Policy

The Shape of Things to Come

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After several years of traveling around the country in the presence of city planners, economic development officials, elected representatives, engineers, production home builders, professional consultants, and groups of concerned citizens I’ve come to my own personal unified theory of America’s land use future. The short version is that we’ve got the built environment that we have and the overwhelming majority of it isn’t ever going to change much. If you want to know what things will look like in thirty or forty years… look around. That’s pretty much it.  read more »

Portland Housing Stupidity Grows

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Here’s an incredibly stupid idea to deal with Portland’s housing affordability problems: Multnomah County proposes to build tiny houses in people’s backyard. The people will get to keep the houses on the condition that they allow homeless people to live in them for five years.  read more »

The Quest for Food Freedom

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Mariza Ruelas currently faces up to two years in jail in California for the crime of selling ceviche through a Facebook food group. Welcome to the mad world of American food regulation. In Biting the Hands That Feed Us, Baylen Linnekin looks closely at a system that can take pride in a historically safe food supply but that also imposes too many rules that defy common sense.  read more »

Common Sense on Immigration

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No issue divides the United States more than immigration. Many Americans are resentful of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, worry about their own job security, and fear the arrival of more refugees from Islamic countries could pose the greatest terrorist threat.  read more »

A New Age of Progressive Suburbanism?

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We are living in a global suburban age… While statistics demonstrate that the amount of the world population in metropolitan areas is rapidly increasing, rarely is it understood that the bulk of this growth occurs in the suburbanized peripheries of cities. Domestically, over 69% of all U.S. residents live in suburban areas; internationally, many other developed countries are predominately suburban, while many developing countries are rapidly suburbanizing as well.”  read more »

Chicago's Crime Wave Understood: Complex Problem, Simple Formula

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Chicago's violent crime problem can be understood through this formula:

It's a simplistic, reductionist, even crude, but it explains the roots of Chicago's crisis as well as anything.  read more »

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 »

Vancouverizing Seattle?

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A recent Wall Street Journal article (“For Chinese buyers, Seattle is the new Vancouver”) reported that Seattle was replacing Vancouver as the most popular destination for Chinese buyers in North America. For years, there has been considerable concern about foreign investment in the Vancouver housing market, especially Chinese investment.  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 »

Re-inhabitation of Small Town America

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My friend Kirsten Dirksen at faircompanies.com recently posted a new video about Water Valley, Mississippi. It demonstrates that there are plenty of great compact mixed use walkable neighborhoods out there that can be re-inhabited. Building anything of this kind from scratch is theoretically possible, but it almost never happens due to endless zoning regulations, building codes, and cultural inertia. Water Valley is lucky in the sense that it’s just down the road from a prestigious university.  read more »