The intractability of poverty has been recognized since at least the time the Deuteronomist wrote, “The poor will never cease to be in the land.” Explanations vary: ill favor of the gods, deficient natural endowments, personal defects, the culture of the poor, external circumstances such as a lack of economic opportunity, some type of oppression—all have been popular options. read more »
Most discussions of our slow economic growth includes a seemingly compulsory demand for increased public capital spending, so-called infrastructure spending or simply “roads and bridges.” Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton promise increased public capital spending on their websites. Larry Summers made perhaps the best case for public spending when he claimed that our failure to invest in public capital creates the “worst and most toxic debts.” read more »
Joel Kotkin’s new report, “Geographies of Inequality,” is the latest in a series of ahead-of-the-curve, groundbreaking pieces published through Third Way’s NEXT initiative. NEXT is made up of in-depth, commissioned academic research papers that look at trends that will shape policy over the coming decades. In particular, we are aiming to unpack some of the prevailing assumptions that routinely define, and often constrain, Democratic and progressive economic and social policy debates.
Summer is usually a time for light reading, and for the most part, I indulged the usual array of historical novels, science fiction as well as my passion for ancient history. But two compelling books out this year led me to more somber thoughts about the prospects for the decline and devolution of western society. read more »
“Old in error,” writes historian Kevin Starr, “California remains an American hope.” Historically, our state has been a beacon to outsiders seeking a main chance: from gold miners and former Confederates to Midwesterners displaced by hardship, Jews seeking opportunity denied elsewhere, African Americans escaping southern apartheid, Asians fleeing communism and societal repression, Mexicans looking for a way out of poverty, counter-culture émigrés looking for a place where creation can overcome repression. read more »
Intellectuals — a category that includes academics, opinion journalists, and think tank experts — are freaks. I do not mean that in a disrespectful way. I myself have spent most of my life in one of the three roles mentioned above. I have even been accused of being a “public intellectual,” which sounds too much like “public nuisance” or even “public enemy” for my taste. read more »
In Ghana, about 80 percent of the working-age population is self-employed in an economy of improvisation and self-reliance where the quest to make a living is played out daily. The complexity of operating in the business environment — characterized sometimes as fetching water with a basket — has deterred many entrepreneurs from upgrading their business skills, raising capital and taking risks to grow. read more »
In Sacramento, and much of the media, California is enjoying a “comeback” that puts a lie to the argument that regulations and high taxes actually matter. The hero of this recovery, Gov. Jerry Brown, in Bill Maher’s assessment, “took a broken state and fixed it.” read more »
Be careful what you wish for, if that is what you wish for.
Except for the oil shocks of the 1970s and a few other recessionary years, the US economy has generally been strong in the postwar era since 1945. Huge advances in technology and trade, a favorable business environment and strong demographics combined to create tens of trillions of dollars of new wealth in the US and around the world. read more »
In 2009, when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the Summer Games, many saw it as a validation of Brazil’s ascension on the world stage. Yet seven years later, this estimation seems to have been a bit premature, as Rio and other Brazilian cities struggle to meet the basic needs of the Olympians. read more »