Serena

Last week, I was sorry to finish reading a stunning book The Sellout, by Paul Beatty. It’s an expertly cutting satire on contemporary American racism, following the life of a black man in LA and his attempt to revive his suddenly erased-from-the-map town, in part by re-instituting segregation. (Yes, you read that right.) Not to be missed.

Kristin

Why women should vote for women. Ready to vote? Luckily, Hillary is not the only woman running for office this year. (Side note: I can’t help but notice that all three of the women pictured are wearing pearl necklaces, which makes me think of my law school’s admonition that women must wear pearls to their law firm interviews. That sounded classist and outdated to me, but apparently it is a real-world requirement for women in 2016.)

Why is the US tax code so complex? The financial elites made it that way, to their benefit and to the detriment of the middle-class.

If everyone “earned” their money, we would have fewer—maybe even no—billionaires. Tips for making “unearned” money and becoming billionaires: 1) inherit money; 2) find a market where you have little competition and can therefore overcharge and make excess profit; 3) find a “rent-seeking” opportunity where you can use lobbying power to get government subsidies or exclusive license to capture wealth produced by others. Don’t take that economist’s word for it; ask billionaire Peter Thiel. His big advice for budding “entrepreneurs” is to create a monopoly so you can overcharge captive customers and not have to innovate or improve your product or service. Seriously. His words: “if you can corner the market for something, you can jack up the price; others will have no choice but to buy from you.”

Perhaps the Trump phenomenon is about more than racism or authoritarianism. Perhaps it is about blue-collar Americans getting the short end of the stick for decades and having no where else to turn.

Dan

For years San Francisco has been the nation’s poster child for the urban housing affordability crisis, a city whose astronomically-priced fate policymakers from other cities far and wide are striving to avoid. But watch out, SF, your mega-neighbor to the south, Los Angeles, may start stealing your thunder:

The Los Angeles-Santa Ana-Long Beach Metro Area is now, by one measure, the most expensive big-city region in the country in which to buy a home; the average home price is nine times the average income.

[Last year] there were fewer permits per capita in Los Angeles than in San Francisco.

Plus the scale of LA’s housing shortage is totally off the charts:

Over the last three decades, the state would have needed to build millions more new homes — including more than a million in Los Angeles County alone — to keep housing prices in line with the rest of the country.

On top of that, LA is facing the prospect of the so-called Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, whose anti-growth backers hope to put it on the March 2017 ballot. This I op-ed nails it:

Its provisions leave little doubt that their effect would be to thwart urban growth, not to help the poor. Given their druthers, Trump supporters would wall off America to immigrants who could take “their” jobs. This initiative would in effect wall off this city from newcomers on behalf of homeowners who don’t want more traffic on “their” streets.

  • I love quaint bungalows as much as the next guy. But aesthetic preferences are less important than creating viable homes for working people. Disagree? I’ll bet you’re already a homeowner.

    Meanwhile, back in San Francisco, Supervisor Mark Farrell announced one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a long time for unearthing the root causes of high housing prices, calling for the city’s Chief Economist to produce an economic impact report on San Francisco’s zoning:

    Overly restrictive zoning and land-use regulations not only impact us here locally, but also impact the region and nation in terms of economic inequality and opportunity. We need to strike a balance between protecting our neighborhood diversity in San Francisco and policies which promote sustainable, long-term growth.

    Hear that, LA? Hear that, Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver?