Environmental Law Waivers Basically Ignored Due to Riots, Pandemic

By now most of us understand Trump’s tactics pretty well — even as they continue to work. For example, we know that sleight of hand is one of Trump’s favorite strategies when pushing through legislation that many Americans probably wouldn’t like all that much. Like the environmental reviews he just waived by executive order. Most of us, if we had noticed, probably wouldn’t be too crazy about waiving these reviews at a time when the world is overheating to an extent we can’t even fathom.

The goal?

Trump says we need to speed up infrastructure projects in order to jumpstart the economy, which is still flailing about due to the coronavirus. No one will ever argue that American infrastructure is a joke, or that it doesn’t need an influx of cash, but to abandon long-term environmental concerns for short-term “maybe” benefits yet again is about as irresponsible as it gets. 

The executive order reads, “Unnecessary regulatory delays will deny our citizens opportunities for jobs and economic security, keeping millions of Americans out of work and hindering our economic recovery from the national emergency.”

Naturally, affected industries are all too eager to make a buck. CEO Rich Nolan of the National Mining Association said, “Today’s executive order provides an opportunity to jumpstart our economic recovery by ensuring that we are rebuilding and modernizing with American-made materials, equipment and jobs, [including] copper for wiring, metallurgical coal required for steelmaking or zinc for galvanization.”

Not everyone has been so kind.

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, “Instead of trying to ease the pain of a nation in crisis, President Trump is focused on easing the pain of polluters.” She described the order as “utterly senseless.”

Naturally, the executive order will end up in court — as long as enough people are paying attention. That’s because the order is exceedingly broad. As such, many will deem it unlawful.

What Does Economic Law Have To Do With The Coronavirus

Economic law is an umbrella term regarding regulations and codes of conduct used both domestically and internationally. What does that mean? It means we have rules for what we can and cannot do when trading with other countries — even if it might seem like we don’t sometimes. These laws regard banking regulations, labor and services, tax law, debt, and even evironmental law. What does that all have to do with the coronavirus covid-19? 

A lot, it turns out.

Covid-19 has already had a major impact on the way Americans live their daily lives. That was made exceedingly clear when grocery store shelves emptied out seemingly overnight. And the mania hasn’t gotten anywhere close to dying down. In fact, because we’re only now ramping up the number of covid-19 testing kits in this country, we’ll probably see the number of cases spike over the next few days.

And that could mean even more panic and general unrest. Economic law helps determine how our country’s businesses react to the crisis. Many have already closed their doors voluntarily, while many have been forced into a mandatory shutdown as state and local governments try to restrict movement outdoors.

Many schools have closed down, but in states where the weather is warming up, parents have taken this as an opportunity to bring the kids outdoors — which means they’re missing the point of these closures completely. When the same kind of public indifference occurred in France, more draconian measures were implemented. Now, French citizens require a written document explaining their reasons for traveling if they decide to venture outdoors. They face steep fines for ignoring the government’s orders.

We can expect more drastic measures to be implemented here in the United States as well, but economic laws might require that some businesses stay open — or even that some people be allowed to travel freely. There’s a lot of red tape to implement measures meant to save us here, which means we have a lot of work to do if we want to remain safe from the coronavirus’s spread.

Wondering what you can do to help? 

First, stay indoors whenever possible. Some scientists believe that the virus can stay alive on surfaces for days. They also believe that people can spread the virus even when they have yet to display symptoms themselves. That’s why it’s so contagious, and that’s why people should restrict their movements. 

Second, take note of who may need help in your community. Know any older residents who are on their own? Check in on them — even if that means no more than making a quick phone call once a day.

Will Economic Law Someday Move Primarily Off-Planet?

The very idea of a branch of law moving entirely off-planet sounds perverse without context. Won’t our society always need an economy to thrive? Well, yes and no. We can certainly imagine a future that does not include money as we know it. Star Trek certainly showed us how to imagine it. But do we think it a likely future? Certainly not. But there are many other reasons we might consider the possibility that many of our economic laws could one day move primarily off-planet.

Jeff Bezos, who you may have heard announced a $10 billion investment in the fight against man-made climate change, owns a company called Blue Origin. The company was built for many of the same reasons that similar companies — like SpaceX — were built. They strive to spread humanity throughout the solar system. And perhaps even farther.

But Bezos wants to commercialize space for another reason. He believes that it is the perfect place for “heavy industry.” Factories spew smog into our atmosphere. Coal plants and oil refineries poison us and make the planet warmer and warmer, the effects of which ripple outward like a wave, ever growing in size.

Renewables like wind and solar are now cheaper to build and maintain than dying industries — that continue to be subsidized and politically propped up — like coal and oil. Imagine if renewable energy was all we needed! Imagine if factories were transported to off-world locations like Mars. There are untold resources on other planets and inside asteroids. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the riches that are out there because we’ve only ever looked for them on Earth.

But if Bezos is successful, someday those riches will be ours. If Earth becomes a primarily residential biosystem, as he envisions, then most of our economic laws will become pointless. Sure, people will still buy and trade on Earth. But many of our regulatory laws will have to change to oversee transportation of goods from where they are manufactured on other planets to our home on Earth.

That reality might not be as far away as you think. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is widely considered a socialist by those who want to scare people away from voting for him, but his policies are actually incredibly popular. If they’re ever implemented, expect to see wealth change hands. Expect to see a greener world as companies are held accountable for their actions. Expect to see big changes in economic law.

Should Economic And Environmental Laws Overlap?

Economic law is simple in its discipline. It can mean two things: the basic laws that regulate the economy or an actual system of law governed by the economy. For the purpose of further simplification, we’re referring to the laws that help regulate our economy. Our legislators write these laws to prevent businesses from taking advantage of people (thus closely intertwining economic law with business law) and to try to prevent the economy from weakening.

Basically, the idea is simple but the implementation is difficult — if not impossible.

Environmental law is even easier to define. This branch of law prevents businesses and individuals from damaging our environment. It exists to protect our natural world from those who would abuse it.

When one considers these two branches of law, an obvious question arises: how do they affect one another? The answer is complicated. Obviously, how we treat the environment can have a great effect on our financial wealth overall. For example, Australia is on fire right now. This is a direct result of man-made climate change. These wildfires won’t only kill off potentially billions of endangered animals, but they’ve already led to dozens of human casualties. How many people have lost their homes?

The effort to prevent these fires from spreading further is an effort in futility, and we know it. The cost of these fires will be astronomical, and we know it. How could the damage have been prevented? With better environmental laws? Or with different economic laws? Should we watch one branch of law when considering the other? The obvious answer is yes. One branch affects the outcome of the other.

And it goes in the other direction, too. Economic law can affect the resources we have at our disposal to fight these climate catastrophes. The more wealth we accumulate, the easier it is to prevent disaster or protect our environment. And, hopefully, to enact even more stringent economic and environmental regulations. 

That’s becoming a much more difficult prospect around the world as conservative governments begin to tighten their hold on political power and do even more damage. The great irony is that conservatives are supposed to be fiscally responsible — but their actions have led to costs that can’t even be measured by traditional methods. On the other hand, liberal governments have done their best to reign in damaging behavior by those who pose a danger to the economy and environment, saving us money over time.

Of course, that’s a generalization. Followers of political parties do tend to hold to the party’s core beliefs, however. Here in the United States, the Republican party is only now waking up to the dangers of man-made climate change.

Are Most Lawyers Democrats Or Republicans?

When considering the rule of law, political bias shouldn’t matter — because law, by definition, is something determined by a set of facts, or at the very least by the general moral beliefs of our society as a whole. But the political bias of lawyers matters for another reason: It provides us with another way of gauging how closely intertwined law and economy really are. Would you be surprised if we said most lawyers give more money to the Democrats?

When Robert Mueller was compiling his report on potential Russian interference in the 2016 election and the possibility that the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump may have conspired with Russian officials to steal the election, many Republicans cried foul because some of the attorneys working with Mueller had donated to Democrats. 

Maya Sen, a political scientist at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) said, “The Trump administration surrogates [have found] an argument that’s really resonated. It’s that ‘Bob Mueller can’t really be trusted with this investigation and his investigation is inherently partisan because he’s amassed a team where many more members have donated more money to Democrats.”

But as it turns out — that’s just what lawyers are most likely to do. Should that really be a reason to call out the investigative process or results of any lawyer-led report to Congress? 

Sen said, “What’s interesting about it is that if Bob Mueller was throwing darts at a wall and the wall had names of elite attorneys [on it], and he was randomly choosing, he would choose a team where the people mostly donate to Democrats… According to our research, 68 percent of lawyers who’ve made any political contributions give more money to Democrats than Republicans.”

Should we start looking at political contributions as a factor when choosing lawyers? We obviously see political bias as an extremely important factor when installing Supreme Court justices. Then again, should we simply take money out of the equation by making it illegal for people in certain occupations to donate money to political campaigns? That wouldn’t do anything but make bias more invisible, but it would give us less of a reason to smear results based on political leanings, at the very least.

Sen goes on to explain that the trend toward liberal attorneys is relatively new from a historical point of view. Lawyers were conservative at least through the 70s. One of the reasons the trends changed might be the turn of the Civil Rights era. But that’s just speculation. Sen says that we really just don’t know for sure.

All we can really do is look at where the money goes.

Sen dismisses the aforementioned arguments made in the hopes of diminishing the Mueller report, though. He said, “Trump himself has given a lot of money to Democrats….Members of his family have donated in large numbers to Democrats, and members of his staff have donated in large numbers to Democrats.”

In other words, there are a lot of reasons why a person might donate to the Democrats — because even Republicans do it all the time.

Is Economic Law About To Catch Up With Big Tech Companies?

Some presidential contenders — Elizabeth Warren, namely — have been firing shots at big tech companies like Facebook and Google. She says they need to be broken up. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has been candid in his responses. He says his company will be ready to fight that battle when the day approaches (of course, that’s only if she or someone of a similar mind, like say, Bernie Sanders, is elected in 2020). 

As we all know, Trump is more “business friendly.” Even though that friendliness usually comes at everyone else’s expense.

But sometimes all a big name has to do is mention change for the process of change to begin. Former President Obama said as much when people asked him about his opinions on minimum wage. He thought the minimum wage should be higher — and as soon as those opinions were known, the fight for fifteen began in earnest. The federal government has done little for minimum wage, but state governments haven’t been waiting around doing nothing.

That’s why the recent California law passed recently is such a big deal. It forces big tech companies to stop treating their employees like contractors, and start treating them like, well, employees. Of course, tech companies seem to think laws are more of a suggestion than a certainty. If a law can successfully be flouted, then that law doesn’t matter. That’s exactly why Uber is being investigated five times over.

And not all is sitting well with the drivers who the new law applies to, either. They went on strike recently after Uber randomly decided to cut their pay by a massive 25 percent. That’s on top of the juggling going on within Uber’s corporate structure. Former CEO Travis Kalanick was ousted for his inability to nix the apparent sexual harassment that pervaded the company.

It’s difficult to see this kind of behavior from the leaders of big companies today and not compare it to the leaders of corporate empires yesterday. We’re thinking of those tech-heavy empires like Rockefeller, Dupont, JP Morgan, etc. The rampant corruption in the 1920s, in a lot of ways, was even worse. But that’s no reason not to hold big companies accountable now. 

Americans were quicker to make it to the polls back then, a massive response to the unreasonable leaders of those technological entities. And perhaps the recent wave of Democratic wins in Kentucky and Virginia are a sign of what’s to come: bigger turnout because more Americans want to see their leaders — and the corporate leaders who have them under their thumbs — held accountable for their illegal actions.

California Passed A New Law Aimed At Sports Players: What Does It Mean?

Senate Bill 206 was recently signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. SB206 at first glance doesn’t really seem to represent the liberal bastion where it was conceived: it provides college athletes with the ability to make money by using their name, image, and likeness. It also allows them to participate in and sign endorsement deals. The NCAA does not allow these rules, which puts the organization at odds with California’s new law.

But what does it all mean?

To the layman, it might sound like a way to make rich athletes richer — but contrary to popular belief, college athletes make little to nothing — if anything at all — and their schools generally profit substantially from these sports programs. The legislators want to give these impressive players the ability to earn their fair share, especially since not everyone will play professionally, at which point of course they would make significant income using those skills.

But the effort does not end there. Almost immediately after the new California legislation was signed into law, Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Miller and House Democrat Ed Gainey decided to use the precedent to position their own version of the bill, also called the Fair Pay to Play Act. 

Gainey said his bill will “capitalize on recent efforts in California to help balance the scales and allow our college athletes to sign endorsement deals, earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness, and sign licensing contracts that will allow them to earn money.”

Miller said, “The California success is sort of the ringing of the bell that we need to tilt this conversation into common sense reality. The future is starting in California. It’s time to roll. Let’s get Pennsylvania in play.”

Newsom believes that those paying attention to the issue should expect more nonpartisan efforts to be written and put into law, and soon. “I imagine you’ll see dozens more in the next few months,” he said.

“This is a nation-state, California. This is not a small, isolated state. This is a game changer.”

The NCAA is resistant to the slew of new laws. They released a statement following the California legislation, contending that lawmakers didn’t understand what effect their actions would have on the players or the sports. According to the statement, the laws would “make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field.”

But when has the playing field been level?

Sports economist Andy Schwarz said, “The belief that talent is fairly evenly distributed across the country is blatantly false. Alabama is probably a better path into the NFL, and that’s way more valuable for most athletes.”

Trump Still Arguing He Has Authority To Order Companies Out Of China

President Donald Trump is basing his arguments on a 1977 law that he says gives him the authority to order companies to leave China and prevent them from doing business with the rival country. But does he really?

The trade war between the United States and China is still going strong, although many signs point to the media’s hype over the confrontation may be a tad overstated (and not doing serious economic damage to either country, but we won’t know for sure for some time). China recently unloaded another layer of tariffs on nearly $75 billion in United States products. The escalations don’t seem any closer to calming down.

Trump tweeted: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China including bringing …your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Naturally, Trump’s political opponents — and just about everyone else — jumped at the opportunity to remind him that he completely lacks the authority to make such an order. He’s been justifying the argument ever since.

Before heading to the G7 summit in France, he said to reporters: “I have the absolute right to do that, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Why does he think he has the right?

Apparently the best he’s come up with is the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). He tweeted: “For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., trying looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!”

The law was drafted in the somewhat tumultuous era following the Watergate scandal and war in Vietnam, and provide a president with the ability to declare a national emergency before choosing to regulate economic transactions due to threats to national security. 

Few people seem to understand how this gives the president the authority to do what he wants to do (because it doesn’t), especially since he hasn’t declared a national emergency. Even if he were to do so, he would still be forced to report his desired actions before Congress, and then expressly ask permission to implement them. It seems unlikely that even a Republican-controlled Congress would authorize the president to “order” American companies operating in China to leave the country.

The IEEPA has been used many times before, such as when President Carter used it to impose trade sanctions against Iran in response to the hostage crisis of 1979. 

Professor Stephen Vladeck of the University of Texas tweeted: “One of the enduring phenomena of the Trump era is going to be the list of statutes that give far too much power to the President, but that many didn’t used to worry about — assuming there’d be political safeguards. Today’s entrant: The International Emergency Economic Powers Act.”

What Effect Is The Trade War Having In China And The United States?

We’ve all heard the many blown-up promises of the Trump Administration: he said everyone would love him and he’d improve relations with countries all over the world. He said he’d be great for the economy. He said a lot more. But we’ve also come to expect that most of what he says is one great big lie, drawn out over an extended period of time. Global stocks are all over the place today, in large part due to Trump’s recent threat of tariffs. This is good news for absolutely no one.

Trump announced a surprise hike on tariffs: ten percent on nearly $300 billion worth of goods stamped “Made in China.” This new round of the trade war will begin on the first of September. Why he did it is anyone’s guess, but China’s government predictably responded with threats of their own. Unfortunately the Chinese didn’t say exactly what they would do, save for retaliate. Ignorance is never good for the world economy, and it had a chilling effect on today’s markets in London, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

China’s currency lost value compared to the dollar, falling to 6.9520, the lowest since December 2018. 

On Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 281 points because of the news.

Although the proposed tariffs aren’t huge in comparison to the GDP of either country, the real difference is in the mind of the investor. Maybe a year ago — or even a few months ago — investors may have assumed that the trade war would end quickly. But Trump shows no signs of wearing down, and neither do the Chinese. If this new status quo persists for too long, the economies of both countries will begin to crumble, and so too will the economies of smaller countries all over the world. 

Because consumer confidence is beginning to falter in both countries, China’s economy has already shown strong signs of slowing down due to the trade war. Sales of electronic goods and some vehicles are slowing down. While this pressure may eventually force Chinese President Xi Jinping to find common ground with Trump soon, no one should expect this outcome. 

China’s imports have also slowed to a crawl. Integrated circuits, industrial products, and military purchases are declining as the war drags on. Consumer spending even during a big Chinese holiday — National Day break — didn’t give investors much confidence. It was the slowest period since the holiday started in 2000.

It’s anyone’s guess what will happen next.

How Will Man-Made Global Climate Change Affect Our Future Economy?

It’s one of the greatest ironies of our time: so many of us are indifferent to the catastrophic effects of man-made global climate change because we’re so brainwashed into thinking today’s economy is more important than any future problems. It’s no surprise. It’s the same argument we heard when we asked people about their position on civil rights like gay marriage: “I think we should focus on the economy, that’s today’s problem. When we fix it, we can worry about gay marriage.”

Or here’s one better for you: “I think we should focus on the economy, that’s today’s problem. When we fix it, we can worry about slavery.”

The more times change, the more they stay the same. Humans are easy to manipulate; find something that excites them to passion, like the exaggerated or outright fall stories on Fox News, and you can pretty much convince them that anything is important (like building a financially and environmentally costly border wall). 

But what’s the ironic part? Well, man-made global climate change, left unchecked, will completely devastate the global economy. And faster than most of us realize.

People mistake the idea of climate change to think that it will affect every part of the world uniformly, which is part of the reason a couple of degrees of average warming doesn’t sound like a big deal. But that’s not how it works. One area might experience summers ten or twenty degrees warmer than average, causing catastrophic heat waves and droughts, tornadoes and wildfires. Other areas might experience cooler than average temperatures, leading to winter blizzards or springtime floods and landslides.

All of those things cost money! These extreme weather events have cost us in the neighborhood of $1.6 trillion since 1980 — and that’s a time before the effects of climate change were really well known or even in full swing. These effects have only grown, and they are growing exponentially.

Here’s the bottom line: scientists argue that a temperature increase of two degrees Celcius would slash the global gross domestic product by about fifteen percent, or 25 percent if the temperature rose by three degrees Celcius. Right now, if we continue to go about our business as we have been, these realities are inevitable. 
That’s nothing when you stop to consider the lives lost due to extreme weather, or the financial cost of the hundreds of millions who will be displaced from larger cities due to rising sea levels. That’s nothing when you stop to consider the impact on global food production. In fact, it’s nothing when you stop to consider what actual people will have to go through because of everyone who said this wasn’t a problem for today.