Cronyism on an Industrial Scale to Blame for Inflated New York Subway Costs


Just before year end, the New York Times dropped a bombshell report on what they term “the most expensive mile of subway on earth.”

An extensive investigation by the Times finally starts to get at the heart of why construction costs on the New York subway are vastly higher than anywhere else in the world.  read more »

California Lithium Battery Maker Heads to Appalachia


It is starting out to be a happy new year in Pikeville, Kentucky. Little in technology is more "cutting edge" today that lithium battery manufacturing. Elon Musk last year chose Nevada, not California for his mega plant a few years ago. Now, lithium battery manufacturer Ener Blu has announced plans to move, "lock stock and barrel" from Riverside-San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles, to Appalachian Kentucky, with its plant to be located in Pikeville, to be built on a what was a surface coal mine.  read more »

In The New Year, Worry-Free California Has A Lot To Worry About


Propped up by media idolatry, California is moving from denial to delusion. Case in point: A recent AP story claimed that the state “flush with cash from an expanding economy” would consider spending an additional billion dollars on health care for the undocumented, as well as a raft of new subsidies for housing and the working poor.  read more »

What’s Red, Blue, and Broke All Over? America.


Beneath the sex scandals, moronic tweets, ridiculous characters, and massive incompetence that dominate Washington in this mean period of our history lie more fundamental geopolitical realities. Increasingly it is economics—how people make money—rather than culture that drives the country into perpetual conflict.  read more »

Cronyism Damaged Venezuela before Chavez


Venezuela is bankrupt, having just defaulted on three interest payments. And much of the world is pointing fingers at the socialist policies of Hugo Chavez and those of his successor, the incumbent Nicolás Maduro. This laying of the blame is not wrong but it is incomplete.

The kindest thing you could say about Mr. Chavez is that he was a talented demagogue who brilliantly identified his opportunity and judiciously seized his moment. But, as previously argued by Fred McMahon of the Fraser Institute, Chavez did not start Venezuela’s downward spiral.  read more »


The New Retail: Gird Your Loins


I was at a friend’s house when she got a delivery of groceries. The boxes arrived at her door from one of the many new services that allow customers to shop online. Fresh fruit, veggies, meat, wine, eggs, cheese, milk, Christmas wreathes, and fresh cut flowers. She just pushed a few buttons and voila!  read more »

What Is the Future of Flyover Country?


My latest piece in City Journal is a look at the interior of the country and its future. It’s an introductory survey that points out that there isn’t a simple coasts vs. the rest, but that there are many distinct regions and cities with varying performance. Many interior regions and cities are doing very well while others legitimately struggle. But in most cases there are still significant hurdles that need to be addressed.  read more »

Bringing Down Housing Prices in the Bay Area

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On Sunday the New York Times ran a story on the difficulties of building new housing in California, focusing on the city of Berkeley. There’s a lot of good in the piece, including the insane difficulties of getting approvals to build even when you propose something in keeping with the existing zoning.  read more »

Mind the Gap


I spent the last several years on an extended tangent exploring land use policy, the dynamics of a shifting economic and political landscape, and popular interpretations of how things should be. I’ve come to a peculiar set of conclusions and it’s not what I expected.  read more »

The Cities Where A Paycheck Stretches The Furthest 2017


We often conflate high salaries with prosperity, but that can be deceptive. Someone who lives in New York or San Francisco might make more money than a counterpart in the same profession in Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth, but when the cost of living is factored in, their Southern colleagues may actually come out ahead.  read more »