Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
General Election - Tuesday, November 8
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Friday, April 1, 2022
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Saturday, February 5, 2022
Saturday, January 15, 2022
In an expensive effort to curb congestion in urban regions, we have overwhelmingly prioritized one strategy: we have spent decades and hundreds of billions of dollars widening and building new highways. We added 30,511 new freeway lane-miles of road in the largest 100 urbanized areas between 1993 and 2017, an increase of 42 percent. That rate of freeway expansion significantly outstripped the 32 percent growth in population in those regions over the same time period. Yet this strategy has utterly failed to “solve” the problem at hand—delay is up in those urbanized areas by a staggering 144 percent.
Those new lane-miles haven’t come cheap and we are spending billions to widen roads and seeing unimpressive, unpredictable results in return. Further, the urbanized areas expanding their freeways more rapidly aren’t necessarily having more success curbing congestion—in fact, in many cases the opposite is true.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
For starters, before I go into a critique of Mr. Gray’s points, I do not believe all old homes are better than new homes. Just as I do not believe the opposite. Generalizations, as such, get us nowhere.
Gray makes some broad and overreaching statements to condemn, in general, old housing.
He begins by labeling old housing as “at best, subpar and, at worst, unsafe.” No doubt, some old housing surely is subpar and unsafe. However, so is some new housing.
He next takes a dig at “self-righteous” preservationists. Though some may be pompous or pretentious (which can be the case in many occupations), some older things are worth saving and equally attractive as their newer, supposed, replacements. He fails to mention the craftsmanship and materials in older, quality homes, which many newer (even well-built) homes don’t contain.
Gray claims we “fetishize” old homes. I would like to think some people just like to take care of well-built or well-crafted items. Maybe Gray just fetishizes disposability over maintenance.
He states, “If we want to ensure universal access to decent housing, we should be building a lot more of it.” First, although a noble goal, I'm not sure Republicans want to ensure universal access to decent housing. Second, new housing and old housing are not mutually exclusive. We can have well-built, well-maintained older housing alongside newer construction.
Here I should point out I am not for saving every building simply because of old age or some sentimentalism. Some buildings are too far-gone and exorbitant investment just does not make sense. But Gray's overarching theme here that everything old stinks and everything new is wonderful is just an extreme oversimplification and wrong.
Gray then lists some regional differences in the age of homes. Some places have more new homes than others do and vice-versa. Rather than condemning, in general, old homes, it seems Gray’s issue is with dilapidated properties and zoning practices. If this is the case, we can agree. Older, dilapidated buildings should be allowed to be razed so that newer, denser construction (whatever the highest and best use of the site is) can replace it.
He then goes on to proclaim that new housing is “just plain nice to live in.” Yet, some newer housing is also cheap, poorly built crap. Gray had previously criticized fetishizing the old, but here he is fetishizing something for simply being new.
Gray then rattles off insulation, HVAC and windows as supposed reasoning for why newer is better. He also discusses room layout and closet sizes. Yet, retrofitting an older home for insulation, HVAC and windows is common. Considering the quality of some older homes, this is also more economical than completely new construction. Moreover, older, quality-built homes have larger closets and functional layouts. Cheap construction is cheap construction whether it is built in 1922 or 2022.
Sure, there are a lot of old crappy buildings out there that aren't worth saving. But that does not de facto conclude that anything newer is better. There is a lot of cheap, new stuff. So how about cities look for ways to build dense housing where needed along with respecting older, quality construction. We are a pretty innovative country (when we want to be), I think we can move forward and accomplish two goals simultaneously.
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
A group of big business lobbyists is pushing a radical change to Wisconsin’s tax structure — one that would give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and powerful while shifting the responsibility of paying taxes to people with lower incomes. The change would also require significant cuts to the critical services that Wisconsin businesses, schools, and communities need to thrive. This one-two punch would make it more difficult for Wisconsin families to get by, while funneling additional resources into the pockets of the top 1%.
Monday, December 13, 2021
Paul isn't alone in the hypocrisy. It's the entire Republicans party and anyone enabling, supporting, or listening to them. They deny climate change and obstruct any related public policy. They bash government and any legislation that might improve infrastructure, fight climate change, or help the majority of citizens. They cut government programs. Until it impacts them, then government should open up the checkbook and freely hand over whatever's needed. Republicans are truly despicable trolls.
Saturday, December 11, 2021
Friday, December 10, 2021
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Friday, November 26, 2021
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Visit Milwaukee is claiming the Bucks Championship Had $58 Million Economic Impact.
That's possible. Anything is possible. But claims of such an impact are dubious at best.
As Roy Cordato's article noted:
Economic impact studies are everywhere.
Whether it’s to support a new highway project, special tax breaks for solar energy, the building of a civic center or sports complex, or to promote subsidies for Hollywood film producers, you can find an economic impact study, often touting how great the project will be for the state or local economy.
The formula is simple, predictable, and effective. A special interest group that stands to benefit from the project funds an economic impact study that purports to provide hard numbers on the number of jobs, the increase in wages, and the additional output that will be generated by the project or subsidy, and it will do this on an industry-by-industry basis. It makes grandiose claims about how much overall economic growth will be enhanced for the state or region generally. Once the report is completed, the special interest group that paid for the study will tout these results in press releases that will be picked up by the largely uncritical media establishment, ensuring that the political decision makers and others who determine the fate of the project receive political cover.
These studies all have several things in common. First, they typically use proprietary, off-the-shelf models with acronym names like IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), CUM (Capacity Utilization Model), or REMI (Regional Economic Model, Inc.). Rights to use the models are purchased by professional consulting firms who are hired by the interest groups to do the studies. Furthermore, seldom do those who actually perform the studies have formal training in economics. Instead their expertise is in using one or more of the aforementioned proprietary models. And finally, all of these studies ignore basic principles of economics and, as a result, do not meaningfully measure what they claim to be measuring—the economic impact of the public policies and projects that they are assessing.
One big problem with economic impact studies is the idea of substitution. If money that would have been spent elsewhere was simply spent on the Bucks, growth did not occur. Spending that would have occurred in one spot was merely spent in a different spot. The project (the development, the event, etc.) hasn't catalyzed growth. They haven't made an economic impact. They've merely realigned spending.
Now, this isn't to say all projects are unable to spur growth. But unless the impact study accounts for concepts like substitution and opportunity cost, it's mostly measuring the rewards that will go to primarily absentee owners.
Milwaukee Magazine had their own questions regarding the local economic impact of the Bucks championship run.
The sparkling, shiny, loud things (sports and entertainment events) often get attention, articles and praise. Yet, as far as being supposed economic catalysts, all too often, the economic benefits and impact are ephemeral to non-existent.
Maybe it's time we stop deluding ourselves in the belief that all activities and projects can be or need to be fun and exciting. Clean water, smooth roads, public transportation, quality schools, affordable housing and health care, and maintained infrastructure provide a better return on investment and generate much more growth than any stadium or convention center could ever hope to.
There are so many more impactful ways to spend $420 million.
The Boondoggle Bandwagon lumbers on.
For Further Reading:
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Saturday, October 23, 2021
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Sunday, August 8, 2021
In explaining the unimpressive quarterly jobs data recently, there is a dangerous mythology surfacing, a common refrain among pundits, that people don’t want to work because of stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits.
Some argue that unemployed low-wage workers make more from these benefits than from their previous employment. This may be true, but in my nearly 10-year tenure as CEO of what has become the nation’s largest publicly funded workforce development system, where we have facilitated training and employment of over 70,000 people, I have never once heard anyone say they didn’t want to work.
This is a harmful, corrosive narrative rooted in class, gender and race bias; it is a fallacy meant to demean and stigmatize.
The truth underlying what’s being touted as a “labor shortage” is far more nuanced than glib jabs at the working class. Examining reality invites us to reassess our beliefs about work and workers in this country.