This page is intended for those who wish to read all of my key posts, in general or on a specific subject, and know everything I have learned in 40 years of following public policy. Posts based on state and local government finances data, and related spreadsheets, are on this separate page.
This page provides links to key additional posts in the following categories: generational equity; the executive/financial class, the political/union class, and the serfs; commercial real estate and urban planning; transportation; education; health care; policing and the courts; the economy; politics and politicians; data and information; and odds and ends.
For a brief overview of my writing on the subject, you might read this “short” and edited version posted by the Intergenerational Foundation over in the UK.
I’m glad something like that exists over there. Sometimes I feel as if I have been a one-man equivalent over here, as the trend of generational inequity is as bad or worse here, but kept under Omerta.
In 2014, I updated my prior Room Eight post on the public policies Generation Greed enacted over the years to the detriment of those coming after.
If you examine almost every major public policy decision and social and economic trend of the past 40 years with regard to which generations benefit and which generation’s expense, they all work the same way.
Also in 2014, I reprised a Room Eight post showing how the social changes and family breakdown of the family that got rolling in the 1960s was mixed-bag for those who did it, but a disaster for the generations that came later.
I followed up on this in a 2021 post on the ways that the anti-family generations were seeking to force the later-born to meet their needs in deep old age, with The Donald as an example.
I pointed out that later-born generations are being paid less than prior generations had at the same point in life. In 2013 using data from the Federal Reserve.
In 2014, using Census Bureau data.
In 2017 I called for Social Security data to be used for this.
And there was at least one project to do just that. Maybe I helped make it happen by suggesting it, but unfortunately it hasn’t been repeated to my knowledge.
In 2019 the New York Times broke Omerta slightly, showing the later born were worse-paid.
In 2013 I pointed out why discharging student loans in bankruptcy is so difficult today – because back in the 1960s and 1970s the Baby Boomers used easy bankruptcy to beat the system.
In 2017 I showed how the federal government’s efforts to jack up housing prices, and other asset prices, were income redistribution from (later born and poorer) savers to (older and richer) existing asset holders on a grand scale.
I wrote about falling U.S. life expectancy by generation in 2015…
And in more detail later in 2015, adding data that showed in the increase in suicide by generation as evidence of falling wellbeing for the later-born – as a result of what has been done by the earlier born.
The year after that, as the first of the disadvantaged generations – the late Boomers and Gen Ex – began to reach the age of early death, enough were dying early that overall U.S. life expectancy fell three years in a row – before COVID-19.
In 2016, I took a break from showing how Generation Greed had pillaged the future of New York State, and New York City in particular, and reported on the same trend in New Jersey and Connecticut.
And later in 2017 asked in New Jersey’s newly elected Governor Phil Murphy would be the first to tell the truth about Generation Greed.
In 2018 I had the same question about new Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.
In late 2021, after Phil Murphy was barely re-elected, I pointed out that he should have taken my advice, and told the people of New Jersey how much of what they were paying was due to generational self-dealing in the past. Instead, they blamed him for what Generation Greed had done before. The fate of many, many politicians over the next 40 years.
In 2021, I put up the latest in a series of data analyses of the relative tax burden on the Young Hopefuls and the Senior Voters. In general…
At the federal level.
And for state and local government taxes in New York City.
In 2017, I thought Omerta might be cracking thanks to a flurry of articles – and a book – on how much the Baby Boomers had wrecked the country, but I was wrong.
I had the same hopes in 2018, in part because there is actually a think tank in the UK that advocates for the later-born and criticizes public policies that cheat them. No such luck here. I’m basically it.
In 2019 I wrote how both the “conservative” Republican solution to the Social Security problem, and the “progressive” Democratic version, both involve making the later born even worse off than those who came before.
This was followed up with a post later in 2019 – one of my most-read – on how multi-tier pension deals in the public and private sectors enrich those cashing in and moving out and rob the later-born.
My solution: repeal the payroll tax and replace it with a value-added tax that everyone, including richer earlier-born generations, would pay as they spent their money. Fat chance.
In 2020, I wrote about Baby Boomers blowing the gasket on Linkedin when the disadvantaged situation of later-born generations was raised as an issue. The engraged comments are probably still coming in.
The emotional response shows that whether, to what extent, how and why later-born generations are worse off that those born previously is a massive issue hiding in plain sight, one that many people don’t want to hear about. Despite all the efforts of social media companies to attract eyeballs by sowing division, this situation is somehow kept mostly under Omerta.
THE EXECUTIVE/FINANCIAL CLASS, THE POLITICAL/UNION CLASS, AND THE SERFS
I wrote who these groups are in detail in this post from 2017.
In 2013, I pointed out that the growing privileges of the executive/financial class and the political/union class were being challenged – in Europe, not here.
And wrote about the demonization of the working poor during the 2010s, the way the non-working poor had been demonized in the “welfare reform” era of the 1990s.
That was years before people started whining about inflation and the Great Resignation, because the wages of low-wage workers started rising briefly.
In 2016 I asked if the Millennials were catching on to how much they were being exploited and leaving New York City.
In 2019, I was shocked to read how favorably investment income is taxed at the federal level compared with work income.
In 2020, I used data to show that the only reason New York City recovered from political/union class pillage in the 1960s was high inflation in the 1970s, which devalued their debts and pensions. Another one of my most read posts.
In late 2020, BEA data showed that in 2019 the mean earnings (including benefits) of state and local government workers in Downstate New York had surpassed the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sectors.
Even though NYC was in a boom at the time.
And I objected to the upcoming tax increases and service cuts “due to circumstances beyond our control.” Actually due to past deals that are set in stone.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE AND URBAN PLANNING
In 2014 I wrote about the New Urban Crisis, caused by too many people pouring into the remaining viable central cities, as opposed to the 1970s when the middle class and businesses was fleeing to the suburbs.
Urban theorist Richard Florida (“the creative class”) later wrote a book with that title. I asked if more places could be created with the characteristics that young adults were seeking in increasingly expensive cities such as Brooklyn.
In 2019 I called for housing that could be reused in different ways as families evolved.
And gave an example of how allowing empty nesters to reuse suburban one-family homes as two-families, and allowing some multifamily, could revitalize some suburbs.
In 2020 I wrote that the concentration of people and money in a few cities, metro areas and companies with soaring costs would probably lead to investment and economic losses.
And called for more places like the ones that had become overpriced to be created.
In mid-2020, I wrote a series of posts predicting the impact of COVID-19 on commercial real estate. As of mid-2022 it is still too soon to see if I was right.
I’m not sure if I wrote this in this post, but I did predict that COVID-19 would mark the high point of e-commerce, by forcing every type of good, type of person, and type of location where e-commerce makes sense to start using it.
I also wrote that the excessive cost and poor quality of government services, and high real estate costs, and not COVID-19, are what might actually kill NYC.
I wrote about hypocrisy about the homeless, now and for the past 150 years, here and in the rest of the country, in 2021.
That same year I pointed out how Democrats, allegedly in favor of “affordable” housing, education, health care, etc. generally act in the service of interest groups to make things less affordable.
And finally in 2022, I examined the corruption of New York City’s land use regulation, where everything and nothing is permissible depending on whether or not you are in on the political deal.
In this much read long post from 2014 (perhaps my most read ever), I showed how the United Federation of Teachers and state legislature used a snowstorm of secrecy, campaign support for both parties, and misinformation to ensure all the increase in spending on city schools in the wake of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit – and then some – went to richer benefits for teachers cashing in and retiring early.
Not only are the UFT blog posts I linked gone, the entire Edwise blog was deleted. But I’ll bet they can still be found on the internet somewhere.
In 2015, I pointed out that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity was actually against fiscal equity, and explained what “progressives” and “conservatives” could do about school funding if they actually believed what they said they did.
Here was my last detailed analysis of NYC school spending, for FY 2019, before COVID-19 caused a host of temporary changes.
In 2016 I concluded that we should just scrap the school system and start over, given what the money we were spending on it could and should be buying.
Following up on a 2015 post.
And in 2021, I took this idea of starting over with a new system a step further.
In 2021, I showed that the most unique aspect of metro New York’s transportation system was the extent to which private passenger cars are privileged over other vehicles – freight and mass transit alike.
In early 2016 I showed that although New York’s subway ridership had soared, because transit riders are considered serfs, service was actually less than it had been 60 years earlier, leading to a service collapse.
In 2018 I pointed out that the soaring cost of MTA capital projects is due to the agency being saddled with the entire cost of construction pension increases from two decades earlier, that benefitted those who are now either retired to Florida or soon will be.
In 2021, I compared the MTA Plan for Action when it was formed in 1968 with what has actually happened, and found that this regional agency has invested in the suburbs and disinvested in New York City.
In 2020 I asked if information technology might prevent what appears to be an inevitable collapse of the subway system.
Also in 2016, I pointed out how while bike lanes and new subway stations are forced to crawl through years of “environmental” reviews and court cases, a massive expansion of the Staten Island Expressway – and similar projects for private motor vehicles – sailed through with virtually no scrutiny at all.
In 2018 I called for the crumbling viaduct portion of the BQE under Brooklyn Eights to be rebuilt quickly and limited to trucks, buses and TLC vehicles only, instead of spending additional $billions to accommodate private passenger cars.
I called for dynamic carpooling, and held that Uber’s business model was not sustainable, in 2015.
In 2015, I pointed out the sky-high price of renting a car in Brooklyn compared with other areas. Those other areas are now sharing our pain as I write this in 2022.
Having written in 2014 that the non-auto connections between New York City and vacation areas of Upstate New York that once existed do not anymore, and are little publicized in any event.
In 2015 I showed that weekly street sweeping is not needed in most places most of the year, and when it is needed it doesn’t happen.
I later called for street sweeping and garbage pickup to be coordinated on one day per week, so the trash would not have to be moved around parked cars.
In 2014 I pointed out that the spiraling cost and ever-expanding timetable of the Long Island Railroad’s East Side Access project was just like the Shoreman Nuclear Power plant debacle decades earlier, something Long Island and the rest of the state are still paying for.
In 2015 I wrote that the federal government should just build the necessary cross-Hudson mass transit links before disaster struck, instead of turning the whole thing into a grandiose real estate project. (As I write this, the unaffordable grandiose project is still moving forward, despite a shift to work from home that makes the need questionable, but the new tunnel is still not built).
In 2014, I suggested that New York City take over its bus and paratransit system, absorbing its net cost in exchange for the state reducing the fiscal burden on the city of the state’s Medicaid program.
And held that the regional rail-based transportation system should strive to break even on an “auto-equivalent basis” based on fare revenues, with the cost of the infrastructure and stations covered by taxes.
In 2021 I showed that the United States spends far more public money on health care than other countries with universal health care – and better health.
In 2013, I wondered why developing countries were catching up with the U.S. in life expectancy despite not having our high-tech health care.
In 2017 The Economist said that the U.S. was being ripped off by the death care industry. I pointed out that the same issues applied to the health care industry, which is more than 2,000 times the size.
In 2020 I wrote that the coronavirus had exposed the flaws of the U.S. health care system, with massive money going to extend the lives of the old for a few years – or even months – even as basic preventive care is neglected.
I wrote about how right-wing politicians and influencers managed to get the White death rate from COVID-19 above the national average, and how the social and economic effects of the response to the disease on the young would probably cost more years of life than the disease itself.
Here is the most recent of my posts on New York City’s home health care employment explosion.
I mapped comparative Medicaid spending by state in 2019 in this post.
And compared it over time in this post.
POLICING AND THE COURTS
In 2013 I wrote that crime was a matter of generational culture and values, and that New York City should gradually back off its stop and frisk practices now that a less criminal Millennial generation was in adolescence and young adulthood.
And in 2014 that the police seem not to have noticed the low-crime era and changed accordingly.
In 2015, I called out the Sergeant’s union for propaganda that rising homelessness was evidence of urban decline – even though soaring pension costs, including police pensions, meant that NYC did have the money to address growing social ills.
In 2015, I asked why New York’s courts take years and years to process cases, and who benefits from this – the powerful, the powerless, or the court system itself.
I did not suggest, back in 2013, that the City of New York stop enforcing all rules in public spaces immediately, without waiting to see the effects. Nonetheless, that eventually happened. And eventually our culture of disrespect threatened to bring the era of low crime and vibrant shared public spaces to an end.
I showed how the discussion of the level of police funding and staffing has become dominated by tribalist narratives, without any factual information about how the level of staffing and funding compares with the past and other places.
Meanwhile, The Economist noticed that the New York City Department of Corrections has failed despite lots of funding.
THE ECONOMY: U.S., NEW YORK, AND PUERTO RICO
In 2018 I used data to show that rising debt in the economy is the real cause of the U.S. trade deficit and rising inequality.
Some of my best posts with the best links to the most interesting articles accompanied the annual release of Federal Reserve Z1 data on total indebtedness in the economy. Here is a selection of the most recent.
Including one that held that in the long run, COVID-19 is not our real problems.
This was followed by a shocking explosion of federal debt in 2020.
I wrote about the disastrous impact of U.S. fossil fuel dependence, especially foreign oil dependence, in 2014…
And in 2016.
And in 2018.
And in 2020.
And in 2022.
In 2021 I wrote about the collapse of the Texas energy grid, and what it might mean for attempts to electrify the economy. I have since read very positive things about advancing heat pump technology for use in cold climates. It seems that only technology can save us from politics.
In 2018, I wrote about state and local governments encouraging addictive and potentially destructive practices and substances as a way to save their economies and finances, with potentially devastating social consequences. It keeps getting worse.
I wrote about falling entrepreneurship and growing oligopoly, using BLS business formation data, in this 2015 post.
In 2020, I questioned excess money being thrown at potential “unicorns” while most of the economy was starved of investment. And the unwillingness to create and operate mid-sized firms and become only moderately rich. And predicted the Zillow Offers bust.
In 2016, I wondered what people who are buying electronic books, music, videos and other media actually own, and asked for some standardization.
Also in 2016, I pointed out that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 had promised that competition would provide multiple high speed internet service providers at low cost, but 20 years later (and today) I’m stuck with a choice of either an unregulated and despised cable monopoly, or DSL on copper wires from Verizon.
I analyzed the bankrupt Puerto Rico economy in detail in 2017, and suggested a debt for equity swap to turn the island around. If you want to understand regional economics, and what makes a local economy (as opposed to the national or global economy) work, this post will explain it to you – in fewer words than the many textbooks I read on the subject.
In 2013 I chronicled the shift to self-employment (gig work) in New York City, something I had seen coming back in the 1990s when I was still at the NYC Department of City Planning.
And asked in a series of posts if New York City had recovered from the 1970s, with regard to employment.
Mean and median income…
And the quality of life.
While the city was booming in 2015, I showed that this drew even more poor people in.
In 2020, I used American Community Survey data to examine trends in New York City’s population, housing and economy at the economic peaks of 2019, 2007, and 2000, showing the impact of Baby Boomer retirement on the city’s labor force and housing market.
If you want data on and a discussion of New York City private sector employment over the long term — from 1950 to 2020 — you can find it in this post.
POLITICS AND POLITICIANS
It is worth reading what I wrote following my Don Quixote campaign against the state legislature in 2004. As of the time I write this, it is still on the internet here.
And what I wrote on Room Eight four years later, reflecting on that effort and encouraging others to do the same.
In 2015 I pointed out that the minor crimes of corruption that New York State’s politicians keep getting convicted of are not the real problem. It is like convicting Al Capone of tax evasion.
In 2022, after another prominent NY pol was arrested, I pointed out that more skillful corruption is par for the course in NY.
In 2017, I compared the New York State Legislature, which does not have term limits, and the New York City Council, which does, as a double-blind test of democracy. In a three-post sequence.
On January 7th, 2021, I asked if Donald Trump had committed treason.
I thought he would be impeached the next day, and hopefully removed from office before his term ended. Instead, our geriatric congress left Washington for a two-week vacation and a long nap. To hell with him – and them.
In 2021, I pointed out that in New York State the powers-that-be go to extreme measures to prevent competitive elections, even persecuting one rebel politician for 20 years by arresting and disbarring him.
In 2021, I was disturbed to find tribalism on the march around the world, and the lack of belief in the aspirations of the United States to transcend it.
In early 2022, I once again called for new political parties to replace the Democrats and the Republicans with their controlling special interests, culture warrior phonies, and perpetual incumbents.
In 2022, I reviewed the policy choices, management, and leadership of the (Mayor) DeBlasio and (Governor) Cuomo Administrations.
This followed a series of Room Eight posts on the policies, management and leadership of the Bloomberg Administration.
DATA AND INFORMATION
I pointed out in 2014 how NYC politicians and public unions control the appointment of the City Actuary to ensure that New Yorkers are never told the truth.
Having previously pointed out in 2013 that the powers that be make sure they keep the Offices of the City and State Comptrollers in safe hands, to ensure Omerta is not broken.
After getting elected, New Comptroller Stringer made $1.2 billion in teacher pension benefits disappear.
Following in the footsteps of his predecessor John Liu, who had issued one report saying that pension costs were soaring due to low investment returns, not retroactive pension benefits, and another claiming that NYC’s rate of return assumptions were reasonable – because it had in fact earned that much in the past.
Those reports are now off the internet.
In early 2017, I noted that the DeBlasio Administration had cut out the Full Agency Cost” table that shows what different public services actually cost – including pension and health benefits. (It later came back in truncated form – for the budget proposal only, not for past and current years).
Later in 2017, I called for a new federal Department of Science, Statistics and Public Information that could, perhaps, at least to an extent, be insulated from political propaganda, to maintain the integrity of federal statistics.
In 2019 I found that the Bureau of Economic Analysis data for 2019 had been screwed up – for New York City only.
Along with the population data.
The 2018 New York City education finance data was wrong.
Then again, when I compiled 2017 Census of Governments data, I found that the total wages and salaries paid by the City of New York had fallen 90% — while the statewide total had changed very little.
After a long period without data on Medicaid by state some was made available, but the data or New York State was funky.
ODDS and ENDS
Here is a post on the human dilemma – to trust friends, family, businesses, governments and social institutions and perhaps be cheated, or face life alone?
In 2020, I showed that the states where people complain about big government tend to have the most government spending.
In 2021, I showed that NYC was drained when its economy was up, but not helped when its economy was down. With thematic maps I learned to produce while unemployed.
Here is the one post that followed the zeitgeist – a tabulation that shows how Republicans have dominated the Supreme Court since the Civil War. Despite changing sides with regard to racial equality sometime in the 1960s, and with regard to upholding the constitution in the last few years.
In 2016, I noted that because of the growth spending on entitlements for the old, the rest of the federal government is disappearing. This long-term trend is more important that anything that the national political media actually talks about.
I’m not crazed by the Supreme Court’s decision repealing Roe V. Wade, because I had previously suggested that the federal government in general – and the Supreme Court in particular — get out of the culture war business and leave it to the states, and focus on a few key things.
Unfortunately, other Supreme Court decisions imply that instead of leaving things to the states, the court is launching a culture war of its own.
THE MOST POPULAR POSTS BY YEAR
2013: Teacher Pensions, the Road to Ruin
2014: the same.
2015: Update: New York City Police and Firefighter Pensions
2016: The Suburban Generations Destroy the Suburban States (and Nation)
2017: The 2008 NYC 25/55 United Federation of Teachers Pension Deal: An Investigation
It had been written in 2014 and has been one of the top posts every year since.
2018: the same
2019: Retirement Benefits are to White Collar Crime and Generational Inequity What Handguns are to Street Crime
2020: The Commercial Real Estate Future: Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Workout, Value Added Reivestment and Redevelopment
2021: How Did New York City Government Recover from the 1970s Fiscal Crisis?
2022 so far: the same.