BRIEFLY NOTED: for 2021-04-03 Sa

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...

Very Briefly Noted:



1) On what an America with 1 billion Americans would look like: a lot more row houses and small apartment buildings—triple deckers, etc:

Noah Smith: I Have Seen the Future of Housing: ‘I recently went to visit my friends who just moved to Seattle. I stayed in their rented row house in an upscale neighborhood called Queen Anne. And it was there that I saw a vision of the future of housing in America…. There are lots of single-family homes in Queen Anne…. In… Lower Queen Anne, height limits were raised to allow more apartment buildings, helping to spark a building boom… Opponents of the “just build more housing” approach often fret that density will turn their neighborhoods into Manhattan….

Personally, I think it would be cool to have more American cities sport ultra-dense downtowns like NYC or Tokyo. But that just isn’t what’s in the cards here…. The way to densify America is to build more housing in the suburbs…. The future of American housing densification probably looks less like San Fransokyo, and more like the village-like half-city half-suburb areas that the New Urbanist movement always wanted… modest densification… [that] leaves “neighborhood character” intact…. The classist and often racist exclusion that Americans generally demand from their local housing policies will be preserved…. And that sucks. I’m sorry. I wish better things were possible, and I hope that someday they will be. And we need to keep fighting for those better things.

BUT. That doesn’t mean the type of densification I saw in Queen Anne is worthless, or counterproductive. It can help make cities better for lower-income residents…. Fitting more high-income people into the same area will raise property tax revenue (especially in places that don’t have California’s ridiculous Prop 13). More property tax equals more money for public schools… transit… to subsidize affordable housing…. Modest, incrementalist densification of America’s tony suburbs is far less than YIMBYs hope for, and it’s nowhere near enough to restore a semblance of fairness to America’s housing regime. But it’s better than what existed before…. For now, I’ll take it…

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2) The people who advised Obama to bargain against himself so many times, to make his initial negotiating position what he wanted the endgame to be, to presume that Republicans who said they wanted a bipartisan deal actually meant it—who were they, and where are they now, and why aren’t they reflecting on their mistakes more publicly?

Duncan BlackLessons Learned: ‘I did worry that nobody would ever be able to admit, implictly or explicitly, just how much Obama f—- up: “WH CoS Ron Klain says Biden admin will try to get GOP votes for the infrastructure plan but ‘in the end the president was elected to do a job’. Very similar rhetoric to what they used in pushing the $1.9 trillion relief plan…” The thing is, I am quite sure that Biden would absolutely hand over the bank to every red state senator who signed on. And nothing wrong with doing that! But they actually have to sign on…

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3) Germany as Exportweltmeister uninterested in taking on any responsibility for the cooperative world order:

Quinn SlobodianHow Germany Created the Neoliberal Order: ‘Julian Germann suggests… [that] Germany is an export nation and would like to stay that way with as little internal disruption as possible…. It is in the defense of its status as Exportweltmeister, Germann argues, that we can find the explanation for German actions. The country has never sought to create “replica Germanys according to a single ideological blueprint,” as has sometimes been alleged. On the contrary, its goal has been an entrenchment of difference on the formula of “social market economy for me but not for thee”. The black-zero fetish, in other words, is not the twisted expression of Lutheranism but an all-too-reasonable attempt to maintain export-oriented growth while maintaining a class compromise at home…

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4) American conservatives are now longer merely fascist-adjacent. Let me say that they do not speak for America, or for my settler-colonist ancestors:

Zack BeauchampNew Claremont Essay Reveals How Republicans Are Rejecting America: ‘The right-wing rebellion against American democracy is often subtle, expressing itself through tricky changes to election law without a full-throated acknowledgment of what lawmakers are actually doing. But sometimes, the mask slips—and someone in the conservative movement openly tells you what’s really going on. One such slippage took place last week…. “Most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term,” Glenn Ellmers, the essay’s author, writes…. If Trump voters and conservatives do not band together and fight “a sort of counter-revolution,” then “the victory of progressive tyranny will be assured. See you in the gulag.” What exactly this counter-revolution entails is unclear, but Ellmers has some tips. “Learn some useful skills, stay healthy, and get strong,” he writes. “One of my favorite weightlifting coaches likes to say, ‘Strong people are harder to kill, and more useful generally’”…

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5) A very expensive policy indeed:

Kris James Mitchener, Kirsten Wandschneider, & Kevin Hjortshøj O’RourkeThe Smoot-Hawley Trade War: ‘We document the outbreak of a trade war after the U.S. adopted the Smoot-Hawley tariff in June 1930. U.S. trade partners initially protested the possible implementation of the sweeping tariff legislation, with many eventually choosing to retaliate by increasing their tariffs on imports from the United States. Using a new quarterly dataset on bilateral trade for 99 countries during the interwar period, we show that U.S. exports to countries that protested fell by between 15 and 22 percent, while U.S. exports to retaliators fell by 28–33 percent. Furthermore, using a second new dataset on U.S. exports at the product-level, we find that the most important U.S. exports to retaliating markets were particularly affected, suggesting a possible mechanism whereby the U.S. was targeted despite countries’ MFN obligations. The retaliators’ welfare gains from trade fell by roughly 8–17%…

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