Geography

The Idaho Boom

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Idaho has recently been the fastest growing state in the country, with population growth of 2.1% last year. Of course it is easy to get high percentages on a small base, but the Idaho growth story is real. From 2018 to 2019, the most recent available data, Coeur d’Alene ranked 7th among all metro areas in population growth, Boise ranked 8th, and Idaho Falls ranked 18th.  read more »

Spend Federal Boon Wisely, and Flyover Country Can Win

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The mad dash for states, cities and other local units of government to spend the Biden-administration largess has begun. Once the floodgates are opened in a few weeks and the trillions of dollars in “Covid relief,” infrastructure “investment” and other sources of new federal bounty actually start flowing to jurisdictions across the country, America will see a government-spending spree the likes of which this nation has never experienced – not even in the midst of the Great Depression.  read more »

The Age of Space Reconnaissance

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Wherever profit leads us,
to every sea and shore

For love of gain the wide
world’s harbors we explore.
  — Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel (1587–1679)  read more »

Economic Civil War

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Our national divide is usually cast in terms of ideology, race, climate, and gender. But it might be more accurate to see our national conflict as regional and riven by economic function. The schism is between two ways of making a living, one based in the incorporeal world of media and digital transactions, the other in the tangible world of making, growing, and using real things.  read more »

A Path to Pandemic Relief in the 'Burbs'

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A shift in residential demand to suburban and exurban locations is nearly a year old in the pandemic.

It’s said to stem from households’ desire for more private space (as well as school and crime concerns), combined with greater flexibility to work from home. But public spaces are also an attribute of distance from the city center. Unlike most urban respites, parklands in the ‘burbs tend to have enough elbow room during most times of the year.  read more »

For Product Narratives, Nowhere Beats Flyover Country

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In every pursuit these days, “the narrative” seems to be the thing. Tell a story that checks enough of the right boxes in the zeitgeist, the thinking goes, and you can get citizens, taxpayers and consumers to “buy” what you want them to buy.

This is a reality that’s being used against Flyover Country – but one that also provides us with opportunities to flip the script.  read more »

The Case for American Optimism

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Now that Trump has been edged out of office, Joe Biden may emerge as the harbinger of a brighter, better blue future or as a version of Konstantin Chernenko, the aged timeserver who ran the Soviet Union in its dying days. To succeed, he will have to confront massive pessimism about America’s direction, with some 80 percent thinking the country is out of control. The Atlantic last year compared the U.S. to a “failed state,” while The Week predicts “dark days ahead.”  read more »

Can California Stop Big Tech from Decamping to Cheaper Places?

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For the past half-century, California has dominated America’s tech industry. From the development of precision farming to the incubation of aircraft, space, semiconductors and computer systems, this state has emerged time and again at the cutting edge of future industries.  read more »

Xi'an: Ancient and Modern: The Evolving Urban Form

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Xi’an (pronunciation) is located in central China, on the Wei River, a tributary of the flood-prone Yellow River (Huang He). Xi’an is at the bottom of the “Ordos Loop” (see Surprising Ordos: The Evolving Urban Form), which is formed by the Yellow River’s sharp northward turn upstream at Lanzhou, toward Inner Mongolia (Nei Mongol).  read more »

Are Great Lakes a Big Economic Advantage?

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Denizens of the Great Lakes watershed long have looked at those five vast, deep, shimmering pools not only as an unmatched economic and cultural resource but also as the ultimate trump card.  read more »