Benchmark Blog

Want to See Green Tech Thrive?

In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates said it’s time to re-examine our current approach at subsidizing green energy. Speaking of wind and solar, Gates said, “The tax benefits there should be shifted into things that are more limiting, like energy storage, offshore wind — which still has a huge premium price […]

Read More

Immigrants, Robots, and the American Farmer

Every fall, crops are harvested, and the seasonal workers return home. For many agricultural workers, that means returning to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Farmers throughout the US have always relied on immigrant workers to bring in crops, yet in the last few years, farmers have made more and more requests to bring immigrants […]

Read More

“Look at the Camera for Entry”

Earlier this year, shoppers at Jacksons Food Stores in Tacoma, Washington found a new sign greeting them when they tried to enter the store. It told them to “Look at the Camera for Entry” because facial recognition technology was in use. Billy Easley examines the implications of this becoming commonplace across the United States in […]

Read More

Did Gavin Newsom kill the sharing economy?

Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom, signed groundbreaking legislation that will have widespread impacts across the gig economy. Once in effect, the law will establish three criteria for whether a worker should be categorized as an employee or an independent contractor. Proponents of the law have celebrated it as a step toward establishing fair working conditions for gig […]

Read More

America’s nuclear future

Climate change continues to drive the upcoming 2020 presidential election, and a majority of Democratic candidates have already put out their plans. Many revolve around similar strategies: move to 100 percent renewable energy, electrification of the transportation sector, and taxes on carbon. The timeframes vary, and some hope to achieve all of this before today’s toddlers have graduated […]

Read More

From Booze Cruise to Silicon Sands

If you’ve been to Tijuana, it was probably on a booze cruise. Known as the “Vegas before Vegas was Vegas,” the city holds a particular reputation. Only 15 miles from the US border, tourists have long headed south to escape the cold weather or for an inexpensive weekend getaway. Tijuana is known for its tequila and tacos; however, there’s […]

Read More

Chasing Away the American Dream

Thanks to low overhead costs and high flexibility, home-based businesses are an increasingly popular option for aspiring entrepreneurs. Amazon, Apple, Disney and some of the most successful companies in the United States were started at home. According to Small Business Trends, 69 percent of entrepreneurs in the US start their business out of their home. They clearly play […]

Read More

Should we fear facial recognition?

This week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for a ban on police use of facial recognition as part of his presidential campaign’s criminal justice reform platform. He’s not alone. Earlier this year, San Francisco became the first city in the US to ban local agencies’ use of facial recognition technology. Since then, officials in Oakland, CA and Somerville, MA also voted to limit how police […]

Read More

Why immigration raids backfire

Last week President Trump’s administration executed the largest immigration raid in the previous decade. With a total of 680 people arrested, the raids throughout six Mississippi cities will leave permanent marks. The raids hit an especially emotional note as August 7 also marked the first day of school. Children emerged from classes to find relatives or family friends waiting for […]

Read More

Reskilling tomorrow’s workforce

Amazon recently announced that it will invest $700 million to help 100,000 of its employees improve their technical skills to stay competitive. The company has dubbed these training efforts “upskilling,” noting that in today’s changing workplace, “there’s a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before, and a huge opportunity for people with the […]

Read More

Driverless cars could transform our roads

Last year, 40,000 Americans died in car crashes. Another 4.5 million were seriously injured. And every seven seconds, another person was hurt on the road. These numbers are astronomically high. For reference, they’re more than double the number of deaths caused by prescription opioids in 2017. But that’s not the worst of it. The saddest fact about these statistics […]

Read More

Beyond the Fight for $15

The latest jobs report from the BLS reports a sudden acceleration of an ongoing trend of job growth, and unemployment in the US is now around 3.7 percent. Despite these impressive job numbers, real wages remain low for American workers. Perhaps in light of this, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Raise the Wage Act this week, which reflects the […]

Read More

The road to wildfire is paved with good intentions

This piece is the fourth of a multi-part series by Brian Isom on wildfires. Click to read parts one, two, and three. In January of 1969, an oil drilling accident off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, released millions of gallons of oil into the surrounding ocean ecosystem. Within days, 30 miles of beaches along the California coast were covered […]

Read More

The Border Patrol’s problems aren’t about Facebook

We should expect the best from our public servants, and they should feel an obligation to provide their very best to us. Otherwise, they should find other work. Earlier this month, ProPublica revealed posts from a secret Facebook group that raises questions about the culture within the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). As the Washington Post put it, […]

Read More

Bringing mom to work (and bringing work to mom)

This week Utah announced that thousands of state employees may soon become eligible for a work-from-home option. That news comes after a pilot project showed that productivity went up 20 percent among workers allowed to telecommute. But these workers aren’t just more productive. They’re also reducing carbon dioxide emissions by foregoing a long commute and […]

Read More

You probably can’t pass the US citizenship test

The Fourth of July brings fireworks, cookouts, and a lot of red, white, and blue. For many of the approximately 850,000 people who became citizens in 2018, this will be their first Independence Day as full citizens. That number of new citizens also marks a five-year high, which should give everyone cause to celebrate. Don’t […]

Read More

Are nonexistent connected cars slowing our WiFi?

Getting connected to Wi-Fi can be a frustrating experience. Even if you can find a signal, your connection may be slow or unreliable. Sometimes the culprit may be many other devices trying to use the same radio frequencies at the same time. The FCC should now help alleviate this problem by creating a large, contiguous […]

Read More

Let’s fight fire with fire

Earlier this month, the Chief of the US Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen, cautioned that there are currently 1 billion acres of land in the US at risk for catastrophic wildfires.
Read More

Immigrants bring prosperity

If you could move from your current home to take a job paying four times more than you make now, would you make the move? Consider this chart from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of average annual wages across the world. The blue column at the far left is Mexico, the center-right red […]

Read More

Facebook isn’t biased against you

Much has been made lately of social media “bias.” Senator Ted Cruz is holding hearings about it. The White House launched an online tool to report it. Senator Josh Hawley has made it the centerpiece of his time so far in Washington. And, as Megan Hansen and I pointed out last year, the cries of social media bias seems to run both ways across […]

Read More

America has a monopoly problem

Quite a bit of ink has been spilled lately over America’s “monopoly problem” and how to fix it. Nobel Prize winners are writing about it. Executives are being called into congressional hearings and questioned about it. Presidential candidates are building platforms on it. And while calls to “break up big tech” can now be heard from both ends of the […]

Read More

Uber drivers aren’t employees

The past week has been a big one for the sharing economy. Last Friday, Uber joined Lyft on the New York Stock Exchange. And, yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that drivers for Uber are not employees but independent contractors. This isn’t to say that it was all rainbows and unicorns for the ridesharing […]

Read More

When “innovation” goes wrong

The start of summer brings back the welcome sound of lawnmowers. If you’re anything like me, especially as a new homeowner, it’s a time to spend the summer months outside. If you pay attention to your gas cap or the warning notes on the side of the mower then you might notice a sticker or […]

Read More

Burning down the house

*This piece is the second of a multi-part series by Brian Isom on wildfires. Click to read parts one, three, and four. Just over one month ago, Paradise, California, issued its first rebuild permit since the Camp Fire devastated the community last November. The town of 26,000 residents was all but wiped off the map, taking with it 86 lives. This […]

Read More

Optimism will save the world

This week marks the 49th Earth Day, a celebration of the natural wonders of the planet. Started in the United States in 1970, Earth Day is now a global environmental movement with 192 countries participating. This year, Earth Day comes on the heels of announcements from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that Americans used more energy in […]

Read More

The new identity politics

In what is being called “the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling,” China is using facial recognition technology and its network of surveillance cameras to identify and track Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang region. As the New York Times reported, this marks yet another dramatic shift in who […]

Read More

Is America Full?

During a visit to the US border with Mexico, President Trump announced that the US was full. His comments, given during a press briefing in Calexico, California, are part of his administration’s work to prevent illegal immigration. The President was reviewing and touring an area of repaired and updated fencing at the Mexican border. The President’s comments echo similar […]

Read More

The electrical grid is changing

The electrical grid is changing. While at one time those interwoven lines and poles carrying power from electricity generators to you only flowed in one direction, that isn’t always the case anymore. Traditionally someone—usually far outside of your city — ran coal-powered power plants that sent electricity into cities. Today, we have a variety of […]

Read More

Announcing the CGO’s Innovation Policy Fellowship

Come work with us! Atthe Center for Growth and Opportunity, we are dedicated to producing ideas that transform lives, improving individual well-being, and breaking down barriers that are holding back progress. As a part of this, our research team is focused on finding optimistic and actionable solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges and […]

Read More