Wandering Eye: Hogan ignores science that air pollution causes deaths, Harbor East gets an even bigger Whole Foods, and more

Despite science that says Maryland leads the nation in premature deaths due to air pollution, one of new Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's first moves in office was to block regulations to lower pollution from coal-fired power plants. Now comes more science, saying that "children with lifetime exposures to concentrations of air pollutants above the current U.S. standards, including fine particulate matter, are at an increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases," and the impacts include short-term memory loss and lower IQ. Early deaths and more illness chewing up health care dollars, less productivity in school and at work thwarting economic performance—it seems that smart policy would work toward limiting air pollution, not removing barriers to its creation. Oh well. (Van Smith)


In a free and just society, do you get what you deserve? Do you earn your just rewards? Or is it more a matter of luck, with those born in more prosperous and egalitarian places and times predictably richer? Turns out we know the answer, and it is the latter: Research by Roxana Gutierrez-Romero and Luciana Mendez Errico shows that societies with more inequality have fewer entrepreneurs and less jobs over time. The implications of that are profound. If it is really true that "you didn't build that," then never mind the "death tax," why should the law allow inheritance at all? Nobel laureate economist Herbert A. Simon, writing in the Boston Review in 2000 (shortly before his death), took that ball to the end zone, asserting that a flat 90-percent tax on all income and wealth should be instituted alongside redistributionist policies. "[E]ven a flat tax of 70 percent would support all governmental programs (about half the total tax) and allow payment, with the remainder, of a patrimony of about $8,000 per annum per inhabitant, or $25,000 for a family of three," he wrote. You may or may not agree with the premise, but surely we can all agree that this is great stuff to troll libertarians with. (Hat tip to Mark Thoma.) (Edward Ericson Jr.)


The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Whole Foods will be opening a 50,000-square-foot "flagship" store on Central Avenue in Harbor East, which would make it almost four times as big as the one a block away, on Fleet Street, which it will replace. The new store will be the ground floors (yes, floors—it'll have a mezzanine) of a planned 335-unit apartment/condo tower that was announced for the site back in October, as the full-on luxury real-estate gold rush in Harbor East continues apace. The latest announcement comes days after Luke Broadwater's excellent Sun story, which explained how a development boom, and the increase in property wealth it entails, contributed to the $35 million in cuts to state education funding for the city, "in part due to a funding formula that now assumes the city is rich enough to pay more toward its schools." The mayor on WYPR's "Midday with Dan Rodricks" yesterday suggested that waterfront development, which would include the new Central Avenue tower, does not count toward the formula Broadwater referenced and described the effect of development on education funding as a "blip" that would reverse itself next year. (Evan Serpick)

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