In 2013, Joel Kotkin described the state of California as a new bastion of neofeudalism, marked by class division into the serfs, Americans dependent on government for their welfare, the yeomanry or small business owners and middle class citizens, the clerisy of government officials, media elite, and the Ivory Tower, and the oligarchs at the top, in California’s case the rulers of tech and finance. With government policies aimed to help each class that often instead solidify class barriers by giving each different group its own set of handouts, how on earth do we achieve upward mobility for all Americans and create the kind of dynamic economy that rewards risk and pays dividends for all Americans?

I spoke with Joel Kotkin about just these things. He is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism.

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There are 6 comments.

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  1. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    What do you think of Charles Landry’s book “Creative City:A Toolkit for Urban Innovators“? He has a bit of history – going back to the late 70s of predicting the merger of communication and media industries – which at the moment of AT&T – Warner Bros. merger seems prescient.

    Really enjoyed your podcast, great discussion.

    • #1
  2. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    Joel Kotkin made a great point that China’s government cheats and detests private property rights and intellectual property rights.

    I think it’s unfair to lump Japan and Mexico and our other trade partners with China. I don’t think the Ricochetti point that out enough.

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  3. RufusRJones Member

    The three guys that know the way out of this mess are Joel Kotkin, Victor Davis Hansen, and David Stockman. Now someone that isn’t a threat to the GOP establishment needs to do a long interview with Stockman. This will never happen for a variety of reasons.

    People want “Trumpism” and socialism because we have a regressive economy stemming from horrific central bank policy and financial regulation. NAFTA, technology,  and China are forcing the issue via wage deflation. It is getting very late in the game to adjust this system in a civil manor.


    • #3
  4. I Walton Member
    I Walton

    Outstanding.  I didn’t know Kotkin.  I totally agree with everything he says and have for many years.

    • #4
  5. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen

    I am a Kotkin fan, and read his Orange County Register column every week.  He is the most clear-eyed, regular-guy-supporting, anti-elitist former Democrat out there these days.

    Nevertheless, this podcast was discouraging, because he set as his premise the idea that for the disaffected mostly blue-collar group that elevated Trump to be satisfied that they still have a shot at the American Dream, we need to replicate the golden age period from 1940 to 1975.  That is the most unrepeatable anomalous time in world history, so it seems as though we are toast, because the problem is unfixable.

    There will never again be a case where, first, 6 million men are out of the labor force and in the military making a massive labor shortage with no robotics to compensate, then the potential world-wide industrial powers- Germany, France, England, Japan are all out of the market because of the war aftermath while China and Korea are occupied with civil war and revolutions of their own, and new basic consumer goods are suddenly invented- modern refrigeration, television, etc., while new housing demands boost the materials industries.

    If that confluence of events is what it takes to restore the American Dream for the “regular guys”, we have zero chance to succeed.

    He’s right about the toss-off (Kevin Williamson is sort of correct here, but way too simplistically glib) “move to where opportunity is” meme.  Opportunity has to spread out a bit. (con’t)

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  6. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen


    And there will be new jobs, we just don’t know what they might be.  But we must adjust the current model- largely enabled by government policy- where, e.g., Zuckerberg, et al, can game the immigration system to import cheap high-tech labor in the FoxConn Shenjen mode, and still suck his revenues from the US market.  There has to be a condition put on the current Silicon Valley model where you can’t profit from the US market yet concurrently undercut the US labor supply.

    I tend to believe that a key answer is, as Mark Mills opines, a virtually unlimited supply of cheap energy- that means fracking, methanol, etc.  And the location of that energy- if the politicians get out of the way, is in the places (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Western NY) where the jobs are most needed.

    It is probably too much to ask for government to behave sensibly regarding regulation- keeping a sharp but non-extreme eye on real deleterious consequences, but a light and non-interfering-free-market regulatory hand.

    • #6
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