Original Reporting

Original Reporting | By Craig Gurian | Corporate influence, Taxes
For all the talk of "civil justice reform" and the need to curb rampant litigiousness in the U.S., there hasn’t been a peep about an important benefit to one class of litigants that is deeply baked into the current system. Unlike individuals who have to bear their own litigation costs in all cases where they lose and in almost all categories of cases even where they win, the tax code provides that businesses may deduct all of their legal expenses (for lawyer and expert fees, and for discovery costs) in all cases — win or lose, meritorious or non-meritorious, plaintiff or defendant. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Economy, Education
While often presented to students as if the principles of neoclassical economics were “divinely ordained,” critics say that even the most basic assumptions of neoclassical economics are strongly biased toward individualism and support of free markets. That students are not taught to recognize these biases has raised concerns that the students may be unconsciously internalizing those value judgments. “If you don’t see the [current economic crisis] as evidence that something needs to be changed in economics, you’re not paying attention,” said David Ruccio, an economist at the University of Notre Dame. “That leads to questions about why we’re teaching our students the same old thing.” Part 2 in Remapping Debate’s new series on undergraduate economics education. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Economy, Education
Undergraduate economic education in the United States has long been dominated by one school of thought ⎯ neoclassical economics. This is the same school many blame for the policies that caused the financial crisis. Meanwhile, other perspectives continue to be pushed aside, reinforcing calls for pluralism and diversity in the economics curriculum, which many say is crucial to encourage students to think critically about the economy and the world around them. “These students are adults,” said Frederic Lee, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. “They can fight wars for us, have children, vote, but they’re not allowed to be introduced to alternative viewpoints.” Part 1 in Remapping Debate's new series on undergraduate economics education. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Urban Policy
What if success for Detroit were no longer defined as avoiding bankruptcy or a takeover by a state-appointed emergency manager? What if there were a way for Detroit to do better than, as one local official put it, “limp along for the next 10 or 20 years”? As it happens, there do appear to be approaches available that could yield a thriving city and region. But experts stress that those approaches would require policy makers at all levels of government to put aside rigid, one-dimensional narratives of causes for the city's decline, and to reckon with sharing the huge cost of a reconstruction program done right. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Corporate influence, Globalization, Labor
In attempting to promote “insourcing” by American companies, the Obama Administration has embraced the report of a private consulting firm that asserts that gains in “competitiveness” can only be maintained with policies that have yielded lower wages and weak unions. The President praised business leaders who have brought jobs home for their patriotism, but experts suggested that businesses were simply looking at their bottom line. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | History, Race, Urban Policy
The failure to establish effective regional policy in the Detroit metro area can primarily be attributed to a long history of racial antagonism between the city and its many suburbs. Suburban residents — overwhelmingly white — viewed any attempts at regionalism as an effort to “steal” their tax dollars to subsidize the largely black city. For their part, African American officials in Detroit saw regionalism as an attempt to dilute their newly won political power. According to historians and experts, this narrow perspective on both sides of the issue doomed farsighted and mutually beneficial regional efforts from the start. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | History, Role of government, Urban Policy
Contrary to the school of thought that treats Detroit’s decline as inevitable, there were several opportunities to enact broad, regional approaches that, many experts say, could have substantially mitigated Detroit’s decline and may even have prevented it. Largely due to long-standing antipathy between the city and its suburbs, however, all were squandered. The result: the Detroit metropolitan area has remained one of the most polarized, fragmented, and segregated regions in the country, and many of the drivers of Detroit’s decline continue unabated. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Alternative models, Quality of life, Urban Policy
In attempting to solve Detroit’s short-term cash flow problems, city officials want to layoff between 1,000 and 2,300 workers, reducing already-shriveled municipal services still further. But the long-term structural problems that brought Detroit to this point — a massive loss of population, an eroding tax base, and isolation from the rest of the region — remain unaddressed, and the short-term solutions will likely exacerbate the long-term problems. That stark reality has left many experts and advocates wondering whether local, regional, and state officials have set a drastically low bar for the city, abandoning altogether any hope that Detroit can become an integrated part of the larger, regional economy, and share in the gains its suburbs have made in recent decades. More