A fascinating discussion by Gavin Mueller at Jacobin demonstrates how progressive cities aren’t necessarily liberal or good for “the people,” at least when it comes to urban development.

Tying up your assets, your middle-class future, in home values does something to people. It alters their interests. It sutures a professional class, of liberal and even progressive beliefs, to the rapacious capitalist expansion into the city. The people who move to gentrifying areas tend to have liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan sympathies. But they are aligned materially with reactionary and oppressive city restructuring, pushing them into antagonism with established residents, who do nothing for property values.

Mueller is writing about Washington DC, but the same pattern can be found in Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland (Oregon) and many other “progressive” cities. (Last year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland developed a list of the most “Gentrifying Cities”. The list is here.)

Richard Epstein breaks down President Obama’s recent economic speech for the thoughtful reader. Please read Epstein’s analysis here, but his essay sub-title really makes his main point: “A rehash of failed progressive policies will not return the United States to greatness.”

All of President Obama’s expressed ideas are liberal (progressive) standards from the 20th Century. Unions probably did need protection 70 years ago, but they don’t now. A higher minimum wage was needed in the last century, but it isn’t going to improve the job market or “real earnings” at this point. President Obama’s claim that the opposition wants to let “companies pollute all they want” is a ridiculous lie. And every solution that makes up the President’s prescription to turn around our economy and help our working classes has been proven by experience to fail to do so.

President Obama makes multiple references to Teddy Roosevelt, president from 1901 – 1909. An administration more than 100 years ago is hardly a good measure for modern America. In fact, the economic “boom” periods of the 20’s, early 60’s, 80’s and 90’s were supported by “conservative” policies of low taxation, limited regulation and limited government growth. It is interesting to note that these periods are equally divided between two Democrat and two Republican administrations. Perhaps President Obama should spend more time reviewing the Clinton, Reagan, Kennedy and Coolidge approaches to economic growth and prosperity. His own policies have failed to grow the economy or jobs. But these four Presidents knew what actually worked to improve the lives of our working classes.

Did you know that less that 50% of American adults work full-time?  Did you know that 15% of American adults right now are retired?  Here is a great graphic from Bloomberg BusinessWeek breaking down the work activities of US adults:

Click for full picture

Click for full picture

The graphic points out that officially unemployment is at 7.6%. Only 5% unemployed show up under the “Workers” column. But 3% are listed as non-workers “Available for work but not actively seeking”. And, of course, there is that mysterious 8% that are doing “Other.” That’s about 16% of American adults who probably should be working if they could just find something to do.

Republicans and Democrats alike have a range of reasons why President Obama won reelection on Tuesday. Obama ran a permanent and better campaignMainstream Media was heavily biased and actively backed Obama; Hurricane Sandy helped the President to look “presidential” while taking Romney off the front page; the “War on Women” meme worked; Millenials and minorities turned out for Obama in record numbers (again); we have become a “Dependency Majority” reliant upon Big Government for our way of life; and, of course, revenge!

All of these no doubt played into Obama’s victory.  But these are really observations of the “How,” not the “Why.”   Why did the President get the vast majority of the African-American and Hispanic votes once again?  Why did youth turn out again for Obama?  How could $16 Trillion in National Debt and four consecutive years of $1+ Trillion deficits not matter?  What about the failed stimulus?  Why didn’t four years of “recovery” with unemployment higher than during the recession make a difference? Why didn’t years of decreasing income and rising costs of living change voters’ minds?

This election, like all elections, was about values.  And to a (slight) majority of voters, Obama best represented their values.  They are not really concerned about debt.  They are not really concerned about jobs.  They believe the nation’s problems can best be solved by government, not by business, religion or the individual.   The cost of government  programs and sources of funding for those programs do not concern them much.  Taxes should be raised for whomever can afford to pay more taxes.   On social issues, relativism is the norm while legalism is anachronistic.  Any restriction on immigration or alternative lifestyles is a bias from previous generations.  For these voters, free healthcare, free education and free social services trump economic growth. 

In short, Obama offered them everything they want at a price that someone else will pay.  Now we’ll see if he can deliver on that promise and what the consequences will be.

Median household incomes dropped almost 5% since 2009, more than during the recent recession period or any other period since the Great Depression.  According to Gordon Green of Sentier Research LLC, “We are in an unprecedented period of economic stagnation.”

Read more on Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-23/u-s-incomes-feel-more-in-recovery-sentier-says.html