The “Mega-Region” and the Creative Class

The driving force in the world economy today is not the nation-state, argues “Creative Class” guru Richard Florida, but a new economic unit — something he calls the “mega-region.” The idea that nation-states are receding in relative importance is not a new one. When I was working at Virginia Business magazine some 12 to 15 years ago, we published a cover story on the “Rise of the City State,” based on the thinking of regional leadership consultant Jim Crupi. And no one can read the Bacon’s Rebellion blog for long without encountering Ed Risse’s concept of the “New Urban Region.”

But Florida is suggesting that something else is going on. In a April 12, 2008, piece in the Wall Street Journal, Florida notes that a mere 40 mega-regions around the world account for one-fifth of the world’s population, two-thirds of global economic output and more than 85 percent of all global innovation. By his reckoning, the world’s greatest mega-region is Greater Tokyo, with 55 million people and $2.5 trillion in economic activity, while No. 2 is the 500-mile Boston-Washington corridor, with some 54 million people and $2.2 trillion in output.

Based on the insight that mega-regions are the economic engines of the global economy, Florida suggests that the thrust of public policy should be to make them stronger and more competitive. Stay committed to global trade. Promote more urban densities, not sprawl. Modernize infrastructure. And stop transferring wealth from productive regions to lagging, unproductive ones.

These are all ideas that I’m comfortable with. But I do wonder whether the concept of a “mega-region” is really a meaningful one. Florida did not have the space to elaborate upon his thinking in a short op-ed piece. Hopefully, he has done so in his new book, “Who’s Your City?”, which I have not yet read. So, I remain open to being persuaded, but at this point I have to say that the usefulness of the concept in guiding thinking about economic development is less than self-evident.

The problem of defining the units of economic development is no mere academic issue. If we regard our community as part of a “city state” synonymous with a metropolitan region or a New Urban Region — the Washington region, the Hampton Roads region, the Richmond region, etc. — we will bend our efforts to creating institutions and linkages that match. If we regard our community as part of a “mega-region” stretching 500 miles across multiple states, we will organize our efforts quite differently.

I find it difficult to see how the defining the urban agglomeration stretching from Boston to Northern Virginia as a “mega-region” reflects any political, economic or sociological reality. The Boston-Washington agglomeration has no self identity as a region. It spans some 10 to 12 states (depending on how you define the region) and too many municipalities to count. The mega-region encompasses numerous distinct labor markets. Florida may present evidence to the contrary in his book, but I don’t see the area as being tied together by any special business or economic linkages. To the contrary, to pick one example, the IT-centric economy of Northern Virginia has more corporate and business linkages with Silicon Valley in California than it does to, say, Philadelphia, New York City or even a technology center like Boston.

Using Florida’s own theory of the “creative class” as a basis for thinking about the issue, I would suggest that the fundamental unit of regional economic development is the “labor pool” — a geographic entity within which the vast majority of people who live there also work there. The outer edges of such a region coincide with the “commuter shed” — beyond which people tend to commute to work in a different region. (This is a larger unit than the Metropolitan Statistical Areas catalogued by the U.S. Census. I believe it is how Ed Risse defines a New Urban Region, but I would welcome any clarification from him on that point.)

Looking at a region as a “labor pool” rather than a collection of municipalities puts the emphasis where it rightly belongs in a knowledge-based economy: on the workforce. The most powerful driver of economic prosperity today is the depth and breadth of human capital, and the great economic-development challenge of the age is creating the kinds of communities where the most economically, artistically and scientifically productive members of the workforce (the “creative class”) are drawn to live and work by the regional quality of life.

No one personally identifies with the “Boston-Washington” mega-region. No one moves to, say, the Northern Virginia portion of the mega-region on the logic, “Oh, yeah, I moved here for the great quality of life. We’ve got these really great educational institutions — like Harvard and Yale. And, man, the nightlife — you can’t beat those shows on Broadway!” No… people in Northern Virginia identify with George Mason University and Wolf Trap performing arts center, or maybe Georgetown University and the Kennedy Center.

Florida is right to say that wealth creation around the world is highly concentrated in a few very large, super-productive regions. But what appears to be a “mega-region” may really be a cluster of “city states” or “New Urban Regions” in such close proximity that they overlap with one another. The driving unit, with which people identify and mobilize their efforts, occur at the level of the city state, not the mega-region.

(Hat tip: Larry Gross.)

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  1. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    My thoughts exactly.

    Our copy of his new book is one the way as we speak.

    One thing for sure Florida gets the Jane Jacobs award for the most confusing book title.

    She called her second of the four important books “The Economy of Cities” and then spent the whole time talking about Regions.

    If Florida does justify “Mega Regions” then his book and its subtitle are completley wrong.

    I suspect the subtitle is right “where you choose to live is very important” but the title that includes the “C” word is misleading as are most uses of the word other than as part of the official name of a certain kind of municipality. The powers and jurisdictions of these “C” word places vary by state and within Regions.

  2. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Oh yes, that Rise of the City-State cover story was one of the Jim Bacon classics and should be reviewed often.


  3. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Looking back at our response to Larry Gross re the quote from Florida on the Veolia post:

    “Mega Regions aka New Urban Regions and conterminous agglomerations of New Urban Regions are the new fundimental building blocks of civilization — economic, social and physical, but…

    “What fits better in Florida’s quote is “multi-nation-state Enterprises,” not “mega regions.””

    Could have been much better stated and is edited below:


    New Urban Regions are the new fundimental building blocks of civilization — economic, social and physical.






    AS TO What fits better in Florida’s IMPACT OF BIG PLACES, IT is “multi-nation-state Enterprises,” not “Mega Regions.”

    We will address Larrys response to the rest of this post in the Veolia thread.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    The 500 mile Boston to Washington region IS sprawl.

    What if we find out that Urban densities ARE more expensive, have higher governmental costs, higher living costs, require higher wages as inducement, use more energy overall (not just per residence) and they are generally an all around social, political, and environmental disaster.

    Would you still promote urban density? how do you promote urbn density and still promote a free market?

    Really, can we just give up on the user pays – free market thing and just come out and say waht we really want?


  5. Paradox13VA Avatar

    I respectfully disagree with your assertion that there’s no cohesion between Boston and Washington. If you look at the people populating the region they’re more likely, I believe, to move WITHIN the Washington-Boston corridor than beyond it.

    I have migrated from the top of the region (southern New Hampshire) through its core (New Jersey) and now reside in Northern Virginia. Throughout that migration, I felt I had more in common with people within it than people a few dozen miles north of Manchester (say) or a few dozen miles south of Gainesville, or a few dozen miles west of Philly.

    When I was growing up, we learned about the “BosNYWash” like students in this area learn about the “Delmarva” penninsula. It’s all a matter of perspective.

  6. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Paradox13VA, Interesting observation. As I recall from my analysis of population migration data (based on taxpayer changes of address), newcomers to Northern Virginia are far more likely to have migrated from points north (within the Boston-Washington mega-region) than from other parts of the country.

    Assuming we were to try to get beyond the anecdotal evidence offered by one blogger (you) or even multiple bloggers, what metrics could you think of to test the hypothesis that the Boston-Washington “mega-region” reflects some underlying sociological reality?

    Migration data might be one starting point.

    Opinion surveys?

    Voting patterns?

  7. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse


    Of course there are connections and similarities but they do not rise to the level of a “cohesion” that yields a New Urban Region (NUR).

    We have lived in the Boston NUR, in New York State outside the New York NUR, in Maryland in the Washington-Baltimore NUR and in three locations in Virginia in that same NUR.

    Based on this experience we understand what you mean by “cohesion.”

    When we return to the NURs on the west coast where we were born, went to graduate school, went to law school and served in the military, we do not feel at home.

    The same is true when we now visit the Urban Support Regions in the Carribean where we have spent a good deal of time and owned property or the Northern Rocky Mountain Urban Support Region where we grew up and went to undergaduate school.

    Of the four places in the Washington-Baltimore NUR, we have lived three times inside the Clear Edge around the Cores of the New Urban Region and once inside the Clear Edge around an urban enclave in the Countryside.

    The DelMaVa is an Urban Support Region and is outside the Washington-Baltimore New Urban Region and we enjoy spending time in several venues there.

    There are levels of cohesion to experience in all these contexts.

    There are measureable parameters of economic, social and physical connectivity that determine the Borders of the organic components of New Urban Regions.

    I beleive Jim Bacon is right and Florida is off base in this instance.


  8. Anonymous Avatar

    I must say that I agree with your skepticism about how important Florida’s new designations are. There may be a Boston to DC region but it is not exactly replacing the nation-state. Last time I checked, it is still the U.S. State and local legal powers still exist. There may be some regional institutions to handle transit and roads and power but those aren’t exzctly new ideas.

    I might imagine Florida’s ideas might be worthy where metro areas spill into other countries — Detroit-Windsor or El Paso-Juarez come to mind. The latter is the third largest manufacturing area in the North America thanks to immigration and NAFTA but that’s a discussion for another blog.

    My personal preference is to avoid “pop” sociologists/land use types or even “pop” economists like Thomas Friedman.

    Peter Galuszka

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    NAFTA was mentioned. What about the European Union?

    Aren’t both of these arrangements an admission that economies can transcend nation states?

    Isn’t one of the significant advantages of the European Union is the regulatory “flattening” the intent to reduce/eliminate some of the nation-state boundary-imposed disincentives to commerce?

    Did the formation of the European Union – to a certain extent – deliver to Europe the equivalent of the US Interstate Commerce sanctioning?

    in our own State – isn’t there a prevailing opinion that NoVa is more like Wash Metro/Maryland than it is RoVa?

    Here’s a survey question.

    “List your last 3 jobs and where they were Geographically”.

    Were they somewhere in the “mega region”?

    RH sez the Bos/NY/Phil/Bal/Wash/Rich/HR/TW corridor IS … SPRAWL….

    I see that as separate from the mega-region concept.

    mega-region does not mean people necessarily live close to where they work…

    On the contrary, mobility is the fuel for mega-regions AND NURs in terms of business and commerce.

    Wander on down to National or Dulles and see where many of the planes are headed…

    for that matter.. what happened to business and commerce in the days after 9-11 when the airports were closed.?

    here’s a final question –

    How many of Florida’s Mega Regions do NOT have extensive passenger rail and transit?

  10. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    “List your last 3 jobs and where they were Geographically”.

    Hampton Roads, Diego Garcia/Guam/Saipan, Hampton Roads. Waiting for another offsite job to come along so I can get a pay raise.

    And I agree with RH. Florida and the rest can say mega-regions are the ticket. But then they decry the sprawl that such so called economic engines create. And when the engine starts misfiring, well, we can look at NYC’s history or the LA/SD corridor for that one.

  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    is Sprawl an integral part of all of the Mega Regions that Florida names?

    or is Sprawl – the way that America does mega regions?

    Are mega-regions directly responsible for Sprawl or will Sprawl occur even where there are not Mega regions?

  12. Groveton Avatar

    People are often called gurus because charlatan is so hard to spell.

    However, in this case, I believe that Florida (the guru) has some points. I will wait for the book before finalizing but (from Bacon’s observations) he makes some valid points:

    1. The creative class (terrible term but I get the idea) lives in mega regions. Therefore, these regions are economically important.

    2. Money should not be transferred out of these economically important regions because the transfer decreases the investment in the real economic engines of the world.

    I wonder why anyone would argue with that. The facts speak for themselves.

    As for cohesion, I disagree with Mr. Bacon’s contention that these mega-regions (Boston – NoVA for example) have little in common. Politically, the Boston to NoVA corridor is much more politically consistent than the state of Virginia. The mega-regions are largely liberal, Democratic and socially progressive. Also, as I have said on many occasions, I feel much more in common with people in the Maryland suburbs of DC than I do with people in southern Virginia. Now that I have read the summary of Florida’s book I have thought about the matter in broader terms. I also feel that I have more in common with the people of Philadelphia, northern New Jersey, New York, Hartford and Boston than southern Virginia. Florida is right – at least from a work perspective.

    Lifestyle is a different matter than employment. I am much more comfortable in the Carolinas than in New England. I feel that I have a lot in common with New Englanders work-wise but I wouldn’t want to live there. I look forward to reading Mr. Florida’s book. He may be making a very valid economic and political argument. Whether that argument can be extended to the social world is a different question.

  13. Groveton Avatar

    “or is Sprawl – the way that America does mega regions?”.

    Great question.

    I am just back from a week in the Netherlands and France. Europe is very different from the United States in the way it “does” mega-regions. Nearly constant in Europe is the New Urban Region (I hope I am using this term correctly). There is a “clear edge” between the dense development of the city and suburbs (sorry EMR – not fluent yet) and the rural areas. It is striking to see. As you drive from one city to another you pass from dense development to farmland in a matter of a few hundred meters. The prolonged “gray zone” of large houses on small lots, large houses on large lots, strip malls, etc. does not seem to exist. I have asked several times how this works. How is it that the development just stops and the farmland just begins? In every case the answer is, “that’s the law”. Fundamentally, the population centers of Europe have better patterns of human settlement because the government forces those patterns. I have never heard anybody claim that it is the natural outcome of economic forces or enlightened free will. And that’s the problem with the arguments espoused on Bacons Rebellion. There is a misconception that people will magically move into sensible patterns of human settlement of their own accord. They won’t. In the US, people are living in the patterns of human settlement that they want (at least short to mid term). The only way to change that is to use legislation or nearly confiscatory taxation (another form of legislation). So the Republicans on this site have a problem – they don’t want big government or a nanny state but they want an outcome that can only be created by big government or a “nanny state”.

  14. Groveton Avatar

    I understand that Sen. Obama made some controversial comments while I was out of the country. Apparently, he says that Americans living in small towns are bitter and they cling to religion and guns because of that bitterness. For some reason, this has been perceived as an improper comment. It seems quite accurate to me. In addition, if you read Deer Hunting with Jesus about life in Winchester, VA it seems to be the theory expressed in that book as well. I do not live in a small town so I can only say what I see and what I hear, not what I know. I’d be very happy to hear from those of you living in small towns as to your feelings about Sen. Obama’s comments or about Deer Hunting with Jesus for that matter.

  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “The prolonged “gray zone” of large houses on small lots, large houses on large lots, strip malls, etc. does not seem to exist”

    so.. do you mean there are no Loudoun Counties in the Netherlands?

    so.. does that mean that the Government there has determined that SPRAWL is NOT in the public interest?

  16. Groveton Avatar


    Yep. I saw cities, towns and farms. Nothing that corresponds to the American view of sprawl. And, when I asked, I was told the human settlement patterns were achieved through legislation. Apparently, the government has determined that sprawl is not in the public interest. Or, that green space is in the public interest. Something along these lines.

    However, there are some implications:

    1. Housing is very expensive. You have to be quite wealthy to own a house of any type. Most people live in apartments (condos) or townhomes.

    2. Housing is affordable because employees organize and keep wages high. It seems that there are “workers councils” everywhere. As far as I know, they are mandatory in France. And they are pretty effective negotiators. They also make it very difficult to fire anybody – for cause or as part of a downsizing.

    3. Many of the countries are less than fully competitive. They protect their home markets and employee wages. They find it hard to export and prices internally are often artificially high. The net result is a fairly high level of structural unemployment. However, unemployment benefits are generous.

    4. Taxes are high. The economic safety net is expensive. I believe that subsidies abound. Government is very much involved in business decisions. This is the “nanny state” on steroids.

    5. Visible displays of wealth are considered to be in poor taste. In Belgium I am told that everybody’s salary is a matter of public record within a village. Anybody making a disproportionate income is considered “greedy”. Oddly, one big exception is professional athletes (especially soccer). In that industry stars get paid a lot of money and everybody thinks it’s fine.

    6. Everything is downsized. Or, maybe, in America everything is upsized. The cars are smaller, the living spaces are smaller, the meals are smaller. You just don’t see lots of SUVs. In fact, in Amsterdam, I don’t think I saw a single SUV (other than commercial and governmental vehicles). There are no pick up trucks.

    7. The very thought of personal gun ownership does not compute. I realize that Switzerland is something of an exception (although I think it would be very unusual for somebody in Switzerland to be driving around with a pistol in the glove box). Some people, who live in the countryside, have rifles and shotguns for hunting. However, the concept of handguns for personal safety is all but unknown.

    8. Thoughts about America and Americans vary – mostly by class. Working class and middle class people have a fairly positive view of America and Americans. One young person told me that she was sure Europe had fallen behind the US in “green”. When I asked her why she felt that way she said, “In America once people decide to do something they get it done. It’s not like here where we talk forever.”. I saw no good reason to disabuse her of that opinion. The wealthier people are much more Anti-American – to the point of hostility. A middle aged woman from Luxenbourg (who owned a house – which makes her rich) said, “Why do you act like a superpower when you are not a superpower?”.

    9. The general behavior of Americans traveling is horrendous. Really bad. Poorly dressed and very loud, too many Americans talk incessently about things “back in the states”. They struggle to understand that English is not really a universal language. Instead, they just shout louder in the hope that volume will make a French speaker suddenly understand. And they complain about everything in loud conversation. The “money is funny”, the lines are too long, the food “tastes wierd”, Europeans give alcohol to babies. It’s really amazing what you see when you travel a lot. There should be mandatory training when you get issued a passport – “How not to be an ugly American”.

    Anyway, that’s my ramble for this topic.

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    “that’s the law”.

    Yes, and they help keep it that way with substantial subsidies of one kind or another to their farmers. They have determined not only that sprawl is not in the public interest, but that stealing is not in the public interest either: they are willing to pay for what they want. Or at least the government forces them to pay.

    In England, all development has been nationalized since after the war.

    However, their policies are not without consequences.

    In Portugal you see truckloads (not buses) of farm workers being transported from the city out to the fields to work. Their commuting problem works in reverse, but it is no more efficient because they still have to be delivered to disperse locations.

    In England there is considerable discontent that the (now wealthier) citizens wish to have larger homes and gardens. The restrictions cause high prices to the extennt that some English are selling out and retiring to France.

    In the Netherlands they still pursue a policy of dense construction, but they have modified it to one of dispersed dense construction. And, of course, they are famous for building in places that EMR would call unsuitable: much of the place was created by draining the swamp.

    But, overall, Groveton’s comments are on target.


    It does seem to be a stereotype that people in small towns cling to guns, religion, and a lot of other quaint customs. I don’t see it as a sign of bitterness, so much as a matter of custom, peer acceptance, etc.

    People in cities go to worship as well, but we don’t call them bitter. Obama later retracted that part of his statement, while still pointing out the apparent stereotype.

    Even I have a gun now that I’m in the countryside, which I would probably never have had otherwise. Here, it is a tool, like any other.


    “the population centers of Europe have better patterns of human settlement “

    How do we know it is really “better”? It is claimed that urban citizens buy less power and energy, and this appers to be marginally true, if you measure per dwelling unit. But if you measure per person or per square foot it is not as true.

    I believe, though I can’t show it yet, that if you also consider all the public use of energy, that is not billed individually, the picture is quite different. We do know that the more urbanized a country is, the more power it uses per capita.

    But that’s just considering power and energy.

    What is the urban murder rate compared to the rural murder rate? How about urban asthma? Homelessness? What is the “best” mix of interconnected open space and human habitation? In fact, what does the urban natural habitat consist of, visiting the countryside?

    I don’t think we have a good metric handle on what is “best”.


  18. Anonymous Avatar

    “You have to be quite wealthy to own a house of any type.”

    If you have a mortgge in England, it’s a jumbo, “sub-prime” mortgage that your children will probably inherit.

    “The net result is a fairly high level of structural unemployment. However, unemployment benefits are generous.”

    We have this strange idea that everyone needs to be employed. In fact, we can produce all we need with relatively few people. Since everyone is emplyed we produce more than we need – and then complain about overconsumption.

    “Taxes are high.”

    Having a real job and something valuable to do is a privilege which is heavily taxed. Eveyone else gets a “make-work” job supported by subsidies, health care, etc.

    “However, the concept of handguns for personal safety is all but unknown.”

    And the statistics show that the concept of handguns for personal fo safety is all but patently crazy.

    “Everything is downsized.”

    You can buy a lot of environmental quality if you pay more for less of everything else. That clear edge you talk about comes with a price.

    “There should be mandatory training when you get issued a passport – “How not to be an ugly American”.”

    Spot on. It should include a crash course and minimum competency in a foreigh language. Then maybe Americans would not be so intolerant of those here who haven’t learned English yet. Or even those that have, but speak with an accent.


  19. Anonymous Avatar

    One other thing. Isn’t the European birth rate lower than ours? Does that make it easier to stay green?


  20. Anonymous Avatar

    I think Japan is still the worlds second largest economy, yet it has been stagnant for years. What does a stagnant economy look like? How does it continue to tread water? If we ever manage to contain growth, it’s a skill we might have to master.


  21. Groveton, Most of your observations about Europe ring true. The one statement that does not, ironically enough, is about the United States. Human settlement patterns in the U.S. are no less an artifact of government intervention than they are in Europe. The only difference is that U.S. government mandates and subsidizes scattered, disconnected, low-density development, while European government does the opposite.

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton, I agree with much of what you say about Europe, but take some of it with a grain of salt as Europe is not a homogeneous country. Some of the generalities you make are not applicable much outside the major urban areas of France or Holland. It’s like visiting NYC and Washington and making generalizations about all of North and South America.

    To hit on a few points, housing is expensive in many of the major cosmopolitan cities much like here, but in smaller regions owning townhomes and SFHs isn’t that uncommon, though not as much as the US due to population density. It’s not as sprawled as here, but there are definitely suburbs with SFHs and THs pretty far outside the city center with workers commuting into the city. This depends on a country’s policy as to how much. A more common living pattern is to have an apartment in the city and a vacation home outside the city, something you might start seeing more commonly in the US with the uptick in urban living and reduction in inner city crime.

    The SUVs and trucks I see more and more of everytime I visit Europe. Look in Italy, Germany, or the UK and you will see plenty of them, though nowhere on the scale of the US. Didn’t see many in France, probably local regulations.

    Gun laws vary by region and seem to very cultural. When I went to England you were essentially inviting jail time if you wanted to get a gun. Other areas, especially rural owning a rifle is much more common. The biggest difference I notice is you don’t have the “carry a concealed gun anywhere and everywhere” crowd. It’s more rationale in most cases, but some areas are probably a little too gun control to the point it deters from legitimate gun use, such as for farmers and very rural living.

    The “ugly American” thing, well you have to consider that only about 25% of Americans have passports and as a whole we are not a well traveled society.


  23. Anonymous Avatar

    “The only difference is that U.S. government mandates…”

    Show me a written government mandate.

    This is a nice suburban legend, but it simply isn’t true. Most government money goes to urban areas.

    I’ll wager you don’t live in one.


  24. Anonymous Avatar

    My understanding of the English system is that you can easily own all the guns you want.

    But, ammunition is handled as we handle subscriptions. You have to show a need, and you have to show how you used the last rounds.


  25. Anonymous Avatar

    “Sub”urban is dysfunctional urban.

    It is not nonurban and it does not belong in the Countryside.

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    ““Sub”urban is dysfunctional urban.”

    By what collection of measurements?

    I’m willing to believe you, but pick some reasonably broad collection of attributes – ones that are shared by both kinds of areas, and tell me how urban is more functional.

    How about number of emergency vehicle calls per 1000 people?

    What DOES belong in the country side? How do you decide if THAT is functional or not?


  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    well.. one could make the case that the Netherlands is “dysfunctional”.

    If the Army Corps was involved, the Netherlands would be outlawed.

    … and if the Netherlands were not an independent country but rather a province of France.. who in their right mind.. would spend billions of dollars to reclaim land from the ocean when other land was available much cheaper?

    Here’s a dysfunctional concept – a summer cabin in the mountains or a beach-house at the Ocean…

    who could justify TWO houses on of which stayed vacant most of the time?

    and yet.. in Europe.. the convention is to live “small” and compact where you work, in part, so that you can afford a “summer” place.

    And since the “govmint” in Europe is the one that mandates perpetual employment and benefits including bunches of days off so workers can enjoy “holiday” would we not call this .. also… Government inspired sloth and “sprawl” of a different but just as principled as the “suburban” flavor?

    too bad about Laura.. see sounded very provocative and probably would have given RH a fit….

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    “in Europe.. the convention is to live “small” and compact where you work, in part, so that you can afford a “summer” place.”

    Congratulations Larry, I never thought of it that way. Who knows, you might be learning some of this systems engineering stuff, you know, consider the whole system, set system boundaries large enough to capture secondary impacts, don’t violate the laws of physics, etc etc.

    Maybe their net impact is not so different from ours, but the impact is spread out over two locations.

    Why do they feel like they need a second vacation home? Because their regular home is so cramped?


  29. Anonymous Avatar

    I don’t have fits. I don’t have any political affiliation, and much of what happens is out of my control.

    My role is to observe trends, collect data, and look for circular or otherwise bad, silly, inconsistent, or unsupported arguments. I’ll come down on whatever side gets the lowest BS score and the highest correlation with observed facts.

    Not that I don’t have plenty of those myself, but I like to think it is easier to make a decent argument if i don’t have to make one that also fits some political or philosophical mold.

    For example, when I read David Schnare’s article on no-till my BS alarm went off, and I couldn’t figure out why, immediately. There was just something wrong with his argument. “..a shift to no-till farming is an urgent priority”? Based on what? Compared to what?

    Farming that actually turns a profit is an urgent priority, how much does this practice cost? How does the return compare with other practices.

    Eventually it was clear that it was a one sided sales pitch, it did not attempt to show two sides and evaluate the trade-offs.

    There are various flavors of low till and no till practices and they all have good points. I practice no-till myself, but all I have to do is overseed – no herbicide involved. But when you see a field that looks like it has been bombed with defoliant, burned brown when everything around it is green, in prepartion for no till, well, you have to wonder….

    he talked about all the good things No-till does for the Bay, but said nothing about increasing herbicide use (made from petroleum, by the way). Maybe a big influx of herbice will help counteract eutrophication caused by plant growth caused by excess nutrients. :-(.

    I don’t have a position about no-till farming, and don’t need one, but I do have a position about incomplete truths.


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