How California (Might Have) Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Big, Unbalanced Budget

COVID Is Helping the State Get Over Its Misguided Obsession With Staying in the Black at the Expense of Solving Its Costly Problems

In the midst of California’s pandemic catastrophe, we may be seeing, at long last, the demise of the dominant mode of thinking of our state’s leaders: “budgetism.”

Budgetism is the false and conventional wisdom—promoted relentlessly by our state’s media and by elected officials of both parties—that the real measure of California’s success is the condition of the state budget.

For decades, if the budget was balanced or in surplus, California was supposedly on the move, a superpower, or even a national model of success. If the budget was in deficit, California …

SLO Down, You Move Too Fast, California | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

SLO Down, You Move Too Fast, California

In Praise of the Peaceful Pleasures of San Luis Obispo County

SLO down, California. Even in pandemic, you move too fast.

This new year, perhaps we should all resolve to model the spirit of SLO, the acronym that embodies San Luis Obispo, …

Our Favorite Events of 2020 | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Our Favorite Events of 2020

Zócalo Went Virtual—But Managed to Stay Grounded in the Big Issues of the Moment

Connecting people to ideas and to each other—Zócalo’s mission for over 17 years now—was never going to be simple in 2020. Well before January, we knew that this year would …

Our Favorite Essays of 2020 | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Our Favorite Essays of 2020

This Year, While We Were Stuck at Home, Our Contributors Brought the World to Us

2020 was not a year that went as anyone expected. Amid a global pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a defining presidential election—not to mention the murder hornets—it’s been an unprecedented …

The Street Vendors Who Make Christmas for New York City | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Street Vendors Who Make Christmas for New York City

With COVID Bearing Down, Gotham’s Neighborhood Tree Sellers May Be More Important Than Ever

It’s hard to imagine New York without Christmas, but what will Christmas look like in a city gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic? Gotham’s Christmas streetscapes are legendary: the towering 75-foot …