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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Debt Will Grow, Economy Will Slow

From CBO:
In CBO’s projections, the federal budget deficit is $960 billion in 2019 and averages $1.2 trillion between 2020 and 2029. Over the coming decade, deficits (after adjustments to exclude the effects of shifts in the timing of certain payments) fluctuate between 4.4 percent and 4.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), well above the average over the past 50 years. Although both revenues and outlays grow faster than GDP over the next 10 years in CBO’s baseline projections, the gap between the two persists.
As a result of those deficits, federal debt held by the public is projected to grow steadily, from 79 percent of GDP in 2019 to 95 percent in 2029—its highest level since just after World War II.
Real (inflation-adjusted) GDP is projected to grow by 2.3 percent in 2019, supporting strong labor market conditions that feature low unemployment and rising wages. This year, real output is projected to exceed CBO’s estimate of its potential (maximum sustainable) level. After 2019, consumer spending and purchases of goods and services by federal, state, and local governments are projected to grow at a slower pace, and annual output growth is projected to slow—averaging 1.8 percent over the 2020–2023 period—as real output returns to its historical relationship with potential output. From 2024 to 2029, both output and potential output are projected to grow at an average pace of 1.8 percent per year, which is less than the long-term historical average. That slowdown occurs primarily because the labor force is expected to grow more slowly than it has in the past.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

George Washington on Immigration

Many posts have discussed immigration to the United States.

From George Washington to Joshua Holmes, 2 December 1783
The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent & respectable Stranger, but the oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights & privileges, if by decency & propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.
From George Washington to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 28 May 1788
 I had always hoped that this land might become a safe & agreeable Asylum to the virtuous & persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong...
 Proclamation, 1 January 1795
[We] humbly and fervently to beseech the kind author of these blessings graciously to prolong them to us—to imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to him for them—to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value—to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits to dispose us to merit the continuance of his favors, by not abusing them, by our gratitude for them, and by a correspondent conduct as citizens and as men—to render this Country more and more a safe and propitious asylum for the unfortunate of other Countries..

Fake Tocqueville in Alabama

Many posts have discussed the fake Tocqueville quotation, "America is great, because America is good. If America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."

At The Alabama Political Reporter, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) recalls a naturalization ceremony:
That morning at the U.S.S. Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, I spoke of the American belief in self-government, that ‘we the people’ can govern ourselves. To successfully execute such a radical (at the time) idea, we had to found our nation on some basic values. From our adherence and loyalty to those values, our American character was created.
I quoted the words of the nineteenth century French observer of early America, Alexis De Tocqueville, written several decades after our nation’s founding. He said “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Tocqueville never wrote any such thing. The bogus line has been circulating for many years. There has been a good deal of work on its origin, but it is certain that it did not originate with Tocqueville.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Polarized Views of HIgher Education

Kim Parker at Pew:
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that only half of American adults think colleges and universities are having a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days. About four-in-ten (38%) say they are having a negative impact – up from 26% in 2012.
The share of Americans saying colleges and universities have a negative effect has increased by 12 percentage points since 2012. The increase in negative views has come almost entirely from Republicans and independents who lean Republican. From 2015 to 2019, the share saying colleges have a negative effect on the country went from 37% to 59% among this group. Over that same period, the views of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic have remained largely stable and overwhelmingly positive.
Gallup found a similar shift in views about higher education. Between 2015 and 2018, the share of Americans saying they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in higher education dropped from 57% to 48%, and the falloff was greater among Republicans (from 56% to 39%) than among Democrats (68% to 62%).1

Monday, August 19, 2019

Walmart Nation

At Visual Capitalist, Nick Routley reports:
 When we exclude direct government and military employment, a few trends emerge. Universities and hospitals – there is often some overlap between the two – are top employers in nearly half of the states. In a handful of cases, the top employer reflects an industry that is well known in the region. General Motors, for example, is still the top employer in Michigan. In Nevada? MGM Resorts International, with over 55,000 employees. When it comes to large-scale employment, there’s one regional trend that stands out the most – the broad blue expanse of Walmart country.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Attacking Reputations

As a journalist who has covered corporate America for more than 30 years, very little shocks me about the propaganda tactics companies often deploy. I know the pressure companies can and do bring to bear when trying to effect positive coverage and limit reporting they deem negative about their business practices and products.

But when I recently received close to 50 pages of internal Monsanto communications about the company’s plans to target me and my reputation, I was shocked.

The company records I’ve obtained show a range of actions. One Monsanto plan involved paying for web placement of a blogpost about me so that Monsanto-written information would pop up at the top of certain internet searches involving my name. The correspondence also discussed a need to produce “third party talking points” about me. In addition, Monsanto produced a video to help it amplify company-engineered propaganda about me and my work.
Many other posts have discussed white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.

Brennan Gilmore recorded the viral video of Heather Heyer's murder by a white supremacist in Charlottesville.  He writes at USA Today:
But I had no concept at the time of the conspiracy theory network that was about to be ginned up to maximum effect against me and others already traumatized by the events in Charlottesville, including Heather’s own mother. This online community has a terrifying capacity to warp perceptions of an event and mangle it into something unrecognizable, while also inflicting lasting damage on the victims of a heinous act and the bystanders who document it.
Alex Jones and InfoWars comprise perhaps the most powerful conspiracy factory of them all. Pointing to my work with the State Department, they and other online conspiracy theorists militantly propagated a narrative through their online channels that I was a CIA operative. They said I was part of a plot to orchestrate the Charlottesville events, and convinced untold numbers of people.

As a result, my family and I were doxed and I was incessantly harassed online and even in person, in what has become a sadly predictable pattern for online targets.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Social Media and Silence

David Winston at Roll Call:
In a survey done earlier this year, we asked people whether they keep quiet about their political views online to avoid conflict with friends and family. Almost half, 49 percent, said that’s exactly what they did to duck what they had come to expect would be personal attacks in response to their political posts.

Republicans and independents were more likely to downplay their views than Democrats. Women were also more likely than men to downplay their views online, especially Republican and independent women. That fear of online retribution is antithetical to the concept of freedom of speech and as social media grows, it threatens to undermine the legitimacy of our political system writ large.
Venture capitalist and technology guru Mary Meeker issues an annual report on internet trends that is must-read for anyone trying to understand where new technology is going and its future potential impact on society. In her most recent analysis, released in June, she tells us that in 2019, people will spend more time on mobile devices than watching TV. They spend an average of 6.3 hours a day online between mobile devices and computers.
Twenty-six percent of people overall and 39 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they are online “almost constantly.” Forty-three percent of Americans get news from Facebook, 21 percent from YouTube and 12 percent from Twitter (according to a Pew study cited in the Meeker report).
But perhaps Meeker’s most important insight is this: “Owing to social media amplification, reveals/actions/reactions about events can occur quickly — resulting in both good & bad outcomes.” That’s why acting responsibly online with the good of the country in mind, matters.