Author Archives: Fred Zimmerman

The Blue and the Green

Julien Sorel wishes to make his fortune. With intellectual talent but not much creativity, he understands that there are only two paths upward from his petty bourgeoisie background: the priesthood—the black—or the military—the red. He chooses the black.     Two centuries’ time has changed a lot since Stendahl’s nineteenth-century novel The Red and the Black, […]

A Tale of 200 Cities

We think we control the size of our cities by restricting outsiders. How vain is human striving!   At the level of individual neighborhoods, there is certainly control over whether outsiders are let in.  Neighborhoods, and even some small cities, can simply refuse to build any new housing for years or decades. But the size […]

Civic Engagement and Civic Representation in the Culture of Health

RWJF Culture of Health rubric

In 2005 Stephanie and Chris Chambers, an African-American couple in their 50s, finally achieved their long-cherished dream of buying a home. But because the home they could afford was miles from any job that would pay well, they found themselves commuting 4-6 hours a day—each. After three years of waking their 3 kids at O-Dark-Thirty for […]

California’s Housing Shortage and Employment

A graph showing slow job growth in LA

Lately I’ve been thinking about how LA has been bad with job creation, and I wonder if there’s a connection to housing. The above graph is from an UCLA Andersen Forecast that is a few years old.  More recent data put LA in the middle of the pack, but still not great. What’s worse is […]

Housing and Health

To promote the conditions of health, we have to tackle housing.   A recent report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, takes note of the housing shortage in California and finds, among other things, that: Between 1980 and 2010 construction of new housing units in LA and San Francisco grew by only 20%, compared to the […]

Single-Payer Wonkiness

Single-payer health insurance has a lot to recommend it. Some—but not all—single-payer systems provide convenient and comprehensive access to care. Some—but not all—singer-payer systems can constrain excessive costs. When it comes to single-payer, it’s the wonky aspects that matter, not the big vision thing.  Overall, there is no particular connection between single-payer systems and quality. […]

A Very Danish Vibrancy

Many of Bernie Sanders’ policies would make America a lot more like Denmark, and David Brooks complains that the country would become “a lot less vibrant” as a result.  This tired canard came in for a lot of well-earned criticism on the NYT letters page:  it turns out that America’s current vibrancy doesn’t look so hot to […]

Planning by Pitchfork… and Free Hamburgers

Another great podcast by Jeff Wood interviewing Jay Crossley of Houston Tomorrow about Houston’s new general plan. Jay is a proponent of “meaningful, equitable planning,” and finds it distressing that until now, “A $5 billion business [Houston] doesn’t have a general plan.”   Houston also notable for its bus system redesign. There are many interesting […]

Obama’s Healthy Transportation Agenda

a graph of gas taxes around the world

Angie Schmitt has a great piece on Obama’s transportation proposal.  I’d like to highlight the potential benefits to population health. Obama proposes a $10-per-barrel surcharge assessed on oil companies, which would generate about $30 billion annually to be spent disproportionately on transit and bike and ped improvements.  To put this in context, the price of a barrel […]