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The Revolt of the Cities

During the past 20 years, immigrants and young people have transformed the demographics of urban America. Now, they’re transforming its politics and mapping the future of liberalism.

Pittsburgh is the perfect urban laboratory,” says Bill Peduto, the city’s new mayor. “We’re small enough to be able to do things and large enough for people to take notice.” More than its size, however, it’s Pittsburgh’s new government—Peduto and the five like-minded progressives who now constitute a majority on its city council—that is turning the city into a laboratory of democracy. In his first hundred days as mayor, Peduto has sought funding to establish universal pre-K education and partnered with a Swedish sustainable-technology fund to build four major developments with low carbon footprints and abundant affordable housing. Even before he became mayor, while still a council member, he steered to passage ordinances that mandated prevailing wages for employees on any project that received city funding and required local hiring for the jobs in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new arena. He authored the city’s responsible-banking law, which directed government funds to those banks that lent in poor neighborhoods and away from those that didn’t.

PUBLISHED: April 29, 2014
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4402 words)

The 40-Year Slump

A bleak picture of working in the United States. Meyerson points to 1974 as the pivotal year in which worker pay stopped rising in accordance with productivity, and traces all the changes have since wiped out the American middle class:

All the factors that had slowly been eroding Americans’ economic lives over the preceding three decades—globalization, deunionization, financialization, Wal-Martization, robotization, the whole megillah of nefarious –izations—have now descended en masse on the American people. Since 2000, even as the economy has grown by 18 percent, the median income of households headed by people under 65 has declined by 12.4 percent. Since 2001, employment in low-wage occupations has increased by 8.7 percent while employment in middle-wage occupations has decreased by 7.3 percent. Since 2003, the median wage has not grown at all.

PUBLISHED: Nov. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5289 words)

The Once and Future Gov

A positive assessment of California Gov. Jerry Brown's achievements during his second time around:

"The testimony to Brown’s acuity for all things Californian is remarkable because the California that Brown now governs has been so radically transformed over the past three decades that it bears scant resemblance to the state he once governed. While Brown has lived his entire life in politics and has been a national figure longer than any current American elected official, he has often seemed impatient with, if not downright contemptuous of, the workings of both politics and government and many of the most basic tenets of American liberalism. Yet, California today is again a state, as it has not been for decades, where the future that liberals hope will be America’s is happening first, and Jerry Brown, for all his skepticism about politics, government, and liberalism, is leading it there."
PUBLISHED: March 7, 2013
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6033 words)