Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Arrogance of Blue America



The Arrogance of Blue America

If you want to see the worst impacts of blue policies, go to those red regions—like upstate New York or inland California—in states they control.

04.30.17 6:00 AM ET

In the wake of the Trumpocalypse, many in the deepest blue cores have turned on those parts of America that supported the president’s election, developing oikophobia—an irrational fear of their fellow citizens.
The rage against red America is so strong that The New York Time’s predictably progressive Nick Kristoff says his calls to understand red voters were “my most unpopular idea.” The essential logic—as laid out in a particularly acerbic piece in The New Republic—is that Trump’s America is not only socially deplorable, but economically moronic as well. The kind-hearted blue staters have sent their industries to the abodes of the unwashed, and taken in their poor, only to see them end up “more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever.”
The red states, by electing Trump, seem to have lost any claim on usually wide-ranging progressive empathy. Frank Rich, theater critic turned pundit, turns up his nose at what he calls “hillbilly chic.” Another leftist author suggests that working-class support for Brexit and Trump means it is time “to dissolve” the “more than 150-year-old alliance between the industrial working class and what one might call the intellectual-cultural Left.”
The fondest hope among the blue bourgeoise lies with the demographic eclipse of their red-state foes. Some clearly hope that the less-educated “dying white America,“ already suffering shorter lifespans, in part due to alcoholism and opioid abuse, is destined to fade from the scene. Then the blue lords can take over a country with which they can identify without embarrassment.
Marie Antoinette Economics
In seeking to tame their political inferiors, the blue bourgeoisie are closer to the Marie Antoinette school of political economy than any traditional notion of progressivism. They might seek to give the unwashed red masses “cake” in the form of free health care and welfare, but they don’t offer more than a future status as serfs of the cognitive aristocracy. The blue bourgeoisie, notes urban analyst Aaron Renn, are primary beneficiaries of “the decoupling of success in America.” In blue America, he notes, the top tiers “no longer need the overall prosperity of the country to personally do well. They can become enriched as a small, albeit sizable, minority.”
Some on the left recognize the hypocrisy of progressives’ abandoning the toiling masses. “Blue state secession is no better an idea than Confederate secession was,” observes one progressive journalist. “The Confederates wanted to draw themselves into a cocoon so they could enslave and exploit people. The blue state secessionists want to draw themselves into a cocoon so they can ignore the exploited people of America.”
Ironically, many of the most exploited people reside in blue states and cities. Both segregation and impoverishment has worsened during the decades-long urban “comeback,” as even longtime urban enthusiast Richard Florida now notes. Chicago, with its soaring crime rates and middle class out-migration, amidst a wave of elite corporate relocations, epitomizes the increasingly unequal tenor of blue societies.
In contrast the most egalitarian places, like Utah, tend to be largely Trump-friendly. Among the 10 states (and D.C.) with the most income inequality, seven supported Clinton in 2016, while seven of the 10 most equal states supported Trump.
If you want to see worst impacts of blue policies, go to those red regions—like upstate New York—controlled by the blue bourgeoise. Backwaters like these tend to be treated at best as a recreational colony that otherwise can depopulate, deindustrialize, and in general fall apart. In California, much of the poorer interior is being left to rot by policies imposed by a Bay Area regime hostile to suburban development, industrial growth, and large scale agriculture. Policies that boost energy prices 50 percent above neighboring states are more deeply felt in regions that compete with Texas or Arizona and are also far more dependent on air conditioning than affluent, temperate San Francisco or Malibu. Six of the 10 highest unemployment rates among the country’s metropolitan areas are in the state’s interior.
Basic Errors in Geography
The blue bourgeoisie’s self-celebration rests on multiple misunderstandings of geography, demography, and economics. To be sure, the deep blue cites are vitally important but it’s increasingly red states, and regions, that provide critical opportunities for upward mobility for middle- and working-class families.
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The dominant blue narrative rests on the idea that the 10 largest metropolitan economies represents over one-third of the national GDP. Yet this hardly proves the superiority of Manhattan-like density; the other nine largest metropolitan economies are, notes demographer Wendell Cox, slightly more suburban than the national major metropolitan area average, with 86 percent of their residents inhabiting suburban and exurban areas.
In some of our most dynamic urban regions, such as Phoenix, virtually no part of the region can be made to fit into a Manhattan-, Brooklyn-, or even San Francisco-style definition of urbanity. Since 2010 more than 80 percent of all new jobs in our 53 leading metropolitan regions have been in suburban locations. The San Jose area, the epicenter of the “new economy,” may be congested but it is not traditionally urban—most people there live in single-family houses, and barely 5 percent of commuters take transit. Want to find dense urbanity in San Jose? You’ll miss it if you drive for more than 10 minutes.
Urban Innovation
The argument made by the blue bourgeoisie is simple: Dense core cities, and what goes on there, is infinitely more important, and consequential, than the activities centered in the dumber suburbs and small towns. Yet even in the ultra-blue Bay Area, the suburban Valley’s tech and STEM worker population per capita is twice that of San Francisco. In southern California, suburban Orange County has over 30 percent more STEM workers per capita than far more urban Los Angeles.
And it’s not just California. Seattle’s suburban Bellevue and Redmond are home to substantial IT operations, including the large Microsoft headquarters facility. Much of Portland’s Silicon Forest is located in suburban Washington County. Indeed a recent Forbes study found that the fastest-growing areas for technology jobs outside the Bay Area are all cities without much of an urban core: Charlotte, Raleigh Durham, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix, and Detroit. In contrast most traditionally urban cities such as New York and Chicago have middling tech scenes, with far fewer STEM and tech workers per capita thanthe national average.
The blue bourgeois tend to see the activities that take place largely in the red states—for example manufacturing and energy—as backward sectors. Yet manufacturers employ most of the nation’s scientists and engineers. Regions in Trump states associated with manufacturing as well as fossil fuels—Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Salt Lake—enjoy among the heaviest concentrations of STEM workers and engineers in the country, far above New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.
Besides supplying the bulk of the food, energy, and manufactured goods consumed in blue America, these industries are among the country’s most productive, and still offer better paying options for blue-collar workers. Unlike a monopoly like Microsoft or Google, which can mint money by commanding market share, these sectors face strong domestic and foreign competition. From 1997-2012, labor productivity growth in manufacturing—3.3 percent per year—was a third higher than productivity growth in the private economy overall.
For its part, the innovative American energy sector has essentially changed the balance of power globally, overcoming decades of dependence on such countries as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela. Agriculture—almost all food, including in California, is grown in red-oriented areas—continues to outperform competitors around the world.
Exports? In 2015, the U.S. exported $2.23 trillion worth of goods and services combined. Of the total, only $716.4 billion, or about a third, consisted of services. In contrast, manufactured goods accounted for 50 percent of all exports. Intellectual property payments, like royalties to Silicon Valley tech companies and entrepreneurs, amounted to $126.5 billion—just 18 percent of service exports and less than 6 percent of total exports of goods and services combined, barely even with agriculture.
Migration and the American Future
The blue bourgeoisie love to say “everyone” is moving back to the city; a meme amplified by the concentration of media in fewer places and the related collapse of local journalism. Yet in reality, except for a brief period right after the 2008 housing crash, people have continued to move away from dense areas.
Indeed the most recent estimates suggest that last year was the best for suburban areas since the Great Recession. In 2012, the suburbs attracted barely 150,000 more people than core cities but in 2016 the suburban advantage was 556,000. Just 10 of the nation’s 53 largest metropolitan regions (including San Francisco, Boston, and Washington) saw their core counties gain more people than their suburbs and exurbs.
Overall, people are definitively not moving to the most preferred places for cosmopolitan scribblers. Last year, all 10 of the top gainers in domestic migration were Sun Belt cities. The list was topped by Austin, a blue dot in its core county, surrounded by a rapidly growing, largely red Texas sea, followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Jacksonville in Florida, Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Antonio.
Overall, domestic migration trends affirm Trump-friendly locales. In 2016, states that supported Trump gained a net of 400,000 domestic migrants from states that supported Clinton. This includes a somewhat unnoticed resurgence of migration to smaller cities, areas often friendly to Trump and the GOP. Domestic migration has accelerated to cities between with populations between half a million and a million people, while it’s been negative among those with populations over a million. The biggest out-migration now takes place in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
Of course, for the blue cognoscenti, there’s only one explanation for such moves: Those people are losers and idiots. This is part of the new blue snobbery: Bad people, including the poor, are moving out to benighted places like Texas but the talented are flocking in. Yet, like so many comfortable assertions, this one does not stand scrutiny. It’s the middle class, particularly in their childbearing years, who, according to IRS data, are moving out of states like California and into ones like Texas. Since 2000, the Golden State has seen a net outflow of $36 billion dollars from migrants.
Millennials are widely hailed as the generation that will never abandon the deep blue city, but as they reach their thirties, they appear to be following their parents to the suburbs and exurbs, smaller cities, and the Sun Belt. This assures us that the next generation of Americans are far more likely to be raised in Salt Lake City, Atlanta, the four large Texas metropolitan areas, or in suburbs, than in the bluest metropolitan areas like New York, Seattle, or San Francisco—where the number of school-age children trends well below the national average.
This shift is being driven in large part by unsustainable housing costs. In the Bay Area, techies are increasingly looking for jobs outside the tech hub and some companies are even offering cash bonuses to those willing to leave. A recent poll indicated that 46 percent of millennials in the San Francisco Bay Area want to leave. The numbers of the “best and brightest” have been growing mostly in lower-cost regions such as Austin, Orlando, Houston, Nashville, and Charlotte.
Quality of Life: The Eye of the Beholder
Ultimately, in life as well as politics, people make choices of where to live based on economic realities. This may not apply entirely to the blue bourgeoisie, living at the top of the economic food chain or by dint of being the spawn of the wealthy. But for most Americans aspiring to a decent standard of living—most critically, the acquisition of decent living space—the expensive blue city simply is not practicable.
Indeed, when the cost of living is taken into consideration, most blue areas, except for San Jose/Silicon Valley, where high salaries track the prohibitive cost of living, provide a lower standard of living. People in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, and Detroit actually made more on their paychecks than those in New York, San Francisco, or Boston. Deep-blue Los Angeles ranked near the bottom among the largest metropolitan areas.
These mundanities suggest that the battlegrounds for the future will not be of the blue bourgeoisie’s choosing but in suburbs, particularly around the booming periphery of major cities in red states. Many are politically contestable, often the last big “purple” areas in an increasingly polarized country. In few of these kinds of areas do you see 80 to 90 percent progressive or conservative electorates; many split their votes and a respectable number went for Trump and the GOP. If the blue bourgeoisie want to wage war in these places, they need to not attack the suburban lifestyles clearly preferred by the clear majority.
Blue America can certainly win the day if this administration continues to falter, proving all the relentless aspersions of its omnipresent critics. But even if Trump fails to bring home the bacon to his supporters, the progressives cannot succeed until they recognize that most Americans cannot, and often do not want to, live the blue bourgeoisie’s preferred lifestyle.
It’s time for progressives to leave their bastions and bubbles, and understand the country that they are determined to rule.

Ed Murrow and Marlene Dietrich's Secret Affair

How to Build a Great Collection

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Looking to Start Buying Art? Here Are 9 Tips From Seasoned Experts on How to Build a Great Collection

Looking to Start Buying Art? Here Are 9 Tips From Seasoned Experts on How to Build a Great Collection
The Value of Art author Michael Findlay
This is not your first time at the rodeo. Oh, wait, perhaps it is.
If you’ve made the decision to take the plunge and buy art, congratulations. As you’re likely overwhelmed, we asked art dealers, auction-house officials, and collectors to suggest strategies for picking “entry points”—relatively inexpensive ways to collect pieces by name artists, or by lesser-known artists of good repute (or with a cult following), in various schools and movements of art. 
We got an earful. The resounding message was, as summed up by Acquavella Gallery director Michael Findlay, is that it’s always better to buy a great example of something by a not-quite-superstar, or a work that’s been overlooked due to its subject matter, than to buy a bad “autograph”—a work that has mostly the artist’s fame to recommend it.

Look for the Cults, the Teachers of the Great Artists, the Formative Scenes of Art History
When I advise entry-level collectors, says Dan Lienau, director of the Annex Galleries in Santa Rosa, California, “I suggest looking at the incredible array of printmakers who worked at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris and New York” in the 1930s-'50s. The subject of a current show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Breaking Ground: Printmaking in the US," with other museum shows in the works, “they influenced every printmaker working today,” he says. 
Hayter, first a Surrealist and later working in abstraction, founded the Atelier in Europe and then moved it to New York. Hundreds of artists went through Atelier 17, according to Lienau, “from the big names like MiróPicassoMotherwell—who were there and did their own printing at this point, they didn’t just come in to sign the prints—to the teachers who went on to found printmaking departments in universities” throughout the world. A color etching by Hayter himself might sell for as little as $1,500.


JOAN MIRÓ Montagnards III (Les)

Fill in the (Female) Blanks in Art History
MoMA didn’t buy many works by women artists early in the last century, but in 1946 the institution purchased Liquor Store Window by the charmingly named Fannie Hillsmith. Many pioneering women artists are being given a second look as art history is re-sifted with less of gender bias, and Hillsmith is certainly one of the artists being reconsidered, having shown early in her career at Peggy Guggenheim’s legendary Art of This Century Gallery, and with the influential dealer Sydney Janis. An American Cubist from New Hampshire, later in life she taught at Cornell and could count critic Clement Greenberg as a fan. New York’s Susan Teller gallery carries circa-1940’s drawings by the artist for less than $1,000.

HEDDA STERNE Follow This Artist Untitled, 1950

Choose a Lesser-Known—But Not Uncharacteristic—Work by a Great Artist
Albrecht Dürer was the leading figure of Late Gothic and High Renaissance German art, and “he remains after 500 years—like Rembrandt, Goya, and Picasso—one of the superior masters of printmaking,” says New York dealer Pia Gallo. Dürer’s engravings, particularly his three Meisterstiche (“master engravings”) Knight, Death, and the Devil; Melencolia I; and St. Jerome in His Study, have been collected for centuries, adds Gallo. And it’s the case that almost every major art museum has an impression of at least one of his three best-known prints.
“But to purchase an early impression of any of Dürer’s three master engravings in very good condition would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars today,” says Gallo. Dürer’s St Paul had been engraved the same year, maintaining the same level of technical virtuosity, imagination, and skill. A very fine early impression can be acquired for less than $10,000.” The lesson here applies to contemporary art as well, such as with the much-lauded but still lower-priced photography of Ed Ruscha.


Ed Ruscha's Little Mexican Church on a Windowsill [2007 NYABF Fundraising Edition], 1970/2007

Don’t Be Scared Off If the Artist Is Already Too Expensive for You; Have a Strategy

If you can’t afford a work you like, keep an eye on the artist. His or her work may show up elsewhere, says New York collector Emily Rubin, who owns small works by Tom Otterness, among other artists.
Other experts advise that, if money is a concern, don’t make your first art purchase at a live auction, where bidding fever can kick in, and where estimates already reflect secondary-market prices.


tom otterness spanking

Look to Museums for Clues
One of the most buzzed-about public art installations of recent years (or at least outdoor-art installations) currently sits atop the Metropolitan Museum of ArtTransitional Object (Psycho Barn) by Cornelia Parker. Her recreation of the spooky film set from the 1960 Hitchcock movie prompts London’s Alan Cristea, of the gallery that bears his name, to suggest works by the artist. Her 2015 print series, “one day this glass will break,” in small editions of 15, cost about $3,700 apiece.


cornelia parker broken galss

Look West
As the West Coast scene becomes more influential in the art world, so does its history.
Senior advises collectors to bet on Bruce Conner. “An iconic figure and influential artist on the West Coast and beyond, he’ll be the subject of a traveling retrospective” organized by SFMoMA and opening at the Museum of Modern Art in July, she says.
While Conner’s drawings can easily reach $50,000 his "#100" prints series, published by the artist in 1971 and “relating to the felt-tip drawings he was making at the time,” are “very accessibly priced.”


ken price

Buy Work by Artists Trying to Say Something Timely and Important—Especially If Important People Are Listening
Art with passion and politics is rarely dismissed as decorative. Barack Obama collects work by Glenn Ligon. Why not you?
“Glenn Ligon’s paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture explore cultural and social identity and draw freely from literary and pop-cultural sources,” notes Betsy Senior, founder and director of New York veteran print shop Shopmaker and Senior.
The pick: His text-based etchings. “Phrases are repeated until eventually dissipating into obscurity. Smudged and broken type interferes with legibility, suggesting the viewer’s liberal and intellectual struggle to read the [text] and understand its implications.”


glenn ligon warm glow

Find 20th-Century Artists Likely to Remain in the Art History Books, and Buy Their Current or Late Works 

Late works are almost always cheaper than ones done in what is considered to be the artist’s prime, sometimes for good reason. The artist may be repeating his or her own ideas, or producing work with less skill and energy.
But once an artist is firmly in the canon, scholars start looking at the whole career, and late works by Picasso, Matisse, and de Kooning are now embraced.
A pick: Andrew Witkin, director of the Barbara Krakow gallery, notes that 1990s prints by Sol LeWitt and Bob Mangold, “iconic within their work,” are available for in the low thousands.


robert mangold

Finally: Do Your Research If You Want to Find Deals
Findlay, the director of Acquavella Gallery, is experienced in selling eight-figure art but reels off a host of “cheap” works he found when he was researching his upcoming book on collecting art, including "small paper sculptures by Isama Noguchi and Polaroids by Tina Barney for under $100; sculpture by Rebecca Warren and good prints by Max Ernst, Jean Dubuffet, and John Baldessari in the $250-$1,000 range.”
There were “under $5,000, small paintings by Ray Parker, Christo collages, and multiples by Jean Arp; under $10,000, a unique wall relief sculpture from 1969 by Gerald Laing, granite sculpture by Brazilian Iran do Espiritu Santo, and photographs by Jim Naughton, paintings by Jules Olitski, and Leon Golub.  Obviously you are not going to get large major works but you can get good examples, not atypical.”
He concludes that, even without a lot of money, “You can collect art.”


christo the gates