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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The New Class Warfare

Appearing in:

The City Journal

Few states have offered the class warriors of Occupy Wall Street more enthusiastic support than California has. Before they overstayed their welcome and police began dispersing their camps, the Occupiers won official endorsements from city councils and mayors in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Irvine, Santa Rosa, and Santa Ana. Such is the extent to which modern-day “progressives” control the state’s politics.

But if those progressives really wanted to find the culprits responsible for the state’s widening class divide, they should have looked in a mirror. Over the past decade, as California consolidated itself as a bastion of modern progressivism, the state’s class chasm has widened considerably. To close the gap, California needs to embrace pro-growth policies, especially in the critical energy and industrial sectors—but it’s exactly those policies that the progressives most strongly oppose.

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As California Collapses, Obama Follows Its Lead

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Barack Obama learned the rough sport of politics in Chicago, but his domestic policies have been shaped by California’s progressive creed. As the Golden State crumbles, its troubles point to those America may confront in a second Obama term.

From his first days in office, the president has held up California as a model state. In 2009, he praised its green-tinged energy policies as a blueprint for the nation. He staffed his administration with Californians like Energy Secretary Steve Chu—an open advocate of high energy prices who’s lavished government funding on “green” dodos like solar-panel maker Solyndra, and luxury electric carmaker Fisker—and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who thrived as CEO of a regulated utility which raised energy costs for millions of consumers, sometimes to finance “green” ideals.

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As Filmmaking Surges, New Orleans Challenges Los Angeles

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For generations New Orleans‘ appeal to artists, musicians and writers did little to dispel the city’s image as a poor, albeit fun-loving, bohemian tourism haven. As was made all too evident by Katrina, the city was plagued by enormous class and racial divisions, corruption and some of the lowest average wages in the country.

Yet recently, the Big Easy and the state of Louisiana have managed to turn the region’s creative energy into something of an economic driver. Aided by generous production incentives, the state has enjoyed among the biggest increases in new film production anywhere in the nation. At a time when production nationally has been down, the number of TV and film productions shot in Louisiana tripled from 33 per year in 2002-2007 to an average of 92 annually in 2008-2010, according to a study by BaxStarr Consulting. Movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford are being made in the state this year.

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President Obama Courts Silicon Valley’s New Digital Aristocracy

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

President Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser with the tech elites today, along with the upcoming IPO for Facebook, marks the emergence of a new, potentially dominant political force well on its way to surpassing Hollywood and even Wall Street as the business bulwark of the Obama Democratic Party.

In 2008 the industry gave Obama more than $9 million, three times what it raised for any other politician; it was the first time the digerati outspent Hollywood. The numbers will surely go up this year.

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Who Stands The Most To Win – And Lose – From A Second Obama Term

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Forbes.com

As the probability of President Barack Obama’s reelection grows, state and local officials across the country are tallying up the potential ramifications of a second term. For the most part, the biggest concerns lie with energy-producing states, which fear stricter environmental regulations, and those places most dependent on military or space spending, which are both likely to decrease under a second Obama administration.

On the other hand, several states, and particularly the District of Columbia, have reasons to look forward to another four years. Under Obama the federal workforce has expanded — even as state and localities have cut their government jobs. The growing concentration of power has also swelled the ranks of Washington‘s parasitical enablers, from high-end lobbyists to expense-account restaurants. While much of urban America is struggling, currently Washington is experiencing something of a golden age.

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The Sun Belt’s Migration Comeback

Along with the oft-pronounced, desperately wished for death of the suburbs, no demographic narrative thrills the mainstream news media more than the decline of the Sun Belt, the country’s southern rim extending from the Carolinas to California. Since the housing bubble collapse in 2007, commentators have heralded “the end of the Sun Belt boom.”

Yet this assertion is largely exaggerated, particularly since the big brass buckle in the middle of the Sun Belt, Texas, has thrived throughout the recession. California, of course, has done far worse, but its slow population growth and harsh regulatory environment align it more with the Northeast than with its sunny neighbors.

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Political Footballs: L.A.’s Misguided Plans For A Downtown Stadium

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Over the past decade Los Angeles has steadily declined. It currently has one of the the highest unemployment rates (roughly 12.5%) in the U.S, and there’s little sign of a sustained recovery. The city and county have become a kind of purgatory for all but the most politically connected businesses, while job creation and population growth lag not only the vibrant Texas cities but even aged competitors such as New York.

Rather than address general business conditions, which sorely need fixing, L.A. Mayor Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the other ruling elites have instead focused on revitalizing the city’s urban core, which has done little to boost the region’s overall economy in generations. The most recent example of such foolishness is a $1.5 billion plan to build a football stadium, named Farmers Field, downtown,unanimously approved by the city’s City Council and backed by the city’s “progressive” state delegation.

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Silicon Valley Can No Longer Save California — Or The U.S.

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Even before Steve Jobs crashed the scene in late 1970s, California’s technology industry had already outpaced the entire world, creating the greatest collection of information companies anywhere. It was in this fertile suburban soil that Apple — and so many other innovative companies — took root.

Now this soil is showing signs of exhaustion, with Jobs’ death symbolizing the end of the state’s high-tech heroic age.

“Steve’s passing really makes you think how much the Valley has changed,” says Leslie Parks, former head of economic development for the city of San Jose, Silicon Valley’s largest city. “The Apple II was produced here and depended on what was unique here. In those days, we were the technology food chain from conception to product. Now we only dominate the top of the chain.”

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