Another Two Weeks in Review

A look back at items of interest to the 2040 Matters community.

With spring break over, there is much to catch up on.

In case you missed it:

The William and Mary Alumni Magazine published a profile piece on Brian Goebel, entitled “The Path Forward.”  The piece discussed Brian’s commitment to public service and the reasons that led to the founding of 2040 Matters as well as his newest undertaking — an organization committed to restoring “Reason in Government.”

Best of the rest:

National Security

The Economist explained why Russia is both a “hollow superpower” and a serious threat to global stability as Vladimir Putin must project strength abroad in order to quell unrest at home.

Although China’s demise has been regularly and incorrectly forecast since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new book by David Sambaugh, aptly titled “China’s Future,” argues that China too is essentially hollow, rotting from the inside out from corruption and tensions over pensions, health care, and the environment.  Whether these forces cause China’s collapse, there is ample evidence that China faces a much rockier road than many of its biggest proponents are willing to recognize.

The Economist took a close look at three counter-extremism programs that focus on early intervention or de-radicalization.  It noted that the programs face major challenges, such as whether to emphasize secular or Islamic responses to terrorist propaganda, and that there are few methods for measuring their effectiveness.  The bottom line:  The West is slowly and haphazardly grappling with the “war of ideas” being waged by fanatical Islamic terrorists.

While the West and others mourned the victims of the attacks in Brussels and dithered in devising a response, fanatical Islamic terrorists murdered dozens of Christian women and children on Easter Sunday in a park in Lahore, Pakistan.

The Economy

The Economist clearly explained why those who believe in free trade need to do a better job explaining its benefits and devising policies to mitigate its negative impacts on workers affected by international competition.  American’s political leaders are failing at both tasks.

The Economist took a quick look at corporate America and did not like what it saw, arguing that record corporate profits are evidence of a calcifying economy rather than business acumen. It argued that one key fix would be to “make life easier for startups and small businesses.”  Lamentably, it noted that “most of the remedies dangled by politicians . . . would make things worse, [including] jumps in minimum wages [that] would discourage hiring.”

California:

Ignoring this and other warnings, California became the first state to increase its minimum wage to $15/hour.  This increase was passed over the objection of the California business community and without any support from Republicans in the state legislature.  California will now serve as the largest experiment in the “laboratory of the states” for the impact of minimum wage increases on employment, the costs of goods and services, and tax receipts.

The bullet train, aka the “crazy train,” continued its expensive slow motion derailment.  Not only has the proposed route and sequencing of construction changed yet again, but the ballot initiative seeking to cancel the project and switch bond funding to water projects is poised to qualify for the November ballot.

The lighter side:

The Onion explains how a contested Republican Convention would work.

 

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