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Boom Towns presents a bold analysis of the decline of American cities and a guide to restoring their vitality. Stephen J.K. Walters argues that urban leaders must enforce property rights in order to prevent the loss of vital capital physical, human, and social that helps cities and their residents to flourish.
American cities, once economic and social launch pads for their residents, are all too often plagued by poverty and decay. One need only to look at the ruins of Detroit to see how far some once-great cities have fallen, or at Boston and San Francisco for evidence that such decline is reversible. In Boom Towns, Stephen J.K. Walters diagnoses the root causes of urban decline in order to prescribe remedies that will enable cities to thrive once again. Arguing that commonplace explanations for urban decay misunderstand the nature of our towns, Walters reconceives of cities as dense accumulations of capital in all of its forms—places that attract people by making their labor more productive and their leisure more pleasurable. Policymakers, therefore, must properly define and enforce property rights in order to prevent the flight of capital and the resulting demise of urban centers. Using vivid evocations of iconic towns and the people who crucially affected their destinies, Walters shows how public policy measures which aim to revitalize often do more harm than good. He then outlines a more promising set of policies to remedy the capital shortage that continues to afflict many cities and needlessly limit their residents' opportunities. With its fresh interpretation of one of the American quandaries of our day, Boom Towns offers a novel contribution to the debate about American cities and a program for their restoration.
"The Human City presents the most cogent, evidence-based and clear-headed exposition of the pro-suburban argument. . . . enriching our understanding of what cities are about and what they can and must become.” —Wall Street Journal Around the globe, most new urban development has adhered to similar tenets: tall structures, small units, and high density. In The Human City, Joel Kotkin—called “America’s uber-geographer” by David Brooks of the New York Times—questions these nearly ubiquitous practices, suggesting that they do not consider the needs and desires of the vast majority of people. Built environments, Kotkin argues, must reflect the preferences of most people—especially those of families—even if that means lower-density development. The Human City ponders the purpose of the city and investigates the factors that drive most urban development today. Armed with his own astute research, a deep-seated knowledge of urban history, and a sound grasp of economic, political, and social trends, Kotkin pokes holes in what he calls the “retro-urbanist” ideology and offers a refreshing case for dispersion centered on human values. This book is not anti-urban, but it does advocate a greater range of options for people to live the way they want at all stages of their lives.
Much recent research in Urban Studies has concentrated on the notion of the ‘global city’ but discussion has also covered a larger set of mega cities, with populations in excess of 10 million. This analysis has begged the question of the optimal size for a city – is larger always better? Smaller Cities explores the advantages and disadvantages of different sized cities, trying to determine their place in the global economy and hierarchy. How can smaller cities gain or retain their competitiveness in a world of large cities? In a globalized world, the nation has perhaps been diminished as an economic actor, with fiscal shortcomings and political gridlock leaving cities more or less on their own in the task of enhancing their competitiveness and improving the economic lives of their residents. This book argues that smaller cities of varying population can be important actors in competitiveness and aims to bring attention to an area often overlooked by researchers. In short, are Pittsburgh, San Diego and Austin less competitive than London and Mumbai? This volume will be of interest to students, researchers, and city professionals who work in urban economy and urban geography.
National decline is typically blamed on special interests from the demand side of politics corrupting a country's institutions. The usual demand-side suspects include crony capitalists, consumer activists, economic elites, and labor unions. Less attention is given to government insiders on the supply side of politics - rulers, elected officials, bureaucrats, and public employees. In autocracies and democracies, government insiders have the motive, means, and opportunity to co-opt political power for their benefit and at the expense of national well-being. Many storied empires have succumbed to such inside jobs. Today, they imperil countries as different as China and the United States. Democracy - government by the people - does not ensure government for the people. Understanding how government insiders use their power to subvert the public interest - and how these negative consequences can be mitigated - is the topic of this book by Mark A. Zupan.

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