Policy

A Long Term Outlook on Housing Affordability

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So, there’s yet another inquiry into housing affordability underway. This latest is called “The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue inquiry into housing affordability and supply in Australia.” Chaired by NSW Liberal MP Mr Jason Falinski, it’s getting a few headlines with statements like ‘half the cost of new house and land packages consist of state and local government charges.’  read more »

Report: Restoring the California Dream

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This newly released report examines how the California dream can be restored for California's middle- and working-class families. An excerpt follows:  read more »

The Next American Cities, a New Report from Urban Reform Insitute

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The urban form has shifted throughout history. This has been critical to its success. Today we are on the cusp of another transition, ushered in by new technologies and changing demographics, and accelerated by a devastating pandemic. Although these forces affect all geographies, the best chance of success and growth lies in what we define as The Next American City.  read more »

Welcome to the End of Democracy

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We bemoan autocracies in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Russia and China but largely ignore the more subtle authoritarian trend in the West. Don’t expect a crudely effective dictatorship out of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: we may remain, as we are now, nominally democratic, but be ruled by a technocratic class empowered by greater powers of surveillance than those enjoyed by even the nosiest of dictatorships.  read more »

Pandemic Cuts: Deepening the Higher Ed Divide

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American mythology promises upward mobility, and college can provide an important first step up the class ladder. With the rise of the “knowledge economy” and the decline of industrial jobs and unions, some insisted that education is the answer to economic displacement. If you can’t earn a stable, living wage as a steelworker, go to college and become a nurse or a computer programmer. And if you didn’t make that choice, it’s your own fault that you’re struggling. After all, college was affordable, accessible, and varied.  read more »

Vehicle Miles Traveled vs. Pay-at-the-Pump Gas Tax

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For some years now, policy wonks have proposed replacing the pay-at-the-pump gas tax with a “vehicle miles traveled” system. The reasons take a few different paths but are mostly centered around the issue of the fairness of “user fees” compared to purchase taxation, an idea made more relevant by the proliferation of non-gas using electric cars.  read more »

Building Back Better?

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As we await U.S. Senate action on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, it is worth reflecting on what the past few tumultuous months have meant for U.S. workers.  Much has happened in the short time since the summer drew to a close.  Collective and individual actions have worked together to create new leverage for both organized and unorganized workers that didn’t exist six months ago.  Workers are expressing higher levels of discontent than we have seen in years.  read more »

The New Dark Ages

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If ignorance is bliss, the Western world should be ecstatic. Even as colleges churn out degrees and collect fees, and technology makes information instantly accessible, the basic level of literacy, as measured by such things as reading books and acquainting oneself with the past, is in a precipitous decline. Rather than building a vital world with our technological culture, we are repeating the memes of feudal times, driven by illiteracy, bias and a rejection of the West’s past.  read more »

Our Neo-Feudal Future

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America has only a limited feudal past, the plantation aristocracy of the antebellum South and the enormous class chasms of the Gilded Age being pretty much our only examples. Yet today—after decades of social mobility, a digital revolution that was supposed to empower individuals everywhere, and the construction of a vigorous anti-discrimination apparatus that putatively ensures equal rights and status—a rigid new social order with feudal elements has come into view.  read more »

The Great Nudge

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When we think of oppressive regimes, we immediately think of the Stalinist model portrayed in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the heavy-handed thought control associated with Hitler’s Reich or Mao’s China. But where the old propaganda was loud, crude and often lethal, the contemporary style of thought control takes the form of a gentle nudging towards orthodoxy – a gentle push that gradually closes off one’s critical faculties and leads one to comply with gently given directives. Governments around the world, including in the UK, notes the Guardian, have been embracing this approach with growing enthusiasm.  read more »

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