Benchmark Blog

Immigrants are essential

On Monday night, President Trump announced that he would sign an executive order halting immigration into the U.S. The 38-word tweet was short on details. Most immigration is stopped already, leaving rumor mills to spin as more information emerged from other sources. Trump’s motivation for further suspending immigration was clear–COVID-19 necessitates more restrictions to protect U.S. jobs. There are […]

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Antitrust can’t fix social media bias

It doesn’t take much to find accusations of bias by today’s big tech companies. On one side, tech companies are accused of bias against conservatives for removing too much political speech. At the same time, these companies are accused of favoring conservatives for not taking down enough harmful speech. Even though there is little agreement on the problem, the […]

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Remote work is here to stay

Coauthored by CGO student research fellow Ellie McDonald. Today marks my 24th day of working from home due to COVID-19. Whether they like it or not, more and more employees like me are being pushed into remote work due to the public health crisis currently sweeping the globe. In early February, Time Magazine dubbed the current shift […]

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Did an 8-year-old merger cause today’s ventilator shortage?

Last week, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to order General Motors to produce badly needed ventilators in the fight against COVID-19. How bad has this shortage become? New York State, for example, alone needs 30,000 additional ventilators to respond to the crisis adequately. According to a recent The New York Times report, a merger within the […]

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Regulatory uncertainty made COVID responses difficult

The introduction of COVID-19 has moved markets and sparked incredible changes in civil society and at federal agencies. But there is disagreement about whether or not official institutional responses have been effective and well-timed. Mark Lutter, founder and executive director of the Charter Cities Institute, chided the response, saying, “A functioning government could have prevented the crisis, […]

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Should state lines stop doctors?

As I write this piece in my makeshift home-office, I am entering week three of self-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19. Like my coworkers and countless others around the world still fortunate enough to remain employed, I am learning to adapt to this new normal. No one is sure how long it will last, or how […]

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ICE should release detainees

As of March 21, 2020, ICE holds 38,058 immigrants in detention centers across the country. Today, those immigrants are at substantial risk of contracting COVID-19, or the coronavirus. To prevent a mass outbreak at detention centers, ICE needs to release half of those people as soon as possible. We get how this proposal sounds. Detained individuals are generally considered dangerous. The […]

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NYC lifted its ban on e-bikes

To control the spread of coronavirus, New York City announced last week that all restaurants and bars would close for dine-in customers, leaving restaurants and hungry residents to rely on delivery and take out. To ease the burden on overworked delivery workers, de Blasio allowed previously illegal e-bikes to operate in the city after months […]

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Cooperation over isolation

On March 18, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it is delaying most of its removal operations because of COVID-19. Immigration activists and public policy researchers celebrated the move. Early the next morning, however, Acting Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli set out to correct misunderstandings of the policy change. Referring to the original reporting as mistaken, he tweeted that the current policy does […]

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Why are we so slow today?

We used to do things fast, and Patrick Collison has proof. The Stripe CEO maintains a list on his personal web page of feats of rapid, decisive action.
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Targeted help or universal income?

Last week Senator Bernie Sanders announced his plan to roll out a federally-funded universal program for childcare and early education if he is elected president. Sanders stated, “Childcare must be guaranteed for every child regardless of their parents’ income, just like K-12 education.” The plan would come with a price tag of $1.5 trillion that […]

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Welcome to the kill zone?

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued special orders to Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft to provide information on transactions the companies completed between 2010 and 2019. Under a law known as the Hart–Scott–Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR), companies are only required to notify the FTC and the Department of Justice (DoJ) […]

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Waste storage or waste of money?

Earlier this month, when President Trump released his proposed budget, there was a noticeable line-item missing. In each of his previous three budget proposals, Trump included appropriations of around $120 million to re-start the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Each year those appropriations have been rejected by Congress. This year, the President appears […]

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Immigrants give more than they get

On January 27th, the Supreme Court allowed the implementation across most of the country of stricter standards for immigrants seeking to come to the United States. Known as the public charge rule, the recent change allows the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to deny green cards or permanent residency to any immigrant who has […]

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We should be tackling disinformation

Last week, presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren released a new plan meant to tackle voter disinformation campaigns online. The proposal includes laudable goals, like convening a summit of countries to enhance information sharing. It also makes critical missteps and misdiagnoses the problem of political disinformation. Platforms have been active in fighting disinformation, as both anecdotal and empirical […]

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Is 2020 the year of micromobility?

Last week the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the extension of its electric moped pilot program in Washington DC. This extension will allow electric mopeds to remain in the city’s dockless vehicle program. The program is part of the city’s efforts to foster shared mobility transportation and reduce single-occupancy vehicles. The pilot program also includes other forms of shared […]

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Bringing home the virtual bacon

Employees of one startup now teleport to work. High Fidelity, a project started by Philip Rosedale, develops virtual office experiences for companies with remote workforces. Building a digital analogue to the analog world is a labor of love for Philip Rosendale. In 2003, he created Second Life, the online virtual archipelago, with a thriving in-game economy. In […]

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Lessons from the ashes

Chances are, at some point in the past few weeks, you have read or listened to news about the wildfires currently burning across Australia. Much like 2018 here in the United States, this fire season is setting records in Australia for all the wrong reasons. Australia’s fire season typically stretches from December through March but […]

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Sanctuary for immigrants?

Across the country, hundreds of cities, states, and counties are having the same conversation about sanctuary policies for immigrants. In December of 2019, Madison, Wisconsin, became a microcosm of that discussion. The conclusions that each jurisdiction across the U.S. reaches may have dramatic effects on US immigration policy. The conversation in Madison was about a proposal […]

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All I want for Christmas is a shorter commute

Discussions about the future of work often focus on the relationship between worker satisfaction and productivity. While we know that happy and fulfilled workers are more productive, an often-overlooked factor in workplace satisfaction is how we get to work in the first place. The great American commute continues to get longer, and this trend is […]

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The end of shopping as we know it?

Numbers are in, and 2019 was another record-breaking year for Black Friday Weekend. Yet once again, the lines and fights that have come to characterize Black Friday were conspicuously missing. Why? It’s simple: online shopping is fundamentally changing the way we buy. More than half of all Thanksgiving weekend sales took place online. Unsurprisingly, it seems shoppers prefer […]

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Was your Thanksgiving dinner radioactive?

Last month, I wrote a post about how misperceptions and misinformation surrounding nuclear energy has proven to be more dangerous than the technology itself. And, as luck would have it, just a week later, I got to witness an incident involving potentially radioactive material, public exposure, and misinformation play out right here in my hometown. The […]

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Let’s tear down the invisible wall

Extensive attention is given to proposals to build a wall along the United States’ southern border. By the end of 2020, for example, at least 450 miles of wall is expected to be built. In a way, a physical barrier would add a second wall around the US. Immigration scholars call the existing legal rules and processes for legal […]

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The future of education may not be what you think

On going discussions about the future of work continue to center around how to prepare people better to step into the rapidly growing tech field. In a recent survey, 80 percent of companies said they will need more employees with tech skills soon. Thanks to continued growth in tech-focused areas, there’s little doubt that there will […]

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The opportunity cost of public transit

On November 5th, voters from 19 states passed 89 percent of the transportation measures on their election ballots. One of the most interesting votes occurred in Houston, where voters approved a bond of $35 billion to improve the city’s public transportation system. The bond is earmarked to fund 75 miles of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes, 16 miles of Light Rail […]

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With Nuclear Power, the Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

Ask most people what they think about nuclear power these days, and the odds are that the conversation will involve some discussion of dangerous radioactive waste and nuclear meltdowns. For over half a century, nuclear energy has played a significant role in both U.S. and international pop culture. Still, most movies, comic books, and television […]

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Would deportations even work?

Between 2000 and 2017, the United States government removed 5,562,827 people from the country. A removal is exactly what you think: a person is forced to leave the U.S. because they are here without legal documentation. Source: Department of Homeland Security. Note: The data is for fiscal years starting October 1 of the calendar year prior. […]

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Finding Meaning in a Future of Less Work

Akey topic of debate in last week’s Democratic presidential debate was the perennial question of how technological progress is impacting workers and what should be done to protect them. Candidates argued about whether international trade or automation was to blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs. Both are important drivers. But concerns about automation, in particular, have […]

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“The great moral renovator of society”

Earlier today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a wide-ranging, “unfiltered” speech outlining his views on free expression and the internet (you can read it here and a companion oped here). It marked a rare and forceful speech from someone who has become a bit of a boogeyman among policymakers on both the left and right. It also outlined, in clear and unapologetic terms, […]

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