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City Journal's 10 Blocks

City Journal's 10 Blocks, a weekly podcast hosted by editor Brian C. Anderson, features discussions on urban policy and culture with City Journal editors, contributors, and special guests. Forthcoming episodes will be devoted to topics such as: predictive policing, the Bronx renaissance, reform of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, homelessness in Portland, Oregon, and more. City Journal is a quarterly print and regular online magazine published by the Manhattan Institute.
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Urban policy and cultural commentary with City Journal editors, contributors, and special guests

Jul 11, 2018

Andrew Klavan joins Paul Beston on a special summertime edition of 10 Blocks to discuss faith, depression, and redemption—the focus of his memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ.

Klavan is an award-winning and bestselling author, Hollywood screenwriter, political commentator, and contributing editor for City Journal. But before his books became films starring Clint Eastwood and Michael Douglas, severe depression took him to the brink of suicide. 

Klavan credits reading Western literature​ as a crucial life-giving support; it eventually helped lead to his conversion to Christianity. His is a universal tale that all listeners can appreciate and enjoy.

Jul 4, 2018

Joel Kotkin joins Brian Anderson to discuss California’s economic performance since the Great Recession, the state’s worsening housing crunch, and the impending departure of Governor Jerry Brown, who will leave office in January. After serving four terms (nonconsecutively) since the late 1970s, Brown is one of the longest-serving governors in American history.

While California has seen tremendous growth during Brown’s tenure, the state has big problems: people are moving out in greater numbers than they’re moving in, job creation outside of Silicon Valley is stagnant, and the state’s housing costs are the highest in the country.

Read Joel Kotkin’s story, “Brownout,” in the Spring 2018 Issue of City Journal.

Jun 27, 2018

Nicole Gelinas joins Brian Anderson to discuss how cities with bike-sharing programs deal with theft and vandalism and how tech-based rental services like Airbnb are shaking up the housing market—and prompting new regulations.

Bike-sharing operators are pulling back their services as urban riders confront an old problem: nuisance crime. From Paris to Baltimore, vandalism of bikes is widespread. In San Francisco and Portland, protests against gentrification sometimes take the form of wholesale property destruction of bikes. By contrast, New York and London remain unaffected by large-scale disruptions of their bike-share programs.

In its 10 years of existence, Airbnb has transformed urban life, making it easier for travelers to book rooms on shortnotice. Yet the company has also aroused opposition, with dozens of cities around the world enacting laws to crack down on its operations over the last few years.

Read Nicole Gelinas’s story, “Cycle of Violence,” in the Spring 2018 Issue of City Journal.

Jun 20, 2018

Milton Ezrati joins Seth Barron to discuss President Trump’s talk of tariffs, China’s vulnerability in a potential trade war with the United States, and the history of the global trade order.

A tumultuous recent meeting of the G7 nations, trade disputes with Canada, and tariff threats against China all point to a shakeup of world trade. While the global economy would likely suffer in a trade war, Ezrati argues that the U.S. actually has the upper hand in trade negotiations with Beijing.

Milton Ezrati is a contributing editor at The National Interest, an affiliate of the Center for the Study of Human Capital at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), and chief economist for Vested, a New York-based communications firm. His latest book is Thirty Tomorrows: The Next Three Decades of Globalization, Demographics, and How We Will Live.

Jun 13, 2018

Heather Mac Donald joins Brian Anderson to discuss how universities and the scientific community are being pressured to alter the gender and racial balance in STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and math—and the implications for the American future.

For decades, multiculturalism, quotas, and identity politics have been pervasive in humanities departments at most major universities—but not in scientific fields. Now that’s changing, as the identity-politics obsession has penetrated STEM programs, and administrators, professors, and other officials attempt to increase the number of women and minorities in the field, by almost any means necessary. As Mac Donald writes, this pressure is “changing how science is taught and how scientific qualifications are evaluated. The results will be disastrous for scientific innovation and for American competitiveness.”

Read Heather Mac Donald’s essay, “How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences,” in the Spring 2018 Issue of City Journal.

Jun 6, 2018

Business leaders, educators, and nonprofit donors across the country are intensifying efforts to revamp career and technical education in the United States. Recently, City Journal convened a panel of experts to talk about how these efforts can be applied in American high schools.

Fixing America’s crisis of long-term, persistent joblessness will also require major upgrades to K-12 education, where big spending increases and centralization of control in Washington have delivered disappointing results.

The panel consisted of Kristin Kearns-Jordan, CEO of Urban Assembly charter schools; John Widlund, Executive Director of Career & Technical Education at the New York City Department of Education; and Steven Malanga, senior editor of City Journal and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. The discussion was moderated by Howard Husock.

May 30, 2018

Aaron Renn joins Seth Barron to discuss the divide between the country’s economically-booming metro areas and its depressed suburban/rural areas, commonly known as the “rust belt.”

A new report from the Empire Center released last month highlighted the disparity in job growth between “upstate” and “downstate” New York: of the 106,000 jobs created between April 2017 and April 2018, more than 85% of them were in the New York City metro area. Similar imbalances in urban-rural economic development can be found in states like California, Illinois, and many others.

Struggling towns across the country are attempting to revitalize their communities by following the examples of other regions that have successfully rebounded. However, lingering local issues and global economic realities make competing with elite coastal cities a near-impossible task.

May 23, 2018

Max Eden joins Seth Barron to discuss recent mass shootings in American high schools and how misguided approaches to school safety can play a role in some of these massacres.

In the aftermath of horrific shootings at high schools in Florida and Texas, the political debate has focused largely on the role of guns in American society. Mostly ignored is how school districts fail to take action on students with documented histories of threats, violence, or mental illness.

The school district in Broward County, Florida, for example, which includes Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, created the “Promise” program to counsel students who commit minor crimes, as an alternative to involving law enforcement. After repeated denials by school administrators, it was revealed that Nikolas Cruz, who shot and killed 17 people at the school, was previously assigned to the program, rather than being referred to authorities. But that’s just one example.

May 16, 2018

Howard Husock joins Seth Barron to discuss the Fair Housing Act, racial discrimination in residential neighborhoods, and efforts to reinvigorate the law today.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark legislation signed by President Lyndon Johnson aimed to end housing discrimination and residential segregation in America.

The Kerner Commission in 1968 stated that America was split into “two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” In response to the report and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. Half a century later, the nation is still debating whether the act’s promises were fulfilled.

May 9, 2018

Long-term, persistent joblessness is the great American domestic crisis of our generation. City Journal grappled with the problem in our 2017 special issue, “The Shape of Work to Come,” and our writers continue toexplore the topic.

Last week, City Journal convened a panel of experts to talk about the future of work. Audio from their discussion is featured in this episode of 10 Blocks.

The panel consisted of Ryan Avant, a senior editor and economics columnist at The EconomistEdward L. Glaeser, the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and contributing editor of City Journal; and Kay S. Hymowitz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal. The discussion was moderated by Steve LeVine, the Future Editor of Axios and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

May 2, 2018

Rafael Mangual and Seth Barron discuss plans to close the jail complex on Rikers Island, home to the vast majority of New York City’s inmate population, including some of the city’s worst offenders.

Violence on Rikers has spiked in recent years, despite a marked decline in the city’s inmate population. Last year, approximately 9,000 people were held on the island on an average day. According to the city’s own reporting, a larger share of inmates in Rikers are now “more violent and difficult to manage.”

The city is committed to closing Rikers and moving all inmates to county-based jails. Both critics and supporters of the plan agree that facilities on the island are outdated and dangerous—for prisoners and guards alike.

Rafael Mangual is the deputy director for legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.

Apr 18, 2018

Nicole Gelinas and Brian Anderson discuss recent disaster-relief efforts in the United States, the federal government’s role in such assistance, and how national flood insurance and other recovery programs could be reformed.

Since 2005, Washington has spent nearly $300 billion on disaster recovery, with state and local governments spending billions more. This figure doesn’t even include last year’s devastating storm season, which ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Federal and local authorities should concentrate the bulk of their spending on the infrastructure necessary to limit storm damage, and on immediate relief after storms have struck. Right now, however, the majority of disaster-relief expenditure goes toward repairing flooded properties after hurricanes—a task better left to the private sector.

Read Nicole Gelinas’s story, “Storm Surge,” in the Winter 2018 issue of City Journal.  

Apr 3, 2018

E.J. McMahon and Seth Barron discuss recent corruption cases in New York and how the state government in Albany is attempting to revitalize struggling areas with “economic-development” programs.

Last month, Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, was found guilty on corruption charges for accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from two companies. Percoco’s conviction reinforces the perception that New York politics operates on a “pay-to-play” model.

Allegations of bid-rigging and other corrupt practices have dogged Albany ever since Governor Cuomo launched his signature economic-development plan, which provides subsidies to private firms to operate businesses in the state. Despite these efforts, New York continues to lose residents to other states every year.

Edmund J. McMahon is founder and research director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, based in Albany. Follow him on Twitter @EjmEj.

Mar 21, 2018

Dennis Saffran and Seth Barron discuss New York City’s misguided family-reunification policies, which can have fatal consequences for children in distressed homes.

In the Summer 1997 Issue of City Journal, Saffran wrote an article entitled “Fatal Preservation,” which chronicled attempts by New York’s social-services agencies to keep children with their troubled and abusiveparents. The policy proved tragic for kids like six-year-old Elisa Izquierdo, killed at the hands of her crack-addicted mother in 1995. Elisa’s mother had regained custody of her daughter over the opposition of relatives and teachers. Too many other New York City children have met similar fates.

More than 20 years later, Saffran finds that, on balance, little has changed.  “Many in the social-work establishment, including officials in the administrations of New York City’s last two mayors . . . have remained hostile to [reforms] and committed to the old family-preservation orthodoxy.”

Dennis Saffran is a Queens-based appellate attorney, writer, and former GOP candidate for the New York City Council. He can be reached on Twitter @dennisjsaffran.

Mar 7, 2018

Heather Mac Donald and Frank Furedi discuss the hostility to free speech that has provoked disturbing incidents on campuses across the country and the ideology behind safe spaces, micro-aggressions, and trigger warnings. Their discussion, from a Manhattan Institute event held in June 2017, was moderated by City Journal contributing editor Howard Husock.

American universities are experiencing a profound cultural transformation. Student protests designed to shut downalternative opinions have become frequent and sometimes violent. Frank Furedi's What's Happened To The University? A Sociological Exploration of Its Infantilisation explores the origins of the anti-free speech climate at U.S. and U.K. universities.

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. She has written extensively about political correctness on campus and was a recent target of student protests at several colleges, where she had been invited to discuss her New York Times bestseller, The War on Cops.

Frank Furedi is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent. He has published articles in major newspapers in Europe and the United States and is the author of 17 books on topics including intellectual culture, parenting, education, and the politics of fear. Furedi is a frequent guest on British T.V. and radio.

Feb 21, 2018

Daniel DiSalvo joins Brian Anderson to discuss public-sector unions, freedom of speech, and the upcoming Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus next week. If the justices rule for the plaintiffs, employees of state and local governments across the country will be able to opt out of paying union fees. Public unions are often powerful political players, and a sharp drop in funding or membership could deal a heavy blow to their influence.

“The general result of public-sector unions’ outsize influence in politics over the last 30 years, especially at the state and local levels, is ever-larger and more expensive government,” writes DiSalvo in his City Journalarticle, “Judgment Day for Public Unions.”

Daniel DiSalvo is an associate professor of political science at the City College of New York, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and author of Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Feb 7, 2018

Amity Shlaes joins Seth Barron to discuss the competing goals of economic growth and income equality, and to take a look at how American presidents in the twentieth century have approached these issues.

Polls show that support for income redistribution is growing among younger generations of Americans, but such policies have a poor track record of achieving their goals. As Shlaes writes in her feature story in the Winter 2018 Issue of City Journal: “Prioritizing equality over markets and growth hurts markets and growth and, most important, the low earners for whom social-justice advocates claim to fight.”

Amity Shlaes chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and serves as presidential scholar at The King’s College. She is the author of Coolidge and The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.

Jan 24, 2018

John Tierney joins Seth Barron to discuss the Trump administration’s plans to reform how infrastructure projects are managed and funded.

Civil engineers and other experts (including here at City Journal) have warned for years that the country’s roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and rail lines are in serious need of repair. Thanks in part to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, infrastructure is now at the top of the national agenda.

But does the Trump administration actually have a workable strategy for infrastructure? John Tierney discusses the promise of the administration’s fresh approach, which breaks from past efforts in reducing Washington’s role. He wrote about the plan in his City Journal article, “Trump’s Infrastructure Opportunity.”

Tierney is a contributing editor of City Journal  and a contributing science columnist for the New York Times.

Jan 10, 2018

Max Eden joins Seth Barron to discuss student discipline and suspension policies, and how discipline “reform” has led to chaos in many classrooms.

In January 2014, in an attempt to reduce out-of-school suspensions, an Obama administration directive forced thousands of American schools to change their discipline policies. Proponents of the new discipline rules say that teachers and school administrators have been racially discriminatory in meting out punishments, creating a massive disparity in suspension rates between white and black students. Their claims, however, ignore the significant discrepancies in student behavior.

“We tend to see one of two things happen as suspensions drop: Schools get less safe or school administrators cheat,” wrote Max Eden at National Review Online, meaning that the schools separate disruptive students in ways that don’t technically count as “suspensions.”

Max Eden is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Dec 27, 2017

Nicole Gelinas joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss how New York City saved its subway system after decades of decay and rampant crime from the 1960s to the early-1990s.

This episode originally aired on October 20, 2016.

Nicole Gelinas is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a columnist at the New York Post. Her story “How Gotham Saved Its Subways” appeared in the Summer 2016 Issue of City Journal.

Dec 13, 2017

Nicole Gelinas joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the recent bombing at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and how the city is managing the streets in midtown Manhattan to handle not only gridlocked traffic but also the threat of vehicle-based terrorist attacks on pedestrians.

On Monday, December 11, New York City was stunned when a 27-year-old man from Bangladesh attempted to detonate an amateur pipe bomb during the morning rush-hour commute. The incident took place less than two months afteranother man intentionally drove his truck onto a lower Manhattan bike path, killing eight people.

Following a number of deadly vehicle-based attacks in Europe, large global cities have taken precautions to preventwould-be terrorists from running over pedestrians with motor vehicles. But in New York, measures taken by the NYPD and city transportation agencies have left many people wondering if the streets are any more secure than before.

Nicole Gelinas is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a columnist at theNew York Post.

Nov 29, 2017

Stephen Eide joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the New York Police Department's “crisis intervention team” (CIT), which trains police officers to respond to situations involving people with serious mental illnesses.

In 2016, NYPD officers responded to more than 400 calls a day concerning “emotionally disturbed persons,” some of whom are suffering major psychiatric episodes. Officers receiving CIT trainingare better prepared to de-escalate these encounters.

CIT training has become a priority for big-city police departments, but as Eide notes, even the best-trained force can’t compensate for declining mental health services.

Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an expert on public administration and urban policy. His story “CIT and Its Limits” (coauthored with Carolyn Gorman) appears in the Summer 2017 issue of City Journal.

Nov 15, 2017

City Journal managing editor Paul Beston joins Matthew Hennessey to discuss Paul’s new book, The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring.

For much of the twentieth century, boxing was one of the country’s most popular sports. Even long after the sport’s heyday, the men who dominated the ring still hold a place in American culture.

The Boxing Kings chronicles the history of the heavyweight championship in the United States, from 1882 to 2002, examining the lives and careers of 34 champions, with special emphasis on seven legends: John L. Sullivan, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson.

Paul Beston is managing editor of City Journal and author of the book, The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Rule the Ring.

Matthew Hennessey is associate op-ed editor at the Wall Street Journal and the author of Right Here, Right Now, to be published in 2018 by Encounter Books.

Nov 1, 2017

Judith Miller joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the most recent Islamic terrorist attack in New York City.

Shortly after 3:00 p.m. on Halloween, a 29-year-old man from Uzbekistan, Sayfullo Saipov, drove a rented pickup onto a Hudson River Park bike path in Lower Manhattan. Within ten minutes, eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured. NYPD officers responded quickly after the attack began, shooting Saipov in the abdomen before he could cause more mayhem. He is in police custody, and details from the incident are still emerging.

Judith Miller is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a City Journal contributing editor, a best-selling author, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter formerly with The New York Times.

Oct 18, 2017

Heather Mac Donald joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the dubious scientific and statistical bases of the trendy academic theory known as “implicit bias.” The implicit association test (IAT), first introduced in 1998, uses a computerized response-time test to measure an individual’s bias, particularly regarding race. 

Despite scientific challenges to the test’s validity, the implicit-bias idea has taken firm root in popular culture and in the media. Police forces and corporate HR departments are spending millions every year reeducating employees on how to recognize their presumptive hidden prejudices.

Heather discusses the problems with implicit bias, the impact that the concept is having on academia and in the corporate world, and the real reasons for racial disparities in educational achievement and income levels.

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and author of the New York Timesbestseller The War on CopsHer article in the Autumn 2017 issue of City Journal is entitled, “Are We All Unconscious Racists?

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