Rural Pennsylvania – Refocusing Economic Development Strategies

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James Carville, the gifted political strategist and pundit, once reportedly referred to Pennsylvania as, “Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between.” And to be sure, many urban sophisticates share this belief.

But this perception comes from a different time when Pennsylvania’s cities boasted huge, overwhelmingly Democratic populations while the suburban and rural areas, albeit sparsely populated, were culturally aligned bastions of red state Republicanism.  read more »

Telecommuting—Don’t Give it Your All

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Our teens and twenties are, for many, a prolonged period of waffling. We drift from one identity to the next, fixate on one career path and then promptly toss it aside. When we finally do commit to something—a marriage, a job—it’s typically a sign that we’re shrugging off the wishy-washy ways of youth and embracing adulthood. In the grownup world of the workplace, the “give it your all” mindset serves us quite well—unless, that is, we use it to decide the home vs. office question.  read more »

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Telecommute Opportunities

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As gas prices play in the range of four dollars, lots of people are looking for ways to save fuel as part of their work commute or regular household travel. There are some no-brainers like parking the SUV and using the fuel efficient vehicles in the household fleet.  read more »

Skipping the Drive: Fueling the Telecommuting Trend

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The rapid spike in energy prices has led politicians, urban theorists and pundits to pontificate about how Americans will be living and working in new ways. A favorite story line is that Americans will start trading in their suburban homes, move back to the city centers and opt to change everything they have wanted for a half-century --- from big backyards to quiet streets to privacy --- to live a more carbon-lite urban lifestyle.

Yet, there has been little talk about what could be the best way for families and individuals to cut energy use: telecommuting.  read more »

Louvre Café Syndrome: Misunderstanding Amsterdam and America

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Tourists, journalists and urban planners are often smitten with what might be called the "Louvre Café Syndrome." This occurs when Americans sit at Paris cafes in view of the Louvre and imagine why it is that the United States does not look like this. In fact, most of Paris doesn't even look like this, nor do other European urban areas. Like their US counterparts, European urban areas rely principally on cars for mobility (though to a somewhat lesser degree) and their residents live in suburbs that have been built since World War II.  read more »

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Wondering About Skid Row: Whatever Happened to Work?

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I found myself in separate, private discussions with a couple of high-ranking city officials recently. They were pleasantly challenging exchanges, especially because both of my conversation partners displayed intellectual curiosity and willingness to consider divergent viewpoints. Those are wonderful qualities in general, and encouraging when found in individuals who have some influence on public policy.  read more »

Excavating The Buried Civilization of Roosevelt’s New Deal

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A bridge crashes into the Mississippi at rush hour. Cheesy levees go down in New Orleans and few come to help or rebuild. States must rely on gambling for revenue to run essential public services yet fall farther into the pit of structural deficits. Clearly we have gone a long way from the legacy of the New Deal.  read more »

Emerald City Emergence: Seattle and the New Deal

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Seattle voters, if not the city’s newspapers, were strong supporters of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s. As in many parts of the country, New Deal programs had a profound effect on Seattle and Washington state.  read more »

Public Investment, Decentralization and Other Economic Lessons from the New Deal

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The first lesson to be learned from this earlier era is that a large middle class requires an economy that generates a broad base of jobs paying middle-class wages. The New Dealers were not opposed to "rigging" the labor and financial markets to achieve this result. New Deal progressives believed the economy should exist to serve society, not the other way around, and that the government has a duty to shape the economy to meet middle-class aspirations.  read more »

New Deal Investments Created Enduring, Livable Communities

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Growing appeals for more public infrastructure investment make two critical claims: that this would help stimulate the economy in the short run while making our country more productive over the long run. Unlike tax rebates and other short-term stimulus, a major infrastructure investment program can have powerful effects on community life beyond boosting spending at the local Wal-Mart.  read more »