Friday Roundup: Practical politics, compact cities, the sharing economy, and regulatory reform

There are always a few items we’ve read during a week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

David Blankenhorn (The American Interest): In Defense of the Practical Politician

A recent Pew survey found that now a majority of the American public believes that “ordinary Americans” could do a better job of solving the country’s problems than elected officials.This isn’t right. Whatever the problems in our politics—and yes, there are many!—something is deeply wrong in any society in which the governed hold the governing in this much contempt. I’m not sure of everything we’ll need to do as a society to fix this problem, but I do have one idea.

Fanis Grammenos (New Geography): Are Compact Cities More Affordable? 

In a recent article we questioned a publicized correlation between a compactness index level (i.e., urban form) and housing affordability. The argument supporting compactness is that it enables the use of public transit and active mobility modes, which reduce transport expenses sufficiently to eclipse the higher cost of housing prevalent in compact districts. We challenged that assumption, and found that data from eighteen US regional metro regions showed no such effect. Even if it were at all present, it would not be sufficiently pronounced to be an effective solution. 

Pew Research Center: Q&A: The impact and evolution of the sharing economy

[T]here’s a misfit between regulatory interventions that were necessary in the past and the new models…. Nobody’s in the wrong – it’s just that we need to rethink and reinvent regulation, rather than trying to retrofit.

… it seems like regulatory resistance to Airbnb has been the strongest in New York, while Paris has become a poster child for how to rapidly define and implement balanced new laws to legalize Airbnb activity. (If one had to predict a few years ago which of the governments – New York in the U.S. or Paris in France – was more likely to resist entry by a Silicon Valley based disruptive platform, I think most people would have predicted the opposite.)

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Colleges Bounty of Foreign Students Thins

Eastern Washington University’s English Language Institute is in crisis mode.

The intensive language training program for foreign students in Cheney, Wash., saw enrollment plummet by more than half in recent months, to 41 students for the spring quarter. It cut its part-time teaching staff to two from eight, and eliminated some student-worker positions.

Seemingly overnight, its core market—Saudi Arabian students funded by government scholarships—nosedived.

Jay Timmons, National Association of Manufacturing: Will You Stand with Us to Reform Regulation?

35,000. That’s the cost of federal regulations endured by a small manufacturer with fewer than 50 employees—per year, per employee!

I think we can all agree: this isn’t the way our regulatory system should work. It is time for real reform.

That’s why the National Association of Manufacturers, in partnership with the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, is launching a project called Rethink Red Tape to bring the regulatory issue to life for lawmakers in Washington and provide real momentum for reform.