Benchmark Blog

Here at The Center for Growth and Opportunity, we have a unique way of confronting challenges. Relentless optimism. Bold commitment. Fearless innovation. We want to leave the world a better place than when we got here. Whether it’s our award-winning students, or our world-class researchers, we look to work together to find creative solutions to today’s most pressing issues. We’re committed to turning ideas into action.

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

Give geothermal the same permitting concessions as oil and gas on public lands 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 […]

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We owe our Halloween traditions to immigrants

Immigrants enrich US culture Can you imagine a man clever enough to make the devil jealous? In an Irish legend, “Stingy Jack” earned that distinction. Jack caught the devil’s attention from his reputation as a drunkard with a silver-tongue. One dark night in the countryside, the devil appeared in front of Jack on his walk to the […]

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The hazards of immigrant detention during a pandemic

Alternatives are better for public health and taxpayers 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 […]

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Workers don’t fit into two neat categories

Policymakers should stop trying to force them to 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 […]

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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. The issue comes down to how utilities should account for electricity that rooftop solar owners feed onto the electrical grid. Utah’s largest utility, Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), wants to pay […]

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Blame and vertical integration

Who do you blame when something goes wrong? 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 […]

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Is data nonrivalrous?

Arecent 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 can […]

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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

In1717, 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 moving […]

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What The Office teaches us about immigrants

Real economics in a satirical workplace 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 […]

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Xeriscaping the West

Incentives + education for low-water landscaping 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 […]

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Let’s become a nation of bettors

How prediction markets can make the world more rational Ifwe 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 […]

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A modernized approach to nuclear energy

Building a better nuclear industry requires global allies 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 […]

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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

What can we learn from the first stimulus checks? 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 […]

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Everybody in politics hates how social media works

But that doesn’t mean platforms are biased 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 […]

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

New polling sheds light on why we should be skeptical about the techlash 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 […]

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Children don’t belong in immigrant detention centers

They belong in school 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 […]

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Towards an era of human-oriented computing

For computers to serve us, they must understand human contexts Power relationships can be deceptive, even those with inanimate objects. Who is in charge, you or your computer? I am old enough to remember booting up a DOS or Linux computer straight to a command line. The black screen displayed some apparently random symbols followed […]

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Consumers value Facebook to the tune of $1 trillion a year

On June 16, former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang took to Twitter to call out Facebook, Yang asks an important question, “How much of that value are users seeing?” Normally, economists use prices and quantity of sales to measure how much value a sector creates. Since social media services are said to be free, it is confusedly […]

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Remotely satisfied

The virtual future of work is closer than we think Inthe pre-COVID-19 world, the idea that remote meetings are second-best was pervasive in traditional corporate thinking. But insisting in-person is better is a flawed approach. It ignores the societal, economic, social, and mental benefits of remote work. It also downplays the functionality and promise of […]

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Working from home is benefiting the environment

And it may be a long-term trend More people have been working from home over the past few months than ever before in modern history. In the wake of COVID-19, government restrictions and company policies alike have been put in place to encourage social distancing by requiring workers to clock in from their home office […]

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The Post-COVID world needs micromobility

*This is part 2 of a 2 part series on micromobility after COVID. Read part 1 here. Among its widespread impacts, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we get around. One of the biggest changes has been a decrease in the number of people who use public transportation. With people seeking to avoid exposure to COVID-19, they […]

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Micromobility in a post-COVID world

*Part 1 of a 2 part series on micromobility after COVID Ascities struggle to return to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a looming fear that traffic will be worse than ever. To prevent the impending Carmageddon, cities around the world are backing micromobility. E-scooters, E-bikes, bikes, mopeds, and other forms […]

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How sanctuary saves lives

Sanctuary protects vulnerable people More and more cities and states are adopting sanctuary policies. The extent of sanctuary’s spread is difficult to know, yet it’s clear from debates at city halls and state legislatures across the country that the idea is becoming more prevalent. How sanctuary policies work varies from place to place. At root, sanctuary limits how local […]

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It may finally be time for unstoppable social media platforms

There’s never a dull moment with Donald J. Trump. Twitter’s fact check of our esteemed President last week reignited a wonky debate over a law called Section 230, a longstanding pillar of U.S. Internet policy, as Trump and his allies such as Sens. Rubio and Hawley take aim at the provision. 47 USC 230 was originally […]

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A dangerous game

President Trump is, by all accounts, the first social media president. His use of these platforms allowed him to side-step political insiders, win the GOP nomination, and find his way into the oval office. The megaphone that sites like Facebook and Twitter have provided the president is unprecedented, and announcements traditionally made from rose gardens […]

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