Despite what you might hear from CNN, MSNBC, Slate, and a myriad of other left wing news outlets, the Trump Economy is booming. The inflation rate has not doubled in the period of time he has been in office. In contrast, the inflation rate doubled under Obama multiple times due. This, combined with the 1.5-2% Real Wage Growth since Trump took office and the Trump tax cuts are allowing American households to save more money. Regardless of whether you like the tax cuts or not, a family of four with $59,000 in income would save $1,182 in federal taxes under the cuts. Additionally, new business confidence and consumer confidence indices report the highest levels since the nineties, meaning more businesses are feeling like they are in a safe environment. This increases the amount of capital put into the US to forward their company, and in turn, the American people. To top it all off, the unemployment rates are staggeringly low for all American peoples, regardless of race, sex, or wealth.
Although there have been significant tangible economic gains that have resulted from Trump’s economic policies, opponents to his governing style disapprove of his use of tariffs. However, the Trump administration is intending to use these tariffs to force trade partners to adopt fair trade practices, and redress existing trade imbalances. Some opposing analysts go so far as to saying that Trump’s tariffs would cause an economic and political disaster throughout domestic and international markets. However, this style of thinking has many faults. Using data provided by the MSCI World Index, a fund composed of high performing companies in all of the major markets of the world, it’s clear that overall global economic growth has risen 23% ever since Trump took office. In addition, the DOW Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ Composite have reached record highs here in the United States.
It is also important to realize how his tariff policy, however brash it may be, is having its desired function. When Trump used Twitter to state how he loved tariffs, he scared us- and the markets- for a while. But, over time, we understood that this was just Trump being Trump. He did not actually love tariffs, but how much power they gave him to sway other countries around the world, including many allies, who were charging exorbitant tariff rates on American goods.
So, what did this accomplish?
The EU, along with Canada, Mexico, and China* have been overpowered by the US and forced to sit at the table and negotiate, removing their tariffs against US natural gas, oil, steel, and much more, with more adding to the list every day.
The EU understood that they could not stand up to the US, so after a brief period of finger waving, Belgium and Germany came to the negotiating table. Without Germany, the rest of the EU has no hope of beating the US in an escalated trade war, as they are less efficient producers, have higher tax rates for companies, and lack natural resources. So, as we negotiate with the EU, they have suspended all tariffs against US goods.
With the Renegotiation of NAFTA, Mexico and the the US have agreed to amendments to NAFTA such as a six year lease on the deal which allows both countries to renegotiate a better deal if the current deal doesn’t ease trading multiple years from now. In addition, Canada is engaged in negotiations to do the same by the end of the month.
China cannot stand up against the US either in this trade war, as they are hurt much worse than America with the issuing of every counter tariff. The Shanghai Index YTD has fallen about 17% in valuation, whereas the US markets are up from over 14% on the NASDAQ, and the S&P 500 has gained 8.5-9% YTD.
And even though there have been significant gains in the economy thanks to Trump’s economic agenda, the true genius of his policies is the fact that they’ve forced us as a country to think more about our economic future and accept a hard truth: economic progress is just as important as social progress. Even though we live in an America plagued by numerous social issues, we can’t neglect the impact the economy has on all of our lives. The 21 trillion dollars of debt that loom over all of us have the possibility to affect our generation and the generations after us. Trump’s twitter rants and talk of tariffs, however unconventional they may be, provide the basis of a conversation that will define the prosperity of our country for the many years to come.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
In America, a single misspoken word can end your career. With the internet’s pervasiveness, an unguarded moment of bigotry can quickly become the top search entry—next to your name. You must watch what you say, do, act, or else, the internet can end your future. In America, the land where many become one, the desire for “political correctness,” the avoidance of terms that marginalize discriminated groups, stifles discussion. For a better future, we must create a culture of respect rather than enforced silence.
First, political correctness functions as a protection for Americans when used correctly. I’ve noted that when people are politically incorrect, they tend to ostracize the “other.” Political correctness should come into play when Americans use words to paint an “Us vs. Them” picture. Politically incorrect words ignore the feelings of minorities and perpetuates an oppressive society. Thus, political correctness makes minorities feel American because they matter as people.
Nevertheless, I will admit that political correctness often stymies its own goals. In 2015, there was a controversy over Instagram filters lightening people’s skin tone. Even if the skin lightening occured, waving words like “politically incorrect” at Instagram’s defenders fuels greater separation between Americans. Excessive political correctness instills a belief that society has cured racism because only minor internet offenses enthrall public attention. Nowadays, due to hyper-awareness of “political correctness,” racism sneaks through the seams of our society because the vigilant public ignores the larger picture.
Stereotypes, at a certain point, are self-perpetuating. When I go to France, I expect to see baguettes. Yet, if the French decided that baguettes humiliated the French identity and stopped eating them, the French would lose a cultural icon. Stereotypes are acceptable so long as they are based on identity, geography, and physical conditions—not the color of one’s skin or one’s culture. Our nitpicking allows true discrimination to ignore the larger, more pressing crises as mere “political correctness” because we confuse acceptable and racist stereotypes. Thus, the fear of “political incorrectness” prevents many from even admitting that racism exists, which risks latent racism striking from beneath a unified facade.
Our last freedom resides in our minds, and people will resist the limiting of their thoughts. Laws and orders cannot change one’s inner beliefs because beliefs are not based on evidence, so even adamant “political correctness” campaigns will ultimately fail. Offensive beliefs cannot be regulated—only willfully changed. Americans are tired of the silence due to “political correctness.” Thus, the solution lies in educating the masses into treating differences with empathy—not mocking the uneducated for their narrow mindedness.
Although combating racial slurs can change how we think, no one will listen to “political correctness” unless a foundation of empathy and respect exists. By discussing race, we can understand why our words hurt. Educators, as authority figures, offer the best opportunity for respectful discourse in the next generation. When we learn what it means to be truly politically correct, to use respectful words, to listen, will we take the next meaningful step towards ending racism. We must rid the taboo of the “politically incorrect” and educate children to be respectful and ask questions. Only by teaching what is correct, how the incorrect affects people, and why it exists through open discourse, can we convince others to become respectful.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
On September 7th, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unveiled its next large investment: artificial intelligence. DARPA plans to invest close to $2 billion dollars in a program known as “AI Next.” The promise? DARPA director Steven Walker wants to “transform computers from specialized tools to problem-solving partners.”
DARPA, which leads research for the U.S. Department of Defense, announced its plan during its 60th Anniversary Conference, marking a landmark date in both the history of defense and the transition towards artificial intelligence. Authorized by President Eisenhower in 1959, DARPA’s desire to pour resources into the development of artificial intelligence is beneficial to the US, especially as rival countries such as China, India and France have begun prioritizing AI. The goal of DARPA is to match the methods that humans learn to how AI can process information. Once this is attainable, basic functions such as making a bed or tying shoelaces (Nike has already introduced this) can be done with the press of a button or a word spoken. Personally, I believe that the nation should seriously consider allocating as much as possible towards fueling the artificial intelligence boom. The economy is moving towards technology, and in order to remain globally competitive, investing in artificial intelligence is key.
By increasing the usage of artificial intelligence, basic tasks and impossible problems alike can be done easily. DARPA should continue its research and pursue an eventual goal of making artificial intelligence a staple in every future American household.
The other day, while at a Lizzie Fletcher campaign event, I heard someone ask a very interesting question: “What makes Houston different?” It’s a question I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about—and the answer to that is ultimately what convinced me to support Lizzie Fletcher for Congress. I believe, ultimately, Houston’s people distinguish it from just about any other place in the world. Our people, in many ways, are largely divided. Politically, socially, and linguistically, Houston’s community is a heterogeneous blend of cultures. Yet this is true of a lot of places. However, what sets Houston apart is how these differences enrich and strengthen our community. We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, but its effects still linger: as we continue to recover from the storm, I still feel that sense of unity—despite our differences—remains pervasive in Houston. Harvey highlighted the mindset of a Houstonian pretty directly; it’s one that treats people with dignity regardless of the color of their skin, how they vote, or what language they speak. That attitude makes Houston different. And this election is different.
This election is about more than voting Republican or Democrat. This election is about more than signaling a referendum on President Trump. This election is about Houston, our city, and the values it wants to convey to the rest of the country—because Houston has a storied history of leading the country. Our unparalleled doctors and nurses in the medical center lead America’s medical community. Our ingenious scientists at NASA lead the world in space exploration. Our city, made up of people from all different backgrounds, leads the country in diversity. We deserve a leader who can reflect the needs and values of our city instead of those of a political party. We deserve a leader who can bring Houston’s spirit of leadership to Washington DC. We deserve a leader who is not afraid to vote to protect our children from being shot at their schools. We deserve a leader who is willing to listen to the scientists who warn a that worse version of Hurricane Harvey could hit Houston if we do not address global warming. We deserve a leader that’s for Houston.
Instead, we have a representative who shows us again and again that he stands with his party before his city. Representative Culberson voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act—choosing to stand with his party instead of the thousands of Houstonians who rely on that bill for quality healthcare. Culberson’s record raises important questions. Why does our representative vote nearly 100% of the time with a President who our district voted against? Why does the elected official of the most diverse city in America have an F from the American Civil Liberties Union but an A from the NRA? Congressman Culberson has consistently used his seat in Congress to benefit his party instead of his constituency. It’s time to elect a congresswoman that will serve Houston—not a political party.
Lizzie Fletcher will serve Houston before her party. It’s all in her catchphrase: “We need a little more Houston in Washington D.C.”
Dear Mohamed Salah,
In spite of the hate you are unfairly receiving for your Muslim faith, I would like to congratulate your successes this year. As a fellow soccer player, your skill on the pitch leaves me speechless. I was watching one of your games with my friends, and once you got the ball the room fell silent. We were caught in a trance, watching you weave through City’s defense as if you were playing a video game. Also, taking Liverpool to the Champions League Final and Egypt to the World Cup is an incredible feat! Ballon d’Or candidate and Premiership Player of the Month! You have truly put on a show.
Although most people focus on your wonderful play, I’m more amazed by something else: your celebration. Anyone who watches Liverpool frequently probably knows it by now: You score, you run to the stands, you cheer with your teammates, then, you jog back to the circle, drop to your knees, raise your hands to the sky, then bow, prostrating yourself to the world. When you perform this ritual, the crowd seems to go silent, letting you connect with Allah; then you stand up and everyone goes crazy again. This is what should be celebrated.
While Britain is fighting Islamophobia and the amount of hate crimes against Muslims are rising each year, you, a Muslim from North Africa, are unifying England, one goal at a time. Your brave actions in a country that seemingly hates your faith make you a role model to anyone, Muslim or other, who is scared to practice their religion in a non-inclusive environment. However well you perform on the soccer field, nothing will outweigh your influence on Islamophobia in England. No, I’m not saying that you will suddenly make all Brits tolerant of other religions, but you could play a major role in creating a more accepting England and, by extension, world. All I know is that fans sing songs about you when you take the field, and whether you intend to or not, you are making British Muslims proud and making the world a more inclusive place. Please continue what you are doing. Thank you on behalf of everyone you’ve inspired, on and off the pitch.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
“There is this idea that speech is violent, that by simply espousing a view you don’t like I’m attacking you, I’m oppressing you, I’m assaulting you. That view is fundamentally incompatible with a Western, liberal democratic society” (Berkeley College Republicans). The main enemy of western advancement and freedoms is the far left. Some believe freedom of speech doesn’t protect hate speech and that the person should be defenseless against governmental tyranny. The question I ask is, what is hate speech? I say hate speech doesn’t exist; its meaning changes from person to person. Hate speech laws are what could destroy this country.
I disagree completely with hateful rhetoric; however, as an American, it is my job to fight for people’s freedom to express themselves. Look at Canada and Europe for example—people can be jailed for having different opinions than the state, or “offending” someone. Theoretically, I could be punished for legally crossing the Canadian border if I did something that i) offended a minority, ii) criticized the government, or iii) criticized Islam. Now, I could be fined or jailed if I misgender somebody in Canada. Hate speech laws are nothing more than an excuse to censor the opinions of political adversaries. My personal criticisms of the government under Obama landed me a flurry of screams particularly claims that I am racist, which morphed into criticisms of my being bigoted, transphobic, sexist, homophobic and on and on. Even without hearing my opinions, just my statement that I was a proud citizen of the United States or Conservative causes people to form preconceived notions about what I believe.
Hate speech laws are nothing more than a cowardly excuse to throw political adversaries in jail. Political correctness was glorified by fascists in the German Reich to silence other voices than the states, and made mandatory in Red China when they first took power. This political correctness revolved around aligning one’s views with the state, making speech that was unorthodox illegal. This term has just recently resurfaced; “political correctness” is an iceberg that the US must avoid to preserve the torch of western democracy. While Europe is falling into the clutches of socialist revolutionaries and radical islamic terrorism, the US must strive protect its own citizens and its allies abroad. No country’s people enjoy such great freedoms as those of United States, and all its citizens should take pride in its greatness. The moment we lose the right to say what we think, the United States of America as we know it ceases to exist.
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Catalonia’s struggle for independence has been heard of all around the world. Catalonia is one of many autonomous communities in Spain, which can be, somewhat, paralleled to the states in the United States. Out of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities, Catalonia is the most powerful and self sufficient.
Spain was ruled by a dictatorship until the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. During Franco’s time in power, he created a centralized non-democratic form of government in Spain, and, as such, Catalonia’s autonomous power was taken away and all of their culture was suppressed so that all of Spain could be the same. After Franco’s death, Catalonia was given more powers as an autonomous community than the others because the government in Madrid was aware that Franco stripped the region of almost all of its power as an autonomous community and that the Catalan people were upset by Franco taking their power. Three years after the end of the dictatorship, a constitution was created and with it came the 17 autonomous communities of Spain. This constitution is the foundation of Spanish democracy. When Spain became a democratic country, Catalonia somewhat began to appear independent from Spain; moreover, Catalonia has one of the highest levels of self-governance for a region in all of Europe. The Spanish government realized that it was a possibility for an autonomous community to seek independence and explicitly stated in the constitution that, although autonomous communities are allowed some self-governance, there will be no sovereignty apart from that of the Spanish nation. This and anything in the Spanish constitution can be changed holding a nationwide vote; however, a referendum held by a minority (as was done on the first of October of 2017 in Catalonia) cannot change the law and is considered unconstitutional.
Catalonia has now made themselves appear as if they are victims of the government’s’ suppression; 80 years ago it could have been understood if the people of Catalonia were suppressed, but, as the government has awarded many more rights to the people of Catalonia than other autonomous communities, the Spanish people and government have been upset by the self-victimization of the Catalan people. Schools in Catalonia have punished those who do not partake in independence movements with more homework and are teaching children that the Spanish government and king are monsters, arguing that the Catalan people are simply victims of the Spanish government. Catalonia held a referendum on October 1, 2017, which was done unconstitutionally, in which 40% of all eligible voters in Spain took part in and 92% voted for Catalonia’s independence. However, this was not an official vote, so it is highly plausible that results were tampered with and this was not the true result. Catalonia’s parliament declared independence on October 27 of this past year, even though a proper vote was never held and it is unconstitutional to do so. Spanish flags were taken down from government buildings in Catalonia, and Catalonia’s leader, Carles Puigdemont, has told the people of Catalonia to keep the movement towards independence going in a peaceful manner. In light of all this, the Spanish government has intervened, and the Spanish Supreme Court has voted to intervene in Catalonia and take over their parliament.
Now, Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain, has sacked Puigdemont and Catalonia’s government. Puigdemont is in exile and is residing in Belgium; he has also chosen to not run for a second term as Catalonia’s regional president. Puigdemont faces charges of sedition and rebellion from Spain, and will not attempt to govern remotely or return back to Spain due to fear of his arrest. Some of Catalonia’s fight for independence’ leaders are now in jail, such as Jordi Sanchez, who was imprisoned by charges of sedition. Puigdemont proposes that he should hand on the torch to Sanchez, which is very unlikely. The Spanish government has successfully brought the rebelliousness taking place in Catalonia close to an end. Spain is now in control of Catalonia’s parliament and will remain in control until they deem the Catalan people ready to regain control.
Product of Errant Publishing
Houston Justice of the Peace Lincoln Goodwin sums up eviction as “If you did not pay, you cannot stay.” For minority communities, specifically the African American and Latinx communities in America, the issue of wealth disparity and systematic racism has incredible impacts on the housing, or lack thereof, that is available. In “the more than 4,500 evictions in the 77090 zip code” in Houston, TX, those evicted are “49 percent black and 30 percent Hispanic.” Eviction and poor housing are commonplace, rather than uncommon. Poor housing also isn’t simply unclean living conditions, but also numerous health code violations. While legal protections exist to keep housing safe, only those on top of their rent are able to take advantage of these; many living in impoverished conditions do not have the luxury of paying their rent every month.
After Hurricane Harvey, tenants were told to pay rent or move out by landlords for unlivable apartments. The City of Houston allows landlords to continue to charge rent if a living area is still partially livable, and so many landlords continued to charge rent and late fees to people whose homes were devastated by flooding. Not only that, but for people who were unable to work during Harvey and thus weren’t paid, rental fees were still required. Those who couldn’t pay were evicted.
Evictions have increased steadily as rent prices soar but pay remains stagnant. In total, the number of eviction cases in Harris County, TX exceeded 68,000 for 2016. According to a MacArthur Foundation “How Housing Matters” study done in 2014 by Matthew Desmond, landlords in Milwaukee, WI evict roughly 16 households per day- and those are only the evictions done legally. Even more people are evicted through what are called “soft evictions”: the renters move out once they fall behind on rent, or landlords pressure, even threaten, tenants to leave without going through the court system.
Applicants to housing programs, especially ones run by the federal government, take years to make it to the top because the housing demand is far too great for the system. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) website even says “since the demand for housing assistance often exceeds the limited resources available to HUD and the local housing agencies, long waiting periods are common.” Evictions also significantly limit future housing options, as landlords are far less likely to rent to someone with a previous eviction. It seems strange that programs in place to help people who need housing box out those who have the greatest need for help.
Eviction seeps into nearly every aspect of life, through loss of possessions and constant moving. When people are turned out onto the street or move to a family’s house, they are only able to take the bare minimum of their possessions with them, forcing them to leave the rest on the street. Evicted families are also unlikely to stay in the same area, often moving as they try to find new housing. Children then bounce from school to school, leaving homework and their education by the wayside. Eviction completely disrupts life for those affected by it, and hardens the shell of poverty around the families affected by it. For the poorest renters in America, eviction is a fact of life, a cloud that hangs over their family each month. With little monetary assistance and increasingly higher rents, lower quality housing and higher rates of eviction have become the norm, rather than the exception.
Why should we, as the St. John’s community care? We spend more on school for a year than many of the people that deal with eviction spend in two years on housing. Government agencies focus on trying to stop homelessness or help people once they ARE homeless, instead of trying to confront the root of the problem- eviction. By pushing representatives — local, regional, and national— to commit themselves to creating better housing and improving rental terms, we are able to create a better city. As one of the most privileged groups in the city, we have quite a bit of responsibility to do our part.
The St. John’s community following Hurricane Harvey mobilized to help those of our community move out and begin the first steps of putting their lives back together. What could we accomplish as a community if we put that same energy towards helping those who have been affected by eviction? While we may not be able to use our manpower to the same extent, the links below can give you a forum to let you voice be heard. Write, and let your representatives know that YOU care about evictions, and the way in which it impacts our city.
Below is a link that allows you to input your address and it gives you the representatives for your district within the Texas State government, as well as national representatives:
Graphic Design by Jackson Edwards
Product of Errant Publishing Co.
Marvel superhero movies have always included incredible action, but Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther, coupled that action with incredible thematic presence to blow the entire world away, myself included. In Black Panther, King T’Challa rules the technologically advanced, isolated nation of Wakanda. During its initial development, Wakandan tribes discovered a metal with nearly infinite technological applications that would soon propel this society to levels of affluence never reached by the outside world. In order to preserve their nation’s fortunes, they cut themselves off from the rest of the world, never sharing any of their wealth or technology with their less fortunate neighbors. Decades later, T’Challa becomes aware of the suffering world around him and struggles to face the morally crushing dilemma of foreign policy. The question of giving up the nation’s security in order to help those in need seems to plague T’Challa’s mind. In fact, viewers cannot help but feel guilty themselves. In a fictional movie dedicated to overcoming the selfish nature of isolationism and self-preservation, these issues seem very real in modern America. Ryan Coogler uses guilt to incite the need for change across its viewers, and the United States, by describing privilege as something to be shared with the world, rather than kept to oneself.
Personally, Black Panther provoked guilt surrounding my own privilege, and drove me to question how much I have done to help those in need. I remember walking out of the theater shocked after my first viewing of Marvel’s critically acclaimed masterpiece, Black Panther. The action amazed me, the visual effects: stunning, but something about this movie caught me off guard. The way Black Panther portrayed the role of the fortunate made me feel initially confused. After hours of thought, disappointment with myself and my country rushed through my brain. I have always thought of myself as culturally sensitive and aware of other people’s problems, but Black Panther shot me with a dose of reality: I have done nothing to help solve these problems that I never had to deal with. I have not chosen to use my fortunate position in life to help others. I don’t actively travel the world to help those who can’t afford things so trivial to me, like water and food. I choose to spend money on a new iPhone each year, instead of helping those who weren’t fortunate enough to be born into a family that could serve them the way mine has. The only difference between myself and those living in hunger-stricken poverty is my luck. Hatred of my undeserved position in life boiled in my brain the night after that movie, and all I could feel was shame. Still, one week later, I legitimately felt mortified when I dried my hands with three paper towels, instead of the adequate amount of one. That small action brought on feelings of being part of the problem. My friends and family tell me that I think too much about other people, and that their problems should not bother me, but I can’t stand being a passive bystander any longer.
Shame drove me to write this article, shame drove me to question my position in life, and shame caused me to feel inadequate and discontent with the world today, and I know my friends and family have felt the same reaction. THAT is how Black Panther achieves its goal. Those feelings of inadequacy are what drives people to make change. The way Ryan Coogler intertwines shame into the cultural phenomenon that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe allows him to send a hard-hitting message across the world that will incite change for good.