Why California’s Weakest Local Governments Should Not Survive COVID-19

Instead of Mourning Their Collapse, We Should Consolidate Local Governments to Make Them More Powerful

California is finally getting the local government apocalypse it has long needed.

And, thankfully, it’s going to be even worse than I had hoped.

For the record, I love and revere local government. In most of the world, it’s the most democratic, participatory, and effective level of government, and it deserves to be the most powerful and best-funded.

But in California, local governments are too weak and too small to be of much use. Why? There are simply too many of them. And so, for the past decade—in columns, speeches, and a book …

Are the Tokyo Olympics Cursed? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Are the Tokyo Olympics Cursed?

Canceled in 1940 and Postponed for 2020, Japan’s Bad Luck Highlights a Bigger Problem Plaguing the Games: Outsized Ambition and Subpar Leadership

This spring, as the coronavirus pandemic flared across the globe, pressure mounted on Olympics organizers to cancel or postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games. At first, the International Olympic Committee, the …

A Letter From Greece, Where a Photo of a Sheep Is Going Viral | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Letter From Greece, Where Quarantined Sheep Go for Walks

A Daily Debate About Safety and Freedom Has Kept Greeks Safe From Sickness

For Athens, I am in the middle of nowhere. It’s early morning, and I have walked up the hill that overlooks our apartment building with my dog, Skeletor, a young, …

How San Diego’s Worst Politician Ended Up in the White House | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How San Diego’s Worst Politician Ended Up in the White House

Peter Navarro’s Sudden Influence Shows What Happens When Anger and Accusation Dominate the Nation’s Conversation

In the 20th century, we learned the Peter Principle: if you seek to rise in a hierarchy, you’ll get promoted until you reach your level of incompetence.

In the 21st century, …

Why Romans Grew Nostalgic for the Deadly Plague of 165 A.D. | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Romans Grew Nostalgic for the Deadly Plague of 165 A.D.

The Empire’s Resilience to Smallpox Included Appealing to the Gods and Affirming the Power of Community to Stand Together Amidst Personal Horror

Around 165 A.D., the Anatolian town of Hierapolis erected a statue to the god Apollo Alexikakos, the Averter of Evil, so that the people might be spared from a terrible …