Category: government

Warriors on the Edge of a Fiscal Cliff

RON AVI ASTOR, professor of urban social development, USC School of Social Work.

This op-ed originally appeared at CNN.

With the presidential race heading into its final stretch, both candidates vow to protect the sacred promises made to military families. But neither is offering any details on how they might support military families if we hit a fiscal cliff with budget cuts that could wipe out services for military and veterans’ families.

Month after month, in the midst of a heated presidential and congressional pre-election cycle, we see no organized blueprint to integrate millions of military family members into civilian society.

New China Syndrome: Richer, Unhappy

RICHARD A. EASTERLIN, professor of economics, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times.

China’s new leaders, who will be anointed next month at the Communist Party’s 18th National Congress in Beijing, might want to rethink the Faustian bargain their predecessors embraced some 20 years ago: namely, that social stability could be bought by rapid economic growth.

As the recent riots at a Foxconn factory in northern China demonstrate, growth alone, even at sustained, spectacular rates, has not produced the kind of life satisfaction crucial to a stable society — an experience that shows how critically important good jobs and a strong social safety net are to people’s happiness.

A Housing Recovery That Leaves the Middle Class on the Sidelines

ROBERT BRIDGES, assistant professor clinical finance, business economics, USC’s Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared at Forbes.

It would seem that a government seeking to display a true populist streak by helping its citizens buy houses would do so in a way to ensure prices as low as possible. For those who are not yet homeowners, how is it populism when recovery makes houses more expensive rather than more affordable?

For some time now, demand for houses has been artificially boosted by federal and state tax policies, rising governmental involvement in residential-debt financing, and persistently low interest rates orchestrated by the Federal Reserve. This intensified demand has not been relieved by sufficient new supply of houses, resulting in intractable upward pricing pressure that has put home-ownership beyond the reach of growing numbers of moderate-income buyers. Future housing markets are likely to be increasingly vulnerable to destructive price swings if credit-fueled demand and no-growth sentiment continue to flourish.

California Needs a Politics Rooted in 2012, Not 1978

DOWELL MYERS, demographer and planning professor, Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

At the root of California’s dysfunctional politics lie some old ideas about who we are as a state. Demographics have been more volatile here than in other states, and many Californians older than 55, who make up roughly 46% of state voters, don’t want to pay for changes they never welcomed. The tragedy is that they are battling problems that have largely dissipated. The outlook for California going forward from 2012 is very different from what it was two decades ago.

Take population growth. The 1980s brought an unprecedented growth spurt for the state, with population increasing by some 6.1 million people. This far exceeded the population growth of 3.7 million people in the 1970s and 4.3 million in the 1960s.

How to Save the Euro: A Little More Inflation in Germany, Please

ARIS PROTOPAPADAKIS, professor of business and finance, USC Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Euro zone leaders’ latest plan to rescue the euro, agreed to late last month, focuses on two crises: the continent’s ailing banks and the sovereign-debt woes of Europe’s southern peripheral economies. Unfortunately, their blueprint neglects a third crisis that continues to grow and could bring down the euro zone: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain are becoming increasingly uncompetitive economically relative to Germany.

Most economists agree that renewed economic growth is essential for saving the euro. The problem is that the effects of measures such as creating a banking union, the centerpiece of the recent summit’s rescue plan, may save the banking system but will do nothing to reverse the loss of competitiveness among the region’s economies. The euro zone can’t wait much longer, as the steadily rising borrowing costs of Spain and Italy demonstrate. It needs to start growing now, and the fastest and surest way to stimulate growth without increasing deficits is for Germany to accept a much looser monetary policy and the consequent higher inflation to help restore the competitiveness of Europe’s peripheral economies.

Has Proposition 13 Lost Its Relevance?

DOWELL MYERS, demographer and professor of planning, USC’s Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.

Proposition 13 is widely regarded as the third rail in state politics: Touch it and you’re politically dead. It has earned that sacrosanct status because it solved some urgent problems for California homeowners. But that was a generation ago, a different time with different problems. As we face the challenge of reviving the state’s housing market and finding a reliable revenue source for freeways, schools and other public services, we should consider how Proposition 13 should serve us in the future.

We’re Not Living in Mayberry

SHERRY BEBITCH JEFFE, senior fellow, USC’s Price School of Public Policy.

This op-ed originally appeared at Prop Zero.

On the same day that the passing of Andy Griffith, the beloved TV sheriff of fictional Mayberry — that perfect epitome of small-town values — made front page news, the above-the-fold, page A1 headline in the Los Angeles Times read: “Office Seekers Recall Cudahy Intimidation.”

As part of an ongoing probe of alleged civic corruption in Cudahy, Calif. –a small, working-class community — the FBI uncovered evidence of election fraud. Three local officials had already been arrested on bribery charges.

Clearly, we don’t live in Mayberry.

Cudahy is only one example of a pattern of civic dysfunction that includes fiscal mismanagement and just plain corruption, which has long bedeviled smaller California cities, particularly in eastern LA County.

Silicon Valley Needs a Foreign Policy

ERNEST J. WILSON III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Affairs.

As California’s high-tech firms grew to become economic powerhouses in the American economy, they punched below their weight politically. For the most part, they are not very savvy about the ways of Washington — they came late to the lobbying game — and their political strategies were naïve compared with those of old industrial sectors like oil and automobiles.

That seems to be changing. In January, a group of high-tech heavyweights, including Google and Wikipedia, along with less prominent combatants (155,000 Web sites in all) and nonprofits such as Fight for the Future, joined in a massive online blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Since the bill’s introduction in May 2011, a wide mix of representatives from the film, television, music, and publishing industries had been championing SOPA and its sibling, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two pieces of legislation designed to address international theft of copyrighted U.S. intellectual property.

How to Avoid False Convictions

DAN SIMON, professor of law, USC Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Carlos DeLuna and Cameron Todd Willingham probably did not commit the crimes for which they were put to death by the state of Texas. In-depth inquiries into their convictions revealed bungled investigations, poor recordkeeping, mistaken eyewitness testimony, spurious forensic testimony and misconduct by law enforcement personnel, among other

An Ounce of Prevention Could Save Billions

DANA GOLDMAN, director of USC’s Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, talked to Gina Kolata about reining in healthcare costs by improving access to preventative care.

The Q&A originally appeared in the New York Times.

How much are we spending on treating diseases that might be prevented?

The most consistent estimates, and most widely cited, seem to come out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lobbying groups like the Tobacco-Free Kids initiative, and the president’s prevention initiative. Instead of blanket measures, they focus more on diseases relating to “lifestyle” decisions like obesity and smoking, and their estimates include costs for lost productivity in addition to medical expenses.