Tag Archives: United States

The Big Shift

How American Democracy Fails Its Way to Success
By Walter Russell Mead – As Americans struggle to make sense of a series of uncomfortable economic changes and disturbing political developments, a worrying picture emerges: of ineffective politicians, frequent scandals, racial backsliding, polarized and irresponsible news media, populists spouting quack economic remedies, growing suspicion of elites and experts, frightening outbreaks of violence, major job losses, high-profile terrorist attacks, anti-immigrant agitation, declining social mobility, giant corporations dominating the economy, rising inequality, and the appearance of a new class of super-empowered billionaires in finance and technology-heavy industries.

That, of course, is a description of American life in the 35 years after the Civil War.

The United States is passing through something similar today. The information revolution is disrupting the country’s social and economic order as profoundly as the Industrial Revolution did.

The ideologies and policies that fit American society a generation ago are becoming steadily less applicable to the problems it faces today.

It is, in many ways, a stressful and anxious time to be alive.

And that anxiety has prompted a pervasive sense of despair about American democracy—a fear that it has reached a point of dysfunction and decay from which it will never recover. more>

Renewing America’s economic promise through older industrial cities

By Alan Berube and Cecile Murray – Despite a robust national economy, deep regional divides persist with technology hubs in the coastal states pulling away from the nation’s industrial Heartland. This growing regional inequality poses serious economic, social, and political consequences for the nation.

The middling performance of communities with historically strong manufacturing cores is a key feature of America’s uneven economic growth. These so-called older industrial cities, predominantly located in the Midwest and Northeast, have struggled over time to grow jobs in new sectors and to boost employment and income, particularly for their communities of color.

They range from very large cities like Baltimore and Detroit, to smaller communities like Schenectady, New York, and Terre Haute, Indiana.

With increasing interest in local, state, and national policies to revive the fortunes of struggling communities, older industrial cities represent promising regions for strategic investment and critical centers for promoting inclusive economic growth. more>

Trump’s lies corrode democracy

By James Pfiffner – Previous research has demonstrated that most modern presidents have told lies for a variety of reasons, from legitimate lies concerning national security, to trivial misstatements, to shading the truth, to avoiding embarrassment, to serious lies of policy deception. However, when a president continues to insist that his previous false statements are true, the institutions of government become corroded and democracy is undermined.

Of course, many of Trump’s lies are “conventional” lies similar to those that politicians often tell in order to look good or avoid blame. But the number of these types of lies by Trump vastly exceeds the lies of previous presidents. Glen Kessler of the Washington Post compiled a list of more than 2000 misleading or false statements in Trump’s first 355 days in office.

But aside from volume, Trump’s lies differed significantly from those of previous presidents. Some of his most frequent lies are bragging about his achievements in ways that are demonstrably untrue and contrary to well-known and accepted facts.

Trump’s refusal to admit the truth of widely accepted facts corrodes political discourse and is consistent with the practice of many authoritarian leaders. If there are no agreed upon facts, then it becomes impossible for people to make judgments about their government or hold it accountable. more>

The Work Ahead

By Edward Alden and Laura Taylor-Kale – The world is in the midst of a profound transformation in the nature of work, as smart machines and other new technologies remake how people do their jobs and pursue their careers. The pace of change will almost certainly accelerate, and the disruptions will grow larger. In the United States, where work is the basis for most of the income and benefits that make a secure life possible for Americans and their families, the transformation has been especially wrenching.

The most important challenge facing the United States— given the seismic forces of innovation, automation, and globalization that are changing the nature of work—is to create better pathways for all Americans to adapt and thrive. The country’s future as a stable, strong nation willing and able to devote the necessary resources and attention to meeting international challenges depends on rebuilding the links among work, opportunity, and economic security.

Failure to do so will increase the pressures for retrenchment that are already causing the United States to back away from global leadership. A United States that cannot provide better job and career options and greater economic security for its citizens will be less competitive and less of an example to the world.

It will have fewer resources available for national security. Domestic struggles over the sharing of economic gains will further distract and divide the country, and make it less willing and less able to act effectively in the world.

As technology disrupts industry after industry, the United States needs better ways to help Americans access the many new opportunities technology is also creating, in particular by strengthening the link between education and employment prospects. The country needs stronger support for job creation, especially for better-paying jobs.

It needs to make the skill demands of jobs much more transparent, so job seekers know the credentials required to move ahead on their own career paths. It needs to ensure that all Americans can gain the skills and knowledge that they—and the economy—depend on for success. And the United States needs to improve the benefits and returns from work for all Americans. more (pdf)>

How to Serve a President You Don’t Like

By Dannielle Blumenthal – It is no secret that the vast majority of Washingtonians dislike our current president.

But you do not have to like the president to serve well, to make your agency more functional, and to deliver great service to the American public. Because whatever program I was working on, it had little or nothing to do with the president and everything to do with the citizen. The more effectively and efficiently I contributed, and helped others to contribute, the better we served the taxpayers, who too often are forgotten in all the discord.

Many conflicts in government really are about ideological differences and beliefs that are fervently held. Others are about personality differences. Still others have to do with money, status, and power. Many are a mixture of all of these.

But most federal employees aren’t having these power struggles.

Most civil servants, at least, can serve a president they don’t like. But if doing you job under this president means violating your personal beliefs and principles, then I would argue it’s incumbent upon you to find another place to work outside of government. more>

Updates from Ciena

How is change management the key to successful cable infrastructure modernization?
By Susan Friedman – The winds of change are blowing for the Cable/MSO Industry. And it’s all happening faster than anyone thought. Last month, cable industry gurus met in Denver for Light Reading’s 11th annual Cable Next Gen Technologies and Services conference, and it was clear embracing change is critical to meeting the end-user’s needs.

We’ve heard a lot about the impact of streaming services and cord cutting. But it was clear from discussions at the show that consumers are not abandoning cable, they are changing their consumption habits. They are now buying fast and reliable internet services, and lots of it. Consumers just can’t get enough of connected devices and the Smart Home is only smart when connected to the internet.

Here is a big change, the internet is now the epicenter of a cable operators network, not video delivery. According to Leichtman Research Group, cable rules U.S. broadband more than ever, with subscribers up 2.7 million in the last quarter of 2017. That’s 64.4% of the total market for internet services.

Technology change is also a disruptive cycle for the cable workforce, subscribers, or anyone trying to navigate thru a utility work zone. more>

Trump’s New Solution to Every Problem

By David A. Graham – Three times in the last two weeks, President Trump has turned in frustration from an intractable problem and landed upon an apparently elegant solution: the military.

In each of these cases, the attraction of military action for the president is clear. He has found his agenda largely stalled in Congress, where legislators have no interest in funding the wall or any other number of signature Trump projects, and the president has shown neither the interest nor the patience to lobby them. Even working through executive-branch processes has not produced the results that Trump wants, as courts have blocked some of his most treasured moves, especially his Muslim travel ban.

As commander in chief, he has authority over the military, and the military is, at least in theory, better equipped to respond quickly and efficiently to orders than the rest of the government. What each of these cases has shown, however, is that even the military doesn’t offer a frictionless tool for evading political and practical reality.

Trump is hardly alone among presidents in turning to the Pentagon as a method of acting when other means wear out. Dog-wagging and jingoism make military deployments an alluring option for any president, especially one who is struggling in Congress, opinion polls, or both. President Obama became quickly enamored of drone strikes. President Clinton bombed the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Sudan. President Reagan invaded Grenada. Presidents at the ends of their terms tend to concentrate on foreign affairs, sometimes at the barrel of a gun, once they’ve achieved all they can domestically. more>

Why a trade war with China would hurt the U.S. and its allies, too

By David Dollar and Zhi Wang – Two-thirds of world trade now occurs through global value chains that cross at least one border during the production process, and often many borders. As a result, the typical “Chinese product” that the United States imports has a lot of value-added from countries other than China.

Furthermore, in computers and electronics, more than half of China’s exports come from multinational firms operating in China.

U.S. firms are also involved in production chains. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. imports from China are intermediate products used by American firms to make themselves more competitive. Putting tariffs on intermediate products is shooting oneself in the foot. The list of targeted products posted by the United States includes some intermediates, such as aircraft propellers.

Many of the targeted products are consumer goods such as televisions and dishwashers.

What all this means is that tariffs are a very poor instrument for punishing China for any unfair trading practices. Some of the cost will be borne by American consumers; some by American firms that either produce in China or use intermediate products from China; some by firms in countries (mostly U.S. allies) that supply China; and some by Chinese firms (mostly private ones). more>

Is Constitutional Localism the answer to what ails American democracy?

By Michael Hais, Doug Ross, and Morley Winograd – We have a different idea.

Specifically, we call for a new civic ethos or governing framework which we call Constitutional Localism, that will shift the greatest number of public decisions possible to the community level—albeit within a clear constitutional framework to protect the individual freedoms and rights won over the past 250 years.

We see the pursuit by Americans of varied lifestyles and cultural preferences as a healthy sign of American freedom and choice, not a destructive force. We need to rebuild public confidence in American democracy, not by insisting on a singular national answer to each problem, but by celebrating the ability of America’s varied communities to find solutions that work best for them. As we see it, the challenge confronting the nation is to find a way to permit this range of opinion and action to flourish while restoring a shared faith in the common democratic values and processes that define American self-government.

Our prescription to provide better governance while restoring faith in democratic processes is to encourage more democracy, not less.

We believe empowering local communities promises greater benefits than simply escape from the frustrating deadlock in Washington. more>

The Tax Cut Effect

By Andrew Soergel – The legislation heaped new debt onto a country already saddled with more than $20 trillion in outstanding obligations. But the overhaul was touted as an economic growth engine likely to drive investment and wage growth in America, eventually allowing the cuts to pay for themselves by virtue of a stronger economy.

The benefits of the income tax cut are really only now really beginning to hit and have yet to really show up in any significant way in spending figures or retail sales. It’s been estimated that, probably, the annual impact of all of that is somewhere north of $100 billion. And all of that money needs to go somewhere, so some of that will move into the spending category.

But we’re advocating on behalf of consumers and investors that they need to be thinking about how to maximize their finances so that they’re taking advantage of saving opportunities and to pay down debt.

Right now, we do see the benefits of the tax cut coming into individuals’ and corporations’ coffers. But as one who came from the Midwest, I’d seize upon a corny line and say “You need to make hay while the sun shines.” We’re in the ninth year of the economic expansion, and the bull market is nine years old as well. And these things will not last forever.

And we’re in a rising interest rate environment, where the cost of borrowing is rising and likely to rise. more>