Archive for the ‘Mass Transit’ Category

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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Government in the Long Run: Infrastructure

In Budget Politics, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, High-Speed Rail, Industrial Policy, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy on May 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Introduction:

If there is a common malaise of our time, it’s short-term thinking in an era when long-term problems loom ever larger. Whether it’s in health care, where Congress has decide that the only way for it to deal with the need to restrain doctors and hospital costs is to outsource it to an independent agency, or in climate change, where the Senate is flatly unwilling to pass even a moderate cap-and-trade bill (even though cap-and-trade was the free marketer’s solution to climate change), or in dealing with the long-term budget deficit, where the right wing won’t even countenance eliminating loopholes and the Democratic Party won’t tax enough to end the deficit or spend enough to create a strong recovery. At the same time, the electorate has not even been approached in a way that might lead them to consider long-term consequences of their votes.

Today, I’m going to focus on one particular issue that has become emblematic of our long-term problems – our nation’s infrastructure.

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High-Speed Rail in an Age of Ideology

In Budget Politics, California, Culture, Economic Planning, Economics, High-Speed Rail, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy, Urbanism on January 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Introduction:

To many, the decisions of the recently-elected governors of New Jersey (to reject Federal money for a second New Jersey-New York rail tunnel), Wisconsin, and Ohio (pulling the plug on Federally-financed high-speed rail project) seem illogical. High-speed rail projects spur growth, create jobs and tax revenue, they’re environmentally sustainable, and the state doesn’t even have to pay (mostly)! So why kill them?

The truth is that we shouldn’t be surprised by these decisions – or treat them as irrational. We are living in an age of ideology, and high-speed rail is no less ideological than any other public policy. They’re still wrong to kill the projects, but on ideological grounds.

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A New Deal for California – What Now? (Finance and Green Economy)

In Budget Politics, California, Climate Change, Economic Planning, Economics, Environment, Liberalism, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Regulation, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Welfare State on December 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Introduction:

With the belated victory of Kamala Harris as Attorney General, the full results of the 2010 election are in for California. There many things that progressives can be proud of – a sweep of statewide offices, picking up another Assembly seat, defeating prop 23 and passing prop 25. On the other hand, there are also some major disappointments – the defeat of prop 19 (marijuana legalization), the defeat of prop 21 (a VLF to fund the state parks), the defeat of prop 24 (rolling back corporate tax breaks), and the passage of prop 26 (2/3rds requirement for fees). Prop 26 especially complicates what this victory means for California.

Indeed, our situation is a lot like the national picture after the 2008 elections – we have an executive who straddles the line between the left and right wings of the Democratic Party, a big legislative majority, but not the ability to break the fiscal deadlock and really be able to govern our state.

So where do we go from here?

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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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Designing the Future – Buses, Streetcars, and Trains

In Budget Politics, Climate Change, Economic Planning, Economics, Environment, Mass Transit, New York, Public Policy, Public Sector, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Urbanism on April 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Introduction:

I’m a huge fan of mass transit, and in the past I’ve written about why Federal investments in High-Speed Rail need to go hand-in-hand with investments in local and regional mass transit, why understanding the public aesthetics of mass transit is critical to its success, and why the development of gas-free automobiles still means that we need to invest in mass transit. However, as a public policy scholar, I do have to acknowledge a downside of mass transit: it can be quite expensive to develop, and slow to construct. Even as an eternal partisan of the New York Subway, I have to acknowledge that building subways is an extremely capital-intensive and long-term approach.

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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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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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