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.

Jerry Brown’s Housing Hypocrisy

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Jerry Brown worrying about the California housing crisis is akin to the French policeman played by Claude Rains in “Casablanca” being “shocked, shocked” about gambling at the bar where he himself collects his winnings. Read more

California for Whom?

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

“Old in error,” writes historian Kevin Starr, “California remains an American hope.” Historically, our state has been a beacon to outsiders seeking a main chance: from gold miners and former Confederates to Midwesterners displaced by hardship, Jews seeking opportunity denied elsewhere, African Americans escaping southern apartheid, Asians fleeing communism and societal repression, Mexicans looking for a way out of poverty, counter-culture émigrés looking for a place where creation can overcome repression. Read more

California: The Economics of Delusion

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

In Sacramento, and much of the media, California is enjoying a “comeback” that puts a lie to the argument that regulations and high taxes actually matter. The hero of this recovery, Gov. Jerry Brown, in Bill Maher’s assessment, “took a broken state and fixed it.” Read more

Southern California Still Best Place to Get Creative

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Over the past decade, Southern California has lagged well behind its chief rivals – New York and the Bay Area, as well as the fast-growing cities of the Sun Belt – in everything from job creation to tech growth. Yet, in what the late economist Jack Kyser dubbed “the creative industries,” this region remains an impressive superpower. Read more

California Valued for Cash, Not Candidates

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

California may be the country’s most important and influential state for technology, culture and lifestyle, but has become something of a cipher in terms of providing national political leaders. Not one California politician entered the 2016 presidential race in either party and, looking over the landscape, it’s difficult to see even a potential contender emerging over the coming decade. Read more