It's easy to think of reasons why humans might be hard-wired to pay more attention to bad news and downside risks than to good news and encouraging signs. Bad news may require quick reactions in the name of self-preservation; good news may be more likely to arrive in gradual small doses, and doesn't require any reaction at all. But whatever the underlying reason, the doomsayers and the naysayers often attract an audience, even if the worst of their predictions don't happen on time or with the predicted force. Meanwhile, extreme optimists seem naive. And those who predict middle-of-the-road scenarios, whether leaning toward optimism or pessimism, just seem boring.
During this holiday season, as families and friends seize and make opportunities to gather, one wonders about those who do not feel that they have such a community. It's easy to find claims that loneliness is rising (for example, here's a recent Wall Street Journal article on that theme). But last summer the Social Capital Project run by the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress published "All the Lonely Americans?" (August 22, 2018) and found little evidence of such an increase. The report cites a broad array of claims and evidence, which you can check out for yourself. But here's a quick overview of some main points (with citations omitted for readability):
Around the hustle and bustle of the end-of-year holidays, I sometimes reflect on how many of us put considerable time and energy into thinking about where to live and furnishing our home--but then rush off and travel to other place to vacation, celebrate, and meet with friends.
China presents many similarities in its economic model with the central-planned economies of the 70s: Massive debt, overcapacity and central planned growth targets.
Years of low rates reduced capital expenditure and fueled a dangerous bubble. Now, real investment is back. Gross fixed capital formation is up 8 percent this year after years of stagnation, and capital repatriation exceeds $300 billion.
The holiday season is full of resource consumption for gifts, food, decorations, entertainment, and travel. In that context, the environmental tradeoffs between either a real or an artificial Christmas tree are not actually of much importance. But for the more curious and/or obsessive readers of my wandering thoughts at this blog, the American Christmas Tree Association (the trade association for artificial Christmas trees) has hired WAP Sustainability Consulting to do a "Life Cycle Assessment:Comparative LCA of the Environmental Impacts of Real Christmas and Artificial Christmas trees" (March 2018).
In certain locations and among certain groups, participation in the labor force is low. Can government-subsidized transitional jobs offer a method of getting more people connected to the labor force, in a way that persists after the government support is withdrawn or the transitional job comes to an end?