Policy

The New Deal at 75: An Inspiration, Not a Blueprint

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Whatever your political perspective, Americans need to admire the New Deal for, if nothing else, its ambitious agenda. In a way unparalleled in the 20th Century, the New Deal left us a legacy of achievement – one that we can still see in big cities like San Francisco and small towns like Wishek, North Dakota.  read more »

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Focus on Cost-Effective GHG Emissions: Report

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The Reason Foundation has published my new research reviewing the potential for urban containment (or other restrictive policies that are sometimes called "smart growth") to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Principal reports cited by advocates of urban containment are reviewed. The conclusion is that only minimal reductions if the gains from improved automobile fuel economy are excluded.  read more »

America's Subway: America's Embarrassment?

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Washington's Metro (subway), often called "America's subway," may well be America's embarrassment. As a feature article by Robert McCartney and Paul Duggan in the Washington Post put it: “'America’s subway,' which opened in 1976 to great acclaim — promoted as a marvel of modern transit technology and design — has been reduced to an embarrassment, scorned and ridiculed from station platforms to the halls of Congress. Balky and unreliable on its best days, and hazardous, even deadly, on its worst, Metrorail is in crisis, losing riders and revenue and exhausting public confidence." (emphasis by author.)  read more »

Would Reaganomics Work Today?

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The key drivers that propelled the Reagan economy are now tapped out or out of favor.

The name of Ronald Reagan is frequently evoked by the current contenders to the GOP nomination. Donald Trump speaks admiringly of the 40th President of the United States and uses a truncated version of his 1980 campaign slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again”. Ted Cruz promises to implement Reagan’s solution of lower taxes, lower regulation and a stronger military. Before he bowed out recently, Marco Rubio was equal in his praise. And John Kasich stakes an even more tangible claim by reminding us that he is the only candidate who actually worked with Reagan.  read more »

Geography and the Minimum Wage

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Most commentary on California’s decision to increase the state minimum wage to $15 over time is either along the lines of it being a boon to minimum-wage workers and their families or a disaster for California’s economy.  Neither is accurate.  Different regions sill see different outcomes.  Central California, the great valley that runs from Bakersfield to Redding, once again, will bear a disproportionate burden.   read more »

Liberals — Except When it Comes Home

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My old boss, Bruce Brugmann, who ran the Bay Guardian, told me early on in my career that you could tell the real politics of a big-city newspaper by the person they endorse for mayor.

Nice liberal outfits like the New York Times support Democrats for president and (typically) governor and US Senate. The SF Chronicle doesn’t endorse many Republicans any more. But when it comes to the local stuff, the decisions on who should run the city where they live and operate and connect with the power structure, the truth comes out.  read more »

Aristocracy of Talent: Social Mobility Is the Silver Lining to America’s Inequality Crisis

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Yes, wealth concentration is insane. But the ways in which wealth is shifting are surprising—and give reason for a little optimism.

In an age of oligarchy, one should try to know one’s overlords—how they made their money, and where they want to take the country. By looking at the progress of the super-rich --- in contrast with most of us --- one can see the emerging and changing dynamics of American wealth.  read more »

Why You Should Think Twice Before Building a Rail Transit System

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The Washington Metro system was shut down completely for a day recently to allow crews to inspect all of the power cables in the system. They found 26 cables and connectors in need of immediate repair.

This is just the latest in a series of safety problems and breakdowns that have plagued the system.

Metro has a large unfunded maintenance liability. This doesn’t surprise us because we expect American transit systems to have a backlog.  read more »

Rethinking America’s Cities’ Success Strategy

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This piece is reprinted from a Kauffman Foundation series focusing on the role of cities in a new entrepreneurial growth agenda. Read the entire cities series here.
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Suburban Sustainablity

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There’s a philosophical debate about what is “sustainable.” The two dominant camps tend to advocate on behalf of either the hyper efficient dense city or bucolic rural self sufficiency. Personally, I’m not a fan of either.  read more »