Can California Make A Comeback?


These are times that thrill some easterners' souls. However bad things might be on Wall Street or Beacon Hill, there's nothing more pleasing to Atlantic America than the whiff of devastation on the other coast.

And to be sure, you can make a strong case that the California dream is all but dead. The state is effectively bankrupt, its political leadership discredited and the economy, with some exceptions, doing considerably worse than most anyplace outside Michigan. By next year, suggests forecaster Bill Watkins, unemployment could nudge up towards an almost Depression-like 15%.  read more »

Sweden's Taxes - The Hidden Costs of The Welfare State

Stockholm Town Hall  iStock_000001040695XSmall.jpg

By Nima Sanandaji and Robert Gidehag

Sweden is a nation with extraordinary high tax rates. The average worker not only pays 30 percent of her or his income in visible taxes, but, additionally, close to 30 percent in hidden taxes. The defenders of the punishing tax burden argue that it is needed to maintain Sweden’s generous welfare system. While this claim may seem reasonable on its surface, a deeper look suggests that it is based on flawed analysis.  read more »

Life After Sunrail


With their tails between their legs, Central Florida’s leaders returned from Tallahassee in early May without funding from the Florida Senate for Sunrail, the region’s proposed commuter rail system. This failure to convince the state Senate to fund Sunrail is a major political defeat for the 1.8 million people who were said to be served by this train.  read more »

The Successful, the Stable, and the Struggling Midwest Cities


The Midwest has a deserved reputation as a place that has largely failed to adapt to the globalized world. For example, no Midwestern city would qualify as a boomtown but still there remain a diversity of outcomes in how the region’s cities have dealt with their shared heritage and challenges. Some places are faring surprisingly well, outpacing even the national average in many measures, while others bring up the bottom of the league tables in multiple civics measures.  read more »

Housing Downturn Update: We May Have Reached Bottom, But Not Everywhere


It is well known that the largest percentage losses in house prices occurred early in the housing bubble in inland California, Sacramento and Riverside-San Bernardino, Las Vegas and Phoenix. These were the very southwestern areas that housing refugees fled to in search of less unaffordable housing in California’s coastal metropolitan areas (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose).  read more »

California Meltdown: When in doubt, Blame the Voters!


By rejecting the complex Sacramento budget settlement, Californians have brought about an earthquake of national significance as has not been seen since the passage of Proposition 13 over thirty years ago. Once again, California voters handed politicians something they fear more than anything else, constraints on the ability to raise taxes and raid revenues for their pet interests.

Some, like long time Los Angeles Times statehouse reporter George Skelton thinks it’s the voters’ fault, as he suggested in his recent op-ed. The problem, we are told, lies with voters. The state’s massive fiscal crisis, which I and others warned was coming, was apparently unforecastable to California politicians and their enablers, like Skelton.  read more »

Let's Snooker The TARP Babies


Snook, Texas, a town of less than 600 souls, is best known for being the home of Sodalak's Country Inn, the originator of country fried bacon. It may seem an odd place to launch a return to financial health, but that's exactly what Dean Bass has in mind.

Bass, a veteran banking entrepreneur from Houston, in November bought the tiny First Bank of Snook as part of his plan to build a new financial powerhouse amid the worst economic downturn in a generation. The old bank, which also had a branch 15 miles away in College Station, home to Texas A&M, provided Bass with his charter, as well as access to a strong market on the far periphery of his home town.  read more »

The Luxury City vs. the Middle Class


The sustainable city of the future will rest on the revival of traditional institutions that have faded in many of today’s cities.

Ellen Moncure and Joe Wong first met in school and then fell in love while living in the same dorm at the College of William and Mary. After graduation, they got married and, in 1999, moved to Washington, D.C., where they worked amid a large community of single and childless people.  read more »

Suburbs and Cities: The Unexpected Truth


Much has been written about how suburbs have taken people away from the city and that now suburbanites need to return back to where they came. But in reality most suburbs of large cities have grown not from the migration of local city-dwellers but from migration from small towns and the countryside.  read more »

The Twilight of Special Interest Politics


Special interest groups are the scourge of the common interest, are they not? The Founding Fathers, in The Federalist Papers, recognized the danger posed by “factions,” but assumed that competing groups would keep the balance. They could not have foreseen our current Special Interest State, wherein tens of thousands of special interest groups exert such profound influence on politics, policies and life in the United States.  read more »