Tuesday, January 24, 2012

David Brooks wants Obama to... be Obama?

Brooks has a classic column pining for a centrist hero, a "market socialist." Like most of these columns, what he's actually describing is the Democratic party and President Obama. Here's his wishlist:

If President Obama is really serious about restoring American economic dynamism, he needs an aggressive two-pronged approach: More economic freedom combined with more social structure; more competition combined with more support. 
As a survey of nearly 10,000 Harvard Business School grads by Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin makes clear, to get companies to locate their plants in the U.S., Obama is going to have to simplify the tax code, cut corporate rates, streamline regulations, make immigration policy more flexible and balance the budget over the long term. 
To ensure there’s skilled labor for those plants, Obama would have to champion different policies: successful training programs like Job Corps, better coordination between colleges and employers, better treatment for superstar teachers, more child care options and better early childhood education. 
This agenda is libertarian in the capitalist sector and activist in the human capital sector. Don’t triangulate meekly toward the center; select bold policies from both ends. That’s what would help Maddie Parlier and millions like her.

Let's see if Obama has addressed these issues:
Simplify tax code: Check
Streamline regulation: Check
Immigration policy: (Brooks is very vague, but) Check
Balance budget long term: Check
Job training: Check
College/Employer coordination: I don't actually know what this means. And the second google result is Brooks' column. So... no?
Better superstar teacher treatment: Check
Child care options: Check
Early Childhood education: Check (Scroll down to the section "Focus on early childhood education")

Looks to me like the intrepid Mr Brooks really just needs to face reality and vote for Obama. No need for Americans Elect here. Your favored candidate is waiting for you, Mr Brooks. All you have to do is open your eyes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Zoning, Uptown, and Meg Tuthill

I'm pretty sure my city council-member, Meg Tuthill, has almost the polar opposite view of zoning that I do:

I have worked in our neighborhood to protect our residential zoning where possible. We worked hard to downzone parts of the neighborhood to protect our limited historic housing stock. I will work to prevent erosion of zoning laws and to make sure that neighbors have a voice in zoning decisions.

I live in Uptown. My apartment has a walk score of 97, indicating a "Walker's Paradise." My neighborhood is 85% renters. The vacancy rate is around 2% right now and rents are rising, indicating high demand for rental housing that isn't being met. And what is Ms Tuthill concerned with? DOWN-zoning. If I could buy a dead-tree version of Ryan Avent's book I think I would send a copy to her office.

Uptown is a thriving neighborhood where many young people want to live. Not only are they young, but they're young professionals, the exact group every neighborhood wants more of. (The buses from Uptown to downtown are full of Target badges.) They have lots of disposable income to spend on neighborhood businesses. Throttling development is a great way to retard growth and keep Uptown from realizing its full potential.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Today you may have noticed that quite a number of websites have special messages up and/or have gone completely dark. (Nerds everywhere are being far more productive since they can't access Reddit or Wikipedia.) They're doing so to protest two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, that are intended to fight online piracy. They go quite a bit farther than what many internet giants such as Google and Wikipedia believe is necessary. They could have a profound effect on the way the internet operates and even on free speech.

In my opinion, they're the work of content providers who refuse to enter the digital age. Instead they just want to use the power of the government to protect their outdated business models. This is all a long-winded way to say that all three people who still check this blog should call their congresspeople and tell them not to vote for SOPA or PIPA.