Michelle Obama has called education the “single-most important civil rights issue” of today. President George Bush has referred to education as “the great civil rights issue of our time.” Similarly, President Trump has vocalized support for education spending, despite his administration’s efforts to pass major budget cuts for existing programs and funnel more public funds into controversial school choice programs. Regardless, all of these statements point to a recognition that education is the proverbial ladder to a better life—to the procurement of the American Dream. In an age in which many are questioning what it means to be an American and to pursue the Dream, economic mobility remains central to this famed ideal. But what is a better life? And, who can realistically dream of attaining it?
Men and women are not represented equally in the workforce. Despite being 50% of the population, women comprise only 39.2% of the total global labor force. While a few outliers, such as Rwanda, see equal representation, most countries do not. The MENA region, or Middle East and North Africa, sees the greatest discrepancy, with women on average representing only around 20.5% of the workforce. In most of these countries, political and social norms, as well as actual laws, keep women out of the workforce. However, studies have shown societal and economic benefits of female participation in the workforce. In light of this, to increase female participation in the labor force, it is crucial to expand female access to education across the globe.
Since the passage of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has had the authority to promulgate regulations that certify certain food production as ‘organic.’ These regulations were meant to make sure that organic farms wishing to certify their products as organic “must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances.” As of 2016, over 5 million acres of farmland are certified organic by the USDA (about equally split between rangeland and crop land). Furthermore, Organic product sales topped $49 billion in 2017. Even though the amount of organic farmland is still less than 1% of total farm acreage in the U.S. (>900 million), organic products represent over 12% of the market value of agricultural products. Over the last 28 years, USDA organic certification has not only changed farming practices, but it has also greatly affected consumer habits, subsequent regulation, and even, questionably, consumer health.
Picture this: you’re tired of the spam in your inbox, so you download a new app for your browser that blocks it. While downloading, the Terms of Agreement pop up, and you click ‘Agree’ – because why wouldn’t you? Unbeknownst to you, while you are now enjoying your spam-free email, the Slice Technologies app is analyzing your emails for purchase receipts and selling this anonymized data to hedge funds. Is that an invasion of privacy? Not quite, as you agreed to the terms. But why would hedge funds, and other investment advisers, want this information? Well, with this kind of alternative data, investment firms can make much more accurate predictions about a company’s sales revenue and its health. This new world of alternative data poses incredible alpha-creating potential for investment advisers, as well as new legal concerns for the courts and regulators.
American law enforcement agencies are advocating that technology companies be forced to compromise the encryption used in their products, to facilitate ongoing investigations. Encryption is the computational tool used to protect every American’s digital communications and data from eavesdropping and tampering, and it plays a vital role in our economy and national security. A misguided attempt to weaken encryption would only damage our national interests, both with respect to economic wellbeing and business security. Hackers and foreign nations will target the introduced weaknesses, domestic firms’ ability to build and export security innovations will decrease, and the American competitive advantage in the technology sector will be lessened.