California Suggests Suicide; Texas Asks: Can I Lend You a Knife?

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

In the future, historians may likely mark the 2010 midterm elections as the end of the California era and the beginning of the Texas one. In one stunning stroke, amid a national conservative tide, California voters essentially ratified a political and regulatory regime that has left much of the state unemployed and many others looking for the exits.

California has drifted far away from the place that John Gunther described in 1946 as “the most spectacular and most diversified American state … so ripe, golden.”  Instead of a role model, California  has become a cautionary tale of mismanagement Read more

Welcome to Recoveryland: The Top 10 Places in America Poised for Recovery

Appearing in:

Newsweek

Like a massive tornado, the Great Recession up-ended the topography of America. But even as vast parts of the country were laid low, some cities withstood the storm and could emerge even stronger and shinier than before. So, where exactly are these Oz-like destinations along the road to recovery? If you said Kansas, you’re not far off. Try Oklahoma. Or Texas. Or Iowa. Not only did the economic twister of the last two years largely spare Tornado Alley, it actually may have helped improve the landscape. Read more

Toward a Continental Growth Strategy

Appearing in:

The American

North America remains easily the most favored continent both by demography and resources. The political party that harnesses this reality will own the political future.

America cannot afford a prolonged period of slow economic growth. But neither Democrats nor Republicans are prepared to offer a robust growth agenda. Regardless of what happens in the November midterm elections, the party that can outline an economic expansion strategy suitable to this enormous continental nation will own the political future.

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Prosperity Index Shows That Democracy Still Works Best

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

With the Cold War well behind us, the real choice between systems lies in a growing variation in the form of capitalisms. Choices now range from the Chinese Leninist model – essential centrally planned exploitation of the greed gene – to various kleptocracies, divergent Anglo-American systems and varied forms of European capitalism.

None of these systems are likely to excite the most rabid Hayekian, especially now that the once free market haven Hong Kong is being integrated into the Chinese command and control system. But still, according a new study by my colleagues at the Legatum Institute, when it comes to delivering the best economic environment for people and families various forms of liberal capitalism still perform best. Read more

North America’s Fastest-Growing Cities

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The U.S. and Canada’s emerging cities are not experiencing the kind of super-charged growth one sees in urban areas of the developing world, notably China and India. But unlike Europe, this huge land mass’ population is slated to expand by well over 100 million people by 2050, driven in large part by continued immigration.

In the course of the next 40 years, the biggest gainers won’t be behemoths like New York, Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles, but less populous, easier-to-manage cities that are both affordable and economically vibrant.

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California’s Failed Statesmen

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

The good news? Like most rock or movie stars, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with California. It’s still talented, and retains great physical gifts. Our climate, fertility and location remain without parallel. The state remains pre-eminent in a host of critical fields from agriculture to technology, entertainment to Pacific Rim trade.

California can come back only if it takes a 12-step program to jettison its delusions. This requires, perhaps more than anything, a return to adult supervision. Most legislators, in both parties, appear to be hacks, ideologues and time-servers. This time, when the danger is even greater, we see no such sense of urgency. Instead we have a government that reminds one more of the brutally childish anarchy of William Golding’s 1954 novel “Lord of the Flies.” Read more

Why Housing Will Come Back

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Few icons of the American way of life have suffered more in recent years than  homeownership. Since the bursting of the housing bubble, there has been a steady drumbeat from the factories of futurist punditry that the notion of owning a home will, and, more importantly, should become out of reach for most Americans.

Before jumping on this bandwagon, perhaps we would do well to understand the role that homeownership and the diffusion of property plays in a democracy. From Madison and Jefferson through Lincoln’s Homestead Act, the most enduring and radical notion of American political economy has been the diffusion of property.

Like small farmers in the 19th century, homeowners–and equally important, aspiring homeowners–now represent the core of our economy without which a strong recovery is likely impossible.  Houses remain as a financial bulwark for a large percentage of families, the anchor of communities, and, increasingly, home-based businesses.

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Urban Plight: Vanishing Upward Mobility

Appearing in:

The American

Since the beginnings of civilization, cities have been crucibles of progress both for societies and individuals. A great city, wrote Rene Descartes in the seventeenth century, represented “an inventory of the possible,” a place where people could create their own futures and lift up their families.

What characterized great cities such as Amsterdam—and, later, places such as London, New York , Chicago, and Tokyo—was the size of their property-owning middle class. This was a class whose roots, for the most part, lay in the peasantry or artisan class, and later among industrial workers. Their ascension into the ranks of the bourgeoisie, petit or haute, epitomized the opportunities for social advancement created uniquely by cities.

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Where’s Next: November May Determine Regional Winners

As the recovery begins, albeit fitfully, where can we expect growth in jobs, incomes and, most importantly, middle class opportunities? In the US there are two emerging “new” economies, one largely promoted by the Administration and the other more grounded in longer-term market and demographic forces.

The November election and its subsequent massive expansion of federal power may have determined which regions win the post-bust economy, but the stakes in November are particularly acute for some prime beneficiaries of what could be called the Obama economy: the education lobby, Silicon Valley venture firms, Wall Street, urban land interests and the public sector. All backers of his 2008 campaign, these groups have either reaped significant benefits from the stimulus or have used it to bolster themselves from the worst impact of the recession. Read more

America’s 21st-Century Business Model

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Current attitudes aren’t too kind to the old American way of doing business. In our globalized economy, the most enthusiastically touted approaches are those adopted by centralized, state-dominated economies such as China, Brazil and Russia as well as–somewhat less oppressively–those of the major E.U. states.

Yet the U.S. may well be constructing the best sustainable business model for the 21st Century. It is an approach built on the country’s greatest enduring strength–an innovative business culture driven increasingly by a diverse pool of immigrants.

This model, of course, lacks the kind of centralized control beloved by many pundits. Yet its virtues are also missing from statist-oriented European or East Asian capitalism. These other regions’ systems may be more disciplined in their thinking, but they do not draw as well on the diversity of human experience and connections that drive America’s post-racial economy.

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