Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

Labor Market Policy – Tackling the Pyramid

In Budget Politics, California, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Education Reform, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Health Care Reform, Higher Education, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Unions, Welfare State, Youth Policy on March 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Introduction:

It’s somewhat out of vogue to talk about the quality of jobs and the shape of the labor market at a time when unemployment is so high and the obvious issue is the number of jobs being created. This wasn’t the case prior to the recession, although rather specious reasons were given to justify the rapidly increasing inequality of wages as the outcome of superior education or productivity. What can’t be denied is that even before the recession, we were sliding into a highly unequal labor market in which many low-paid, insecure workers (50% of American workers made less than $26,000 or 230% of poverty in 2010) serve a small number of ever-richer elites.

This trend has only continued since the recession, and it’s a problem that has to be solved if we are to either fully recover or protect ourselves from the next recession.

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New Urbanism and Industrial Policy – Toeing the Triple Line

In Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Environment, Full Employment, History and Politics, Housing, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Mass Transit, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Regulation, Social Democracy, Urbanism on February 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Introduction:

In the past, I’ve written about the way in which new urbanism needs to do a better job attending to issues of class. However, I want to avoid the accusation that new urbanism is classist in the same way that others have made the argument about race. The reality is that the kind of transformations that new urbanism envisions are a lot easier to do with resources, and those are easier to find in a city that’s expanding, and given the history of post-war urban development that tends to be a particular kind of city.

If we want to revive cities, and not just help cities already on the upswing, if we want to bring New Urbanism to the Detroits, Baltimores, and New Havens and not just the Seattles, Portlands, and Denvers, New Urbanists need to bring industrial policy into their worldview.

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De-commodifying Housing

In Economic Planning, Economics, Financial Crisis, History and Politics, Housing, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy on August 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

Introduction:

If the Great Recession has one common thread that links the U.S, much of the E.U (Ireland, Spain, the U.K), and the rest of the world, it’s our common mistake of treating housing as a speculative commodity whose purpose is to create profits for investors, rather than structures that serve a basic human need for shelter and sanctuary. Even those nations which avoided a housing bubble themselves (like France or Germany) got themselves involved through their banking industries, who lent and speculated into the housing bubbles.

If we want to get out of our current economic stagnation and avoid future housing bubbles, the logical place to start is to de-commodify housing.

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Psychology of Public Policy – Social Insurance

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Welfare State, Youth Policy on February 14, 2011 at 6:05 am

Introduction:

The current state of American public policy can best be described as a stalemate: progressives have been stalled on further stimulus efforts; at the same time, conservatives came into power pledging opposition against any cut to a single-payer government health insurance program, and there’s little public stomach for virtually all spending cuts.

As I’ve discussed before, a major reason for this stalemate is ultimately due to how people think about public policy. In reality, neither progressive or conservative ideologies are hegemonic within the American electorate. Instead, public opinion is very much a mix of contradictory and paradoxical tendencies – we want to spend more money on the poor, but are opposed to welfare; we think foreign aid should be cut to a level that’s several times larger than current spending.

In this situation, policy victory goes to finding narratives that present our policies in a way that aligns favorably with public thinking, and in designing policies that lend themselves to narratives that flow with, not against the grain of public opinion.

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Public Sector Aesthetics – Why They Matter

In Culture, Economic Planning, European Politics, Health Care Reform, Higher Education, Housing, Inequality, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Social Security, Taxes, Urbanism, Welfare State on November 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Introduction:

One of the intellectual shortcomings of progressives, and friends of the public sector more broadly, is that we tend to approach public policy from an empirical perspective entirely bounded by questions of money and measurements. While this isn’t a bad thing in itself – certainly “reality-based” public policy is better than the kind of public policy we see coming from the Tea Partiers – it means that we ignore the aesthetic side of the public sector.

This is a mistake, as it opens up a vacuum that conservatives have exploited when they don’t actually have a case on empirical grounds – the evidence for the inherent superiority of the private sector might be weak, but it’s easy to get voters to emotionally identify with the image of endless lines at the DMV.

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Local Government Is Ideological – Thinking About Progressive Local Government

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Education Reform, Environment, Full Employment, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Unions, Welfare State on December 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Introduction:

I’ve always had a problem with the way that we Americans think politically about scale, especially the conventional wisdom that local government is somehow inherently better or more democratic than national government because it’s closer to you. This is a rather problematic belief; local government can be just as dominated by local elites as national politics is by national elites, and the lower profile can actually make local politics less transparent than national politics (thought experiment: how many of you can name your local justices of the peace, or could give an explanation of the platform of the current incumbent?).

But worse of all of our beliefs about scale and politics is the idea that local government is somehow inherently non-partisan, that “there’s no Republican or Democratic way to fill a pothole.”

Because the truth is that, in a democratic government, ideology is everywhere.  There really are progressive and conservative ways to fill in potholes, run public schools, and provide transportation and other social services, and unless we approach local politics with that in mind, it’s very easy to allow conservative methods to become dominant.

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New Urbanism – 21st Century Municipal Socialism

In Economic Planning, Economics, History and Politics, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Urbanism, Welfare State on November 24, 2009 at 1:12 am

Introduction:

Let us imagine a city. Enough jobs have been created that the labor market is tight, wages are rising, and increased consumption fuels a thriving economy. Enormous amounts of affordable housing have been built, despite the unending flow of people into the city. Does this city work? Does it fulfill the hopes of the “new urbanists”?

Not necessarily. Because the city I have described is the New York of the Five Points, or Dickins’ London, or Detroit on June 20th 1943 or Los Angeles on August 11, 1965. Making the city work goes far beyond the concrete reality of real estate and employment – there are a vast number of services that have to work for a city to be livable.

And to understand why this is, we have to understand the political and social movement known as “municipal socialism.”

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Gimme Shelter – The Problem of Housing in New Urbanism

In Economic Planning, Economics, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Urbanism, Welfare State on November 9, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Introduction:

In my previous segment on working-class new urbanism, I focused on the non-housing aspects of the urban squeeze-out effect that the working and middle classes face in gentrifying cities. However, it is true that housing is the leading factor that causes cities to shift from a “bell curve” socioeconomic distribution, where the city is anchored by a broad middle class and a prosperous and mobile working class, to a “barbell” distribution, where a megawealthy elite perch on top of a vast number of poverty-wage workers.

However, the new urbanist emphasis on expanding supply through higher density, while necessary, is not sufficient to make the city safe for the working and middle classes.

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Working-Class Urbanism

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Housing, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Mass Transit, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Unions, Urbanism, Welfare State on October 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm

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Introduction:

Recently, there was a bit of a stir when geographer Aaron Renn posted an article on New Geography alleging that “progressive urbanism” was advocating for a model of urbanism that was melanin-deficient. Now, this study was flawed in many ways – the sampling excluded New York, Chicago and L.A as progressive urban models, it equated non-black population with white, which is a major mistake especially in the Southwest, it left out San Francisco, and so on.

However, while progressive urbanism can for the moment be cleared of the charge of being blind to issues of race, it is true that new urbanism as a movement has tended to emphasize the physical side of denser development, as opposed to some of the more human-scale issues – and class is one issue that comes to mind as an area that needs to be dealt with.

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Gas-Free Cars and High Speed Rail

In Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Housing, Mass Transit, Politics of Policy, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy on September 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Introduction:

With the introduction of the Chevy Volt (estimated fuel efficiency – 230 mpg) and the Nissan Leaf (estimated fuel efficiency – 367 mpg), we can begin to see the emergence of a new automotive industry. Eventually, when the Volt and the Leaf and their competitors’ models replace existing Accords, Camrys, and Civics, we will wind up with new vehicle fleets that are 100% gas-free. And with the passage of time, eventually every car on the road will be electric.

However, on its own, this isn’t going to solve America’s problems with oil and CO2 emissions.

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