- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week I had a series of appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. A couple of observations from that trip:
–Tax increases are not anathema, as least to the people to came to my talks. When the person introducing me at the Seattle Library mentioned that a recent approval of a tax increase would keep open more library branches on weekends, there was a round of hearty applause. I heard the same sentiments from people in LA about the recent vote in their state to raise revenues, I think for education.
–Nor is a draft out of the question to these people. To my surprise, the same crowd in Seattle that applauded the tax hike also warmly welcomed my suggestion that the country would benefit from having some sort of draft.
–Overall, I sensed a kind of nostalgia for the days when government worked, and a fingers-crossed belief that it still can. It is amazing how potholed California’s highways have become. One woman says she has her wheels realigned every three months.
–There sure didn’t seem to be any recession in Seattle or San Francisco. But LA’s Westwood neighborhood had a surprising number of vacant storefronts. I don’t know LA well enough to interpret the significance of that. Real estate is the most local of businesses. I remember a smart guy telling me he only invested in commercial real estate on the north side of Orlando and stayed away from the city’s south side, which he said was a whole different market, one distorted by Disney World’s force field.