Policy

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 »

Aristocracy of Talent: Social Mobility Is the Silver Lining to America’s Inequality Crisis

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Yes, wealth concentration is insane. But the ways in which wealth is shifting are surprising—and give reason for a little optimism.

In an age of oligarchy, one should try to know one’s overlords—how they made their money, and where they want to take the country. By looking at the progress of the super-rich --- in contrast with most of us --- one can see the emerging and changing dynamics of American wealth.  read more »

Why You Should Think Twice Before Building a Rail Transit System

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The Washington Metro system was shut down completely for a day recently to allow crews to inspect all of the power cables in the system. They found 26 cables and connectors in need of immediate repair.

This is just the latest in a series of safety problems and breakdowns that have plagued the system.

Metro has a large unfunded maintenance liability. This doesn’t surprise us because we expect American transit systems to have a backlog.  read more »

Rethinking America’s Cities’ Success Strategy

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This piece is reprinted from a Kauffman Foundation series focusing on the role of cities in a new entrepreneurial growth agenda. Read the entire cities series here.
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Suburban Sustainablity

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There’s a philosophical debate about what is “sustainable.” The two dominant camps tend to advocate on behalf of either the hyper efficient dense city or bucolic rural self sufficiency. Personally, I’m not a fan of either.  read more »

Your City Is Not the Next Silicon Valley

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“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry,” began Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. president from 1901 to 1910. “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”  read more »

Now They Get It: Health, Class, and Economic Restructuring

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In the past few months, many commentators have responded to a recent study that shows increasing death rates among middle-aged white Americans. Some have suggested that the increase is the consequence of material poverty resulting from economic restructuring and the neoliberal agenda over the last several decades.  read more »

Who Plans?: Jane Jacobs’ Hayekian Critique of Urban Planning

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"Cities are fantastically dynamic places, and this is strikingly true of their successful parts, which offer a fertile ground for the plans of thousands of people."

– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities  read more »

Designing Suburbs: Beyond New Urbanism

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This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

It is not primarily the fault of land developers that the American suburbs are thought to be dysfunctional and mundane. The blame belongs largely to the influence of boiler-plate zoning regulations combined with design consultants who seek the most minimum criteria allowed by city regulations.  read more »

Hurdling the Obstacles to Millennial Home Ownership

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Justin Chapman contributed research and editorial assistance to this piece. This essay is part of a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism called "America's Housing Crisis." The report contains several essays about the future of housing from various perspectives. Follow this link to download the full report (pdf).

If the United States could remove current obstacles holding back members of the Millennial Generation from owning homes, the value of the housing market would increase by at least one trillion dollars over the next five years. Policies that would eliminate or sharply reduce financial obstacles that are currently hindering thirty somethings who want to start raising a family in the suburbs from buying a home would enable the construction and sale of as many as five million more homes between now and 2020. Residential investment represents about five percent of the country’s GDP, not counting the ancillary spending that results from such purchase. So any sound housing policy for the United States should begin and end with programs that allow these “missing Millennials” to join the ranks of America’s home owners.  read more »