I’ve long thought we just need to figure it a way, any way, to reform land use that’ll pass constitutional muster. If the Commerce Clause can’t cut it, use the taxing and spending powers to tax everyone in a state that doesn’t adopt a model zoning and land use code and pay out the revenue to citizens of places that do adopt it. Whatever it takes, as the scale of the problem is truly enormous.

And when/if Congress ever does go after reforms, it needs to go big. Toss out the American zoning/land use play book and just copy-paste Japan’s. Or go full Lochnerite (though not on anything else) and declare the entire system of zoning and land use regulations to be outlawed — maybe isn’t the best solution but it’s a damn sight better than where we are.

I can’t wait for the podcast! Very much looking forward to it.

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Extra points for Buridan’s ass! As for a possible mechanism that’s more carrots than sticks to get the donkey moving, Ed Glaeser’s recent NYT piece has some ideas for a better way to use the big infrastructure plan to promote more, denser new housing. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/12/opinion/biden-infrastructure-zoning.html

Apart from the complexity of designing and implementing a Congressional fix like Glaeser’s, I fear the current makeup of SCOTUS, and its penchant for pulling states’ rights “doctrine” out of thin air when the GOP is unhappy with a Democratic policy (e.g. Obamacare) may make either carrots or sticks vulnerable to another doctrinal “elaboration.” Still, it’s essential to try, and I look forward hearing about options in your next podcast.

On the macroeconomic dilemmas of instruments and goals, one of the reasons automatic fiscal stabilizers at the individual or household level are attractive is how they send differential fiscal stimulus to regions suffering heterogeneous shocks like oil prices cratering. I wish we could get back to an era when more fiscal policy was deliberately designed with automatic features. The decades-long deficit fetishes produced more damage than just debt ceiling gamesmanship, pay-fors and sequestration.

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One thing that is overlooked in the argument for regional mobility, which is that it helps those left behind, does not appear to be true. If migration causes percentage shocks to local population, these appear to cause equal percentage shocks to employment, leaving the employment rate unchanged. Encouraging people to leave Flint will not help increase the employment rate for the many people left behind in Flint. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/jep.34.3.99

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