Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute of Urban Management.

Recent Articles

“You’re Being Cheated, and We’re Going to Protect You”

In this year’s election, Democrats ought to talk about the many ways Americans are being ripped off—with Trump University as a top example.

(Photo: Star Max/IPx via AP)
Many of the economic problems Americans face are hard to fix. Working-class incomes have stagnated for 20 years. Mortality rates are rising among non-college-educated, non-Latino whites. Inequality of income and wealth are increasing fractally, as each slice of the distribution pulls away from the slice below it: the upper half from the lower half, the top quintile from the other 80 percent, the 1 percent from the 99 percent, the top tenth of a percent from the other 99.9 percent, the billionaires from the mere millionaires. Effective responses—changes in the tax code, changes in spending programs, reinvigorating unions and anti-trust enforcement—are complicated and hard to communicate in TV-friendly soundbites. That gives an edge to candidates peddling hatred and snake oil in place of sound policies. But there’s another aspect of economic fairness that’s far easier to grasp. Everyone hates being cheated. As workers, consumers, and investors, ordinary Americans...

Smarter Punishment, Less Crime

Why reducing incarceration and victimization should be complementary goals

Despite the dramatic fall in crime rates since 1994, crime continues to impose massive social costs, strongly concentrated by race and class. Crime-avoidance behavior does far more damage than actual criminal acts. When businesses flee high-crime neighborhoods, they leave behind reduced services, fewer opportunities for economic growth, and diminished social capital and political clout. Just as concentrated poverty breeds crime, high crime sustains concentrated poverty. Poor African Americans suffer disproportionately from the costs of crime. Nearly a million black Americans are behind bars, and a black male high school dropout has a better than even chance of serving prison time before the age of 30. Since most violent crime is intra-racial, African American victimization rates closely track the incidence of serious offending among African Americans. The criminal-justice system is stacked against minorities and the poor but not only in the ways usually portrayed: high arrest rates,...

Advice for the New Drug Czar

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is Obama's pick to head the Office of National Drug Control. We're not sure whether to offer congratulations or condolences.

Seattle newspapers and our own reporting confirm that Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske will be President Obama's nominee for director of the Office of National Drug Control. This is a good thing. Chief Kerlikowske is a respected voice on gun and drug policy. Within the realm of urban policing, Chief Kerlikowske is a progressive voice. As the new "Drug Czar," he will surely bring a welcome change in tone from the Bush Administration's John Walters. Since Chief Kerlikowske is new to Washington, we thought we would offer some unsolicited advice: Chief Kerlikowske, we're not sure whether to offer congratulations or condolences. You're facing a tough assignment. Some thoughts: 1. Talk to Americans as if we are thinking adults. (This worked surprisingly well for the president during the campaign.) Explain that substance abuse is a permanent challenge, not a temporary problem to be solved in a burst of enthusiasm. Tell cultural conservatives that drug users and, yes, even drug sellers...

What the Senators Should Ask

There are really only two questions the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to ask Alberto Gonzales today: 1. Why are you such a lying turkey? 2. When are you going to resign? But that would make for an unduly short hearing, so here are a few more questions, just to fill in the time: 1. In your prepared testimony released over the weekend, you assert that you had no advance role in planning for the Pearl Harbor Day massacre. An email sent last year by your assistant, Kyle Sampson, says otherwise . Can you explain the discrepancy? 2. If you were concerned about the performance of the U.S. Attorneys who were fired, why didn't you or anyone from DoJ HQ write them to document those concerns and ask for plans of improvement? Isn't that normal management practice? 3. If you were concerned about the performance of the U.S. Attorneys who were fired, why did the Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys not know anything about those concerns until the firings happened? 4. Did anyone in...