Why Today's Green Era May Fail

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Much of the debate about ways to create a landscape of green homes today has focused on the new tax credits for residential energy efficient windows, solar panels and geothermal options. Passive solar and other design methods which make more sense have yet to qualify for tax credits. If history is any guide, this is an error that may take us down the wrong path.

Yesterday And Today  read more »

Sydney: From World City to “Sick Man” of Australia


Americans have their “American Dream” of home ownership. Australians go one step further. They have a “Great Australian Dream” of home ownership. This was all part of a culture that celebrated its egalitarian ethos. Yet, to an even greater degree than in the United States, the “Dream” is in the process of being extinguished. It all started and is the worst in Sydney.

Sydney is Australia’s largest urban area, having passed Melbourne in the last half of the 19th century. With an urban area population of approximately 3.6 million, Sydney leads Melbourne by nearly 300,000.  read more »

Planning: A Shout-Out For Local Players

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More than a century ago, Rudyard Kipling, in his American Notes, shared his views on the character of the US. Along with remarks about the American penchant for tobacco spitting, Kipling recounted the near heroic ability of Americans to govern themselves, especially in small cities and towns. Traveling through the town he called “Musquash” (a pseudonym for Beaver, Pennsylvania) in 1889, Kipling described “good citizens” who participated in “settling its own road-making, local cesses [taxes], town-lot arbitrations, and internal government.”  read more »

Beyond the Stimulus: Time to Get Real


In remarks on Friday following a meeting with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Sheila Bair, Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, President Obama pointed to some “glimmers of hope” in the economy, and indeed a few green shoots – rising mortgage refinancings and a slight uptick in durable goods orders – have appeared in recent weeks.  read more »

America's Four Great Growth Waves and the World Cities They Produced


There have been four great growth waves in American history. In each case, there was an attractive new frontier, which not only drew migrating waves of people seeking new opportunity, but also developed large new bases of industry, wealth, and power. These waves have also created top-tier world cities in their wake. The first three of these waves were:  read more »

Where are the Best Cities for Job Growth?


Over the past five years, Michael Shires, associate professor in public policy at Pepperdine University, and I have been compiling a list of the best places to do business. The list, based on job growth in regions across the U.S. over the long, middle and short term, has changed over the years--but the employment landscape has never looked like this.

In past iterations, we saw many fast-growing economies--some adding jobs at annual rates of 3% to 5%. Meanwhile, some grew more slowly, and others actually lost jobs. This year, however, you can barely find a fast-growing economy anywhere in this vast, diverse country. In 2008, 2% growth made a city a veritable boom town, and anything approaching 1% growth is, oddly, better than merely respectable.  read more »

2009 How We Pick the Best Cities for Job Growth

By Michael Shires

This year's rankings continue the methodology used last year, which emphasizes the robustness of a region's growth and allows the rankings to include all of the metropolitan statistical areas for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly employment data. They are derived from three-month rolling averages of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics "state and area" unadjusted employment data reported from November 1998 to January 2009.  read more »


Millennials’ First Recession


Each generation has been affected differently by the deepening global recession. Baby boomers have witnessed their retirement savings evaporate into oblivion. Generation X families who finally saved enough for a down payment on their first house find themselves deep underwater without SCUBA gear. And earnest Millennials fresh out of college are wondering where all those high-paying jobs promised by duplicitous corporate recruiters went.  read more »

Is the Census Now a Target for a GOP War On Science?


The 2010 Census makes a convenient political target since its findings define so much of where federal aid – now the country’s one true growth industry – is apportioned as well as legislative seats in states and nationally. Yet after an abortive attempt to hijack the Census by narrowly focused Democratic groups, cooler heads have now prevailed in the White House.  read more »

A California Wedding


My wife and I attended a wedding on a recent past weekend. It was a beautiful event in a beautiful setting: city of Atascadero, county of San Luis Obispo, on California’s central coast. We drove through spectacularly beautiful wine country to get there. The weather was beautiful. A beautiful young couple exchanged vows in the backyard of the groom’s childhood home, where his mom still lives.

Beautiful setting, wonderful people  read more »