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

The Not-So-Lucky Country

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

President Obama’s last-minute decision to postpone his homecoming to Indonesia and a trip to Australia expands the list of friendly countries–which include France, the U.K. and most of Eastern Europe–that have received a presidential snub. Yet in putting off his Australia trip, Obama will also miss an opportunity to commune with the politician whom he most closely resembles.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, like Obama, symbolizes a distinct shift in his country’s politics. Replacing the rough-hewn but long-serving Liberal Party leader John Howard, Rudd offered sophisticated Australians a better reflection of their own savoir faire, much as Obama restored the self-image of America’s Bush-wracked educated classes. Like Obama, Rudd is widely seen as smart and worldly as well as perhaps a bit rude and arrogant.

Read more

Machiavelli Or Torquemada?

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For more than one-third of a century Jerry Brown has proved one of the most interesting and original figures in American politics–and the 71-year-old former wunderkind might be back in office in 2010. If he indeed wins California’s gubernatorial election, the results could range from somewhat positive to positively disastrous.

Brown is a multi-faceted man, but in political terms he has a dual personality, split between two very different Catholic figures from the 15th century: Machiavelli and Tomas de Torquemada. For the sake of California, we better hope that he follows the pragmatism espoused by the Italian author more than the stern visage of the Grand Inquisitor.

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.

Read more

Obama’s Middle-Class Meltdown

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

The rapid decline in public support for Democrats and President Obama represents one of the most breathtaking political collapses in modern times. Little over a year from a huge electoral triumph, President Obama’s level of support has dropped from around 65% to under 50%. The Democrats in Congress, who held as much as a 10% edge over the Republicans last spring, actually are losing a “generic” vote.

Many Republicans and conservatives may think this represents a confirmation of their values. Yet in reality, the Democratic meltdown has less to do with belated admiration for the GOP—their support as a party remains at historically low levels—than a question of a massive disconnect between the people in power and the large, middle-class majority.
Read more

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.

Read more

The Death Of Gentry Liberalism

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Gentry liberalism, so hot just a year ago, is now in full retreat, a victim of its hypocrisy and fundamental contradictions. Its collapse threatens the coherence of President Barack Obama’s message as he prepares for his State of the Union speech on Wednesday.

Gentry liberalism combines four basic elements: faith in postindustrial “creative” financial capitalism, cultural liberalism, Gore-ite environmentalism and the backing of the nation’s arguably best-organized political force, public employee unions. Obama rose to power on the back of all these forces and, until now, has governed as their tribune.

Read more

The Kids Will Be Alright

Appearing in:

The Wall Street Journal

America’s population growth makes it a notable outlier among the advanced industrialized countries. The country boasts a fertility rate 50% higher than that of Russia, Germany or Japan and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, North Korea and virtually all of eastern Europe. Add to that the even greater impact of continued large-scale immigration to America from around the world. By the year 2050, the U.S. population will swell by roughly 100 million, and the country’s demographic vitality will drive its economic resilience in the coming decades. Read more

Stop Coddling Wall Street!

Appearing in:

TheDailyBeast.com

By all historical logic and tradition, Wall Street’s outrageous bonuses—almost $20 billion to Goldman Sachs alone—should be setting a populist wildfire across the precincts of the Democratic Party. Yet right now, the Democrats in both the White House and Congress seem content to confront such outrageous fortune with little more than hearings and mild legislative remedies—like a proposed new bank tax, which, over the next decade, seeks to collect $90 to $100 billion. This amounts, on an annual basis, to about half of this year’s bonus for Goldman’s gold diggers alone. It’s speaking loudly and carrying a stick made of paper mache. Read more

Move the United Nations to Dubai

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The opening last week of the world’s tallest building, the half-mile-high Burj Dubai, has largely been greeted with guffaws and groans. The Daily Telegraph labeled it “the new pinnacle of vanity”–“a purposeless monument to the subprime era.” The Wall Street Journal compared it to the Tower of Babel. (When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, in the throes of the greatest financial crisis of the 20th century, it was met with similar jeers. The then-tallest building in the world was called the Empty State Building, and it remained vacant for several years.)

Yet the Burj’s completion–indeed the whole wild enterprise known as Dubai–could signal a potential opportunity to the global community: turning the place into the headquarters for that other misguided ship, the United Nations.

Read more