Tag Archives: American Dream

Boom towns and bust policies

Stephen Walters, Professor of Economics at Loyola University Maryland, has written a new book called Boom Towns. I’ve written a review for the Library of Law and Liberty. Here is the beginning:

Capital, in the 21st century, has a bad rap. Many say that because it is the source of “passive income,” it does nothing but pad the pockets of the idle rich, driving a wedge between the haves and the have-nots. It’s helpful, then, to be reminded that capital in all its forms is the source of human betterment. Capital is the accumulated stock of stuff (financial assets, physical equipment, human knowhow, even social connections) that helps us make and do more stuff. So policies that drain capital from a community or discourage its formation in the first place are likely to leave a trail of destruction. This is the central lesson of Stephen J.K. Walters’ Boom Towns: Restoring the Urban American Dream.

Here is another excerpt:

In some cases, reformers’ cures for urban decay have been worse than the disease. Title I of the Housing Act of 1949 is a case in point. It made federal dollars available to cities that bulldozed property in blighted areas and turned it over to private developers. While earlier reforms had sought to replace tenements with public housing, Title I allowed funds to be used for “shiny new office towers, upscale apartments, convention centers, or hotels.” By 1967, some 400,000 housing units had been razed, but only 10,760 low-rent dwellings had been built to replace them. The result was “an intra-urban diaspora” as about two million, mostly Black, residents were displaced. Though it is impossible to quantify precisely, Walters rightly emphasizes the significance of this unfathomable loss in social capital as people were driven from the communities that had sustained them for generations.

After I wrote this, a friend pointed me to this moving Reason video, written and produced by Jim Epstein and narrated by Nick Gillespie:

State of the State in Ohio

Ohio’s Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions recently released their new State of the State report. From the press release:

In nineteen years, Ohio’s job market only created a net 176,100 new jobs, or just over 9,000 jobs per year. That weak job growth means limited opportunities for you, your family, and your friends. Limited opportunity makes it hard for you to get ahead and attain the American Dream.

As the job market weakened, the taxes and fees you pay to government at all levels rose making your state and local tax burden the 7th highest in the United States. The tax climate for businesses in Ohio is the 47th worst in America.

[…]

The only way to spur robust job creation and lower our taxes is to eliminate Ohio’s anti-business job policies and to reduce the cost of government. These actions will not be easy but failure to make fundamental reforms will render Ohio even less competitive with other states in both job creation and taxes.

The executive summary adds:

If Ohio wants a vibrant job market, our elected officials must stop nibbling on the margins and put in place policies that allow businesses of all sizes and industries to grow and create jobs. By making hard choices that defang entrenched interests, our government can send a clear message that unequivocally tells Ohioans and the business community across America that Ohio is a place where businesses and their employees will face low tax burdens and effective, cost-contained government.

Click here to download the entire 11.6 MB PDF file.