tv Edward Glaeser and David Cutler Survival of the City CSPAN January 1, 2022 3:00am-4:01am EST
glaeser and davidcover address the impact of the pandemic on cities . >> good afternoon from west,, good afternoon to the east coast . my name is alicia jean baptiste and i'm president and ceo spur. we had an urban planning organization with offices in san francisco, oakland and san jose this is the first time i've moderated the commonwealth club program and i could not be more excited to be participating in today's program and still aligned with the work that we here in my organization do and a special welcome to all commonwealth club members. so we're here today to discuss the new book survival of the city, "survival of the
city: living and thriving in an age of isolation" with us is author, economist edward glaeser and david cutler read edward's specialty is urban policy, david focuses on healthcare which is a perfect match for today's world and the book comes at a critical time for urban america and citiesacross the country . after 18 months of the pandemic many are wondering about the future of cities especially ones like san francisco where today our offices remain largely empty, downtowns somewhat deserted and many of the issues that existed before the pandemic whether high real estate prices , health and equity of segregation are things we continue to grapple with . in my organization we focus on many of these urban issues and our approach which brings people together across sectors aligns with the
content and recommendations in this important book i'm thrilled to be today's moderator and as an important housekeeping kit before we get started with edward and david, if you have a question for either the authors or me go ahead and put it into the chat. questions posted there will be forwarded throughout the program. going to jump in and hello, it's so great to be with you both today. >> thank you for having us on . >> it's a pleasure to be with you today. >> needless to say this isan incredibly timely book . and thinking about the future of the city's post pandemic but before we start to talk about the future i'll think we have a bit of a setback. you talk in the book about while covid-19 is with us pandemic's are something humans have experienced in the past and i'd love for you to talk a bit about what we can learn from that history about the resilience or lack of resilience of cities.
>> pandemics are an old demon of density. cities are the notes, a global lattice of trade and travel. there are the points of entries for goods and ideas and viruses and it's been ever so during the plague of athens and it spread like wildfire across the dense confines of that city. leveled what may have beenthe most glorious moment in terms of collaborative creativity in the classical world . the plague of justin in which came thousand years later derailed an attempt to bring roman peace to the mediterranean world and not europe into a darker time period so much of the last 650 years teams to have proven far more robust. the black death was a huge catastrophe but it left europe richer because the
amount of land per capita was up and fueled the urban renaissance and then in the 19th century cities survived the plagues because they made investments that pandemic proved their cities and david has written some of the most importantwork that's been done on that investment . >> it turns out one of the things that really spurred the city and allowed it to be great was the ability to work pandemic disease. we have not so much covid-19 but in the last couple centuries we hadtyphoid fever and other waterborne diseases . and john snow in london. so if you look roughly a century ago the most important things that government spends money on were the big urban health projects water, correlation and filtration. streets and sewers and sanitation and all that. that investment paid off just
multiple full. disease rates went plummeting, death rates went plummeting so much so that from the spanish flu till night now we have no super big outbreaks so there's really a century where we could know what happened is i think a couple of things. one is world travel got so fast that diseases could spread from on china in new york in a matter of minutes. and that was really what we were prepared for and also that the world had let it start down. these are things we needed to prevent the spread of cholera within the city but we had done the things we needed to do to prevent the spread of covid across the world or sars or any of the other potential pandemics so where another inflection point which is if we want to have our cities be healthy and
sustainable for us, we're going to need to address these as we had to address earlier issues of waterborne diseases that plagued city's just until very recent times. >> in the book in the 19th century, we really argue that it's binge of history where governments not being pretty much exclusively agents of death which is pretty much all they did prior to that was kill people. and to actually agents of life-saving. that was fun eventually about cities and sewers and aqueducts . that was the moment which governments turned into benevolent agents . >> it's interesting you raise that area thinking about infrastructure and the fact that when prior pandemics, the positive response is that we introduction of infrastructure that held those minutes a day and increased health and safety across. one of the things you in this book is how the orientation
of our public health infrastructure today actually set up to be more vulnerable. i wonder david if you could expand on that a bit and what you saw as the reason which we areprepared and the ways in which we were not prepared . >> so the us and world have some institutions directed at this. the centers for disease control and prevention are seen as the worldwide model or how you run an agency and it's not very well centered at all and it's really only gained in talent so it's something if something goes bad for example the first test were off so we gave a lot of false positives and you just can't do your testing right away so there's only one road into the city and if something happens no one can get in or out. that's kind of a lousy way to run a city if you think about any kind of urban design or
anything. so that's kind of how we had. we had the world health organization that was sort of charged with the health of the world that really sort of flows with the wind where the money is. so china was supplying a fair part of the budget so as a result of that when china said everything's okay the who says everything's okay and before that when there is an evil outbreak in west africa it starts hurting the economies of west africa. they don't declare anoutbreak or epidemic of people . that's not a very good thing if you're charged with doing something technical like making sure the world is safe and we have to do that one thing and the example that comes across that is nato which had one mission which was to prevent arrests from attacks by the soviet union and it didn't, it didn't do things for political expediency that were not appropriate technically. and so what we say is that
part of it we're going to need is to take these real scientific questions like how do you prevent world pandemics. how do you make sure your functioning disease prevention and spread and capable of stopping the spread and really turn them into true answer the questions and say we're going to devote the resources we need to into those scientific needs. so somewhere else in the back office were going to dealwith the politics of how you deal with these upset countries . how do you deal with those but they cannot betogether because it just doesn't work well . >> one of the other things i saw in your writing was a reflection on our healthcare system in this country being set up as treat the disease, particularly treat it in terms of the individual rather than being set up on
preventative care or considering of community health large. can you talk more about that . >> outjump in here first . what we set up in the us is an extremely costly private healthcare systemthat is what it basically does is when you get sick it helps pay the bills . and it's does that very well. that expense close to $4 trillion a year americans who get sick and that's more per person than any country in the world. 50 percent more than your typical rich country spends. that is very differentfrom a health care system set up to ensure the public's health . and so were going to have to move to one that focus on the private health of the individuals or private payments of medical bills . that's going to be a coupleof different dimensions to that . one is one dimension is investing in public health much more so what's happened is we squeezed out private healthcare component and to
squeeze out a component we spend on treating someone who's very ill with a new expensive disease that needs money that can be used for things like public health and pandemic preparation. but the other thing is even for those of us, even outside of that situation, we always knew healthcare was kind of sick and that went when we were sick it didn't work right. the cost was too high. the system was too difficult to use. what we learned is unfortunately that's still true even in a pandemic. that pandemic before trillion dollars doesn't buy you a smooth functioning healthcare system. it's still impossible to use and people are afraid of going to it even in you can use, you can zoom in your doctor until the beginning of the pandemic and even now it's not quite as easy as you want so we're going to have to address the private side of it to.
just how do we make sure people get access to the nonpandemic healthcare needs. what we've learned is even during the pandemic wecan't do it any better . >> thank you darren. >> to add to this little bit, one of the stories we tell in the book as we try to blame why we have a health insurance system, not a public health system and why we have a system that does so poorly at controlling the money that gets spent and money gets targeted to the areas it does the most good. we trace this to the history of essentially southern democrats who put this together. they were very happy with maybe washington being built in washington spending money for poor people but they didn't want washington control. it was other democrats, they werequite afraid . lyndon johnson of texas and harry truman of misery so
they set up the system to spend but not control so that's what we got. we have a system that spends without limit but doesn't have this control over a public health system which is a different vision than woodrow wilson's idea or the teddy roosevelt idea of having a public health system . certainly there's a downside to that given this is a pandemic where we need to have more of that. we are targeting our spending and less of the extent you could leave it to writing the checks . >> one of the dynamics of the pandemic of course is then the impact to cities. and for many of us living in cities or around cities what we've seen is significant change in the way that cities are used. and people who are there i
referenced in the opening in san francisco and also oakland and san jose, many major cities in the bay area where we work that is largely empty still. we have not seen a return to office even though we are 18 months into this pandemic. so we are really grappling with the malfunction of the system that you're been describing before we start to get into solutions i'd love to share from you a bit about what was important to write this book.what is it about the health of cities. securing the help of cities for the future of humanity that was so important to each of you . >> certainly i believe very strongly that cities have been the home for humanity's most importantcollaborations . through the partnership between plato and socrates 2400 years ago, for the creativity thatgave us the
italian renaissance . they are at their best, their entryways to poor people to find opportunity. there places where the young can learn and can see their wagesgrow. at their best they are really humanity's greatest invention . and when they don't work they destroy opportunities so for millions of people throughout the planet. since the shutdown that happened in march 2020, the social distancing was the rapidfire the organization of our world for cities of their heart are the absence of physical space between people, cities are density. and the shocked felt so terrible for cities in part because it was joined by the zoom change which made it feel as if we want to evergo back . but also more importantly because cities felt vulnerable pre- covid. you think about 20 years to get today when terrorists hit
the twin towers it was a remarkable consensus about what. [crying] government was supposed to look like in cities like new york and chicago and los angeles and over the past 20 years that pragmatic consensus has disappeared . in part because the benefits of cities seem to be growing not to everyone, not providing an escalator for everyone that seems to be going for remarkably restrictive you and this is partially big about housing affordability and partially about low levels of for mobility and is partially about the police force which seems to treat young men of color work for young men more generally with disrespect in many places. so we really think it's fixing the cities means actually addressing those problems not just fighting for better health. >> i think that's totally right. i will say also something that's ingrained and that is the huge disparity in health even in different parts of the city. so if you move one example we
give is in new york which is on the opposite coast is your folks will know intimately, you can go 12 minutes by subway and use 12 years by life expectancy. and just to give you a sense of whatthat means , smoking rates, smoking cuts about 10 years off your life expectancy is the equivalent of taking the subway ride and going from a place where everyone smokes to a place where nobody smokes. and even then there's not a whole lot. so it's just this huge disparity and you say to use the analogy which is perfect on the escalator. you say how can you have an escalator if in one part of the city you have people who are rich and wonderful and fulfilling lives. the other part of the city it's a struggle to live as long as people in low and
middle income countries. that's just not working for everybody. so you have to find a way to make this work for everybody or people are going to get really frustrated and that is not a recipe forthings going well . >> we have obviously similar dynamics in the bay area as well . i think many people have talked about the dynamic where zip code, from a person's zip code you cantell what their life expectancy will be . of the things that i found incredible and intriguing about your book was one of the tenants you hold about this concept of insiders versus outsiders. the idea that we organize ourselves over time to have a small group of insiders who control resources at the expense ofthe outsiders . i'd love to your you talk a bit more about just elaborate on that dynamic and also informed your thinking when
you started to considerwhat our future needs to hold . >> this idea is associated with medicine in the decline of nations from 1983 and i went i read this book probably needed to two in graduate school in the 1990s and it didn't feel to me like it was describing america. it was all about how unstable societies insiders grappled withleaders of our and there's no room for new entrepreneurship or anything like that . there's the age of reagan, there are all these insiders . and the uk. at 30 years later i think olson was right. i started working on various building housing well well well organized insiders where you organize local land-use
stopped any new construction which preserved their views. preserve their propertyvalues , make sure their commutes were shorter by raising the gate against any new construction raised the gate against any outsider might want to come up into your area . proposition 13 from california what took this on steroids because it also made sure insiders paid totally different property taxes which is a particularly egregious example but we see this and lots of other areas as well. we see this in terms of our schooling system where if you think about one set of insiders as being suburban parents who managed to create relatively good school systems but then excluded the kids who go to inner-city schools and don't get advantages you can think of this as being a teachers union which can possibly argue that their teachers have a legal right not just to go into classrooms and face disease, that's understandable but have a legal right not to zoom in
which was of course with the california judicial until last summer. that's a hard one to see that's not party outsiders at the expense of insiders. that's also things like occupational licensing that make it difficult for people to change states. this collection of different rules, barriers on entrepreneurship, one outreach is the extent to which america regulates the entrepreneurship for more than regulates the entrepreneurship of the rich and if you want to start a phenomenon in your harvard college dorm you can have 1 billion users before any regulator knows you exist . if you want to start a grocery store that sells milk products you need 15 products to get this thing through this does nothing but protect the existing incumbents . this has led to a society in which mobility is way down . in which new construction and part of america is down and in which we have persistent pockets of joblessness stay that way for 30 years because change is so difficult.
and it's led to a society much less dynamic quite honestly and in some sense if you ask yourself why young people feel embittered with capitalism because we've created a crony capitalism that doesn't work for them and protects older people who own homes anddoesn't like make space for them . >> i was going to add for the past century the way that people got ahead was to move to urban areas. typically what was happening is people would move to the richest areas because that's where the demand workers was the highest and that's where jobs were the most plentiful and so on so we saw people moving to los angeles and the bay area and new york. and in the past few decades has gotten so outrageously expensive in all those areas that we no longer see people moving their or if they do move there they're moving not to thecentral areas, they're moving to the outlying areas .
so it's where they have extremely long commutes and not those sort of interactions that we're talking about. so consequently what's happening is people are moving to other cities. the houston and las vegas and phoenix and across those planes where building is much easier and housing is much cheaper. there's nothing wrong with that but on the other hand there's areas like the bay area which are crying out for workers in many ways. but we've structured it so they just can't afford to be there . >> your describing our day-to-day reality and we in the bay area are consistently locked into battles over housing development and at the same time we have constantly about the
un-sheltered population. we have over 35,000 people rarely unable to afford to live under a roof in the bay area and yet we have under built housing by 700,000 units in the last 20 years and we wonder why people can'tafford to be here . it's not a dynamic that has changed in any meaningful way in the last number of years and i'm curious. you talk in your book about the importance of providing more opportunity to build environments. how do we move that concept forward given this dynamic of the insider control? what is the pathway for a region like ours that's struggling with this dynamic ? >> i'm going to give a 20 year perspective on this problem .
we have not yet moved the legislative needle despite what's going on in sacramento which is vaguely hopeful . we are certainly, we have not on crack the knot of local housing even if we do have fast tracked for two unit developments. let these communities figure out how to get that if that rule does get enacted . but that being said in 2001, 2002 there was nobody who thought this was a reasonable issue to worry about. i don't think there was a spur. i don't think there was anything in terms of actual groups thought this was a problem that was worth fighting over so for me, i think it's, i see lots of progress and i see people who have come to realize that we need more housing and is not the issue is is not some sort of elite issue. you don't want housing because you want to help the developers, you want housing because it's lp for the region to allow more space
ordinary people and it's good for the environment but there's no greener place intrinsically in the san francisco bay area with its temperate climate and so i think i look at what happening, the fight is long, the fight is hard. the fight is slow but the fact that there are people who are engaged in making a fight at least for me is incredibly hopeful. i think that this has got to happen in state legislatures. that's ultimately where the power comes from. maybe the federal government can help a little bit. i'd argue for doing more to type federal highway aid or infrastructure a areas that permit more building. but fundamentally, local control over zoning is controlled by the state legislature and only the state small localities never have a strong interest in allowing huge amounts of developmentbecause there controlled by homeowners who don't want that . so it's ultimately going to be in the statehouse where the case for a fairer and more open california or massachusetts is going to be
made . >> to be fair there's no reason we should pick on you and our own city has the same problems which are the young people who want to live in the area make it a dynamic environment. boston wants to be a city of universities helps us live in the environment and the similar story to that as well which i think you have as well which is the young upstarts. the businesses that can't get the space because the rents are too high so you might have anidea for some new type of business and its use a look , maybe if rents are cheap ican get to fly in . but that's what dynamism is all about but rents are so high you can't do anything unless you're certain that these things are going to succeed so it really has a very big impact on people and on businesses in an area. >> i want to follow up on this point is i'm interested in how you perceive the dynamic of remote work and
some of that underlying pattern but first i wanted to see how folks are reminding you there is this long arc and secondly, one of the other reflections that we are considering is that even with the concept of density and adding capacity to cities, what we've seen and cities developing and ulcers of different ways. there's areas that are more restrictive and then there are areas that are very much open for business. regardless, there was a study published recently by the institute et al. berkeley which found that over the past 30 years and the largest metros in the united states, racial residential segregation has increased. over an 80 percent of cases. so i wonder if you about if there are interventions that are required and by the way, the wipeout you were speaking to earlier is very much also
gave us a track against racial residential segregation. if there is nothing that's necessary in addition to allowing for more building opportunityand density , to grapple with that address that dynamic. >> we started our work together on racial segregation 25 years ago so like the first paper david and i wrote was on the downside of race segregation for african-american relatively young african-americans in the us . the impacts of the asian art. one of the things that's particularly difficult is the experienced segregationof kids is much worse than the segregation of adults . the way to think about this is data shows us that when adults, we live in a
segregated area get up and go to work, they go to work in a relatively integrated office child wakes up in a segregated housing will go to a segregated school. >> .. the city seemed to be so bad for upper upward mobilityn even the adults come to cities over adults who come in other areas. when you think about trying to create cities of opportunity for poor kids we really are fighting against that. more segregated cities you particularly at lower levels of upward mobility for african-americans. fighting against segregation is incredibly hard but certainly when i think of a move to life by zoom or even worse the 15 minute city, these are all
things to say let's retreat into our enclaves, let's separate ourselves from each other that seems like it's moving in exactly the other direction. it seems whitesell board would make our public spaces say, , me our public transportation safety and we also have meaningful ways of improving the education experience for the least advantaged americans. >> one of the things that came up very clearly when we're doing the work that ed described is that the cities where segregation was the highest, our cities that were stagnant, where they were not adding a lot of people, not adding a lot of housing servicing was just fix. you had neighborhoods that had historically been white and the remained white, and areas that were ghetto remained ghettos. and the cities that were growing rapidly, building houses on the edge of the city and sir evelyn can move in their and that frees up houses in the interior sort of going to move in there.
particularly if you have an open might population that says look i'm not going to choose my neighborhood because it's white because its hispanic or because it's not black or whatever it is, then you can get a lot more mixing the people rapidly when a city is growing and changing than when it is just text and stagnant. that was the key to a lot of cities becoming more open is that same kind of openness to building, that means people don't fight over what is there is much. you just don't see that as much in cities that are much more dynamic. >> said going back to this concept of remote work and you talk about this as a little bit this topic. where do you see that going? i feel this is sort of a constant question among planning circles and a lot of attention being paid to wanting to make the city center and attractive place for people to return,
given the people have more choice in where they work or people at the option to work remotely have more choice in terms of where they work. do you think this is a normative change? will we work differently going forward? if so, how'd you see the impacting the future of cities? >> i think remote work is real but i don't think it's a game changing death a face-to-face work, death of office kind of thing. this is not the first time we've heard remote work will kill off the office in the city. alvin toffler wrote in the third wave that these two technologies that were come back in his day were facts machines and personal computers, would basically mean a a massive increase in evelyn working from home which is going to cause a massive hollowing out of irvine offices and a continued decline ever cities. or about 40 years he was completely and totally wrong.
because what happened over the past 40 years was there was a rapid increase in the returns to innovation, a rapid increase in returns to being skilled, an increase in the complexity of the world. we are a social species they get smart by being around other smart people and that means physically. the more confident and id is the easier it is for that i didn't get lost in translation. we have these cues for communicating comprehensive or confusion that is lost when were not in the same room with each other. i can't tell you how frustrating it is to try to teach any kind of large class by zoom but '02 to having the feeling of just being there. in two of the most i think clear were called from studies, first a classic by nick bloom of stanford who's an outstanding economist, and one by our students, natalia any manual, find very similar patterns which is in the short run when you send workers own, call center workers, they become more
productive. there are fewer distractions. they do a perfectly good job of turning up the call work. studies show significantly lower promotion rates for those workers were sent home. what do you promote them to do? you promote them to handle harder calls? how you learn to handle those calls when home? how would you boss ron one of those calls? the boss isn't near you. this dynamic feature which is so critical in cities, the way great english economist alfred marshall talked about when he wrote in death clusters the mystery of the trade become initiate was in the air. dynamic elements have got to pull people back. one key thing to remember is if you think about silicon valley before 2020, this was the industry that the most access to all the forms of remote work. is this what yahoo! did? is this what google and facebook did, sine qua non? exactly opposite.
marissa mayer famously ordered a going back but google bot 1 million have square feet in downtown manhattan. they all try to create these work playgrounds to make sure people are around each other all the time because they believe creativity works by connecting people. one of the interesting things that come out of microsoft is there's a nice study that came out last month that there's a real decrease in connections across different groups which the paper really thinks is going to lead a decrease in crete giving microsoft because these were teams are becoming more siloed. one final is that the remote world is a very hard world for onboarding new workers and is an unequal world. the onboarding point is if you look at productivity computer programmers, some studies have suggested it's all just fine but if you look at new hires for computer programmers or burning glass technology, counting a new postings, that was down 40% between february 2020 and november 2020. a massive decline in the amount of onboarding. you saw this across all three
occupations. while it's possible for relationships to coast on pre-existing ties, people were very wary about onboarding new workers. if you really imagine a world in which soon becomes ubiquitous you're imagining an american that would be unequal than even the american 2019 which was unequal enough for my taste. if you think about may 2020 like the height of the zoom world, 68.9% over one majority of people with advanced degrees resuming to work, 5% of high school dropouts resuming to work, , 15% of people with old high school degrees where working remotely. this is not something that involves large swaths of the population. it is something we should fight against and wanted to a thing to have zoom as an occasional tool, we should not be planning our cities so they will have empty offices. >> just something to add to the lick me because it's just, there's just so much.
there is a study in an emergency setting, , you need to convey information from one person to another. it turns out that information was conveyed better when the two workers when the same room as opposed to the next room over. it turned out the information was conveyed better when the desks were nearby than wondering the same room for the desks were further away. why is that? undoubtedly because of the social interactions that come from being together as opposed to being even a look at further apart. the other relevant study is there was a study, this one i think i find just wonderful, but turned to even chess matches had gone to zoom, and based on computer judgments the chess players on a plane is well over zoom as they did when they were in person playing. there's just something about being in person that makes people be more productive.
as society people realizing that much more so than he thought like all the talk about how education is going to be entirely online, sorely it is been halted and so on. my sense is we are going up to, we want to end will be good for us to come back together, at least somewhat. >> i think one of the things that really struck me over the course of the pandemic, not that it's over, but in the earlier stages of the pandemic, was when people have the opportunity to start to be together again, even if it's outside in a park wearing masks, people flock to that opportunity. it did indicate to me there's something very human about being together and having that kind of a connection. i certainly see a somebody who runs and myself, i see that poll towards understanding that we work better when we are together. it doesn't necessarily mean we
will choose the same places are the same cities as we did pre-pandemic though. we have certainly seen plenty of examples in the course of history of cities that have gone through a major shock that have recovered, and that has lost population and have changed, changed dramatically, whether it was through industrialization or through previous pandemic or other experience. i wonder if you can talk a little bit about what you think those success factors are for cities going forward, what should cities be really holding front and center as we start to get into this may be post-pandemic phase in order to secure that success? >> i think this is entirely right. let's take a mythical ten person tech startup that is i don't know in menlo park something like that. they are fed up with the high prices in the san francisco area. do we really think this group of people are going to say let's just go off to ten different
isolated cabins? no. this doesn't sound at all like a recipe for young hungry group. what they will do is get together and say we are on the map, are we going to go? we can meet with their venture capitalists via zoom, meet with other investors, maybe we all like skiing. maybe they'll is for us. maybe i'll like surfing, maybe honolulu is for us. in a sense it's not as if face-to-face contact is dead. it's not as if urban life is dead but everything is more vulnerable than ever. i will tell you what it feels a bit to me like is like the 1970s when we had a bit of a revolution in terms of urban mobility. this can both from mobility of richer urbanites who had access to highways to suburbs and the businesses who increasingly could locate away from the older transportation networks because of highways, because of container ships. the tax base became increasingly mobile in the '70s. what this collided with in cities like new york and you
felt this left in california because we were all going to california in those decades, you didn't have the same feeling but i was a kid growing up in newark city and what this collided with was this very strong progressive dream of creating a city that was more fair for all and you could use by taxing the businesses more and by taxing the rich more. what happened with a very laudable objectives is the rich and the businesses listed in 1975 new york teetered on the edge of bankruptcy because they had essentially were unable to pay their bills. this is what in some sense i worry about today. there's a completely understandable progressive hunger to make our cities greater places of opportunity. we get that and we want that but we can't expect to do that just by taxing the rich and the businesses and giving money away. we need better government as well as better cities in order to get better cities. what we're pushing for is there some case which we think the
federal government can do more because the federal government can raise taxes without this flood of threat of people emigrating. they key with federal spending is to make sure it goes on things that are smart. in many cases like fixing urban schools we think we don't know all the answers. we had to large-scale federal interventions in education the past 20 years, no child left behind and moving to opportunity. both were quite interesting, very smart. neither of the made huge difference in terms of quality of our underperforming schools. we think we need to be more expert middle. one possibility with the idea of wraparound vocational training programs that teach kids how to become programmers or plumbers,, afterschool, weekends on the summer, leaving existing schools untouched. you can pay for performance because you judge whether or not someone is it is a program and if it works you scale it up. if it is a work you the death and the government should be paying for things like that taken for disadvantaged kids. at a local level we think you dew points and rethink your land-use controls and make it
difficult to provide housing for middle income people. we can rethink our business regulations that make it hard for the poor to start new businesses. that's not something that's going to scary folks way. one local expense that will be harder is we really do need to have a criminal justice system that does a better job of taking care of taking care of the entire city. if you think about the move from the 1980s to today, in some sense it is been quite successful. we have far lower murder rates and many of our large cities. they are far safer but it was a very one-sided success in the sense we lock up millions of young men. we led millions of other young men to be essentially stopped or frist or harassed on the streets and thousands of young men to be shot i police in the process of law enforcement. this should not stand. we need to have a law enforcement system that treats everyone with respect and stops
crying. we need to have a dual requirement for our cops. what we think is that you don't get an organization to change without having metrics. you need to have metrics on crime which currently try policing which means metrics on how much the people are feeling respected. you need to have the surveys. with that you can basically fired the police chiefs who fail to deliver but get a police system that's going both humane and effective at preventing crime. treat everyone with decency. we will spend more on it not less. our lesson is on this is reform the police, absolutely. absolutely. do not accept the status quo but don't expect to spend less and get more. that's not something happens. we need to get more and that means we will probably spend more. >> at the risk of indicting ourselves i will make one observation, which is one of the really big agendas on city, for city manager at the moment is a
badly to manage well, to run things well. because we need to reform the public health infrastructure in the city. it's not a great mystery how you do it, like you need people to do contact testing and tracing and help with isolation and so on. we need people to organize a police department with better reporting systems and better accountability. you need to think about school options and so on. we don't need the kind of, , it starts helpful but when i do need of the 30,000-foot where do we want to go? what we are desperately in need of is a 10,000-foot how do we get ourselves there? i think and and i are both associated with the public policy school at harvard. i'm also associate with school of public health. we both teach harvard undergraduates. my sense is that as a field and probably as individuals we have done enough to train people in how to make things happen, not
just what things you want to happen. and whether the politics of it. but how do you actually get those good ideas to work. >> i have a mantra which i just say, which is in city government capacity is far more important than policy. which means the ability to get things done is much more important than knowing clever ideas which you actually want to do. >> i'm going to follow-up on that in a bit but am going to turn to some of our audience questions. the first question, what is the best use of office skyscrapers? if more people work from home? >> i think we may have lost ed for a minute. >> let me start off, which is if more people are working from home that would be less demand for downtown office space. that would be particularly true
among the kind of suburbanites where they house at home and in space and so on. there are probably two things that can happen to that. one is that some of the office space becomes used by startups. we were talking about that, you might have started that could use some of the space the some of the big firm no longer needs. second and it's less true for the super big skyscrapers but it may be true of a bit lower down on the pecking order is that some of the commercial space could be turned into residential space. in our home city of boston a lot of the housing is actually converted old wharves. and again for younger people and people want to live in the city that's what they want. they don't want sort of a house with a yard and so on. they want that. that won't be the booming office door but maybe some of the businesses come together both old and new an in office, ane
of the other things with the business of located move-in, convert to housing. >> i assume you are to question. are you back with us now? we may have lost ed for a minute. i'm going to go to another audience question, david, if that's okay. this person is asking have taken a look at the website next door and its tendency to create digital gated communities via social media? >> you have many natural circumstances that make people want to live in those areas. but some cities absolutely will be on the brink, and particularly if they don't have that and you have, whether dominated by a few businesses and they say maybe i'll move out. when the first one was at a point says i don't want to be the last one move out. you can see that unraveling and were worried. at least personally i'm less worried about the megacities
that if one is going to want to be near san francisco and want to be near chicago and so on. i'm not worried those will go away. the sort of middle tier cities that maybe people are moving to because house prices are cheaper something where you can then imagine people saying we could go elsewhere, then you can start a bit of a stampede in the city, can really suffer a lot. i worry some about that. the areas that will do well are the ones with the real natural immunities both environmental but also things like education institutions. one of the things that brought boston back was very, very strong educational institutions and particularly industries, finance in europe and so on. those are the things that can help cities maintain their vitality even when they get hit repeatedly by a bunch of bad stuff with mobile talent. >> having those amenities becomes more valuable.
i want to prove the limitations of remote learning. i want to highlight that even with a hardwired connection. one way -- >> i was worried it was something i said. >> one would think that the big city small city, think about there being let's say 20% drop in commercial real estate prices. if you're starting at a place like san francisco at $85 a square foot of something like that, hire in some areas, a 20% drop to make you one of the most expensive places in country and those offices will be occupied at least once we get the delta variant under control. they may be occupied by scrap your companies. some may be converted to residential but that space will not go empty even if the prices drop lot. with the prices drop a lot in buffalo, cleveland and detroit, then you see the prices go below the price that can sustain a landlord keeping it open. once you have that, when she of long-term into offices then the whole thing spreads because there's not the man for local business, not the man for local restaurants and then you're
really the spillovers they give you the urban catastrophe. >> i'm glad you're back, ed. thank you for illustrating the point. unfortunately were almost out of time side just one final question for you all and hope it's okay, it's more a personal question. throughout your book to talk about one of the solutions going forward is stronger civic governance. that includes the relationship among each of us as actors and community members. you also talked just a few minutes before about it's not so much about where we need to go but being focus on how we get there. you also acknowledge in your book that you hold really quite different political philosophies in some cases. i wonder if you could describe what the process was like for the two of you to come together to produce this book together. >> i personally found it a great treat, and i think you'll learn an enormous amount, particularly
by think about people who don't agree with as much. we agree on a lot but areas, for example, the issue that you and ed were just discussing which is how bad was before downtowns if 20% of the real estate all of a sudden there's not much demand for it. we have been around on that so many times and we said email conversations and phone conversation and in-person conversations back and forth and every time there's an article when were the other we discuss it and talk about it. it's just really amazing. a part of what we tried to do when we work is say, let's figure out what we think the truth is independent of whatever our leanings might be about policy. there are areas on policy i'm sure you are more activist on it and had i been a soldier deserving the book would be more activist in some places and sole charge of everything, would have more of a libertarian bent but that's okay because what we want to get is sort of a diagnosis of it and also how can you see the world differently.
at these for me being able to understand people can see the world differently and is that because one person is evil is really very important because you can see why someone could believe one point of view over another point of view and is nothing wrong with that. >> i've known david and worked with the daily for 30 years. it has been an enormous pleasure every moment, and i learn from him an enormous amount as a dent on working on this book. the key things is where to recognize that even when we have slight differences of opinion or more than slight difference of opinion on sort of values, there are still facts out there that we need to agree on. as long as we get the facts straight we can vent understand where to come to the middle. you get a clear example of what we do, in fact, differ slightly. i think your viewers differ slightly on this as this towards things like drug use, fruit juice, obesity, smoking.
there is no question that david is more positive about various public interventions to try to stop people from arming their own body, whereas i am innately wary your of that. that's where we are. it doesn't mean -- we've written a particular no prints, , writtn papers get on obesity. we agree based upon everything about the sort of core elements of what has caused the rise of obesity or cause the change but we've come to us by a different place. it doesn't mean there's disagreement by the science and in some sense what's a tragic that the pandemic, and it's a tragic aspect in many parts of our life is we have politicized the pandemic of all sort of bizarre things in the world to politicized. this is a thing in which, there's this old urban line that there's no democratic or republican lay to clean up a sidewalk or to shovel snow because it's a technical job. he needs to be handled. it's basically the same thing with pandemics. there's no republican or democratic way to fight a pandemic.
we may change slightly about our mask mandates but at least if a going to release it, and then mask mandate or restaurant lockdown for personal freedom reasons at least we should get a very clear message from a governor at this point on this is look it's not safe to go up. let me make it clear we will defer to judgment but it's not safe. whereas all the stuff that model because of this. i see this as being somewhat similar to sort of world war ii in the sense politics should stop at the water's edge. politics should stop when we get to these larger issues. we need to recognize that only with a pragmatic fact-based science-based reasons-based approach that we actually can pandemic prove our world. >> thank you both so much. we are unfortunately out of time but it has been just an absolute pleasure to be in conversation with both of you. i want to thank the commonwealth club, our host, for today's very important program. i encourage our viewers to pick up a copy of this book survival
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