Our current system of public insurance and public disaster relief places a lot of the onus of flood risk on the taxpayer. This is certainly the case when subsidized flood insurance encourages additional coastal development and helps to maintain higher coastal home values. Also, the NFIP itself does not have the ability to pool risk since it generally applies only to flood-prone areas and it has no ability to develop a reserve in years when premiums collected exceed payouts for flood losses.

US governments are already beginning to use the technology in a limited capacity. Last week the New York department of motor vehicles announced that it had made more than 4,000 arrests using facial recognition technology. Instead of scanning police footage, the software is used to compare new drivers’ license application photos to images already in the database, making it tougher for fraudsters to steal someone’s identity.

Foxconn...has shown willingness to make a huge investment in Wisconsin — in exchange for a similarly hefty commitment from the state... On the table is up to $3 billion in state tax breaks... As long as Foxconn keeps hiring U.S. workers at the new flat-screen manufacturing facility, Wisconsin would cut the company $200 million to $250 million a year for up to 15 years. That works out to a rough cost to the state of about $230,700 per worker, assuming the factory goes on to generate 13,000 jobs.

Uruguay’s government has developed a legalization model whose apparent goal is to make marijuana use as boring as possible. A vast regulatory bureaucracy will determine everything from the genetic makeup of the plants to the percentage of psychoactive compounds in their flowers ... anything that smacks of commercial marijuana branding or advertising is banned.

The impotence of laws and institutions is exemplified by Italy: after sharing national laws and institutions for over 150 years, there remains an astounding difference in corruption between North and South. Northern Italy is among the most honest regions in Europe, not far behind Scandinavia; Southern Italy is comparable to the most corrupt regions of South-east Europe... building national institutions is unlikely to be enough to make a difference.

Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes... It covers 20 percent of all Americans and 40 percent of poor adults ... A combination of longer life spans and spiraling health care costs has left an estimated 64 percent of the Americans in nursing homes dependent on Medicaid. In Alaska, Mississippi and West Virginia, Medicaid was the primary payer for three-quarters or more of nursing home residents in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Without really good public transportation, it's very difficult to deal with inequality ... Transportation is about more than just moving people from point A to point B. It’s also a system that can either limit or expand the opportunities available to people based on where they live. In many cities, the areas with the shoddiest access to public transit are the most impoverished—and the lack of investment leaves many Americans without easy access to jobs, goods, and services.

Not only did its passage [Prop13] gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Rural communities, where on average 9.1 percent of working-age people are on disability — nearly twice the urban rate and 40 percent higher than the national average...from Appalachia into the Deep South and out into Missouri, where rates are higher yet, places economists have called “disability belts...in 102 counties, mostly within these belts...a Washington Post analysis of federal statistics estimates that, at minimum, about 1 in 6 working-age residents draw disability checks.

For some mysterious reason, the same mile of road or train track costs a lot more to build in the U.S. than in other rich countries like France or Japan. When it comes to trains, the disparity is particularly egregious ... One popular villain is union labor ... But unions probably don’t help explain the yawning gap between the U.S. and other rich countries ... places like France have some of the strongest unions in the world ... Yet France’s trains cost much less.