The Commons

The Problem of Tech Is Bigger Than Big Tech Share This

Oren Cass | Jun 22, 2021 | Big Tech

The early years of a technological revolution are not, generally speaking, happy ones. In The Technology Trap, Oxford University’s Carl Benedikt Frey documents the fallout of the Industrial Revolution begun in the late eighteenth century: “The conditions of the [English] working class did not improve before the 1840s, and for many people, living standards were deteriorating.” […]

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Making It Easier to Make Ends Meet Share This

Hannah Ketcham | Jun 16, 2021 | Edgerton Essays

6 a.m. is much too early for this tired mama. But nonetheless, I hear that little pitter-patter of onesie-covered feet coming down the hall into our room. With a soft “Mom, can I have a banana?” my day begins, whether I’m ready for it or not. A few minutes later, my husband is out the […]

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The Costs of Tech Policy Inaction Share This

C.J. Mahoney | Jun 14, 2021 | Technology

Lost in the Super Market offers a useful point-counterpoint guide to thinking about the challenges that the United States faces as it considers how to regulate the digital economy. As with many important questions, those on opposite poles in this debate make valid points that policymakers of all political persuasions would do well to consider. […]

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Want More Humane Technology? Look to the Supermarket Share This

Adam Kovacevich | Jun 10, 2021 | Technology

Are we the passive victims of rapacious technology? Or fully knowledgeable about how technology works and in control of its role in our lives? That’s a central tension of many of today’s tech policy debates, including the “Lost in the Super Market” essays: if data-driven services, sticky online content, and digital labor markets are surreptitiously […]

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Reflections on the Digital Revolution Share This

Chris Buskirk | Jun 08, 2021 | Big Tech

“In the real world outside economic theory, every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot. Monopoly is therefore not a pathology or an exception. Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.” —Peter Thiel “Meet the new boss, same as the old ” —Roger Daltrey The problems and challenges posed […]

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Conservation, Farming, and the Wisdom of Our Elders Share This

Kelly Liddington | Jun 07, 2021 | Agriculture

The last time you voted, you may have seen “Soil Conservation District” on the ballot but not known why. These positions are frequently uncontested and local townships or counties can even have trouble finding candidates to run. Different states operate their conservation districts differently, but they are often the first line of defense in ensuring […]

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The ‘Uber Economy’ Needs Guardrails Share This

Steven Hill | Jun 03, 2021 | Labor Market

Wingham Rowan wants to “remake the modern [labor] market,” while Neil Chilson wants “freedom from [labor] market frictions.” Yet neither seems to understand these markets from the perspective of the many freelancers and so-called “independent” contractors whom they purport to advocate for. Not all freelancers and contractors are the same. Depending on the occupation and […]

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Social Security Was Supposed to Be Secure Share This

Nancy Merical | May 26, 2021 | Edgerton Essays

Politicians today are out of step with the many elderly—like me—who live on Social Security alone. They propose spending tax dollars on cancelling student loans or health care for illegal immigrants or other proposals that aren’t really “needs.” Meanwhile, this money comes out of the pockets of hardworking Americans, many of whom may depend on […]

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It’s Time to Bring Back Place-Based Policymaking Share This

Rob Atkinson | May 24, 2021 | Economic Development

Between the New Deal era of the 1930s and the late 1970s, it was the formal policy of the federal government to care about and try to reduce regional economic disparities. But as neoclassical economics steeped with market fundamentalist ideology started to gain ascendency in the 1970s, the federal government gradually abandoned efforts to help […]

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What I Wish Our Politicians Knew Share This

Sheila Wilkinson | May 19, 2021 | Edgerton Essays

Re: Don’t Talk to Us Like We’re Idiots

The recent post by Guy Stickney got me thinking about why it’s so hard for politicians to discuss things openly and honestly—and why we have a hard time doing it, too. Politics never used to pique my interest—maybe because my parents endured World War II, and I experienced those tragic, tumultuous days of the Vietnam […]

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What Republicans Can Learn from the UK’s Conservative Party Share This

Marshall Auerback | May 18, 2021 | Politics

Political trends in the U.S. and United Kingdom have mirrored each other for decades—and Britain’s recent local elections (and the Hartlepool by-election) are no exception. Predictably, there has been much discussion of the stunning collapse of working-class support in areas that have long been staunchly pro-Labour and the implications for the Democratic Party across the […]

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Is Sweden a Free-Market Welfare State? Share This

Michael Lind | May 13, 2021 | Economics

Re: The Case for a Free-Market Welfare State

Forget American exceptionalism. Tiny social democratic Sweden is the country that embodies humanity’s future in the eyes of much of the global liberal left. A generation ago, the liberal economist Robert Heilbroner famously described his utopia as “a slightly idealized Sweden.” Now, the Niskanen Center’s Samuel Hammond has tried to draft Sweden for the libertarian […]

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