Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. For any number of pundits, policymakers, and scholars, the new next hot thing, in countries developed and developing, is The City—or, more expansively and more precisely, the megalopolis and its little brother, the metropolis.
If you were to pinpoint one moment when it looked as if things just might work out for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, it would probably be February 2, 2010. That day, Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference, a sort of Israeli version of Davos featuring high-powered policymakers and intellectuals. It is not a typical speaking venue for Palestinians; yet Fayyad was warmly received.
Paul Krugman has a nice shoutout to my "Crankocracy" TRB on his blog and points out that crankocrats long ago seized control of conservative think tanks. This is an important point I wish I'd included. "[W]hat the money of rich cranks does," Krugman observes, "is ensure that bad ideas never go away—indeed, they can gain strength even as they fail in practice again and again." Quite so. Krugman writes that even the cranks themselves end up suffering from the bad ideas they promote, but that they're too cussedly ideological to recognize this. That's true.
Though the recovery seems to be speeding up, the U.S. economy remains weak, and the country has a long way to go before returning to full employment. One of the major forces holding back economic growth is the persistently-weak housing market, which continues to be the subject of intense debate. According to a GOP narrative that just won’t die, the economic crisis was brought on largely by the government—specifically, by laws that fueled the subprime boom by encouraging home ownership among low-income populations.