The Golden State’s War on Itself

Appearing in:

The City Journal

California has long been a destination for those seeking a better place to live. For most of its history, the state enacted sensible policies that created one of the wealthiest and most innovative economies in human history. California realized the American dream but better, fostering a huge middle class that, for the most part, owned their homes, sent their kids to public schools, and found meaningful work connected to the state’s amazingly diverse, innovative economy. Read more

Alaska: Caribou Commons Or America’s Lost Ace?

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

The most serious collateral damage from the BP spill disaster could very likely be in the far north, along the Alaskan coast. The problem is not a current spill but the Obama administration’s ban on offshore drilling and what many fear may be a broader attempt to close the state from further resource-related development.

Such an approach could harm both the local and national economies for decades to come.

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A New War Between The States

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Nearly a century and half since the United States last divided, a new “irrepressible conflict” is brewing between the states. It revolves around the expansion of federal power at the expense of state and local prerogatives. It also reflects a growing economic divide, arguably more important than the much discussed ideological one, between very different regional economies.

This conflict could grow in the coming years, particularly as the Obama administration seeks to impose a singular federal will against a generally more conservative set of state governments. The likely election of a more center-right Congress will exacerbate the problem. We may enter a golden age of critical court decisions over the true extent of federal or executive power.

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How Obama Lost Small Business

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Financial reform might irk Wall Street, but the president’s real problem is with small businesses—the engine of any serious recovery. Joel Kotkin on what he could have done differently.

The stock market, with some fits and starts, has surged since he’s taken office. Wall Street grandees and the big banks have enjoyed record profits. He’s pushed through a namby-pamby reform bill—which even it’s authors acknowledge is “not perfect”—that is more a threat to Main Street than the mega-banks. And yet why is Barack Obama losing the business community, even among those who bankrolled his campaign? Read more

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