Financial Crisis

Time to Deliver: How Biden Should Respond to the Insurrection

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“The faith that anyone could move from rags to riches – with enough guts and gumption, hard work and nose to the grindstone – was once at the core of the American Dream.” –Robert Reich, economist and former U.S. Secretary of Labor

“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” –Dante Alighieri, inscription on the gates of Hell, The Divine Comedy, circa 1321  read more »

Beyond Economic Populism

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Predictably, politicos and commentators spent much of 2020 debating why working-class voters supported Trump and how the Democrats could win them back. Although we’ve occasionally contributed to these conversations, we’re also getting tired of them. They tend to envision “the working class” as if it were one group with a well-defined set of interests, and worse, they treat working-class people as a marketing problem.  read more »

Why Trump's America Will Live On

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Like many, if not most Americans, I am somewhat relieved to see the petulant, nasty and sometimes clearly unhinged Donald Trump leave the White House. Yet for all his antics and vitriol, Trump has left a legacy that will be difficult to ignore and, given the dispensation of his opponents, could shape the future for the next decade.  read more »

Restart, Reset, Retool, Refill

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Considerations for downtowns, commercial corridors, and main streets

We are at the end of the beginning. There are going to be closures, vacancies, and job losses across communities. How long and how deep will be a function of how well the next three-to-six months are managed  read more »

House Hunting with Temple Grandin

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Many of you will be familiar with Temple Grandin. She’s the autistic woman who designs slaughterhouses from the cattle’s perspective. By organizing the process in a way that’s calming to the animals it improves efficiency. Her primary contribution is the recognition that animals are highly sensitive to small symbolic details: a shadow, a dangling chain, a hose left on the ground, a flapping flag.  read more »

How the Virus Is Pushing America Toward a Better Future

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Pessimism is the mood of the day, with 80 percent of Americans saying the country is generally out of control. Even before civil unrest and pestilence, most Americans believed our country was in decline, Pew reported, with a shrinking middle class, increased indebtedness and growing polarization.  read more »

Triumph of the Oligarchs

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A new class of overlords are making their bid for world domination.

The Coronavirus has trammeled the prospects of most Americans, particularly low-income workers. But for one small group, the pandemic has proved something like manna from heaven. Already ascendant beforehand, the tech oligarchy—a relatively small number of companies, venture, and private equity funds—are riding the current crisis to unprecedented dominion over our ever-weakening Republic.  read more »

Neo-Feudalism in California

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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  read more »

CARES Funding and Transit

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The Coronavirus public health emergency is an existentialist crisis for many sectors of the U.S. economy and government services. The transit industry is one of the most impacted of all.

Transit began losing relevance decades prior to this event. Transit ridership and transportation market share have decreased even as operating costs and taxpayer subsidies increased. Expenditures for major capital projects have reached a billion dollars per mile and more while essential services for transportation-disadvantaged residents have withered away.  read more »

The Rebellion of America's New Underclass

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Like so many before them, our recent disorders have been rooted in issues of race. But in the longer run, the underlying causes of our growing civic breakdown go beyond the brutal police killing of George Floyd. Particularly in our core cities, our dysfunction is a result of our increasingly large, and increasingly multi-racial, class of neo-serfs.  read more »