Latino Dems Should Rethink Loyalty

Appearing in:

Politico

Given the awful state of the economy, it’s no surprise that Democrats are losing some support among Latinos. But they can still consider the ethnic group to be in their pocket. Though Latinos have not displayed the lock-step party loyalty of African-Americans, they still favor President Barack Obama by 57 percent, according to one Gallup Poll — down just 10 percentage points from his high number early in the administration.

This support is particularly unusual, given that probably no large ethnic group in America has suffered more than Latinos from the Great Recession. This is true, in large part, because Latino employment is heavily concentrated in manufacturing, and even more so in construction. Read more

Why Housing Will Come Back

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Few icons of the American way of life have suffered more in recent years than  homeownership. Since the bursting of the housing bubble, there has been a steady drumbeat from the factories of futurist punditry that the notion of owning a home will, and, more importantly, should become out of reach for most Americans.

Before jumping on this bandwagon, perhaps we would do well to understand the role that homeownership and the diffusion of property plays in a democracy. From Madison and Jefferson through Lincoln’s Homestead Act, the most enduring and radical notion of American political economy has been the diffusion of property.

Like small farmers in the 19th century, homeowners–and equally important, aspiring homeowners–now represent the core of our economy without which a strong recovery is likely impossible.  Houses remain as a financial bulwark for a large percentage of families, the anchor of communities, and, increasingly, home-based businesses.

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America’s 21st-Century Business Model

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Current attitudes aren’t too kind to the old American way of doing business. In our globalized economy, the most enthusiastically touted approaches are those adopted by centralized, state-dominated economies such as China, Brazil and Russia as well as–somewhat less oppressively–those of the major E.U. states.

Yet the U.S. may well be constructing the best sustainable business model for the 21st Century. It is an approach built on the country’s greatest enduring strength–an innovative business culture driven increasingly by a diverse pool of immigrants.

This model, of course, lacks the kind of centralized control beloved by many pundits. Yet its virtues are also missing from statist-oriented European or East Asian capitalism. These other regions’ systems may be more disciplined in their thinking, but they do not draw as well on the diversity of human experience and connections that drive America’s post-racial economy.

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Urban Legends: Why Suburbs, Not Dense Cities, are the Future

Appearing in:

Foreign Policy

The human world is fast becoming an urban world — and according to many, the faster that happens and the bigger the cities get, the better off we all will be. The old suburban model, with families enjoying their own space in detached houses, is increasingly behind us; we’re heading toward heavier reliance on public transit, greater density, and far less personal space. Global cities, even colossal ones like Mumbai and Mexico City, represent our cosmopolitan future, we’re now told; they will be nerve centers of international commerce and technological innovation just like the great metropolises of the past — only with the Internet and smart phones. Read more

A New War Between The States

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Nearly a century and half since the United States last divided, a new “irrepressible conflict” is brewing between the states. It revolves around the expansion of federal power at the expense of state and local prerogatives. It also reflects a growing economic divide, arguably more important than the much discussed ideological one, between very different regional economies.

This conflict could grow in the coming years, particularly as the Obama administration seeks to impose a singular federal will against a generally more conservative set of state governments. The likely election of a more center-right Congress will exacerbate the problem. We may enter a golden age of critical court decisions over the true extent of federal or executive power.

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Tribes And Trust

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Only Tribes held together by a group feeling can survive in a desert.
–Ibn Khaldun, 14th century Arab historian

Time to chuck into the dustbin the cosmopolitan notions so celebrated at global conferences: a world run by wise men of the United Nations, science-driven socialists or their ostensibly more pragmatic twins, global free marketers. We are leaving the age of abstractions and entering one dominated by deep-seated ethnic, religious and cultural loyalties, some with roots from centuries and millennia ago. Read more

We Trust Family First

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Americans, with good reason, increasingly distrust the big, impersonal forces that loom over their lives: Wall Street, federal bureaucracy, Congress and big corporations. But the one thing they still trust is that most basic expression of our mammalian essence: the family.

Family ties dominate our economic life far more than commonly believed. Despite the power of public companies, family businesses control roughly 50% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the research firm Gaebler.com. Some 35% of the Fortune 500 are family businesses, but so too are the vast majority of smaller firms. Family companies represent 60% of the nation’s employment and almost 80% of all new jobs.

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The Democrats’ Middle-Class Problem

Appearing in:

Politico

Class, the Industrial Revolution’s great political dividing line, is enjoying Information Age resurgence. It now threatens the political future of presidents, prime ministers and even Politburo chiefs.

As in the Industrial Age, new technology is displacing whole groups of people — blue- and white-collar workers — as it boosts productivity and creates opportunities for others. Inequality is on the rise — from the developing world to historically egalitarian Scandinavia and Britain.

Divisions are evident here in the United States. Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama lagged in appealing to white middle- and working-class voters who supported Hillary — and former President Bill — Clinton. Read more

Singapore’s Demographic Winter

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Over the past half century arguably no place on earth has progressed more than the tiny island state of Singapore. A once impoverished, tropical powder keg packed into 268 square miles at the foot of the Malay Peninsula, the Mandarin-led republic has ascended from its difficult founding in 1965 to one of the richest economies on the planet. Today, in terms of purchasing power, its per capita income stands higher than most European countries’ or Japan’s and is roughly equal to that of the U.S.

But a catastrophic plunge in the country’s birthrate–a problem plaguing many of the world’s affluent economies–could undermine Singapore’s success. In 1965 Singapore’s leaders feared it could not survive an unsustainable fertility rate above 3.5 and embarked on a campaign encouraging citizens to have smaller families. Today the country’s fertility rate–the number of children per female–has sunk to roughly 1.2 , a rate lower than all but a handful of countries and well below replacement level.

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The Myth of the Back-to-the-City Migration

Appearing in:

Wall Street Journal

Pundits, planners and urban visionaries—citing everything from changing demographics, soaring energy prices, the rise of the so-called “creative class,” and the need to battle global warming—have been predicting for years that America’s love affair with the suburbs will soon be over. Their voices have grown louder since the onset of the housing crisis. Suburban neighborhoods, as the Atlantic magazine put it in March 2008, would morph into “the new slums” as people trek back to dense urban spaces.

But the great migration back to the city hasn’t occurred. Over the past decade the percentage of Americans living in suburbs and single-family homes has increased. Meanwhile, demographer Wendell Cox’s analysis of census figures show that a much-celebrated rise in the percentage of multifamily housing peaked at 40% of all new housing permits in 2008, and it has since fallen to below 20% of the total, slightly lower than in 2000. Read more