Entries by Joel Kotkin

Seven Years Ago, Wall Street Was the Villian, Now It Gets To Call the Shots

The recent passage by Congress of new legislation favorable to loosening controls on risky Wall Street trading is just the most recent example of the consolidation of plutocratic power in Washington. The new rules, written largely by Citibank lobbyists and embraced by the Obama administration, allow large banks to continue using depositors’ money for high-risk investments, the very […]

America’s Opportunity City

David Wolff and David Hightower are driving down the partially completed Grand Parkway around Houston. The vast road, when completed, will add a third freeway loop around this booming, 600-square-mile Texas metropolis. Urban aesthetes on the ocean coasts tend to have a low opinion of the flat Texas landscape—and of Houston, in particular, which they […]

America's New Industrial Boomtowns

David Peebles works in a glass tower across from Houston’s Galleria mall, a cathedral of consumption, but his attention is focused on the city’s highly industrialized ship channel 30 miles away. “Houston is the Chicago of this era,” says Peebles, who runs the Texas office of Odebrecht, a $45 billion engineering firm based in Brazil. […]

Reversing American Decline

Across broad ideological lines, Americans now foresee a dismal, downwardly mobile future for the country’s middle and working classes. While previous generations generally did far better than their predecessors, those in the current one, outside the very rich, are locked in a struggle to carve out the economic opportunities and access to property that had […]

America's Emerging Housing Crisis

From the earliest settlement of the country, Americans have looked at their homes and apartments as critical elements of their own aspirations for a better life. In good times, when construction is strong, the opportunities for better, more spacious and congenial housing—whether for buyers or renters—tends to increase. But in harsher conditions, when there has […]

The City of Villages – Los Angeles

Los Angeles is unique among the big, world-class American cities. Unlike New York, Boston, or Chicago, L.A. lacks a clearly defined core. It is instead a sprawling region made up of numerous poly-ethnic neighborhoods, few exhibiting the style and grace of a Paris arrondissement, Greenwich Village, or southwest London. In the 1920s, the region’s huge […]

The Geography of Inequality

Perhaps no issue looms over American politics more than worsening inequality and the stunting of the road to upward mobility. However, inequality varies widely across America. Scholars of the geography of American inequality have different theses but on certain issues there seems to be broad agreement. An extensive examination by University of Washington geographer Richard […]

The U.S. Middle Class is Turning Proletarian

The biggest issue facing the American economy, and our political system, is the gradual descent of the middle class into proletarian status. This process, which has been going on intermittently since the 1970s, has worsened considerably over the past five years, and threatens to turn this century into one marked by downward mobility. The decline […]

Blue-Collar Hot Spots: The Cities Creating The Most High-Paying Manufacturing Jobs

It’s a common notion nowadays that American blue-collar workers are doomed to live out their lives on the low-paid margins of the economy. They’ve been described as “bitter,” psychologically scarred and even an “endangered species.” Americans, noted one economist, suffered a “recession” but those with blue collars endured a “depression.” Yet in recent years, according to research by […]

Fixing California: The Green Gentry’s Class Warfare

Historically, progressives were seen as partisans for the people, eager to help the working and middle classes achieve upward mobility even at expense of the ultra-rich. But in California, and much of the country, progressivism has morphed into a political movement that, more often than not, effectively squelches the aspirations of the majority, in large […]

Anti-Sprawl Policies Threaten America's Future

Among university professors, government planners and mainstream pundits there is little doubt that the best city is the densest one. This notion is also supported by a wide number of politically connected developers, who see in the cramming of Americans into ever smaller spaces an opportunity for vast, often taxpayer-subsidized, profiteering. More recently density advocates cite […]

The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election

Much is said about class warfare in contemporary America, and there’s justifiable anger at the impoverishment of much of the middle and working classes. The Pew Research Center recently dubbed the 2000s a “lost decade” for middle-income earners — some 85% of Americans in that category feel it’s now more difficult to maintain their standard […]