Don’t Mess With Texas

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

One of the most ironic aspects of our putative “Age of Obama” is how little impact it has had on the nation’s urban geography. Although the administration remains dominated by boosters from traditional blue state cities–particularly the president’s political base of Chicago–the nation’s metropolitan growth continues to shift mostly toward a handful of Sunbelt red state metropolitan areas.

Our Urbanist in Chief may sit in the Oval Office, but Americans continue to vote with their feet for the adopted hometown of widely disdained former President George W. Bush. According to the most recent Census estimates, the Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas, region added 146,000 people between 2008 and 2009–the most of any region in the country–a healthy 2.3% increase.

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Immigrants Key to Economy’s Revival

Appearing in:

Politico.com

In Washington on Sunday, the tens of thousands of demonstrators demanding immigration reform looked like the opening round of the last thing the country needs now: another big debate on a divisive issue.

Yet Congress seems ready to take on immigration, which has been dividing Americans since the republic was founded.

But identifying immigrants as a “them,” as both their advocates and nativists do, misses the point. Immigrants — and their children — are the people who will help define the future “us.” They are also critical to the revival of the U.S. economy.

This is particularly true on the entrepreneurial frontier. Read more

America in 2050 — Where and How We’ll Live

Appearing in:

AOLNews.com

The presence of 100 million more Americans by 2050 will reshape the nation’s geography. Scores of new communities will have to be built to accommodate them, creating a massive demand for new housing, as well as industrial and commercial space.

This growth will include everything from the widespread “infilling” of once-desolate inner cities to the creation of new suburban and exurban towns to the resettling of the American heartland — the vast, still sparsely populated regions that constitute the majority of the U.S. landmass.

In order to accommodate the next 100 million Americans, new environmentally friendly technologies and infrastructure will be required to reduce commutes by bringing work closer to — or even into — the home and to find more energy-efficient means of transportation. Read more

America in 2050 — Strength in Diversity

Appearing in:

AOLnews.com

An ongoing source of strength for the United States over the next 40 years will be its openness to immigration. Indeed, more than most of its chief global rivals, the U.S. will be reshaped and re-energized by an increasing racial and ethnic diversity.

These demographic changes will affect America’s relations with the rest of the world. The United States likely will remain militarily pre-eminent, but the future United States will function as a unique “multiracial” superpower with deep familial and cultural ties to the rest of the world. Read more

Forced March To The Cities

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

California is in trouble: Unemployment is over 13%, the state is broke and hundreds of thousands of people, many of them middle-class families, are streaming for the exits. But to some politicians, like Sen. Alan Lowenthal, the real challenge for California “progressives” is not to fix the economy but to reengineer the way people live.

In Lowenthal’s case the clarion call is to take steps to ban free parking. This way, the Long Beach Democrat reasons, Californians would have to give up their cars and either take the bus or walk to their local shops. “Free parking has significant social, economic and environmental costs,” Lowenthal told the Los Angeles Times. “It increases congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Scarily, his proposal actually passed the State Senate.

One would hope that the mania for changing how people live and work could be dismissed as just local Californian lunacy. Yet across the country, and within the Obama Administration, there is a growing predilection to endorse policies that steer the bulk of new development into our already most-crowded urban areas.

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What American Demographics Will Look Like in 2050

Appearing in:

AOLNews.com

To many observers, America’s place in the world is almost certain to erode in the decades ahead. Yet if we look beyond the short-term hardship, there are many reasons to believe that America will remain ascendant well into the middle decades of this century.

And one important reason is people.

From 2000 to 2050, the U.S. will add another 100 million to its population, based on census and other projections, putting the country on a growth track far faster than most other major nations in the world. And with that growth — driven by a combination of higher fertility rates and immigration — will come a host of relative economic and social benefits. Read more

Decentralize The Government

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

From health care reform and transportation to education to the environment, the Obama administration has–from the beginning–sought to expand the power of the central state. The president’s newest initiative to wrest environment, wage and benefit concessions from private companies is the latest example. But this trend of centralizing power to the federal government puts the political future of the ruling party–as well as the very nature of our federal system–in jeopardy.

Of course, certain times do call for increased federal activity–legitimate threats to national security or economic emergencies, such as the Great Depression or the recent financial crisis, for example.

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Welcome to Ecotopia

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

In this era of tea-partying revolutionary-era dress-ups, one usually associates secessionism with the far right. But if things turn sour for the present majority in Washington, you should expect a whole new wave of separatism to emerge on the greenish left coast.

In 1975 Ernest Callenbach, an author based in Berkeley, Calif., published a sci-fi novel about enviro-secessionists called Ecotopia; a prequel, Ecotopia Rising, came out in 1981. These two books, which have acquired something of a cult following, chronicle–largely approvingly–the emergence of a future green nation along the country’s northwest coast.

Aptly described by Callenbach as “an empire apart,” this region is, in real life, among the world’s most scenic and blessed by nature. Many in this part of America have long been more enthusiastic about their ties to Asia than those with the rest of the country. It is also home to many fervent ecological, cultural and political activists, who often feel at odds with the less enlightened country that lies beyond their soaring mountains.

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America’s European Dream

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The evolving Greek fiscal tragedy represents more than an isolated case of a particularly poorly run government. It reflects a deeper and potentially irreversible malaise that threatens the entire European continent.

The issues at the heart of the Greek crisis–huge public debt, slow population growth, expansive welfare system and weakening economic fundamentals–extend to a wider range of European countries–most notably in weaker fringe nations like Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (the so-called PIIGS). These problems also pervade many E.U. countries still outside the Eurozone in both the Baltics and the Balkans.

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America on the Rise

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For much of the past decade, “declinism” – the notion that America is heading toward a deadly denouement – has largely been a philosophy of the left. But more recently, particularly in the wake of Barack Obama’s election, conservatives have begun joining the chorus, albeit singing a somewhat different variation on the same tune.

In a recent column in The Washington Post George Will illustrates this conservative change of heart. Looking over the next few decades Will sees an aging, obsolescent America in retreat to a young and aggressive China. “America’s destiny is demographic, and therefore is inexorable and predictable,” he suggests, pointing to predictions by Nobel Prize economist Robert Fogel that China’s economy will be three times larger than that of the U.S. by 2040.

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