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Empty Office Buildings Squeeze City Budgets as Property Values Fall

WASHINGTON — At a meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen last month, Jeff Williams, the mayor of Arlington, Texas, laid out his grim economic predicament: Heavy spending on coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution had dwarfed dwindling tax revenue, forcing the city to consider painful cuts to services and jobs. While sluggish sales and tourism were partly to blame, the big worry, Mr. Williams said, is the empty buildings.Those dormant offices, malls and restaurants that have turned cities around the country into ghost towns foreshadow a fiscal time bomb for municipal budgets, which are heavily reliant on property taxes and …

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Smith & Wesson Fights a Case in New Jersey. Gun Control Could Be the Winner.

She places her gun in a red leather handbag and gets into her car. The gun, in her bag, sits in the front seat of the vehicle as she drives to work. She then brings the gun, still in the bag, to a meeting with colleagues at the office. She then takes the gun, in her bag, to lunch, where she sits at an outdoor cafe. After that, she goes to the gym — and the gun comes with her. Finally, she goes to a shooting range, where she takes the gun out and fires it at a target. “Nice pistol,” …

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Should the Feds Guarantee You a Job?

What should the president do about jobs?For 30 years, Democratic administrations have approached the question by focusing on the overall economy and trusting that a vibrant labor market would follow. But there is a growing feeling among Democrats — along with many mainstream economists — that the market alone cannot give workers a square deal.So after a health crisis that has destroyed millions of jobs, a summer of urban protest that drew attention to the deprivation of Black communities, and another presidential election that exposed deep economic and social divides, some policymakers are reconsidering a policy tool not deployed since the …

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Facebook Blocks News in Australia, Diverging With Google on Proposed Law

SAN FRANCISCO — For months, Facebook and Google have been locked in a stare-down with news publishers and lawmakers in Australia.At the heart of the fight is whether the tech giants should pay news organizations for the news articles that are shared on their networks. Under a proposed law from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, both Google and Facebook would be required to negotiate with media publishers and compensate them for the content that appears on their sites.Facebook and Google have fought hard to prevent the Australian law — which is expected to pass this week or next — from …

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Google Is Suddenly Paying for News in Australia. What About Everywhere Else?

Josh Frydenberg, who as federal treasurer would have enormous discretion over the new legislation, has media ties of his own. In 2016, he was the best man at the wedding of Ryan Stokes, the son of Kerry Stokes, the billionaire owner of Seven West Media, one of the companies that have reached a deal with Google.In short, it’s no surprise that the Australian government sees America’s tech companies, which have done themselves no favors by trying to sidestep local taxes, as less worthy of support than the dominant national media.“We’ve got this peculiar symbiotic thing between …

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How a Minimum-Wage Increase Is Being Felt in a Low-Wage City

When the wage went up, Ms. Parra said, she could more easily help with rent and pay the phone and cable bills at the apartment that she shares with her mother, who makes $18.50 an hour at a heating and air-conditioning company.She noted, however, that her wages were not enough for her to live on her own. “I wouldn’t say that we’re poor, but I also wouldn’t say that we’re well off,” she said. “But because there is both of us who have incomes, we’re able to do O.K.”Mayor Jerry Dyer said there …

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Big Tech’s Unlikely Next Battleground: North Dakota

Last month, a lobbyist approached Kyle Davison, a North Dakota state senator, with an unusual proposal: a law to stop Apple and Google from forcing companies in the state to hand over a share of their app sales.Mr. Davison, a Republican, was focused on bills related to a $200,000 literacy program and birth records for the homeless. But he was intrigued by the lobbyist’s arguments that the tech giants were hurting small businesses, and he thought such a law could attract tech companies to North Dakota. So he introduced it.“She said to me that this could be big. …

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Maryland Nears Country’s First Tax on Big Tech’s Ad Revenue

State politicians, struggling with yawning budget gaps from the pandemic, have made no secret about their interest in getting a bigger piece of the tech industry’s riches.Now, Maryland’s lawmakers are on the verge of taking a new slice, with the nation’s first tax on the revenue from digital advertisements sold by companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon.The state’s House of Delegates voted on Thursday to override the governor’s veto of the proposed law, and the State Senate is expected to follow suit. The tax would generate as much as an estimated $250 million in …

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Pandemic’s Toll on Housing: Falling Behind, Doubling Up

As the pandemic enters its second year, millions of renters are struggling with a loss of income and with the insecurity of not knowing how long they will have a home. Their savings depleted, they are running up credit card debt to make the rent, or accruing months of overdue payments. Families are moving in together, offsetting the cost of housing by finding others to share it.The nation has a plague of housing instability that was festering long before Covid-19, and the pandemic’s economic toll has only made it worse. Now the financial scars are deepening and the …

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PPP Aid to Small Businesses: How Much Did $500 Billion Help?

Anecdotes like Mr. Geismann’s, however, aren’t straightforward to interpret. Perhaps Schuchart and companies like it would have found another way to make ends meet, or would have rehired workers quickly once construction projects resumed.Economists have tried to answer that question using data. Mr. Autor compared companies with just under 500 employees — which could qualify for the program’s original version — with those just above that size, which could not. If the loans were a big help, then the smaller companies should have retained many more of their workers. Instead, Mr. Autor found little difference between the two groups. …

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