Policy

Protecting Cities in Fire-Prone Regions

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If you live in a fire-prone area, which includes most of California, it is not a good idea to allow ivy and other plants to cover the sides of your building, as this winery and this church did near Santa Rosa. Both were lost to last week’s wildfires.  read more »

Housing Unaffordability Policies: "Paying for Dirt"

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Issi Romem, buildzoom.com's chief economist has made a valuable contribution to the growing literature on the severe unaffordability of housing in a number of US metropolitan areas.  read more »

Local Empowerment Should Be About Local Matters

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I’ve generally been someone who wants to see local governments have more power and flexibility to meet local needs. My rationale is simple. States are full of diverse communities that are a bad fit for one size fits all policies. Chicago, Danville, Peoria, Cairo, etc. are radically different places. They have different circumstances, needs, and local priorities. Hence it makes sense for them to have the ability to chart their own course to some degree. Some states have accommodated this to some extent through classes of cities with different powers based on size.  read more »

Subjects:

Does the Tax Code Favor Homeowners?

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For many years, a common complaint has been that the provisions of the Federal Internal Revenue Code, and most state income tax codes, favor homeownership in the form of major tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. With the exception of those who reside in government housing of some type (subsidized apartments, public college dormitories, military housing, jails and penitentiaries), the homeless, almost all U.S. residents either live in a home they, or their family, owns or is paying off the mortgage, or they rent.  read more »

Subjects:

How To Deal With An Age of Disasters

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When Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, followed by a strong hurricane in Florida, much of the media response indicated that the severe weather was a sign of catastrophic climate change, payback for mass suburbanization — and even a backlash by Mother Nature against the election of President Donald Trump.  read more »

California Politicians Not Serious About Fixing Housing Crisis

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California’s political leaders, having ignored and even abetted our housing shortage, now pretend that they will “solve it.” Don’t bet on it.  read more »

Spotlight on Infrastructure After Harvey

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The recent tragic events in Houston and across the Gulf Coast once again demonstrated the woeful inadequacy of our infrastructure. Hopefully, some good will come of Hurricane Harvey. Hopefully, it will jump-start the long-awaited Trump initiative on infrastructure, which may be the one issue that could unite this country.  read more »

Post-Work Won’t Work

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Proposals to institute a basic income are increasingly popular, especially in Silicon Valley. Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght make their case for it in Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy. A basic income—an annual, unconditional cash grant to every adult, regardless of need, and without a work requirement to obtain it—would be non-taxable and total about 25 percent of GDP.  read more »

The Great Transit Rip-Off

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Over the past decade, there has been a growing fixation among planners and developers alike for a return to the last century’s monocentric cities served by large-scale train systems. And, to be sure, in a handful of older urban regions, mass transit continues to play an important — and even vital — role in getting commuters to downtown jobs. Overall, a remarkable 40 percent of all transit commuting in the United States takes place in the New York metropolitan area — and just six municipalities make up 55 percent of all transit commuting destinations.  read more »

A Different Kind of Border Wall

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To slow mass migration, stop the illicit capital flight from poor to rich countries.

An asset manager called ____ Capital recently sent out this email seeking referrals:  read more »