Few things are more frustrating than when the government releases statistics that require an explanation from technical experts for anyone to make sense of them. But flaws and unduly complicated formulas leave us in exactly that situation when it comes to poverty in the US. This year’s release of poverty data for the US is even more challenging to explain than usual because the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) suggests an increase in poverty from 2019 to 2020, while poverty rates according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) decreased.
Great-power arms control negotiations are back on the table as the United States and Russia prepare for new “strategic stability talks” following the Joe Biden–Vladimir Putin summit in June 2021 in Geneva. As American negotiators prepare for these talks, a consensus is growing in Washington that future agreements must place limits on Russian shorter-range nuclear weapons rather than limiting only long-range weapons, as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) does.
America’s cities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, fueling predictions of prolonged urban flight and decline. “Cities are over,” we are being told. But cities are hubs of productivity and opportunity that have endured plagues for thousands of years. Will America’s cities survive the pandemic? And what’s in store for cities in the decades to come? To answer these questions and more, Edward Glaeser joined the Political Economy podcast.
Ed is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard University and co-author with David Cutler of Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation.
As countries impose new requirements on data collection and governance, the flow of consumer data between countries and business entities is becoming more restricted than ever — making it difficult for companies to ensure they are in compliance with new regulations. The ongoing challenge to keep up with regulatory changes often means building expensive new compliance tools that could potentially dismantle the business models of many data-driven global companies. What does the regulatory landscape of today’s data governance world look like, and how can businesses adapt?
Nigel Cory, associate director for trade policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), joined “Explain to Shane” to discuss how the patchwork of data regulations and privacy regimes across the globe is hampering digital trade and constructing more barriers to data retention across borders.
Below is an edited and abridged transcript of our talk. You can listen to this and other episodes of “Explain to Shane” on AEI.org and subscribe via your preferred listening platform. You can also read the full transcript of our discussion here. If you enjoyed this episode, leave us a review, and tell your friends and colleagues to tune in.
Taliban soldiers stand in front of protesters during a demonstration in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 7, 2021, via Reuters
Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban have reportedly seized biometrics devices left behind by the US military. Over the past 20 years, these devices collected information on Afghan citizens who assisted the US military, which was then sent to a Department of Defense (DOD) database. One of the devices, known as Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE), was deployed in 2016 to collect iris scans and fingerprints to enable quick identification of Afghan citizens and expand the aforementioned database of their information. The DOD also built a highly classified Automated Biometrics Identification System (ABIS), which hosted information from HIIDE and other data-collection devices.
On August 18, 2017, early in Donald Trump’s presidency, the US launched a Section 301 investigation of Chinese policies concerning intellectual property and technology. This was exactly the right thing to do. It was then transformed into something entirely different: tariffs unlinked to intellectual property violations, which was definitely not the right thing to do. Still, a policy crafted within seven months of inauguration guided the administration, from the Department of Justice’s work on trade secret theft to the United States Trade Representative’s “phase one” trade talks. It’s August 18th in the first year of the Joe Biden presidency. What’s the guiding China policy? Working with allies — toward what? President Trump wrongly emphasized the trade deficit, but President Biden hasn’t made a decision. That would guarantee failure.
This week, President Biden’s administration increased the benefit levels for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or “food stamps,” by more than 20 percent, adding up to $20 billion per year to the program. To put this into context, the total cost of SNAP was just over $20 billion in 2000 in today’s dollars, meaning this change will result in a nearly five-fold increase to SNAP within the past two decades.
The United States has spent $83 billion training, equipping, and even paying Afghanistan’s security forces since 2001, a mammoth amount. As the events of the past few days make clear, despite all that assistance, Afghanistan’s military and police have proved incapable of securing the country. Many analysts of the war anticipated the government failing to withstand Taliban assaults, but were surprised by the speed of collapse, which is both a terrible tragedy for Afghanistan and a failure of American military training programs.
Elizabeth “Beth” Akers, Frederick M. Hess
Over the last several years, the Warren-Sanders wing of the Democratic Party has succeeded at reshaping the higher education policy debate. Proposals once regarded as radical and unserious, like free college and widespread student loan forgiveness, have moved to the forefront of the national debate.