“Congress created the PPP when it passed the CARES Act in March, aiming to funnel billions of dollars through banks to businesses that were suffering from widespread lockdowns during the pandemic. The loans were mainly meant to cover payroll, a way to keep employees earning money while stopping companies from going under, and were designed to be completely forgiven if used properly.”
“The SBA released an “EZ application” for PPP forgiveness on June 16, but business owners can’t submit the forms directly to the agency — they have to go through their lenders instead. And both banks and the SBA have barely gotten things off the ground.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the SBA received only about 56,000 decisions on whether to forgive loans from banks by September 8 — which amounts to just 1 percent of the 5.2 million loans issued. None had actually been forgiven as of October 1. Meanwhile, the SBA issued new information and rules on July 23, August 4, and August 11, and it still hadn’t finished creating a process for reviewing lenders’ decisions as of August 14. On October 1, the SBA said it would start forgiving loans after banks and borrowers complained.”
“Even once the forgiveness process truly gets underway, many business owners aren’t sure exactly what paperwork will be required of them. Sixty-eight percent of the Main Street Alliance survey respondents were concerned that the process wasn’t clear, with two-thirds saying they don’t understand what’s eligible for forgiveness given the many changes in the program, and over half were confused about what documents are required. The details matter: About two-thirds fear not getting their loans forgiven, while 43 percent are concerned they won’t have any recourse if they feel a decision isn’t fair.”
“As of October 21, Japan — a country of around 127 million people — had more than 90,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 1,600 deaths. That’s not bad compared to much of the world, but the pandemic caused the nation’s economy to shrink by around 28 percent between April and June, the largest contraction since the country started keeping records in 1980.
That’s bad news on its own, but Japan was already dealing with a years-long economic slump due in part to an aging workforce. It’s a trend Suga’s keenly aware he must reverse, and doing so starts with minimizing the virus’s spread. “Reviving the economy remains the top priority of the administration,” Suga told reporters just after becoming prime minister on September 16.”
“The Permian Basin is one of the most prolific oil and gas plays in the world, responsible for more than a third of the United States’ oil and one-sixth of gas production last year.
The formation in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico that has minted fortunes and transformed the country into a global petroleum supplier is also ground zero for the worst oil and gas air pollution in the country.
“You don’t know what you’re breathing,” said Gene Collins, a minister and community activist in Odessa, Texas.
It could get worse.
The US Environmental Protection Agency in August rescinded controls installed by the Obama administration to curb releases of methane, a potent, planet-warming gas leaked during oil and gas production, processing, and transportation.”
“Experts say it could lead to higher emissions of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and hazardous air pollutants — chemicals that cause smog and are linked to cancer, respiratory illnesses, and a growing list of other ailments.”
“The change will likely worsen air pollution and harm people’s health. But the EPA didn’t bother to estimate the potential extent of the damage, despite what’s at stake for people living in communities like Odessa.”
“It’s illegal to move to Georgia temporarily just to vote in an election and then leave. Georgia state officials are strongly urging prospective out-of-state voters to stay home, warning them they’ll face steep penalties if they vote fraudulently.”
“The study, conducted by the charity Foundations for Social Change in partnership with the University of British Columbia, was fairly simple. It identified 50 people in the Vancouver area who had become homeless in the past two years. In spring 2018, it gave them each one lump sum of $7,500 (in Canadian dollars). And it told them to do whatever they wanted with the cash.”
“Over the next year, the study followed up with the recipients periodically, asking how they were spending the money and what was happening in their lives. Because they were participating in a randomized controlled trial, their outcomes were compared to those of a control group: 65 homeless people who didn’t receive any cash. Both cash recipients and people in the control group got access to workshops and coaching focused on developing life skills and plans.
The results? The people who received cash transfers moved into stable housing faster and saved enough money to maintain financial security over the year of follow-up. They decreased spending on drugs, tobacco, and alcohol by 39 percent on average, and increased spending on food, clothes, and rent, according to self-reports.”
“It’s hard to see how either consumers or advertisers would benefit—or change their ways—just because Google apps didn’t come preloaded on some phones or as the default search in some browsers. Presumably, Google wouldn’t magically lose its huge name recognition and Bing or Yahoo wouldn’t suddenly have better results. The government can meddle around the market’s edges all it wants, but they can’t force consumers to choose inferior products just to equalize market share.
“The complaint makes a lot of hay out of Google’s deal with Apple to be the default search engine on Safari,” and “of course, being the default helps increase market share,” tweeted Alec Stapp, director of technology policy at the Progressive Policy Institute. “But Tim Cook has also said that Google is the best search engine. Should the default be an inferior product?””
“the sitting president’s refusal to acknowledge electoral defeat is worrisome, as it raises the prospect that he will not uphold a core tenet of democracy: Elections determine who is in power, and those who lose surrender power peacefully. The behavior of top Republican Party officials — subtly acknowledging that Trump must leave office on Jan. 20 but not openly rebuking his conduct — in some ways also violates that core value. And the combination of Trump’s and his party’s behavior raises a serious question: Is America’s democracy in trouble?
Maybe. People who study democratic norms and values both in the United States and abroad say that the behavior of Trump and the Republican Party over the past week deeply concerns them. Dartmouth College political scientist Brendan Nyhan says it’s important not to think of democracy in binary terms — that either a nation is or is not a democracy. Instead, Nyhan argues, democracy falls more on a spectrum, and based on how Trump broke with democratic values as president and how he is handling the end of his presidency, America does remain a democracy, but it is somewhat less democratic than it was pre-Trump.”
“Not only is Trump blocking his advisers from helping the incoming Biden administration get ready to deal with the pandemic, but the defeated president has largely disengaged from the COVID-19 crisis himself. In terms of managing the virus, America will be functionally without a president for two months.
We can’t totally rule out the most alarming possibility either — that Trump is going to try to stay in office past Jan. 20. After all, he has mobilized some key parts of the federal government and the Republican Party behind his efforts to question and undermine the election results.”
“It’s hard to know the answers to these questions. Democratic values are almost certain to be upheld this time — that is, the election determined who will be in charge, and the transfer of power will ultimately be peaceful. But it’s not totally clear that these values will be upheld the next time a Trump-like figure emerges. American democracy is likely to survive Trump, but his tenure has raised important questions about the state of America’s democracy and whether it will endure in perpetuity.”
“The Trump administration’s approach to immigration enforcement has been aggressive and deliberately punitive in a way that Obama’s was not. Beyond the appalling family separation policy, Trump’s sought to restrict both legal and illegal immigration in ways that no president in recent history has. He’s shifted one of America’s two major parties in a nationalist, xenophobic direction—or perhaps he owes his success to the fact that it had already shifted that direction, but that’s no better—and elevated people like Stephen Miller to places where they can set policy. That’s all horrifically bad.
But he was only able to do most of that because previous presidential administrations—not just Obama and Biden, but plenty of others before it—built a powerful leviathan dedicated to preventing the free movement of people.”