In the Automation Debate, Don't Forget the Job Multiplier Effect

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In his 1950s satire Player Piano, author Kurt Vonnegut describes a dark dystopia where automation has led to a world of meager consumption and desperate idleness. The vision of workers displaced by machines predates this though, and is perhaps most associated with the 19th century Luddite movement where workers sabotaged machinery for fear of losing jobs. In economic thought, the prospect of labor-replacing technology has a still much longer history.  read more »

Subjects:

The Immigration Dilemma

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In often needlessly harsh ways, President Donald Trump is forcing Americans to face issues that have been festering for decades, but effectively swept under the rug by the ruling party duopoly. Nowhere is this more evident than with immigration, an issue that helped to spark Trump’s quixotic, but ultimately successful, campaign.

Many Americans are clearly upset about an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, and many also fear the arrival of more refugees from Islamic countries. Perhaps no issue identified by Trump has been more divisive.  read more »

King Tide

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10,000 years ago San Francisco Bay was a dry grassy valley populated by elephants, zebras, and camels. The planet was significantly cooler and dryer back then. Sea level was lower since glaciers in the north pulled water out of the oceans. The bay isn’t that deep so a relatively small change in sea level pushed the coastline out by twelve miles from its present location. Further back in pre-history when the earth was warmer than today sea level was higher.  read more »

Access in the City

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Access for residents to employment is critical to boosting city productivity. This has been demonstrated by researchers such as Remy Prud’homme and Chang-Woon Lee of the University of Paris, David Hartgen and M. Gregory Fields of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Generally, city productivity (economic growth and job creation) can be expected to improve more where employment access is better . Access is measured in the number of jobs that can be reached by the average employee in a certain period of time, like 30 minutes.  read more »

The Brooklynization of Brooklyn

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The New Brooklyn: What It Takes to Bring a City Back
by Kay Hymowitz

My City Journal colleague Kay Hymowitz has written a number of great articles on Brooklyn, the borough that is her home. This inspired her to write a great book on the topic of the transformation of Brooklyn called The New Brooklyn.

It starts with a two-chapter history of the borough from its earliest settlement to the present day, followed by a series of chapters looking at Brooklyn today. This includes the transformation of Park Slope (where she and her husband moved in the early 1980s), Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, and the Navy Yard.  read more »

Nixon's Revolutionary Vision for American Governance

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President Nixon, though possessing the instincts and speaking the increasingly conservative language of the mainstream Republican Party all his life (his writings on domestic policy attest to this,) governed within the boundaries set by the New Deal. Where other conservatives like Barry Goldwater had no interest in “streamlining government,” “making it more efficient,” and “promoting welfare,” Nixon sought to do exactly these things.  read more »

Kevin Starr, chronicler of the California dream

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“From the Beginning, California promised much. While yet barely a name on the map, it entered American awareness as a symbol of renewal. It was a final frontier: of geography and of expectation.”

— Kevin Starr, “Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915” (1973)

 read more »

Best Cities for Middle-Income Households: The Demographia Housing Affordability Survey

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The 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey measures middle-income housing affordability in 92 major housing markets (metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 population) in Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong ), Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.  read more »

Subjects:

Doing What Actually Works

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Last year I engaged in a failed attempt to renovate and expand an old house in an 1890’s era neighborhood in Ohio. It ended badly. So I thought I’d do a follow up on what actually does work given the legal parameters and cultural context.  read more »

Are America’s Cities Doomed to Go Bankrupt?

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I’m a fan of Strong Towns and share their thesis that the biggest sustainability problem with much of suburbia is its financial sustainability.

recent article there about Lafayette, Louisiana has been making the rounds. That city’s public works director made some estimates of infrastructure maintenance costs and which parts of the city turned a “profit” from taxes and which were losses. Here’s their profit and loss map.  read more »