Librarians are realizing that overdue fines undercut libraries’ missions. Photo illustration by Slate.
Images via jmbatt, simo988/iStock. In 1906, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press described a scene that had become all too common at the city’s public libraries. A child hands an overdue book to a stern librarian perched behind a desk, and with a “sinister expression,” the librarian demands payment of a late fine. In some cases, the child grumbles and pays the penny or two. But in others—often at the city’s smaller, poorer library branches—the offender cannot pay, and his borrowing privileges are revoked. Ruth Graham is a regular Slate contributor. More than a century later, similar dramas are still enacted in libraries across the country every day. Library fines in most places remain quaintly low, sometimes just 10 cents per day. Seattle Equips its Trucks With Crush-Proofing Side Guards. The panels are meant to stop the fatal, crushing trauma associated with getting run over.
Look on the bright side: If you have the misfortune of colliding with one of Seattle’s trucks, you might get knocked off the road, but probably won’t get flattened under its tires. That’s because the city’s department of transportation is equipping its fleet with side guards, or panels on both sides of a truck that prevent people from getting run over by the back wheels. (This assumes a side collision, not a head-on one.) All large vehicles belonging to the department are getting this treatment, and Seattle is also requiring manufacturers to install them on new vehicles it purchases.
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Competitiveness & People. Competitiveness through Innovation. Competitiveness through Productivity. Competitiveness through Education. The World's Most Competitive Cities, According to the World Bank. We’re all familiar with the list of superstar cities that power the global economy.
London, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore are among the world’s largest and most dynamic. But can smaller and medium-sized cities ever compete? What are the secrets to building competitive global urban economies? A new report from the World Bank examines the key dimensions of globally competitive cities. The report pulls together an impressive array of detailed economic data for 750 of the largest cities in the world, which it uses to distill the factors that bear on economic competitiveness. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of these cities outperformed their national economies in terms of GDP growth.
A much smaller group of cities define the cutting-edge of global competitiveness, according to the report. Competitive cities with long-term job growth tend to focus their economies on tradable goods and services. Top image: fuyu liu / Shutterstock.com. 5 Ways Technology Will Completely Change Your City Before 2025. San Francisco PUC Built State-of-the-Art Sustainable Headquarters. You are the general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.
Your new headquarters, which opened in June of 2012, set a new standard for high-performance structures. Describe the building and how it came to be. Harlan Kelly: We are proud to be the owner of one of the greenest buildings in the nation. It is a LEED Platinum headquarters and embodies our core agency mission and values. It’s a model for cost-saving sustainability for customers and utilities. We moved out of a place that we were leasing. Fortunately, we built it at a time when the construction cost was low. Elaborate on the energy, water, and HVAC technology that you’ve incorporated into this headquarters. Harlan Kelly: It’s a Class A building with 13 stories, about 277,000 square feet, and about 900 employees. We have integrated solar arrays to generate about 227,000 kilowatts a year, which represents about 7 percent of the energy needs of the building. The Creative Class / Richard Florida. Design Advisor. Dispelling the Myth: Why State Tax Breaks for Businesses Do Not Spur Economic Growth.
Many US politicians conjecture that corporate taxes influence businesses to invest in states that offer the lowest rates.
Underlying this theory is the belief that increasing business growth in the state is tied to economic growth. However, in “Taxes, Incentives, and Economic Growth: Assessing the Impact of Pro-business Taxes on U.S. State Economies,” the authors show that tax breaks are not the major factor triggering business location decisions and that a reduction in corporate tax rates is not associated with an increase in economic growth within the state. Explicitly, there is no direct evidence that lowering state tax rates for businesses causes increased economic development, lower unemployment, and income redistributions spurred by the business community.
Rather, other factors integral to corporations play a more critical role in investment decisions. Existing literature claims that businesses are sensitive to changes in tax rates enforced through state fiscal policy. Streetlights kill mosquitos. If the streetlights on your block don’t do anything other than brighten dark corners, that will probably soon change.
New lights in Copenhagen point out empty parking spaces; streetlights in Glasgow measure air pollution and noise; L.A.'s new lights boost Wi-Fi coverage. And now another new streetlight, designed for Southeast Asia, can kill mosquitoes, charge cell phones, and send out warnings in a flood.