Palo Alto and the Tech Shop of Horrors


This piece by Zelda Bronstein (original to 48hills.org) goes behind the story of the Peninsula planning commissioner who made national news by saying she had to leave town to buy a house for her family.

On August 10, Kate Vershov Downing, a 31-year-old intellectual-property lawyer, set the media aflutter when she posted on Medium a letter to the Palo Alto City Council stating that she was resigning from the city’s Planning Commission because she was moving to Santa Cruz. The reason for her move: She and her 33-year-old husband Steven, a software engineer, couldn’t find a house they could afford to buy in Palo Alto. Downing said that they currently rented a place with another couple for $6,200 a month, and that if they “wanted to buy the same house and share it with children and not roommates, it would cost $2M.”  read more »

Local Govt. Control: The Ignored Campaign Issue


In an election cycle full of spittle and bile, arguably the greatest issue --- the nature of governance and the role of citizens --- has been all but ignored. Neither candidate for president has much feel for the old American notion of dispersed power. Instead each has his or her own plans for ever greater centralization: Trump by the force of his enormous narcissistic self-regard; Hillary Clintonthrough the expansion of the powers increasingly invested in the federal regulatory apparatus.  read more »

Are-You-Better-Off: 2016 Update


The 2016 US Presidential campaign has gotten so crazy that the term “silly season” just doesn’t do it justice. In a September 2012 article on ng, I asked the question “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Eight years ago, the answer in the swing states was clearly “no” as I described it then:  read more »


California's Boom Is Poised To Go Bust -- And Liberals' Dream Of Scandinavia On The Pacific


As its economy started to recover in 2010, progressives began to hail California as a kind of Scandinavia on the Pacific — a place where liberal programs also produce prosperity.  read more »

Our Town: Restoring Localism


This is an introduction to a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, "Our Town: Restoring Localism." Download the full report here.

America is facing a critical moment in its evolution, one that threatens both its future prosperity and the integrity of its institutions. Over the past several decades, government has become increasingly centralized, with power shifting from local communities to the federal level. This has been accompanied by a decline in non-governmental institutions, a matter of concern to thinkers on both the right and the left.  read more »

The Bridge from Laissez-Faire to Socialism


Cronyism remains unchecked in the world’s largest economy.

We might object to the phrase crony capitalism for two reasons:

First, because cronyism is in some ways the antithesis of capitalism. The freedom to compete and the freedom to fail that are central tenets of capitalism are severely compromised by cronyism when in the former case powerful politicians intervene to shield their friends in business and finance from competition, and in the latter intervene again to save them from bankruptcy or occasionally from criminal prosecution. Of course, these friends in turn are no disloyal slouches and they later show themselves to be supremely appreciative by underwriting, financially and otherwise, those same politicians who had all but guaranteed their continued dominance in normal times and their survival against bad odds in times of distress.  read more »

Why Evangelicals Matter to the Labor Movement


Conventional wisdom tells us that all evangelicals must be anti-union because they are theologically and politically conservative. Therefore, you might assume, labor has nothing to gain from the sixty two million adult adherents of evangelicalism in the U.S. Yet evangelicals were at the forefront of many progressive movements in the nineteenth century, such as abolitionism. Today, evangelicals play leading roles in issues of climate change, immigration reform, torture, and human trafficking. Some are also active in the labor movement.  read more »


Are Baby Boomers Turning Out to be the Worst Generation?


I have seen the best minds of my generation, to steal a phrase from the late Allen Ginsberg, driven to heights of self-absorption, advocating policies that assure the failure of the next. Nothing so suggests the failure of my generation — the boomers — than its two representatives running for president.

What Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reflect are two sides of the same nasty boomer coin.  read more »

Jerry Brown’s Housing Hypocrisy


Jerry Brown worrying about the California housing crisis is akin to the French policeman played by Claude Rains in “Casablanca” being “shocked, shocked” about gambling at the bar where he himself collects his winnings.

Brown has long been at the forefront on drafting and enforcing regulations that make building housing both difficult and very expensive. And now he has pushed new legislation, which seems certain to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, that makes it worse by imposing even more stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mandating a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2030.  read more »

The New Culture War Dividing America


The stirring speech made by the openly gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland marked a critical change in the nature of the Culture Wars in the US. Rather than boo him for talking about his sexuality, or using it as a convenient opportunity for indulging in prayer, the sometimes less than gay-friendly GOP greeted his affirmation of his ‘proud’ sexuality with cheers, not jeers.  read more »