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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

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.

Feb 27, 2019

Ray Domanico joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss charter schools in New York City, the growing protests by education workers across the country, and Democrats' weakening support for charters.

In teachers' unions protests from West Virginia to California, activists claim that the growth of charters has come at the expense of district schools.

New York City's charter school students significantly outperform their state and local peers, and minority children from struggling families benefit most: over 80% of charter students are low-income, and 91% are African-American or Hispanic. But under current state law, only seven more charters can be created in the city before a mandatory cap on their number is met.

Feb 20, 2019

Daniel DiSalvo joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the impact of last year’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. ASFCME, in which the Court ruled that public-sector unions’ mandatory “agency fees” were unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

Unions provide an important source of financial support for politicians—primarily Democrats—around the country. In a new report for the Manhattan Institute, DiSalvo finds that blue states are taking steps to shield their public unions from the full consequences of the Janus ruling.

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 13, 2019

Glenn C. Loury of Brown University joined Jason Riley to discuss the persistence of racial inequality in America. Their conversation took place at a Manhattan Institute event in New York City entitled
"Barriers To Black Progress: Structural, Cultural, Or Both?"

Professor Loury, who has also taught at Harvard University and Boston University, is a professor of economics, with a focus on race and inequality. He's published several books, including The Anatomy of Racial Inequality and Race, Incarceration, and American Values.

Feb 6, 2019

Aaron Renn joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss how some big public universities are expanding their tech departments to major cities to maximize their economic impact—creating new political battles in their states.

A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal, Aaron Renn writes on economic development and urban policy in America. "The Tech Campus Moves Downtown," his article examining recent expansions of universities into city centers, appears in the Winter 2019 issue of City Journal.

Jan 30, 2019

James R. Copland joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss President Trump's impact on the federal courts, the appointment of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and the diversity in conservative judicial philosophy emerging today.

The director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute, where he is a senior fellow, James Copland has written and spoken widely on how to improve America's civil- and criminal-justice systems. "Toward a Less Dangerous Judicial Branch," his article (coauthored with Rafael A. Mangual) assessing Trump's court appointments, appears in the Winter 2019 issue of City Journal.

Jan 23, 2019

Milton Ezrati joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the Trump administration's trade negotiations with China and the "Green New Deal" proposed by newly elected Democrats in Congress, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Proponents of a Green New Deal claim that the plan will prevent damage from climate change. The scale of the proposal is massive: its goals include expanding renewable-energy sources until they provide 100 percent of the nation's power and eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions for industry and agriculture. To pay for it, Ocasio-Cortez recently suggested a 70 percent income-tax rate on top earners, which Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman described as "reasonable."

A March deadline is approaching for the Trump administration's trade negotiations with China. With officials preparing for the next round of talks in Washington, Ezrati discusses the implications for the American and global economies.

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.

Jan 16, 2019

Nicole Gelinas joins City Journal associate editor Seth Barron to discuss Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City address, his aspiration to run for president in 2020, and his attempts to position himself as a national progressive leader.

"There's plenty of money in the city—it's just in the wrong hands," de Blasio proclaimed in a speech loaded with tax-the-rich rhetoric. Since his first mayoral election in 2013, de Blasio has tried to position himself as a revolutionary. But in practice, Gelinas notes, he is "more old-school, big-city Democratic pragmatist than new-school, Democratic Socialist of America."

The Big Apple mayor took to national media outlets like Morning Joe and the Washington Post to unveil his latest proposals: a "universal" health-care plan for New Yorkers and a mandate that private employers give full-time workers two weeks' paid time off. Closer to home, though, nonpartisan reporting has exposed his failures: crumbling public housing, unaddressed challenges of homelessness and mental illness, transit dysfunction, and political corruption.

 
Jan 9, 2019

City Journal contributing editor Howard Husock joins associate editor Seth Barron to discuss problems at the New York City Housing Authority.

With some 400,000 residents, NYCHA is the nation's largest public housing system. In recent years, news reports have documented extensive corruption at the agency along with chronic problems at NYCHA properties, including heating outages, broken elevators, high lead-paint levels, and vermin.

These stories have put the agency under intense political pressure and renewed public interest in reform.Federal prosecutors launched an investigation into the environmental and health conditions at NYCHA in 2016. New York City could lose control over its own public housing: HUD secretary Ben Carson is expected to announce a decision in the next few weeks.

Jan 3, 2019

Christopher F. Rufo joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss an urban struggle with street homelessness and the political fight around it in the Pacific Northwest's largest city.

Known as the “Emerald City” because its surrounding areas are filled with greenery year-round, Seattle has recently seen an explosion of homelessness, crime, and drug addiction. Municipal cleanup crews pick up tens of thousands of dirty needles from the streets, and tent-villages have become a regular presence.

Seattle's political debate on the question has been maddening: city officials who propose practical solutions to remove individuals or encampments arouse fierce opposition from progressive activists. Ultimately, courageous political leadership will be needed if the city is to solve its homelessness crisis.

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