SOTU: BACKDROP SUMMARY 2017-2021

SOTU Backdrop Summary: A permanent and frequently updated post listing national and international topics in government, education, and commerce that may impact democracy and capitalism. The SOTU Summary for 2017-2021 serves as the starting basis of the Future Forecast for 2022-2028.

A detailed review of the previous Backdrop Summary for the 2017-2021 State of The Union research can be located below:

Note: all links open a new page. To return to this summary, just close the opened page.

Backdrop Part I – Prolog | Backdrop II – New World Order & International Trade

Backdrop Part III – Congressional Stalemate & U.S. Debt Limit

Backdrop Part IV – National Defense and Security, Immigration

Backdrop Part V – Unemployment & Underemployment

Backdrop Part VI – Government Agencies & Regulation

Backdrop Part VII – Affordable Healthcare

Backdrop Part VIII – Education

2021 Updated Quick Takes of Detailed Summaries.

New additions: Status of the U.S. Economy, and International Cyber Security.

Status of the U.S. Economy:

Observation of issues from a high level indicates conflicts regarding the economy are political. The U.S. is a great country in most respects, however, there seems to be a disconnect between idealism and reality.

Idealism produces an endless array of social programs for which, politicians believe, there is sufficient funding. This is a myth as the deficit now represents five years of federal revenue from taxes, etc. The reality is there has been a growing federal deficit since 1992.

Imports vs Exports & Trade Deficit indicate the total trade deficit for the period 1992-2021 is 17 trillion, 132 billion, 255 million. That is 815,820,238,095 on an annual basis.

Annual interest payments on the national debt now exceeds $550,000,000,000, nearly the total cost of education for K-12 schools, or the Department of Defense budget.

What does the future hold? Possibly a reduction in social programs as the national deficit grows. Social programs, healthcare and more will suffer lower and discontinuing services.

The real data shows the U.S. is well on the way to bankruptcy. Annual revenue vs programmed expenditures indicates a significant departure from fiscal responsibility.

The point being, that occasionally organizations and society become so engrossed in the detail, that they miss the overall picture and can’t see the forest for the trees.

Most of the trade deficit is a result of unbalanced trade with Asia, mainly China.

Refer to the posting on Status of the U.S. Economy.

International Cyber Security:

The education service industry is indeed global, and possibly covers every continent and culture. Networks of agreements exist between global universities  and employers.

Universities worldwide are developing large-scale interconnected campuses that resemble towns and factories. Examples of large-scale campuses are IIT Bombay, India, the National University of Singapore, and the Suzhou Dushu Lake Higher Education Town of the Peoples Republic of China, all interconnected.

Internationally, coursework outside the degree program is limited. As a result, more time and depth of study is provided allowing students to focus more on how-to-do-it. U.S. colleges and universities require, on average, one to one and a half years of study outside technical degrees of study.

Therefore, in many ways, U.S. students are not competitive. Many large companies in the U.S. are headed by graduates from foreign degree programs.

Hardware and software companies provide international academic organizations with products to practice-on and make engineering changes-to under contract.

DEF CON Workshops are provided by organizations that teach participants how to secure, or hack through the cyber security of sites to access or change content.

Computer systems located in China and North Korea routinely crawl the worldwide web, hacking into U.S. banks and companies to access funds and trade secrets.

Refer to the posting on International Cyber Security.

Oath of Office:

Ben’s Guide: Known as a swearing-in ceremony. The official reciting the oath swears an allegiance to uphold the Constitution.

The Constitution only specifies an oath of office for the President; however, Article VI of the Constitution states that other officials, including members of Congress, “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.”

U.S. Students Achievement Level:

U.S. students’ math skills have remained stagnant for decades. This means they are falling behind many other countries, and scores are now below the global average.

Students placed 11th out of 79 countries in science and 30th in math. When analyzing the U.S. results over the years, there has not been any improvement in math since 2003, and no improvement in science since 2006.

Micro-communities within host nation borders: 

ADWEEK: Announcement of the upcoming #SMWLDN on Nov. 2 – 4, 2021 provides an insight into reimagining social media marketing for a better tomorrow.

Forbes: article on The How And Why Of Building Micro-Communities On Social Media.

Immigration into the U.S.

Pew Research Center: The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. The U.S. and World Population Clock.

Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants.

Unskilled job market shrinking:

MIT: Study finds job-replacing tech has directly driven the income gap and loss of jobs for the unskilled continues.

Within industries adopting automation, the study shows, the average “displacement” (or job loss) from 1987-2016, displacement was 16 percent, while reinstatement was just 10 percent.

In short, those factory positions or phone-answering jobs are not coming back.

Bureau of Labor Statistics:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a variety of news releases and publications on economic data. BLS employs many surveys and statistical methods developed and refined over the course of the year. This is an excellent source to use for original research data. Strategic Plan, FY 2020-2025.

However, keep in mind that data is frequently updated during the year. Always recheck the source for changes.

Free money for all: 

AP News: In experiments across the country, dozens of cities and counties — some using money from the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package approved in March.

Proposed levels of payment are $500 to $1,000 each month to do with as they please and tracking what happens.

United States Census Bureau: Income and poverty in the United States: 2020 – Current population reports.

Employment and Underemployment:

The nation’s workforce, including employment and unemployment levels, as well as weeks and hours worked.

Data collection also includes occupation, industry, and class of worker (e.g., self-employed, working for a private firm, or working for a government agency) in the American labor force.

Included are behavior and estimates of home-based work.

U.S. contribution to the U.N.

COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The United States remains the largest donor to the United Nations, contributing roughly $11 billion in 2019, which accounted for just under one-fifth of funding for the body’s collective budget.

Included are the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Food Program (WFP).

Government Accountability Office:

GAO@100: A century of GAO activities in non-partisan fact-based work. The presentation is a modern web design with a graphic presentation of areas of interest.

Included are current trends in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Automation and the Internet of Things, Blockchain & Distributed Technologies, climate, health, and weapons, and more.

Cost of Violence as Percent of World GDP: 

VISION OF HUMANITY:  The economic impact of violence improved by 0.2 percent from 2018 to 2019. The biggest improvement was in armed conflict, which decreased by 29 percent to $521 billion.

In the ten countries most affected by violence, the average economic impact of violence was equivalent to 41 per cent of GDP.

Cost of lobbying exceeds $3 billion annually and over 12,000 lobbyists:

Open Secrets: The combined organization, OpenSecrets, merges the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics (NIMP).

The total cost of lobbying, and the number of lobbyists continues to increase.

New World Order: 

The Atlantic: In 2016, Australia struck a deal with France to buy a fleet of diesel-powered submarines.

Australians will scrap their agreement with France and team up with Britain and the U.S. instead, forming a new “AUKUS” military alliance in the process.

Healthcare Swindle:

Alliance for Natural Health: It’s no mystery that American health care is a crony mess.

In many ways, this is because health care is treated differently than almost every other service.

$10 for an aspirin; $300 for a single X-ray; $8,000 for an emergency room visit.

World economic situation: 

United Nations: Global manufacturing-dependent economies are faring better, both during the crisis and the recovery period. Trade-in services, in particular tourism, will remain depressed amid the slow lifting of restrictions on international travel and fear of new waves of infection in many developing countries.

According to the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) mid-2021 report, following a sharp contraction of 3.6 percent in 2020, the global economy is now projected to expand by 5.4 percent in 2021,

Marijuana Trends Among 8th, 10th, and 12th Grades:

Monitoring the Future: Daily marijuana prevalence rose in all three grades in 2019, significantly so in the lower two grades, with a further increase in 2020.

It is noteworthy that among 8th graders, it showed little change between 1996 and 2019.

In 2020, in all three grades, daily marijuana levels were at or near the highest level recorded since 1991 (1.1%, 4.4%, and 6.9%). Refer to page 14.

U.S. $42 Trillion GDP loss: 

AP NEWS: US Economy grows 6.4% in Q1, and it’s likely just the start. The economy may have grown 6.4%, but from what baseline? Additionally, the U.S. GDP loss increased significantly.

Applying the 250% formula as depicted in New Rules, the cumulative GDP loss since 1992 is $42 Trillion.

Harvard: U.S. Competitiveness: A Recovery Squandered. Structural failures in the U.S. political system continue to prevent meaningful progress on actions needed to improve U.S. competitiveness.

Drug and Alcohol Use Among College Students:

Addiction Center: College students make up one of the largest groups of drug abusers nationwide. Starting out in college produces some natural social anxiety for many students.

As students are facing the high demands of coursework, part-time jobs, internships, social obligations, and more, many turn to drugs as a way to cope.

Alcohol is involved in the vast majority of substance-related problems on college campuses. Because drinking is often socially acceptable.

Political gridlock: 

FiveThirtyEight: How much longer can this era of political gridlock last?

Divided government is probably imminent, and the electoral pattern we’ve become all too familiar with — a pendulum swinging back and forth between unified control of government and divided government.

New Jobs are STEM:

Pew Research Center: The STEM workforce (science, technology, engineering, and math) has grown rapidly in recent decades.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies projects for strong growth, many are STEM. Increasing diversity in the STEM workforce is closely tied to the educational system.

Fiscal outlook and debt:

Congressional Budget Office: CBO projects a federal budget deficit of $2.3 trillion in 2021, nearly $900 billion less than the shortfall recorded in 2020.

At 10.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit in 2021 would be the second-largest since 1945.

Federal debt is held by the public—which stood at 100 percent of GDP at the end of the fiscal year 2020.

Charter Schools:

EducationWeek: A charter school is a tuition-free school of choice that is publicly funded but independently run.

Conceived over 25 years ago in Minnesota as a means to loosen red tape around public schools and free up educators to innovate, charters have since grown into a national movement that spans 44 states plus the District of Columbia and includes around 7,000 schools and 3 million students.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part VIII – Education

Three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require education beyond a high school diploma; with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers prominent on the list.

Charter Schools: Public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. They are open to all children; do not charge tuition; and do not have special entrance requirements. The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) provides money to create new high-quality public charter schools, as well as to disseminate information about ones with a proven track record.

The Office of Educational Technology: Has developed a national policy and vision to transform teaching and learning. The objective is to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible for k-12, higher education, and adult education. The National Education Technology Plan is a central component of the policy. The Plan articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible.

Openly Licensed Educational Resources: The technology plan uses openly licensed educational resources for teaching, learning, and research that reside in the public domain. These resources have been released under a license that permits free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. Digital openly licensed resources can include complete online courses, modular digital textbooks as well as more granular resources such as images, videos, and assessment items.

GoOpen District Launch Packet: Designed for districts that have decided to implement a systematic approach to incorporating openly licensed educational resources into their curriculum by becoming a GoOpen District.

Following is a nutshell explanation of the GoOpen implementation plan.

GoOpen: The package is a logical representation of past and current activities by school districts and teachers in the education world, to convert the historically static learning environment into a dynamic, open, interconnected digital learning experience for students and teachers.

GoOpen Viewed Correctly: Summarizes, orders, and explains how past and current activities, were and are accomplished, and offers documentation of those activities as a plan for use by school districts to follow. In other words, it is a lessons learned, purified, ordered and presented for your consideration.

GoOpen Focus: Conversion of existing courses, or creation of new courses for the interconnected digital learning environment, with a recommended sequence of activities. Activities start at the course level by teachers with subject matter knowledge, and work up the recommended sequence of activities and checklists, culminating with approval at the school district level.

Assessment:

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Day: Global Lessons for the U.S. Education System and Economy: Published on Dec 8, 2018.

Angel Gurria, director for education and skills and special advisor on education policy to the Secretary-General at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), presents a detailed analysis of the newly released PISA results and lessons learned from deeper learning applications in high-performing nations. The report has significant implications for educational achievement and recommendations for future actions. The survey and report are conducted every three years covering seventy-two nations.

Some comments for consideration from the series of PISA videos:

4.5 percent of U.S. GDP spent on education. Highest of all nations.

Students in Singapore and Japan score significantly higher than U.S. students. There is an exception to the U.S. outcome, and that is Massachusetts, which scores much higher. Massachusetts has been on the forefront of the STEM initiative with the University of Massachusetts leading the way on assessment and program improvement. Also, Building products for export provides significant learning experiences.

Teachers must change schools every three years – Japan.

Teachers must demonstrate progress on moving to more difficult schools and curriculum throughout their career – China.

Improving teacher quality is very important. U.S. schools are focusing on now, not planning for the future.

Teacher's degree, certification, preparation, and professional development do not guarantee outcomes.

Class size varies. Higher degree of success achieved in countries with large class size.

U.S. places too much emphasis on faculty evaluation by students. Most countries evaluate faculty via student outcomes.

U.S. teachers have too many out-of-class activities which do not lend to student learning.

Charter Schools are a solution for removing the handicap U.S. education has in improving outcomes for students. Current models for managing and administering schools, teachers and students originate at federal and state levels of government. This approach creates an inflexible model which places a ceiling on growth and excellence by establishing manage-to and teach-to values. It is the same problem industry had thirty years ago regarding quality of products. Focus on the process to improve the product at the process level, the classroom and school.

Students learn and score higher when traditional methods are used. Open classrooms and technology can be used, however, must support structured learning to objectives with the teacher in control.

Student success improves when involved in apprentice programs with industry while attending school.

Student success increases with more time on the subject for deeper learning to solve complex problems.

U.S. teaches in a circular model, coming back to the subject at varying times in the curriculum rather than extended time on subject.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part VII – Affordable Healthcare

This question must be asked. "What reasoning can possibly justify legalizing drug addiction for tax revenue?" Creating millions of addicts is somehow unseemly.

Mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): The U.S. Department of HHS is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans. To fulfill that mission by providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services.

Healthcare Tab: Cost for 2016 is expected to surpass $10,000 per person. The new peak means the past administration will pass the problem of high healthcare costs on to its successor. The report projects that healthcare spending will grow at a faster rate than the national economy over the coming decade.

National healthcare expenditures are expected to total over $3.35 trillion for the year, or approximately 18% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of $18.5 trillion for the U.S.

HHS 11 Operating Divisions: There are eight agencies in the U.S. Public Health Services, and three human services agencies. These divisions administer a wide variety of health and human services and conduct life-saving research for the nation, protecting and serving all Americans. HHS Demographics trends, index scores, and workforce size.

Determining what is affordable healthcare is beyond the scope and purview of this research activity. However, something alarming regarding the charge to protect the health and well-being of Americans has been identified as the area of focus. There are very significant costs and detrimental health effects which are the result of fraud, malpractice, legal and illegal drugs; of which the annual, and long-term costs and effects are not determined in total. From the data located, costs range in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, and effectively dilute the value of healthcare provided. These items are addressed here:

Note: A significant number of reports are available on HHS subjects. Some are statistics driven by data from federal government sources, other reports use selected data from the original reports for a specific purpose, and some reports are independently sponsored by universities and research institutions. Occasionally, disagreements arise over the data and statistics, which is quite possible as different sources are used. Keep in mind that for accurate comparison, data and statistics must represent the same population (samples) and characteristics. Disagreements do not imply either report or party is in error. Reports are not always tabulated to the current year. However, the direction of movement in the historical data may be indicative of the future.

Fraud Losses:

The $272 Billion Swindle: Thieves love America’s health-care system. INVESTIGATORS in New York were looking for health-care fraud hot-spots. In 2012 a former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the RAND Corporation, estimated that fraud (and the extra rules and inspections required to fight it) added as much as $98 billion, or roughly 10%, to annual Medicare and Medicaid spending—and up to $272 billion across the entire health system. Considering there is some association to reality here, in 2016 a 10% loss of a $3.5 trillion expenditure, would be $350 billion, or 60% of the 2017 Department of Defense (DOD) budget. Despite the penalties associated with conviction, they do not appear to be significant enough. Complete loss of license and property, as in the days of long ago, appears to be needed.

Drug Trafficking:

Drug Trafficking: $200-$750 billion in 2013. Drug trafficking is an issue worldwide and defined as the “global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Drug Use:

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Research has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. Overall, 45,473 students from 372 public and private schools participated in this year's Monitoring the Future survey. The survey is funded by the NIDA, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and conducted by the University of Michigan.

Teen Substance Use: Surveys show a promising decline. The 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey results released December 13, 2016 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reflect changing teen behaviors and choices in a social media-infused world. The results show a continued long-term decline in the use of many illicit substances, including marijuana, as well as alcohol, tobacco, and misuse of some prescription medications, among the nation’s teens. The MTF survey measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the NIH.

Marijuana Trends: In daily use, risk, disapproval, and availability. With a national trend on approving the cultivation and sale of marijuana, originally for medical purposes, now for recreational purposes, the daily usage and availability of the drug by children in grades 8, 10 and 12 is alarming. While a large percentage of students state they disapprove of marijuana use, a decreasing number see use as a risk, and the higher the grade level, the higher the percentage of students using the drug.

Monitoring the Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs. Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O'Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (December 13, 2016). "Teen use of any illicit drug other than marijuana at new low, same true for alcohol." University of Michigan News Service.

Statistics and Trends: Six percent of high school seniors report daily use of marijuana. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States. Its use is widespread among young people. According to a yearly survey of middle and high school students.

Drug and Alcohol Use: College-Age Adults in 2015. Daily marijuana use has grown continuously, and since 2014, cocaine use by college students has increased significantly.

Increasing number of U.S. adults using marijuana. The number of adults who first used marijuana increased from 823,000 in 2002 to 1.4 million in 2014. The estimate is that the number of daily or near daily users was 8.4 million 2014, an increase from 3.9 million in 2002.

Adolescent alcohol and marijuana use leads to poor performance. A study by the nonprofit RAND Corporation that followed a group of students over a seven-year period found marijuana use was predictive of poorer functioning across more areas, including lower academic functioning, being less prepared for school, more delinquent behavior and poorer mental health. The results are published online in the journal Addiction.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the United States. Is marijuana addictive? Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to physical and psychological marijuana addiction. Heavy, long-term marijuana users develop physical dependence on the drug and withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically include irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, impaired appetite and aggression.

Again, this question must be asked. "What reasoning can possibly justify legalizing drug addiction for tax revenue?" Creating millions of addicts is somehow unseemly.

Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost? Substance abuse costs our Nation over $600 billion annually and treatment can help reduce these costs. Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. But, is it reasonable to provide a climate for the problem in the first place.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part VI – Government Agencies & Regulation

White House: Home to the President of the United States and contact point for the nations administration. In addition to the menu at the top of the page, the footer contains, in terms of long ago, the switchboard list.

Cabinet: Each of the 15 executive departments - the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General. All federal government agencies rely significantly on consulting services to acquire expertise not present in their respective organizations. This is the normal mode of activity in response to lobbying by external organiztions to acquire services, influence actions, policies or decisions of government officials.

The two sides of an issue as depicted in opening image on government agencies and regulations are "lobbying" for an issue and, performing "consulting" services to provide the product, in the case of the health care law. 1). Lobbying efforts were performed by, essentially, the entire health care industry. and 2). Consulting services were performed by, essentially, an administration insider group, one of which has admitted misleading the public.

Consulting:

The question may arise, what is level of the federal government's use of consulting services? The response (dated: June 13 , 1988) is still at the top of the current page and reads in total as follows:

U.S. Government Accountability Office: GAO discussed the federal government's use of consultants, focusing on the nature and extent of agencies' monitoring and reporting of consultant use. GAO noted that: (1) varying interpretations and definitions of consulting services and reporting system limitations have caused agencies to understate their use of consulting services; (2) agencies' use of consultants in fiscal year 1987, reported at about $245 million, actually ranged from $4 billion to $16 billion; (3) the Office of Management and Budget's revision of guidance clarified its consulting services definition, but did not address reporting system limitations or all major procurement categories that could potentially involve consulting services; and (4) out of 19 federal agencies it reviewed, only 9 performed an annual mandatory Inspector General evaluation of consulting services."

The question may arise, what are the responsibilities of the GAO? The current response on the "About" page, in part, reads as follows:

The GAO: An independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress, often called the "congressional watchdog." GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. Given GAO is the "congressional watchdog," what is the record of the GAO?

What GAO Found: The lead-in statement. "To operate as effectively and efficiently as possible, Congress, the administration, and federal managers must have ready access to reliable and complete financial and performance information—both for individual federal entities and for the federal government as a whole." Somewhere between 18 percent and 34 percent of total federal assets unaccounted for. Requires evaluation by the reader.

Commercial enterprises, nonprofit and not for profit entities are required to prepare internal financial reports (income statements, balance sheets, etc.) on a regular basis in preparation for tax reporting. Additionally, large and international enterprises must have outside professional auditing firms perform an independent audit of the reports for submission of their annual reports. Individual taxpayers must prepare and submit annual tax returns. Income from taxes to the federal government associated with the reporting requirements result in: 1) Commercial enterprises providing about 25% of annual tax revenue, and 2) Individual taxpayers providing about 75% of annual tax revenue.

Lobbying:

Lobbying: The relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers is complicated. On one hand, lobbyists pursue relationships with lawmakers in order to shape legislation so that it benefits clients who would be affected by new laws or regulations. On the other hand, lobbyists are frequently targeted by lawmakers as sources of campaign money, which the lobbyists feel beholden to give to improve their clients' prospects of success.

Lobbying is a very big business, and publicly marketed. However, there are hard, soft and dark money categories. Dark money, about which much is unknown, frequently refers to Political Nonprofits and Super PACs. Expenditures by lobbyists in this category are unclear as strict reporting requirements are not established or adhered-to.

Lobbying Database: In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies. Some special interests retain lobbying firms. The total lobbying spending for 2016 was $3.12 billion, and the number of active lobbyists who actually lobbied was 11,143. Putting that in perspective, $5,522,123 was spent on lobbying per congressional representative, and the ratio was 19.72 lobbyists per representative.

Lobbying Research: Research is published by many organizations. Selecting the "Menu" on OpenSecrets
will reveal significant information. Activities and representatives donated-to can be obtained by "drilling-down" into the data. However, several additional sources are required to get a "Picture" of what the overall functions of lobbying may look like.

Long-Term Contribution Trends - Top Contributors - Money to Congress - Money In State Politics

The General Accounting Office (GAO) is unable to account for an estimated 25% of total federal assets using internal accounting records. The GAO also indicates an estimated 53% of federal agencies may not report expenditures for consulting, and the validity reports submitted may be in error. Funds expended by lobbyists are difficult to determine, as well as who the recipients are. In essence, financial reporting at the federal level is in need of significant review and change. (GAO comment)

Government agencies and elected officials at USA.GOV: Find contact information for federal, state, and local government agencies; government-related programs; and elected officials. The A-Z Index of U.S Government Agencies and more . . .

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part V – Unemployment & Underemployment

United States Census Bureau: To derive unemployment and underemployment statistics, it is necessary to establish the current population as a base of measurement. The home page provides current estimates of population, and links to selected reports.

Population Clock: U.S. Population is currently estimated to be 324,386,000 citizens. The clock displays data from the census and provides projections forward. There are exceptions to which citizens are not included.

Population and Housing Unit Estimates: This page provides links to tables with national, state, and commonwealth tables for 2000-2016. The national outlook will be explored. However, for researchers desiring to review by state, the data tables are available. The employment page provides data tables on employers, public and private sectors, labor force statistics, and payroll data.

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Publishes current information on inflation and prices, pay and benefits, employment including by occupation, employment by major industry, unemployment, productivity and more.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Provides information on duties, education, training and pay for hundreds of occupations. Computer and information technology occupations are projected to grow by 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

Occupational Employment Job Openings: Estimated openings (in thousands) due to growth and replacements from 2014-2024 is 46,506. The table includes anticipated annual wages, education and experience.

Employment Projections: 2014-2024 reflect growth in medical related fields.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Calculators: Display graphical images by category. Selecting an image will lead to a list of data table titles which can be selected for further research. Place a checkmark in a box and select “Retrieve data” at the bottom of the page to retrieve the data.

Data retrieved using the calculator: (in thousands) as of December 2016: (Selecting Employment, Monthly, Labor Force Statistics) will provide a table of reports which will provide the following:

Civilian Labor Force Level: (In thousands. Some totals will not agree due to rounding of hundreds of data files)
Labor Force Participation Rate: 62.7 percent.
Employment Level: 152,111
Employed Full-time: 124,248
Employed Part-time: 27,895

Unemployment Level: 7,529

Welfare Statistics: (current data as of January 2017)

Total number of Americans receiving welfare government assistance: 67,891,000
Receiving SNAP food stamps: 41,170,000
Receiving UI/EDD unemployment insurance: 10,200,000
More:
Total Federal government spending on welfare programs annually (not including food stamps or unemployment): $158,200,000,000

Underemployment:

Personal desires regarding employment may be difficult to gauge. Unemployment + Part-time employment may indicate underemployment. If so, that would equate to 35,424 (in thousands) underemployed. Additionally, there are 28,400 (in thousands) students 16 years and above attending high school and college. These two statistics equal 63,824 (in thousands).

As robots take jobs, Europeans mull free money for all. The radical notion that governments should hand out free money to everyone — rich and poor, those who work and those who don't — is slowly but surely gaining ground in Europe.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part IV – National Defense and Security, Immigration

Oath of office of the President of the United States: The President's Cabinet, U.S. Congress, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, and all elected officials and employees of the federal government are required to take the oath. In some cases, the wording is changed based on the specific office. Additionally, most states, cities, law enforcement personnel, and their employees are required to take the same or similar oath. The oath can also be required of contractors, suppliers, and their personnel performing sensitive work.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the The Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

With everyone from the federal level to contractors and suppliers, and local level personnel included, it would seem every possible threat to national defense and security would be covered. However, acknowledgment of internal or external influences and threats can occur slowly over a protracted period of months or years. Acknowledgment can also occur in a matter of minutes or days given the enormity or severity of the action.

Current influences representing real or perceived threats by enemies, foreign or domestic, which are required to be recognized, acknowledged, and protected against, can include:

Domestic or international terrorism in the form of harm to citizens, governments, and their assets.

Domestic or international funding and investment in activities, commercial or philanthropic, which limit societal integration and adherence to established national doctrine.

Legal decisions which undermine or supplant established national doctrine.

Restricting or removing the individual rights, liberties, and freedoms of citizens established by national doctrine.

Unauthorized acquisition of proprietary information, digital or written, of legal entities or citizens of the nation.

Use of public funds for personal gain or in pursuit of efforts to undermine national or local doctrine.

Support for threats can be interpreted by failure to acknowledge and correct them, or via ignorance, stupidity and idiocy, allowing them.

Failure to take appropriate action may be interpreted as treachery, disloyalty, subversion, betrayal, and duplicity. Such failure may be for personal gain of a temporary nature.

Special Note:

Conducting commerce with or serving as an agent of an enemy of the United States, in effect, provides aid and comfort to the enemy. Profit from activities can be used by the enemy to support aggression against citizens of the United States or allies of the United States. Individuals and organizations arranging and participating in such activity are effectively foreign agents failing to uphold the oath.

Examples of nations declaring the status of an enemy:

China and Russia agree on more "countermeasures" against U.S. Anti-Missile System.

Immigration to the United States is a complex demographic phenomenon that has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout history. (Wikipedia)

Definitions:

The terms immigrant and emigrant are frequently confusing.

An immigrant is a person entering a country from another country.

Emigrant is a person who has left their home country for another country.

Example: Emigrating from Mexico. Immigrating into the United States.

Migrant is a general term referring to the total number of persons worldwide, that have emigrated from their home country for another. The number of international migrants worldwide has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010, 191 million in 2005, and 173 million in 2000.

How the United States Immigration System Works: U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), the body of law governing current immigration policy, provides for an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants, with certain exceptions for close family members.

The President's following actions are intended to streamline legal immigration, boost the economy, and promote naturalization for those who qualify. (White House)

Three critical elements of the President's executive actions are:

Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration at the Border.

Deporting Felons, Not Families.

Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes.

Most of the world’s migrants live in a handful of countries. In 2015, 67 percent of all international migrants in the world were living in just twenty countries.

The Migration Policy Institute Interactive Map, and International Migration Report for 2015, indicate the most international migrants, 47 million, resided in the United States of America. This is equal to 19 per cent of the world’s total. Migration Data Hub.

Germany and the Russian Federation hosted the second and third largest numbers of migrants worldwide (around 12 million each), followed by Saudi Arabia (10 million), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (nearly 9 million), and the United Arab Emirates (8 million).

Of the top twenty destinations of international migrants worldwide, nine were in Asia, seven in Europe, two in Northern America, and one each in Africa and Oceania.

United Nations Development - Population Division - International Migration. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, international migration has become a reality that touches nearly all corners of the globe, often making distinctions between countries of origin, transit, and destination obsolete.

Modern transportation has made it easier, cheaper, and faster for people to move. At the same time conflict, poverty, inequality, and lack of decent jobs are among the reasons that compel people to leave their homes in search of better futures for themselves and their families.

In 2014, migrants from developing countries sent home the estimated US $436 billion in remittances; a 4.4 percent increase over the 2013 level (World Bank 2015), far exceeding official development assistance and, excluding China, foreign direct investment.

Migrants, particularly women and children, are too often victims of human trafficking and the heinous forms of exploitation that human trafficking entails. Further, in many parts of the world, migration remains one of the few options for people, particularly young people, to find decent work, and escape poverty, persecution, and violence.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part III – Congressional Stalemate & U.S. Debt Limit

Purpose of this item is to provide researchers the ability to evaluate activities of the administration and congress in relationship to 1) external governance, global issues which are addressed in Part I and Part II; and 2) internal governance issues.

Congressional stalemate or gridlock in politics refers to a situation when there is difficulty passing laws that satisfy the needs of the people. A government is gridlocked when the ratio between bills passed and the agenda of the legislature decreases. Reference for the Federal Government of the United States. (Wikipedia)

External and Internal Governance:

President of the United States: Directs the foreign (external) and domestic (internal) policy of the United States. Since the office of President was established in 1789, its power has grown substantially, as has the power of the Federal Government as a whole. The Cabinet of the United States includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments, and supports the nations objectives while performing their responsibilities under the direction of president.

External Governance:

The Administration and Congress have agreed to external monitoring and control of the business of the citizens of the United States via the New World Order. The term New World Order prior to agreements leading up-to establishment of global, external governance, was considered a conspiracy theory. Today, it is an acknowledged and accepted term used in reference to the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), and their monitoring and governance organizations consisting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), and "Open Borders.”

Internal Governance:

United States Congress: Consists of two chambers, the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. The references give a broad overview of their purpose, functions and powers.

114th United States Congress: A standard format and accessible reference documenting major events and legislation, constitutional amendments, states, party summaries, leadership and members, committees, employees and additional information is provided on Wikipedia. Coverage begins with the 1st United States Congress in 1789 and continues to the current congress. External links to each of the postings is located in the footer. The 115th United States Congress posting provides the current status after the election.

Government Stalemate and Gridlock Examples:

Supreme Court wades into immigration reform and gridlock. Democrats and Republicans have been in a protracted battle over immigration reform for years.

How concerning is U.S. political gridlock? Questions about the health of America’s political institutions and the future of its global leadership have become rampant, with some citing partisan gridlock as evidence of America’s decline.

U.S. trade policy gridlock. The success of international trade negotiations is in doubt. Under our Constitution’s Commerce Clause, Congress has ultimate responsibility to regulate domestic and foreign commerce. However, in recent decades Congress has generally granted the President Trade Promotion Authority.

Budget gridlock could derail B-21 bomber. Faced with the prospect that Congress will once again fail to pass a budget on time this year, the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force is warning that long-term budget gridlock could derail the next-generation B-21 bomber. ...

Congressional Budget Office (CBO), indicates the 2017 budget deficit will exceed $559 billion.
US Debt Clock provides a good snapshot of data on wide range of economic issues.

The budget for fiscal year 2017 has been passed and the economy is rebounding, creating 14 million jobs. The unemployment rate is below five percent for the first time in almost eight years, and deficits have been cut setting the Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path. What does the GAO have to say?

Fiscal Outlook and Debt: Action is needed to address the federal government’s fiscal future.

Congress and the new administration face serious economic, security, and social challenges that will require difficult policy choices in the short term about the level of federal spending and investments as well as ways to obtain needed resources.

Decisions to enhance economic growth and address national policies need to be accompanied by a fiscal plan to put the government on a path that is more sustainable over the long term.

This report is intended to illuminate the need for a long-term fiscal plan and answer key questions about:

Significant changes to the government’s fiscal condition in fiscal year 2016.

Long-term fiscal projections that show the federal government is on an unsustainable path.

Fiscal risks that are placing additional pressure on the federal budget.

Opportunities for executive agencies to contribute to fiscal sustainability.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part II – New World Order & International Trade

New World Order: This term was previously considered a conspiracy theory, and has become an acceptable term for international political efforts. The League of Nations, Bretton Woods System, United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), European Parliament, and Open Borders. (Wikipedia)

The New World Order ultimately leads to individual member nations surrendering, or subjugating, their individual national authority to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and “Open Borders.” The New World Order is essentially an initial attempt to bring about common results for citizens of the world. Member nations may have decisions by the EU and UN enacted and enforced within their own borders without their agreement. Recently, the previous administration allowed the Anti-Israel UN Resolution Against Settlements to pass by abstaining.

What are the costs by nation of peacekeeping operations? The chart for 2016-2018 indicates the U.S contribution to be 28.36 Billion of an overall total of 53.03 Billion for the entire UN. (United Nations General Assembly)

Yoshihiro Fukuyama discusses in his paper on The End of History, what is written and intended, is frequently interpreted and enacted differently between nations, as a result of differing political and religious belief systems, and languages. Fukuyama points out significant efforts can take centuries, and most possibly fail. The New World Order is such an effort, attempting to bring about common results for citizens of the world. (Wikipedia)

Status of Nations:

World Economic Situation and Prospects: Joint product report of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) and seven additional UN and external organizations. The report is lengthy and extensive. The Executive Summary states more than seven years after the global financial crisis, policymakers around the world still face enormous challenges in stimulating investment and reviving global growth.

The world economy has been held back by several major headwinds: persistent macroeconomic uncertainties and volatility; low commodity prices and declining trade flows; rising volatility in exchange rates and capital flows; stagnant investment and diminishing productivity growth; and a continued disconnect between finance and real sector activities. This comment is supported by the upcoming item on U.S. International Trade.

Global Peace Index 2016: The report is published by The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) which is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.

World's most and least peaceful countries in 2016. Currently, violence costs 13.3% of the Worlds GDP annually, or 13 trillion, 300 billion dollars. This equates to 5$ per person daily, and $1,876 annually. Since 2008, there has been a 286% increase in deaths from violence. Possibly as expected, Syria was the least peaceful country in 2016, and by far had the most refugees fleeing to find refuge. (Forbes)

The discussion of international trade deserves significant study. Impact of initiatives implemented by members of the New World Order as identified in Part I, have created an imbalance in economic activity of member nations. In Part I, the paper published by Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History," provides a good view of how the enlightened can be rather superficial, unable to recognize the underlying currents and rebirth of a new era of conflict. The point is made that theory expressed regarding proposed outcomes prior to the attempt to engage in, or change course from one political system to another, is rarely experienced as expected. Overall, movement over time, tends to strive for liberalism. Excessive liberalism can overburden political and economic systems resulting in collapsing a liberal government. (repeated from Part I)

Economic, political, religious, and religious-political systems propose lofty worldwide efforts and coordination in achieving equality. However, after establishing and implementing policy, return to their home nation internal issues. Organizations established and implemented by the New World Order are left to staffs and working committees such as the Group of Eight, including definition of the Group of 20, and the Group of Seven which meet at established intervals. (Wikipedia)

Narrowing the focus from international to national, the United States, to evaluate past and current outcomes of international trade and the long-term effects. The following data provide some insight into national economies with the worst trade account balances, the result of improperly managed New World Order initiatives, in this case, the World Trade Organization (WTO).

U.S. Exports vs: Imports 1992-2016

Consider this, when produced domestically, instead of imported, the ($9,975,399) net export loss [that is 9 trillion, 975 billion and 399 million] at the minimal case MMF of 250% would have exceeded over . . . $24,938,498 [24 trillion, 938 billion and 498 million] more dollars of domestic GDP in production and spending, and . . . $12,469,248 [12 trillion, 468 billion and 248 million] more dollars in taxes and fee revenue, and a heck of a lot more jobs. But the truth is it would have been much higher than that given annual compounding. Keep in mind this is minimal and reflects a factor based on 1992-1995, before congress began subjugation of the economy to the WTO under the New World Order.

Additional effects of imbalance in World Trade result in transfer of ownership interests in raw materials, finance, and distribution systems. The World Bank provides a significant resource for review in this regard. Essentially, raw materials ownership and finance realign with the production factor. And, outcome of the production factor align with the shipment of new products. In this regard, China has expanded greatly in the ownership and operations of these assets.

Additionally, as a nation pursues imports vice previously produced products and services, the infrastructure that had existed to support them, and provided taxes and fees to develop and maintain them, diminish. Therefore, previously existing infrastructure become underfunded, and the call is frequently for government funding to maintain and develop infrastructure.

Savings from the imbalance of imports are overrated. To arrive at the true cost, the cost of maintaining the infrastructure abandoned, unemployment insurance payments, food stamps, medical care provided and other welfare costs associated with the loss of employment are in fact a cost that should be added to the price of imported goods and services.

The world's 10 biggest ports. Seven of the 10 biggest ports in the world by cargo volume are in China. The remaining three are in Singapore, the Netherlands and South Korea. The world's leading import countries.

2017 SOTU Backdrop Part I – Prolog

Backdrop for the stage of the Address by President Trump will be set in the minds of the audience based on their knowledge, experience, interpretations of current issues, and expectations for the future.

Each viewer will paint a mental picture of the setting, as if to form an impressionist canvas depicting objects of the issues and their relationships as understood by them.

Coit Tower Murals: The frescoes of the interior of Coit Tower depict the rise of the proletarian movement and with it the trend of social realism in art. The proletariat is a term for the class of wage-earners (especially industrial workers), in a capitalist society, whose only possession of significant material value is their labor-power (their ability to work); a member of such a class is a proletarian. (Wikipedia)

Viewers will represent every income and experience level; labor, farming, clerical, law enforcement, military, industrial, education, financial, government, health, sales, construction, technology and more. They will represent native Americans, immigrants, employees of foreign countries and companies, visitors, the entire membership of the United Nations countries and their many differing political and religious systems and beliefs.

They will have personal experience with, although may not have heard of, or understand, the international systems created by the Bretton Woods System in July of 1944. This system ultimately led to the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union (EU), and “Open Borders” between many European nations. A system frequently referred to as “The New World Order.” (Wikipedia)

The industrial robots industry are keen investors in robotics. Automation and wireless digital communications coupled together via mobile devices provide the ability to design and manufacture products and provide services on a worldwide basis. Technology transfer has resulted in many viewers, national and international, both gaining and losing jobs and careers because of automation. (International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development)

Viewers will also represent areas of political conflict and open warfare, many of whom will be current immigrants to European countries and the U.S., whether participants in the strife, or refugees from it. Most will have personally lost family, homes and businesses.

The long-term conflict in the Middle East is grounded in religious-political belief systems. And, under current, extremely deteriorated conditions, appears unsolvable, resulting in a middle east pullback by the U.S. (Foreign Affairs The Magazine)

"The End of History" published by Francis Fukuyama in The National Interest, Summer 1989. The paper predates current events in the Middle East, and mentions that many writers were predicting that “peace” seemed to be breaking out in many regions of the world. It marked the end of the Cold War Era, and essentially the “End of History” in that all would be stable going forward. Fukuyama's paper addresses many concepts of government.

The paper provides a good view of how the enlightened can be rather superficial, unable to recognize the underlying currents and rebirth of a new era of conflict. The point is made that theory expressed regarding proposed outcomes prior to the attempt to engage in, or change course from one political system to another, is rarely experienced as expected. Overall, movement over time, tends to strive for liberalism. Excessive liberalism can overburden political and economic systems resulting in collapsing a liberal government.

It could be postulated that the Bretton Woods System set in place just that possibility. Brexit could be the first breakaway from the European Union, and international systems put in place by it. These systems are currently the foundation of global turmoil in financial and international trade relations.

Given the national and international backdrop, the following review items should be addressed annually by the President in the State Of The Union (SOTU) Address.

1. Prolog. (Part I)
2. New World Order and Status of Nations. (Part II)
3. International Trade. (Part II)
4. Congressional Stalemate. (Part III)
5. U.S. Debt Limit (Part III)
6. National Defense and Security. (Part IV)
7. Immigration. (Part IV)
8. Unemployment and Underemployment. (Part V)
9. Government Agencies and Regulation. (Part VI)
10. Affordable Healthcare. (Part VII)
11. Education. (Part VIII)

The items listed above represent a review of legislative and fiscal health at the national level. Reviews are based on available federal data, and information published based on the data. National defense and security are addressed in relationship to congress and the administration regarding external and internal responsibilities. Items not included in this review are the financial community, military, and more which may be added.