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How Long Commutes Worsen Inequality
Mark Thoma March 27, 2015

Although commuting to work is a daily occurrence for most workers, some have it much worse off than others who commute several hours to and from their destination. TCF fellow Mark Thoma dissects available commuting data and finds that proximity to the workplace is related to inequality gaps.

For those who do have jobs, long travel times to and from work take away from chores at home, shopping at the grocery store for healthy food and so on. Lengthy commutes make it harder for these workers to spend time with their kids on homework and extra-curricular activities, and harder to enroll their kids in charter or alternative schools that might give them a better chance at success.Read Thoma's full article featured in CBS Moneywatch.

The United States Should Recognize the State of Palestine
Michael Cohen March 27, 2015

The United States supports a two-state solution in the Middle East, but with the recent re-election of Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been placed in jeopardy. In a new piece, TCF fellow Michael Cohen and Matthew Duss of the Foundation for Middle East Peace urge US politicians to finally recognize the state of Palestine—with or without Israeli support.

In the end, recognizing Palestine would be both good for U.S. national security and consistent with basic American foreign policy values: support for self-determination and independence. Indeed, it was precisely these values that informed the U.S. decision to recognize Israel as an independent state in 1948. The past few years have seen millions of Arab citizens demonstrating, and sometimes giving their lives, for their rights and freedoms. We should join the 130 countries that already recognize Palestine, signaling that we share and support those goals for everyone, everywhere.

Duss and Cohen's call for US recognition of the Palestinian state can be found in the Washington Post.

Value Subtracted
Greg Anrig March 25, 2015

How much weight should standardized testing carry when it comes to measuring student and teacher performance? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo advocates for a link between teacher evaluation and standardized testing results, however TCF senior fellow Greg Anrig says this is unhealthy.

Skeptics who assume teachers’ unions are inherently inflexible argue that they will never be willing to accept such ongoing scrutiny of their work. But the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Teachers Union Reform Network all support efforts to create evaluation and training systems analogous to medical residency programs, with ongoing mentoring and teamwork.

Read Anrig's take on standardized testing featured in Slate.

Answer Koch Money with People Power
Amy Dean March 25, 2015

In January, the right-wing political organization Freedom Partners unveiled a staggering $889 million budget heading into the 2016 presidential election. With billionaire donors like the Koch brothers poised to spend more money than the official Republican party itself, TCF fellow Amy B. Dean advocates for more robust grass-roots methods for fighting big money in politics, specifically in terms of unions.

Of all the grass-roots groups, unions are the best equipped to mount a counterattack on the Kochs’ ability to dominate the airwaves. Unions organize constituencies and lower barriers to political participation for their members. They allow people to come together and promote shared goals such as improved public services and middle-class jobs.

Read the rest of Dean's article in Al Jazeera.

Macro Wars: The Attack of the Anti-Keynesians
Mark Thoma March 24, 2015

TCF fellow Mark Thoma argues the merits and downfalls of the macroeconomics theory known as "Keynesian economics" in providing insight and predictions about the economy.

For the past several years, macroeconomists have been busy patching up the modern models, and they have made quite a bit of progress, more than I expected when this effort began. There is still work to be done, but there is a chance that these models will eventually provide the kind of explanatory power and policy prescriptions that are needed when large recessions hit the economy.

Read Thoma's full article in The Fiscal Times.

Small Businesses May Be Losing a Lifeline
Mark Thoma March 23, 2015

Since the Great Recession, the number of new community banks has fallen dramatically, from around 100 new banks per year prior to the financial downturn to just three per year on average since 2010. As TCF fellow Mark Thoma explains, the effects of this decline has affected small businesses, which often rely on local banks for their survival.

Community banks become experts at assessing local business conditions, and over time they develop relationships with small businesses in their area as loans are made and repaid. Those relationships allow the businesses assessed as trustworthy access to relatively easy credit when they need it.

When these banks disappear and aren't replaced by new banks, the relationships and local expertise are lost, and so is an important source of funding for small businesses. Or it's at least hampered.

Learn more on this trend in CBS MoneyWatch.

The End of College?
Richard D. Kahlenberg March 23, 2015

Kevin Carey's new book The End of College takes a close look at America's flawed higher education business model. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Carey cites the ideas of TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a vocal advocate against university policies that often benefit America's wealthier students.

As Rick Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation likes to note, the American Revolution "was fought in large measure to rid ourselves of aristocracy and inherited privilege." Yet those ideas and systems continue to corrupt college admissions over two centuries later.

Check out the rest of the interview at Inside Higher Ed.

Letter to the Editor: Is a Streetcar Still Something to Desire?
Jacob Anbinder March 20, 2015

TCF policy associate and infrastructure expert, Jacob Anbinder, has a new letter to the editor in the pages of the New York Times. In the piece, Anbinder discusses streetcar projects around the country and why this particular mode of transportation may not be the most cost-effective investment when it comes to improving America's infrastucture.

The goal of any multimillion-dollar transit investment should be to improve mobility, with the mode chosen based on cost, capacity and convenience. With these streetcar projects, however, the formula has been reversed. Instead, the streetcar itself has become the end goal; whether or not it actually helps people get where they need to go has become a secondary consideration.

Read Anbinder's full letter here.

Legacy Status Tips Admission Scales
Richard D. Kahlenberg March 20, 2015

Many top universities admit a sizeable percentage of their student body on the basis of those students receiving "legacy preference." TCF fellow Richard Kahlenberg, a longtime critic of the practice, commented on legacy admissions, pointing out its flaws and the fundamental unfairness of the system.

In an op-ed in The New York Times in May 2013 titled “Affirmative Action for the Rich,” Kahlenberg voiced his opposition to the policy, decrying it as inherently “un-American” and particularly privileging affluent families.

“In other walks of life, we would consider it absurd to add points to a candidate’s application based on lineage, and legacies in higher education may soon come to an end as well,” Kahlenberg wrote in the op-ed.

Read more on what Kahlenberg had to say about the practice that he's called "affirmative action for the rich" in The Hoya.

Letter to the Editor: Helping the Victims in Syria and Iraq
Stephen Schlesinger March 20, 2015

TCF fellow Stephen Schlesinger submitted a Letter to the Editor to the New York Times in response to an article published last week which claimed that the United Nations' reputation has fallen as a result of the ongoing Syrian war. Schlesinger's letter can be found below:

Seventy years of history have shown that the United Nations is not able to stop wars until both parties to a conflict are ready to put down their weapons and discuss peace, or until the member states of the Security Council agree to send in troops to stop the bloodshed.

This clearly has not been true in either case in Syria. Let’s stop disparaging the body for the failures of others.

To see additional letters published in today's paper, visit the New York Times.

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