Policy

The Unexotic Underclass

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The startup scene today, and by ‘scene’ I’m sweeping a fairly catholic brush over a large swath of people – observers, critics,  investors, entrepreneurs, ‘want’repreneurs, academics, techies, and the like – seems to be riven into two camps.

On one side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems – capital B, capital P: clean energy, poverty, famine, climate change, you name it.  I needn’t replay their song here; they’ve argued their cases far more eloquently elsewhere read more »

The Mad Drive to Subvert Democracy in Toronto

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Let me stipulate that I think Toronto’s Rob Ford is a terrible mayor. In fact, while I might not go so far as Richard Florida, who labeled Ford “the worst mayor in the modern history of cities, an avatar for all that is small-bore and destructive of the urban fabric, and the most anti-urban mayor ever to preside over a big city,” I’m willing to say he’s probably in the running for the title.

The roots of Rob Ford lie in “amalgamation,” the forcible merging of the city of Toronto government with various of its suburbs by the Ontario provincial government. The idea was cost savings, but of course costs went up.  read more »

Housing Boom Is The Best Chance For A Recovery For The Rest Of Us

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Our tepid economic recovery has been profoundly undemocratic in nature. Between the “too big to fail” banks and Ben Bernanke’s policy of dropping free money from helicopters on the investor class, there have been two recoveries, one for the rich, and another less rewarding one for the middle class.

Viewed in this light, the recent run-up in home prices, the biggest in seven years, offers some relief from this dreary picture. Home equity accounts for almost two-thirds of a “typical” family’s wealth (those in the middle fifth of U.S. wealth distribution); there is no other investment by which middle-class families can so easily grow their nest eggs.  read more »

Toward a Self Employed Nation?

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The United States labor market has been undergoing a substantial shift toward small-scale entrepreneurship. The number of proprietors – owners of businesses who are not wage and salary employees, has skyrocketed, especially in the last decade. Proprietors are self employed business owners who use Internal Revenue Service Schedule C to file their federal income tax. Wage and salary workers are all employees of any establishment (private or government), from executives to non-supervisory workers.  read more »

Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century, A New Report

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This is the introduction to "Retrofitting the Dream: Housing in the 21st Century," a new report by Joel Kotkin. To read the entire report, download the .pdf attachment below.

In recent years a powerful current of academic, business, and political opinion has suggested the demise of the classic American dream of home ownership. The basis for this conclusion rests upon a series of demographic, economic and environmental assumptions that, it is widely suggested, make the single-family house and homeownership increasingly irrelevant for most Americans.  read more »

Market Surge Confirms Preference for Homeowning

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Ever since the housing bubble burst in 2007, retro-urbanists, such as Richard Florida, have taken aim at homeownership itself, and its "long-privileged place" at the center of the U.S. economy. If anything, he suggested, the government would be better off encouraging "renting, not buying."  read more »

Addressing Housing Affordability Using Cooperatives

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Our country is six years into the Great Recession, the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. It’s been replete with reports of home foreclosures, collapsing commuter towns, and young people struggling to become home owners. The term “generation rent” is often used in the media to describe the struggles of aspiring young people.    read more »

Why Gentrification?

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The mostly commonly chosen means, or at least attempted means, of revitalizing central cities that have fallen on hard times is gentrification.  Gentrification is the process of replacing the poor population of a neighborhood with the affluent and reorienting the district along upscale lines.  This has seen enormous success in large swaths of New York and Chicago, but even traditionally struggling cities like Cleveland have seen pockets of this type of development downtown.

What makes gentrification so attractive as a redevelopment strategy? There are many reasons.  read more »

The Cleveland Miracle That Should Never Have Been

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“[T]he most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” Writer David Foster Wallace

The story of the three Cleveland women kidnapped over 10 years ago and recently found alive in a house on the city’s Near West Side has captivated the national imagination. There is the miracle aspect from the fact that such situations rarely end this way.  read more »

Can Public Banks Help Fix Local Finance?

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Are public banks the answer for the recession-induced decline in municipal revenue and other ills that plague our cities? It’s a solution being discussed in more than one American city.  

Mike Krauss, a founder of the Public Banking Institute and a chairmen of the Pennsylvania Pubic Bank Project, both non-profits that promote public banking, said this month an ad hoc committee made up of Philadelphia City Council members and civic groups started working on the adoption of language for a public bank in the city. He also said the measure is being adopted out of a need for “affordable and sustainable credit.” The PPBP is leading the effort for public banking in the city.  read more »