Policy

Will Race Issues Destroy America?

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Immigration and diversity represent both America’s greatest weapon and, increasingly, a lethal challenge to our democracy. The debate over the “dreamers” — the roughly 700,000 young people brought to the country illegally — has already caused one government shutdown and can lead to others.  read more »

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Inclusionary Zoning Flops in Portland

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As the price of housing continues to rise in many cities, one popular progressive policy idea to address it is inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning requires that a certain percentage of units in a building be priced at below market, targeted at people who earn some fraction of the area median income. Often this set aside is required in exchange for density bonuses or other things the developer might want.  read more »

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Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is A Rare, And Potentially Bipartisan, Feel Good Moment

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President Trump’s proposed trillion dollar plus infrastructure program represents a rare, and potentially united feel good moment. Yet before we jump into a massive re-do of our transportation, water and electrical systems, it’s critical to make sure we get some decent bang for the federal buck.  read more »

U.S. Infrastructure: Not About To Collapse

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A recent report from the RAND Corporation looks at America’s infrastructure and concludes that “not everything is broken.” In fact, what is broken, more than the infrastructure itself, is “our approach to funding and financing public works.” This is largely because governments by-pass market signals and rely on “often complicated and multilayered governance arrangements and competing public goals and preferences” to make decisions about w  read more »

Hamtramck: Scale and Institutional Frameworks

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I recently published an article that explored some of the ways regulations make it difficult for small businesses to get off the ground and function. Among the examples I used from around the country was Bank Suey in Hamtramck, Michigan. My story was subsequently reposted on various other sites which the owner, Alissa Shelton, read and objected to. She felt I hadn’t accurately described her experience as a business owner and that I didn’t present her town in the right light.  read more »

A New Vision For Southern California

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Since the start of the last century, Southern California has been a pioneer in building ways of living, and an economy, that broke with normal convention. Our region created a new paradigm, one both defining suburbanism and friendly to middle class aspirations, that attracted millions here.  read more »

Immigration and Trust

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Do we only really trust people who are like us? And if so, is that a mistake?

Distrust of the unfamiliar and the foreign is a natural survival mechanism for most species, including the human species. But, if empirical evidence is worth anything, a reflexive distrust of the foreigner cannot be said to be equally benign. Distrust sows fear. And fear plays in the hands of demagogues and can turn into a contagious pathology with numerous undesirable consequences.  read more »

Portland’s Congestion Plans Are Working

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Portland’s transportation policies are working. At least, they’re working if you think their goal is to increase congestion in order to encourage people to find alternatives to driving. At least, the increased-congestion part is working, but not many are finding alternatives to driving.  read more »

Mind the Gap

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I spent the last several years on an extended tangent exploring land use policy, the dynamics of a shifting economic and political landscape, and popular interpretations of how things should be. I’ve come to a peculiar set of conclusions and it’s not what I expected.  read more »

To Revitalize Rust Belt Cities, First Stabilize Their Budgets

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We seem to be in the process of rediscovering the Rust Belt, as a result of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election. Anyone who has recently visited Detroit, Youngstown or Erie can understand what Trump meant when he spoke in his inaugural address of “American carnage.”  read more »