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.

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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

Serfs Up with California’s New Feudalism

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Is California the most conservative state?

Now that I have your attention, just how would California qualify as a beacon of conservatism? It depends how you define the term.

Since the rise of Ronald Reagan, most conservatives have defined themselves by pledging loyalty to market capitalism, supporting national defense and defending sometimes vague “traditional” social values. Yet in the Middle Ages, and throughout much of Europe, conservatism meant something very different: a focus primarily on maintaining comfortable places for the gentry, built around a strong commitment to hierarchy, authority and a singular moral order. Read more

Is Los Angeles a City of Losers?

In: KABC Radio Los Angeles

Joel recently appeared on KABC radio to talk about the current situation in Los Angeles and its prospects for the future.
Click the Play button below to listen. (mp3 audio file)

Jerry Brown’s Insufferable Green Piety

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

At the site of real and immediate tragedy, an old man comes, wielding not a sword to protect civilization from ghastly present threats but to preach the sanctity of California’s green religion. The Paris Climate Change Conference offers a moment of triumph for the 77-year-old Jerry Brown, the apogee of his odd public odyssey.

Jerry Brown has always been essentially two people—one the calculating, Machiavellian politician, the other the dour former Jesuit who publically dismisses worldly pleasures for austere dogma. Like a modern-day Torquemada, he is warning the masses that if they fail to adhere in all ways of the new faith or face, as he suggested recently humanity’s “extinction.” Read more