Financial Crisis

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 »

Economy Loses Jobs Equal to Metro New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and DFW

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Map of counties in the United States that have imposed stay-at-home orders

The economic distress resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies to limit its spread have been substantial. The most intense effects have been inflicted on the estimated 26 million workers who have lost their jobs, either temporarily or permanently. Many businesses may not be able to recover, while others may never be restored to their previous employment, as customer revenues take years to recover.  read more »

Coronavirus: Why California's Small Businesses May Not Survive

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Whatever the medical benefits achieved from the prolonged coronavirus lockdown, California’s small business community will be suffering severe symptoms, likely for decades to come. The state’s small entrepreneurs, particularly in poorer areas, face major readjustments and perhaps obliteration, a situation further complicated for some by damage stemming from the protests over the killing of George Floyd.  read more »

How Coronavirus Pandemic is Bringing a Return to Feudalism

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The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many things, but also accelerated America’s descent into a new form of feudalism. The preexisting conditions of extreme economic concentration, inequality and reduced social mobility already were painfully evident before, but the pandemic has made them considerably worse.  read more »

What If College Students Simply Don't Return in the Fall?

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As a college professor who meets with thousands of students nationwide, I regularly tell students that the bedrock of my own college experience almost 20 years ago was the meeting and mixing with students from around the world. My classes were generally unremarkable, but what made the collegiate bubble so exceptional were the early Saturday morning tailgates, midnight runs for donuts with close friends, or long hikes exploring areas around San Francisco.  read more »

Rethinking the Social Safety Net

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The COVID-19 epidemic wreaked havoc on the majority of American households. The USC Dornsife poll reported on April 17th that 15% of previously employed people in the country have lost their jobs because of the virus. That translates into close to 26 million newly unemployed. While many of those jobs will come back once we get through this, I do not think all of them will. Future social distancing rules will, for instance, limit the number of patrons a restaurant or a bar can serve. Fewer customers means fewer employees to serve them.  read more »

The Pandemic Road to Serfdom

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Even before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, America, like most higher-income countries, was already heading toward a neo-feudal future: massive inequality, ever-greater concentrations of power, and increasingly widespread embrace of a uniform (albeit secular) religion. The pandemic, all too reminiscent of the great plagues of the Middle Ages, seems destined to accelerate this process.  read more »

High Metabolism Money

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As part of my usual exploration of towns and cities around the country I wander up and down streets taking photos. I have an inexhaustible supply of pictures of the generic American landscape. But every once in a while someone will come running out of a building demanding to know who I am and why I’m photographing their property. Bank managers are frequent objectors.  read more »

Class(room) Warfare

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The actress Felicity Huffman—along with 13 other parents charged in the college admissions scandal—entered plea deals last week, putting pressure on actress Lori Laughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, to do the same. Prosecutors are hinting that if Laughlin doesn’t accept a deal she could face 20 years in prison, 3 years of probation, and a $250,000 fine.  read more »