The Origin of Your TV Set Is a Simple Lesson in the Dangers of Ignoring Globalization

Quartz: “Donald Trump is right. The US doesn’t make TV sets anymore, and it’s mind-boggling that an industry that once supported as many as 100 American manufacturers churning out millions of devices each year went from startup to standard-bearer to extinction in 50 years’ time.”

“But the US president-elect is wrong when he casts the sector’s demise as a failure of globalization. US television manufacturing wasn’t killed by bad trade deals or competition from cheap labor abroad. It was done in by its own inward focus on the domestic market and its own failure to see the global opportunities at hand—and it won’t be resurrected by protectionist trade policies that encourage businesses to repeat these mistakes.”

Is Trump’s Tariff Plan Constitutional?

Rebecca Kysar: “…the path to imposing tariffs — along with taxes and other revenue-generating measures — clearly begins with Congress, and in particular the House, through the Origination Clause. When presidents have raised (or lowered) tariffs in the past, they have tended to do so using explicit, if sometimes wide-ranging, authority from Congress.”

“True, tariffs are no longer used to raise money, but to protect domestic industries, and to punish foreign ones. But they unquestionably still produce revenue. And while tariffs on imports are aimed at foreigners, they affect domestic industries that use or compete with imports; they can also have an enormous impact on the overall economy by raising consumer prices. Allowing the executive to circumvent the House to enact otherwise unfavorable tax policies that affect Americans is what the clause is designed to avoid — that those furthest removed from the people have the ability to tax them.”

“America First” and Global Conflict Next

Nouriel Roubini: “Trump… may pursue populist, anti-globalization, and protectionist policies that hinder trade and restrict the movement of labor and capital. And he has cast doubt on existing US security guarantees by suggesting that he will force America’s allies to pay for more of their own defense. If Trump is serious about putting ‘America first,’ his administration will shift US geopolitical strategy toward isolationism and unilateralism, pursuing only the national interests of the homeland.”

“When the US pursued similar policies in the 1920s and 1930s, it helped sow the seeds of World War II. Protectionism – starting with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, which affected thousands of imported goods – triggered retaliatory trade and currency wars that worsened the Great Depression. More important, American isolationism – based on a false belief that the US was safely protected by two oceans – allowed Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan to wage aggressive war and threaten the entire world. With the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US was finally forced to take its head out of the sand.”

“Today, too, a US turn to isolationism and the pursuit of strictly US national interests may eventually lead to a global conflict.”

How a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Could Actually Jump-Start the Peace Process

Martin Indyk: “Previous administrations have left negotiations over the status of Jerusalem to last because of their complexity and sensitivity. But if the disruption-oriented Trump administration is intent on moving the embassy, it could try to use the move to jump-start the moribund peace process. Although the status of Jerusalem is a deeply thorny issue, a rational compromise is imaginable: the undivided city could become the shared capital of the Israeli state and its Palestinian counterpart, with the Jewish and Arab suburbs under the sovereignty of their respective state. Jerusalem’s Old City could be governed by a special administration that ensures religious authorities continue to oversee their respective holy sites.”

Why Republicans Shouldn’t Weaken the Filibuster 

Richard Arenberg: “Democratic opposition could, in turn, prompt the Trump administration and its allies to eviscerate the filibuster. The first effort to do that may come in the next month, after Mr. Trump nominates someone to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. If Democrats attempt to block the nomination, Republicans may move to weaken or eliminate the filibuster.”

“Republicans have bitterly criticized Democrats’ use of the nuclear option. So they should not use it themselves now. And indeed, they don’t need to. They can beat back a filibuster by traditional methods. They can use public opinion to force votes. They can require debate around the clock, adding drama. They can use President Trump’s bully pulpit to focus attention on endangered Democratic senators who must run for re-election in 2018 in states that Mr. Trump won. This will make it difficult for Democrats to sustain the 41 votes necessary to keep a filibuster alive.”

“If the Senate is to end gridlock, reduce partisanship and begin to address the nation’s pressing issues, both parties must renew their respect for Senate rules — and the views of the people.”

Many in U.S. Skeptical Trump Can Handle Presidential Duties 

Gallup: “As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential oath on Jan. 20, less than half of Americans are confident in his ability to handle an international crisis (46%), to use military force wisely (47%) or to prevent major scandals in his administration (44%). At least seven in 10 Americans were confident in Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in these areas before they took office.”

Another interesting finding: only 60% believe Trump can “work effectively with Congress to get things done.” 89% foresaw congressional cooperation with President-elect Obama in 2009.

The U.S. Might Be Better Off Without Congress — and a President

Washington Post: “If we could start from scratch, how would we design the U.S. government? Would we preserve the electoral college, the 18th-century creation that is so controversial today? Would we keep the Senate or the Supreme Court?”

“According to Parag Khanna, an author known for pushing boundaries, the answer is no. In a new book, ‘Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State,’ Khanna takes on the task of radically redesigning the U.S. government for the 21st century.”

“Khanna considers systems from around the world, from Switzerland to China, to suggest an ideal form of government that would reflect the will of the people, as well as the wisdom of experts and data. Khanna argues that the United States needs to evolve into what he calls an ‘info state,’ in which experts use data to guide the country toward long-term goals — otherwise the country will be surpassed by countries that do.”

Trump’s Unrealpolitik 

Shlomo Ben-Ami: “Some in the United States have praised President-elect Donald Trump for his supposed realism. He will do what is right for America, they argue, without getting caught up in thorny moral dilemmas, or letting himself be carried away by some grand sense of responsibility for the rest of the world. By acting with the shrewd pragmatism of a businessman, he will make America stronger and more prosperous.”

“This view is, to be frank, delusional.”

“…immorality is neither desirable nor a necessary feature of realism. (Thucydides himself was an ethical realist.) And there is little to suggest that Trump has any of the other realist qualities that his supporters see. How could anyone expect the proudly unpredictable and deeply uninformed Trump to execute grand strategic designs, such as the Realpolitik recommended by Harvard’s Niall Ferguson, Henry Kissinger’s biographer, following the election?”

Why Men Don’t Want the Jobs Done Mostly by Women

Claire Cain Miller: “The jobs that have been disappearing, like machine operator, are predominantly those that men do. The occupations that are growing, like health aide, employ mostly women.”

“One solution is for the men who have lost jobs in factories to become health aides. But while more than a fifth of American men aren’t working, they aren’t running to these new service-sector jobs. Why? They require very different skills, and pay a lot less.”

“They’re also seen as women’s work, which has always been devalued in the American labor market.”

A Framework for Stopping Short Termism in Business 

The Atlantic: “A growing group of business leaders is worried that companies are too concerned with short-term profits, focused only on making money for shareholders. As a result, they’re not investing in their workers, in research, or in technology—short-term costs that would reduce profits temporarily. And this, the business leaders say, may be creating long-term problems for the nation.”

“The Aspen Institute and its signatories have come out with a framework that they hope will discourage this kind of short-term thinking. Short-term thinking is bad for America, they say, because the country’s economic health depends on long-term investments that will pay out over time. What’s more, they argue, short-term thinking shouldn’t be paramount for the majority of investors; most equity is held by pension funds and other institutional investors who need their assets to perform well over the long haul.”

U.S. Cities Are Getting Smarter and You Probably Didn’t Even Notice

Quartz: “Trash bins in some airports and streets compost themselves, street lights monitor traffic and parking, and sensors prevent sewers from overflowing into rivers during floods. This kind of ‘smart’ technology, in which basic infrastructure like water, power, transportation, and sanitation is connected to the internet, is being piloted in the US in places like Boston, Massachusetts; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Washington, DC; San Francisco, California; and South Bend, Indiana.”

“The average citizen in those cities may not have noticed the effects because they aren’t as flashy as something like driverless cars, which are now on the road in Pittsburgh and other places.”