robertogreco + 1920s   7

Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Oscillator | On Democratization
"In the early 1970’s, several Dutch universities created “science shops” (wetenschapswinkels) with the aim of democratizing science. The science shops connected public interest groups who had scientific questions with university students and researchers who could provide answers. Opening access to university research would help activist groups achieve their goals, and would also have an impact on the universities themselves. In an essay for the journal Science, Technology & Human Values, Joseph Wachelder writes about the more radical goals of the science shops early on:
The democratization of science in fact implied a general and even radical transformation of society. The aim was to reorient science toward the social needs of workers and disadvantaged groups and to fight the vested interest of the establishment and the so-called military-industrial complex. In those early days, the political Left pushed science shops as one means of transforming both science and society in radical ways. Unions, targeting issues such as occupational health, social security, and working conditions; environmentalists; patients’ groups; third-world activists; and, slightly later, women’s liberation groups considered themselves as partners in pursuit of a new and better society.
I read about the science shops for the first time over the holidays in Making Genes, Making Waves, Jon Beckwith’s autobiography about his research in molecular biology and his political activism. Given the current fad for “democratizing science” I was surprised that I’d never heard them mentioned before.


Indeed, today’s democratization looks a lot different from the democratization pushed by science shops and radical science movements of the 70s. Science for the People, an activist group of scientists and engineers founded in the early 1970s, organized against the misuse of science by military and corporate interests and advocated that science work for marginalized people rather than maintaining the status quo. A powerful symbol for the group was a fist raised in solidarity next to a hand holding a flask. Alice Bell notes in a recent article on activist science that, “The fist of solidarity stood in front of the chemist’s flask here, not simply used to hold science up high.”

[image]

Compare that with Science for the People, a Canadian radio program about science, which rebranded in 2013 from “Skeptically Speaking.” Their logo echoes the Science for the People cover image from 1970, but here the fist holds up a test tube—literally holding science up high. In a blog post about their rebrand, the producers discuss what “science for the people” means to them:
We’re about getting the word of something we love to people who might not hear about it anywhere else, in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they’ll love it a little too. We’re about taking tough scientific concepts and teasing out what matters. We’re about taking the latest in scientific progress and relate it to people like our friends and our families, and our communities, and our society.


[image]

Telling people about your love for science is great, but as Bell notes (referring to the flask-toting fist on the cover of the Geek Manifesto), “Looking back at these earlier radicals, [it] seems to pale to a Che Guevara T-shirt in comparison.”

Other efforts seem similarly pale when you begin to examine their claims about democratization in light of what democratization meant to more political generations of scientists. Like the Science for the People radio program, many of these efforts are focused on the one-way transmission of science from the academy to the public, rather than a radical transformation of science itself to address public interests.

Open access publishing has made it easier to publish and read scientific articles, and is gradually (hopefully) chipping away at the tyranny of the impact factor in academic career advancement. These are worthy goals which I support whole-heartedly—I’ve published most of my papers in open access journals—but making papers open to download doesn’t necessarily make science democratic and open to everyone.

Likewise, recent efforts to get more people involved in scientific research have been branded “citizen science,” but unlike the science shops where the citizens dictated research directions, citizen science projects simply allow non-scientists to volunteer their time collecting or analyzing data for professional researchers. These projects can be great learning experiences, allowing non-scientists to get a better picture of the scientific process, as well as great research experiences, allowing scientists to explore topics that they couldn’t have done without the expanded team. But letting people do free work for you isn’t the same as doing work for people.

In synthetic biology, “democratization” has recently been used as a marketing ploy for companies that are selling DNA or DNA editing software. Cambrian Genomics and Genome Compiler both claim to “democratize creation,” an empty statement that helps drive press coverage and TED invitations in the crowded genetic engineering market. Both companies are selling slightly different, cheaper, or easier to use versions of things that have been sold to molecular biologists for decades, but claiming that their versions will suddenly make it possible for “anyone” to do genetic engineering. Making cheaper and more accessible laboratory tools is great, but it’s worth asking what else is necessary to truly make “creation” accessible (I’m not going to get into the differences between synthesizing DNA and “creating life” here, but suffice it to say that I don’t agree with that part of their phrasing either). There are many other tools, training, and above all a reason to do it that are all necessary in order to make a “creature.” It’s no surprise then that, according to SF Gate, Cambrian currently sells DNA primarily to biotech giants like Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, and Thermo Fisher. If you don’t work to really democratize science, you’re just making cheaper tools for the people who already had access to them. (Also hype, lots of hype.)

[image]

The contemporary projects that seems most like the 70s Dutch science shops are today’s hackerspaces and community labs, where non-expert scientists can explore techno-scientific questions on their own time (and usually on their own dime). While there are a huge variety of projects and educational goals in these spaces, a particular kind of “hacker” has gone mainstream (and even received DARPA funding). Tinkering in a garage is now seen as the first step towards starting the next multibillion dollar Silicon Valley company. Hackerspaces can be the site of anti-establishment thinking, but they are also becoming part of the military-industrial complex.

None of these projects are necessarily bad. By and large, they all point towards a broader positive shift happening in the scientific community towards more transparency, accountability, diversity, and public involvement. But we shouldn’t let something as important as democratization become an empty label. We need to be critical of self-proclaimed democratizers—who is benefitting and who remains left out? Who is calling the shots and who is working for whom? Where does the money come from? How can we do science better?"
christinaagapakis  democratization  science  history  politics  1920s  netherlands  wetenschapswinkels  scienceshops  canada  scientificallyspeaking  transmission  citizenscience  scientificprocess  learning  education  accessibility  hackerspaces  communitylabs  labs  laboratories  darpa  tinkering  makerspaces 
january 2015 by robertogreco
A Dazzling Film About Youth in the Early 20th Century — The Message — Medium
"Close your eyes and imagine what it was like to be a teenager in the 1920s. Perhaps you are out late dancing swing to jazz or dressed up as a flapper. Most likely, you don’t visualize yourself stuck at home unable to see your friends like today’s teenagers. And for good reason. In the 1920s, teenagers used to complain when their parents made them come home before 11pm. Many, in fact, earned their own money; compulsory high school wasn’t fully implemented until the 1930s when adult labor became anxious about the limited number of available jobs.

Although contemporary parents fret incessantly about teenagers, most people don’t realize that the very concept of a “teenager” is a 1940s marketing invention. And it didn’t arrive overnight. It started with a transformation in the 1890s when activists began to question child labor and the psychologist G. Stanley Hall identified a state of “adolescence” that was used to propel significant changes in labor laws. By the early 1900s, with youth out of the work force and having far too much free time, concerns about the safety and morality of the young emerged, prompting reformers to imagine ways to put youthful energy to good use. Up popped the Scouts, a social movement intended to help produce robust youth, fit in body, mind, and soul. This inadvertently became a training ground for World War I soldiers who, by the 1920s, were ready to let loose. And then along came the Great Depression, sending a generation into a tailspin and prompting government intervention. While the US turned to compulsory high school and the Civilian Conservation Corps, Germany saw the rise of Hitler Youth. And an entire cohort, passionate about being a part of a community with meaning, was mobilized on the march towards World War II.

All of this (and much more) is brilliantly documented in Jon Savage’s beautiful historical account Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture. This book helped me rethink how teenagers are currently understood in light of how they were historically positioned. Adolescence is one of many psychological and physical transformations that people go through as they mature, but being a teenager is purely a social construct, laden with all sorts of political and economic interests.

When I heard that Savage’s book was being turned into a film, I was both ecstatic and doubtful. How could a filmmaker do justice to the 576 pages of historical documentation? To my surprise and delight, the answer was simple: make a film that brings to visual life the historical texts that Savage referenced.

In his new documentary, Teenage, Matt Wolf weaves together an unbelievable collection of archival footage to produce a breathless visual collage. Overlaid on top of this visual eye candy are historical notes and diary entries that bring to life the voices and experiences of teens in the first half of the 20th century. Although this film invites the viewer to reflect on the past, doing so forces a reflection on the present. I can’t help but wonder: what will historians think of our contemporary efforts to isolate young people “for their own good”?

This film is making its way through US independent theaters so it may take a while until you can see it, but to whet your appetite, watch the trailer: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8bNqD9YhkM ]"
danahboyd  2014  youth  teens  film  history  documentary  adolescence  jonsavage  economics  politics  policy  mattwolf  compolsoryeducation  1920s  1900s  labor  childlaborlaws  law  government 
may 2014 by robertogreco
A Dazzling Film About Youth in the Early 20th Century — Medium
"Close your eyes and imagine what it was like to be a teenager in the 1920s. Perhaps you are out late dancing swing to jazz or dressed up as a flapper. Most likely, you don’t visualize yourself stuck at home unable to see your friends like today’s teenagers. And for good reason. In the 1920s, teenagers used to complain when their parents made them come home before 11pm. Many, in fact, earned their own money; compulsory high school wasn’t fully implemented until the 1930s when adult labor became anxious about the limited number of available jobs.

Although contemporary parents fret incessantly about teenagers, most people don’t realize that the very concept of a “teenager” is a 1940s marketing invention. And it didn’t arrive overnight. It started with a transformation in the 1890s when activists began to question child labor and the psychologist G. Stanley Hall identified a state of “adolescence” that was used to propel significant changes in labor laws. By the early 1900s, with youth out of the work force and having far too much free time, concerns about the safety and morality of the young emerged, prompting reformers to imagine ways to put youthful energy to good use. Up popped the Scouts, a social movement intended to help produce robust youth, fit in body, mind, and soul. This inadvertently became a training ground for World War I soldiers who, by the 1920s, were ready to let loose. And then along came the Great Depression, sending a generation into a tailspin and prompting government intervention. While the US turned to compulsory high school and the Civilian Conservation Corps, Germany saw the rise of Hitler Youth. And an entire cohort, passionate about being a part of a community with meaning, was mobilized on the march towards World War II.

All of this (and much more) is brilliantly documented in Jon Savage’s beautiful historical account Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture. This book helped me rethink how teenagers are currently understood in light of how they were historically positioned. Adolescence is one of many psychological and physical transformations that people go through as they mature, but being a teenager is purely a social construct, laden with all sorts of political and economic interests.

When I heard that Savage’s book was being turned into a film, I was both ecstatic and doubtful. How could a filmmaker do justice to the 576 pages of historical documentation? To my surprise and delight, the answer was simple: make a film that brings to visual life the historical texts that Savage referenced.

In his new documentary, Teenage, Matt Wolf weaves together an unbelievable collection of archival footage to produce a breathless visual collage. Overlaid on top of this visual eye candy are historical notes and diary entries that bring to life the voices and experiences of teens in the first half of the 20th century. Although this film invites the viewer to reflect on the past, doing so forces a reflection on the present. I can’t help but wonder: what will historians think of our contemporary efforts to isolate young people “for their own good”?"
danahboyd  adolescence  teens  teenagers  2014  children  history  labor  education  mattwolf  youth  youthculture  culture  society  1920s  1890s  1940s  work  schools  activism  documentary  jonsavage 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The Roaring Twenties
"an interactive exploration of the historical soundscape of New York City"
sound  soundscapes  nyc  history  1920s  neogeography  maps  mapping  emilythompson  scottmahoy  via:pomeranian 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Dora Russell
"In 1927 Dora and Bertrand Russell opened their own progressive boarding school, Beacon Hill, in West Sussex. The school reflected Bertrand's view that children should not be forced to follow a strictly academic curriculum. Other aspects of the school illustrated Dora's ideas on education. The school was run on the principle that freedom, if understood early enough, would result in maturity and self-discipline. Dora also emphasized co-operation rather than competition and believed that the best way to teach the benefits of democracy was to run the school on democratic lines. Dora's educational philosophy was expressed in her book In Defence of Children (1932)."
history  bertrandrussell  dorawinifredrussell  education  progressive  beaconhillschool  uk  1930s  1920s  schools  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  alternative  tcsnmy 
december 2009 by robertogreco

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