“In 1985, atmospheric scientists in Antarctica noticed something troubling. For decades, they’d been measuring the thickness of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, the layer of gas that deflects much of the sun’s radiation. Starting in the 1970s, it had started plummeting. By the mid-1980s, they observed that it was on track to be wiped out in the next few decades.
Their discovery was cause for worldwide alarm and unprecedented action. In short order, the international community marshaled its resources — scientific, economic, diplomatic — to mount a campaign to ban the chemical that caused the damage, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and to restore the ozone layer.
Fast-forward to today: The ozone is on the path to recovery, if not fully restored. That progress hasn’t been without setbacks. The ozone hole is shrinking on average, but some years are bad ones — the hole was notably larger in 2020, following a 2019 when it was unusually small. Researchers have also raised suspicions that the rate at which atmospheric CFCs are falling suggests not all signatories to a treaty banning new production of CFCs are abiding by the agreement. And there have been unintended consequences in phasing out CFCs with a different chemical that has hurt our fight against climate change (more on this below).
But the damage we wrought last century has been reversed. Even with the complications and caveats, the world’s response to the ozone crisis should be seen as an instructive, even inspiring, success story — one that can perhaps inform our response to the climate crisis.”
“The United States Postal Service started slowing its mail delivery on Friday, part of an effort by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to cut costs over the next 10 years.
The most widespread and significant change will affect first-class mail — things like letters, small packages, bills, and tax documents. Prior to the changes, customers throughout the US could expect first-class mail to reach its destination in one to three days; now, that timeframe will extend to between one and five days.
That “means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s,” for an estimated 40 percent of first-class mail, Paul Steidler, an expert on the postal service and supply chains at the Lexington Institute, told CBS.
That’s because the USPS is set to reduce its reliance on planes to transport mail as part of a broader cost-saving effort, instead shifting some deliveries within the continental US to ground transportation. According to the Washington Post, the Postal Service will reduce the amount of mail transported via plane from 20 percent to 12 percent.
According to an August notice from USPS in the Federal Register, using cargo planes and passenger aircraft to transport mail is more expensive and less reliable because of “weather delays, network congestion, and air traffic control ground stops.””
“Right now, distribution networks across the world are massively congested.
“Los Angeles — which is a major port of entry for the United States — New York, and New Jersey are all pretty full up,” says O’Leary. “We’re hearing reports of delays of weeks for getting things cleared.”
“Containers are not moving out of ports and onto trains quickly enough,” explains Chris Tang, a UCLA business professor specializing in global supply chain management. “And on top of that, all of the warehouses in the Midwest are full. So everything is stuck.”
An increase in online shipping in part of what’s driving the congestion. Meanwhile, the complications of Brexit and the internet’s beloved container ship Ever Given — both of which dramatically disrupted global supply chains — certainly aren’t helping ports empty themselves out faster.
Even more pressing, however, is a shortage of truck drivers. There just aren’t enough trucks on the road to pick up as much stuff as we’re currently shipping around the world. “We’re talking tens of thousands fewer truck drivers than we need,” says O’Leary.
And as stuff sits in warehouses, waiting to be picked up by increasingly scarce truck drivers, the price of storage goes up, adding to overall shipping costs. “It used to be around $3,000 per container,” Tang says. “Now the price is closer to $20,000.” The skyrocketing costs mean that companies selling luxury goods will take more warehouse slots, since they can afford them, while lower-priced goods, like books, compete for what’s left.
Barnes & Noble CEO Daunt notes that books do have one big advantage over other goods when it comes to shipping: They’re durable. “The reality is that books are fantastic because they don’t really perish, so you’re able to print lots of them in advance,” he says. “They’re incredibly robust, so you can send them through the most basic of supply chain routes. They’re not strawberries or peaches or delicate things.”
But right now, even the most basic of supply chain routes are finding themselves overwhelmed.”
“One of the big underlying problems when it comes to printing and shipping books is the same labor shortage that’s currently roiling the rest of the country. There aren’t enough press operators to get books printed, and then there aren’t enough truck drivers to get them to bookstores. Wages have gone up, but there still aren’t enough people working.
“In the whole national workforce, you’ve got 8.4 million unemployed but 10.9 million open jobs,” says Baehr. “That’s a two and a half million-person shortage, period, and that’s across all buckets. The book industry is getting hit with that just as much as the paper industry is getting hit with that just as much as the transportation industry is getting hit with that. It all just compounds on itself. It’s just a rough spot right now for the book business.”
“Simply put, the working-age population in the US has stopped growing,” says Gad Levanon, founder of the Labor Market Institute. “And the working-age population without a BA is shrinking quite rapidly.” That’s a major issue for the industries we’re discussing here because in general, people with college degrees prefer not to work in warehouses, as truck drivers, or in printing presses.”
“There were once plenty of senators who represented states that voted for the other party for president. Between 1960 and 1990, roughly half of all sitting senators fit into this group. But over the last three decades, that number has plummeted”
” Likewise, in an earlier political era, many senators shared their state with a senator from the opposite party. Not only did this serve to reinforce the electoral reality that either party could win a state, but it also gave such senators an obvious bipartisan partner in the Senate, particularly on issues of concern to their home state. Today, though, only 12 senators..have a colleague who’s from the other party.”
“because Senate elections were more about local issues, both parties were able to compete nationally. Voters didn’t care as much whether they sent a Democrat or a Republican to Washington. What mattered was whether they sent somebody who could represent their state well. And senators could prove their worth by bringing home federal funding for roads and bridges — just the kind of issue that used to facilitate bipartisan dealmaking.
But today’s political campaigns and voters care far less about roads and bridges. They care far more about national culture-war issues — and which party controls the majority in Congress. As a result, Democrats can’t win in much of the Southeast and the Mountain West, and Republicans are now perpetual losers in the West and the Northeast. Only the Southwest and the Midwest remain competitive, and that’s only because state populations are currently balanced between liberal cities and conservative exurbs.
It’s also why bipartisanship in the Senate is waning. Republican senators in solidly Republican states do not have to worry about winning over some Democrats; the senators’ general election win is all but assured. Rather, the most likely way they could lose is if they face a primary challenge to their right. And the most likely way they could draw such a challenger is if they were to publicly work with Democrats.”
“even for senators who want to publicly prove their bipartisan bona fides, the problem is that party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell prefer votes that draw sharp contrasts between the two parties. Divisive partisan politics help with campaign fundraising in an era of increasingly ideological donors (both big and small). And high-stakes elections mobilize and excite voters. Bipartisanship, in contrast, muddles the stakes and blurs the lines.”
“Biden worked harder than Trump to foster a bipartisan deal. But arguably, it was the Democrats’ threat of eliminating the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation that pushed McConnell into supporting a bipartisan agreement in a way that bolstered Sinema and Manchin’s faith in bipartisanship. This is hardly a sustainable formula for bipartisan dealmaking on major issues.
To be sure, Congress can still accomplish some lower-profile bipartisan lawmaking (like a recent major upgrade of our drinking-water and wastewater systems) through what Matthew Yglesias and Simon Bazelon have dubbed “Secret Congress.” It turns out that members of Congress can still work across party lines when issues are relatively noncontroversial and there is not much media attention.
Indeed, if you look beyond the partisan media’s name-calling, you can find surprising amounts of bipartisan activity”
“But “Secret Congress” works only because it’s secret, and it’s secret only because the issues are not high-profile enough to draw the public spotlight. But if the only bipartisanship that happens in Congress happens on uncontroversial one-off issues, this leaves the most important issues of the day to wither on the shoals of a 60-vote threshold in the Senate or, more commonly, in the gridlock of a divided government.”
“partisans are the most hostile to compromise — especially those individuals whose racial, religious and cultural identities line up most strongly with one party. But the partisan sorting that has aligned these identities so closely with one party over the last several decades is precisely the reason why voters have come down so hard on politicians who compromise. The more that national political conflict is centered on abstract moral issues and the identity of the nation, the more any compromise feels like a surrender.
To recreate the conditions that allowed bipartisanship to flourish in the Senate once upon a time seems unlikely anytime soon. Instead, the most bipartisan-oriented senators are the most endangered. Manchin is a dying breed. His eventual replacement in West Virginia will almost certainly be a Republican.”
“The Atlanta shooter—Robert Aaron Long—told police he struggled with sex addiction. He was a devout Christian who felt guilty about visiting sex workers at Asian spas, friends said. Were Long’s hateful acts really about race? Or were they more about misogyny—a man lashing out at women for inspiring lust in him? How significant is the fact that the victims were largely Asian women? Was his true bias against sex workers?
In one sense, none of this makes a difference. Eight lives were senselessly lost. Long’s acts were morally heinous whether driven by anti-Asian racism, general misogyny, resentment of sex workers, or total randomness. And hate crime or not, murder is a serious criminal offense, punishable in Georgia by life in prison, with the possibility of life without parole or even execution.
Yet if Long was motivated by anti-Asian or anti-female bias, this would be considered, under Georgia and federal law, a hate crime. If he was motivated by hatred of sex workers, it would not. This ambiguity perfectly encapsulates the tangled logic behind U.S. hate crime laws.”
“Hate crime statutes generally do one specific thing: enhance criminal punishments for actions that are already against the law. They say that for whatever the underlying offense is—vandalism, harassment, theft, assault, murder—the sentence will be harsher if the offense was committed out of identity-based bias or prejudice instead of, say, pure greed or lust or non-specific anger.”
“Hate crime statutes may make people feel like they’re doing something about a serious problem. But judged by their results, they’re likely to be harmless but ineffective at very best. At a 2018 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights briefing on hate crimes, none of the panelists could point to data, studies, or other evidence showing that designating something a hate crime deters, prevents, or reduces that crime or helps authorities catch perpetrators.
At worst, hate crime laws and their emphasis on individual bad motives can distract from more systemic issues.”
“Younger, less-well-educated workers have been especially harmed by recent state-level minimum wage hikes, according to a study issued today by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The paper was written by economists Jeffrey Clemens of the University of California, San Diego, and Michael R. Strain of the American Enterprise Institute.”
“They found that “over the short and medium run, relatively large increases in minimum wages have reduced employment rates among individuals with low levels of experience and education by just over 2.5 percentage points.” By contrast, smaller increases, or ones resulting from indexing inflation to wages, have effects that are “variable and centered on zero.”
The data also offers “evidence that the medium-run effects of large minimum wage changes are larger and more negative than their short-run effects,” so we will often need time to unfold before we see those bad employment effects blossom.”
“The idea behind these vacancy taxes is two-fold. First, the financial penalty would incentivize the owners of empty homes—supposedly real estate speculators holding out for higher rents—to put their properties on the market. Second, the revenue from the tax could then be spent on affordable housing programs.”
“Yet a new report published on vacant properties in San Diego—one of the cities that is now considering a vacancy tax—suggests that any levy on empty units would do little to raise revenue or boost housing supply.
That report, published by the city’s Housing Commission (SDHC), used utility records to determine how many units in the city were left vacant for six months or more. (The study considered a unit unoccupied if its utility usage fell three standard deviations below a 60-month average.)
The SDHC obtained gas and electric records for 468,352 individual units from 2014 to 2019. During those five years, between 1,500 and 3,700 units were vacant for six months or more, giving the city a long-term vacancy rate of between .32 percent and .79 percent.
When examining water records, the SDHC study found 2,183 out of 252,324 units were potentially vacant for six months or more—a vacancy rate of .85 percent.
Contrary to what some politicians think, there isn’t a mass of hoarded homes that would be pushed onto the market by a vacancy tax.”
“As commander in chief, Biden is still operating under the authority of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which, on paper, grants the president only authority to bring the military to bear against those responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but in reality has been used by multiple U.S. presidents to authorize very broad military interventions throughout the world.
Furthermore, the 2002 AUMF, which directly authorized the military invasion of Iraq, is still in force. The House voted in June to repeal the 2002 AUMF, but that repeal hasn’t passed the Senate yet. We still have thousands of troops in Iraq and are currently planning to keep them there indefinitely. The plan is that these troops will serve as logistics and advisory help for Iraq’s government, but they will most definitely still be involved in fights against the Islamic State.
We may have pulled troops out of Somalia, but we’re still performing airstrikes there against Al Qaida affiliate al-Shabab. In June, the Pentagon announced that it is considering putting troops right back in there.
And none of that gets into the countless—well, not countless, but the numbers are deliberately concealed from the American public—drone strikes in places like Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya. We don’t really have data on drone use under the Biden administration yet, save the disastrous one from late August in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including 7 children. Biden has reportedly quietly implemented stricter rules on the use of drones outside of war zones and the White House is evaluating the legal and policy “frameworks” for continuing to use them.
Biden might not see all of this piecemeal military intervention as “war,” but let’s be clear here: We’re talking about thousands of U.S. troops overseas involved in potentially killing armed combatants. And Biden currently still has congressional permission to wage war.”