Korea Conflict Shows That Borderlands Are Zones of Danger

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The current conflict between the Koreas illustrates a broader global trend toward chaos along borders separating rich and poor countries. Ultimately, this reflects the resentments of a poor neighbor against a richer one. Feeling it has little to lose, the poorer neighbor engages recklessly in the hope of gaining some sort of tribute or recognition   from the better-heeled neighbor, or at least boosting its own self-respect.

The Korean situation epitomizes the fundamental danger when rich and poor countries live adjacent to one another. According to 2006 statistics, South Korea has a per capita income of roughly $18,000; the North’s stands at $1,300. Clearly, the threat of leveling Seoul, a wealthy and successful city, has limited South Korea’s ability to respond as it might otherwise to its nasty, militaristic neighbor, whose people live on the brink of starvation.

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The Rise of the Efficient City

Appearing in:

Wall Street Journal

Smaller, more nimble urban regions promise a better life than the congested megalopolis.

Most of the world’s population now lives in cities. To many academics, planners and developers, that means that the future will be dominated by what urban theorist Saskia Sassen calls “new geographies of centrality.” According to this view, dense, urban centers with populations in excess of 20 million—such as metropolitan Tokyo, New Delhi, Sao Paolo and New York—are best suited to control the commanding heights of global economics and culture in the coming epoch. 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

The New World Order

Appearing in:

Newsweek

Tribal ties—race, ethnicity, and religion—are becoming more important than borders.

For centuries we have used maps to delineate borders that have been defined by politics. But it may be time to chuck many of our notions about how humanity organizes itself. Across the world a resurgence of tribal ties is creating more complex global alliances. Where once diplomacy defined borders, now history, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are dividing humanity into dynamic new groupings.

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The Smackdown Of The Creative Class

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Two years ago I hailed Barack Obama’s election as “the triumph of the creative class.” Yesterday everything reversed, as middle-class Americans smacked down their putative new ruling class of highly educated urbanistas and college town denizens.

More than anything, this election marked a shift in American class dynamics. In 2008 President Obama managed to win enough middle-class, suburban voters to win an impressive victory. This year, those same voters deserted, rejecting policies more geared to the “creative class” than mainstream America. Read more

Suburban Nation, but Urban Policies

Appearing in:

Politico

Ideologues may set the tone for the national debate, but geography and demography determine elections.

In America, the dominant geography continues to be suburbia – home to at least 60 percent of the population and probably more than that portion of the electorate. Roughly 220 congressional districts, or more than half the nation’s 435, are predominately suburban, according to a 2005 Congressional Quarterly study. This is likely to only increase in the next decade, as Millennials begin en masse to enter their 30s and move to the periphery. Read more

Who’s Racist Now? Europe’s Increasing Intolerance

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

With the rising tide of terrorist threats across Europe, one can somewhat understandably expect a   surge in Islamophobia across the West. Yet in a contest to see which can be more racist, one would be safer to bet on Europe than on the traditional bogeyman, the United States.

One clear indicator of how flummoxed Europeans have become about diversity were the remarks last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that multi-culturalism has “totally failed” in her country, the richest and theoretically  most capable of absorbing immigrants. “We feel tied to Christian values,” the Chancellor said. “Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here.”

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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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Latino Dems Should Rethink Loyalty

Appearing in:

Politico

Given the awful state of the economy, it’s no surprise that Democrats are losing some support among Latinos. But they can still consider the ethnic group to be in their pocket. Though Latinos have not displayed the lock-step party loyalty of African-Americans, they still favor President Barack Obama by 57 percent, according to one Gallup Poll — down just 10 percentage points from his high number early in the administration.

This support is particularly unusual, given that probably no large ethnic group in America has suffered more than Latinos from the Great Recession. This is true, in large part, because Latino employment is heavily concentrated in manufacturing, and even more so in construction. 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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