Democracy Turns Off Millennials. It Doesn’t Have To.

Leonid Bershidsky: “More than two thirds of American millennials do not consider it essential to live in a country that is governed democratically. About a quarter of them consider a democratic political system a ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ way to run the country. At the same time, support for authoritarian alternatives is rising. In 1996, only 1 in 16 Americans said it would be good if the military ruled the country. By 2014, it was 1 in 6. Only 19 percent of millennials say it wouldn’t be legitimate for the military to take over if the government proved incompetent or unable to do its job. A growing share of young people is in favor of a ‘strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with parliament and elections’ and a government of ‘experts’ rather than politicians.”

“It may be that all that’s needed to revive faith in democracy is to reform the electoral systems to be both more inclusive and more meritocratic, shifting attention from candidates’ personalities and private lives to policies and issues. The rule changes needed for that don’t have to be particularly drastic: something as simple as ranked-choice voting could lead to progress.”

China’s Millennials Are Risk Takers, and They’re Dreaming Big

Bloomberg Markets: “Meet China’s millennials — a generation that’s more risk-taking and idiosyncratic than its predecessor. And they’re dreaming big.”

“Having grown up in a booming economy that grew nine-fold since the turn of the century, China’s 7.5 million school leavers this year are intent on forging paths very different from their parents, who defaulted to the factory floor, construction site or staid state-sector job.”

“‘This is a good sign for the economy as it shows that they are finding new growth engines and the economy is getting more market-oriented,’ said Iris Pang, senior economist for Greater China at Natixis SA in Hong Kong. ‘But in the longer term, startup failure rates are very high, and those who take the risk should bear the risk.'”

Recently on Wonk Wire, a relevant contrast: Millennials Aren’t Big Spenders or Risk-Takers, and That’s Going to Reshape the Economy

Are We Entering a New Chapter of Globalization?

Washington Post: “The sprawling plant is a local landmark, just off the highway unofficially known as Auto Alley. General Motors built it in the 1920s, and for generations it created the kind of blue-collar jobs that defined America’s middle class. But by the time the last SUV rolled off the assembly line here, Moraine had succumbed to the flood of inexpensive imports and cheap foreign labor that battered industrial towns in Ohio and across the country.”

“Now Cho Tak Wong is in charge of the factory. The billionaire chairman of Fuyao Group, the biggest maker of automotive glass in China, Cho rose from rural poverty by riding the same wave of globalization that devastated Moraine — a living example of the reversal of fortune that has turned China into America’s chief economic rival in public debates and political rhetoric.”

“But the next chapter of globalization is already unfolding inside Fuyao’s factory, as the balance of power in the world economy tilts once more. Now it is China that experts fear is losing steam, forcing the country’s wealthy investors and corporations to seek out profits overseas. They are snapping up U.S. businesses at a record rate and employing tens of thousands of America’s workers.”

Target to Debut Vertical Farms into a Few Stores This Spring

Business Insider: “In January, Target launched the Food + Future CoLab, a collaboration with design firm Ideo and the MIT Media Lab. One area of the team’s research focuses on vertical farming, and Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s entrepreneurs-in-residence at the CoLab, says they are planning to test the technology in a few Target stores to see how involved customers actually want to be with their food.”

“During the in-store trials, people could potentially harvest their own produce from the vertical farms, or just watch as staff members pick greens and veggies to stock on the shelves.”

Restructuring Subsidies Could Help Fix ObamaCare

Sarah Kliff: “For as long as I’ve covered Obamacare, I’ve always found Caroline Pearson to be an exceptionally smart and honest observer of the law. Pearson is a senior vice president at the research firm Avalere Health, and I called her up Tuesday morning to talk about Obamacare’s spiking premiums.”

Pearson: “I think what you have to do is rethink the subsidy structure and benefit design structure to make coverage more appealing for people between 200 and 300 percent of the poverty line.

If you look at the report that [the Department of Health and Human Services] put out on Monday, the average income of the marketplace population is 165 percent of the poverty level. It is a very low-income population.

The mandate penalties are not working to compel people into the market, but the subsidies are in. Absent higher mandate penalties, which even in a Democratic Congress is hard, you might see getting rid of the subsidies for people between 300 and 400 percent of the poverty line and doubling down on the people between 200 and 300 percent. If you could get better enrollment among that group, it might stabilize the market.”

The Political Environment on Social Media

A new report from the Pew Research Center analyzes public opinion on the role of social media in political discourse.

One key finding: “Some 82% of social media users say they have never modified their views on a particular candidate – and 79% say they have never changed their views on a social or political issue – because of something they saw on social media.”

The World Would Be $1.1 Trillion Richer If It Treated Its Young People Like Germany

Quartz: “Just 10% of people aged 20-24 are out of work or not in school in Germany. As befits Germany’s reputation for efficiency and industrial success, this is one of the lowest levels in the world. If all 35 OECD countries reduced youth unemployment to German levels, the economic gain would be $1.1 trillion, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.”

“Why do countries like Germany and Switzerland perform so much better? Their governments run “dual educational systems” that incorporate vocational training into formal education to better prepare young people for jobs–businesses also actively target young people. In Germany a Vocational Training Act has provided 500,000 company-based training contracts a year. Finally, Germany and Switzerland recruit people from a wider variety of economic backgrounds by reducing informal hiring and the use of qualifications as a filter in the recruitment process.”

Can We Capture Energy From a Hurricane?

Smithsonian: “In terms of energy stored and released, hurricanes pack a huge punch. Your ‘average’ tropical cyclone might release the equivalent of 600 terawatts of energy, with a quarter of a percent of that as wind; the vast majority of the energy in a hurricane is in the form of heat stored and released as water vapor condenses into rain.”

“So while wind is only a small part of the overall energy output of a hurricane, it still generates vast amounts of power: around 1.5 terawatts, or just over a quarter of the world’s current total electrical generating capacity of 5.25 terawatts. The wind from just one storm is a gold mine of clean energy.”

Out of Ammunition to Combat Recession?

Michael J. Boskin: “Unprecedented long-term monetary stimulus and massive spikes in public-debt burdens have left governments poorly equipped to manage the next economic downturn when – not if – it arrives. The next recession probably will not be as bad as the last one, but advanced economies will be far better prepared for it if they undergo gradual monetary-policy normalization and fiscal consolidation in the meantime.”

Why Cleaning Up Abandoned Lots Can Reduce Shootings

Francie Diep: “On average, in the year after a clean-up, the areas around remediated lots saw 5 percent fewer shootings than the areas around un-remediated lots, and remediated houses experienced 39 percent less gun crime. That’s a boon not only for city coffers, but for neighbors as well. In a previous study, Branas and his colleagues showed that walking past abandoned lots raised locals’ heart rates and stress levels, perhaps because these places were known crime magnets.”

Even More Evidence That Mammograms Have Been Oversold

FiveThirtyEight: “A study published online today by the The New England Journal of Medicine added to a growing body of evidence that for every woman who has been helped by a mammogram screening1 for breast cancer, many more have been harmed.”

“Screening did result in more cancers being detected, he said, but the data suggests that only about 30 of the 162 additional small tumors per 100,000 women that screening mammograms found would ever have progressed to a dangerous stage. That means that 132, or 81 percent, of the 162 extra tumors detected represented ‘overdiagnosis’ — the discovery and treatment of tumors that were never destined to harm.”

What 130 of the Worst Shootings Say About Guns in America

New York Times: “The New York Times examined all 130 shootings last year in which four or more people were shot, at least one fatally, and investigators identified at least one attacker. The cases range from drug-related shootouts to domestic killings that wiped out entire families to chance encounters that took harrowing wrong turns.”

“The findings are dispiriting to anyone hoping for simple legislative fixes to gun violence. In more than half the 130 cases, at least one assailant was already barred by federal law from having a weapon, usually because of a felony conviction, but nonetheless acquired a gun. Including those who lacked the required state or local permits, 64 percent of the shootings involved at least one attacker who violated an existing gun law.”

“Of the remaining assailants, 40 percent had never had a serious run-in with the law and probably could have bought a gun even in states with the strictest firearm controls. Typically those were men who killed their families and then themselves.”

How America Is Squandering Its Innovative Potential

Brookings Institution: “…we aren’t yet playing with the whole team. That was a clear takeaway from a paper released this summer, from a team led by Alex Ball and Raj Chetty, that examines the lifecycles of 1.2 million U.S. inventors (defined as patent holders or applicants).”

“Overall, children who are white, rich, male, and exposed to invention early in life are much more likely to invent than children who are non-white, poor, female, and socially and geographically isolated from innovation.”

“…this report is worrying for two reasons. First, it reinforces a growing body of evidence that United States remains far from providing equality of opportunity to all kids—in this case the opportunity to share in the fruits of invention—which is itself a collective moral failure.”

“Second, the constrained supply of inventors in the United States should worry anyone engaged in debates about the country’s innovation engine and future productivity. Clearly, America wastes a lot of potential talent by not—to extend the president’s metaphor—pulling more inventors off the bench in certain communities. Or, as the authors ask: ‘How many ‘lost Einsteins’ could there be due to inequality of opportunity?'”