The Politics of Migration: From Blue to Red

by Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox

Democratic “blue” state attitudes may dominate the national media, but they can’t yet tell people where to live. Despite all the hype about a massive “back to the city” movement and the supposed superiority of ultra-expensive liberal regions, people are increasingly moving to red states and regions, as well as to suburbs and exurbs. Read more

To Reunite America, Liberate Cities to Govern Themselves

By Joel Kotkin and Richard Florida

Even setting aside the dysfunction of our national government, the fact is that no top-down, one-size-fits-all set of policies can address the very different conditions that prevail among communities.

Time magazine’s 2016 Person of the Year was elected president, as the magazine’s headline writer waggishly put it, of the “divided states of America.” Read more

The Other California: a Flyover State Within a State

California may never secede, or divide into different states, but it has effectively split into entities that could not be more different. On one side is the much-celebrated, post-industrial, coastal California, beneficiary of both the Tech Boom 2.0 and a relentlessly inflating property market. Read more

California: The Republic of Climate

To some progressives, California’s huge endorsement for the losing side for president reflects our state’s moral superiority. Some even embrace the notion that California should secede so that we don’t have to associate with the “deplorables” who tilted less enlightened places to President-elect Donald Trump. One can imagine our political leaders even inviting President Barack Obama, who reportedly now plans to move to our state, to serve as the California Republic’s first chief executive.

As a standalone country, California could accelerate its ongoing emergence as what could be called “the Republic of Climate.” This would be true in two ways. Dominated by climate concerns, California’s political leaders will produce policies that discourage blue-collar growth and keep energy and housing prices high. This is ideal for the state’s wealthier, mostly white, coastal ruling classes. Yet, at the same time, the California gentry can enjoy what, for the most part, remains a temperate climate. Due to our open borders policies, they can also enjoy an inexhaustible supply of cheap service workers.

Of course, most Californians, particularly in the interior, will not do so well. They will continue to experience a climate of declining social mobility due to rising costs, and businesses, particularly those employing blue-collar and middle-income workers, will continue to flee to more hospitable, if less idyllic, climes.

California in the Trump era

Barring a rush to independence, Californians now must adapt to a new regime in Washington that does not owe anything to the state, much less its policy agenda. Under the new regime, our high tax rates and ever-intensifying regulatory regime will become even more distinct from national norms.

President Obama saw California’s regulatory program, particularly its obsession with climate change, as a role model leading the rest of the nation — and even the world. Trump’s victory turns this amicable situation on its head. California now must compete with other states, which can only salivate at the growing gap in costs.

At the same time, foreign competitors, such as the Chinese, courted by Gov. Jerry Brown and others to follow its climate agenda, will be more than happy to take energy-dependent business off our hands. They will make gestures to impress what Vladimir Lenin labeled “useful idiots” in our ruling circles, but will continue to add coal-fired plants to power their job-sapping export industries.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, was published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He is executive director of NewGeography.com and lives in Orange County, CA.

Photo: By User “Neon Tommy” (https://www.flickr.com/photos/neontommy/8117052872) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The End of the Asian Era

For the past 40 years, the Pacific Rim has been, if you will, California’s trump card. But now, in the age of President Donald Trump and decelerating globalization, the Asian ascendency may be changing in ways that could be beneficial to our state.

Rather than President Barack Obama’s famous “pivot to Asia,” it now might be more accurate to speak of Asians’ pivot to America. Once feared as a fierce competitor, East Asia is facing an end to its period of relentless growth, and now many interests appear to find that the United States offers a more secure, and potentially lucrative, alternative.

This era reflects profound changes in East Asia’s prospects. They increasingly are coping with many of the demographic, social and economic challenges that have bedeviled the West since the 1970s — competition from cheaper countries, technological obsolescence, a demoralized workforce and diminishing upward mobility. The verve of the late 20th century is being supplanted by the anxieties of the early 21st.

Demographic decline

Forty years ago, overpopulation constituted the big issue facing East Asia. Governments from Singapore to Korea and, most importantly, China, imposed anti-natalist policies, fearing that their economic success would be overcome by a tide of new citizens. Today, East Asia confronts the world’s most stagnant demography.

By 2030, according to the United Nations, Japan, still the world’s third-largest economy, will have more people over 80 than under 15, and, by 2050, it is expected to see its population fall by 15 percent. Many of the other Asian “tigers,” which followed Japan’s model, are saddled with a fertility rate so low that, over the next 35 years, they will join the island nation among the most elderly nations on earth.

East Asia’s demographic crisis will hit critical mass once China, the planet’s second-largest and most dynamic large economy, feels the full impact of its super-low fertility rate. By 2050, China’s population will have a demographic look like ultra-old Japan’s today — but without the higher affluence levels of its Asian neighbor to pay for all of the retirees.

Technology and the challenge of Trumpism

The rise of the Pacific Rim was driven, in large part, by manufacturing growth. Following the model of Japan, Asian countries grew by keeping imports out and building enormous surpluses of manufactured goods. The resulting imbalances were accepted by American administrations even when exacerbated by mercantilist policies directed against our own producers.

The acceptance of such an arrangement ended in 2016 with the election of economic nationalist Donald Trump. But the new trade environment also includes the effective capture of the Democratic Party by elements close to Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, now America’s most popular politician. Sanders is fiercely skeptical on free trade, and his candidacy even forced Hillary Clinton, a long-time globalist, to back protectionist policies.

Trump’s proposals to match China’s import fees and to hector companies into keeping jobs in the United States represent a huge threat to the mercantilist Asian economic model. This, at a time when new automation technology, cheaper energy and rising wage rates also are persuading Asian producers to shift production to the United States.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us, was published in April by Agate. He is also author of The New Class Conflict, The City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He is executive director of NewGeography.com and lives in Orange County, CA.

Can Tech Oligarchs Thrive Under Trump?

With the first billionaire in the White House, Wall Street booming and, for the first time in almost a decade, very solid and broad based job growth, one would think America’s business elite would be beaming. But that’s not so because the country’s moguls are more divided than at any time in recent history.

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How the Democrats Can Rebuild

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

Numerous commentaries from both the political left and right have expounded the parlous state of the Democratic Party. And, to be sure, the Democrats have been working on extinguishing themselves in vast parts of the country, and have even managed to make themselves less popular than the Republicans in recent polls.

Yet, in the longer term, the demographic prospects of a Democratic resurgence remain excellent. Virtually all of the growing parts of the electorate — millennials, Latinos, Asians, single women — are tilting to the left. Read more

Is L.A. Back? Don’t Buy the Hype

Appearing in:

Forbes

With two football teams moving to Los Angeles, a host of towers rising in a resurgent downtown and an upcoming IPO for L.A.’s signature start-up, Snapchat parent Snap Inc., one can make a credible case that the city that defined growth for a half century is back. According to Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Rams, Chargers and the new mega-stadium that will house them in neighboring Inglewood, show that “that this is a town that nobody can afford to pass up.” Read more

The True Legacy of Gov. Jerry Brown

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

The cracks in the 50-year-old Oroville Dam, and the massive spillage and massive evacuations that followed, shed light on the true legacy of Jerry Brown. The governor, most recently in Newsweek, has cast himself as both the Subcomandante Zero of the anti-Trump resistance and savior of the planet. But when Brown finally departs Sacramento next year, he will be leaving behind a state that is in danger of falling apart both physically and socially. Read more

Neo-Stalinists Versus the Sons of Anarchy

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

In one of the great scenes from the movie “Dr. Zhivago,” based on the novel by Soviet author Boris Pasternak, a young Bolshevik commander explains to the idealistic physician that “the private life is done in Russia. History has killed it.”

In America today, it also seems increasingly impossible to separate personal life from the political. In awards shows, sports broadcasts and fashion runways — which once provided escapes from politics — we find endless passionate anti-Trump protests and denunciations. Even corporations, like Under Armour, have faced opprobrium — and even boycotts — for daring to support Trump. Nordstrom faced a possible boycott for carrying a now-canceled fashion line of his daughter, Ivanka. Read more