Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Second Machine Age Is Dying

Get ready for an unprecedented economic boom in the United States.

Theme: Geography of economic convergence

Subject Article: "How New Orleans Built a Bustling Tech Hub in Katrina's Wake."

Postscript: In both the first and second machine age, the economy is geographically divergent and then geographically convergent. The iconic place of divergent first machine age was Pittsburgh with its dominance of steel production:

The 40-year period from 1870 until 1910 marked Pittsburgh’s Golden Age. Favorable geography, unique natural resources and a super-abundance of entrepreneurial talent lifted Pittsburgh to a position of national and international prominence never seen before or since.  Pittsburgh’s growth is a story of heavy industry, specifically steel. Population statistics speak to Pittsburgh’s dynamism during this period. The city’s population grew sixfold in those 40 years, from 86,076 to 533,905. Allegheny County nearly quadrupled, to 1,018,463 residents. The local population growth rate doubled that of the nation. In 1900 the value of manufactured products in Pittsburgh was more than Cleveland and Detroit combined.

1910 was peak Pittsburgh. 1910 was peak divergent first machine age in the United States. After that, the region experienced a long slide that lasted about a century. In terms of manufacturing (the dominant industry of the first machine age), that slide continues in terms of labor market share.

The iconic place of convergent first machine age was Detroit:

For almost a half century last century, Detroit was a boom town. Between 1910 and 1950, few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City.

1950 was peak Detroit. 1950 was peak convergent first machine age in the United States. After that, the region experienced a long slide that well could last a century. The automobile isn't coming back, at least in terms of employment.

For almost a half century last century, Silicon Valley was a boom town. The 40-year period from 1950 until 1990 marked Silicon Valley's Golden Age. It was the iconic place of divergent second machine age.

That means we are about 25 years into convergent second machine age. Seattle? Boston? Someplace else? I'm trying to locate the iconic place of the convergent cycle of the second machine age.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ezra Klein Is Transforming Education

Journalists have replaced teachers as the curators of expertise.

Theme: Workforce development and talent

Subject Article: "Ezra Klein Finds Conversations About the Future of Journalism 'Tiresome.'"

Other Links: 1. "Labor Disputes, Wooden Shoes, and Italian Bread."

Postscript: Concerning economic development, I focus on education and health care. The interview with Ezra Klein says a lot more about the future of education than it does journalism. Readers consume content and learn. Klein's business model subsidizes that education. Klein's business model cares more about the quality of the audience than quantity of audience. This is a matter of education, not journalism.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Top Talent Must Flee Silicon Valley

In order for tech workers to cash out on home equity, Proposition 13 forces them to move to another state.

Theme: Real estate refugees

Subject Article: "Silicon Valley is Going to Retrench in 2016."

Other Links: 1. "Are High Housing Costs Forcing Talent to Flee Silicon Valley?"
2. "The Lock-in Effect of California's Proposition 13."
3. "Tesla says Nevada battery plant on track despite report of delay."

Postscript: Expensive Bay Area real estate does much more to deter talent from moving there than it does to push it out. In fact, the tech industry might have converged faster nationally if Proposition 13 didn't discourage relocation. Supply isn't distorted as much as demand is. As out of state tech markets become more attractive to talent, the Prop 13 effect will flip from an agent of retention to one of exodus.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Exploiting Puerto Rico's Fuzzy Sovereignty

With the homeland as neither nation nor state, Puerto Ricans twist in the wind of political whimsy.

Theme: Human rights geography

Subject Article: "The problem with Puerto Rico's debt."

Other Links: 1. "Murder at Sea: Captured on Video, but Killers Go Free."
2. "American Experience: The Pill."
3. "The Insular Cases: Constitutional experts assess the status of territories acquired in the Spanish–American War."

Postscript: "Reconsidering the Insular Cases: The Past and Future of the American Empire."

Over a century has passed since the United States Supreme Court decided a series of cases, known as the “Insular Cases,” that limited the applicability of constitutional rights in Puerto Rico and other overseas territories and allowed the United States to hold them indefinitely as subordinated possessions without the promise of representation or statehood. Essays in this volume, which originated in a Harvard Law School conference, reconsider the Insular Cases. Leading legal authorities examine the history and legacy of the cases, which are tinged with outdated notions of race and empire, and explore possible solutions for the dilemmas they created. Reconsidering the Insular Cases is particularly timely in light of the latest referendum in Puerto Rico expressing widespread dissatisfaction with its current form of governance, and litigation by American Samoans challenging their unequal citizenship status. This book gives voice to a neglected aspect of U.S. history and constitutional law and provides a rich context for rethinking notions of sovereignty, citizenship, race, and place, as well as the roles of law and politics in shaping them.

Thinking about the Insular Cases in a generic sense, citizenship in any space at any scale is not a binary. In terms of territory or turf, citizenship is experience on a continuum. In a neighborhood, newcomers do not enjoy the full benefits of citizenship that the most tenured residents enjoy. Newcomers are expected to conform and labor to fit in, prove they belong. For example, Spike Lee's rant about the gentrification of Brooklyn:

Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!

Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.

In this passage, Spike Lee is anti-newcomer. He isn't anti-gentrification. He invokes tenure as the measure for the right to define cultural space. Hey Spike Lee, get the fuck outta here with your xenophobic bullshit.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Atlanta's Talent Attraction Problem

From 2000–2013, Atlanta has fallen further behind other large metros in growing its population of college-educated young adults.

Theme: Higher education and economic development

Subject Article: "Best and Worst Cities for Educating Blacks: Instead of educating their own, some cities are importing college graduates."

Other Links: 1. "The Talent Migration Paradox."
2. "Debunking Texas Exceptionalism."
3. "Globalization and Atlanta's Gated Urban Core."
4. "Trolling for millennials with the Atlanta Streetcar."

Postscript: "We're now at a point in Georgia where you can't sustain those high attainment rates just by importing more people," says McGuire. "The challenges in Georgia, and in metro Atlanta for sure, have a lot more to do with doing a better job with the kids who are here than simply counting on lots of middle class families to move here and solve the demands of employers that way."

Friday, July 17, 2015