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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: 2019

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

Aug 21, 2019

Brian Riedl and Shai Akabas discuss the U.S. federal budget, budget negotiations, and why Congress hasn’t addressed the rising national debt—even as it gets worse.

The case for a “grand deal” on the budget has never been more evident: within a decade, annual budget deficits are projected to exceed $2 trillion. Entitlement programs are projected to drive trillions in new government debt over the next few decades. Yet increasing partisanship and political polarization—both in Washington and among voters—have significantly diminished the likelihood of bipartisan cooperation to avoid a fiscal calamity.

Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of a new report, Getting To Yes: A History Of Why Budget Negotiations Succeed, And Why They Fail. The report analyzes the past 40 years of successful and failed budget negotiations in Congress. Akabas is the director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Aug 14, 2019

James B. Meigs joins Seth Barron to discuss last month's power blackout in Manhattan, California's self-inflicted energy crisis, and potential energy sources for the future.

"As power outages go," Meigs writes, "the Broadway Blackout of 2019 was pretty modest." But energy reliability is becoming an issue in states across the country. California's largest power supplier, Meigs reports, recently announced that it will begin shutting down parts of the grid to help reduce the risk of wildfires.

Energy problems could get worse as states adopt strict mandates and replace today's power sources with unreliable green alternatives. The Broadway blackout and California's fire-prevention strategy illustrate the same reality: the nation's energy infrastructure is outdated, and upgrading it will require a huge investment.

Aug 7, 2019

Milton Ezrati joins Paul Beston to discuss escalating trade tensions between the United States and China.

The Trump administration announced new tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods last week, prompting China to order its state-owned businesses to stop purchasing U.S. agricultural products. Ezrati has written on U.S.-China trade issues for City Journal previously, and he maintains that both sides want a deal of some kind—and soon.

Jul 31, 2019

Steven Malanga and Rafael Mangual join Seth Barron to discuss concerns that lawlessness is returning to American cities, a theme that Malanga and Mangual explore in separate feature stories in the Summer 2019 Issue of City Journal.

Memories of the urban chaos and disorder of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s have faded, and many local leaders today have forgotten the lessons of that bygone era. Malanga's story, "The Cost of Bad Intentions" (available soon online), shows how a new generation of politicians are bringing back some of the terrible policies that got American cities into trouble in the first place. On crime and incarceration, Mangual argues that the new disorder will grow worse if progressives manage to overhaul the American criminal-justice system.

Jul 24, 2019

In an extended version of 10 Blocks, Brandon Fuller and Nolan Gray join Michael Hendrix to discuss the state of housing in America and the political coalition driving pro-development policies at the local level, known as YIMBY (“Yes In My Backyard”).

Construction of new housing isn't keeping up with demand in American cities. With leaders and residents eager for solutions to high housing costs, pro-development advocates are making their presence felt.

YIMBY policy solutions typically involve lowering or removing regulatory barriers to new housing, like parking minimums and height limits near transit stops. Cities such as Minneapolis, Portland, and San Diego have already taken steps in this direction. If these reforms prove successful, more cities may follow suit.

Jul 17, 2019

City Journal editor Brian Anderson joins Vanessa Mendoza, executive vice president of the Manhattan Institute, for our second annual discussion of Brian's summer and vacation reading list.

Summer is upon us, and the City Journal editors are ready for some vacation. We asked Brian to tell us what books he's taking with him to the beach this year and why.

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

Also discussed in the episode:

Jul 10, 2019

Ray Domanico joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza's controversial and divisive leadership of the nation's largest public school system. Domanico details Carranza's emphasis on ridding schools of purported racial bias in his recent essay for City Journal, "Richard Carranza’s Deflections."

Over the past four decades, with varying levels of success, Carranza's predecessors in the chancellor's job have launched numerous policies and programs aimed at better serving students. By contrast, Carranza has put forth no substantive plan for improving the schools, instead charging that the system is overrun by racial prejudice.

"This appeal to racial resentment is cynical and misguided," writes Domanico. Carranza seems to believe that reforming New York's public schools will require intensive racial-bias training and large budget increases. Instead, the chancellor and his team need to focus on the hard work of improving the schools academically.

Jul 2, 2019

Stephen Eide joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss how homeless services are putting pressure on one of New York City's most valued cultural institutions: the New York Public Library. Eide describes the situation in "Disorder in the Stacks," his story in the Spring 2019 Issue of City Journal.

Homelessness has been a challenge for every New York City mayor since the 1970s. Prior to the city's revitalization, the homeless were mostly concentrated in destitute neighborhoods of Manhattan. But today, homeless single adults are an increasingly visible presence in parks, subway stations, and libraries around the city.

"All urban library systems have found themselves in the homeless-services business, with varying degrees of enthusiasm," Eide writes. The New York Public Library spends $12 million annually on security, including training for staff in dealing with potentially threatening patrons. The city needs a comprehensive strategy for dealing with a worsening crisis.

 

Jun 26, 2019

Anthony Daniels (known to readers as Theodore Dalrymple) joins Brian Anderson to discuss Daniels’s quarter-century of writing for City Journal and his new book, False Positive: A Year of Error, Omission, and Political Correctness in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Theodore Dalrymple” first appeared in the pages of City Journal in 1994 with an aptly titled essay,The Knife Went In,” which recounted conversations he had had with violent felons during his time as a physician in a British inner-city hospital and prison. Since then, Daniels has written nearly 500 articles for City Journal. Selections of his essays have been compiled in the books Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (2001) and Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses (2005).

Daniels’s latest book, False Positive, brings a critical eye to one of the most important general medical journals in the world: The New England Journal of Medicine. Daniels exposes errors of reasoning and omissions apparently undetected by the Journal’s editors and shows how its pages have become mind-numbingly politically correct, with highly debatable arguments allowed to pass as if self-evidently true.

Jun 19, 2019

Nicole Gelinas and Howard Husock join Seth Barron to discuss New York's landmark rent-regulation law and its potential impact on housing in the city and state.

Lawmakers in New York recently passed the toughest rent-regulation law in a generation, imposing new restrictions on landlords' ability to increase rents, improve buildings, or evict tenants. The bill made permanent the state's existing rent regulations, meaning that future legislatures will find it harder to revisit the issue.

Housing experts like Husock argue that the new laws will discourage landlords from investing in building improvements, causing the housing stock to degrade statewide. And economists across the political spectrum, from Milton Friedman to Paul Krugman, have also maintained that rent regulation can be counterproductive and detrimental to housing quality.

Jun 12, 2019

James R. Copland joins Rafael Mangual to discuss how activist investors are turning corporate America’s annual shareholder-meeting process into a political circus.

Most of corporate America is wrapping up the 2019 "proxy season" this month—the period when most publicly traded companies hold their annual meetings. It's at these gatherings that shareholders can (either directly or by proxy) propose and vote on changes to the company. Since 2011, the Manhattan Institute has tracked these proposals on its Proxy Monitor website. This year's proxy season has followed a long-term trend: a small group of investors dominates the proceedings, introducing dozens of progressive-inspired proposals on issues ranging from climate change to diversity.

Copland has testified before Congress on the importance of reviewing the rules developed by the Securities and Exchange Commission governing the shareholder-proposal process. The Senate and SEC are considering changes to ensure that these proposals are relevant to business and fair to other shareholders.

Jun 5, 2019

Erica Sandberg joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the deteriorating state of public order in San Francisco.

The Bay Area's most densely populated and desirable neighborhoods are being destroyed by lawlessness and squalor. San Francisco now leads the nation in property crime, according to the FBI. "Other low-level offenses," Sandberg reports for City Journal, "including drug dealing, street harassment, encampments, indecent exposure, public intoxication, simple assault, and disorderly conduct are also rampant."

With the situation growing more dire, residents are organizing to demand that the city take action against repeat offenders and strengthen quality-of-life laws. It remains to be seen whether the city will change its approach to public safety. "Meantime," Sandberg writes, "the poor bear the brunt of low-level and property crimes."

May 29, 2019

Kay Hymowitz joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss a challenge facing aging populations in wealthy nations across the world: loneliness. Her essay in the Spring 2019 issue, "Alone," explores this subject.

"Americans are suffering from a bad case of loneliness," Hymowitz writes. "Foundering social trust, collapsing heartland communities, an opioid epidemic, and rising numbers of 'deaths of despair' suggest a profound, collective discontent."

Evidence of the loneliness epidemic is dramatic in other countries, too. Japan, for example, has seen a troubling rise in "lonely deaths." The challenge, Hymowitz says, is to teach younger generations the importance of family and community before they make decisions that will further isolate them.

May 22, 2019

Economist Allison Schrager joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss her new book, An Economist Walks Into A Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk.

Risk is a universal fact of life, but some of us manage more of it than others. Schrager examined how a broad cross section of people handle it: horse breeders in Kentucky, members of an elite tank unit during the Gulf War, paparazzi who stalk celebrities, prostitutes in Nevada brothels. She lays out five principles for dealing with risk and explains how financial tools can help guide people through uncertainty.

May 15, 2019

Charles McElwee joins Seth Barron to discuss the decline of the Catholic Church in the Rust Belt and the impact of immigration on a working-class community in Pennsylvania.

The Catholic Church faces a crisis in an area that remains disproportionately Catholic. In 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed how clergy covered up the abuse of children by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years. Congregations continue to shrink, deepening the region’s fragmentation and leaving a hole in its community life.

McElwee has just joined City Journal as assistant editor. His writing has appeared in The AtlanticThe American ConservativeNational Review Online, The Weekly Standard, and other publications.

May 8, 2019

Myron Magnet joins Brian Anderson to discuss his new book, Clarence Thomas and the Lost Constitution.

Magnet contends that Justice Thomas's originalist jurisprudence offers a path forward for recovering our nation's "lost Constitution" and restoring America as a free, self-governing nation made up of self-reliant citizens.

Author of The Founders at Home: The Building of America, 1735-1817 and other books, Magnet was City Journal's editor from 1994 through 2006 and is now editor-at-large.

Apr 30, 2019

Urbanist Alain Bertaud joins Michael Hendrix to discuss how urban planners and economists can improve city management.

Bertaud's book Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities argues that markets provide the indispensable mechanism for cities' growth. The book is a summation of what Bertaud has learned in a lifetime spent as an urban planner, including a stint at the World Bank, where he advised local and national governments on urban-development policies.

Previously, Bertaud worked as a resident urban planner in a number of cities around the world: Bangkok, San Salvador, Port Au Prince, Sana'a, New York, Paris, Tlemcen, and Chandigarh. He is currently a senior research scholar at New York University's Marron Institute of Urban Management.

Apr 24, 2019

At the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, Professor Jacob Howland writes in City Journal, "a new administration has turned a once-vibrant academic institution with a $1.1 billion endowment and a national reputation in core liberal arts subjects into a glorified trade school with a social-justice agenda." Speaking with Seth Barron, Howland describes how, in early April, TU's new administration announced a wholesale reorganization of academic departments, including the elimination of traditional liberal arts majors. Students and faculty have responded by organizing protests and launching a petition to "save the heart and soul of the University of Tulsa."

Apr 17, 2019

Nicole Gelinas and Aaron Renn join Seth Barron to discuss recent developments in New York and Chicago.

In the first week of April, both cities marked milestones: Manhattan got the nation's first congestion-pricing plan, courtesy of the state legislature, while Chicago elected its first black woman as mayor.

New York City's transit system badly needs improvement, but Gelinas argues that this congestion-pricing plan is effectively a state money grab. Meantime, Mayor-Elect Lori Lightfoot is a political outsider, but Renn writes that she has an opportunity to change the "Chicago Way" of doing business.

Apr 10, 2019

Joel Kotkin joins Seth Barron to discuss China's urbanization, class tensions in Chinese cities, and the country's increasingly sophisticated population surveillance.

Rapid migration from China's countryside to its cities began in 1980. Many of the rural migrants arrived without hukou, or residential permits, making it harder to secure access to education, health care, and other services. The result: the creation of a massive urban underclass in many Chinese cities. Rising tensions in urban areas has led Chinese officials to look to technology for alternative methods of social control, ranging from facial-recognition systems to artificial intelligence.

Apr 3, 2019

Steven Malanga joins Seth Barron to discuss expanding efforts to legalize recreational marijuana use, a movement helped along by extensive misinformation about the drug's supposed health benefits.

This year, at least eight states are debating laws that would permit recreational pot. Marijuana advocates claim that the drug is therapeutic and that legalizing it will end the unjust imprisonment of casual users, especially in minority communities. But as Malanga writes in City Journal, "Even as the legalization push gains momentum, scientific journals report mounting evidence of the drug's harmful psychological effects and social consequences."

Mar 27, 2019

Rafael Mangual joins Seth Barron to discuss the disturbing leftward trend among urban prosecutors in major cities and the consequences of undoing the crime-fighting revolution of the 1990s.

In recent years, cities like Philadelphia and Chicago have elected district attorneys dedicated to the principles of social-justice and the goal of "dismantling mass incarceration." The shift away from proactive law enforcement has opened a rift between police and local prosecutors and points to more trouble ahead for many cities.

Mar 20, 2019

City Journal contributing editor Howard Husock joins associate editor Seth Barron to discuss the Manhattan Institute's Civil Society Awards, which recognize outstanding nonprofit leaders who develop solutions to social problems in their communities.

History has shown that free markets are the best way to organize economic activity, but a healthy society relies on charitable and philanthropic enterprises to help those in need and prepare citizens to realize their potential. To support these goals, the Manhattan Institute established the Social Entrepreneurship initiative in 2001, now known as the Tocqueville Project.

At its 2019 Civil Society Awards in New York, the Manhattan Institute will honor four outstanding nonprofits with gifts of $25,000 each. Until March 27, you can submit your nominations here.

Mar 13, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow and award-winning historian Victor Davis Hanson joins the Manhattan Institute's Troy Senik to discuss the presidency of Donald Trump and Hanson's new book, The Case for Trump.

Hanson argues that our 45th president alone has the instinct and energy to upset the balance of American politics. "We could not survive a series of presidencies as volatile as Trump's," he writes, "but after decades of drift, America needs the outsider Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do."

Mar 6, 2019

James B. Meigs joins City Journal senior editor Steven Malanga to discuss the limitations of renewable energy and the need to expand nuclear technology as a source of clean and reliable electricity.

For nearly four decades, environmental activists have opposed nuclear power in favor of "green" energy. But as Meigs writes in the Winter 2019 Issue of City Journal, "nuclear power is finding new pockets of support around the world."

Meigs is the former editor of Popular Mechanics and cohost of the How Do We Fix It? podcast.

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