Policy

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 »

How the Visa Ban Will Hurt US Innovation

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A key reason for the prosperity found in the United States is the ability of universities and companies to attract the best and brightest people from abroad. Shutting out skilled individuals from entire countries could have grave consequences for America’s intellectual institutions as well as knowledge-intensive businesses. The obstacles put in place following the 2001 terrorist attack did reduce the position of the US in the global competition for talent, yet the regulations were about increasing security and allowed those that had been screened to enter.  read more »

Trump and the End of the World Order

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In comparison with Barack Obama, who was well regarded in the foreign media, Donald Trump does not come off as a good guy. He is also clearly redefining the country’s identity and global focus. The first American president since the 1920s to walk away from a role as global pooh-bah, Trump instead defines his job as helping the people who elected him.  read more »

Subjects:

What the U.S. Thinks About Immigration - and Why it Should Matter When We Attempt Reform

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Americans agree that the country’s policies on handling immigration have long needed reform. However, what kinds of reform and the impact immigration itself has on the United States are matters of great controversy. For both former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, promising efforts at comprehensive immigration reform were blocked by the unrelenting opposition.  read more »

All Houston Does (Economically) is Win

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Like most big cities that get the nod, Houston has spruced itself up for the Super Bowl, planting flowers and concentrating in particular on the rough stretches between Hobby Airport and NRG Stadium. Yet it’s unlikely the city’s reputation will be much enhanced by the traveling media circus that accompanies these games.  read more »

The Real State of America’s Inner Cities

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The New York Times ran a piece in today’s paper about the state of America’s inner cities – and of course Donald Trump. Their conclusion is that the landscape of America’s cities, and of American blacks – the “inner city” is clearly a racially loaded term – is complex.  read more »

Subjects:

The Immigration Dilemma

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In often needlessly harsh ways, President Donald Trump is forcing Americans to face issues that have been festering for decades, but effectively swept under the rug by the ruling party duopoly. Nowhere is this more evident than with immigration, an issue that helped to spark Trump’s quixotic, but ultimately successful, campaign.

Many Americans are clearly upset about an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and many also fear the arrival of more refugees from Islamic countries. Perhaps no issue identified by Trump has been more divisive.  read more »

King Tide

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10,000 years ago San Francisco Bay was a dry grassy valley populated by elephants, zebras, and camels. The planet was significantly cooler and dryer back then. Sea level was lower since glaciers in the north pulled water out of the oceans. The bay isn’t that deep so a relatively small change in sea level pushed the coastline out by twelve miles from its present location. Further back in pre-history when the earth was warmer than today sea level was higher.  read more »

Nixon's Revolutionary Vision for American Governance

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President Nixon, though possessing the instincts and speaking the increasingly conservative language of the mainstream Republican Party all his life (his writings on domestic policy attest to this,) governed within the boundaries set by the New Deal. Where other conservatives like Barry Goldwater had no interest in “streamlining government,” “making it more efficient,” and “promoting welfare,” Nixon sought to do exactly these things.  read more »

Doing What Actually Works

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Last year I engaged in a failed attempt to renovate and expand an old house in an 1890’s era neighborhood in Ohio. It ended badly. So I thought I’d do a follow up on what actually does work given the legal parameters and cultural context.  read more »