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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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Now displaying: 2018

Urban policy and cultural commentary with City Journal editors, contributors, and special guests

Sep 19, 2018

Robert Poole joins City Journal contributing editor Nicole Gelinas to discuss Poole’s new book, Rethinking America's Highways: a 21st-Century Vision for Better Infrastructure.

Americans spend untold hours every year sitting in traffic. And despite billions of taxpayer dollars spent by transportation agencies, our nation's roads, tunnels, guardrails, and bridges are in serious disrepair. According to transportation expert Poole, traffic jams and infrastructure deterioration are inevitable outcomes of American infrastructure policymaking, which is overly politicized and prone to short-term thinking.

Robert Poole, an MIT-trained engineer, is co-founder and director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, where he has advised numerous federal and state transportation agencies.

Sep 12, 2018

Edward L. Glaeser addresses the challenges of convincing skeptical millennials and younger Americans about the merits of capitalism in the Manhattan Institute's 2018 James Q. Wilson lecture.

Young people in the United States are moving steadily to the left. A recent Harvard University poll found that 51 percent of Americans between ages 18 and 29 don't support capitalism. The trend is visible on the ground, too. Phenomena driven largely by millennials—such as Occupy Wall Street, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, and, more recently, the wave of Democratic Socialist candidates for state and federal office--are all signs of an intellectual shift among the young.

Video of this lecture can be found at the Manhattan Institute website.

Edward L. Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University (where he has taught since 1992), a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of City Journal.

Sep 6, 2018

Aaron Renn and Rafael Mangual join City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's legacy, the Windy City's ongoing homicide epidemic, and its severely underfunded public pensions.

Chicago's energetic leader shocked the political world this week when he announced that he would not seek a third term as mayor. Emanuel leaves behind a mixed record: he enjoyed some successes, but he largely failed to grapple with the city's two biggest problems: finances and violent crime.

Aaron Renn is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Rafael Mangual is the deputy director for legal policy at the Manhattan Institute.

Aug 29, 2018

John Tierney joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the "First-Year Experience," a widely adopted program for college freshmen that indoctrinates students in radicalism, identity politics, and victimology.

The First-Year Experience (FYE) began as a response to the campus unrest of the 1960s and 1970s to teach students to "love their university" with a semester-long course for freshmen. However FYE programs at most schools today are largely designed by left-wing college administrators, not professors, to sermonize about subjects like social justice, environmental sustainability, gender pronouns, and microaggressions.

While freshmen could undoubtedly benefit from an introductory course to learn basic skills for college, why do they so often get a mix of trivia and social activism instead of something useful academically? Tierney traveled to the FYE annual conference in San Antonio earlier this year to find out.

Aug 22, 2018

Matthew Hennessey joins City Journal managing editor Paul Beston to discuss Matthew’s new book, Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials.

More than a decade after the introduction of social media, it’s evident that Silicon Valley’s youth-obsessed culture has more drawbacks—from violations of privacy to deteriorating attention spans—than many of us first realized. For many millennials, though, who grew up with the Internet, there’s nothing to worry about. And to hear the media tell it, this tech-savvy generation, the largest in American history, is poised to take leadership from the retiring baby boomers.

But a smaller generational cohort is overlooked in the equation: Generation X, those born, roughly, between 1965 and 1980, and destined to play the middle child between the headline-grabbing boomers and the hotshot millennials. Smaller demographically, they are reaching the age of traditional leadership, and they grew up in a less tech-dominated time. Matthew calls on America’s “last adult generation” to assert itselfbefore losing its chance to influence the direction of the country.

“America stands anxiously on the cusp of an unknown future,” Matthew writes. “Unlike the baby boomers, Generation X’s race is not yet run. Unlike the millennials, we remember what life was like before the Internet invaded and conquered nearly everything. In that memory resides the hope of our collective redemption, the seed of a renewal that could stem the rot, decay, erosion, and collapse all around us.”

Matthew Hennessey is an associate editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal and former associate editor of City Journal.

Aug 15, 2018

Judith Miller joins City Journal managing editor Paul Beston to discuss the life of Michael A. Sheehan, who passed away last month at age 63.

A 40-year veteran of the U.S. counterterrorism community, Sheehan served as a top official for the State Department, the Pentagon, and the New York Police Department. As a military officer on the National Security Council staff for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, he urged officials to place greater priority on the growing threat of militant Islamist groups, especially al-Qaida.

Later in his career, Sheehan focused on non-Islamist challenges to American peace and security. He warned that overreacting to terrorist threats had adverse consequences—including stoking Islamophobia that couldalienate Muslim-American communities, making them less likely to provide tips that had helped thwart and disrupt numerous plots.

Aug 7, 2018

City Journal editor Brian Anderson joins Vanessa Mendoza, executive vice president of the Manhattan Institute, to discuss Brian's summer and vacation reading list.

Summer is traditionally a time when Americans can catch up on books that they've been meaning to read (or reread). We asked Brian to talk about what books are on his list this year, how he decides what to read, and more.

Check out Brian's summer reading list, in the order discussed:

Aug 1, 2018

Former NYPD and LAPD commissioner William J. Bratton joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Bratton's 40-plus-year career in law enforcement, the lessons learned in New York and Los Angeles, and the challenges facing American police. 

Bratton began his career in Boston, where he joined the police department in 1970 after serving three years in the U.S. Army's Military Police during the Vietnam War. He was named chief of the New York City Transit Police in 1990, where he oversaw dramatic crime reductions in the subway system. In 1994, newly elected mayor Rudy Giuliani appointed Bratton commissioner of the NYPD. From 2002 to 2009, Bratton served as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. In 2014, he was again named New York City Police Commissioner by Mayor Bill de Blasio, before stepping down in 2016.

In the Summer 2018 Issue of City Journal, Bratton and coauthor Jon Murad (a former assistant commissioner and uniformed NYPD officer) write about Bratton's second tour as commissioner in New York and the model that they have developed--"precision policing"--that could lead to a new era of public safety and better police-community relations.

Jul 25, 2018

Steven Malanga joins Seth Barron to discuss the dismal economic and fiscal health of New Jersey, where individual and corporate taxes are among the highest in the country and business confidence ranks among the lowest of the 50 states. Jersey also has one of America's worst-funded government-worker pension systems, which led its leaders in 2017 to divert state-lottery proceeds intended for K-12 and higher education to its pension system.

When Governor Phil Murphy wanted to boost taxes on individuals earning more than $1 million, he claimed that they needed to pay their "fair share." Murphy signed a budget hiking taxes by about $440 million. But as the recent controversy surrounding a soccer team owned by the governor reminds us, it's easy to show compassion when youre using other people's money.

Jul 18, 2018

Nicole Gelinas joins Seth Barron to discuss her research on New York subway ridership, the future of the city's subways, and the decriminalization of fare-jumping, a reversal of a critical policing strategy that helped fight crime.

Subway ridership in New York has nearly doubled since 1977, but it's not tourists packing the trains: it's city residents. And New York's poorest neighborhoods have seen the biggest growth in annual ridership over the last 30 years.

The subway's future looks uncertain, though. Decades of storm damage, insufficient maintenance, and inadequate system upgrades have led to mounting delays and declining reliability. If city leadership doesn't address the crisis, New York's poorest residents will be most affected.

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.

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