Beyond the Census: America’s Demographic Advantage

Appearing in:

Newsweek

As the nonstop TV commercials have made clear, the U.S. Census Bureau really hopes you’ve sent back your questionnaire by now. But in reality, we don’t have to wait for the census results to get a basic picture of America’s demographic future. The operative word is “more”: by 2050, about 100 million more people will inhabit this vast country, bringing the total U.S. population to more than 400 million.

With a fertility rate 50 percent higher than Russia, Germany, or Japan, and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, and virtually all of Eastern Europe, the United States has become an outlier among its traditional competitors, all of whose populations are stagnant and seem destined to eventually decline. Thirty years ago, Russia constituted the core of a vast Soviet empire that was considerably more populous than the United States. Today, Russia’s low birthrate and high mortality rate suggest that its population will drop by 30 percent by 2050, to less than one third that of the United States. Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken of “the serious threat of turning into a decaying nation.” Read more

The Heartland Will Play a Major Role in America’s Future

Appearing in:

Omaha World Herald

One of the least anticipated developments in the nation’s 21st-century geography will be the resurgence of the American Heartland, often dismissed by coastal dwellers as “flyover country.”

Yet in the coming 40 years, as America’s population reaches 400 million, the American Heartland particularly the vast region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi will gain in importance.

To fully appreciate this opportunity, Americans need to see the Heartland as far more than a rural or an agricultural zone. Although food production will remain a crucial component of its economy, high-tech services, communications, energy production, manufacturing and warehouses will serve as the critical levers for new employment and wealth creation. Read more

Jobs Will Rule November

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Health care lays behind him, financial reform and climate change ahead, but for President Barack Obama–and his opponents–there is only one real issue: jobs. The recent employment reports signal some small gains, yet the widespread prognosis for a slow, near-jobless recovery threatens the president and his party more than any major domestic challenge.

Tea party activists and conservative ideologues often link the president’s dwindling popularity to an overreach on health care, but it all boils down to the old Clintonian adage: It’s the economy, stupid. Health care reform is simply too complex and its long-term effects too unknowable to be a winning issue for either side.

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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

Welcome to Ecotopia

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

In this era of tea-partying revolutionary-era dress-ups, one usually associates secessionism with the far right. But if things turn sour for the present majority in Washington, you should expect a whole new wave of separatism to emerge on the greenish left coast.

In 1975 Ernest Callenbach, an author based in Berkeley, Calif., published a sci-fi novel about enviro-secessionists called Ecotopia; a prequel, Ecotopia Rising, came out in 1981. These two books, which have acquired something of a cult following, chronicle–largely approvingly–the emergence of a future green nation along the country’s northwest coast.

Aptly described by Callenbach as “an empire apart,” this region is, in real life, among the world’s most scenic and blessed by nature. Many in this part of America have long been more enthusiastic about their ties to Asia than those with the rest of the country. It is also home to many fervent ecological, cultural and political activists, who often feel at odds with the less enlightened country that lies beyond their soaring mountains.

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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.

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America on the Rise

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For much of the past decade, “declinism” – the notion that America is heading toward a deadly denouement – has largely been a philosophy of the left. But more recently, particularly in the wake of Barack Obama’s election, conservatives have begun joining the chorus, albeit singing a somewhat different variation on the same tune.

In a recent column in The Washington Post George Will illustrates this conservative change of heart. Looking over the next few decades Will sees an aging, obsolescent America in retreat to a young and aggressive China. “America’s destiny is demographic, and therefore is inexorable and predictable,” he suggests, pointing to predictions by Nobel Prize economist Robert Fogel that China’s economy will be three times larger than that of the U.S. by 2040.

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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.

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Phoenix, Put Aside Dreams of Gotham

Appearing in:

The Arizona Republic

Now that Phoenix’s ascendancy has been at least momentarily suspended, its residents are no doubt wondering what comes next. One tendency is to say the city needs to grow up and become more like East Coast cities or Portland, Ore., with dense urban cores and well-developed rail transit. The other ready option is always inertia – a tendency to wait for things to come back the way they were.

Neither approach will work in the long run. Over the coming decade, Phoenix has to recalibrate its economy into something based on more than being a second option for Californians and speculative real-estate investment. Instead, it needs to focus laserlike on economic diversity and creating good jobs. 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