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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.