Is L.A. Back? Don’t Buy the Hype

Appearing in:

Forbes

With two football teams moving to Los Angeles, a host of towers rising in a resurgent downtown and an upcoming IPO for L.A.’s signature start-up, Snapchat parent Snap Inc., one can make a credible case that the city that defined growth for a half century is back. According to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Rams, Chargers and the new mega-stadium that will house them in neighboring Inglewood, show that “that this is a town that nobody can afford to pass up.” Read more

The True Legacy of Gov. Jerry Brown

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

The cracks in the 50-year-old Oroville Dam, and the massive spillage and massive evacuations that followed, shed light on the true legacy of Jerry Brown. The governor, most recently in Newsweek, has cast himself as both the Subcomandante Zero of the anti-Trump resistance and savior of the planet. But when Brown finally departs Sacramento next year, he will be leaving behind a state that is in danger of falling apart both physically and socially. Read more

Kevin Starr, Chronicler of the California Dream

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

“From the Beginning, California promised much. While yet barely a name on the map, it entered American awareness as a symbol of renewal. It was a final frontier: of geography and of expectation.”

— Kevin Starr, “Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915” (1973)

In a way, now rare and almost archaic, Kevin Starr, who died last week at age 76, believed in the possibilities of California Read more

California as Alt-America

Appearing in:

Real Clear Politics

In 1949 the historian Carey McWilliams defined California as the “the Great Exception” — a place so different from the rest of America as to seem almost a separate country. In the ensuing half-century, the Golden State became not so much exceptional but predictive of the rest of the nation: California’s approaches to public education, the environment, politics, community-building and lifestyle often became national standards, and even normative. Read more

California’s Racial Politics Harming Minorities

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Across the country, white voters placed Donald Trump in office by a margin of 21 points over Clinton. Their backing helped the GOP gain control of a vast swath of local offices nationwide. But in California, racial politics are pushing our general politics the other direction, way to the left. Read more

Can California Transition to Next Tech Wave?

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

The consumer technology boom, largely responsible for a resurgence in California’s economy after the tech wreck of 2001, seems to be coming to an end. The signs are widespread: slowing employment, layoffs from bell-weather social media companies, the almost embarrassing difficulty of finding buyers for Twitter, the absorption of Yahoo by Verizon and the acquisition by Microsoft of LinkedIn. Read more

Today’s Orange County: Not Right Wing—and Kinda Hip

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

What comes to mind when you think about Orange County? Probably, images of lascivious housewives and blonde surfers. And certainly, at least if you know your political history, crazed right-wing activists, riding around with anti-UN slogans on their bumpers in this county that served as a crucial birthplace of modern movement conservatism in the 1950s. Read more

California’s Road to Leviathan

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

At a time when technology and public opinion should be expanding the boundaries of innovation and self-expression, we appear to be entering a new era of ever greater economic and political centralization, Wendell Cox and I suggest in a new paper.

The trend to a more centralized economy is particularly evident in the information and media sectors, once hotbeds of entrepreneurial opportunity but now dominated by a handful of leviathan firms who gobble up competitors and often control markets at will. This trend is also evident in Washington, which increasingly regulates all aspects of our life, under an unprecedented welter of presidential and regulatory decrees, often bypassing the legislative process. Read more

OC Model: A Vision for Orange County’s Future

This is the introduction to a new report on Orange County published by the Chapman University Center for Demographics and Policy titled, “OC Model: A Vision for Orange County’s Future.”  Read the full report (pdf) here.

Blessed by a great climate and a highly skilled workforce, Orange County should be at the forefront of creating high wage jobs. The fact that it is not should be a worrying sign to the area’s business, academic, political and media leaders. Despite some signs of recovery in OC, long-term trends, such as a dependence on asset inflation and low wage employment, seem fundamentally incompatible with sustainable and enduring growth in the County.

Read more

OC Model: A Vision for Orange County’s Future

This is the introduction to a new report on Orange County published by the Chapman University Center for Demographics and Policy, titled “OC Model: A Vision for Orange County’s Future.” Read the full report (pdf) here.

Blessed by a great climate and a highly skilled workforce, Orange County should be at the forefront of creating high wage jobs. The fact that it is not should be a worrying sign to the area’s business, academic, political and media leaders. Despite some signs of recovery in OC, long-term trends, such as a dependence on asset inflation and low wage employment, seem fundamentally incompatible with sustainable and enduring growth in the County.

To be sure, asset inflation benefits established property owners, and those who work in the real estate sector, but the surge in property prices and an ever increasing number of touristic venues does not provide enough of a viable base for coming generations. Given the area’s high costs — which can at best be mollified — the area’s prosperity depends on building up its cadre of well-paying high value jobs in promising fields as professional business services, technology and design-oriented cultural industries.

The good news: the county retains some strength in all these fields. But many long-term trends, as we will demonstrate below, are not encouraging. Once one of the nation’s most powerful high-end economies, the county is in danger of losing momentum to other markets.

Reversing this trend will require a more holistic assessment of current realities. It also requires a strong, coherent strategy targeted to high-wage growth sectors. Instead of the current obsession with real estate and tourism projects, the County needs to focus more on what professional business services, technology, finance and science-based companies need in order to succeed.

This necessitates a conscious effort, led by the business community, to develop a strategic direction for Orange County. There are a number of models to choose from, ranging from the most successful, Silicon Valley to greater Boston to the North Carolina Research Triangle, and many more. In each case, the growth from established university research centers — Stanford, MIT, Harvard, as well as the University of North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina state — extended from the university’s base to its periphery. This strong cooperation among universities, government and the private sector is critical to the emerging tech and business service corridor developing between the Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio.

Read the full report (pdf) here.