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How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics
A host of catastrophes, natural and otherwise, as well as some pleasant surprises like the sudden end of the cold war without a shot being fired have caught governments and societies unprepared many times in recent decades. September 11 is only the most obvious recent example among many unforeseen events that have changed, even redefined our lives. We have every reason to expect more such events in future. Several kinds of unanticipated scenarios particularly those of low probability and high impact have the potential to escalate into systemic crises. Even positive surprises can be major policy challenges. Anticipating and managing low-probability events is a critically important challenge to contemporary policymakers, who increasingly recognize that they lack the analytical tools to do so. Developing such tools is the focus of this insightful and perceptive volume, edited by renowned author Francis Fukuyama and sponsored by The American Interest magazine. Bl indside is organized into four main sections. "Thinking about Strategic Surprise" addresses the psychological and institutional obstacles that prevent leaders from planning for low-probability tragedies and allocating the necessary resources to deal with them. The following two sections pinpoint the failures institutional as well as personal that allowed key historical events to take leaders by surprise, and examine the philosophies and methodologies of forecasting. In "Pollyana vs. Cassandra," for example, James Kurth and Gregg Easterbrook debate the future state of the world going forward. Mitchell Waldrop explores why technology forecasting is so poor and why that is likely to remain the case. In the book's final section, "What Could Be," internationally renowned authorities discuss low probability, high-impact contingencies in their area of expertise. For example, Scott Barrett looks at emerging infectious diseases, while Gal Luft and Anne Korin discuss energy security. How can we avoid being blindsided by unforeseen events? There is no easy or obvious answer. But it is essential that we understand the obstacles that prevent us first from seeing the future clearly and then from acting appropriately on our insights. This readable and fascinating book is an important step in that direction.
The Rise of America's Accidental Cities
A glance at a list of America's fastest growing "cities" reveals quite a surprise: most are really overgrown suburbs. Places such as Anaheim, California, Coral Springs, Florida, Naperville, Illinois, North Las Vegas, Nevada, and Plano, Texas, have swelled to big-city size with few people really noticing including many of their ten million residents. These "boomburbs" are large, rapidly growing, incorporated communities of more than 100,000 residents that are not the biggest city in their region. Here, Robert E. Lang and Jennifer B. LeFurgy explain who lives in them, what they look like, how they are governed, and why their rise calls into question the definition of urban.
Located in over twenty-five major metro areas throughout the United States, numerous boomburbs have doubled, tripled, even quadrupled in size between census reports. Some are now more populated than traditional big cities. The population of the biggest boomburb Mesa, Arizona recently surpassed that of Minneapolis and Miami.
Typically large and sprawling, boomburbs are "accidental cities," but not because they lack planning. Many are made up of master-planned communities that have grown into one another. Few anticipated becoming big cities and unintentionally arrived at their status. Although boomburbs possess elements found in cities such as housing, retailing, offices, and entertainment, they lack large downtowns. But they can contain high-profile industries and entertainment venues: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Arizona Cardinals are among over a dozen major-league sports teams who play in the boomburbs.
Urban in fact but not in feel, these drive-by cities of highways, office parks, and shopping malls are much more horizontally built and less pedestrian friendly than most older suburbs. And, contrary to common perceptions of suburbia, they are not rich and elitist. Poverty is often seen in boomburb communities of small single-family homes, neighborhoods that once represented the American dream.
Boomburbs are a quintessential American landscape, embodying much of the nation's complexity, expansiveness, and ambiguity. This fascinating look at the often contradictory world of boomburbs examines why America's suburbs are thriving and how they are shaping the lives of millions of residents.
The Politics of Supporting America's Working Poor
When most people think of policies designed to help the poor, welfare is the first program that comes to mind. Traditionally welfare has served individuals who do not work hence much of the stigma that some attach to the program. An equally important strand of American social policy, however, is meant to support low-wage workers and their families. In Boosting Paychecks, Daniel Gitterman illuminates this often neglected part of the American safety net.
Gitterman focuses on two sets of policy instruments that have been used to aid the working poor since the early twentieth century: the federal tax code and the minimum wage. The income tax code can be fine-tuned in many ways through exemptions, deductions, credits, changing tax brackets and rates to alter the amount of income workers are left with at the end of the day. In addition, it interacts with the minimum wage to determine the economic well-being of many lowincome households. Boosting Paychecks analyzes the partisan politics that have shaped these policies since the New Deal era, with particular attention paid to the past three decades. It also examines the degree to which they have succeeded in lifting low-wage workers and their families out of poverty.
Forging a new political bargain that balances labor market flexibility with security for poor working families is one of the most critical challenges facing government today. Boosting Paychecks sheds new light on the scope of this challenge and the political constraints and opportunities policymakers face.
Consumer and Mortgage Credit Revisited
Americans are awash in debt, and the U.S. economy is in trouble. Credit undergirds daily life more than ever it has become one of the defining aspects of American life, and the ramifications are becoming clearer by the day. The already considerable damage from a depressed housing market has been exacerbated by the subprime lender implosion, sending shock waves through the financial sector, international economies, and government at all levels. Most low- or moderate-income people borrow, but that should not be construed as uniformly poor judgment or lack of disciplines Americans are not borrowing merely to keep up with the Joneses, but too often simply to stay afloat.
In Borrowing to Live, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University brings together a group of experts drawn from the best of academia, research, and public services. Together with editors Nicolas Retsinas and Eric Belsky, they dissect the worrisome current state of consumer and mortgage credit in the United States and help point the way out of the current struggles.
Contributors: Michael S. Barr, Eric S. Belsky, Raphael W. Bostic, Shawn Cole, Amy Crews Cutts, Kathleen C. Engel, Ren S. Essene, Elaine Kempson, Patricia A. McCoy, William A. Merrill, Sendhil Mullainathan, Anthony Pennington-Cross, Elizabeth Renuart, Eldar Shafir, Edna R. Sawady, Jennifer Tescher, John Thompson, Peter Tufano, Susan M. Wachter
Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy
Many of America's greatest artists, scientists, investors, educators, and entrepreneurs have come from abroad. Rather than suffering from the "brain drain" of talented and educated individuals emigrating, the United States has benefited greatly over the years from the "brain gain" of immigration. These gifted immigrants have engineered advances in energy, information technology, international commerce, sports, arts, and culture. To stay competitive, the United States must institute more of an open-door policy to attract unique talents from other nations. Yet Americans resist such a policy despite their own immigrant histories and the substantial social, economic, intellectual, and cultural benefits of welcoming newcomers. Why?
In Brain Gain, Darrell West asserts that perception or "vision" is one reason reform in immigration policy is so politically difficult. Public discourse tends to emphasize the perceived negatives. Fear too often trumps optimism and reason. And democracy is messy, with policy principles that are often difficult to reconcile.
The seeming irrationality of U.S. immigration policy arises from a variety of thorny and interrelated factors: particularistic politics and fragmented institutions, public concern regarding education and employment, anger over taxes and social services, and ambivalence about national identity, culture, and language. Add to that stew a myopic (or worse) press, persistent fears of terrorism, and the difficulties of implementing border enforcement and legal justice.
West prescribes a series of reforms that will put America on a better course and enhance its long-term social and economic prosperity. Reconceptualizing immigration as a way to enhance innovation and competitiveness, the author notes, will help us find the next Sergey Brin, the next Andrew Grove, or even the next Albert Einstein.
Understanding Brazil's Changing Role in the Global Economy
In Brazil, the confluence of strong global demand for the country's major products, global successes for its major corporations, and steady results from its economic policies is building confidence and even reviving dreams of grandeza the greatness that has proven elusive in the past. Even as the current economic crisis tempers expectations of the future, the trends identified in this book suggest that Brazil will continue its path toward becoming a leading economic power in the future.
Once seen as an economic backwater, Brazil now occupies key niches in energy, agriculture, service industries, and even high technology. Yet Latin America's largest nation still struggles with endemic inequality issues and deep-seated ambivalence toward global economic integration.
Scholars and policy practitioners from Brazil, the United States, and Europe recently gathered to investigate the present state and likely future of the Brazilian economy. This important volume is the timely result. In Brazil as an Economic Superpower? international authorities focus on five key topics: agribusiness, energy, trade, social investment, and multinational corporations. Their analyses and expertise provide not only a unique and authoritative picture of the Brazilian economy but also a useful lens through which to view the changing global economy as a whole.
Anatomy of a Market Failure and a Policy Dilemma
As the Internet revolution continues to unfold and transform telecommunications, pressure is building for faster, less expensive, and more widely accessible broadband service. Such a development would facilitate improved and less expensive traditional applications such as voice telephony and web browsing. It would also enable new and useful applications such as Internet-based television, videoconferencing, and software distribution. Broadband has great potential to improve efficiency and productivity, even to improve national security in some cases. Broadband service and affordability, however, have consistently lagged well behind demand and progress in information technology, with damaging results. The Internet revolution remains incomplete and threatens to stagnate if the situation continues. In The Broadband Problem, economist and technology entrepreneur Charles H. Ferguson explains the causes and ramifications of this damaging bottleneck, and he offers suggestions on improving the current state of affairs. He asserts that current telecommunications law and policy have not provided sufficient levels of new entry, competition, and innovation in the local telecom market. The continuing dominance of ILECs (incumbent local exchange carriers) in that market impedes the healthy, and much-needed, development of an efficient broadband market. The result of these policy and market failures is inadequate technological progress, innovation, and productivity in advanced Internet services and telecommunication services generally. The broadband problem is holding us back, and thus must be addressed and solved. With this important volume, Charles Ferguson has contributed mightily to that mission.
2000 through current issue
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