Posts tagged with "government"

Book illustration

“Making Government Work”

Today, State Representative Tan Parker, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and Merrie Spaeth of Spaeth Communications, Inc. announce the publication of “Making Government Work,” bringing together many of today’s most powerful voices in America. Chuck Norris, Rick Perry, Kathy Ireland, Bob Woodson, Jeb Bush, Robert P. George, Rick Santorum and many more engage in dialogue about the most pressing problems facing our nation. From addressing topics such as tax policy to strengthen economic growth, healthcare solutions, education policy, how best to address crime in our country, and your constitutional rights – “Making Government Work” is the modern blueprint for a stronger America.

With a compelling foreword from Nikki Haley, “Making Government Work” captures the essence of the original 1994 edition, edited by the late Harold J. “Tex” Lezar, with a foreword from President Ronald Reagan. Its publication ushered in a new era of common-sense public policy and conservatism. 

That’s exactly what the new edition can do, according to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

“ ‘Making Government Work’ is for state government what the Contract with America was for the federal government,” said Gingrich. “It is a sensible, fact-based plan to create a better future through the application of sound principles.”

“As the editor, it was important to me that this book represent a way forward for all Americans by once again honoring the return of conversation and putting government in alignment with free markets, free minds and the freedom to prosper,” said Parker, a member of the Texas House of Representatives. “Our states are channeling the most effective solutions for economic growth, energy independence, and responsive infrastructure while also addressing the social fabric of our nation on the issues that matter most to Americans. It’s time to bring back meaningful conversation and a government responsive to the American people.” 

“We are proud to work with Tan on this important book, which comes at a crucial time for our nation,” said TPPF Executive Director Kevin Roberts. “Our hope is that a new generation of leaders at the state level will see that conservatism is something to be pursued at all levels of government— progress for America doesn’t have to wait for Washington.”

“While ‘Making Government Work’ is a resource for anyone who believes in a conservative approach to government’s action, wherever you are on the political spectrum, it’s a ‘must read’ review of today’s critical issues from thoughtful and influential leaders,” said Merrie Spaeth, president and founder of Spaeth Communications.

“Making Government Work,” published by Regnery Publishing and distributed by Simon & Schuster will be on sale through makinggovernmentwork.com, where a complete listing of authors is available, Amazon.com, and at major book retailers. All author proceeds will be donated to charitable causes primarily those that serve our nation’s veterans.

Mulan illustration by Maria Soloman for 360 Magazine.

Mulan Boycott

by Justin Lyons

A new movement is taking over social media as pro-democracy activists try to spread a boycott of the new Disney film Mulan.

Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 original film hit Disney’s streaming service Disney+ this weekend. On top of the monthly subscription fee, those wanting to see Mulan would have to pay $29.99 to unlock it.

Social media users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand called for movie fans and Disney lovers to avoid the new film because of comments from Liu Yifei, who plays the titular Mulan.

In Aug. 2019, Liu expressed via Weibo, a Chinese social media site, that she supported Hong Kong police. The comments came amid pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Liu was met with instant backlash, but now that her movie is available to stream, the widespread boycott seems to have intensified.

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong activist, has been particularly outspoken regarding the situation. He asked everyone who believes in human rights to boycott the film.

He also retweeted multiple tweets from other activists. One of which was from Twitter user Gwyneth Kwai-lam Ho, who linked a story about the boycott from The Guardian.

“Not while the true Mulans are suffering in the darkness of a Chinese jail,” the tweet said.

Mulan currently sits at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics but 55% among audience members. It had a production budget of $200 million.

Rita Azar illustrates an article about the American dream for 360 MAGAZINE

What is the American Dream in 2020?

We spend our whole lives working and earning money to support ourselves and our families. The term “American Dream” was coined in 1931 by James Truslow Adams, and it represented an idea of a land where there were loads of opportunities for people in accordance with their achievements or abilities.

According to him, this was not a mere idea of high wages and motor cars, but rather it was an idea of a social order in which every man and every woman would be able to attain the full stature they are capable of. This would be provided to them regardless of class, color, creed and socio-economic status.

With the advancement in technology, everything has changed, for the better or worse. The million-dollar question is: What is the U.S. Dream in 2020? Has it changed somehow, or is it still the same after all this time?

Let’s take a look!

The New U.S. Dream

The idea of the U.S. dream is a theme around the globe and across the globe. Every U.S. citizen has her or his own idea and version of it. The U.S. Dream of today hasn’t strayed very far from the vision that was set forth by the founding fathers.

Our founding fathers wanted to inculcate basic societal values in us, such as the creation of a meaningful life, as essential parts of society and community. In the new version of the idea, spending time with friends and family is becoming dominant.

With the advancement in technology, more opportunities have been created for the people. It is no longer about feeding the family every day. It is about creating a sense of peace and stability in the whole community.

Everyone needs to contribute to ensure that we all live in the best way possible. With all the hard work that American citizens put in, the result is going to be a nation that is happy, content and at peace.

American Dream and U.S. Presidents

After the Great Recession in 2008, the income inequality among different classes became even more pronounced. It seemed as if this idea was coming to an end for many people. However, in reality, only the materialistic part of the idea was nearing an end.

Around the turn of the century, a lot of U.S. presidents were in favor of homeownership as an important part of the U.S. dream. The presidential campaign plan of Hillary Clinton included homeownership, retirements and health insurance.

Furthermore, Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “ObamaCare,” which provided the right to healthcare for all U.S. citizens.

Important parts of the U.S. Dream

After decades of hard work, our founding fathers created a safe space for everyone, where the rights of everyone were respected, and the opportunities were abundant.

There are various factors that make this idea possible, such as:

·         Efficient Governance

·         Helpful and Friendly Neighbors

·         The abundance of Natural Resources

However, with the threat of climate change looming over our heads, the natural resources have started becoming scarce. Several papers about American Dream suggest that rising sea levels, food inflation as well as the health crises are already straining the funds of the U.S. government.

The founding fathers didn’t envision that even the right to have clean water, air and natural resources would become scarce. Therefore, there is a need for a new version of this idea that would help the citizens, even this time of economic crisis.

Every American citizen dreams of retiring in peace after working hard for years. The government, as well as the private organizations, are working hard to ensure that the idea of a Utopian lifestyle remains afloat.

How can we live the U.S. Dream today?

The entire U.S. population is united by a common political system, language, and shared values. The diversity in cultures and traditions adds to the overall strength of America. This gives various companies an opportunity to innovate so that every single person can benefit from their products.

Under this idea, everyone has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness or lifestyle isn’t defined under the Declaration of Independence. Rather, U.S citizens are free to pursue their own vision of this idea. The new U.S. Dream promotes a free-market economy in which everything from the service to the price is controlled by the market and not the government. This gives everyone an equal opportunity for the creation of wealth and happiness.

With the advancement in economic growth, the idea of happiness and peace for the citizens of the United States has also changed. Every organization and enterprise is trying to give the best of their services to ensure that we become a satisfied population.

Education for all is also an important part of the American idea of happiness. If we send our descendants to colleges and universities, it is going to increase the standard of living, and thereby create a sense of fulfillment and contentment in the community due to economic opportunities.

Conclusion

This idea is not something that is set in stone. With changing times, the idea has also changed. Along with the collective idea about happiness, there is an individual idea of eternal peace as well, which helps us achieve our goals and targets in ways that suit us perfectly.

Here’s to the founding fathers of the U.S. who helped pave the way for freedom, happiness, and individuality for every American citizen!

Graph illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Economic Devastation From Uncoordinated Reopenings

New, peer-reviewed research published today by the Social Analytics Lab at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the devastating cost of the current chaotic and uncoordinated reopening of states and cities across the US. The study, which used data from mobile phones, network connections through social media and census data, estimates that total welfare is reduced dramatically when reopening is not coordinated among states and regions.

The study showed, for example, that the contact patterns of people in a given region are significantly influenced by the policies and behaviors of people in other, sometimes distant regions. In one finding, it showed that when just one third of a state’s social and geographic peer states adopt shelter in place policies, it creates a reduction in mobility equal to the state’s own policy decisions. When states fail to coordinate in the presence of spillovers as large as those detected in the analyses, total welfare is reduced by almost 70 percent. 

As federal, state and local governments continue opening businesses and relaxing shelter-in-place orders nationwide, policymakers are doing so without quantitative evidence on how policies in one region affect mobility and social distancing in other regions. And while some states are coordinating on COVID policy at the level of “mega regions,” most, unfortunately are not. This lack of coordination will have devastating effects on efforts to control COVID-19, according to the study.

“There have been many calls for a coordinated national pandemic response in the U.S. and around the world, but little hard evidence has quantified this need,” said Sinan Aral, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and a corresponding author of the study. “When we analyzed the data, we were shocked by the degree to which state policies affected outcomes in other states, sometimes at great distances. Travel and social influence over digital media make this pandemic much more interdependent than we originally thought.” “Our results suggest an immediate need for a nationally coordinated policy across states, regions and nations around the world,” he added.

Governors from all states and territories will convene virtually for the Summer meeting of The National Governor’s Association on August 5. The MIT study not only assesses the impact of an uncoordinated reopening, but also gives governors a map with which to coordinate in the absence of national guidance. The research shows for all fifty states, which states affect each other the most and thus maps the states that should be coordinating. These maps are sometimes surprising because, as a result of digital social media, each state’s success with social distancing is impacted by the policy decisions not just of geographically proximate states, but also of socially connected, but geographically distant states. For instance, Florida’s social distancing was most affected by New York implementing a shelter-in-place policy due to social media influence and travel between the states, despite their physical distance. New Hampshire had a strong influence on adjacent Massachusetts, despite being a small state.

As the Governor’s Association convenes, this research highlights the need for states across the country to coordinate, even if they are not near one another and the results suggest which states should be coordinating with which other states based on the strength of the spillovers between them.

Follow MIT Sloan School of Management: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

politics, podium, flag, speech

End of Federal Moratorium

By Eamonn Burke

The CARES act instated in March that protected renters across the country from evictions ended on Friday. The 12.3 million households under federally backed mortgages can now be given 30-day notices and evicted in August. The end of this protection, as well as the end of additional unemployment payment will make it hard for many renters to keep their homes.

“We are looking at an eviction cliff,” said National Housing Conference President David Dworkin. “Once we fall over it, it will be hard to climb back.”

The “cliff” that Dworkin references will bring a spike of homelessness across the country. States like Arizona and Tennessee have shown data of many more pending evictions than normal. It’s not only the numbers that tell the story, however:

“We still anecdotally have seen some people become newly homeless due to informal evictions” says Jacquelyn Simone, a policy analyst in New York’s Coalition for the Homeless.

Although the moratorium period has officially ended, the fight to extend it has not. Some states such as New York, Washington, and Connecticut, have enacted their own ban on evictions until the end of August. The fight continues at the Federal level as well. The House passed a $100 billion assistance fund, while Senator Kamala Harris (D) of California released a plan for a year long ban on evictions and leniency on rent. The Senate, on the other hand, seems to be unwilling to include these ideas in their coronavirus legislation. Many Republicans feel that the moratorium has extended long enough.

“We disagree . . . to a forever, ongoing moratorium” said Maryland Multi-Housing Association director Adam Skolnik, calling it “fundamentally unfair” to the renters who are also struggling. It remains to be seen whether the parties can come to an agreement on how to deal with the complex issue.

Covid and health illustration

COVID-19 Evictions

By Eamonn Burke

The recession caused by Covid-19 has put millions of people out of work and out of income, making it harder for them to pay for their housing. As a result, a heightened importance has been placed on housing and income security in light of the pandemic by the United States government.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has temporarily halted evictions and closures to help ensure housing for families and individuals. These moratoriums are a part of the CARES Act passed on March 27, including 2 Trillion dollars for economic relief. Most of these exceptions truly are temporary, however, and will be lifted when the pandemic is further under control.

Individual states are undertaking efforts to protect housing as well, and these policies can be viewed for every state in a scorecard compiled by the Eviction Lab and Professor Emily Benfer of Columbia’s Law School.

Click here for information about this housing crisis and to find out whether or not you are protected.

China Goes Green Novel

What does it mean for the future of the planet when one of the world’s most durable authoritarian governance systems pursues “ecological civilization?” Despite its staggering pollution and colossal appetite for resources, China exemplifies a model of state-led environmentalism which concentrates decisive political, economic, and epistemic power under centralized leadership. On the face of it, China seems to embody hope for a radical new approach to environmental governance.

In this thought-provoking book, Yifei Li and Judith Shapiro probe the concrete mechanisms of China’s coercive environmentalism to show how “going green” helps the state to further other agendas such as citizen surveillance and geopolitical influence. Through top-down initiatives, regulations, and campaigns to mitigate pollution and environmental degradation, the Chinese authorities also promote control over the behavior of individuals and enterprises, pacification of borderlands, and expansion of Chinese power and influence along the Belt and Road and even into the global commons. Given the limited time that remains to mitigate climate change and protect millions of species from extinction, we need to consider whether a green authoritarianism can show us the way. This book explores both its promises and risks.

The Authors:

Yifei Li is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU Shanghai, and Global Network Assistant Professor at NYU.

Judith Shapiro is Professor and Director of the Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development at American University.

National Day of Fasting

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is calling for a National Day of Fasting and Focus on Monday to call Americans to repent of systemic racism and turn toward the work of building a more just and loving society for all people.

Bishop William J. Barber II, campaign co-chair and president of Repairers of the Breach, said the campaign seeks not merely a fasting from food, but also a national fasting from systemic racism, systemic poverty, the denial of health care and from other death-dealing policies.

“We must dedicate ourselves to breathing life into our Constitution and its promises and refuse to accept a civility that covers up injustice,” Bishop Barber said. “The very life of our democracy is at stake. Not the democracy that is, but the democracy that could be.”

The upheaval in the country has shown the power of social justice movements, said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.

“People across race, across geography, across age have seen that we cannot be silent anymore,” she said. “It is only when the people organize in radical and bold ways that we can build a society that actually takes care of the needs of the people.”

The campaign is asking people to stand still wherever they are at 5 p.m. , Monday, June 7, and be still and focus for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that an officer held his knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing him on Memorial Day. They will then be asked to read a litany that the campaign will share on social media.

After that, Rev. Barber will speak to the nation from Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he is the minister.

People should also remember Ahmaud Abery, who was shot and killed by armed white men as he jogged in Georgia in February and Breonna Taylor, who died in March after she was shot eight times by police who used a battering ram to invade her apartment. As a sign that our collective repentance is real, people will also be invited to dedicate themselves to stay engaged, to vote, to hold elected officials accountable and to work for a moral agenda that addresses historic wrongs and policies that perpetuate inequality.

On Sunday, June 6, the campaign will hold a national interfaith service to recognize the more than 100,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19, especially poor and low-income workers. While President Trump wants to divert attention away from the pandemic and to his misinterpretation of protests in the streets, the Poor People’s Campaign will insist that the country doesn’t forget those who died.

The service will be co-led by Revs. Barber and Theoharis and Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Imam Omar Suleiman and Valerie Kaur.

COVID-19 Financial Losses in the Finance Sector

Financial losses from treating COVID-19 patients could devastate the health care sector, experts say. 

The federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) includes hundreds of billions of dollars of funding for the health care sector, but with health care facilities facing unprecedented expenditures, that might not be enough, according to an economics expert at Rice University and a physician at Texas Children’s Hospital.

The cost of caring for COVID-19 patients is predicted to exceed that of typical insurance reimbursement in part because of steps required to prevent the spread of the disease, according to a new blog post by Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice, and Dr. Heidi Russell, a physician at Texas Children’s Hospital and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

Legislation adds $100 billion in funds to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to pay health care providers for expenses or lost revenues attributable to the coronavirus. The funds are only to be used to reimburse for expenses and lost revenues that have not been repaid from other sources. Eligible health care providers comprise for-profit, not-for-profit and public entities as well as Medicare- or Medicaid-enrolled suppliers and providers that deliver diagnoses, testing or care to individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19.

Before the outbreak, administrative costs totaled about 8% of all health care spending, the researchers said. “Currently, administrative needs like planning how patients will be tested and where coronavirus patients will be treated as well as allocating limited space and PPE (personal protective equipment) resources are taking up a larger percentage,” they wrote.

Smaller community hospitals, particularly those in rural areas, will be equipped to manage only the mildest cases of COVID-19, the researchers said. Transferring sicker patients to larger centers prepared for the most intensely ill will cause additional strain on already overloaded facilities.

“Patients with underlying illnesses, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease, are always more complicated and costlier to care for,” the researchers wrote. “These are the majority of patients being hospitalized with COVID-19.”

Given that hospital and physician expenditures represented $1.9 trillion in spending in 2018, $100 billion may be “woefully inadequate” to compensate health care providers for unreimbursed expenses and lost revenue from the pandemic, the researchers said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the U.S. health care system,” the researchers concluded. “Our communities, medical providers and health care facilities are responding in an unprecedented manner to prevent the system from collapsing.

“The extraordinarily high health care costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic will force a new debate regarding how much health care providers should be reimbursed for their services, why U.S health care costs are so high, and what amount taxpayers are willing to accept in order to maintain national health security.”

Ho is also a professor in the Department of Economics at Rice and a professor in the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Her research examines the effects of economic incentives and regulations on the quality and costs of health care.

WikiLeaks Founder Arrested in U.K.

by Tara McDonough

Earlier today WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested inside the Ecuadorian embassy for breaching U.K. bail conditions. He has also been further arrested by U.S. authorities with an extradition warrant on a conspiracy charge for publishing classified information by former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

On Thursday the Justice Department prosecutors confirmed that Assange was charged with conspiracy to hack into a classified U.S. computer. Prosecutors said WikiLeaks founder aided Manning in cracking a password and therefore logging into SIPRNET, a classified U.S. government network.

While Manning’s sentence was commuted under President Obama just before his term ended in 2017 and released from prison that May, she was arrested in March 2019 for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

The process of extraditing Assange from the U.K. to the U.S. could take years and the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.