Author Archives: David Losson

New Deal or Raw Deal?

                                                                                                       Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal is, perhaps, the greatest single dupe ever foisted on the American people. According to the revisionist narrative, the era represented a vindication of the progressive messianic complex. If modern revisionists are to be believed, the New Deal rescued an America reeling from an economic disaster caused by a clueless and non-interventionist government and fundamentally re-structured the American economy all while achieving fundamental and long-lasting reforms in social welfare and justice that have benefited ensuing generations of Americans. As you might have guessed from reading this blog, I don’t subscribe to a revisionist line of thinking.                                                                                                                          In my view, the New Deal represents a unilateral roll-out of the progressive agenda on the American people and the hijacking of the Democratic Party as a means of implementing this agenda. Not only did the federal government undergo a massive expansion in size and scope but it was achieved through egregious transgression of the constitutional process. If anything is to be learned from this chapter in American history it is, in the words of Benjamin Franklin:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

One of the earlier attacks on the personal freedoms of American citizens came in 1933 with FDR’s Executive Order 6102. The directive, made the hoarding of monetary gold by any person or organization criminal. The order required all in possession of gold to return said gold to Federal Reserve Bank in exchange for a set amount of paper currency per ounce. Not only did this law set a dangerous precedent that normalizes and encourages economic collectivization by the federal government but it was done in the name of economic necessity. Proponents argued that in order for the Federal Reserve needed to increase its gold reserves in order to maintain the reserve ratios it had set for itself. Following the order American citizens were subjected to federal raids and seizures of gold exceeding the allowable limit. Not only were American individuals and businesses deprived of their property but foreign companies too. It wasn’t until 1974, nearly 41 years later, that the private ownership and trade of gold was once again fully legalized.

     The economic freedoms of private businesses and citizens were further infringed with the passage of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1938) and the decision in Wickard v. Filburn (1942). The Agricultural Adjustment Act granted the Agricultural Adjustment Agency the power to regulate the private production of wheat, cotton, corn, hogs, rice, tobacco, and milk. In future amendments to the law, the list was expanded to include rye, flax, barley, grain, sorghum, cattle, peanuts, sugarbeets, sugarcane, and potatoes. The federal government chose to regulate these specific products because they were deemed to be in overproduction. According to the New Deal proponents, regulation (i.e “destruction”) of crop surpluses grown privately was essential for a full and complete economic recovery.                                                                             The controversy surrounding this legislation finally came to a head in the 1942 supreme court case, Wickard v. Filburn. The defendant, Roscoe Filburn, was an Ohio wheat farmer who grew wheat in excess of the limits set forth by the government. The excess wheat was grown purely for subsistence, that is, personal consumption not for sale. In court, Filburn argued that the Agricultural Adjustment Act didn’t apply to his surplus of wheat because it didn’t fall under the domain of commerce which the federal government was given the power to regulate under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S Constitution. Against previous rulings by lower courts, the Supreme Court ruled that the surplus did fall under the category of “commerce” because growing wheat for personal use affected the amount of wheat that would be bought for chicken feed! This ridiculous ruling not only defies basic economic sense (the price of chicken will be higher if Filburn has to buy other people’s wheat) but set a dangerous precedent for the interpretation of the Commerce Clause (Art. 1, Sect. 8, Clause 3) in future supreme court cases.

                                                             The failed Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 was another constitutional near-disaster. Had the bill passed, the office of the president would have expanded its powers on Caesarean proportions. Had it passed, the bill would have allowed the president to appoint a new supreme court justice whenever a sitting justice reached the age of seventy. The legislation allowed for up to 6 justices sitting on the same court to be appointed in this manner. The impetus behind this conspiracy, which was so see-through that it became known as the “court-packing scheme,” was Roosevelt’s desire to create a court that favored his legislation. Publicly, this motivation was presented as a measure to ensure that no one party ever controlled too many branches of the federal government, never mind the will of the people.                                                                                 With the creation of highly-publicized social assistance programs the New Deal heralded a new era of dependency on government. The New Deal certainly laid the foundations for an American welfare state whose complete construction is being debated to this day. The creation of Social Security in 1935 saddled generations of American taxpayers with deficits and anxiety over the impending insolvency of this huge social “safety net.”                                                                    In 1935, under the Social Security Act, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was  established. The program was a precursor to the modern-day Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) better known as welfare. The AFDC was and, in some circles, is considered radical for its direct financial support of single, unemployed, and unwed mothers. Research conducted in previous decades, most notably the Moynihan Report, found that programs such as the AFDC encouraged out-of-wedlock births and the general disintegration of the working-class family unit.  It wasn’t until 1996 that the AFDC was reformed with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

                                                     The National Housing Acts of 1934 and 1937 laid the foundations for the large-scale construction of public housing projects and redlining practices that promoted inner city decay and racial segregation that dominated the middle part of the 20th century. To be fair, the legislation did create the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, which insured deposits in savings and loan institutions until it was consolidated with the FDIC in 1989. However, the creation of the United States Housing Authority ushered in a new era of large-scale public housing projects that concentrated and magnified the miseries of the urban poor. To build these housing projects, neighborhoods were razed, stripping residents and businessmen of their land ownership in the process.                                                                                    The Federal Housing Administration only magnified these problems with their racist redlining and blacklisting tactics whereby neighborhoods were evaluated for the relative “stability” of lending to and insuring residents, often based on a locale’s racial demographics. As a result, banks and insurance companies refused to do business in certain neighborhoods, stifling many of the otherwise upwardly-bound poor.                                                                                                          There are too many pieces of the New Deal to examine fully and satisfactorily in one post. One thing is clear; the New Deal has left our nation with a legacy that we are still grappling with and will continue to grapple with for some time.

Microstates of Oceania

Oceania is a natural hot spot for the development of unique micro-cultures thanks to the sparse population, limited habitable land mass, and general geographic isolation. These different micro-cultures have led to the development of micro-societies which have, in turn, led to the development of an array of micro nation-states. So let’s dig in!

Nauru                                                                                                                                                                                                                   This second smallest state in the world boasts a whopping 8.1 sq. mi. populated by 9,378 residents. The island has experienced a capricious colonial history, having been unceremoniously tossed among various German, League of Nations, and Japanese mandates. In the late 60’s and 70’s, the country enjoyed the world’s highest per capita income thanks to its large phosphate deposits. Sadly, strip mining and other short-sighted mining practices left the island’s reserves depleted by the 1980’s, creating a huge shock to the nation’s economic livelihood. It was this crisis that led to Nauru’s short-lived status as a tax-haven. Nauru’s status attracted dirty money and unsavory elements to the island, prompting an end to the experiment. In recent years, the nation has been struggling to find more secure economic footing. To that end, the country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, United Nations, and the Asian Development Bank.                                                                                                                      Legally, Nauru offers its citizens some interesting protections. All native Nauruans have some claim to the land and the government, corporations, and any non-Nauruan is not permitted to own land; they may only rent land. Nauruans themselves are pretty unique, boasting the highest proportion of Baha’is in the world (10%) and some of the highest obesity rates. Approximately 97% of men are obese and 93% of women are considered obese. On October 26th, Nauruans celebrate Angam Day which commemorates the revival of the Nauruan people whose numbers have twice fallen below the minimum threshold (1,500) required for the survival of a race.

Kiribati                                                                                                                                                                                                         This Micronesian nation of 103,500 people encompasses some 313 sq. mi. of land area that straddle the Equator and 1.35 million sq. mi. of open ocean. It is the only country with territory in all four hemispheres of the globe. The name Kiribati is a local corruption of the name “Gilbert,” the name originally given to the islands after its European discovery by Thomas Gilbert. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, certain far-flung islands in Kiribati were used by the governments of the U.S and U.K. for nuclear weapons testing. Before the turn of the century in 2000 A.D, Kiribati moved the International Date Line just east of its Easternmost terminus, making it the first nation to witness the dawn of the third millennium. Currently, the nation is focused on preparing for what it perceives to be inevitable sea level rise caused by man-made climate change. Kiribati is an active member of the Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS) and a host of other climate organizations. Currently, there are plans to both evacuate large numbers of people from this low-lying atoll nation  and protect certain islands from potential sea level rise.

Marshall Islands                                                                                                                                                                                                    68,480 people call this Micronesian nation home, all 70 sq. mi. of it.  The legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands is hard to ignore as much of the Pacific Proving Grounds can be found in the country. The Pacific Proving Grounds were lands designated by the U.S government in the wake of the Second World War for the atmospheric testing of thermonuclear weapons. In fact, the largest nuclear test ever conducted by the U.S, Castle Bravo, took place in this nation. The first hydrogen bomb ever was tested on the country’s island of Elugelab, which resulted in the island’s destruction. Many islands and islanders have suffered from the adverse effects of atmospheric testing. In recent years, the Marshall Islands has made moves towards creating a more ecologically-conscious image by declaring the world’s largest shark sanctuary at 772,000 sq. mi. The U.S government is the mainstay of the Marshallese economy, contributing direct foreign aid and rent for use of the Kwajelein Missile Range.

Tonga                                                                                                                                                                                                                   As one of the region’s more prosperous states, Tonga has benefited from its historical legacy as a unified, organized kingdom. Incorporating 360 sq. mi. and housing 103,036 inhabitants, Tonga occupies the southernmost portion of the Polynesian island chain. Tonga was originally known to Europeans as the “Friendly Islands” due to their warm reception of James Cook. Tonga never lost its sovereignty and to this day maintains its monarchy. Traditionally presided over by the Tu’i Tonga, the chief of the islands, Tonga is now presided over by a constitutional monarchy. The government provides free and mandatory basic education, subsidized secondary education, and scholarships to further education abroad as well as a universal health care system. Like Nauru, obesity is prevalent with 90% of the population considered overweight and 54% considered obese. Also like Nauru, the government precludes foreign entities from owning Tongan land. The constitution observes and enshrines the sanctity of the sabbath. Kava, a Western Pacific specialty, is practically the nation’s official drink and is at the center of a ceremony rich with custom and tradition. The relatively large Tongan diaspora supports the national economy with its remittances.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Tuvalu                                                                                                                                                                                                         The Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu has a reputation for “doing things small”; it boasts 10,837 residents (making it the 2nd-least populous nation in the world) across 10 sq. mi. enjoying the world’s smallest economy by GDP. Tuvalu experienced some of the strongest GDP growth in the Oceania region during the late 1990’s and through much of the 2000’s before stalling out in the face of the global recession. The government spends no money on maintaining regular military forces and minimal spending is given to the country’s police force. Approximately 65% of the work force is employed in the public sector and small-scale subsistence farming maintains much of the population. Remittances from Tuvaluans working on foreign merchant ships also forms an important component of national income.                             Additionally, the government raises substantial revenues from the lease of the country’s top-level domain “.tv” and the production of stamps bought by philatelists worldwide. The Tuvalu Ship Registry, a government agency under which ships of various nationalities may opt to register, came under fire in recent years when it was discovered that Iranian ships were registered in Tuvalu. The benefit to Iranian oil tankers was the ability to fly under the Tuvaluan flag during international boycotts of Iranian oil. Education is free, universal, compulsory for 10 years, and relatively well-funded. The minimum working age is set at 14 and child labor restrictions have been put in place. Overall, a traditional communal lifestyle with the cosmetic and structural facets of Western life is the daily reality for most Tuvaluans.

Federated States of Micronesia                                                                                                                                                        This Micronesian nation comprises some 106,104 people living on 271 sq. mi. of land spread across some 1,000,000 sq. mi. of the Pacific Ocean. The nation has some of the most extensive and best documented human history in the region. The nation is a treasure trove of archaeological sites, many of them stone. The historical saga of the islands is relatively complex thanks to the rise, invasion, and overthrow of a series of dynastic kingdoms dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. On one of the four main islands, Pohnpei, is Nan Madol. Officially registered as a U.S. National Historic Landmark, Nan Madol is lagoon city of artificial islands constructed by the medieval Saudeleur Dynasty. The island of Kosrae also features historic towns and ruins from the city of Lelu (c. 1250 A.D) to burial pyramids found throughout the island.  There is not much economic activity as there are relatively limited phosphate deposits and agriculture is mostly limited to subsistence activity. Today, a growing number of expatriates are attracted to this underdeveloped nation due to its diverse ethnic mix, beautiful climate, and pristine coral reefs.

Governmental Structures in America’s Two Largest States

      vs.      

Before you say it, yes, I know the California vs. Texas comparisons on this site are getting tired.  You’re probably wondering what’s up with my strange obsession with this topic. I think the debate is emblematic of the deep cultural/ideological divides and vastly different historical tracks that define our nation (though this polarization is another hotly contested notion). Going beyond the “red vs. blue” dichotomy that colors the comparisons between the Golden and Lone Star states, I think it is useful to understand the differences in the organization of the respective governments and how those systems operate differently. To begin with, neither state’s government is a carbon copy of the national government, though both take cues from our Founding Fathers and long Greco-Roman tradition of Democratic-Republicanism (though, that’s a whole other can of worms). So let’s dig in.

California                                                                                                                                                  Like the federal government, California’s state government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, judicial, and executive. The state also has a state constitution and elements of Direct Democracy.                                                                                                                      Executive                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are 8 elected executive positions in California’s state government, each is elected by popular vote to a 4 yr. term and there is a limit of two terms per officeholder for each office. The most significant of these elected positions are: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Controller, State Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. The different offices are all voted for separately from each other; there are no joint Governor-Lieutenant Governor tickets, for example. There are a number of redundant executive positions and so much of the power of the executive branch is vested with the governor. As is expected, there is a plethora of state regulatory agencies under the auspices of the executive.                             Of all the executive positions, the governor is the most significant as he is the commander-in-chief of California’s military forces, submits the state budget, and enforces the laws of the state. There are 7 cabinet-level agencies under the oversight of the governor; these include but are not limited to: CA Health and Human Services Agency, CA Business/Consumer Services/Housing Agency, and the CA Environmental Protection Agency. The governor may be ousted after impeachment by a 2/3 state Senate vote or through majority vote in a recall election, initiated by  petitions containing a number of signatures equal to 12% of the total vote for the previous gubernatorial race.                                                                                                                   The lieutenant governor is a largely ceremonial job, akin to that of the VP of the United States of America. The vice president presides over the California State Senate, appoints bureaucrats to certain state agencies, steps in for governor during times of absence from state, and sits on the Board of Regents for certain state universities.                                                                    The state controller is basically the CFO of California; he has the power to investigate all monies spent by the state, is the bookkeeper of then state’s finances, and sits on 76 different boards and commissions. The state treasurer manages state investments, trades state bonds, and pays out state funds authorized by the controller. Needless to say, these positions seem a little redundant.                                                                                                                                                      The insurance commissioner heads the Department of Insurance and has the power to: adopt insurance regulations, take complaints against insurance industry, licenses/regulates insurance companies. The superintendent of public instruction, heads the California Department of Education and sets the policies of school districts.                                                           Legislative                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The California Legislature is bicameral, composed of the State Assembly and State Senate. All legislators are limited to 12 years of service in the California Legislature in any combination of 2 year assembly terms and/or 4 year senate terms. Each assemblymember  represents 465,000 residents and each senator represents 931,349 residents. No bill, save budget bills, may be acted upon by the legislature within 30 days of introduction, inviting legislative bottlenecks and gridlock. Any bills enacting tax increases, requires a 2/3 vote to pass. To override a governor’s veto, a 2/3 vote is required in both houses.                                                               Judiciary                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The Supreme Court of California is composed of 1 Chief Justice and 6 Associates. Each justice is appointed by the governor to a 12 year term. Justices are subject to retention every 12 years in the general elections after their initial appointment to office. The California Supreme Court mainly deals with civil cases of great significance in public policy (freedom of speech, eminent domain, etc.) and nearly all death penalty cases in the State of California.        

     Direct Democracy                                                                                                                                                                                           The cornerstone of California’s high-profile practice of direct democracy, a modern take on an Attican form of governance, is the Ballot Proposition. There are two types of: Constitutional Amendments and Statutes. There are two ways by which a ballot proposition originates; it’s either initiated in the State Legislature or it’s initiated by the Popular Initiative System. In order for a proposal to get on the ballot put before voters in a general statewide election, its petitions must garner a number of signatures equivalent to 5% of the total vote cast in the previous gubernatorial race. A simple majority of votes in the general election is all that is then needed to pass a proposition.                                                                                                                                               I would argue that this is, perhaps, the most fatal flaw in the structure of California’s government. Since turnout for elections is generally low, and turnout for gubernatorial in a politically noncompetitive state are really low, the threshold of 5% allows well-marketed special interest groups to prey on low-information and win the popular opinion of voters. Ballot initiatives are largely responsible for California’s capricious record on gay marriage, confusing patchwork of marijuana laws, and budget squeeze.                                                                 Constitution                                                                                                                                     There is nothing of great remark in California’s current constitution other than its great lengthiness. A few key highlights: the constitution grants broad-based home rule powers to municipal and county governments; Stanford University is granted tax-exempt status as long as it remains an educational institution; an University of California is guaranteed no political interference.

Texas                                                                                                                                                                     True to American form, the Texas government is composed of three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The state also has an interesting constitution that packs a punch, giving the people a huge check on the government. A true plural executive branch and expressed constitutional limits on the power of the legislature make Texas’ government a Tocquevillean masterpiece (okay maybe that’s a stretch).                                                                                                  Executive                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are 9 executive positions in the Texas state government. Other than the three Railroad Commissioners, the holders of these positions are all elected to 4 year terms with no term limits. The Governor is the commander-in-chief of Texas’ military forces, can convene a special session of the legislature, approve/veto bills, use power of line-item veto, and grant pardons (but only with the permission of the legislature or a majority of members on the Board of Pardons and Paroles).                                                                                                                                         As in California, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas is elected separately from the governor . The Lieutenant Governor: assumes power when the governor is out of state; presides over state senate; heads the Legislative Budget Board; establishes all special and standing committees; appoints chairpeople and members to committees; and he assigns legislation to committees of his choice. As you can see, the Lieutenant Governor is a relatively strong position in Texas.               The comptroller collects basically all taxes owed to the state and is responsible for remitting portions of taxes owed to local governments. He/she also manages the unclaimed property fund, issues fiscal reports, and produces economic forecasts. As required in the Constitution of Texas, the comptroller must certify the amount of money that the legislature plans to spend. What this means is that the legislature cannot spend money that the comptroller says isn’t available (i.e “certifies”). The only exception to this, is a 4/5 override vote from both chambers of the legislature.                                                                                                                                                      The Land Commissioner heads the Texas General Land Office, the Texas equivalent of the Bureau of Land Management. Effectively, the Land Commissioner negotiates, trades, and leases mineral rights owned by the State of Texas. Those royalties then furnish the Permanent School Fund. The Land Commissioner also manages the Alamo.                                                                             The Agriculture Commissioner predictably heads the Department of Agriculture which basically acts as a glorified Chamber of Commerce for rural communities. In addition to marketing and economic development initiatives in rural areas, the Department of Agriculture also regulates pesticide usage.                                                                                                                            There are three Railroad Commissioners in Texas. Each is elected separately to a 6 year term without the imposition of term limits. The department is a throwback to the progressive era w hen railroad monopolies were the prime target for regulators. Today, transportation issues are relegated to the authority of TxDOT. The Railroad Commission sets monthly production quotas for coal, gas, mining, propane, oil, and pipeline construction. At one time(1930’s – 1970’s), the organization had the type of clout that OPEC has over the price and production of crude oil. Given the crucial role that all of the above fuels have had, currently have, and will have on development in Texas, this group of executives are not to be ignored.          Legislative                                                                                                                                                                                  The legislature is bicameral, with 150 representatives and 31 senators, which comes out to 150,00 people per representative and 806,000 people per senator. Perhaps our federal congress could use some of the limits imposed on the legislature of Texas. How does Texas house train its legislature so well? For starters, the Texas legislature meets biannually for one, 140 day session. Furthermore, only the Governor may call a special session of the legislature; the legislature cannot call a special itself. Special sessions are limited by the constitution to 30 days and the only legislation that can be considered during such sessions is that dealing with the emergency for which the session was convened. The governor may call as many special sessions as are required to resolve the emergency. The Texas Senate doesn’t include minority or majority leaders but, rather, a pro tempore position that leads the Senate in lieu of the Lieutenant Governor in times of his absence. This position is not decided (officially) by political affiliation but usually goes to the most senior member of the chamber. The legislature passes a budget submitted by the governor with a simple majority and the legislature has the power to impeach state judges. All in all, the Texas Constitution forces the legislative branch to be very limited in scope and focused in purpose.                                                                                                       Judiciary                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Unlike the federal Supreme Court, Texas has two ultimate courts; the Court of Criminal Appeals for criminal cases, and the Supreme Court for civil cases. The Supreme Court is composed of one Chief Justice and eight Associates, each is elected to a term of 6 years and the elections are all staggered, that is, all of the justices are not up for election at once. The highest civil disputes come before the Supreme Court. The Court of Criminal Appeals also features a Chief Justice and eight associates subject to the same conditions as their peers on the Supreme Court. As part of its duty to hear appeals, The Court of Criminal Appeals automatically deals with and reviews all death penalty cases.                                                                                                      Constitution                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Perhaps the most admirable feature of the Texas government, the constitution is full of strong language that puts the government in its place. In Article VIII Section 24, the state is severely limited in its ability to impose a personal income tax (which it does not). The article also places limits on the types of taxes that the legislature may enact as well as strictly defining the way in which property taxes may be appraised. Article XVI places protections on people who are forced to sell their homes as a form of debt payment. Article VII establishes the Permanent University Fund which benefits from oil & gas revenues. The fund supplies the state’s preeminent university systems: Texas A&M and University of Texas. This article could use some re-working, as there are many other deserving 2nd-tier state schools whose potential is arguably stifled by their lack of access to this fund. Texas could, perhaps, do itself a favor by opening up these funds to larger ranks of its public universities.                                                                 Article XIV establishes the Texas General Land Office, the only one of its kind in the Union. This is significant because titleholders in every other state in the U.S have their land records under the supervision of the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management while Texans’ records are held in their home state. Articles IX and XI provide for weak county and municipal-level governments; the diametric opposite of California’s constitution on this issue.                              Draw whatever conclusions you may from the comparison of the governments of our union’s two largest members, but one thing is certain, they represent two significantly different understandings of government and its relation to the citizens it should serve. 

Microstates of Europe


Mapped above are many of the world’s microstates, defined here as recognized, sovereign nation-states with population less than 500,000 and area less than 500 sq. mi. While I could go on for months about these different nations (believe me, I could) I want to cover some of the highlights.

San Marino                                                                                                                                       As the world’s oldest surviving republic, San Marino is something of an anomaly. This tiny, rugged state of 24 sq mi. boasts some 32,000 residents and no flat land. The state is practically a fortress, located on steep, rocky ground and surrounded by beauteous medieval castles. Napoleon Bonaparte so admired this tiny nation that he respected San Marino’s autonomy. San Marino traces its history to  September 3, 301, when Saint Marinus of Croatia fled his island home during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian and established a monastery in what is now San Marino. The history and traditions of the republic survive today, making for an intriguing tourist destination.   

Vatican City                                                                                                                                                                                          The smallest sovereign nation in the world, Vatican City traces its modern-day origins to the Lateran Treaty of 1929, signed with the then Fascist government of Italy. Vatican City is the smallest recognized, independent nation-state by both land area (110 acres) and population (842). Don’t be fooled by its small size, the Vatican is perhaps one of the most symbolic and universally-galvanizing nation as it is the headquarters of the Catholic Church. Vatican City is, perhaps, Europe’s most notable theocracy. Don’t think though, that this 2000 year-old center of Western Christianity is out of touch with the times; the nation has its own website and Vatican City is also, arguably, the first carbon-neutral country in the world.

Monaco                                                                                                                                                                                                     Monaco holds the distinction of being the most densely populated sovereign nation in the world. This tiny country is world-renowned for its spectacular location on the enchanting French Riviera. The ethinically Italian House of Grimaldi ruled this tiny nation and led the monarchy that has become so central to this microstate’s identity. The place is also considered a tax haven and playground for the rich, home to the Monte Carlo Casino a now iconic resort destination. Despite French being the official language, the distinct Monegasque language continues to be spoken in this state.

Malta                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This tiny island nation located southeast of Sicily is one of the wealthiest, thanks in part to its tax haven status and attractive Mediterranean climate and lifestyle. Known as a playground for the rich, the largely “hands-off” government holds Roman Catholicism as the nation’s official religion. Indeed, much of the history of Malta is wrapped up with the Church. In the New Testament, St. Paul was said to have been shipwrecked on Malta where he established an episcopate of the church. The Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Order of St. John governed the island for 268 years, before succumbing to the great Napoleon Bonaparte. Malta was later a British protectorate before independence. Much of the Hospitaller’s legacy on Malta can be seen in the hospitals, fortresses, churches, and watchtowers. This nation boasts 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in its  121 sq. mi. territory.                     

Andorra                                                                                                                                                                                                                This independent nation located high in the Pyrenees between France and Spain claims the highest capital city in Europe, Andorra la Vella. This state was established thanks to a 988 A.D charter that was traditionally attributed to Charlemagne. It later developed a co-monarchy led  by the French head of state and the Bishop of Catalonia, a situation it still maintains. Currently, its two monarchs are Francois Hollande (prime minister of France) and Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicilia. Though the official language is Catalan, Portuguese and Spanish are widely spoken as is French. It should come as no surprise that this tiny European microstate is yet another tax haven popular with tourists (roughly 10.2 million annually). Additionally, Andorra is ranked as having one of the highest life expectancies of any nation in the world.

Lichtenstein                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The tiny state of Lichetenstein is perhaps best known for having the highest GDP per Capita when measuring by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). This alpine nation takes its name from the dynasty that gradually absorbed the territory of this nation. The feudal dynasty was never able to qualify for the seat in the Reichstag of the Holy Roman Empire that it sought. On January 23, 1719 Lichtenstein was declared to be a sovereign member of the Holy Roman Empire, the traditional founding of the modern-day nation.   Lichtenstein is one of two doubly-landlocked countries, that is, a landlocked nation surrounded by other landlocked nations (the other doubly-landlocked nationbeing Uzbekistan). Lichtenstein is also one of 15 nations in then world that support no military forces of any kind. The nation features low taxes and a favorable regulatory climate that has led to a thriving industry of holding companies registering themselves in the country.  One of the benefits of being such a small nation can be felt on the national holiday when all Lichtensteiners are invited to Vaduz Castle, the seat of the monarchy, for a reception.

Nota Bene: I plan to do posts about microstates in other parts of the globe in future installments. 

California vs. Texas: Creativity and Entrepreneurship

When it comes to the creative economy, there are huge disparities between different regions of the United States.  The Golden Gate State is one of the most inventive in terms of patents issued to its citizens. Using numbers from the U.S Census Bureau and the U.S Patent Office I created the following chart showing the number of utility patents (issued for new inventions) issued to residents of each state per capita. The numbers listed are population per patent issued.

               1980             1990               2000             2010             2013                                                            CA      4,175.7/p     3,750.5/p      1,706.8/p      1,238.5/p       979.4/p                                                        TX      7,407.2/p     5,319.9/p       3,071.9/p      3,132.6/p     2,693.0/p                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       In the past 20-30 years Americans as a whole have become more inventive and are earning more patents per capita. California has certainly made tremendous increases in the number of patents issued per capita. The Dot-com bubble of the 90’s probably had something to do with the large increases in patents from both Texas and California. While California’s creativity surge has been meteoric, Texas’ rise has been less pronounced. It is no secret that the major legacy clusters of the film and high-tech industries along with its well-regarded public universities are all huge contributors to California’s patent production. Given the state’s burdensome fiscal and regulatory environment, to say nothing of its defunct judicial system, there are many hurdles for entrepreneurs and creative types to overcome.  On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how Texas progresses on this front as secondary education improves and businesses relocate to the Lone Star State.

When it comes to Research and Development (R&D) spending, California reigns supreme. The following charts provide some basic figures about the R&D taking place in both California and Texas.                                                                                                                                                                                          R&D Spending as % of GDP

                     Academic       Industry     Total

   CA             0.347%             3.562%       3.936%                                                                                               TX              0.298%             1.209%       1.507%

            Industry Spending to Academic Spending

CA                    $9.52 industry/$1 academic                                                                                                  TX                     $4.05 industry/$1 academic

If you subscribe to the philosophy that holds that private research dollars follow public ones, than it appears that Texas is not living up to its “private-sector first” reputation while California is doing something right. Some of the disparity can certainly be attributed to California’s longer-rooted R&D industry, but one is forced to ask why California is so good at attracting R&D dollars. What is their secret to success? It’s not clear if California’s effectiveness in attracting private research dollars is the result of a legacy or if there is a coordinated effort that attracts and retains such funding. Regardless, watch out for Texas as it builds new R&D centers and attracts new investment from cutting-edge corporations.                                                                            When it comes to venture capital, an increasingly critical tool for techies with the “next big idea” seeking a silicon-studded fairy tale ending, California dominates the national scene. According to the State Science & Technology Institute, investors disbursed $14,669,977,200  of Venture Capital in California compared to $1,307,065,900 in Texas. Between 2008 and 2013, the amount of Venture Capital disbursed in the Lone Star increased by 6.34%, while in California the amount decreased 1.55% over the same time. While the two are still worlds away, the trends are telling and, among other factors, may portend a bright Texas future in Technology.

Much of this post has focused on the high-tech sector but there are other fields in which enterprising people capitalize on ingenuity, initiative, and creativity. According to the U.S Census Bureau, a small business is defined as an enterprise that employs fewer than 500 people. Overall, between 1989 and 2011, the U.S suffered a net loss of 45,243 such institutions. California contributed to this national loss with a loss of 2,223 enterprises of its own. Texas bucked the gloomy trend and managed to add 309 small businesses over the same period. There is certainly more research to be done on theses facts and figures.

Neocolonial Organizations Introduction

 Above: Map of European Neocolonial Organizations

While the glory days of Europe’s great colonial empires is long past, the influence of post-colonial unions or associations of former colonies remains a significant yet under-appreciated. While given relatively little attention, these organizations form significant trade networks, philanthropic channels, language blocs, and zones of cultural diffusion. First of all, here is an as-of-yet incomplete map of these organizations. Not show here is the Dutch Language Union, whose sole purpose and mission is preservation of the Dutch language.

Commonwealth of Nations                                                                                           

The Commonwealth of Nations, an association of Great Britain’s former colonies created in 1931, is comprised of 53 member countries spanning 6 different continents and Oceania that account for roughly 1/3 of the world’s population, 1/5 of its trade, and 1/4 of its land area. Status as a member of the Commonwealth is not simply an honorific title; member countries interact through the various commonwealth organizations such as the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), and Commonwealth Medical Trust (Commat). The organizational structure resembles that of the U.N, minus the security council. There is no formal trading bloc formed by the Commonwealth, but research suggests that trade between commonwealth countries is significantly greater than that between a commonwealth and a non-commonwealth neighbor. The Commonwealth has promoted a number of now-ubiquitous traditions across its member states: the Queen of England is the official head of state for most Commonwealth members; the multi-sport Commonwealth Games are held every four years; and every 2nd Monday of March Commonwealth Day officially commemorates the organization.

Community of Portuguese Language Countries   

The Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLC), founded in 1996,  consists of 9 full members, 2 associate observer states, and a plethora of interested nations. The CPLC nations cover roughly 4.15 million sq mi and are home to upwards of 240 million people. The core branches of the CPLC are the The Conference of Heads of State and Government, The Council of Ministers, The Standing Committee for Consultation, and The Executive Secretariat. The primary aims of the CPLC are mostly diplomatic, linguistic, and research-oriented. Other organizations include the Association for Portuguese Language Universities, Community of Portuguese Language Medicine, and The Union of Portuguese Language Lawyers.

The International Organization of the Francophonie                          

The Francophonie, founded in 1970, is currently composed of 57 member states with various membership statuses. The Francophonie represents roughly 890 million people, 19% of world trade, and 11 million sq mi on 5 continents and Oceania. The Francophonie relies on five core agencies to carry out its operations. These agencies include Association of Francophone Universities (AUF), TV5Monde, Senghor University of Alexandria, and International Association of French-Speaking Mayors. The Francophonie has been behind numerous conflict resolutions, economic development campaigns, philanthropic pursuits, and cultural preservation projects.

Commonwealth of Independent States    

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a union of 11 former Soviet Republics, including 9 full member states and 2 participant states. The CIS is primarily focused on promoting free trade and political stability in the region. As of late, there have been serious efforts to promote the standardization of the Russian language among member states. The organization also developed and implemented a regional free trade agreement, CISFTA, forming a new trading block and common market. Additionally, the organization is responsible for the development of a NATO-like treaty among member states, CSTO. Both CISFTA and CSTO face tenuous futures. Like the other neocolonial organizations discussed earlier, the CIS is heavily involved in election monitoring in member countries.

I have not gone into specific instances of these organizations at work, but I promise to do so in a future post. Membership in one of these organizations does not necessarily preclude a nation from joining other neocolonial, supranational organizations. Again, I will go into specific case studies at a later date. This post is meant to lay the groundwork for future discussion of this topic.

Reforming Higher Education

                      Source: Sprengeloo Technical School in Apeldoorn, Netherlands

Some of the Problems                                                                                                                                      There is no question that tertiary education in the United States is cumbersome and stressful for students and the parents that raise them. In my opinion, higher education in this country has lost its way. I think the problem starts with our values. As a society, we have idealized college into a professional that “everyone must do” to be “successful” (i.e marketable to employers). This is the root of our higher education problems: we want to make the college experience into something other than it is.                                                                                                    The way we view college is a natural outgrowth of a meritocracy gone wild. We live in a world in which an ever-expanding array of tasks require qualification. In some states you need an occupational license to legally work as a hairdresser, court reporter, or tree-trimmer. Simply put, our society is obsessed with bureaucratizing labor and professional work.                                      Increasingly, Americans at the ripe old age of 18, are told to fund an expensive four year education (at least), obtain a degree upon completing said education, and then find a job with said degree. For some, this model works which is why it has been emulated by the society at large. However, more and more people realize the impracticality of this system. Inordinate numbers of college students drop out and of those that graduate do so with ever-increasing debt loads and increasingly slim job prospects.                                                                                              Too many people are funneling themselves to an undergraduate institution at, creating a demand for college that exceeds the capacity. This is only one of the reasons why college tuition costs are skyrocketing. What’s more, many to most of these new entrants lack have no strategy for achieving what they want to achieve from their education. This is because many eighteen year-olds lack the life perspective and self-knowledge to know what they really want from their life much less their education.

 Source: The American Dream 2.0

The Solution                                                                                                                                                        In my view, encouraging a multiplicity of tracks for young high school graduates is the best way to improve higher education. For some, a vocational or apprenticeship route is the best option. Some people are just not academics and that’s ok. There should be no stigma attached to individuals who just won’t benefit from what an undergraduate education has to offer. Such students would be better served learning a particular professional skill at that point their lives.        To upgrade our vocational education system, we need look no further than Germany. Their VET System provides students with approximately 350 different training programs. The training programs work on a dual apprenticeship system in which a student receives instruction from their trade school while receiving on-the-job training from a company in their field. These programs usually last 3 years or less, allowing an individual the flexibility to undergo other programs in the future or pursue higher education. In the hypothetical American version of this system, colleges and universities should seriously consider graduates of such programs who find that later in life, they want to pursue a more academic experience.                                                  Another great option which already exists, is the military to college route. Israel partially credits its mandatory IDF service for its thriving high-tech scene. For some, the discipline they gain from military service combined with the education grants they receive better prepare them for college. This pathway deserves more credit than it gets and it should be promoted more than it currently is.                                                                                                                                                Reorganizing universities themselves can also provide go a long way. For one, traditional universities could become more open to accepting nontraditional students. Accepting people who’ve elected to take a gap year(s), undergo vocational training, or return to college can serve as a sort of self-selection in which the participants are more likely to know why they are going to college and how they are going to graduate.                                                                                                  For those “traditional students”, they should be offered different routes. For those students who do not know exactly what field of study they want to major in, the first two undergraduate years should be spent pursuing a well-rounded liberal arts course of study. Such students should be given a set of distribution requirements that challenges them to take classes in a diverse range of disciplines. After those first two years, such students should be allowed to major and follow a more focused course of study.                                                                                        Those who know specifically that they want to purse further education in a particular field should be offered direct tracks. This means that students pursuing pre-engineering, pre-medical, pre-veterinarian, etc. tracks should be given extra leniency on the distribution requirements not directly related to their field of study. By eliminating superfluous classes, some of their courses could count toward their ultimate degree. Thus, a pre-med student could take some of the courses currently taught in medical school. This would allow medical schools, for example, to focus on teaching the hands-on training, people skills, and real-world skills that doctors need to be successful. Postgraduate institutions should still be open to undergraduates who decided after two years to pursue further education in a particular field.                                        In order to make these different life paths viable, employers and all sorts of institutions of higher learning must become more accepting of people who seek to move between different tracks. Why can’t a thirty year old with advanced vocational training in welding be accepted into an M.B.A program? Why can’t a biology major who took a liberal arts course load for two years be accepted by a medical school? Hopefully, by diverting different types of people to different “life paths”, we can lower the cost of higher education, ensure the academic integrity of universities, and provide people with more a more effective means of personal improvement.

Moving Up Not Out

                                                                        Above: North End, Boston                                                                                                

        When most people think of the life cycle of city districts, in terms of desirability, they think of poor newcomers to the most distressed and thereby cheapest parts of a city. They move out to more desirable and far-flung suburbs when they or their upwardly-mobile children achieve some level of financial success that allows them to assimilate and identify with the middle class. Once a group of slum dwellers has completed their “term” in the slum, a new group of unfortunates takes their place.                                                                                                                              Rarely are large-city slums thought of as stages upon which the drama of upward mobility is to take place. This is unfortunate, because by encouraging the transience of residents, certain areas that are designated as slums are condemned to remain so forever. One of the great qualities of big cities is their ability to successfully and consistently turnover people. However, if city residents don’t have any attachment to their communities, big cities run the risk of becoming flophouses, devoid of the attractions that make them so attractive to passers-by.                  In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs discusses the limited phenomenon of unslumming, in which, the residents of decrepit city slums gradually improve their districts as they, themselves, improve their socioeconomic status. She cites a shortage of conventional financing from banks, due to the redlining practices of banks and insurors, as the primary reason most city slums never successfully unslummed themselves. Jacobs explained that newly middle-class individuals who wished to improve existing property in their “slum” neighborhoods could not receive bank loans to do so simply because of the neighborhood they resided in. Effectively, newly-minted members of the middle-class could either remain in squalid conditions or, using their new-found means, move to a more desirable suburb. This also meant that the neighborhood slum loses invested, stable middle-class households.                                                                                                                                                            Home_Owners'_Loan_Corporation_Philadelphia_redlining_map                                                                  Above: HOLC Residential Security Map of Philadelphia (1936)            

        The question now becomes how best to counteract this cycle of desertion and divestment from inner-city neighborhoods. The first thing that must change is our view of cities; we need to begin viewing cities as long-term projects and realize that great cities like Rome, New York, and Paris “weren’t built in a day.” I think the best way to encourage people to “gentrify in place” or “move up” is to promote affordable home ownership, a deep sense of community, and incremental investment in the neighborhoods.                                                                                                 Housing options like cheap single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes, and apartments to own allow low-income people to buy real estate. Hopefully, as the homeowners join the ranks of the middle-class, they will make incremental improvements to their home. The same goes for business owners in the neighborhood. Other constructs can help with this incremental upgrading including: creation of Public Improvement Districts, neighborhood organizations, community organizations, and churches. These things act as anchors for residents and create both economic and sentimental value for the neighborhood.     

The Lone Star Model Part I: The Rise of Public-Private Infrastructure

The Texas M.O. is largely characterized by private-sector involvement in roles normally associated with government. In Texas, the private sector and government engage with each other on a wide variety of projects. There are two spheres in which this collaboration is most evident: education and infrastructure. The private and public sectors have a longer and more established relationship working on infrastructure projects that on education initiatives.                     Some of the most ambitious projects in this fast-growing mega-state of over 26 million people underway today are a direct outgrowth of this public-private cooperation. Yes, this phenomenon is important because it is a growing trend across the United States, in regions of all ideological stripes .                                                                                                                                           The Texas Legislature legally and officially recognized Public-Private Partnerships (3Ps) on September 1, 2011 with the passage of S.B. 1048Public and Private Facilities and Infrastructure Act. In that document, the Texas Facilities Commission defines a public-private partnership as:

 A public-private partnership is a contractual agreement between a public agency (federal, state or local) and a private sector person or entity organized for the purpose of timely delivering services or facilities in a cost-effective manner that might not otherwise be possible using traditional sources of public financing.                                                                                

      The law makes clear what types of projects are suitable for a 3P, the guidelines for submitting those proposals, and the criteria on which the Texas Facilities Commission will evaluate said proposals.                                                                                                                                       When most people read “Public-Private Projects” as it relates to infrastructure, images of toll roads come to mind. It is important to point out that according to TxDOT, no existing public road will be converted to a toll road without voter approval. TxDOT makes clear, however, that existing roads may add new capacity in the form of toll lanes.                                                                      This is precisely what is being done with the LBJ Express Project. For those unfamiliar with the LBJ corridor, it’s a major corridor for intranational and international trucking and it serves as a major artery for Dallas area commuters and residents. This road is aged and new capacity is badly needed. Instead of resorting to the usual “raise taxes on the average citizen” routine to add more capacity, Cintra (a Spanish company) was contracted to build and manage elevated toll lanes. The rates for the tolls will be set according to a flexible, congestion pricing model in which the toll reflects the demand during the time of day. Tolls will be highest during rush hour and lowest during non-peak hours. Additionally, the frontage roads of LBJ will be widened and continuous. All told, the project will upgrade LBJ’s capacity from the 180,000 vehicles/day it was originally designed to support to the 500,000 vehicles/day expected by 2020, an upgrade from t. The best part of all is that taxpayers won’t be on the hook for the project.                                                Other major freeways adding managed lanes include: SH 183, North Tarrant Express (NTE),  and SH 130. While the full results of these projects remain to be seen, they show great promise in providing users with safe, efficient, and affordable means of travel on Texas highways.                                                                                                                                                                  Besides constructing toll roads, the private sector is finding other ways to get involved with Texas’ roads. In a recent pilot project in Houston, TxDOT had private companies bid for a maintenance contract. In the end, taxpayers saved $10 million on upkeep and maintenance of portions of I-35 and I-45 when a private firm did the work instead of TxDOT.                                            SpaceX, the brainchild of tech-entrepreneur Elon Musk, recently announced that it would build a private launch site at Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. In September, construction on the facility began and the public learned more about the financing of the project. As it turns out, SpaceX will receive an additional $2.3 million from the Texas Entrepreneur Fund and $13 million from a local development corporation. It seems Texas is taking PPPs out of this world (*insert chuckle).                                                                                                                                                                    A perennially troubled undertaking in Texas is the development of commuter rail between its large metropolitan areas. The feasibility of such projects is questionable, but I will not get into that now. Currently, the Japanese company that built the highly-successful Shinkansen network of bullet trains is working with Texas Central Railway to develop plans for a high-speed train connecting Houston and Dallas. It will certainly be interesting to see what becomes of the project.                                                                                                                                                                      One thing is for sure, transportation infrastructure in the State of Texas is undergoing an important transformation led by private-sector innovations in the way people get around. Maybe the rest of the nation should take note.

Trends in American Family Life

As we all know, the U.S is a land subject to great, sweeping sea changes. The nature and composition of the families of its citizens is no exception. There are a number of trends, in terms of both perception and actuality, that are transforming our idea of the American family. It is important to understand these trends as it directly relates to our demographic and cultural future.

Households and Marriage

The U.S Census Bureau defines a “household” as consisting of all the people who live in a unit of housing. A “family” is defined as a householder and one or more other people living in the household related to the householder by birth, marriage, or adoption. A “non-family household” can consist of a householder living alone or with non-relatives. Individuals living with roommates or in college dormitories , for example, are counted under this banner.

                                                                            U.S Households

2010 2000 1990 1980 1970 1960 1950 1940
Avg. Size1 2.58 2.59 2.63 2.76 3.14 3.33 3.37 3.67
Avg. Family Size1 3.14 3.17 3.17 3.29 3.58 3.67 3.54 3.76
Total 100.00% 100.00% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
% Family2 66.40% 68.10% 70.20% 73.70% 80.30% 85.10% 89.40% 90.00%
%Husband-Wife 48.40% 51.70% 55.10% 60.20% 69.40% 74.80% 78.10% 76.00%
%one householder 18.10% 16.40% 15.00% 13.10% 10.90% 10.30% 11.30% 14.10%
%Non-Family2 33.60% 31.90% 29.20% 26.30% 19.70% 14.90% 10.60% 9.90%

In the above data, gleaned from U.S Census reports, a few trends jump out: the decreasing proportion of family households, the shrinking size of families, and the decline of husband-wife households as a proportion of all households. As a nation, we have been trending toward smaller families and smaller households. We have also been moving away from the “nuclear family”, a household headed by a married wife and husband. Additionally, a greater portion of us are living in non-family living arrangements. In short, the focus of American domestic life is shifting away from the family and towards a more single lifestyle.                                                             Following the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia (1967), marriage between two spouses of different racial backgrounds became fully legal in all fifty states. Interracial marriage provides for an interesting deluge of statistics that require further conversation. For our purposes, however, we will mention the overall rise in interracial marriage as it pertains to the larger trends in American marital life.

                                                          Interracial and Interethnic Marriage 

2010 2000 1990 1980
Same Race Couple 91.60% 93.20% 95.50% 96.80%
Mixed Race Couple 8.40% 6.80% 4.50% 3.20%
Sources
1http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/race/interractab1.txt
2http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/ms-la/tabms-3.txt

 

                                                                 New Marriages

2010 1980
Same Race Couple 84.90% 93.30%
Mixed Race Couple 15.10% 6.70%

Children                                                                                                                                                                No one is more subject to the changes in the fabric of American family life as children. The most marked changes have occurred in the living situations of U.S. children. The coming commentary on the data presented in this blog post will focus largely on the state of American children.

                                                            U.S. Children Living Arrangements 

2010 2000 1990 1980 1970 1960
% single-parent 30.20% 26.70% 24.70% 19.70% 11.90% 9.10%
%two-parent 65.70% 68.10% 72.50% 76.60% 85.00% 87.70%
Sources
1http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/ms-la/tabch-1.txt
2https://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2010.html

    Please note that until recently, the census did not distinguish between unmarried, cohabiting parent households and households lead by married parents. The number of children living in cohabiting, unmarried parent households while not negligible, is still minuscule and, as such, does not change the percentage of children living in two-parent households greatly.                          The tale of the breaking up of the American family is one marked by dismissals of the truth, misguided policy interventions, and marginalization. To understand the situation, one must go back to March 1965 when Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan released his now infamous Moynihan Report. The report, officially titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” was controversial because in the opening, Moynihan had the following to say:

The United States is approaching a new crisis in race relations. In the decade that began with the school desegregation decision of the Supreme Court, and ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the demand of Negro Americans for full recognition of their civil rights was finally met. The effort, no matter how savage and brutal, of some State and local governments to thwart the exercise of those rights is doomed. The nation will not put up with it — least of all the Negroes. The present moment will pass. In the meantime, a new period is beginning. In this new period the expectations of the Negro Americans will go beyond civil rights. Being Americans, they will now expect that in the near future equal opportunities for them as a group will produce roughly equal results, as compared with other groups. This is not going to happen. Nor will it happen for generations to come unless a new and special effort is made.                                                                                                        

    What Moynihan was alluding to and what he later expounded on in his report, was the impending dissolution of black families.  Moynihan correctly predicted the epidemic of black single motherhood, juvenile delinquency, and the dissolution of the black family unit. Ironically, as black-Americans (I hate using that term) underwent the process of integration into American society they experienced the disintegration of their family life.                                                                 The Moynihan Report was groundbreaking because it was the first true recognition of the phenomenon of the “emasculation of the Western male”, stated more precisely “the marginalization of the Western male.” Moynihan asserted that one of the main causes for the coming explosion of illegitimacy, divorce, and dysfunctional families was the exclusion of the urban black male from his traditional role as the provider for the family. Unlike his counterparts in rural settings, the urban black man faces a stiff labor market and is, thus, more prone to be unemployed. This leads to a “changing of the guard” in which a case worker, normally a woman, intervenes and deals with the wife of the unemployed house, cutting the man out of the picture. As Moynihan states, the role of the husband is reduced to that of errand boy to and from the relief office.                                                                                                                                                             The term “Moynihan’s Scissors” is given to the rates of black male unemployment and black welfare enrollment which began to diverge starting in 1962. Moynihan also noted that due to obscenely high rates of under- and unemployment for black men more black women had to be wage-earners, further undermining the man’s role as the provider of the household. To further compound the problem, the remaining stable, middle-class black families dwelt largely in the same Northern slums and ghettos in which the breakdown was occurring due to redlining and housing segregation. This put middle -class black youth from stable homes at greater risk of contracting the same social ills as their less fortunate neighbors.                                                             Particularly relevant to contemporary discussions about race and gender is Moynihan’s finding that the disparity in educational attainment between black males and females was greater than the disparity between white males and females. Both black and white males lagged behind females in terms of educational attainment and grade-level completion, but black males lagged even further behind black females than did white males to white females. The relative lack of education among black males weakened their job prospects and created, for many, a complex of inadequacy and insecurity around the comparatively better educated female counterparts. Taken altogether, the low levels of education among black men only hurt their standing as the provider for the family. Essentially, Moynihan claimed that matriarchy would kill the black family.                                                                                                                                 As it turned out, Moynihan’s conclusions proved to be right. In fact, he predicted not only the rise in illegitimacy in black families but also for the population as a whole. As with a number of other trends in American life, black families proved to be a bellwether for the nation as a whole. Indeed, when Moynihan warned of the coming breakdown of the black family, 25% of black children lived in homes not headed by a married couple. Today, 30% of ALL children in the U.S do not live with both of their parents and an even greater number do not live with married parents. Today, 66% of black children live in single-parent households and an even greater portion don’t live with married parents.                                                                                                         Moynihan was also proven to accurately predict the consequences of the breakdown of the family. The years following his report witnessed a huge crime surge, a rapid uptick in drug abuse, and an institutionalization of urban poverty, especially among blacks. Also of note was the ensuing achievement gap in educational achievement(test scores) between blacks and whites which ceased to narrow sometime in the mid-1970s. Over time, such trends have extended to the broader society and even today threaten the security, stability, and well-being of American children from all classes, creeds, and backgrounds.