America’s Decline Is Relative but Real—and Potentially Dangerous

The Rest of the World Is Catching Up, and the Nation's Cluelessness About Its Weaknesses Will Accelerate the Trend

Is the United States in decline? The debate on the subject lacks both content and context. To take the conversation about American decline away from arbitrary and subjective claims, we require an indisputable criterion. And the only criterion that really counts in international relations is comparison: How does the United States stack up as compared to other powers?

By that measure, the United States has been in relative decline since at least the 1960s. Yes, the economic strength of America has grown, and continues to grow, in absolute terms. But its …

More In: growth

The Economic Cost of Isolating Immigrants

Hostility Toward Newcomers Has Always Hampered Investment, Innovation, and Growth

Trump’s immigration policies are a problem for the U.S. economy, and in ways you might not think.

Whether it’s crime, security or jobs—Trump has openly and repeatedly linked many of …

Goodbye to the Dirty Harry of Pruning

My Grandmother Knew That Things Grow So Fast in California, You Always Have to Be Cutting Back

She left us only recently, and already San Mateo has gotten way too leafy.

As I drove through that fine Peninsula city in the Bay Area on the way to my …

The South Los Angeles Future Will Be Shared

In a Stronghold of African Americans and Immigrant Integration, New Identities Emerge Rooted in a Sense of Place as Much as Race

The typical story of neighborhood change, often called ethnic succession, is one in which an incoming ethnic group “takes over” and wipes away the past. But that does not capture …

Raising the Pine

The welwitschia mirabilis

lives, knotted, for thousands of years
out in the African sun. Its two leaves
become a tangled mass of time

as they grow outward.

O Namibia. O …

Imagination Is a City’s Most Vital Resource

If You Want to Know the Health of a City, Count the Permits It Issues for Concerts, Street Fairs, and Festivals

In hard economic times, cities need to decide what industries are essential, and what programs and services can be cut down to save resources. The arts are perennial contenders for …