Why the government should be in the housing market. Government-financed housing units do increase the total number of housing units in a given place, write economists Todd Sinai and Joel Waldfogel of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (National Bureau of Economic Research working paper “Do Low-Income Housing Subsidies Increase Housing Consumption?” January), “although on average three government-subsidized units displace two units that would otherwise have been provided by the private market…. Tenant-based housing programs, such as Section 8 Certificates and Vouchers, seem to be more effective than project-based programs at targeting subsidized housing units to people who otherwise would not have their own.”

Got drugs? Be white. From 1995 through 2000, more than 63,000 individuals were convicted and sentenced for drug possession or delivery in Cook County Circuit Court, reports Alden Loury in the Chicago Reporter (January). “Forty-six percent of black defendants were sentenced to prison, 30 percent of Latinos and 20 percent of whites.”

Art by the numbers. University of Chicago economist David Galenson, author of Painting Outside the Lines, tells Josh Schonwald of the University of Chicago Chronicle (January 24) that he’s found “very clear and systematic patterns in the lives of art’s geniuses.” Schonwald writes, “Galenson evaluated the life cycles of 125 of the most innovative French and American artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries. In his analysis, he used auction prices to estimate the relationship between the value of each artist’s work and the artist’s age at the time the work was made. From this relationship he then calculated the age at which the artist produced his most valuable work.” He found that artists who did their best work young were more deductive, typically envisioning the whole process before starting to work. Those who did their best work in middle age or old age, on the other hand, were experimental innovators who painstakingly refined their techniques over time. Ironically, believers in unquantifiable individual genius made possible Galenson’s work by creating “an enormous amount of literature on the working methods of artists,” on which he drew.

We’re number one in what? If you include finance, insurance, communications, motion pictures, management consulting, and public relations jobs, then Chicago ranks first in so-called I-Tech jobs, according to a recent report from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute, with 277,400 such jobs–more than New York, Boston, San Jose, or Washington, D.C. (“Building a World-Class Information Technology Workforce for the Chicago Region”).

Hope springs eternal. “The premise for In These Times” at its founding in 1976 “was that there was a resurgent left and the newspaper would ride the popular wave to a large circulation and considerable influence over political affairs.” As longtime reader and media scholar Robert McChesney writes in its January 18 issue, “We thought we were part of a movement that would radically change the world for the better, and do so in our lifetimes. In the mid-’70s there remained a whole coterie of left-wing and alternative institutions founded in the preceding decade, from food co-ops to underground newspapers to community radio stations. Even Middle America dumped the Republicans in 1976. We thought the best was yet to come.” Now he thinks it has finally come. “Over the past five years, there has been a rebirth of the left in the United States, but it has passed by almost entirely undetected by the same corporate news media that can tell you who Monica Lewinsky is dating or how many times Bill Gates picked his nose while at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This new new left is dominated by young people and is organizing around human rights, labor rights, opposition to the death penalty and the criminal justice system, environmental issues and corporate power in general. It manifested itself in Seattle and then in Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign…. After 25 years of feisty independent journalism, In These Times may finally be on the verge of the times for which it was intended.”