Tag Archives: Congress Watch

Who Needs Washington?

On healthcare and climate change, governors step in where Congress can’t – or won’t.
By Susan Milligan – Congress may be unable or unwilling to pass major legislation.

Governors and states, lauded as laboratories of democracy at best and recalcitrant junior players at worst, are stepping up to fill the power void.

And while governors are more empowered to stop federal policies or legislation than to force their enactment, the state players can have a great deal of influence over how the whole nation – and not just their constituencies – live, experts say.

On climate change, too, governors in both parties are implementing environmental policies Trump has rejected as too onerous on business.

The sheer size and economic influence of states can push national policy and trends as well. Texas, with its big buying power in school textbooks, has an outsized influence on details such as questioning evolution in science textbooks.

And while California’s greenhouse emissions standard might not be much liked by industry, which one would refuse to do business with the Golden State, which has the sixth-biggest economy in the world? And when states can’t stop Washington from passing policies, they can slow-walk their implementation or scream so loudly Washington is forced to regroup. more> https://goo.gl/zU7ruc

The Next Crisis Will Start in Silicon Valley

By William Magnuson – It has been 10 years since the last financial crisis, and some have already started to predict that the next one is near. But when it comes, it will likely have its roots in Silicon Valley, not Wall Street.

Our banks are better capitalized than ever. Our regulators conduct regular stress tests of large institutions. And the Dodd-Frank Act imposes strict requirements on systemically important financial institutions.

But while these reforms have managed to reduce the risks that caused the last crisis, they have ignored, and in some cases exacerbated, the emerging risks that may cause the next one.

These financial technology (or “fintech”) markets are populated by small startup companies, the exact opposite of the large, concentrated Wall Street banks that have for so long dominated finance. And they have brought great benefits for investors and consumers. By automating decision-making and reducing the costs of transactions, fintech has greased the wheels of finance, making it faster and more efficient.

But revolutions often end in destruction. And the fintech revolution has created an environment ripe for instability and disruption. It does so in three ways. …

Wall Street is no longer the future of finance. Silicon Valley is. more> https://goo.gl/LK6CsY

Related>

David Brooks Is Mistaken: The Economy Is Broken

By Steve Denning – Brooks concludes blithely that “the market is working more or less as it’s supposed to.” It is therefore wrong to conclude that the U.S. economy has “structural flaws.” That is “a story that is fundamentally untrue.”

The difficulty with the argument, as Brooks well knows, is that one or two good years don’t make an era. Two years of income growth don’t undo the trauma flowing from 50 years of wage stagnation, much less lead to the conclusion that there are “no structural flaws” in the economy.

The brute fact remains that median salaries have stagnated for some 50 years. That’s the real problem of the U.S. economy that economists ought to be talking about.

When moderates deny the obvious, the disaffected inevitably turn elsewhere.

If moderates want to be listened to, they will need to take a harder look at what is going on, come up with coherent explanations for what has gone wrong, and offer plausible remedial action. more> https://goo.gl/zuoJbQ

Return of the city-state

BOOK REVIEW

Radicals Chasing Utopia, Author: Jamie Bartlett.
The End of the Nation State, Author: Jean-Marie Guéhenno.
The End of the Nation State, Author: Kenichi Ohmae.
The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism, Author: Bruce Katz.

Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century
By Jamie Bartlett – To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime.

We are just as deluded that our model of living in ‘countries’ is inevitable and eternal.

Which is all rather odd, since they’re not really that old. Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was a sprawl of empires, unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travelers crossed without checks or passports. As industrialization made societies more complex, large centralized bureaucracies grew up to manage them.

Those governments best able to unify their regions, store records, and coordinate action (especially war) grew more powerful vis-à-vis their neighbors. Revolutions – especially in the United States (1776) and France (1789) – helped to create the idea of a commonly defined ‘national interest’, while improved communications unified language, culture and identity. Imperialistic expansion spread the nation-state model worldwide, and by the middle of the 20th century it was the only game in town.

There are now 193 nation-states ruling the world. more> https://goo.gl/2N1bGb

Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict

By Steve Ranger – At its core, cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks by one country or nation to disrupt the computer systems of another with the aim of create significant damage, death or destruction.

Governments and intelligence agencies worry that digital attacks against vital infrastructure — like banking systems or power grids — will give attackers a way of bypassing a country’s traditional defenses.

And unlike standard military attacks, a cyberattack can be launched instantaneously from any distance, with little obvious evidence in the build-up, and it is often extremely hard to trace such an attack back to its originators. Modern economies, underpinned by computer networks that run everything from sanitation to food distribution and communications, are particularly vulnerable to such attacks, especially as these systems are in the main poorly designed and protected.

Attacks by individual hackers, or even groups of hackers, would not usually be considered to be cyberwarfare, unless they were being aided and directed by a state. more> https://goo.gl/U3S5Ds

The Political Fabric Unravels: Diagnosing The Current Crisis

By Steve Denning – Perhaps not many expected to see the day when an American president would from the Oval Office be issuing a threat of nuclear war, advocating the commission of a war crime, thanking a chief adversary for expelling our diplomats, despising the international fight again climate change, delivering multiple false or misleading statements on a daily basis, systematically vilifying the media and demeaning the freedom of the press, fomenting gender discrimination, picking fights with the leadership of his own party, and defending as ‘fine people’ those who march with neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

What is striking to the mainstream media is that more than 70% of Republicans still support the president—despite everything he has said and done.

The continuing Republican support of the current president—despite everything—reflects a deeper and more pervasive level of personal desperation than the mainstream media generally recognizes. There is a lack of hope that things will ever get any better. Those negatively affected by economic setbacks become willing to go along with almost anything in order to get change.

As previously accepted norms and values are disregarded and undermined, the political fabric of the nation is at risk of unraveling. more> https://goo.gl/hcTZ3H

Trump Fails Logic

By Louis René Beres – Known formally as post hoc, ergo propter hoc, or simply post hoc, this reasoning error maintains simplistically that because one selected event just happens to be followed by another, the second event (here, economic and stock market growth) is a verifiably direct effect of the first (in this case, the 2016 election).

A post hoc argument is invariably fallacious because it discounts all other potentially relevant factors. More precisely, Trump’s claim of credit in this case is unwarranted because it falsely assumes that all other conceivably influential factors have somehow remained constant.

n sum, it is time for Americans to worry not only about this president’s increasingly stark moral and political transgressions, but also his distinctly related intellectual debilities. With particular regard to North Korea, Trump’s multiple and conspicuous manipulations of reasoning could bring us to the brink of a first ever nuclear war. Accordingly, it is high time for us to restore a sense of deep respect for “Logic 101” in the White House. more> https://goo.gl/S3Y5BG

Peter Drucker Has Some Sage Advice For How Execs Should Respond To Charlottesville

BOOK REVIEW

Concept of the Corporation, The Practice of Management, The Effective Executive, Author: Peter Drucker.
The End of Economic Man, Author: Peter Drucker.

By Rick Wartzman – Drucker advised countless executives on how to more effectively run their companies.

Along the way, however, Drucker never lost sight of his real aim: not to help companies make more money (although he recognized that without turning a steady profit, it was impossible to be sustainable) but to encourage business to fulfill its role as a leading institution of society.

Drucker knew firsthand, after all, what happens when our institutions don’t act as unflinching protectors of our most basic values: “Terror,” as he put it, is apt fill the void.

“To make our institutions perform responsibly,” Drucker asserted in his 1973 masterpiece Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, is “the only safeguard of freedom and dignity.”

The obligation of business—which, Drucker reminded us, “is one of the very few institutions . . . that is not nationalistic in its worldview” and, at its best, “brings together” all kinds of people and “unites them in a common purpose.” more> https://goo.gl/QvrBNF

Investing in the next generation

A bottom-up approach to creating better outcomes for children and youth
By Bruce Katz and Ross Tilchin – The American dream is built on the promise of upward social mobility. Over the course of the past 30 years, the vast majority of our population has seen mobility rates stagnate.1 For too many, the American dream has stalled.

Making greater and more effective investments in children and youth will be the best way to improve social mobility throughout the nation. Research has demonstrated the positive long-term effects of providing a specific set of coordinated interventions from “cradle to career.” Despite the conclusive evidence, our nation has been unable to provide those in need with access to the right kinds of services.

The time to act is now. The question is, who will lead the effort to expand these proven strategies? Over the past decade, it has become apparent that we cannot rely upon the federal government or the states. Washington and many state governments have been hijacked by partisanship, leading to paralysis on or hostility toward many of the policies and interventions necessary for improving outcomes for children and youth.

Locally driven approaches to investing in children and youth are a part of a larger national trend. Over the past decade or so, cities and metropolitan areas have risen to the forefront of national problem solving across a wide range of policy areas. more> https://goo.gl/pj8f25

Did Google and GoDaddy Set a Dangerous Precedent by Dropping a Neo-Nazi Website?

By Jack Denton – GoDaddy’s decision comes at a particularly fraught moment in the debate over whether freedom of speech can be reconciled with attempts to quell hateful discourse and actions. Additionally, with the Internet becoming the preferred mode of public discourse, abusive trolling and rampant falsehoods have led some to call for increased accountability from Internet service providers and social media companies for the content they host and support.

The central question of this debate continues to be: Is freedom worth its consequences?

Preventing people from reaching the Daily Stormer’s website does nothing to actually combat the ideas. There’s the old, famous saying that the remedy for bad speech is more speech—it’s not silencing the bad speech. Hate speech is legal in the United States. And people are going to continue to express themselves in awful ways, and cutting off the domain name isn’t helpful for the dialogue.

Any attempt to try to hold service providers responsible is absolutely bound to backfire. In the marketplace of ideas, we need to have exposure to all sorts of ideas. Good ones, bad ones, fake ones—all of them are valuable in their own way. The reader is the only one whose judgment matters.

The problems in Charlottesville were not problems of speech, they were problems of violence. more> https://goo.gl/YBkDkM