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Feudal Future Podcast — Examining China’s Urban Growth, with Austin Williams

In this episode of the Feudal Future Podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky talk with Austin Williams about the differences in urban growth between the West and China.

The Passing of a Party? The Future of the GOP

In this episode of the Feudal Future Podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky talk with Charles Blain, Brian Calle, and Cullum Clark about the future of the GOP.

The Collapse of California

If one were to explore the most blessed places on earth, California, my home for a half century, would surely be up there. The state, with its salubrious climate, spectacular scenery, vast natural resources, and entrepreneurial heritage is home to the world’s fifth-largest economy and its still-dominant technological centre. It is also — as some progressives see it — the incubator of “a capitalism we can believe in”.

Perhaps channelling such hyperbole, President Biden recently suggested that he wants to “make America California again”. Yet before leaping on this particular train, he should consider whether the California model may be better seen as a cautionary tale than a roadmap to a better future in the digital age.

The on-the-ground reality — as opposed to that portrayed in the media or popular culture — is more Dickensian than utopian. Rather than the state where dreams are made, in reality California increasingly presents the prototype of a new feudalism fused oddly with a supposedly progressive model in which inequality is growing, not falling.

California now suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the country, and the widest gap between middle and upper-middle income earners. It also has one of the nation’s highest Gini ratios, which measures the inequality of wealth distribution from the richest to poorest residents — and the disparity is growing. Incredibly, California’s level of inequality is greater than that of neighboring Mexico, and closer to Central American countries like Guatemala and Honduras than developed nations like Canada and Norway.

It is true that California’s GDP per capita is far higher than these Central American countries, but the state has slowly morphed into a low wage economy. Over the past decade, 80% of the state’s jobs have paid under the median wage — half of which are paid less than $40,000 — and most are in poorly paid personal services or hospitality jobs. Even at some of the state’s most prestigious companies like Google, many lower (and even mid-level) workers live in mobile home parks. Others sleep in their cars.

The state’s dependence on low-wage service workers has been critical in the pandemic, but it now suffers among the highest unemployment rates in the nation, outdone only by tourism-dominated states like Hawaii, Nevada and New Jersey. Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood, now has the highest unemployment rate of the nation’s top ten metropolitan areas, higher even than New York.

But that hasn’t stopped California from portraying itself as a progressive’s paradise, publicly advocating racial and social justice. The state just passed a Racial Justice Act to monitor law enforcement, endorsing reparations (although California was never a slave state) and is working to address “systemic” racism in its classrooms. This “woke” agenda was taken to a new extreme this week when the San Francisco School Board decided to rename 44 schools because they were named after people connected to racism or slavery. The district’s Arts Department, originally known as “VAPA”, also decided to re-brand because “acronyms are a symptom of white supremacy culture”.

Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Homepage photo: Matthew Woitunski via Wikimedia, under CC 3.0 License.

Environmentalism is the New War on the Working Class

“There should be a real liberal party in this country, and I don’t mean a crackpot professional one.” – Harry Truman.

John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s new climate czar, took a private jet to accept an environmental award in Iceland in 2019. “It’s the only choice for somebody like me, who is traveling the world to win this battle,” he unironically told a reporter when asked about it.

If this sounds like a clueless joke, it’s not. President Biden’s chief environmental officer took the least carbon-efficient means of travel known to man because it was “the only choice” he could think of for a member in good standing of the indulged upper classes.

But this is no anomaly when it comes to liberal climate activism; it is a perfect encapsulation of what it has become: a vanity project of the jet set that directly harms working-class interests. And it’s this green agenda that directly threatens the working class that Biden has prioritized as he has taken command of the federal government.

The first victims of this agenda include the upwards of 10,000 people, many of them union members, who expected to work on the now cancelled Keystone XL Pipeline. But this draconian climate agenda that cost so many jobs should not have come as a surprise. As a Rasmussen Reports poll found, most Americans—52 percent—predicted that Biden’s decision to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement “will cost American jobs and force households and small business to pay higher utility bills.”

Regions from the Appalachians to the Rockies could experience massive job losses, particularly if Biden embraces the green demand to ban all fracking, even on private land. In Texas alone, as many as a million good-paying jobs would be lost. Overall, according to a Chamber of Commerce report, a full national fracking ban would cost 14 million jobs, far more than the eight million lost in the Great Recession. That could turn even vital smaller towns into instant slums. And in places like New Mexico, where spending on public programs hinges on the oil industry—now experiencing a 60-day moratorium on new permits, thanks to President Biden—even issues like education will be impacted.

What has happened to the party of the people?

The climate story is just one part of a bigger one, which led Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan to complain that the party of the people increasingly resembles the old , with lockstep support from Wall Street, the celebrity circuit, Silicon Valley and other elite sectors like professional service and law firms. Put simply, the Democrats have won the battle of the elites, with Democratic campaign spending more than tripling in recent years.

Read the rest of this piece at Newsweek.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Homepage photo: screenshot from CSPAN video

A Test of Strength: Pandemics Through the Eye of Religion with Rev. John L. McCullough

In this episode of the Feudal Future podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky talk with Rev. John L. McCullough about the impact of COVID on faith-based organizations and how religion will reinvent itself through this pandemic.

Joel Kotkin talks with Dan Proft About Making America California

By: Dan Proft
On: The Dan Proft Show at Omny radio

Joel Kotkin joins the Dan Proft show to discuss the concern that the Biden administration might look to California as a model to scale at a national level. But California faces challenges as outward migration accelerates, and its economy doesn’t work for the working class.

 

 

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Making America California

If Biden Can’t Build a Better Economy, America is In Trouble

Donald Trump’s finally gone, but if Joe Biden wants his return to normalcy to be any more successful than his predecessor’s appeal to greatness, he’ll need to take on the real issues dragging red and blue America down: economic torpor, ever increasing inequality, and policies that diminish people’s prospects of making it into or maintaining their positions in the middle class. Read more

Woke Politics Are a Disaster for Minorities

Bill Clinton may have been lionized as the “first black President,” and Barack Obama actually was half African, but no politician in American history owes more to African-American leadership and voters than Joe Biden. His campaign never smoldered, much less caught fire, until he was embraced by South Carolina’s heavily black Democratic electorate. African Americans paced his path also through states such as Texas, where he did far less well among whites and Latinos.

Yet will this triumph at the polls translate to a better life for most minorities, most of whom are working-class or poor? It depends which minorities. Biden’s commitment to healing the “sting of systemic racism” and repudiating “white supremacy” will certainly benefit the elite minorities—actors, lawyers, professors, media figures, corporate apparatchiks, non-profit functionaries—whose careers will be super-charged by demands that people be appointed to high office by race.

Viruses have no known biases, but even the pandemic cannot escape the taint of “systemic racism.” States like California are basing their re-opening policies on whether the infections and fatalities can be equalized by race, despite differences between races in health factors, housing, and work life. Some at the CDCmany state officials—including in overwhelmingly white Oregon—and numerous academic health experts have even suggested minorities get vaccinated first as a demonstration of “racial justice,” even if it threatens the most vulnerable, but grievously whiter populations of seniors.

The “Talented Tenth” v. the Vast Majority

But what about the vast majority of African Americans and Latinos? Even in the best of times, back in February, our economy was failing many of these minorities, as well working people in general. Corporate mea culpas about racism and solidarity with BLM may blunt criticism, but assertions of guilt don’t address the fundamental problem of diminished expectations, particularly in minority and working-class communities that continue to suffer economic distress and hopelessness. Minorities make up over 40% of the nation’s working class and will constitute the majority by 2032.

In writing about African-American progress, the great 20th-Century philosopher W.E.B. Du Bois embraced the notion of “the talented tenth”—the educated upper stratum of black America—as the primary vehicle for social change. Others with a more popular touch embraced either the crude nationalism of Marcus Garvey or the ameliorative, grassroots improvement approach of Booker T. Washington.

The elitist vision of minority outlook was epitomized by the Obama Administration, where African Americans and other “people of color” enjoyed enormous influence and access while the conditions for middle- and working-class minorities generally declined. Minorities with elite degrees flourished, but policies that protected banks and targeted homeowners wiped out much black and Hispanic wealth. “The first black president in American history,” notes the widely-read Marxist blog Jacobin, “ turned out to be a disaster for black wealth.”

Read the rest of this piece at American Mind.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Making America California

As the Biden administration settles in and begins to formulate its agenda, progressive pundits, politicians, and activists point to California as a role model for national policy. If the administration listens to them, it would prove a disaster for America’s already-beleaguered middle and working classes.

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The Clash: The Power Divide Between the Working Class & the Managerial Elite

In this episode of the Feudal Future podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky talk with Michael Lind about how changes in economic control and the rise of social media affect national polarization.