Monday’s Morning Edition, May Day 2023: Jake’s Takes

1.    Tracking the impact of U.S.-China tensions on global financial institutions. China and the U.S. are very different countries. The main thing that makes us comparable is power. China is the world’s largest country by population, and it is a country with nuclear weapons and an ancient history. The U.S. is a modern nation with the 3rd largest population in the world and nuclear weapons. China owns a great deal of our debt. They are the big bank backing our moves, so it is in our mutual best interest that things go well for both of us. We could be a powerful alliance if the politics allow it.

2.    At Biden-Marcos meeting, China is expected to be at the top of the agenda. Following up on the last article, this is about a meeting between the president of the U.S. and the president of the Philippines. China has been acting against a Philippine boat, and we have military bases in the Philippines.

3.    Experts say don’t wait for interest rates to drop before you buy a house. This is because the value of the housing market is rising faster than the interest rates, I think. The thing about compound investment is that time is the factor that matters most. The rates also do matter, but they are less consequential than time.

4.    Simon Abney-Hastings, 15th Earl of Loudoun, may have a claim to the British throne. This epitomizes the problem with the royal system. There is nothing substantial about the seat of power. It is all based upon a belief in legitimacy and has zero to do with ability. This is why Shakespeare made fun of aristocrats so much in his work. People in the British system of rule often have more power than they do ability. To have an inept royal was part of the process, and the entire nation could suffer because of that unlucky circumstance.

5.    Strike looms as the contract between Hollywood writers and studios is set to expire. Hollywood has not had the best track record of good writing in the past decade as the shift to big budget franchise films has taken over. Hollywood will have to undergo a radical transformation to become anywhere near as powerful as it was in the past. The writers are the key to the future of this industry.

6.    ‘A tragedy that makes you laugh’: HBO’s ‘White House Plumbers’ revisits Watergate. Woody Harrelson stars in this tragicomedy about a shameful period in U.S. political history. Nixon is one of the worst presidents we have ever had, second only to Trump in the last fifty years. The absurd reality of a racist and lying president leading the nation into a horrific war only to be found out as a cheater and a criminal is a genre-bending narrative before a writer even picks it up to tell the story.

7.    JPMorgan Chase to take over deposits and most of the assets of First Republic Bank. The banking system is a scary sector of our economy. So much of how things work depend upon the faith in these institutions. There is nothing real backing our dollar or our debts. The only real thing we have is our military, but other countries also possess nuclear weapons. Is this the real unraveling of U.S. power, or is it just a part of the process of moving towards the next era?

8.    Comparing college costs to the amount a student expects to earn after graduation. The question of student debt is going to be back on the agenda very soon. People are unhappy with the current state of things regarding exactly this question: what is the use of a college education if it only leads most students into debt? Lifelong student debt is a crippling problem to deal with in our culture for 40 million people. That’s a huge chunk of the population, and we have to do something to free up that wasted energy, to turn around the disaffection of those who followed a path that painted false expectations.

9.    Rabbits are rescued from floodwaters on San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. We are now in a constant state of environmental catastrophe. There may be moments of respite, but nothing is stable for long. Between the floods and the fires there is only a small window when we can regroup and act. Otherwise, we will be forced into a pattern of reaction against the worst effects of the changes. Either we determine to get serious about making change, or we become victims of the changes that are coming.

10. ‘I’ll lose my family.’ A husband’s dread during an abortion ordeal in Oklahoma. National debates about rights can often become abstract notions, but the lived effects of those policy changes can be devastating to people’s lives. We are in a moment when things are as tense as they have ever been for the question of women’s rights to control their own reproductive capacity. Abortion is a tool that has a tragic side to it, and I can empathize with people who are in the position to make that decision. I really do not see why it has become a mission of the religious evangelicals in this country. We have a Puritan past, and it is creeping up on the present again.

11. Some 1,000 Americans have been evacuated from Sudan. The evacuation of U.S. citizens from Sudan can only mean one thing: the people of Sudan are about to experience horrific fighting. One wonders what triggered the ceasefire that allowed Americans to safely leave the region, but it is obvious that things are about to get very intense, and it is tragic to observe.

12. Hollywood film and TV writers prepare to strike when their contract expires. Without good writing, the shows that the U.S. produces do not stand a chance of gaining traction. We have lost our way in a world glued to phones and spectacles recorded daily. Mass shootings are more common than good movies.

13. Prom season is here and high school students need to pick their ride. As the nation’s mental health is collectively at an all-time low, it is important for there to be some sense of normalcy. Change that lasts must happen by degree, and it is helpful to keep some positive traditions alive even while other things seem turbulently out of control. The high school prom is one of those traditions, and it is fun to see this celebration of the transition to adulthood happening around the nation. It is one of our few rites of passages that helps young people to reflect on the end of their childhood as they enter a world that demands a lot of mature action from them.

14. Digital news sites fight to survive as online ad dollars dry up. We are in a state of crisis for journalism, which is the lifeblood of a democracy. If voting is the most important thing that people can do to keep a democratic society for the people, those votes in turn depend upon an educated public. Without reliable journalism, this is impossible. I am a huge fan of NPR, as I believe they do the best job at covering important stories that can educate our public without resorting to the kinds of sensationalism that characterize other mainstream platforms. This is hugely concerning, however, as NPR is in no way immune from the economic realities of our day.

15. Troubled First Republic Bank is bought by JPMorgan Chase after FDIC takeover. The banking crisis is unfolding slowly thanks to federal intervention, but this is a very important story to follow, as the economy depends upon reliable banking. Without saving and loans, business as we know it will be radically altered.

16. Supreme Court justices need a strong code of ethics, Sen. Hirono says. This is the understatement of the day. The Supreme Court has more influence and power than any other judicial body in our nation, but they have no code of ethics. This means that the justices can be influenced with expensive gifts without penalty. If there was ever a situation more open to corruption than that, let Clarence Thomas know.

17. Met Gala celebrates fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019. The Met Gala seems like one of those events I would love to attend. It is when the art and fashion worlds collide, and things get super weird. I want to go to at least one in the next decade. It will be interesting to reflect on the design career of Lagerfeld as the Met prepares this momentous event.

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