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 »

Subjects:

California's State Religion

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In a state ruled by a former Jesuit, perhaps we should not be shocked to find ourselves in the grip of an incipient state religion. Of course, this religion is not actually Christianity, or even anything close to the dogma of Catholicism, but something that increasingly resembles the former Soviet Union, or present-day Iran and Saudi Arabia, than the supposed world center of free, untrammeled expression.  read more »

Health and Class

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Late last year, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science documenting the rising morbidity and mortality in mid-life white men and women in America, especially for those with a high school degree or less.  They attributed this increase, a reversal of historic trends, to an epidemic of alcoholism, other drug use disorders, and suicide. Their findings are a wake up call for the US. Not only is something seriously wrong — it’s getting worse.  read more »

Subjects:

The End of Job Growth

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Pew Charitable Trusts recently posted an analysis of population projections that show several states with stagnant to declining workforces.

This means that for nearly 20 states, it’s basically impossible to add jobs in the future. How can you add more jobs with fewer workers?  read more »

SF Vs LA: Different Strokes In Urban Development

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Book Review: "The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles." Michael Storper, Thomas Kemeny, Naji P. Makarem and Taner Osman; Stanford University Press, 2015.

How and why do places differ in their pace of economic development? Why do some flourish while others lag? These are among the most profound questions in economics and related fields. Are explanations found in geography, culture, institutions, or fortune?  read more »

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 »