Economics

Automation, Artificial Intelligence, and Projectile Wooden Shoes

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Sabotage has its root in the French word sabot, which is a kind of wooden shoe. In the early days of the Industrial Revolution craftsmen would throw their shoes into the gears of factory machines. Skilled labor was being replaced with mechanical production, undermining traditional professions, reducing incomes, and removing the social standing of workers. Wealth flowed up to the people who owned the factories and controlled the levers of political power. Sabotage was a form of negotiation.  read more »

The Economic Implications of Housing Supply

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A new paper with the above title by urban economists Edward Glaeser and Joseph Gyourko provides more evidence to back up the Antiplanner’s recent paper on the New Feudalism. One of the major points of that paper was that the Obama administration’s plan to force suburbs to relax zoning codes to allow higher density housing is not the solution to housing affordability problems.  read more »

Subjects:

The Midwest, Redefined

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What if the region we broadly understand as the Midwest, stretching from the foothills of the Alleghenies to the high plains, and from the chilly northern Great Lakes to the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri river valleys, had been allowed to develop as organically as its eastern and southern -- and even western -- neighbors?  

If it had, it would be far better understood, have a much stronger cultural clarity, and more recognized for its contributions to American society and economy.  read more »

TruMpISSION: Impossible - Border Wall

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While running for office, President Trump said the border wall would cost about $8 billion, a figure widely recognized as an unreasonably low estimate". This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated the cost of construction at $21.6 billion. Figuring out what the wall would cost has been a source of debate for longer than the last election cycle. In 2013, the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators set aside $1.5 billion for a plan to add 700 miles of wall - also a completely unrealistic budget.  read more »

How Richard Longworth Predicted 20 Years Ago That Globalization Would Cause a Social Crisis

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Global Squeeze: The Coming Crisis for First-World Nations

Richard C. Longworth

McGraw-Hill 1998

Whenever we see the reality of momentous shifts in society, it’s always good to go back and take a look at the people who saw it coming far away. Generally speaking, there were usually people who understood what was happening in advance. For example, Daniel Bell wrote his book The Coming of Post-Industrial Society in 1976. There were probably even other earlier books touting the same theme.  read more »

How the Visa Ban Will Hurt US Innovation

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A key reason for the prosperity found in the United States is the ability of universities and companies to attract the best and brightest people from abroad. Shutting out skilled individuals from entire countries could have grave consequences for America’s intellectual institutions as well as knowledge-intensive businesses. The obstacles put in place following the 2001 terrorist attack did reduce the position of the US in the global competition for talent, yet the regulations were about increasing security and allowed those that had been screened to enter.  read more »

The High Cost of a Home Is Turning American Millennials Into the New Serfs

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American greatness was long premised on the common assumption that each generation would do better than the previous one. That is being undermined for the emerging millennial generation.  read more »

In the Automation Debate, Don't Forget the Job Multiplier Effect

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In his 1950s satire Player Piano, author Kurt Vonnegut describes a dark dystopia where automation has led to a world of meager consumption and desperate idleness. The vision of workers displaced by machines predates this though, and is perhaps most associated with the 19th century Luddite movement where workers sabotaged machinery for fear of losing jobs. In economic thought, the prospect of labor-replacing technology has a still much longer history.  read more »

Subjects:

Them that’s got shall have. Them that’s not shall lose.

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My family lived in this building when I was a kid in the 1970’s. This was the door to our old apartment. It’s in a nondescript part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. There are a million places just like this all over the Southland. These beige stucco boxes are the workhorses of semi-affordable market rate housing in California. The place hasn’t changed in forty years other than the on-going deferred maintenance.  read more »

The Irony That Could Trip Up Trump's Quest To Make The U.S. Economy 'Great Again'

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Perhaps no president in recent history has more pressure on him to perform economic miracles than Donald Trump. As someone who ran on the promise that he could fix the economy -- and largely won because of it -- Trump faces two severe challenges, one that is largely perceptual and another more critical one that is very real.

To start, Trump must cope with the widespread idea, accepted by much of the media, that we are experiencing something of an “Obama boom.”  read more »