As this week winds down I realize I have a weekend coming up where I have no commitments, no obligations and no plans. It has been months since that has happened. While all those committed weekends have brought their own pleasures, it is perhaps parenthood that makes me value a free weekend like this. Maybe it will stop raining, but if it doesn't, two days in pajamas with some good music will work too.

Enjoy this week's news:

  • Following up on the financial discussion we had here Monday and Wednesday of last week, it was validating to hear Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke call on the United States to "substantially reduce" budget deficits. Interesting from that article is the chairman's call for Asian countries to increase consumer spending.....oh yeah, we've pretty much proven that is a winning strategy, haven't we? Since Asia is keeping the world afloat right now, we are really not in a position to be lecturing them, are we?
  • Speaking of Asia, a historic change in Japan's government has emboldened reformers, but as a mirror on the United States, entrenched interests in small towns can make reform challenging.
  • While first time homebuyer subsidies have helped to temporarily stop the skid in home prices, a record foreclosure rate is going to continue to aggressively add to the supply side of the equation. Calls to end the sacred status of home ownership and its myriad of subsidies will probably fall on deaf ears, but is long overdue. Our subsidy of homes is part of the inefficient development pattern that is burying our small towns.
  • I've found that most small towns that talk about building a community center are over-compensating for something. That something: a lack of "community". Unfortunately, millions of dollars in a building can't make up for poorly designed neighborhoods and public spaces.
  • I can't describe how wrong this article is, although if you don't read it closely you may not fully appreciate the rather sad plea. The open letter to President Obama essentially calls on the president to provide even more support for rural areas. While acknowledging that urban areas produce more and are more productive than rural areas, the author fails to acknowledge how our small towns and rural areas have squandered decades of subsidies and failed to produce places that are economically viable. Why would we do more of this without a different model, an obvious line of reasoning nowhere to be seen in this lament.
  • It doesn't really matter anyway since the president is busy with his own insane pandering. George Will summed up the situation perfectly.
  • Finally, take a minute and check out this interesting project that is attempting to catalogue every Main Street in the country. I find the approach a fascinating use of modern technology and can't wait to see the results.