The Trump administration has slowed the expansion of, and even started hacking away at, a bewildering jungle of federal regulations, helping free an entangled economy, which now surges with renewed energy. But as James R. Copland warns in our cover story, “The Four Horsemen of the Regulatory State,”the long-term battle against regulatory growth won’t be easy to win. For decades, he shows, the regulatory state has increased inexorably, as unaccountable administrators invent countless new federal mandates—and prosecutors impose countless new penalties for not obeying them, even unintentionally. Tort lawyers, shaking down businesses and citizens for dubious infractions, also encourage regulatory expansion, Copland argues, as does progressive anti-federalism, which seeks to impose the Left’s civil-society-smothering agenda on every corner of the country. To fight back successfully will require understanding each of these forces driving regulatory growth. Copland’s essay provides that explanatory framework.

What should college freshmen read? Homer, perhaps—or some Shakespeare? Jane Austen? Some exposure to something recognized as a great book, surely! But in today’s university, that’s probably hoping for too much. As John Tierney reports in “Reeducation Campus,” the First-Year Experience—a freshman program used by numerous American universities—jettisons the classics and replaces them with books by Ta-Nehisi Coates and other advocates of identity politics. The program is a gold mine for writers whose books get selected. The bigger problem, though, is that the reading indoctrinates first-year students in protest culture and victimology, before they’ve learned much of anything. And now advocates want to extend the program to second-year students, too.

William J. Bratton recently finished his second stint as New York’s police commissioner, leaving his command with crime in the city at historical lows and relations with minority communities improving, even as antipolice unrest and rising violence have scarred other major U.S. cities. With Jon Murad, who served with him at the New York Police Department, Bratton gives a firsthand account of the changes he implemented this time around at the NYPD, which, the authors argue, amount to a new model of “Precision Policing.” At the model’s core: better use of data to target crime, more officer discretion in enforcing laws, and intensified neighborhood outreach. Bratton and Murad maintain that precision policing can work in any urban police department, bringing safer streets and greater civic peace.

Technology promises to transform cities—and is transforming cities—but is this always a good thing? Two stories in this issue offer some cautions. Steven Malanga’s “The Promise and Peril of ‘Smart’ Cities” reports on how sophisticated sensors and devices could cut pollution, help residents communicate with city leaders, and melt snow on sidewalks. But when the technologists go further, and seek to impose a top-down vision of wired urban life, the messy vitality of cities can be lost. One can see this reality, Malanga says, in South Korea’s newly created city Songdo, designed as a technological utopia but whose artificiality has thus far turned off residents and firms. In “How Far Can Driverless Cars Take Us?,” Nicole Gelinas says that autonomous-vehicle tech can make city roadways safer, and perhaps ease congestion, but to realize the benefits, a new regulatory framework is needed—and the complexities are enormous. Her story is an excellent primer on AV tech and where it’s heading.

On a sadder note, we regret the passing of Stefan Kanfer, a contributing editor of the magazine for more than two decades, a best-selling author (he wrote brilliant biographies of Groucho Marx, Humphrey Bogart, and Lucille Ball, among numerous other works of nonfiction and fiction), and cultural maven. Kanfer was an effortless, punchy writer, and he wrote for us on topics ranging from the American musical theater to the Holocaust, from graphic arts to politics to his years at Time. He was an invaluable colleague, participating enthusiastically in our editorial meetings (which he rarely missed), encouraging our Internet expansion from our earliest days online, and becoming one of our top web contributors; and he was a cherished friend. City Journal will miss him deeply.

—Brian C. Anderson


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