The Illinois Policy institute hosts futurist and author, Joel Kotkin

November 7, 2011

The Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy in the state of Illinois, located at 190 S. LaSalle, Street in Chicago, hosted futurist and author, Joel Kotkin, on Wednesday, November 2nd.

Left: John Tillman, CEO, Illinois Policy Institute. Right: Joel Kotkin, futurist and author of “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050″

Joel Kotkin, in his profile, describes himself accordingly:

“I cover demographic, social and economic trends around the world. I am a distinguished presidential fellow at Chapman University in California and an adjunct Fellow at the Legatum Institute in London. I have published seven books, including “The Next Hundred Million; America in 2050 (Penguin 2010) and “The City: A Global History (Modern Library: 2005). I am also the executive editor of

Kotkin’s presentation at the Illinois Policy Institute was based on his book, “The Next Hundred Million; American in 2050″, in which which the author claims how the addition of one hundred million Americans by mid-century will preclude this nation’s long-term economic success and will at the same time transform the way people live, work and prosper. Recent projections by Joel Kotkin about the future of IL were likewise shared.

According to Joel Kotkin, overpopulation isn’t the problem, it’s too few babies, as published at Forbes on October 27, 2011:

Links to numerous articles published by Joel Kotkin can be found at:

The Illinois Policy Institute described Kotkin’s presentation on November 4th in this released e-mail report to its members:

“Kotkin discussed the importance of good public policies that will allow people and businesses to thrive. When bad public policies are enacted, people vote with their feet — which is why population trends provide a glimpse of how society with change over the next few decades. For example, when it comes to Illinois the high taxation and corruption in government has contributed to the state having the second highest out-migration in the country during 2010, he told a packed house at the Institute event.”

Kotkin might had crunched figures to add credence to his hypothesis, but they were abstractions only not based on reality.

Joel Kotkin was certainly at odds with my view of the present world, which recently reached the seven billion figure, and that of Illinois in the year 2050. In that Kotkin equated his surprising optimistic portrait of this nation’s long-term economic strength on the addition of 100 million individuals, boggled my mind.

Noted throughout Kotkin’s presentation were facts that contradicted his optimism about America’s future. To Kotkin’s credit he did mention such doomsday scenarios as global warming, peak oil, and moral decay. On the other hand, Kotkin continued to assert that the bedrock American values can lead to greater opportunity and upward mobility for the the next hundred million citizens in an America of 2050.

Where has Kotkin been over the last 50 years of his life during which there has been a transformation of basic values in the American society, where right and wrong means what ever feels good to an individual? How, too, does Kotkin propose to do away with the on-going indoctrination of school children over global warming, and how they are being taught to perceive America as no better than any other nation? As far as basic values are concerned, too many young people have lost the can-do spirit that existed fifty years ago, instead believing that government owes them a living, thus they are entitled to take from those who have more without first proving that their contributions to society merit monetary reward.

When speaking about IL, Kotkin failed to embrace realistically the corruption that exists here in Illinois under one-party rule, the harboring of illegal immigrants in Chicago, and especially in collar communities, who are welcomed, supported and protected, while we lose individuals and businesses that produce good and services here in Illinois to other states.

Joel Kotkin reminded me of a school superintendent who has been removed for many years from the reality of actually teaching, who then tries to tell his teacher how they are to teach, knowing nothing about the problems they are facing in their every day classrooms.

As before noted, most of Joel Kotkin comments had a somewhat negative tone to them which were not consistent with his optimistic outlook for this nation and Illinois in 2050.

Following are remarks made by Joel Kotkin from which you can arrive at your own conclusions as to the validity of his number crunching. Also how Kotkin can dismiss a future of doom and gloom for this nation and for Illinois to one that offers hope, economic growth and development.

  1. In the big picture, U.S. for now has healthier demographics than the rest of the world with its fertility rate about its replacement rate.
  2. Chicago should be the hub of the heartland. Competition is now coming from Dallas and Houston, Texas.
  3. Chicago has the advantage of water which will prove more valuable than energy.
  4. Natural gas is looked upon as the game changer of the future, if the U.S. will allow it to happen. This nation has a tremendous amount of natural gas. With it this nation could turn around its economic situation.
  5. Manufacturing in the U.S. has been pretty stable over time. This nation has held up better than Japan or the EU. Biggest growth in tech jobs has been in Michigan.
  6. Many journalists are clueless as to what is happening today. There opinions reflect a group of individuals. mostly young and unmarried, who have no connection to the middle class.
  7. Whichever state can retain its bright young people and create jobs for the middle class will win out.
  8. This nation is producing on the average of 110,000 new jobs a month (It was only 80,000 in October.), only about half of what we need. 250,000 jobs a month must be added to keep pace with population growth.
  9. Through a series of charts, Kotkin displayed how Illinois is doing worse than CA. Illinois had the slowest state job growth and Metropolitan area growth from 2000 to 2010. Illinois ranked 49th out of 50 in domestic migration. We are losing Illinoisans to Florida, Teas and Arizona in the Sun Belt area. Indianapolis, IN has become a major threat to Chicago in the long term.
  10. In 2010 the City of Chicago shrunk, but the suburbs grew.
  11. The environment is gaining in importance with a shift in public opinion. “Green is very good.” Indoctrination is happening at the elementary school level.
  12. Fear that in 2012 voters will seat a Republican Congress and Senate; Obama will win and rule by decree.
  13. New Orleans saluted for its charter schools; Nashville for its good transportation system; and Houston for a positive business climate to promote economic growth.
  14. When referring to a stable population, it meas an older population. This is not good and will result in slow growth because energy exhibited from the young is needed for growth to occur. An older population will also produce policies that benefit their age group.
  15. The large number of lawyers in this nation is leading to even more regulations that will curb growth. An extreme environmental stranglehold is being placed on entrepreneurs through litigation.
  16. Illinoisans are realizing that the Chicago-way no longer works for them, although those in power will talk about making fake reforms. Political revolution will happen when things are right, when Democrats, Independents, and Republicans recognize what the problems are and work together to fix them.

The latter remark by Joel Kotkin created extreme pessimism within me. To believe that the political situation in Illinois will change by 2050 to lift Illinois above the status of a failing state to one where businesses and people can thrive economically with a sense of pride, seems beyond the realm of possibility.

Kotkin’s remarks sounded way off the charts to me, but with unbridled optimism some might deem them possible? 

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