Public Unions for Private Benefits: Public Sector Unions Enrich their Members by Distorting State Finances

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Concerned citizens of California are already familiar with the undue political influence of California’s prison guard union. According to Tim Kowal of the Orange County Federalist Society, the union raises $23 million dollars per year and spends $8 million of it lobbying. As a result, the state has found it impossible to engage in meaningful reform of its correctional system.  read more »

The Hall of Gimmicks

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Occasional Urbanophile contributor Robert Munson has talked about how Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was among the first to recognize that there was a “taxpayer strike” in America. That is, given the breakdown in the social contract in our cities, taxpayers were increasingly unwilling to pour money down a rat hole.  read more »

Crime Down in Urban Cores and Suburbs

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The latest data (2011) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) indicates that violent crime continued to decline in both the suburbs and historical cores of major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000 residents). Since 2001, the rates of decline have been similar, but contrary to media reports, the decline has been slightly greater in the suburbs than in the historical cores.  read more »

Beware the Herbivore Effect

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In the 1980s, American commentators and best-selling authors repeatedly sought to convince companies and workers to be more "Japanese." After all, for two generations, the men of Japan, supported by their wives, constituted a fearsome force – first, in the run up to the Second World War, then during the economic "miracle" that drove that small island nation toward the pinnacle of global economic power.  read more »

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Angry Young Men

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“'Angry young men' lack optimism.” This was the title of a BBC News story earlier this year, exploring the deeply pessimistic views that some young working class British hold about their own future. Two-thirds of the young men from families of skilled or semi-skilled workers, for example, never expect to own their own home. Angry young men, this time of immigrant origin, were also recently identified as the group causing riots in Swedish suburbs such as Husby.  read more »

How the Left Came to Reject Cheap Energy for the Poor

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Eighty years ago, the Tennessee Valley region was like many poor rural communities in tropical regions today. The best forests had been cut down to use as fuel for wood stoves. Soils were being rapidly depleted of nutrients, resulting in falling yields and a desperate search for new croplands. Poor farmers were plagued by malaria and had inadequate medical care. Few had indoor plumbing and even fewer had electricity.  read more »

The Associate’s Degree Payoff: Community College Grads Can Get High-Paying Jobs, and Here Are Some Examples

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For some students, the decision to enroll at a community college is simple. A two-year school offers the credential they need at a much lower cost than a university, and the earnings post-degree are on par with — or better than — what they would make after going to a four-year school.

Less debt, similar salary — the math adds up.  read more »

The Culture War That Social Conservatives Could Win

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For the better part of a half century, social conservatives have been waging a desperate war to defend “family values.” However well-intentioned, this effort has to be written off as something of a failure. To continue it would cause even more damage to many of the things that social conservatives say they care most about.  read more »

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Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods: Takin' It To The Streets

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Planners and parents have been concerned about two widely reported, and most likely related, trends: the increasing percentage of overweight children, and the growing number of hours that kids spend looking at a screen, be it a television or a laptop. These two activities take up most of the free time kids have after school. Add on the tendency for kids to be driven or bussed to school, and the result is what has been called a “nature deficit” — a disconnect to natural surroundings.  read more »

Cities Still Being Squeezed

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Recent announcements of state budget surpluses have led to the popping of corks across the deepest-blue parts of America, particularly here in California. In some cases, the purported fiscal recovery has been enshrined by an emerging hagiography about Jerry Brown's steadfastness in the face of budget debacles.  read more »