in California. As median house prices climbed to an unheard-of level – 10 or more times median household incomes – a sense of euphoria developed among many purchasers, analysts and business reporters who deluded themselves into believing that metaphysics or some such cause would propel prices into a more remote orbit.  read more »

New York Should End Its Obsession With Manhattan

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Over the past two years, I have had many opportunities to visit my ancestral home, New York, as part of a study out later this week by the Center for an Urban Future about the city's middle class. Often enough, when my co-author, Jonathan Bowles, and I asked about this dwindling species, the first response was "What middle class?"

Well, here is the good news. Despite Mayor Bloomberg's celebration of "the luxury city," there's still a middle class in New York, although not in the zip codes close to hizzoner's townhouse. These middle-class enclaves are as diverse as the city. Some are heavily ethnic, others packed with arty types, many of them more like suburbia than traditionally urban.  read more »