U.S. Foreign Policy a Series of Unforced Errors


President Obama, as a fan and occasional player of basketball, should know about “unforced errors.” Those are the kind of thoughtless, bonehead plays where you lose the ball without a defender swatting it or toss a pass somewhere into the higher seats. If you want to review how this is done, I recommend re-watching the recent Clippers versus Rockets series – if you have the stomach for it.  read more »


Who Benefits From Other People's Transit Use?


In the May 11 issue of Finance and Commerce, Matt Kramer, a local Chamber of Commerce representative lobbying for additional public transit and transportation spending (currently being debated at the Minnesota Legislature) is quoted as saying “Every person who is riding transit is one less person in the car in front of us.”  read more »

21st Century California Careers


California is undergoing profound change.  Most strikingly, people are leaving the Golden State, which was once the preferred destination of migrants worldwide.  California’s domestic migration has been net negative for over 20 years.  That is, for 20 years, more people have been leaving California for other states than have been arriving from other states.  The state’s population is only growing because of a relatively high birthrate, mostly among immigrants.  read more »

California Environmental Quality Act, Greenhouse Gas Regulation and Climate Change


This is the introduction to a new report, California’s Social Priorties, from Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy. The report is authored by David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez. Read the full report (pdf).

California has adopted the most significant climate change policies in the United States, including landmark legislation (AB 32)2 to lower state green- house gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Proposed new laws, and recent judicial decisions concerning the analysis of GHG impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), may soon increase the state’s legally mandat- ed GHG reduction target to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.3 The purpose of California’s GHG policies is to reduce the concentration of human-generated GHGs in the atmosphere. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other scient.c organizations have predicted that higher GHG atmospheric concentra- tions generated by human activity could cause catastrophic climate changes.  read more »

Land Use Regulations and “Social Engineering”


All forms of land use regulation are explicitly “social engineering”. Full stop. Let’s acknowledge that reality as we move forward. The question is never whether we’ll be engaging in manipulating society through land use regulations, but how and why.  read more »

More Privatization Pain For the Public in North Carolina


Privatization done right can be a great boon. Done poorly, it can harm the public for decades. We see another example of the latter ongoing in North Carolina (h/t @mihirpshah). The Charlotte Observer reports:

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s contract with a private developer to build toll lanes on Interstate 77 includes a controversial noncompete clause that could hinder plans to build new free lanes on the highway for 50 years.  read more »

Driving Farther to Qualify in Portland


Portland has been among the world leaders in urban containment policy. And, as would be predicted by basic economics, Portland has also suffered from serious housing cost escalation, as its median multiple (median house price divided by median household income) has risen from a normal 3.0 in 1995 to 4.8 in 2014.  read more »

A Fix for California Water Policy


Critics of California’s current water policy advocate more infrastructure spending on things like dams, canals, and desalination plants.  Many would also curtail water releases for the benefit of fish and other wildlife.

Certainly, infrastructure spending would be better than wasting money on the governor’s high-speed-train fantasy.  However, California cannot spend enough money on water infrastructure to prevent water shortages.  And, solving California’s water shortage does not require an end to “dumping water” to save fish.  read more »

America’s Cities Mirror Baltimore’s Woes


The rioting that swept Baltimore the past few days, sadly, was no exception, but part of a bigger trend in some of our core cities towards social and economic collapse. Rather than enjoying the much ballyhooed urban “renaissance,” many of these cities are actually in terrible shape, with miserable schools, struggling economies and a large segmented of alienated, mostly minority youths.  read more »

Building a New California

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The Golden State has historically led the United States and the world in technology, quality of life, social innovation, entertainment, and public policy. But in recent decades its lead has ebbed. The reasons for this are various. But there is one area of decay whose story is a parable for California’s other plights—that area is infrastructure.  read more »