Trends

The Politics of Resentment

On PBS’ The Open Mind, Alexander Heffner interviewed Katherine Cramer, author of The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker. Click here for the full interview.

Cramer: “Unfortunately, the thing about resentment is that it perpetuates itself, right?… And I think that a lot of the kind of anti-liberal elite resentment that we see is actually a part of that cycle in that people know that there’s a stereotype of people in small-town America, that they’re less-educated, that they’re racist, that they are making choices against their interests. Well that’s not gonna sit very well with people, of course they’re not gonna feel warmly towards the people who are saying those types of things, right? And whoever gets into office, there’s enough of this resentment going around that suddenly we’re all not gonna be kind to one another and think now we understand one another. I think the only way to make it end is for some people to take the high road…”

Mobile Website Views Surpassed Desktop Views for the First Time Ever in October 2016

Quartz: “October was the first month ever when more web pages were viewed on mobile and tablet devices than on desktop and laptop computers, according to the web analytics firm StatCounter.”

“While this doesn’t necessarily mean more people are using mobile devices than computers, or that people are using their mobile devices more than their computers, it does for certain mean people are viewing more individual webpages on mobile browsers than they are on desktop versions.

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.”

Are Americans Better Off Than They Were a Decade or Two Ago?

Ben Bernanke and Peter Olson: “Economically speaking, are we better off than we were ten years ago? Twenty years ago? When asked such questions, Americans seem undecided, almost schizophrenic, with large majorities saying the country is heading ‘in the wrong direction,’ even as they tell pollsters that they are optimistic about their personal financial situations and the medium-term economic outlook.”

“While thinking about the question, we came across a recently published article by Charles Jones and Peter Klenow, which proposes an interesting new measure of economic welfare… The bottom line: According to this metric, Americans enjoy a high level of economic welfare relative to most other countries, and the level of Americans’ well-being has continued to improve over the past few decades despite the severe disruptions of the last one. However, the rate of improvement has slowed noticeably in recent years, consistent with the growing sense of dissatisfaction evident in polls and politics.”

Immigrants Helped Bump Germany’s Fertility Rate to Its Highest in 33 Years

Quartz: “In May 2015, Germany’s five-year birthrate had plunged to the lowest in the world, edging Japan out of the bottom slot. But things may be looking up slightly on the baby front, according to the latest figures from the German federal statistics office.”

“The rising rate is some cause for celebration, but even the influx of migrants—which has already slowed considerably since the Balkan route closed and Turkey agreed to stop refugees from coming to Germany—may not be enough to stop Germany’s dangerous population decline. Demographers say the rate needs to be at 2 births per woman for a population to maintain itself.”

A Child Born Today Comes Into the World With More Debt Than You

Bloomberg: “Under current law, U.S. inflation-adjusted debt per person is expected to reach the $66,000 milestone by April 2026, based on Bloomberg calculations of Congressional Budget Office and Census Bureau data.”

“So what would the debt path look like under either a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump presidency? It would be pretty bleak in either case, according to a report released by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

“The committee projects debt held by the public to grow by $9 trillion over the next decade under current law. Economic proposals put forth by both presidential candidates would add to the national debt, and Trump’s would add even more than Clinton’s. The report estimates that Clinton’s policies would increase the national debt by $200 billion over the next decade, while Trump’s proposals would add $5.3 trillion.”

Another Casualty of Climate Change: Endangered Languages

Grist: “Though it’s not a perfect measure, language is one of the best ways we know to gauge cultural diversity. And that diversity is in danger. Linguists predict in the next 100 years, half of the 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world will vanish.”

“If you’re well versed in the effects of climate change, that list will sound familiar. As the world heats up, we’re on track to see more intense storms, rising seas, prolonged droughts, and the spread of infectious diseases — all of which can, in turn, lead to chaos, armed conflicts, and migration. And when people settle in a new place, they begin a new life, complete with new surroundings, new traditions, and, yes, a new language.”

The Coming Human-Machine Partnership in Creativity

Sam Arbesman: “Awash in the many tools of our technological society, we are seeing a new type of tool on the horizon, one which is similar in some ways to what has come before and in other ways quite different. These are tools that augment human creativity. We are increasingly, as a society, building tools to help assist human creativity, whether in art, design, or even scientific discovery.”

“Here is a small sampling of what is increasingly possible:”

Poetry from pictures

“Creativity has always been a collaborative act. We can now increasingly count machines as members of our team as well.”

How Focusing on Geographic Disparity Can Mitigate the Negative Effects of Globalization

Jean Pisani-Ferry: ” In many countries, where you live tends to be an accurate predictor of what or whom you are voting for.”

“Regional or local voting patterns are as old as democracy. What is new is a growing correlation of spatial, social, and political polarization that is turning fellow citizens into near-strangers… Economic shocks tend to exacerbate this political divide. Those who happen to live and work in traditional manufacturing districts caught in the turmoil of globalization are multiple losers: their job, their housing wealth, and the fortunes of their children and relatives are all highly correlated.”

“What public policy must do is ensure that economic agglomeration does not threaten equality of opportunity. Governments cannot decide where companies locate; but it is their responsibility to ensure that, although where you live affects your income, where you were born does not determine your future. In other words, public policy has a major responsibility in limiting the correlation between geography and social mobility.”

The Man Who Helped Give Free Trade a Bad Name Says His Research Was Misinterpreted

Quartz: “Branko Milanovic, a Serbian-American economist whose work helped give globalization a bad name, wants to set the record straight on the merits of global trade. The problem isn’t trade itself, which overall is a force for good, he says. It’s that countries don’t design smart policies to help the losers adjust to a globalized world.”

“Milanovic and his colleague Christoph Lakner, both inequality experts, created “the elephant chart” (pdf) in 2012, which shows how incomes have changed in the past few decades… The data, which suggests that rich countries’ middle classes have lost out as global trade and globalization have ramped up, has been pounced on to explain populist movements.”

Milanovic: “Trade and globalization are forces for good. The problem is that in many instances globalization is implemented in a way that makes the playing field slanted in favor of the rich. Also the gains from globalization are never likely to be even for all the participants.”

The Coming Anti-National Revolution

Robert Shiller: “For the past several centuries, the world has experienced a sequence of intellectual revolutions against oppression of one sort or another.”

“I think the next such revolution, likely sometime in the twenty-first century, will challenge the economic implications of the nation-state. It will focus on the injustice that follows from the fact that, entirely by chance, some are born in poor countries and others in rich countries. As more people work for multinational firms and meet and get to know more people from other countries, our sense of justice is being affected.”

“The next revolution will not abolish the consequences of place of birth, but the privileges of nationhood will be tempered. While the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment around the world today seems to point in the opposite direction, the sense of injustice will be amplified as communications continue to grow. Ultimately, recognition of wrong will wreak big changes.”

Just Three Percent of Adults Own Half of America’s Guns

Washington Post: “Just 3 percent of American adults own half of the nation’s firearms, according to the results of a Harvard-Northeastern survey of 4,000 gun owners.”

“The survey’s findings support other research showing that as overall rates of gun ownership has declined, the number of firearms in circulation has skyrocketed. The implication is that there are more guns in fewer hands than ever before. The top 3 percent of American adults own, on average, 17 guns apiece, according to the survey’s estimates.”

More Gig Economy Workers Can Now Get Paid on Demand

Bloomberg Tech: “The gig economy is built on people offering their services on demand. Now more of them will have the option of getting paid just as quickly.”

“Care.com Inc., Instacart Inc., Postmates Inc. and several other marketplace providers will soon start giving workers the chance to cash out their earnings immediately, instead of waiting for the usual weekly deposit. That’s because Stripe Inc., the payment processing service that underpins many of the on-demand companies, will introduce the feature to all customers for a fee.”

“Quick cash is a big draw for workers. Stripe originally built a version of instant payouts at the request of Lyft Inc., the largest U.S. ride-hailing app behind Uber. Lyft began offering same-day pay to its drivers in December. Since then, Stripe has processed $500 million in instant payments for Lyft, and half of all driver payouts now go through that feature, the companies said.”