2016 Didn’t Just Give Us ‘Fake News.’ It Likely Gave Us False Memories.

Brian Resnick: “Here’s a reasonable fear: 20 years from now, very few people are going to agree on the details of our shared history.”

“Recently, I spoke Henry ‘Roddy’ Roediger, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis, one of the world’s leading experts on memory and learning… His research and others’ paint a grim picture for the future. Political polarization, misinformation, the internet, and the human mind are working in lockstep to fracture reality into countless pieces.”

Why the Trumpcare Vote Could Hurt Republicans No Matter How They Vote

Caitlin Owens and Bob Herman:”…they’re left with a terrible choice: Vote against Obamacare repeal after campaigning on repeal for seven years, or vote to cover 24 million fewer people and potentially raise premiums for senior citizens. We asked more than a dozen Republicans, Democrats and health-care industry officials which is the better choice, and unsurprisingly, we came up with a mixed verdict. But there was a consensus on these points:”

  • “Neither choice is enviable.”
  • “It’s not every day — or maybe ever — that the far-right, the left and nearly every health care group are on the same page. But these three different factions all oppose the House bill. It’s mainly establishment Republicans that support it.”

Why People Continue to Believe Objectively False Things

New York Times: “Since the 1980s, Americans have been reporting increasingly negative opinions about the opposing party. Partisanship, and particularly ‘negative partisanship,’ the rejection of the opposing party, has now become a kind of tribal identity that shapes how people define themselves and others, according to Sean Westwood, a professor at Dartmouth College who has studied partisan polarization.”

“Even when myths are dispelled, their effects linger. The Boston College political scientist Emily Thorson conducted a series of studies showing that exposure to a news article containing a damaging allegation about a fictional political candidate caused people to rate the candidate more negatively even when the allegation was corrected and people believed it to be false.”

How Millennials Will Forever Change America’s Farmlands

Kimbal Musk: “Tiny plots on rooftops and small backyards are popping up all across America, particularly in urban areas that have never been associated with food production. These micro-farms aren’t meant to earn a profit or feed vast numbers of people, but they reflect the Millennial generation’s desire to forge a direct connection with the food they consume.”

“These efforts are an admirable manifestation of the mantra to think globally and act locally, but they miss the opportunity that is going on right now: the economics of branded local farms have changed, and technology in agriculture has led to a renaissance of independent American farming. Whether this means farming the traditional acreage of the Heartland or adapting to cutting-edge indoor farming methods, the result is the same: demand for real food is far outstripping supply. Highly-educated, entrepreneurial, and socially conscious young people have a great opportunity to think seriously about agriculture as a career.”

How We Got to $1 Trillion in Debt: An Illustrated History of Student Loans in America

Jillian Berman: “With student debt recently hitting a record $1.31 trillion and policy makers and educators searching for ways to clamp down on the rising cost of college, it’s a topic that’s hard to avoid. But for the vast majority of the history of higher education, credit, particularly from the government, wasn’t available specifically for students to pay for college.”

“Below is an illustrated history of the student loan:”

In 18 Years, A College Degree Could Cost About $500,000

Buzzfeed: “Tuition has been rising by about 6% annually, according to investment management company Vanguard. At this rate, when babies born today are turning 18, a year of higher education at a private school — including tuition, fees, and room and board — will cost more than $120,000, Vanguard said. Public colleges could average out to $54,000 a year.”

“That means without financial aid, the sticker price of a four-year college degree for children born today could reach half a million dollars at private schools, and a quarter million at public ones. That’s for a family with one kid; those with more could be facing a bill that reaches seven figures.”

This Program Has Fed 40 Million Kids in the World’s Poorest Places. Trump Wants to Get Rid of It.

Washington Post: “Former senator Bob Dole, a pillar of the Republican Party and a staunch supporter of President Trump during his campaign, has accused the president of threatening “one of the proudest achievements of my lifetime” — by cutting a program that has provided school meals to more than 40 million children in some of the world’s poorest countries.”

“The McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, a bipartisan aid enterprise championed by Dole and his Democratic Senate colleague George McGovern in the early aughts, was a casualty of the White House budget proposal released last Thursday.”

“Relative to other foreign aid programs, McGovern-Dole is both small and narrowly tailored: The Department of Agriculture requested $182 million to fund it this year, with the bulk of that money going toward commodity purchases and grants.”

State Finances Are Still in the Red, Even As the Economy Is Growing

Kil Huh: “…while the national economy is growing, most states are still struggling to recover from the recession and its aftermath. According to an analysis from the Associated Press, two-thirds of the states face a budget shortfall or are expected to confront one in the coming fiscal year. In 32 states, tax collections fell in the second quarter of 2016—ending seven consecutive quarters of growth in overall state tax revenue.”

“A new administration in Washington has also caused uncertainty for states, especially with the potential for federal tax changes. Forty states that collect personal income taxes link to the federal tax system, meaning that changes to the federal tax code could cascade down and have a varied impact on states’ tax systems and revenue. For example, a reduction in federal itemized deductions such as the mortgage interest deduction might increase the amount of taxes paid to some states. In addition, even the possibility of Congress lowering federal tax rates could give some taxpayers, especially high earners, an incentive to time their income and deductions to take advantage of the change in rates, creating additional volatility in state tax collections.”

Our Brains Love New Stuff, and It’s Killing the Planet

Harvard Business Review: “As you read this, thousands of scientists, engineers, policy makers, and advocates around the world are working with all the brainpower they can muster to try to solve this environmental crisis with technological and social approaches. But a number of scientists believe this same inherited neural equipment undermines these efforts because some basic aspects of our brains are designed for a different world than the one in which we find ourselves today. While many behavior experts have focused on our inability to perceive climate change as an immediate threat, others have begun to focus on the major consequences of our excessive consumption. One critical network that may be partly responsible for the latter is the brain’s reward system.”

President Trump Won Big in These Places. Now He Wants to Eliminate 3 Agencies Dedicated to Helping Them.

Washington Post: “In rural Appalachia, people are so poor that there is a federal program dedicated to lifting them out of poverty. Through the Appalachian Regional Commission, the government pitches in on projects that these rural communities badly need but can’t quite afford — everything from fixing roads, to building computer labs, to training workers, to opening health clinics.”

“President Trump, who won rousing victories in these same parts of rural America, would eliminate that funding.”

“In his budget outline for 2018 unveiled Thursday, none of the rural development agencies — the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, the Northern Border Regional Commission — would receive any money. In effect, it would eliminate these programs, which are completely subsidized by the federal government.”

America May Miss Out on the Next Industrial Revolution

The Verge: “Robots are inevitably going to automate millions of jobs in the US and around the world, but there’s an even more complex scenario on the horizon, said roboticist Matt Rendall. In a talk Tuesday at SXSW, Rendall painted a picture of the future of robotic job displacement that focused less on automation and more on the realistic ways in which the robotics industry will reshape global manufacturing.”

“The takeaway was that America, which has outsourced much of its manufacturing and lacks serious investment in industrial robotics, may miss out on the world’s next radical shift in how goods are produced. That’s because the robot makers — as in, the robots that make the robots — could play a key role in determining how automation expands across the globe.”

“The difference, he added, is how China is responding to automation, which is by embracing it instead of shying away from it, as the US appears to be approaching the issue. This is in stark contrast to industrial advances of the previous century, like Ford’s assembly line, that arrived first in American industries and transformed the country’s economy into one of the most robost on the planet.”

Americans Tilt Toward Protecting Environment, Alternative Fuels

Gallup: “Given a choice, the majority of Americans think protecting the environment should take precedence over developing more energy supplies, even at the risk of limiting the amount of traditional supplies the U.S. produces. An even larger majority would prioritize developing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power over the production of oil, gas and coal. Although these have been Americans’ preferences for some time, support in the past two years has been at record highs.”