Tag Archives: Neighborhood Effects

Bob Nelson Speaking at Mercatus

On Wednesday, November 11, Robert Nelson will be speaking at Mercatus about the rise of sublocal governance. His talk is from 12:30 to 2 in room 121 of George Mason University’s Hazel Hall, 3301 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington and yes, lunch will be provided. Here’s the blurb:

Professor Nelson will discuss the growing importance of sublocal forms of governance. The rise of private community associations, in which 20 percent of Americans now live, is a leading example.  The spread of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) is another important case.  Sublocal governments can specialize and otherwise more effectively address urban problems that have defied the efforts of conventional city governments. Professor Nelson will explore what this means for city and urban governance and the provision of public goods at various levels of government.

We will livestream the event here at Neighborhood Effects, technology willing. Anyone in the Washington area is welcome to attend, ask questions, and meet your bloggers in person. Email Megan Mahan (mmahan /at/ gmu /dot/ edu) to register or call 703-993-4930.

New Study “Institutions Matter: Can New Jersey Reverse Course?”

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is releasing a new study, “Institutions Matter: Can New Jersey Reverse Course?”

Authored by myself and Mercatus colleage, Frederic Sautet, the paper examines the history of the public sector in New Jersey, including the relationships between the federal, state, and local governments, discussing how the loss of the “old time fiscal religion” has resulted in unmanageable budget deficits and a weakened state economy.

Years of spending growth, increasing mandates, and expanding use of intergovernmental aid and debt have inflated the size and cost of government, leading to dramatic increases in taxation at all levels. Leaving the state in the midst of the worst fiscal and economic crisis in its history.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. New Jersey FlagWe find that the state’s recovery hinges on reforming rules for taxing and spending — in short, re-establishing fiscal prudence, and reducing the size and scope of government.

Namely, we recommend the state government:

We will continue to follow the fiscal condition of the state in the coming year through the project’s website,  and our blog, Neighborhood Effects.  A pdf version of the study can be found here.

Local Solutions in New Orleans

Over at Worldchanging.com, Anisa Baldwin Metzger writes about how local rebuilding efforts are trumping big plans in post-Katrina New Orleans.

It’s no surprise that the volume of rebuilding activity is high: federal funds are pouring in for just this purpose. The surprise is how that volume is playing out, through small organizations who are daring enough to allow for experimentation and who know the value of strong partnerships. This network of non-profits and start-ups is taking on the daunting challenge of rebuilding while respecting the identity and character of a place so rich with history.

You might think, as I did, that what New Orleans really needs is a couple of large contractors dedicated to building back large swaths of the city, repairing what can be repaired and rebuilding what needs to be rebuilt. We want to get people back in safe, solid homes, and there is ample frustration at how long everything takes to get done in the city. On top of the issue of slowness, the reality is that large companies are usually better able to invest time in research and development and therefore to foster innovation. But it seems that the community of small players that has risen out of the recovery process is not only making residents and local business-owners feel more like a part of the rebuilding process but is also allowing support and room for growth within the building industry in a way that would not be possible in a larger-scale operation.

Metzger goes through her article without once using the word “entrepreneurship,” which is surprising considering that is exactly the phenomenon she is describing. It’s through the process of trial and error and experimentation that we discover what works. Big, top-down plans seldom work, especially in a situation like post-Katrina New Orleans. Harnessing local knowledge and the entrepreneurial spirit — both in the form of economic entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship — is critical to rebuilding. The people on the ground are really the leaders in rebuilding; after all, it’s their homes, neighborhoods, businesses, and churches at stake. Continue reading

Bob Nelson Guestblogging

I’m thrilled to announce that Robert H. Nelson, professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy and visiting senior scholar at the Mercatus Center, will be guestblogging on Neighborhood Effects through May.

Bob’s expertise are in the fields of local land use and zoning, economic ethics, and federal land policy. Most recently, he’s the author of Moving Past Kelo: A New Institution for Land Assembly — Collective Neighborhood Bargaining Associations in the Mercatus Policy Series and Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government, published in 2005 by the Urban Institute Press. Before becoming a professor at Maryland, Bob worked in the Office of the Secretary of the Interior between 1975 and 1993 and thus brings expertise as both a practitioner and a scholar. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.

I first became acquainted with Bob’s work in Addis Ababa in 2005 in the library of the Ethiopian Economics Association, where I picked up a copy of his 2001 book Economics As Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond and began skimming the introduction. Back in the US, I bought a copy and read it cover to cover. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable take on the role of economists within society, and one that’s especially relevant in light of the current financial crisis.

Bob, it’s a pleasure to have you on board. Welcome!

Welcome to Neighborhood Effects

Welcome to Neighborhood Effects, a new blog about American state and local economic policy and political economy issues. It is run by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Our goal of this blog is to offer timely news, insight, and analysis on state and local economic public policy issues in a broad sense of the phrase.  We hope it will be a useful resource to policy makers, journalists, citizen advocates, policy analysts, social scientists, and others with an interest or stake in state and local political economy. Moreover, we believe that it can play a role in a larger conversation about the relationship between the federal, state, and local governments; what’s working in state and local economic development; and the future of state and local governments in America.

In order to accomplish this, we plan to leave comments open. We do have a moderation policy but anticipate employing a very light touch. Your participation is not just welcomed, it’s encouraged.

And if there’s something you’d rather discuss offline, please feel free to get in touch with me at drothsch //at-sign// gmu \\dot\\ edu.