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.

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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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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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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The surprising leaders in the fight against climate change

U.S. companies are succeeding where the federal government has failed Inthe months since Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez released the Green New Deal (GND), Democratic presidential hopefuls have been promoting their own climate proposals. Some have thrown their full support behind the Green New Deal, while others like former Representative Beto O’Rourke have unveiled plans that take a more […]

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Remote work and the screen-time debate

Screens are winning, and that’s not a bad thing In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the country are working from home at unprecedented levels. Although remote work has been on the rise for some time now, up until the pandemic, the trend was relatively slow. Gallup found that from 2012 to 2016, the percentage […]

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Which jobs and industries are most affected by COVID-19?

State-level analysis and implications for future aid packages he COVID-19 pandemic continues to create an unprecedented effect on the economy, increasing unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Many jobs have been lost, and claims for unemployment insurance have surpassed by far the all-time high. In fact, as figure 1 shows, over the […]

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The Apple Google API is a supplement to manual tracing, not a substitute

This week Apple and Google rolled out a new application programming interface (API), which is meant to help in the fight against COVID. The “Exposure Notification API” gives public health officials and other selected developers the ability to create new mobile applications that would alert users if they came into contact with someone positively tagged as […]

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The value of sanctuary

And its benefits to society Even before he was elected, President Trump campaigned on anti-immigration issues. And since he took office, Trump has fought immigration more than any other recent President. He has made out immigrants to be “bad hombres” — criminals who are disrupting the American way of life. His efforts to reduce immigration include building a border […]

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