The concept of the American Dream is an idea that has been a mainstay of American culture for generations and has even developed worldwide notoriety through America's various cultural exports, namely movies, television shows, and music. But while many would like to continue to believe in an America that promises success to those who work hard and further their education, in an era of growing inequality and immobility, achieving this "dream" is becoming an increasingly difficult task.
...The American Dream is now easier to attain for people who live outside of America than those who live in it. Or, another way to put it is that economic mobility has been stunted in the U.S. As far back as 2004 the progressive think tank The Century Foundation argued that "recent evidence shows that there is much less mobility in the United States than most people assume," and that "rags to rags and riches to riches are now the norm in this country to a greater degree than in many other developed nations."
Read more on the increasingly unattainable American Dream in USA Today.
This week, Wikileaks posted to its site the entire archive of data and information stolen from Sony Pictures in last fall's hacks. However, much of the media coverage pertaining to the data included in the leak has maliciously violated the privacy of countless individuals associated with Sony, abetting, as TCF fellow Michael Cohen puts it, "cyber extortion."
I needed only 20 minutes on the Wikileaks site to find a credit card number, medical information, private e-mail addresses, salary data, and plenty else that most people wouldn’t want available on a searchable database.
This kind of cyberattack is a greater threat to people’s privacy than anything revealed in the Snowden/NSA leaks, which became a cause celebre for some of the same people chortling over the Sony leaks.
Check out the rest of Cohen's thoughts on the leaked information in the Boston Globe.
Recently, many prominent Democrats have spoken out in support of collective bargaining and organized labor. TCF fellow Amy Dean takes a look at this "warm embrace" of unions and why political rhetoric alone will not be enough this election cycle.
Part of the reason for the Democrats’ praise for labor is the recent spotlight on the ever-growing levels of economic inequality in the United States. Another reason is political expediency: With the 2016 election campaign looming, politicians are pandering to a base that they normally take for granted.
But Democrats cannot afford to pay only lip service to organized labor when the moment is convenient. Unless they take real measures to shore up employees’ rights to collectively organize, the Democratic Party will be courting a major crisis, as will America’s working families.
Check out the rest of Dean's piece at Al Jazeera America.
This week, TCF fellow Barton Gellman participated in a Tribeca Film Festival panel on "Secrecy and Power." At the event, Gellman discussed America's "complicated information ecosystem" and the debate regarding what information should be shared with the public—and who exactly should be sharing it.
So who should be in charge of that boundary, of deciding what’s disseminated to the general public? Like with everything on this topic, it’s complicated, and there’s no easy answer. “I would argue there is absolutely no one you should trust to do that,” Gellman says. “In fact, there’s nobody competent to do that. The President and his people are not entitled to tell us what we need to know in order to hold them accountable, as voters or as participants in a political society. And someone like me is not competent or accountable for protecting international security. So what happens is, there is a competition along the boundaries — in which they try to keep secrets, and we try to find them out.”
Read more on the panel at Flavorwire.
The latest review of TCF fellow Thanassis Cambanis's book, Once Upon a Revolution: An Egyptian Story has been published in the May/June 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs.
Cambanis’ analysis is sharp, and he does not hold back when it comes to graphically depicting the Egyptian state’s violence against its own people, be they Coptic Christians or Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Read the review here.
While the majority of college students struggle with paying off student loans at some point or another, research has found that there are two specific groups that particularly struggle more than others. Those groups are: older students and those from low-income areas. TCF fellow Mark Thoma explains the New York Fed's findings.
When the economy is doing poorly and jobs hard to come by, it's in our collective interest for the young to go to college instead of hopelessly searching for a position, and for older workers who have lost jobs to return to school and upgrade their skills. But people in these groups, especially those from low-income areas, aren't getting the support they need -- and they're drowning in a sea of debt.
Read Thoma's full article here.
As an economist, TCF fellow Mark Thoma has some ideas on what types of policies Democratic presidential candidate should pursue in her upcoming campaign. He weighs in on everything from climate change to education policy.
Changes in financial regulation implemented after the financial crisis do not go far enough. For example, we need higher capital requirements, better disclosure and transparency, better protection for consumers of financial products, better regulation of the shadow banking sector, the repo market in particular. That’s unlikely to happen, but if nothing else the next president must fight to preserve the regulation that is presently in place.
Thoma's full article can be read here.
TCF fellow Halley Potter and senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg recently published an article that cites the many advantages of socioeconomic and racial integration in charter and traditional public school classrooms. They cite statistics that prove the supreme benefits of integrated classrooms and the stark difference in performance of low-income students who learn among diverse peers.
It's an advantage to be in a school with lower concentrations of poverty in part because peers learn from one another. A low-income student in a mixed-income school is more likely to be surrounded by classmates who are high-achieving and expect to go on to college than a similar student in a high-poverty school. Likewise, it's an advantage to be in a mixed-income school where parents are more likely to be active in school affairs and to volunteer in class than stressed-out parents in a high-poverty school.
Read Potter and Kahlenberg's full article here.
Statistically speaking, the U.S. economy is due for its next recession (with the model that a recession occurs every 6 years). While the economy is in fact looking healthy now, the government has perhaps not taken the smartest steps to prevent this approaching recession. TCF's Dan Alpert suggests that in addition to “an oversupply of labor, productive capacity, and capital,” the U.S. largely ignored working-class and middle-class workers regain financial stability.
Sixty percent of Americans saw their real incomes fall, but they didn’t complain because the “shower” of easy money “allowed them to make up for lost income and maintain living standards — at least for a while.”
Read the full article.
The problem of stark inequality is still a big issue in the U.S. TCF fellow Edward Kleinbard offered his take on why this inequality persists as it has, and describes it in his book, We Are Better Than This. His suggestion for improving the inequality issue? A better tax system that reflects investments in our future.
USC law professor Edward D. Kleinbard, meanwhile, described the mountains of “depressing data” he used to write "We Are Better Than That" (Oxford), a book that seeks to reframe the conversation about taxing into one about spending, about how we need a smarter government to restore our social safety net, and how all of this serves to end what he calls a “shameful inequality.”
Read the Kleinbard's commentary in the LA Times.