Benchmark Blog

30 by 30

The 30 by 30 initiative provides a feasible step toward preserving nature and combating climate change that has the potential to attract bipartisan support.
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Why are we holding immigrants back?

Imagine you are born outside of the United States. You work hard, get an education, and work in a well-paying job. After 10 years of experience, you decide you want to move to the United States. You would like to keep working in the same field you’ve been in for years, but you are not […]

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Debunking the myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines

Last week, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that their COVID-19 vaccine had shown efficacy in human trials, and this Monday, Moderna did the same. No one was sure this point would ever be reached. Both groups have submitted applications to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval, paving the way for the vaccines to be distributed beginning […]

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What you should know about the Google antitrust case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has now filed its long-awaited case against Google, taking aim at the company for its “anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising.” The primary focus of this case is narrower than expected, alleging that Google “entered into […]

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The biggest no-brainer in all of energy policy

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the shale revolution. Unconventional oil and gas wells have made the United States a net energy exporter for the first time since the 1950s. The revolution has been a rare bright spot in U.S. economic productivity growth, which has stagnated since the 1970s. And indeed, as geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan argues, […]

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The hazards of immigrant detention during a pandemic

For most, COVID-19’s emergence has meant some level of distancing from friends and families. Yet for immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been difficult. Immigrant detention centers across the country have been hotspots for COVID-19. ICE has taken a few actions to mitigate risks, […]

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Workers don’t fit into two neat categories

The battle over how gig economy workers should be classified continues to rage on in California. Last month California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that exempts more workers from the requirements of AB5 — a controversial law that went into effect at the beginning of this year that makes it more difficult for companies to classify […]

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The curious case of Romanian broadband

Photographers often lament taking pictures in Romania. Taking a clear photo of centuries-old homes and city centers is difficult because of the wires. Everywhere they are strung, breaking up the views. Part of the reason for these dense nests of wires comes as a result of Romania’s wired broadband networks, which had their genesis in […]

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Valuing rooftop solar is tricky

How much is rooftop solar worth? This simple question has stimulated a raging debate between electric utilities and solar advocates, both in Utah and around the country.
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Blame and vertical integration

Have you ever experienced a blue screen of death? Nobody likes it when his computer crashes, but the BSoD, the screen that is displayed when Windows crashes, features a particularly frustrating problem: It is difficult to know who is to blame for the crash. An operating system can crash for a number of reasons. The […]

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Is data nonrivalrous?

A recent paper published in the American Economic Review has reignited interest in data property rights. In “Nonrivalry and the Economics of Data,” economists Charles I. Jones and Christopher Tonetti generate insights on data property regimes by beginning first with a simple model of data. After articulating the idea within a model of the economy, the authors […]

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Re-thinking nuclear waste disposal

In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposed some changes regarding the disposal of radioactive waste in the US. Two months later, an article from The Guardian asserted these proposed changes could “allow dangerous amounts of radioactive material to be disposed of in places like municipal landfills, with potentially serious consequences to human health and the environment.” This […]

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DIY vaccines and citizen science

In 1717, Lady Mary Montagu was living in Turkey as the wife of the British ambassador. There, she witnessed Turkish women practicing variolation, a method of smallpox inoculation that involved transferring fluid from an infected person’s smallpox pustules into an uninfected person’s open wound. Though the practice was common throughout Africa and Asia, it was uncommon in Europe. Before […]

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What The Office teaches us about immigrants

Hidetoshi Hasagawa, or Hide, is a warehouse worker in NBC hit comedy, The Office. Of course, fans may better know him as the number one heart surgeon in Japan. As Hide reveals, he left Japan to escape from the Yakuza after killing one of the Yakuza’s bosses. The warehouse foreman, Darryl Philbin, gave Hide a job working […]

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Xeriscaping the West

Air conditioning units and sprinklers are still humming across most of the U.S. as the dog days of summer start to wind down. For the driest areas in America, sweltering days with soaring temperatures mean high rates of water use. And the future will likely bring even more demand for water. Western states like Idaho, […]

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Let’s become a nation of bettors

If we are going to improve public discourse, we must at the outset confront a tricky question: What if people prefer their polarized beliefs? If they are going to line up behind their preferred ideas no matter the facts, we aren’t going to get very far by better educating our ideological opponents. There will always […]

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A modernized approach to nuclear energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) wants to help colonize space, and they want to do it with nuclear energy. Late last month, DOE released a notice that they are seeking information about the challenges and feasibility of using reactors to power future missions. The goal is to design a microreactor — with greater than 10 kilowatts […]

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Tracing the impact of automation on workers and firms

Policymakers worry about the impact on workers from robots and other automation techniques. COVID-19 has pushed many companies to consider automating or embracing robots for public health. Workers worry that after the pandemic, they’ll find a robot in their place. Those fears are overblown. After all, it took a global pandemic for many companies to embrace automation. […]

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Round 2 of Cash vs. Covid-19

August recess is set to begin this week for the House and next week for the Senate, and lawmakers are still negotiating on an aid package meant to help businesses, states, and individuals cope with the economic effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While they may disagree about the specifics of unemployment benefits and aid […]

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What can we expect at the tech antitrust hearing, an FAQ

CEOs from Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple are set to appear before the House Antitrust Subcommittee today to discuss competition on their platforms. This hearing will vary dramatically in the key questions and policy remedies posed to each company. The following FAQ helps cut through the noise. Why is the Antitrust Subcommittee hauling in these tech CEOs? […]

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Everybody in politics hates how social media works

This is the second installment in a series, find the first here. We hear a lot about “censorship” by online platforms. A certain vocal segment of right-of-center politicians and commentators regularly accuse Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms of bias against Republicans. Indeed, the Trump Administration recently issued an executive order to determine whether the […]

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The problem with today’s tech hearing, in 6 charts

The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are testifying before Congress today in a hearing billed as crucial for the future of both antitrust law and Big Tech’s relationship with Washington. Putting these companies under the glare of a national spotlight isn’t new, and is just the latest episode in Congress’ ongoing efforts to increase the […]

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Children don’t belong in immigrant detention centers

Recent reports have exposed just how bad life is for the children who find themselves in detention centers along our southern border. The New York Times has described filthy conditions lacking food and basic health care. Investigations have uncovered overflowing toilets, extreme heat, bedbugs, and days without showers. At a detention center in Clint, Texas, “the stench of children’s dirty […]

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