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

Why the Great Plains are Great Once Again

Appearing in:

Newsweek

On a drizzly, warm June night, the bars, galleries, and restaurants along Broadway are packed with young revelers. Traffic moves slowly, as drivers look for parking. The bar at the Donaldson, a boutique hotel, is so packed with stylish patrons that I can’t get a drink. My friend, a local, and I head over to Monte’s, a trendy Italian place down the street. We watch a group of attractive 30-something blondes share a table and gossip. They look like the cast of the latest Housewives series. Read more

The Changing Demographics of America

Appearing in:

Smithsonian Online

Estimates of the United states population at the middle of the 21st century vary, from the U.N.’s 404 million to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 422 to 458 million. To develop a snapshot of the nation at 2050, particularly its astonishing diversity and youthfulness, I use the nice round number of 400 million people, or roughly 100 million more than we have today.

The United States is also expected to grow somewhat older. The portion of the population that is currently at least 65 years old—13 percent—is expected to reach about 20 percent by 2050. This “graying of America” has helped convince some commentators of the nation’s declining eminence. For example, an essay by international relations expert Parag Khanna envisions a “shrunken America” lucky to eke out a meager existence between a “triumphant China” and a “retooled Europe.” Morris Berman, a cultural historian, says America “is running on empty.” Read more

The G-20’s New Balance of Power

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

As world leaders gather in Canada this weekend, the nations with the most influence won’t be the high-tech mavens. Joel Kotkin on why traditional industries still matter in the post-information age.

Are we entering the post-information age?

For much of the last quarter century, conventional wisdom from some of the best minds of our times, like Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler and Taichi Sakaiya—in both East and West—predicted that power would shift to those countries that dominate the so-called information age. At the time, this was the right call, but it may increasingly be, if you will, old news. Although there’s no question that iPhones and 3-D movies are nifty—and hedge funds generators of massive wealth for investors and operators—we now may actually be entering what might be called the post-information age.

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Millennial Surprise

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The boomer’s long domination of American politics, culture and economics will one day come to an end. A new generation–the so-called millennials–will be shaping the outlines of our society, but the shape of their coming reign could prove more complex than many have imagined.

Conventional wisdom, particularly among boomer “progressives,” paints millennials–those born after 1983–as the instruments for fulfilling the promise of the 1960s cultural revolt. In 2008 the left-leaning Center for American Progress dubbed them “The Progressive Generation.”
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The Downside of Brit-Bashing

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Obama may be spanking BP’s brass today. But the other crisis—Europe’s economic mess—reminds us why it’s important that the U.S. and U.K. stick together.

The controversy over the BP spill threatens to drive US-UK relations to a historic low point. When recently in London, several people worried that the President may be engaging in “Brit-bashing” at the expense of our historically close ties. This theme has been widely picked up in the UK press.

“It’s the gushing geyser of Obama’s anti-British rhetoric,” screams Melanie Phillips this week in the Daily Mail,” that now urgently needs to be capped.” Read more

L.A.’s Economy Is Not Dead Yet

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

“This is the city,” ran the famous introduction to the popular crime drama Dragnet. “Los Angeles, Calif. I work here.” Of course, unlike Det. Sgt. Joe Friday, who spoke those words every episode, I am not a cop, but Los Angeles has been my home for over 35 years.

To Sgt. Friday, L.A. was a place full of opportunities to solve crimes, but for me Los Angeles has been an ideal barometer for the city of the future. For the better part of the last century, Los Angeles has been, as one architect once put it, “the original in the Xerox machine.” It largely invented the blueprint of the modern American city: the car-oriented suburban way of life, the multi-polar metropolis around a largely unremarkable downtown, the sprawling jumble of ethnic and cultural enclaves of a Latin- and Asian-flavored mestizo society.

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Energy’s Other Side

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The BP oil spill disaster likely spells the slowing down, or even curtailing, of offshore oil drilling for the foreseeable future. You can take California, Florida and much of the east coast off the energy-drilling map for years, perhaps decades.

But if the oil, gas and coal industries are widely detested on the coasts, people in Bismarck, N.D., have little incentive to join an anti-energy jihad. Like other interior energy centers, people in this small Missouri river city of over 100,000 see their rising oil-, gas- and coal-based economy as the key to a far more lucrative future.

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The Future Of America’s Working Class

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Watford, England, sits at the end of a spur on the London tube’s Metropolitan line, a somewhat dreary city of some 80,000 rising amid the pleasant green Hertfordshire countryside. Although not utterly destitute like parts of south or east London, its shabby High Street reflects a now-diminished British dream of class mobility. It also stands as a potential warning to the U.S., where working-class, blue-collar white Americans have been among the biggest losers in the country’s deep, persistent recession.

As you walk through Watford, midday drinkers linger outside the One Bell pub near the center of town. Many of these might be considered “yobs,” a term applied to youthful, largely white, working-class youths, many of whom work only occasionally or not at all. In the British press yobs are frequently linked to petty crime and violent behavior–including a recent stabbing outside another Watford pub, and soccer-related hooliganism.

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The Limits Of The Green Machine

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The awful oil spill in the Gulf–as well as the recent coal mine disaster in West Virginia–has added spring to the step of America’s hugely influential environmental lobby. After years of hand-wringing over global warming (aka climate change), the greens now have an issue that will play to legitimate public concerns for weeks and months ahead.

This is as it should be. Strong support for environmental regulation–starting particularly under our original “green president,” Richard Nixon–has been based on the protection of public health and safety, as well as the preservation of America’s wild spaces.
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