Original Reporting

Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Corporate influence, Open government
Using public dollars to subsidize private businesses has become a routine part of economic development policy in the United States. But many economists believe that the benefits to a state or locality are generally modest, and that incentives can actually hurt other local businesses. Moreover, looked at from the point of view of the net effect on the national economy, some incentives provide no gain, and others are harmful to productivity. So why do policy makers keep doling out these subsidies? The first part in a Remapping Debate series on government aid to businesses. More
Original Reporting | By Heather Rogers | Food, Food safety
The recent study has gotten widespread press attention for the proposition that organic food is not safer to eat than non-organic food. But one of the study’s lead authors acknowledges that a series of health and safety issues relating to non-organic foods were not examined. More
Original Reporting | By Heather Rogers | Markets, Taxes
A "Robin Hood" tax — a small fee on stock, bond, and derivative transactions that has been supported by some high-profile, center-right EU political leaders — is likely to be enacted soon by several EU countries, including Germany and France. Here in the U.S., an activist coalition that favors a financial transaction tax to help generate the revenue needed to protect and expand government programs — and to deter what it considers the destabilizing and unproductive role "high-frequency trading" — is just gearing up. Thus far, despite the introduction of several FTT bills, a majority of national Democrats have stayed silent on the issue. More
Original Reporting | By Heather Rogers | Alternative models, State government, Transportation
The Cuomo administration is studying alternatives for improving train service between New York and Albany (and on to Buffalo), but the fastest options — true high-speed rail service — have already been ruled out. It turns out that the approach the administration describes as putting the state “on track to the rail system of the future” won’t go all that fast, abandoning the potential benefits that some say true high-speed rail would bring to New York. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Health care, Insurance
Most people are aware of the billions of dollars a year that private insurance companies spend on administrative costs. But the health insurance system in the United States also imposes a large burden in time and resources on physicians, hospitals, and employers. Researchers have estimated the total administrative cost associated with billing and insurance across the economy at more than $400 billion a year, or 15 percent of health care spending. Despite calls by some policy makers and advocates to reduce the administrative burden, several researchers said that many of the costs are inherent in a for-profit, multi-payer insurance system, and cannot be significantly reduced without fundamental structural change. More
Original Reporting | By Heather Rogers | Law, Role of government
With LSC funding effectively 70 percent lower than it was in 1981, the program is unable to meet critical needs of lower-income families across the country. More
Original Reporting | By Kevin C. Brown | Advertising, Alternative models, Housing
Though engaging marketing has shifted consumer preferences on a range of products, people tend to think that preferences for traditional suburban neighborhoods are set in stone. Advertisers say they’re wrong. More
Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Budget deficit, State government, Taxes
Despite the fact that revenues in many states are recovering, budget cuts that were once described as undesirable but unavoidable are being left in place (or even exacerbated) as numerous state legislatures opt to double down on tax cuts. More