The “Tech Industry” Doesn’t Exist

Anil Dash: “Once upon a time, it made perfect sense to talk about ‘the high tech industry’ in America — pioneering companies like Intel or Fairchild Semiconductor or IBM or Hewlett Packard made computer processors and related hardware, and most of the companies in Silicon Valley dealt with actual silicon from time to time. These companies offered competing products that shared a market, a set of customers, and sometimes even had employees in common when talent would move from one company to another.”

“But today, the major players in what’s called the ‘tech industry’ are enormous conglomerates that regularly encompass everything from semiconductor factories to high-end retail stores to Hollywood-style production studios. The upstarts of the business can work on anything from cleaning your laundry to creating drones. There’s no way to put all these different kinds of products and services into any one coherent bucket now that they encompass the entire world of business.”

“‘So what?’ you ask. Sure, technology companies have become complex conglomerates, but why does it matter what we call the industry overall? The reason is simple: A reductive name for the industry masks an enormous set of social challenges that we need to tackle quickly. Mature industries develop their own regulatory frameworks, their own systems for self-regulation, and their own standards for monitoring transgressions within the industry. Today, tech as an industry is almost completely lacking in all of these areas.”

Obamacare Is Splitting in Two

The Hill: “Increasingly, there are two ObamaCares.”

“There’s the one in coastal and northern areas, where the marketplaces include multiple insurers and plans. And there’s the one in southern and rural areas, where there is often little competition, a situation that can lead to higher premiums.”

“The trend is likely to be accelerated by the departure of Aetna and UnitedHealthcare from ObamaCare marketplaces in 2017. The loss of those insurers won’t affect all parts of the country equally, experts say. ”

“Adding to the geographic disparities under ObamaCare, many of the same states where insurance competition is lacking declined the health law’s expansion of Medicaid. Because of that, many lower-income people have no insurance option at all. “

Business Economists Overwhelmingly Support Clinton

A poll of the National Association for Business Economists’ 414 members shows overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton, Politico reports.

When asked “which presidential candidate has the smarts to run the U.S. economy,” 55% chose Clinton.

“But perhaps more striking was this: Only 14 percent of the economists thought Republican nominee and real estate tycoon Donald Trump would be best to direct the economy — meaning Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, at 15 percent, topped Trump in the poll.”

Another key finding: “62 percent of the economists thought uncertainty about the election is holding back growth.”

Four in Five Americans Support Voter ID Laws, Early Voting

Large majorities of Americans favor voter ID laws, early voting, and automatic registration measures, Gallup reports.

80% favor early voting to give more voters a chance to cast their ballot. The same number favor “requiring all voters to provide photo identification at their voting place in order to vote,” including 95% of Republicans and 83% of Independents.

A smaller majority of Americans, 63%, favor automatic voter registration. Though largely popular among Democrats, only about half of Republicans favor the measure.


Make Big Government Agile Again

The Week: “The Volcker Rule, which prohibits certain forms of speculation by commercial banks, took nearly four years to be finalized, and hasn’t taken full effect yet — and banks just asked for another five-year grace period before they have to comply. Elsewhere, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission recently delayed regulation of cross-border derivative contracts for an entire year.”

“We may well hit the next financial crisis before the regulatory response to the last one is fully implemented. Why? Legal scholars finger a culprit called ‘regulatory ossification,’ referring to the grinding slowness of today’s federal rule-writing apparatus — largely because regulatory agencies are strangled by endless paperwork and frivolous lawsuits.”

“To be sure, many minor rules are written and issued with little fanfare or delay. But ones that affect the operations and profits of big institutions — the ones that really matter — suffer from all-out legal and procedural attacks. That’s how some centerpiece parts of Dodd-Frank can be still on hold after over six years.”

“So given that Republicans stand a good chance of hanging onto Congress, if Hillary Clinton wants to achieve anything during her presidency, appointing people who believe in quality government to key regulatory posts might be the single smartest and easiest step she could take.”

Greece’s Economic Woes Pose Challenges to the EU

The Guardian: “In many ways, the Greek debt drama has disappeared in the folds of other crises now stalking Europe: in quick succession, fractious debate has moved from the influx of refugees through the Aegean islands to repeated terrorist attacks and Britain’s shock referendum vote to leave the EU.”

“The runaway train that was carrying Greeks downhill at the height of the crisis has slowed down to the point where loss and sacrifice have almost been normalized.”

“Anti–EU sentiment is on the rise. In October, 70% thought it better for Greece to remain in the single currency; by July those backing the euro had fallen to 50%. Real recovery can only come if the country’s staggering debt burden is reduced.”

“‘If we continue down this road, a fourth, even a fifth, bailout should be expected,’ says Aristides Hatzis, associate professor of law and economics at Athens University. ‘I don’t see any progress. The economy is stagnant, the private sector devastated, the public administration underfunded and ineffective. And there is always the spectre of Grexit at the end of the tunnel.'”

U.S. Education Ratings Show Record Political Polarization

Americans’ satisfaction with U.S. education exhibits a growing partisan divide over the past two years, a new Gallup poll shows. Satisfaction among Republicans has nosedived since 2014, a trend that may be linked to “criticism of the Common Core educational standards being implemented across the country — standards most Republicans view negatively…”

General satisfaction with U.S. education remains low.

“The 55% now dissatisfied with U.S. education is, by one percentage point, the highest Gallup has recorded since 2000.”

Six Years into Obamacare, Who Are the Uninsured?

New York Times: “Roughly 20 million more Americans have health insurance now than when President Obama’s health care law was passed in 2010. But as Mr. Obama prepares to leave office, there are still about 24 million adults with no coverage, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a health research group. That translates to an uninsured rate of about 13 percent, down from 20 percent in 2013. Who are the remaining uninsured?”

“Forty percent of the uninsured are Hispanic. That’s up from 29 percent in 2013…”

“Forty-one percent of the uninsured are white (down from 50 percent in 2013), 12 percent are black (down from 13 percent) and 6 percent are Asian and other races (unchanged from 2013).”

“Fifty-eight percent of uninsured Americans — a bigger chunk than in 2013 — are men.”

“The uninsured tend to be very poor; 39 percent have incomes under the federal poverty level, which is $24,250 for a family of four.”

“Almost half of the uninsured live in the South, where many of the states that haven’t expanded Medicaid — including the two largest, Florida and Texas — are.”


The New Landscape of Labor

City Journal: “The Great Recession and the underwhelming Obama recovery have… reshaped the map of labor in the United States.”

“Private unions began to rally somewhat in 2012 but thus far have regained only 42 percent of the members they lost. A disproportionate share of that rebound, moreover, has occurred in right-to-work states—not because these states are welcoming labor environments but because they’ve done better economically than union-friendly states. Public unions have yet to boost their rolls, six years after the recession ended.”

As tough as the post-2008 period has been for private unions, their public-sector counterparts have had it even worse. State and local budgets have remained under intense pressure since the recession, as tax revenues have grown only haltingly and government costs—especially employee costs—have risen fast, producing a near-continuous squeeze on finances. In response, state and local governments have slashed about 700,000 jobs. Unionized government workers bore the brunt of cuts, with membership down about 660,000 workers, or 8 percent, since 2008.”

Why Clinton Should Advocate for Subsidized Employment

Politico’s Danny Vinik: “…Clinton’s agenda is missing one key idea for keeping Americans employed when economic downturns hit, a policy that proved hugely successful after the Great Recession: subsidized employment.”

“As part of the economic stimulus, Congress spent $5 billion to create the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Fund (TANF EF), a small funding boost for the TANF program, typically known as welfare.”

“…a chunk of money—$1.3 billion—was earmarked for subsidized employment, a low-cost experiment that used federal resources to put people back to work. This wasn’t a direct employment program like the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration, which paid millions of workers in the 1930s to construct new roads, bridges and buildings. Instead, the government gave states considerable flexibility with how to implement their programs.”

“While the designs varied among the 39 states that created subsidized employment programs, people who’ve looked closely have found they were almost universally successful at putting Americans back to work—and it was a relatively cheap way to do it.”

“So how’s it doing now? Funding ran out in 2011 and was not renewed.”

“While it may seem strange for Clinton to advocate a subsidized employment program with the unemployment rate below 5 percent and wages beginning to rise, experts believe that periods between economic downturns are the best times to shore up the government’s safety net.”