Middle Class

The Middle Class Rebellion

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We usually associate rebellions with the rise of the desperate. But increasingly we are seeing large protests in comparatively wealthy countries that are led not by working class sans-culottes or starving peasants, but what was once the stable middle class.  read more »

Giving Thanks Matters

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Thanksgiving may be approaching, but its chief value, that of gratitude, seems oddly out of fashion. When the Pilgrims broke bread with their Native American neighbors, it was with full appreciation of the role of Providence in their salvation.  read more »

America's Drift Toward Feudalism

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America’s emergence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represented a dramatic break from the past. The United States came on the scene with only vestiges of the old European feudal order—mostly in the plantation economy of the Deep South. There was no hereditary nobility, no national church, and, thanks to George Washington’s modesty, no royal authority. At least among whites, there was also far less poverty in America, compared to Europe’s in­tense, intractable, multigenerational poverty.  read more »

Stomping On the Suburbs

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Our way of life is a miracle for this kind of world, and … the danger lies in thinking that of it as ‘natural’ and likely to endure without a passionate determination on our part to preserve and defend it.” — W.V. Aughterson, The Australian Way of Life, 1951

For generations, Australia has enjoyed among the highest living standards in the world. The “Australian dream”, embodied largely by owning a single-family home with a small backyard, included well over 70 per cent of households.  read more »

Unsustainable California

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The recent rash of fires, like the drought that preceded it, has sparked a new wave of pessimism about the state’s future. But the natural disasters have also obscured the fact the greatest challenge facing the state comes not from burning forests or lack of precipitation but from an increasingly dysfunctional society divided between a small but influential wealthy class and an ever-expanding poverty population.  read more »

Why America’s Free Market Economy Works Better in Some Places than Others

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Is America’s free market system working as advertised? Mostly yes, but it depends to a surprising degree on where you live.

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Democracy is For the Dogs

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With a new round of state and local elections just around the corner, I am regularly asked about what brings Americans out to the polls and helps them politically engage them with their communities.  read more »

The Expanding and Dispersing San Francisco Bay Area

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This decade has witnessed an unprecedented expansion of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area (the San Jose-San Francisco combined statistical area or CSA), with the addition of three Central Valley metropolitan areas, Stockton, Modesto and Merced. Over the same period, there has been both a drop in the population growth rate and a shift of growth to the Central Valley exurban metropolitan areas.  read more »

Greater Los Angeles Area Growth Tanking and Dispersing

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For decades, there has been substantial dispersion of population in Greater Los Angeles (Los Angeles combined statistical area or CSA), as the suburban areas outside the urban core have dominated population growth. The latest population estimates by the US Census Bureau confirm the continuation of that trend. But something has changed. In recent years the Los Angeles CSA has experienced an unprecedented slowing of growth. The little growth has occurred has been dispersed away from coast, especially from Los Angeles and Orange counties to inland Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  read more »

Even Before the Blackouts, Most Californians Considered Leaving

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For virtually all of its history from statehood in 1850 to 2000, California was a magnet drawing households from the rest of the United States for better lives. Indeed, in a nation that had its "American Dream," California had its own "California Dream."  There was no Oregon dream, despite its mountains , seashore and proximity to California, nor was there a Maine or South Carolina dream.  read more »