Government Jobs and the Economic Recovery in Metropolitan America
June 22, 2011

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‘Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century’: A New Show That Proves Craft Is no Assurance of Quality
June 22, 2011

Walking through “Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century,” at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, I was always conscious of the iron fist beneath the velvet glove. Although this panoramic view of the decorative arts in eighteenth-century France has its share of sleek and seductive surfaces, by the time I left the galleries I felt as if I had been mugged by the eight-hundred-pound gorilla of design shows. The level of craftsmanship is so daunting that it frequently registers as a form of aggression.

Tim Pawlenty's Cash Problem
May 23, 2011

With Mitch Daniels officially out of the presidential race, it seems like the entire GOP is emulating Ethelred the Unready. Well, not quite everyone. In a contrarian move at odds with the Reluctant Republican ethos of the party, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will actually make it official by declaring his candidacy today in Des Moines.  Along with the obligatory yawn-inducing “can you win Iowa?” question, Pawlenty almost certainly will be asked again about his ability to compete financially with Mitt Romney, the Daddy Warbucks of the truncated Republican field.

Challenging the Census to Count the Uncounted
May 05, 2011

Now that Census 2010 results are coming out, some places around the country are scratching their heads. They are puzzled by the lower-than-expected population counts and considering mounting challenges to get the official number changed. The state of California thinks the census missed 1.5 million residents.

The Financial Follies of the NCAA Final Four
March 28, 2011

With April approaching, March Madness is quickly coming to an end. This weekend, the Final Four games will take place in Houston, Texas. It’s a given that two high-quality basketball games will be fun to watch, but does it logically follow that hosting the Final Four will make a ton of money for Houston? According to research by Holy Cross’s Victor Matheson and Robert Baade, it doesn’t. Studying cities that hosted Final Fours from 1970 through 1999, the two found no statistically significant impact.

A New State of the States
March 22, 2011

What are states good for? The 19th century answer was that states are a critical counterweight to federal power. The 20th century answer was that states are laboratories of democracy--tinkering with the beta versions of laws and policies before other states or the federal government adopted them on a large scale. The 21st century answer is that states are the enablers and supporters of metropolitan economies. One problem: States don’t really think this way. According to law, all the component elements of metros--cities, counties, townships, villages, etc.--are creatures of the state.

Missing Workers: The Elephant in the Recovery
February 09, 2011

More than a few observers (here, here or here) are finding it difficult to interpret last week’s BLS employment report. The household survey recorded a fairly large 0.4 percentage-point drop in the unemployment rate, at the same time that the establishment survey recorded an increase in payroll employment of a measly 36,000. An increasingly missing piece of the puzzle may be the workers themselves. According to the latest report, fully 22 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds are not in the U.S. labor force.

The Global Imam
November 10, 2010

The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling.

Park Here
October 07, 2010

The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.

Think Locally, Export Globally
September 10, 2010

Recently, the Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein had an interesting, if bleak (the actual headline was “The bleak truth about unemployment”) column about the nation’s Great Recession-induced structural economic changes and how they’re holding back employment growth. Pearlstein’s crux: "At this point, there is only one clear path out of the unemployment box we have created for ourselves. "Right now, the United States is running a trade deficit that is likely to reach $450 billion this year.