Steven Malanga and Brian Anderson discuss how the economic shock resulting from the coronavirus—the closing of large sections of the American economy, the plunge of stock markets—is likely to undermine state and local budgets around the country.

Even as states are searching for extra funds to help battle Covid-19, the loss of tax revenue during the crisis will be devastating. “States that rely on meetings, conventions, and tourism, or that derive substantial economic growth from energy production, or that depend on big gains in the financial markets from wealthy individuals, will be among the biggest losers unless the economy turns around fast,” Malanga writes.

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Physician Joel Zinberg joins Brian Anderson to discuss the global coronavirus epidemic, public-health efforts to contain the virus’s spread, America’s medical supply-chain vulnerabilities, and more.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, have been identified in more than half of U.S. states. Globally, the number of coronavirus cases exceeds 100,000. “The New York experience to date suggests,” writes Zinberg, “that the disruptions this new virus causes—particularly to the availability of medical care, for any condition—may be more dangerous than the illness that it causes.”

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John Tierney joins Brian Anderson to discuss the campaign to ban the use of plastic products and the flawed logic behind the recycling movement—the subjects of Tierney’s story, “The Perverse Panic over Plastic,” from the Winter 2020 Issue of City Journal.

Hundreds of cities and eight states have outlawed or regulated single-use plastic bags. But according to Tierney, the plastic panic doesn’t make sense. Plastic bags are the best environmental choice at the supermarket, not the worst, and cities that built expensive recycling programs—in the hopes of turning a profit on recycled products—have instead paid extra to get rid of their plastic waste, mostly by shipping it to Asian countries with low labor costs. However, the bans will likely continue as political leaders and private companies seek a renewed sense of moral superiority.

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Christopher Rufo joins Brian Anderson to discuss drug addiction and homelessness in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Skid Row, the subject of Rufo’s story from the Winter 2020 Issue of City Journal, “The Moral Crisis of Skid Row.”

“They call Los Angeles the City of Angels,” writes Rufo, “but it seems that even here, within the five-by-ten-block area of Skid Row, the city contains an entire cosmology—angels and demons, sinners and saints, plagues and treatments.” To address the growing public-health crisis, progressive activists and political leaders have relied on two major policies: “harm reduction” and “housing first.” But despite nearly $1 billion in new spending, more people are on the streets than ever—and the crime and addiction are getting worse.

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Mark Mills joins Brian Anderson to discuss the enormous energy demands of the world’s modern information infrastructure—“the Cloud”—the subject of his new book, Digital Cathedrals.

“Tech companies confront an inconvenient fact,” writes Mills. “The global cloud uses more energy than is produced by all the planet’s wind and solar farms combined.” In fact, digital traffic has become the fastest-growing source of energy use. While nearly every tech company has pledged to transition to renewable energy sources, most data centers are physically connected to the conventional power grid, fueled by hydrocarbons. The modern economy won’t be exclusively powered by renewables any time soon.

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Allison Schrager joins Brian Anderson to discuss how risk propels economic growth and why government efforts that go too far to mitigate risk undermine America’s economic vitality.

“Risk, for better and worse,” writes Schrager for City Journal, “is at the heart of economic growth, and successfully apportioning it—not avoiding it—is the key to prosperity.” While government has a role to play in managing risk, the U.S. economy has thrived by trusting markets to allocate it efficiently. Overly intrusive efforts to reduce risk in the economy—such as California’s new law regulating freelance or “gig” work—may prove counterproductive to workers of all incomes.

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Steven Malanga joins Seth Barron to discuss efforts to restrict dollar stores in cities across the country—the subject of Malanga’s popular story for City Journal, “Unjust Deserts.”

For nearly 20 years, “food deserts”—neighborhoods without supermarkets—have captured the attention of public officials, activists, and the media, who often blame the situation on dollar-discount stores in these areas. These stores, it’s claimed, drive out supermarkets with their low prices and saturate poor neighborhoods with junk food. But are dollar stores really to blame for bad diets?

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Manhattan Institute’s Michael Hendrix interviews Mayer Brown partner Andrew Pincus, the lead attorney in a lawsuit taking on New York State’s sweeping rent-regulation laws.

In 2019, New York strengthened its already-strict rent regulations, while state legislatures in Oregon and California approved caps on rent increases. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders have even proposed national rent-control policies. Pincus explains what’s wrong with rent control, from violating due process and property rights to shutting out newcomers attempting to find housing in cities.

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Naomi Schaefer Riley joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the state of the American child-welfare services, and describes and what some nonprofits are doing to improve foster care across the country.

Nationally, Riley notes in City Journal, about 444,000 children are in foster-care. And in many states, “officials report a severe shortage of families to take in these children.” On top of that, disturbing incidents like the death of Zymere Perkins in New York highlight the failure of local child-welfare services to intervene in the face of clear evidence of abuse.

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Merry Christmas from the editors of City Journal. In another special episode of 10 Blocks, editor Brian Anderson extends his best wishes to all our listeners during the holiday season, reflects on a year of terrific guests, and more.

If you’re interested in supporting the Manhattan Institute and City Journal, please visit our website.

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In a special holiday edition of 10 Blocks, Timothy Goeglein joins City Journal assistant editor Charles McElwee to discuss how people of faith can help renew American society—themes explored in his new book, American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation.

Coauthored with Craig Osten, American Restoration calls for a revival of spiritual values in America and offers a roadmap for people of faith to engage with our modern culture—especially at the local level.

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Amity Shlaes discusses the economic history of the 1960s and the efforts of Presidents Johnson and Nixon to eradicate poverty—the subjects of her just-published book, Great Society: A New History.

The 1960s were a momentous period, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War, but Shlaes’s book focuses on the incredibly ambitious government programs of the era, which expanded the social safety net beyond anything contemplated before. Overall, the Great Society programs, Shlaes writes, came “close enough to socialism to cause economic tragedy.” Great Society is a powerful follow-up to her earlier book, The Forgotten Man, about the Great Depression and the 1930s.

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Seth Barron talks with four City Journal contributors—Rafael MangualEric KoberRay Domanico, and Steven Malanga—about former New York City mayor and now presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s record on crime, education, economic development, and more.

After years of teasing a presidential run, Bloomberg has entered the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Just a week before his official announcement, he made headlines by reversing his long-standing support of controversial policing practices in New York—commonly known as “stop and frisk.” Bloomberg’s record on crime will factor heavily in his campaign, but his 12 years as mayor were eventful in numerous other policy areas.

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Howard Husock interviews four remarkable leaders of nonprofit groups who were recently honored as part of Manhattan Institute’s Civil Society Awards and Civil Society Fellows Program.

Manhattan Institute and City Journal have long sought to support and encourage civil-society organizations and leaders who, with the help of volunteers and private philanthropy, do so much to help communities address serious social problems. In this edition of the 10 Blocks podcast, Husock speaks with:

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Charles Marohn joins Michael Hendrix to discuss why the current approach to suburban development isn’t working—the subject of his new book, Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity.

“Strong Towns,” notes Aaron Renn in his review of the book for City Journal, “resulted from [Marohn’s] discovery that the highway projects he designed showed a negative return on investment.” Marohn has dedicated his career to helping the country’s older suburbs avoid such costly mistakes by founding the book’s namesake organization, Strong Towns. “Whether or not one agrees with his many observations and prescriptions,” Renn writes, “Marohn provides a valuable analysis of sprawl-based development.”

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Kay S. Hymowitz joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss Pennsylvania’s Williamson College of the Trades, a three-year school for young men offering a debt-free path to high-paying work—and the life skills to help them get there.

“Trade schools” have long had a stigma in American culture, but Williamson is no ordinary trade school: students wake up early to the sound of reveille and attend academic classes in coats and ties. As Hymowitz writes in City Journal’s autumn issue, “With its old-timey rituals, rigorous scheduling, and immersive culture, Williamson has a military-school feel.” But according to the students she interviewed, the prospect of a good-paying career makes the strict rules more than worth it.

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Music critic and historian Ted Gioia joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the 4,000-year history of music as a global source of power, change, and upheaval—topics explored in his new book, Music: A Subversive History.

The music business is a $10 billion industry today. But according to Gioia, innovative songs have always come from outsiders—the poor, the unruly, and the marginalized. The culmination of his decades of writing about music, Gioia’s new book is a celebration of the social outcasts who continue to define this art form.

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Stian Westlake joins City Journal editor Brian Anderson to discuss the future of productivity and how institutions and policymakers can adapt to the new “intangible” economy.

Throughout history, as documented in the book Capitalism Without Capital by Westlake and coauthor Jonathan Haskel, firms have invested in physical goods like machines and computers. As society has grown richer, companies have invested increasingly in “intangible” assets: research and development, branding, organizational development, and software. Today’s challenge is to build the institutions and enact the policies that will maximize the new economy’s potential.

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Rafael A. Mangual joins Seth Barron to discuss New York City’s plan to replace the jail complex on Rikers Island with four borough-based jails and what it could mean for public order in the city.

New York City jails currently house a daily average of about 8,000 people, in a city of 8 million residents. Under the new plan, the borough-based jails (once constructed) will be able to house 3,300 people—less than half the city’s average daily jail population today. As Barron writes, the new target “will likely require a significant realignment of expectations about public safety.”

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Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, joins City Journal contributing editor Nicole Gelinas to discuss the state of U.S. infrastructure and how federal spending could be used more effectively to improve safety and reduce fiscal waste.

The federal government spends between $40 billion and $60 billion on transportation infrastructure annually. In recent years, congressional leaders and the White House have pushed a $2 trillion plan to upgrade roads, bridges, and more. But such proposals, Osborne argues, “would throw more money into the same flawed system.”

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