California Homes Require Real Reach

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

In the 1950s and 1960s, Southern California was ground zero for the “American Dream” of owning a house. From tony Newport Beach and Bel-Air to the more middle-class suburbs of the San Fernando Valley and Garden Grove to working-class Lakewood, our region created a vast geography of opportunity for prospective homeowners.

Today, with house prices again skyrocketing, Southern California is morphing into something that more resembles a geography of inequality. Now, even the middle class is forced into either being “house poor” or completely shut out of homeownership, or may simply be obliged to leave the area. Even more troubling is that the working class and the poor suffer from the kind of crowded, overpriced housing conditions sadly reminiscent of those experienced during the Depression and the Second World War. Read more

California’s Blue-on-Blue Battle

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Perhaps nothing more illustrates the evolving inner class conflict within the progressive political movement than the recent embrace of California as a role model for the rest of the country. The Golden State, maintains John Judis of the New Republic, should provide the game plan for the Obama administration as it seeks a path back to relevance.

As an old-style, and increasingly marginal, Democrat, my response is “say what?” After all, even by the standards of the tepid national recovery, California, for all the celebration, still lags. The state has consistently suffered among the highest unemployment rates in the country – now ranking around sixth at 8.5 percent – and now, according to the U.S. Census, the highest rate of poverty in the country.

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Southern California Economy Not Keeping Up

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

One of Orange County’s top executives asked me over lunch recently why Southern California has not seen anything like the kind of tech boom now sweeping large parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. In many ways, it is just one indication of how this region – once seen as the cutting edge of American urbanism – has lost ground not only to its historic northern rival, but also to some venerable East Coast cities, as well as the boom towns of Texas and the recovering metropolitan areas of the Southeast.

This divergence became particularly clear to me as I put together the most recent Forbes Best Places for Jobs with Pepperdine University economist Mike Shires. Our rankings focus heavily on momentum Read more

Fracking Offers Jerry Brown a Watershed Moment

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

The recent announcement that Jerry Brown is studying "fracking" in California, suggests that our governor may be waking up to the long-term reality facing our state. It demonstrates that, despite the almost embarrassing praise from East Coast media about his energy and green policies, Brown likely knows full well that the state’s current course, to use the most overused term, is simply not politically and economically sustainable.

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Blue States Double Down On Suicide Strategy

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Whatever President Obama proposes in his State of the Union for the economy, it is likely to fall victim to the predictable Washington gridlock. But a far more significant economic policy debate in America is taking place among the states, and the likely outcome may determine the country’s course in the post-Obama era.

On one side are the blue states, who believe that higher taxes are not only just, but also the road to stronger economic growth. This is somewhat ironic, since, as we pointed out earlier, higher taxes on the “rich” would seem to hurt their economies more, given their high concentration of high-income earners. However, showing themselves to be gluttons for punishment, many of these states have decided to double down on high taxes, raising their rates to unprecedented levels.

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California Becoming Less Family-Friendly

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

For all of human history, family has underpinned the rise, and decline, of nations. This may also prove true for the United States, as demographics, economics and policies divide the nation into what may be seen as child-friendly and increasingly child-free zones.

Where California falls in this division also may tell us much about our state’s future. Indeed, in his semi-triumphalist budget statement, our 74-year-old governor acknowledged California’s rapid aging as one of the more looming threats for our still fiscally challenged state. Read more

Prescription for an Ailing California

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Only a fool, or perhaps a politician or media pundit, would say California is not in trouble, despite some modest recent improvements in employment and a decline in migration out of the state. Yet the patient, if still very sick, is curable, if the right medicine is taken, followed by the proper change in lifestyle regimen.

The first thing necessary: Identify the root cause of California’s maladies. The biggest challenge facing our state is not climate change, or immigration, corporate greed, globalization or even corruption. It’s the demise of upward mobility for the vast majority of Californians, and the rise of an increasingly class-ridden, bifurcated society.

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California’s Demographic Dilemma

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

It’s been nearly 20 years since California Gov. Pete Wilson won re-election by tying his campaign to the anti-illegal immigrant measure Proposition 187. Ads featuring grainy images of presumably young Hispanic males crossing the border energized a largely white electorate terrified of being overwhelmed, financially and socially, by the incoming foreign hordes.

The demographic dilemma facing California today might be better illustrated by pictures of aging hippies with gray ponytails, of legions in wheel-chairs, seeking out the best rest home and unemployed young people on the street corner, watching while middle-age families drive away, seeking to fulfill mundane middle-class dreams in other states.

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Facebook’s IPO Testifies to Silicon Valley’s Power but Does Little for Other Californians

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

The $104 billion Facebook IPO testifies to the still considerable innovative power of Silicon Valley, but the hoopla over the new wave of billionaires won’t change the basic reality of the state’s secular economic decline.

This contradicts the accepted narrative in Sacramento. Over five years of below-par economic performance, the state’s political, media, and business leadership has counted on the Golden State’s creative genius to fund the way out of its dismal budgetary morass and an unemployment rate that’s the third highest in the nation. David Crane, Governor Schwarzenegger’s top economic adviser, for example, once told me that California could easily afford to give up blue-collar jobs in warehousing, manufacturing, or even business services because the state’s vaunted “creative economy” would find ways to replace the lost employment and income. California would always come out ahead, he said, because it represented “ground zero for creative destruction.”

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The Top U.S. Regions for Technology Jobs

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

With Facebook poised to go public, the attention of the tech world, and Wall Street, is firmly focused on Silicon Valley. Without question, the west side of San Francisco Bay is by far the most prodigious creator of hot companies and has the highest proportion of tech jobs of any region in the country — more than four times the national average.

Yet Silicon Valley is far from leading the way in expanding science and technology-related employment in the United States.

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