Aristocracy of Talent: Social Mobility Is the Silver Lining to America’s Inequality Crisis

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Yes, wealth concentration is insane. But the ways in which wealth is shifting are surprising—and give reason for a little optimism.

In an age of oligarchy, one should try to know one’s overlords—how they made their money, and where they want to take the country. By looking at the progress of the super-rich --- in contrast with most of us --- one can see the emerging and changing dynamics of American wealth.  read more »

Singapore’s Midlife Crisis

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Lee Kwan Yew, one of the great political architects of our time, died a year ago, but the regime he established in Singapore remains entrenched in power. In fact, the parliamentary elections last year—to the surprise and consternation of Lee’s critics—enlarged his People’s Action Party (PAP) majority in Parliament from a record low of 60 percent to close to 70 percent. Despite talk of a “new normal” defined by more competitive politics, the city-state’s norms remain very much as they have been for the better part of a half century.  read more »

Subjects:

In Praise of Plain Old Bus Service

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My recent post on counting the long term costs of building rail transit got a lot of hits – and as expected a lot of pushback.

There are a lot of people out there that are simply committed to the idea of rail transit, no matter how unwarranted a particular line or system might be.  read more »

Population Growth in the Largest Counties: Texas, Florida and the South

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As last week's US Census Bureau population estimates indicated, the story of population growth between 2014 and 2015 was largely about Texas, as it has been for the decade starting 2010 (See: “Texas Keeps Getting Bigger” The New Metropolitan Area Estimates).  read more »

The Sun Belt Is Rising Again, New Census Numbers Show

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From 2009-11, Americans seemed to be clustering again in dense cities, to the great excitement urban boosters. The recently released 2015 Census population estimates confirm that was an anomaly. Americans have strongly returned to their decades long pattern of greater suburbanization and migration to lower-density, lower-cost metropolitan areas, largely in the South, Intermountain West and, most of all, in Texas.  read more »

Even as They Retire, it's Still About the Boomers

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America’s baby boomers, even as they increasingly enter retirement, continue to dominate our political economy in ways no previous group of elderly has done. Sadly, their impact has also proven toxic, presenting our beleaguered electorate a likely Hobbesian presidential choice between a disliked, and distrusted, political veteran and a billionaire agitator most Americans find scary.

Throughout the campaign, boomers have provided the bedrock of support for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders may have devastated Clinton among millennial voters, by almost 3-1, but she has more than offset that gap by winning overwhelming support from older voters.  read more »

Subjects:

The Relationship Between Fertility and National Income

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We all heard that “demography is destiny”. But how many of us truly believe it?  read more »

“Texas Keeps Getting Bigger” The New Metropolitan Area Estimates

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The United States Census Bureau has just released its 2015 population estimates for metropolitan areas and counties. Again, the story is Texas, with the Bureau’s news release headline reading: Four Texas Metro Areas Collectively Add More Than 400,000 People in the Last Year. The Census Bureau heralded the accomplishment with a ”Texas Keeps Getting Bigger” poster, which is shown below. The detailed data is in the table at the bottom of the article.  read more »

Why You Should Think Twice Before Building a Rail Transit System

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The Washington Metro system was shut down completely for a day recently to allow crews to inspect all of the power cables in the system. They found 26 cables and connectors in need of immediate repair.

This is just the latest in a series of safety problems and breakdowns that have plagued the system.

Metro has a large unfunded maintenance liability. This doesn’t surprise us because we expect American transit systems to have a backlog.  read more »

Trumpism: America’s Berlusconi Moment

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Trump envisioned and created today’s city of white boxes for rootless new money types, who dominate the city even as they leave little mark here.

An old joke—that in heaven, the Italians do the cooking; in hell, they run the government—feels a lot darker now that American politics are taking an Italian turn.  read more »