Published Work

Book:

Questions for Deep Thinkers

 200+ of the Most Challenging Questions You (Probably) Never Thought to Ask

By Henry Kraemer & Brandon Marcus

QuestionsFrom Adams Media and Simon & Schuster, Questions for Deep Thinkers is a compendium of over 200 thought-provoking, challenging, and strange questions exploring just how weird the world around you can be.

For example:
Which invention has caused the most unhappiness: fire, the wheel, or the internet?
If a werewolf landed on the moon, would it touch down as a man or a wolf?
When sitting at a movie theater, which armrest is yours?
What’s the most untrustworthy animal?
Would you rather kiss a person with jellybeans for teeth or a banana for a tongue?

In Questions for Deep Thinkers, you’ll find 250 thought-provoking, challenging, and sometimes completely ridiculous questions that you (probably) never thought to even ask. Perfect for large group parties, hanging out with friends, or if you just want a moment to ponder some of life’s absurdities, this collection of head-scratching “deep questions” will leave you either in an argument or saying, “hmm, I never thought of that…”

Don’t let the world’s most pressing mysteries pass you by!

Buy a copy from Powell’s Books (if you’re a noble person who wants to go the independent bookstore route) or Amazon (if you’re one of those).

Political Commentary:

It’s the Housing Stupid

By Henry Kraemer & Peter Harrison

Excerpt:

Democrats need renters to turn out in 2020. If renters had voted at the same rate as homeowners in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have trounced Donald Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

This is not just about political prerogative. Renters are emblematic of Americans abandoned by crony capitalism. Their fates represent the success or failure of the American project in the 21st century. The median renter makes just over $30,000 per year and has one-fiftieth the wealth of the median homeowner. Millions go without transportation, health care, and even food to pay rent. It is an urgent moral crisis.

Progressive presidential candidates must affirm that housing is a right, and strive to make it a reality. Given how many Americans are touched by the housing crisis, big action to address it can be a political winner.

As a courtesy to the presidential candidates — and as a guide to voters who care about housing — Data for Progress has put forward a “Homes for All” plan that offers a comprehensive solution to the housing crisis. And we polled on it, so we know that voters want it.

The Homes for All plan calls for four major reforms: ending racist exclusionary zoning, building 7–10 million affordable homes outside the private market, providing immediate relief and stability for cost-burdened renters, and treating housing as a home instead of an investment. Here’s how they would work.

Read the rest at Buzzfeed.

The Rent Is Too Damn High, and Progressives Need to Do Something

By Sean McElwee & Henry Kraemer

Excerpt:

Consigned to the rental market indefinitely, tens of millions of Americans are locked out of a path to economic mobility. There are more cost-burdened renters (meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent) in the United States today than there were uninsured people before the Affordable Care Act. In the richest country in the world, a full one-third of American households are cost-burdened, including nearly half of the 111 million Americans living in rental housing. A full 60 percent of middle- and working-class renters with annual incomes under $75,000 experience cost burdens.

Across most income brackets, many millions of Americans are at the edge of a personal financial crisis thanks to their crushing rent payments. When a massive chunk of a person’s pay–a third, half, even more–goes to simply providing shelter, they often struggle to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their families.

Given the housing-cost horror stories we often hear about in expensive coastal cities like New York and San Francisco, one might assume rent burdens are potent only in already deeply progressive territory. The data tells a much different story. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s most recent Out of Reach report, a full-time minimum-wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment in 99.6 percent of American counties. Suburbs–the central battlefield of competitive American elections in 2018–are seeing rents rise faster than urban areas. Even people who do not struggle with housing costs themselves recognize this as a problem. Roughly three in five Americans recognize finding affordable housing as a challenge in their community, and 80 percent see it as a problem for the country as a whole.

Read the rest at The Nation.

Policy Analysis Report:

Homes for All: The Progressive 2020 Housing Agenda

By Peter Harrison and Henry Kraemer

Excerpt:

Many people inside and outside of politics lament the death of the American Dream. That dream is defined – if common media narratives are to be believed – as owning a home with a backyard, a car in the garage, and a little money in the bank. Its “death” is usually understood to mean the increasing expense of housing (and other costs) that makes it harder for the next generation of Americans to achieve their parents’ level of comfort and prosperity. This is largely misplaced nostalgia and misunderstood history.

The death of the American Dream has been greatly exaggerated. But so has the dream itself. Tying it so closely to homeownership was always a mistake. Homeownership and its related benefits were only available to a select group of Americans, mostly white and, now, almost exclusively older ones. It came at the expense of other Americans, of other ways of organizing our communities, and of other ways of growing our economy. And it has come at the expense of the health of our climate and ourselves.

The housing crisis described in this report, and experienced every day by millions of Americans, has many people and, we hope, many policymakers waking up from this century-long slumber. But other Americans, ignored by policymakers for much of this century, have been wide awake. The current crisis may be unprecedented in its scale, but too many Americans have suffered through versions of it for their entire experience in America. For them, there never was an American Dream.

That doesn’t mean that there is not some version of an American Dream that is worthy of pursuing. As flawed and incomplete as the idea of the 20th century American Dream was, there is something heartening about knowing that there is still a deep foundation in all Americans for a 21st century version, or more likely, multiple versions. Some likely still include homeownership. Others include renting a home. All of those versions can be closer to a reality for Americans if housing is guaranteed as a basic right. If we, through coordinated public action, get that right, we can solve all of the larger issues that the housing crisis has laid bare.

Stable, economical housing for every American can be achieved through a synthesis of targeted, ambitious policies aimed at rewriting the rules and underlying structures of the housing system. Serious policymakers will pursue a comprehensive package of solutions, including immediate cash relief for renters, catalysts for state and local rent stabilization and equitable zoning, massive expansion of publicly owned and nonprofit affordable homes, and decommodification of housing. Many of these policies will not be cheap, but they are a small price to pay for the eradication of homelessness and housing insecurity, a dependable economic foundation for every American, a salve for generations of racial inequities, and a path to deep decarbonization.

Read the rest at Data for Progress.

Millennial Voters Win With Automatic Voter Registration

By Henry Kraemer, Liz Kennedy, Maggie Thompson, Danielle Root, and Kyle Epstein

Excerpt:

In March 2015, Oregon became the first state to adopt automatic voter registration thanks to a multiyear campaign begun by Alliance for Youth Action affiliate, the Bus Project, and led by civic, youth, student, and civil rights groups. The new system was launched in 2016 and already looks potentially transformative. Between the 2012 and 2016 general elections, the number of registered Oregon voters age 18 to 29 increased by more than 100,000. During the same period, the eligible-voter population of that cohort grew by just more than 12,000 people. This massive growth in the registration rate of Oregon youth contributed to Oregon reaching more than 50 percent voter turnout for all adults younger than age 30 in the 2016 general election. When compared to the 43 percent turnout rate for the same population in Oregon’s 2012 election, the effects are evident: Eligible young voter turnout increased by 7 percentage points—representing 45,988 new young voters casting ballots.The 2016 and 2012 electoral environments were extraordinarily similar: There was no presence of active presidential campaigns in the state, nor any competitive gubernatorial or senatorial statewide elections.

While causation is difficult to determine, it is likely that a portion of this turnout increase was driven by the new voters added through automatic voter registration, along with the hundreds of thousands of automatic registration address updates that ensured Oregon’s all-mail ballots reached voters at their new homes. A 7-percentage point increase in turnout is an unusually high boost following the implementation of a single voting reform.

Of the more than 226,094 voters registered through Oregon automatic voter registration for the November 2016 election, voters younger than age 30 comprised over 40 percent. Voting-eligible Oregonians younger than age 30, however, make up only 20 percent of the state’s overall eligible population. The over-performance of this demographic group among all AVR voters is remarkable. Indeed, while older voters saw an increase in turnout as well in Oregon, it was 4.7 percentage points—only two-thirds the size of the increase observed in young voters.

Furthermore, according to analysis done by BlueLabs, the implementation of automatic voter registration likely contributed to unprecedented growth in the percentage of people of color registered to vote in Oregon in 2016. In December 2015, Oregon’s registration rate for people of color was 53 percent, ranking 31st in the nation. By January 2017, that registration rate climbed to 79 percent, the second highest in the nation. AVR is likely to have played a part in adding more than half of eligible but unregistered people of color to the state’s voter rolls last year—the most significant improvement of any state in the union.

Read the rest at Center for American Progress.

Nonprofit Annual Report:

Alliance for Youth Organizing (formerly Bus Federation) 2016 Report

Excerpt:

WHY WE VOTE. 

When Millennials are deeply engaged, change happens. That’s just what we do.

MILLENNIALS ARE THE LARGEST, most diverse, and most justice-loving generation in American history. We’ve created powerful, culture-shifting social movements from Occupy Wall Street, to the DREAMers, to #BlackLivesMatter. When we take to the streets AND the voting booth in big numbers, we transform what’s possible. The Bus Federation runs straight-up huge vote education and turnout, and tears down age-old barriers to the ballot. We launched the American Voter Guide – already one of our country’s largest youth voter education efforts. We engaged and educated so many young voters it’ll give you whiplash. Plus, we led the charge to bring automatic voter registration to America, and helped make it a record-shattering success.

Biggest. National Voter Registration Day. Ever.

Voting is a tough task in this country when states impose difficult and overbearing voter registration laws. That’s why we are here. *cue heroic soundtrack* Registering voters is one of the best tools we’ve got for getting over these useless barriers and, well, we are basically experts at it by now. In 2016, National Voter Registration Day was H-U-G-E. Like colossal. We grew the holiday into a massive national effort that reached millions of people. Don’t believe us? Let the numbers speak for themselves:

3,524 partners across the country
10,353 volunteers
359,954,794 social media impressions
And drumroll please…. 771,321 voters registered!

Read the rest at Alliance for Youth Organizing.