California’s War on the Emerging Generation

This article appeared in the OC Register.

It should be the obligation of older citizens to try to improve the prospects for their successors. But, here in California, as seen in a new report issued by the Chapman Center for Demographics and Policy, we seem to have adopted an agenda designed to make things tougher for them. Read more

One tax change that should be made — and certainly won’t be

by George F. Will

Attempting comprehensive tax reform is like trying to tug many bones from the clamped jaws of many mastiffs. Every provision of the code — now approaching 4 million words — was put there to placate a clamorous faction, or to create a grateful group that will fund its congressional defenders. Still, Washington will take another stab at comprehensiveness, undeterred by the misadventures of comprehensive immigration and health-care reforms. Consider just one tax change that should be made and certainly will not be….

Dismayed U.S. homebuilders foresee a 6.4 percent increase; U.S. lumber interests say that is an exaggeration. Even allowing for theatricality on both sides, lumber protectionism will certainly deepen two problems: Because the mortgage interest deduction enables higher housing prices, Americans will continue to pour too much wealth into housing. And inequality will be exacerbated. Homeownership is crucial to the accumulation of wealth. But as social scientist Joel Kotkin writes, millennials are caught in a pincer of low incomes — the Census Bureau estimates that even those with a full-time job earn $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age cohort did in 1980 — and high housing prices. Kotkin says “homeownership rates for people under 35 have dropped 21 percent” since 2004.

Excerpted from the Washington Post. Read the rest of the article here.

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 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.

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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

Decentralize Government to Resolve Country’s Divisions

Appearing in:

The Orange County Register

America is increasingly a nation haunted by fears of looming dictatorship. Whether under President Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” rule by decree, or its counterpoint, the madcap Twitter rule of our current chief executive, one part of the country, and society, always feels mortally threatened by whoever occupies the Oval Office.

Given this worsening divide, perhaps the only reasonable solution is to move away from elected kings and toward early concepts of the republic, granting far more leeway to states, local areas and families to rule themselves. Read more

The High Cost of a Home Is Turning American Millennials Into the New Serfs

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

American greatness was long premised on the common assumption was that each generation would do better than previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.

The problems facing millennials include an economy where job growth has been largely in service and part-time employment, producing lower incomes; the Census bureau estimates they earn, even with a full-time job, $2,000 less in real dollars than the same age group made in 1980. More millennials, notes a recent White House report , face far longer period of unemployment and suffer low rates of labor participation. More than 20 percent of people 18 to 34 live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1980. Read more