What’s Behind This Year’s Political Upheaval?

What’s going on with the 2016 Presidential race? Voters are rallying behind political outsiders, both Republican and Democrat. Campaign front-runners have never been so extreme in their views, leaving the more mainstream candidates scrambling to connect with the voters.

It’s easy to think that we’re seeing something unusual, that this is some sort of perfect storm of voter frustration and fear.  Actually, this year’s unprecedented political maneuvering is a logical continuation of economic trends that started over 40 years ago.

I was doing a study for Universal Studios, looking into how Americans are working more and taking less vacation time.  I noticed that when average wages were adjusted for inflation, the American worker had actually been earning less and less each year since 1973.

Wage_stagnation
Continue reading “What’s Behind This Year’s Political Upheaval?”

“Coming Apart” Book Review

“Coming Apart – The State of White America 1960-2010″ by Charles Murray  focuses on the increasing divergence of upper and lower classes in the United States.  Besides the economic inequality, the two classes are actually becoming different cultures.

There, I just summarized the first half of the book, and saved you untold hours of wading through demographic minutia.  And his conclusion makes sense, but what’s the point?

In the second half we find out, when the author veers from analysis to opinion presented as fact, such as:

1)      There is “no doubt” that America could not succeed without the “founding virtues” of “industriousness, honesty, marriage, religiosity.”

and

2)      “The answer is that there are just four” (domains of happiness), “family, vocation, community, and faith.”

In the last chapter (“Alternative Futures”), we finally get to some meaty discussions such as “the American Project vs. the European Model”.  Basically, the author feels that the Europe cripples its population by robbing them of self-respect and self-actualization.

Mr. Murray’s ultimate hope is that there will be a “Civic Great Awakening” in the response to the “collapse of the moral pillars of the welfare state” and leading the change will be the “new upper class”.

In the last few paragraphs, Mr. Murray invokes the popular concept of American Exceptionalism.

“Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness discussed in earlier chapters, but also American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it, our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in in control of their own destinies. Finally, there is the most lovable of exceptional American qualities: our tradition of insisting that we are part of the middle class, even if we aren’t, and of interacting with our fellow citizens as if we were all middle class.”

Really, is he serious? Continue reading ““Coming Apart” Book Review”

Best Cities for Seniors

I just completed a really in-depth study on the best metro areas for seniors to live in.  Minneapolis came in first, with Boston and Pittsburgh rounding out the top three.  There’s an overview of the study here, with the top 25 cities:

2011 Best Cities for Seniors

We considered nine broad categories, each consisting of several specific measures:  Healthcare, Economy, Health & Longevity, Social Life, Environment, Spiritual Life, Housing, Transportation, and Crime.

Here you can download a PDF of the entire study, with all 50 cities ranked, as well as full methodology and detailed city writeups:

Best Cities for Seniors Full Study

In the PDF, we’ve even broken how cities scored in each of the individual categories.  For example, the #1 city for Environment was San Francisco, whereas the #1 city for Housing was Oklahoma City.