Why We Shoot Each Other

By Alex Marshall
April 2001

Some school kid will shoot some other school kids again soon, and thus provide an adequate “hook” for this article. I was worried that it had been too long since the last schoolyard massacre – at least several weeks – for people to care about what I say on the subject. But I needn’t worry. Another will be along soon.

It’s difficult to identify causes or cures for the random violence that erupts in our schools, malls and office buildings. I would like to suggest some that are perhaps less intuitive than gun control or less violence on television, valid as these may be.

The Future Of Menial Jobs

Monday, July 10, 2000

PARIS — If you’re hankering to watch a movie after midnight here, you don’t search for an all-night video store. You walk down the street to the nearest Cinebank, a machine carved into a wall that, similar to an automatic teller machine, dispenses movies instead of cash.

Slip in your credit card, scroll through some movie titles, press a button, and presto: out from a slot emerges the latest Depardieu, Schwarzenegger or Julie Roberts flic.

Such machines haven’t hit the United States yet. And with our low labor costs, they may never. In this country, it may always be cheaper to pay someone to man a late-night video store, rather than pay to set up the machine and develop the technology that makes it possible.


Getting There: Building Healthy Cities

[Excerpt From Chapter Nine]

Of all the public decisions that go into place-making, the most important is what type of transportation systems to use. They will determine the character of the city and much of its economy. Do we pave roads or lay down tracks? Do we fund buses or subsidize cars? Do we lay down bike paths or more highway lanes? Do we build airports or high-speed train lines?

What is transportation for? That’s the essential question Lewis Mumford asked forty years ago.

The Master Hand

The Role of Government in Building Cities

[Excerpt From Chapter Six]

In 1817, the governor of New York convinced the state legislature to spend $7 million to finance a canal from Albany to Buffalo. Eight years later, after thousands of workers had carved a channel through rock and earth, the Erie Canal was complete. The 350-mile canal opened the entire upper Midwest to shipping, and cemented New York City’s role as transportation hub for the nation, and as the country’s greatest city.

The Stock Transfer Tax: An Idea Whose Time Has Come Back?

By Alex Marshall

May 2003

It sounds too good to be true. At a time when New York City and state are billions of dollars in the red, they could raise that and possibly more by reinstating a tax that is mostly paid by people living outside the state and country.

It’s called the Stock Transfer Tax. Until 1981, the state had one, and the city got the revenue.

Until it was phased out, it was raising $300 million a year for the city. Technically, it is still in place, only the proceeds are instantly rebated to the buyer of a stock. Now some people, including an Albany legislator, are considering bringing it back in a new form.

Guns Don’t Kill People; Cars Do. Or At Least Not As Many

On Foot Or On Wheels, Facing The Threat

Whether you walk, drive or bicycle on your daily rounds, are you more in danger of getting killed from a bumper of a car or a bullet from a gun? It depends on where you live, although the stats suggest that overall, the mean metal of a car is more dangerous than that from a gun, simply because speeding cars are so much more prevalent than speeding bullets.

Mergers Or No Mergers, It’s Time To Re-Regulate The Airlines

I write this from the terminal of the Boston International Airport. I am about to board a small prop plane to Harrisburg, Pa, the state capitol. Given the plane’s small size, and my largish one, the ride will be uncomfortable. Not only will my 6’7′ frame be crammed into a tiny seat, but the propellers will sound like an electric shaver next to my ear for an hour and a half. Winds will bat the plane around as heavy seas do a rowboat.

For the privilege of this unpleasant ride, I am paying US Airways $851. Luckily for me, the taxpayers of Pennsylvania are reimbursing me, because their state legislature is flying me to Harrisburg to give my views on highways and suburban sprawl.