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.

From Booze Cruise to Silicon Sands

This article was originally posted on the Medium publication The Benchmark 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

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From Booze Cruise to Silicon Sands

What Tijuana teaches us about immigration 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 […]

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Chasing Away the American Dream

How reforming zoning rules could unleash home-based businesses 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 […]

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Should we fear facial recognition?

Maybe 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 […]

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Why immigration raids backfire

Raids won’t keep people from coming to the US 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 […]

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Reskilling tomorrow’s workforce

The role of on-the-job learning 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 […]

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Driverless cars could transform our roads

But there’s a long way to go 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 […]

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Beyond the Fight for $15

The case for universal basic income 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 […]

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Beyond the Fight for $15

This article was originally posted on the Medium publication The Benchmark 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

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The road to wildfire is paved with good intentions

It’s time to give forest managers the tools they need 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 […]

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The Border Patrol’s problems aren’t about Facebook

They’re about the Border Patrol’s culture 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 […]

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Bringing mom to work (and bringing work to mom)

How technology empowers a new generation of working moms 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 […]

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You probably can’t pass the US citizenship test

And other ways we can improve our immigration process 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 […]

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Are nonexistent connected cars slowing our WiFi?

The FCC can easily fix the problem 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 […]

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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.
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Let’s Fight Fire With Fire (Literally)

This article was originally posted on the Medium publication The Benchmark *This piece is the third of a multi-part series by Brian Isom on wildfires. Click to read parts one, two, and four. Earlier this month, the Chief of the US Forest Service, Vicki

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Immigrants bring prosperity

Here’s how 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 […]

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Facebook Isn’t Biased Against You

This article was originally posted on the Medium publication The Benchmark 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

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Facebook isn’t biased against you

Your friends are 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 […]

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America has a monopoly problem

And it’s not big tech 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 […]

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Uber drivers aren’t employees

Where do we go from here? 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 […]

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When “innovation” goes wrong

Let’s rethink the ethanol mandate 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 […]

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Burning down the house

How current wildfire policy is encouraging riskier real estate development *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 […]

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Optimism will save the world

The earth deserves more than doom and gloom 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 […]

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The new identity politics

How the quiet battle over biometric data will shape the future Inwhat 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 […]

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Is America Full?

Not even close 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 […]

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The electrical grid is changing

It’s time our regulations changed too 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. […]

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The electrical grid is changing

This article was originally posted on the Medium publication The Benchmark 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

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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 […]

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