The Pronk Pops Show 1314, Septeber 6, 3019, Story 1: Hurricane Dorian Increased Speed to 15 MPH with Top Winds of 90 MPH, Going North East, Moving On and Downgraded to Category 1 Hurricane  — Videos — Story 2: Only 130,000 Jobs Created in August, U-3 Unemployment Rate 3.7%, Civilian Labor Participation Rate Rises To 63.3% Still Way Below The 66% to 67% Labor Participation Rate of The Late 1990s and Early 2000s — Economic Real Gross Domestic Product Growth Rate Still Below U.S. Historical of Average of 3.0 to 3.5% — Federal Reserve Should Cut Fed Funds Rate By .25% in September — No Recession Until 2021 — Prediction: Trump Reelected in Landslide Victory as American People Reject Radical Extremist Democratic Socialist (REDS) Promises In Favor of Trump Promised Kept — Videos — Story 3: Universal Basic Income or Graduated Fair Tax Less With $1000 Monthly Tax Prebate — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1314 September 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1313 August 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1312 August 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1311 August 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1310 August 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1309 August 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1308 August 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1307 August 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1306 August 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1305 August 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1304 August 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1303 August 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1302 August 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1301 August 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1300 August 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1299 July 31, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1298 July 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1297 July 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1296 July 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1295 July 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1294 July 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1293 July 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1287 July 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1282 June 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1281 June 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1280 June 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1279 June 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1276 June 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

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Story 1: Hurricane Dorian Increased Speed to 15 MPH with Top Winds of 90 MPH, Going North East, Moving On and Downgraded to Category 1 Hurricane  — Videos

UPDATAED September 7, 2019

The latest: A Saturday, September 7, map shows how Dorian is expected to move along New England, hitting Maine, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia and then Newfoundland, over the weekend

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UPDATED September 5-6, 2019

Tropical weather forecast & Dorian evening update: Sept. 6, 2019

Bodies everywhere’: Harrowing account of Bahamas after Dorian

Hurricane Dorian: Witnessing Bahamas aftermath shows ‘historic tragedy’ | ITV News

Hurricane Dorian NC: Storm now just off of Wilmington, tracking the timeline of the storm

Dorian Passes Charleston, Flooding And Power Outages Major Concern | NBC News

Timeline of Hurricane Dorian thus far

The 2 PM Advisory on Hurricane Dorian has been released

Tropical weather forecast & Dorian midday update: Sept. 3, 2019

Hurricane Dorian stalls off Florida coast

Erosion still major concern for South Florida beaches due to Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian 5 a.m. advisory Sept. 3

Florida locals hunker down despite Hurricane Dorian evacuation order

Hurricane Dorian: How a survivor in Bahamas escaped

 

Slow-crawling Dorian a new kind of threat

Issam AHMED

AFP
Hurricane Dorian broke into the record books on Sunday when its maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (300 kph) tied it in second place with 1998's Gilbert and 2005's Wilma as the most powerful Atlantic storm since 1950
Hurricane Dorian broke into the record books on Sunday when its maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (300 kph) tied it in second place with 1998’s Gilbert and 2005’s Wilma as the most powerful Atlantic storm since 1950 (AFP Photo/NOAA)
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 After devastating the Bahamas, Dorian is continuing its long crawl toward the southeast US with slightly weakened winds.

So what has made this relatively small hurricane so destructive?

– Packing a punch –

Hurricane Dorian stormed into the record books on Sunday when its maximum sustained winds of 185 miles (300 kilometers) per hour tied it in second place with 1998’s Gilbert and 2005’s Wilma as the most powerful Atlantic hurricane since 1950, according to Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project.

First place is still held by 1980’s Allen, which had maximum sustained winds of 190 mph.

Dorian is also the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the Bahamas by pressure.

From its peak as a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, it has weakened to a Category 2 storm, but the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned Americans to not take it lightly.

That’s because wind speed is only one of a number of factors that make hurricanes destructive, including the storm surge and rainfall potential, as well as how long it stalls over one spot.

Dorian stalked the Bahamas for a highly unusual 18 hours, during which time it dumped in excess of 24 inches (60 cm) of rainfall, according to NASA data.

The archipelago’s northernmost island also experienced storm surges estimated by the NHC at 10- to 15-foot (3m to 4.5m) above tide levels. At least five people have so far been reported killed, though the toll is expected to rise.

– Hurricanes that stall –

While over the Bahamas, Dorian’s forward motion was at times just one mile per hour, heightening its destruction and making it harder for forecasters to predict its future path.

Kristy Dahl, a climate scientist with US advocacy group the Union of Concerned Scientists, told AFP hurricanes that stall for a long time are becoming more common, and recent studies show the phenomenon could be linked to man-made climate change.

The temperature contrast between the planet’s higher and lower latitudes is the main driver of wind. Scientists suspect that because the Arctic regions are warming faster than those at the equator, global atmospheric circulation is also falling.

Before Dorian, Harvey loitered in Texas in 2017, while Florence stalled over North Carolina last September.

A study by NASA and NOAA scientists published in June found that between 1944 and 2017, the average forward speed of hurricanes decreased by 17 percent, from 11.5 mph, to 9.6 mph.

– Climate change supercharging storms –

While the science linking climate change and hurricane stalling is cutting-edge and still under discussion, there is a far more broad consensus on the other ways that global warming is supercharging storms.

The overall number of hurricanes is not increasing, but more are going on to become powerful Category 4 and 5 storms.

There are three main factors, according to Dahl. First, the excess heat from global warming has primarily been absorbed by the oceans, meaning that storms pass over warmer water carrying more potential energy that translates into rainfall and stronger winds.

“The warming has been even more pronounced in the Atlantic Ocean, which has warmed by about 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.3 degrees Celsius) per decade since the 1970s,” Dahl wrote in a blog post.

Secondly, rising sea levels make the storm surges higher and more extensive. And thirdly, warmer air holds more moisture — an example of which was seen during Hurricane Harvey, which dumped 60 inches of rainfall.

A study by US federal researchers published in the influential journal Nature in February identified another trend: hurricanes are increasingly undergoing “rapid intensification” over a short period of time, with the scientists linking the phenomenon to man-made climate change.

Dorian also rapidly intensified not once but twice over this weekend.

“The percentage of Atlantic hurricanes that have experienced rapid intensification has tripled since the 1980s, it’s not something that we can explain by natural climate variability,” said Dahl.

https://news.yahoo.com/slow-crawling-dorian-kind-threat-201113535.html

 

Evacuations, States of Emergency Issued for States in Hurricane Dorian’s Path

Hurricane Dorian is expected to hit Florida Tuesday with 120 mph winds and unrelenting rain.

Dorian to Hit Florida, Carolinas as Category 3

A road is flooded during the passing of Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas.

Hurricane Dorian has already devastated the Bahamas, where it made landfall as a Category 5 storm with winds of 180 mph.(AP PHOTO/TIM AYLEN)

HURRICANE DORIAN IS forecast to hit the United States as a Category 3 hurricane Tuesday, making landfall over Florida.

Dorian is packing 120 mph winds as it moves northwestward from the Bahamas to the east coast of Florida, where it is expected to hit with life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds. It is projected to strike the east coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and the risk of similar conditions is increasing for North Carolina.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered mandatory evacuations for 11 counties, and voluntary evacuations are in place for an additional five. Eighty-five shelters have been opened and almost 200,000 free WiFi hotspots have been established to enable communication, according to the governor’s office.

Additionally, Florida has 819,000 gallons of water and 1.8 million meals ready for distribution with a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an additional 9 million liters of water and 6.5 million meals. More than 4,500 Florida Guardsman have been deployed, and 21 Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are being prepared.

Hurricane Dorian has already devastated the Bahamas, where it made landfall as a Category 5 storm with winds of 180 mph. The slow-moving system has lingered over the islands, bringing rain, violent winds, dangerous flooding and catastrophic damage.

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said authorities have confirmed five deaths and that many more people are “in serious distress” amid the “historic tragedy.”

After Florida, Dorian is expected to move northward, hitting Georgia and South Carolina on Thursday, where hurricane watches are in effect, according to the hurricane center.tional Guardsman for storm preparation and response. Emergency shelters are being established, and Kemp ordered mandatory evacuations for six counties, the governor’s office reported. A state of emergency is in effect for a dozen counties.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency and ordered mandatory evacuations for residents in eight counties, the governor’s office said.

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2019-09-03/evacuations-states-of-emergency-issued-for-states-in-hurricane-dorians-path

Terrifying moment screaming group is swept away in raging Bahamas floodwaters as Hurricane Dorian pounds the Caribbean island, leaves five dead and moves ‘dangerously close’ to the Florida shore as thousands evacuate and Disney World shuts early

  • Dorian is expected to move towards Florida today with 110mph winds, storm surges and possible tornadoes 
  • Thousands have fled their homes and boarded up shops and houses, with 9,500 people staying in shelters
  • The hurricane is not currently predicted to hit land but ‘only a small deviation’ could send it into the mainland 

Terrifying video shows the moment a screaming group of people desperately swim through raging floodwaters to safety as Hurricane Dorian passed over the Bahamas.

Four people are seen being swept away by the fast-moving water in the Abaco Islands on Sunday.

As they continue to struggle against the current, they grab onto downed trees in an attempt to help one another to safety.

As they make their way out of the floodwaters, a rope appears to be keeping them together. In the video, which was obtained by ABC News, a man is then seen helping the group out of the water using the rope.

The Coast Guard was deployed to Andros Island, where they evacuated residents from the Marsh Harbour Clinic to Nassau International Airport on Monday.

Four Jayhawk aircrews completed five medical evacuations of 19 people, ranging in ages from children to elderly, in various medical conditions.

The Coast Guard continued its search in the Bahamas, where five people have been killed by Hurricane Dorian, early Tuesday morning.

Scroll down for video  

Terrifying video shows the moment a screaming group of people (pictured) desperately swim through raging floodwaters to safety as Hurricane Dorian passed over the Bahamas

Terrifying video shows the moment a screaming group of people (pictured) desperately swim through raging floodwaters to safety as Hurricane Dorian passed over the Bahamas

Four people are seen being swept away by the fast-moving water in the Abaco Islands on Sunday. As they continue to struggle against the current, they grab onto downed trees (pictured) in an attempt to help one another to safety

Four people are seen being swept away by the fast-moving water in the Abaco Islands on Sunday. As they continue to struggle against the current, they grab onto downed trees (pictured) in an attempt to help one another to safety

As they make their way out of the floodwaters, a rope appears to be keeping them together. In the video, which was obtained by ABC News, a man is then seen helping the group out of the water using the rope

As they make their way out of the floodwaters, a rope appears to be keeping them together. In the video, which was obtained by ABC News, a man is then seen helping the group out of the water using the rope

On Tuesday morning, United Nations officials estimated that more than 60,000 people in the northwest Bahamas will need food following the devastation left by Dorian.

A spokesman for the UN World Food Program said that a team is ready to help the Bahamian government assess storm damage and prioritize needs.

Herve Verhoosel said preliminary calculations show that 45,700 people on Grand Bahama island may need food, along with another 14,500 in the neighboring Abaco islands.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says some 62,000 people also will need access to clean drinking water.

The Royal Family shared their condolences to the victims of Hurricane Dorian in a statement shared on Instagram

The Royal Family shared their condolences to the victims of Hurricane Dorian in a statement shared on Instagram

Matthew Cochrane says about 45 per cent of homes in Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely damaged or destroyed and the organization will help 20,000 of the most vulnerable people, including a large Haitian community.

Bahamas Health Minister Duane Sands said Dorian devastated the health infrastructure in Grand Bahama island and massive flooding has rendered the main hospital unusable.

He said Tuesday that the storm caused severe damage in the neighboring Abaco islands and he hopes to send an advanced medical team there soon.

Sands said the main hospital in Marsh Harbor is intact and sheltering 400 people but needs food, water, medicine and surgical supplies.

He also said crews are trying to airlift between five and seven end-stage kidney failure patients from Abaco who haven’t received dialysis since Friday.

The Royal Family shared their condolences to the victims of Hurricane Dorian in a statement that was shared on Instagram.

‘Prince Philip and I have been shocked and saddened to learn of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, and we send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives following this terrible storm,’ a message from Queen Elizabeth II reads.

‘At this very difficult time, my thoughts and prayers are with those who have seen their homes and property destroyed, and I also send my gratitude to the emergency services and volunteers who are supporting the rescue and recovery effort,’ the statement concluded.

Florida is now bracing for the impact of Hurricane Dorian on Tuesday as gusty winds and heavy rain start to hit the US coast.

The Coast Guard was deployed to Andros Island, where they evacuated residents people from the Marsh Harbour Clinic (pictured) to Nassau International Airport on Monday. Four Jayhawk aircrews completed five medical evacuations of 19 people, ranging in ages from children to elderly, in various medical conditions

The Coast Guard was deployed to Andros Island, where they evacuated residents people from the Marsh Harbour Clinic (pictured) to Nassau International Airport on Monday. Four Jayhawk aircrews completed five medical evacuations of 19 people, ranging in ages from children to elderly, in various medical conditions

The NHC said Dorian's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 110mph, but it's expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days

The NHC said Dorian’s maximum sustained winds decreased to near 110mph, but it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days

Thousands have been ordered to flee their homes and more than 9,500 people have taken cover in shelters across the state with many shops and houses boarded up

Thousands have been ordered to flee their homes and more than 9,500 people have taken cover in shelters across the state with many shops and houses boarded up

hurricane and could cause highly dangerous storm surges even if it does not make landfall on the US coast

Although Dorian has weakened, it remains a menacing Category 2 hurricane that could cause highly dangerous storm surges even if it does not make landfall on the US coast

While the storm is expected to stay offshore, experts have warned that 'only a small deviation' would be needed to bring it towards the mainland

While the storm is expected to stay offshore, experts have warned that ‘only a small deviation’ would be needed to bring it towards the mainland

 

This satellite image shows the devastation from the floods brought on by Hurricane Dorian on Grand Bahama

This satellite image shows the devastation from the floods brought on by Hurricane Dorian on Grand Bahama

Shortly after 11am on Tuesday, forecasters said Dorian had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane that could still cause highly dangerous storm surges even if it does not make landfall on the US coast.

The NHC said Dorian’s maximum sustained winds decreased to near 110mph, but it’s expected to remain a powerful hurricane during the next few days.

While the storm is expected to stay offshore, experts have warned that ‘only a small deviation’ would be needed to bring it towards the mainland.

Today Disney World announced it was closing early, shutting its doors at 3pm amid fears that Orlando could come into Dorian’s path if it veers off course.

‘We are closely monitoring the progress of the storm and are making operational adjustments as needed,’ the attraction’s website said.

Orlando International Airport is also closed.

‘This storm at this magnitude could really cause massive destruction. Do not put your life in jeopardy by staying behind when you have a chance to get out,’ warned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Trees blow in the wind on Cocoa Beach in Florida as a woman stopped to take a picture Monday night ahead of Hurricane Dorian

Trees blow in the wind on Cocoa Beach in Florida as a woman stopped to take a picture Monday night ahead of Hurricane Dorian

A woman shields her face from the wind, rain and blowing sand whipped up by Hurricane Dorian as she walked on Cocoa Beach in Florida on Monday

A woman shields her face from the wind, rain and blowing sand whipped up by Hurricane Dorian as she walked on Cocoa Beach in Florida on Monday

The hurricane is seen in a satellite image with the state of Florida marked. The storm stalled over the Bahamas but is set to move towards the US coast later Tuesday

The hurricane is seen in a satellite image with the state of Florida marked. The storm stalled over the Bahamas but is set to move towards the US coast later Tuesday

The National Hurricane Center shared a photo mapping out Hurricane Dorian’s possible path, with the storm reaching Florida on Tuesday

Florida Senator Rick Scott wrote on Twitter that ‘a slight wobble west’ would bring the storm ‘on shore with devastating consequences’.

‘If you’re in an evacuation zone, get out NOW. We can rebuild your home. We can’t rebuild your life,’ he said.

Dorian was due to move towards Florida Monday night but instead stalled over the Bahamas.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) now predicts the ‘extremely dangerous’ storm will ‘move dangerously close to the Florida east coast late today through Wednesday evening’.

More than 1,300 flights have been cancelled already with another 1,600 scrapped on Tuesday, many involving Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami airports.

Port Everglades, a seaport which is home to several major cruise lines, was also shut.

Today a hurricane watch was in effect for Florida’s East Coast from Deerfield Beach north to South Santee River in South Carolina.

Businesses are boarded up near Fort Pierce Jetty Park in Florida, with graffiti on one shutter saying: 'Go away Dorian'

Businesses are boarded up near Fort Pierce Jetty Park in Florida, with graffiti on one shutter saying: ‘Go away Dorian’

Kacy Carvajal holds her friend's daughter, two-year-old Emily Castaneda, as they check in to an evacuation shelter at the Vero Beach High School Freshman Learning Center in Florida on Monday

Kacy Carvajal holds her friend’s daughter, two-year-old Emily Castaneda, as they check in to an evacuation shelter at the Vero Beach High School Freshman Learning Center in Florida on Monday

Juna Beach residents Anneka (left), 8, and sister, Breanna, 10, right, along with their mother, Leah Hanza, center, get a close look at the waves crashing against the Juno Beach Pier as the hurricane crawls towards Florida

Juna Beach residents Anneka (left), 8, and sister, Breanna, 10, right, along with their mother, Leah Hanza, center, get a close look at the waves crashing against the Juno Beach Pier as the hurricane crawls towards Florida

Hurricane Dorian caused evacuations in numerous areas of Florida, including in Palm Beach where President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club is located. A photo of the resort just days before the storm

A photo of Mar-a-Lago from Tuesday shows a storm surge brought on by Hurricane Dorian

A storm surge watch was extended northward to South Santee River in South Carolina. Lake Okeechobee was under a tropical storm watch.

The evacuation zone includes some areas in Palm Beach County, home to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. A photo showed the storm shutters covering the doors and windows of Mar-a-Lago.

In southern Florida’s Port Saint Lucie – a low-income area where mobile home parks stood all-but emptied of their residents – Dan Peatle, 78, fled his retirement community to take shelter in a hotel.

‘It makes me sick. I don’t like it,’ he said.

‘I’ve been through seven or eight of them since I’ve been in Florida, since ’73. And, they’re all the same, you know. Tear everything up, put it back together. But, I chose to live here so I might as well live with it, you know.’

Shop windows are seen boarded up in Deerfield Beach, Florida, with the storm set to move towards the US mainland today

Shop windows are seen boarded up in Deerfield Beach, Florida, with the storm set to move towards the US mainland today

A lifeguard tower is seen on the shore under gloomy skies at Las Olas Beach in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, only two beachgoers visible in the water

A lifeguard tower is seen on the shore under gloomy skies at Las Olas Beach in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, only two beachgoers visible in the water

A sign tells motorists that Port Everglades, where several major cruise lines are docked, is closed due to the hurricane

Homes on the Intracoastal Waterway are seen with their hurricane shutters up as Hurricane Dorian approaches in Boca Raton

More than 9,500 people have taken cover in 121 shelters in Florida, according to the state’s Division of Emergency Management.

Among them is 30-year-old Stefanie Passieux, who took shelter along with her two children and mother.

‘I came yesterday, as soon as it opened. They said we were in a state of emergency so I came,’ she said. ‘My dad is staying with the cats, but we left. He never leaves. He doesn’t do shelters.’

Further up the coast, some 830,000 people were ordered to evacuate in South Carolina with all lanes of Interstate 26 out of Charleston reversed on Monday to allow motorists to head inland.

Georgia has also ordered mandatory evacuations on its Atlantic coast.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned his state that it could see heavy rain, winds and floods later in the week.

His Virginia counterpart Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency yesterday although state officials are yet to order any evacuations.

Beachegoers are seen on the shore under dark and gloomy skies at Las Olas Beach in Fort Lauderdale on Monday

People walk the shoreline of Juno Beach near the pier under high gust winds as Hurricane Dorian crawled toward Florida

Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale

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Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale
Category Wind speeds
Five ≥70 m/s, ≥137 knots
≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h
Four 58–70 m/s, 113–136 knots
130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h
Three 50–58 m/s, 96–112 knots
111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h
Two 43–49 m/s, 83–95 knots
96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h
One 33–42 m/s, 64–82 knots
74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h
Related classifications
Tropical
storm
18–32 m/s, 34–63 knots
39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h
Tropical
depression
≤17 m/s, ≤33 knots
≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffir%E2%80%93Simpson_Hurricane_Scale

Story 2: Only 130,000 Jobs Created in August, U-3 Unemployment Rate 3.7%, Civilian Labor Participation Rate Rises To 63.3% Still Way Below The 66% to 67% Labor Participation Rate of The Late 1990s and Early 2000s — Economic Real Gross Domestic Product Growth Rate Still Below U.S. Historical of Average of 3.0 to 3.5% — Federal Reserve Should Cut Fed Funds Rate By .25% in September — No Recession Until 2021 — Prediction: Trump Reelected in Landslide Victory as American People Reject Radical Extremist Democratic Socialist (REDS) Promises In Favor of Trump Promises Kept — Videos —

 

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Record 157,878,000 Employed in August; Record Low Unemployment Rate for Blacks

By Susan Jones | September 6, 2019 | 8:44 AM EDT

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – The number of people employed in the United States hit a record 157,878,000 in August, the 21st record set under President Donald Trump, according to the employment report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s an increase of 590,000 from the record 157,228,000 employed in July.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent. For blacks, the unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 5.5 percent last month. And for Hispanics, the unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in August, which ties the record low set earlier this year.

In August, the civilian noninstitutional population in the United States was 259,432,000. That included all people 16 and older who did not live in an institution (such as a prison, nursing home or long-term care hospital). Of that civilian noninstutional population, 163,922,000 were in the labor force, meaning that they either had a job or were actively seeking one during the last month.

That boosted the labor force participation rate to 63.2 percent, which matches the Trump-era high set this past January and February. That’s a 0.2 percent gain from the 63.0 percent in July.

Of the 163,922,000 who were in the labor force, 6,044,000 were unemployed, which put the unemployment rate at 3.7 percent for a third straight month.

Among the major worker groups, BLS said, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent), adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (12.6 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), Blacks (5.5 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little or no change in August, although — as noted above — it’s never been better for blacks and Hispanics.

The economy added 130,000 jobs in August, boosted by employment gains  in the federal government, largely reflecting the hiring of temporary workers for the 2020 Census, BLS said. Notable job gains also occurred in health care and financial activities.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down by 15,000 to +178,000, and the change for July was revised down by 5,000 to +159,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 20,000 less than previously reported.

After revisions, job gains have averaged 156,000 per month over the last 3 months.

According to an August 21 update from the Congressional Budget Office:

Strong demand for goods and services over the past several years boosted the demand for labor and caused labor market conditions to strengthen steadily.

The labor market carried momentum from 2018 into the first half of 2019 and is expected to continue to grow at a healthy, albeit slower, pace over the next several years.

In CBO’s projections, the unemployment rate averages 3.7 percent in 2019 and 2020 and then steadily rises to 4.6 percent by the end of 2023 as output growth slows. Employment rose above its potential, or maximum sustainable, level in 2018 and is expected to remain above its potential level over the entire 2019–2023 period.

The labor force participation rate among prime-age workers (those between the ages of 25 and 54) has rebounded since 2015, adding about 1.5 million workers to the labor force and offsetting downward pressure on labor force participation from the retirement of baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1960). The labor force participation rate is projected to remain stable through 2020 before falling gradually toward its long-run trend.

Wage growth has accelerated and become increasingly broad-based in recent years, with low-wage earners experiencing particularly robust gains in their hourly wages. In CBO’s projections, wage growth picks up further before slowing in 2021.

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/record-157878000-employed-august-21st-record-under-trump

Here’s where the jobs are — in one chart

Civilian Labor Force Level

163,922,000

 

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 139003 138967 138730 138959 139107 139329 139439 139430 139622 139771 140025 140177
2000 142267(1) 142456 142434 142751 142388 142591 142278 142514 142518 142622 142962 143248
2001 143800 143701 143924 143569 143318 143357 143654 143284 143989 144086 144240 144305
2002 143883 144653 144481 144725 144938 144808 144803 145009 145552 145314 145041 145066
2003 145937(1) 146100 146022 146474 146500 147056 146485 146445 146530 146716 147000 146729
2004 146842(1) 146709 146944 146850 147065 147460 147692 147564 147415 147793 148162 148059
2005 148029(1) 148364 148391 148926 149261 149238 149432 149779 149954 150001 150065 150030
2006 150214(1) 150641 150813 150881 151069 151354 151377 151716 151662 152041 152406 152732
2007 153144(1) 152983 153051 152435 152670 153041 153054 152749 153414 153183 153835 153918
2008 154063(1) 153653 153908 153769 154303 154313 154469 154641 154570 154876 154639 154655
2009 154210(1) 154538 154133 154509 154747 154716 154502 154307 153827 153784 153878 153111
2010 153484(1) 153694 153954 154622 154091 153616 153691 154086 153975 153635 154125 153650
2011 153263(1) 153214 153376 153543 153479 153346 153288 153760 154131 153961 154128 153995
2012 154381(1) 154671 154749 154545 154866 155083 154948 154763 155160 155554 155338 155628
2013 155763(1) 155312 155005 155394 155536 155749 155599 155605 155687 154673 155265 155182
2014 155352(1) 155483 156028 155369 155684 155707 156007 156130 156040 156417 156494 156332
2015 157053(1) 156663 156626 157017 157616 157014 157008 157165 156745 157188 157502 158080
2016 158371(1) 158705 159079 158891 158700 158899 159150 159582 159810 159768 159629 159779
2017 159693(1) 159854 160036 160169 159910 160124 160383 160706 161190 160436 160626 160636
2018 161123(1) 161900 161646 161551 161667 162129 162209 161802 162055 162694 162821 163240
2019 163229(1) 163184 162960 162470 162646 162981 163351 163922
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

 Labor Force Participation Rate

63.2%

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 67.2 67.2 67.0 67.1 67.1 67.1 67.1 67.0 67.0 67.0 67.1 67.1
2000 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.1 67.1 66.9 66.9 66.9 66.8 66.9 67.0
2001 67.2 67.1 67.2 66.9 66.7 66.7 66.8 66.5 66.8 66.7 66.7 66.7
2002 66.5 66.8 66.6 66.7 66.7 66.6 66.5 66.6 66.7 66.6 66.4 66.3
2003 66.4 66.4 66.3 66.4 66.4 66.5 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 65.9
2004 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 66.0 66.1 66.1 66.0 65.8 65.9 66.0 65.9
2005 65.8 65.9 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0
2006 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.3 66.4
2007 66.4 66.3 66.2 65.9 66.0 66.0 66.0 65.8 66.0 65.8 66.0 66.0
2008 66.2 66.0 66.1 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 65.8
2009 65.7 65.8 65.6 65.7 65.7 65.7 65.5 65.4 65.1 65.0 65.0 64.6
2010 64.8 64.9 64.9 65.2 64.9 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.6 64.4 64.6 64.3
2011 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.2 64.1 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.1 64.1 64.0
2012 63.7 63.8 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.5 63.6 63.8 63.6 63.7
2013 63.7 63.4 63.3 63.4 63.4 63.4 63.3 63.3 63.2 62.8 63.0 62.9
2014 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8
2015 62.9 62.7 62.6 62.7 62.9 62.6 62.6 62.6 62.4 62.5 62.6 62.7
2016 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.7
2017 62.9 62.9 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.7 62.8 62.7
2018 62.7 63.0 62.9 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.7 62.7 62.9 62.9 63.1
2019 63.2 63.2 63.0 62.8 62.8 62.9 63.0 63.2

 Employment Level

157,878,000

Series Id:           LNS12000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status:  Employed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 133027 132856 132947 132955 133311 133378 133414 133591 133707 133993 134309 134523
2000 136559(1) 136598 136701 137270 136630 136940 136531 136662 136893 137088 137322 137614
2001 137778 137612 137783 137299 137092 136873 137071 136241 136846 136392 136238 136047
2002 135701 136438 136177 136126 136539 136415 136413 136705 137302 137008 136521 136426
2003 137417(1) 137482 137434 137633 137544 137790 137474 137549 137609 137984 138424 138411
2004 138472(1) 138542 138453 138680 138852 139174 139556 139573 139487 139732 140231 140125
2005 140245(1) 140385 140654 141254 141609 141714 142026 142434 142401 142548 142499 142752
2006 143150(1) 143457 143741 143761 144089 144353 144202 144625 144815 145314 145534 145970
2007 146028(1) 146057 146320 145586 145903 146063 145905 145682 146244 145946 146595 146273
2008 146378(1) 146156 146086 146132 145908 145737 145532 145203 145076 144802 144100 143369
2009 142152(1) 141640 140707 140656 140248 140009 139901 139492 138818 138432 138659 138013
2010 138438(1) 138581 138751 139297 139241 139141 139179 139438 139396 139119 139044 139301
2011 139250(1) 139394 139639 139586 139624 139384 139524 139942 140183 140368 140826 140902
2012 141584(1) 141858 142036 141899 142206 142391 142292 142291 143044 143431 143333 143330
2013 143292(1) 143362 143316 143635 143882 143999 144264 144326 144418 143537 144479 144778
2014 145150(1) 145134 145648 145667 145825 146247 146399 146530 146778 147427 147404 147615
2015 148150(1) 148053 148122 148491 148802 148765 148815 149175 148853 149270 149506 150164
2016 150622(1) 150934 151146 150963 151074 151104 151450 151766 151877 151949 152150 152276
2017 152128(1) 152417 152958 153150 152920 153176 153456 153591 154399 153847 153945 154065
2018 154482(1) 155213 155160 155216 155539 155592 155964 155604 156069 156582 156803 156945
2019 156694(1) 156949 156748 156645 156758 157005 157288 157878
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

 Employment-Population Ratio

60.9%

Series Id:           LNS12300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Employment-Population Ratio
Labor force status:  Employment-population ratio
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 64.4 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.3 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.3 64.4 64.4
2000 64.6 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.4 64.5 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.2 64.3 64.4
2001 64.4 64.3 64.3 64.0 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.2 63.5 63.2 63.0 62.9
2002 62.7 63.0 62.8 62.7 62.9 62.7 62.7 62.7 63.0 62.7 62.5 62.4
2003 62.5 62.5 62.4 62.4 62.3 62.3 62.1 62.1 62.0 62.1 62.3 62.2
2004 62.3 62.3 62.2 62.3 62.3 62.4 62.5 62.4 62.3 62.3 62.5 62.4
2005 62.4 62.4 62.4 62.7 62.8 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.8 62.7 62.8
2006 62.9 63.0 63.1 63.0 63.1 63.1 63.0 63.1 63.1 63.3 63.3 63.4
2007 63.3 63.3 63.3 63.0 63.0 63.0 62.9 62.7 62.9 62.7 62.9 62.7
2008 62.9 62.8 62.7 62.7 62.5 62.4 62.2 62.0 61.9 61.7 61.4 61.0
2009 60.6 60.3 59.9 59.8 59.6 59.4 59.3 59.1 58.7 58.5 58.6 58.3
2010 58.5 58.5 58.5 58.7 58.6 58.5 58.5 58.6 58.5 58.3 58.2 58.3
2011 58.3 58.4 58.4 58.4 58.3 58.2 58.2 58.3 58.4 58.4 58.6 58.6
2012 58.4 58.5 58.5 58.4 58.5 58.6 58.5 58.4 58.7 58.8 58.7 58.7
2013 58.6 58.6 58.5 58.6 58.6 58.6 58.7 58.7 58.7 58.3 58.6 58.7
2014 58.8 58.7 58.9 58.9 58.9 59.0 59.0 59.0 59.1 59.3 59.2 59.3
2015 59.3 59.2 59.2 59.3 59.4 59.3 59.3 59.4 59.2 59.3 59.4 59.6
2016 59.7 59.8 59.8 59.7 59.7 59.6 59.7 59.8 59.8 59.7 59.8 59.8
2017 59.9 59.9 60.1 60.2 60.0 60.1 60.1 60.1 60.4 60.2 60.1 60.2
2018 60.2 60.4 60.4 60.3 60.4 60.4 60.5 60.3 60.4 60.6 60.6 60.6
2019 60.7 60.7 60.6 60.6 60.6 60.6 60.7 60.9

 

Unemployment Level

6,044,000

 

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 5976 6111 5783 6004 5796 5951 6025 5838 5915 5778 5716 5653
2000 5708 5858 5733 5481 5758 5651 5747 5853 5625 5534 5639 5634
2001 6023 6089 6141 6271 6226 6484 6583 7042 7142 7694 8003 8258
2002 8182 8215 8304 8599 8399 8393 8390 8304 8251 8307 8520 8640
2003 8520 8618 8588 8842 8957 9266 9011 8896 8921 8732 8576 8317
2004 8370 8167 8491 8170 8212 8286 8136 7990 7927 8061 7932 7934
2005 7784 7980 7737 7672 7651 7524 7406 7345 7553 7453 7566 7279
2006 7064 7184 7072 7120 6980 7001 7175 7091 6847 6727 6872 6762
2007 7116 6927 6731 6850 6766 6979 7149 7067 7170 7237 7240 7645
2008 7685 7497 7822 7637 8395 8575 8937 9438 9494 10074 10538 11286
2009 12058 12898 13426 13853 14499 14707 14601 14814 15009 15352 15219 15098
2010 15046 15113 15202 15325 14849 14474 14512 14648 14579 14516 15081 14348
2011 14013 13820 13737 13957 13855 13962 13763 13818 13948 13594 13302 13093
2012 12797 12813 12713 12646 12660 12692 12656 12471 12115 12124 12005 12298
2013 12471 11950 11689 11760 11654 11751 11335 11279 11270 11136 10787 10404
2014 10202 10349 10380 9702 9859 9460 9608 9599 9262 8990 9090 8717
2015 8903 8610 8504 8526 8814 8249 8194 7990 7892 7918 7995 7916
2016 7749 7771 7932 7928 7626 7795 7700 7817 7933 7819 7480 7503
2017 7565 7437 7078 7019 6991 6948 6927 7115 6791 6588 6682 6572
2018 6641 6687 6486 6335 6128 6537 6245 6197 5986 6112 6018 6294
2019 6535 6235 6211 5824 5888 5975 6063 6044

 

U-3 Unemployment Rate

3.7%

 

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

 

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.3 4.2 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.1 4.0
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.7
2002 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0
2003 5.8 5.9 5.9 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.8 5.7
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.4
2005 5.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9
2006 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4
2007 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.7 5.0
2008 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.1 6.1 6.5 6.8 7.3
2009 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.0 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.8 10.0 9.9 9.9
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.2 7.2 7.2 6.9 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.7 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.1 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6
2015 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.3 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 5.1 5.0
2016 4.9 4.9 5.0 5.0 4.8 4.9 4.8 4.9 5.0 4.9 4.7 4.7
2017 4.7 4.7 4.4 4.4 4.4 4.3 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.1 4.2 4.1
2018 4.1 4.1 4.0 3.9 3.8 4.0 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.7 3.9
2019 4.0 3.8 3.8 3.6 3.6 3.7 3.7 3.7

 

Not In Labor Force

95,510,000

 

Series Id:           LNS15000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Not in Labor Force
Labor force status:  Not in labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
1999 67715 67906 68306 68277 68320 68304 68390 68609 68642 68712 68641 68655
2000 69142 69120 69338 69267 69853 69876 70398 70401 70645 70782 70579 70488
2001 70088 70409 70381 70956 71414 71592 71526 72136 71676 71817 71876 72010
2002 72623 72010 72343 72281 72260 72600 72827 72856 72554 73026 73508 73675
2003 73960 74015 74295 74066 74268 73958 74767 75062 75249 75324 75280 75780
2004 75319 75648 75606 75907 75903 75735 75730 76113 76526 76399 76259 76581
2005 76808 76677 76846 76514 76409 76673 76721 76642 76739 76958 77138 77394
2006 77339 77122 77161 77318 77359 77317 77535 77451 77757 77634 77499 77376
2007 77506 77851 77982 78818 78810 78671 78904 79461 79047 79532 79105 79238
2008 78554 79156 79087 79429 79102 79314 79395 79466 79790 79736 80189 80380
2009 80529 80374 80953 80762 80705 80938 81367 81780 82495 82766 82865 83813
2010 83349 83304 83206 82707 83409 84075 84199 84014 84347 84895 84590 85240
2011 85441 85637 85623 85603 85834 86144 86383 86111 85940 86308 86312 86589
2012 87888 87765 87855 88239 88100 88073 88405 88803 88613 88429 88836 88722
2013 88900 89516 89990 89780 89827 89803 90156 90355 90481 91708 91302 91563
2014 91563 91603 91230 92070 91938 92107 92016 92099 92406 92240 92350 92695
2015 92671 93237 93454 93249 92839 93649 93868 93931 94580 94353 94245 93856
2016 94026 93872 93689 94077 94475 94498 94470 94272 94281 94553 94911 94963
2017 94389 94392 94378 94419 94857 94833 94769 94651 94372 95330 95323 95473
2018 95657 95033 95451 95721 95787 95513 95633 96264 96235 95821 95886 95649
2019 95010 95208 95577 96223 96215 96057 95874 95510

 

 

 

 

The seasonally-adjusted SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate reflects current unemployment reporting methodology adjusted for SGS-estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994. That estimate is added to the BLS estimate of U-6 unemployment, which includes short-term discouraged workers.

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.

 

Public Commentary on Unemployment

Unemployment Data Series   subcription required(Subscription required.)  View  Download Excel CSV File   Last Updated: September 6th, 2019

The ShadowStats Alternate Unemployment Rate for August 2019 is 21.2%.

http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts

 

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this news release is embargoed until	      USDL-19-1573
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, September 6, 2019

Technical information: 
 Household data:	(202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data:	(202) 691-6555  *  cesinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:		(202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov

	
                  THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- AUGUST 2019


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 130,000 in August, and the unemployment
rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Employment in federal government rose, largely reflecting the hiring of
temporary workers for the 2020 Census. Notable job gains also occurred in health
care and financial activities, while mining lost jobs. 

This news release presents statistics from two monthly surveys. The household
survey measures labor force status, including unemployment, by demographic
characteristics. The establishment survey measures nonfarm employment, hours, and
earnings by industry. For more information about the concepts and statistical
methodology used in these two surveys, see the Technical Note.

Household Survey Data

In August, the unemployment rate was 3.7 percent for the third month in a row,
and the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 6.0 million.
(See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.4 percent),
adult women (3.3 percent), teenagers (12.6 percent), Whites (3.4 percent), Blacks
(5.5 percent), Asians (2.8 percent), and Hispanics (4.2 percent) showed little or
no change in August. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little
changed at 1.2 million in August and accounted for 20.6 percent of the unemployed.
(See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate edged up to 63.2 percent in August but has shown
little change, on net, thus far this year. The employment-population ratio, at 60.9
percent, also edged up over the month and is up by 0.6 percentage point over the year.
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to
as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 397,000 to 4.4 million in August; this
increase follows a decline of similar magnitude in July. These individuals, who would
have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had
been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In August, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little
different from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for
a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because
they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 467,000 discouraged workers in August,
about unchanged from a year earlier. (Data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the
labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance
or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 130,000 in August. Job growth has averaged
158,000 per month thus far this year, below the average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018.
In August, employment in federal government rose, largely reflecting the hiring of
temporary workers for the 2020 Census. Private-sector employment was up by 96,000, with
notable job gains in health care and financial activities and a job loss in mining.
(See table B-1.)

In August, employment in federal government increased by 28,000. The gain was mostly
due to the hiring of 25,000 temporary workers to prepare for the 2020 Census.

Health care added 24,000 jobs over the month and 392,000 over the past 12 months. In
August, employment continued to trend up in ambulatory health care services (+12,000)
and in hospitals (+9,000). 

In August, financial activities employment rose by 15,000, with nearly half of the gain
occurring in insurance carriers and related activities (+7,000). Financial activities
has added 111,000 jobs over the year. 

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in August (+37,000).
Within the industry, employment increased by 10,000 both in computer systems design and
related services and in management of companies and enterprises. Monthly job gains in
professional and business services have averaged 34,000 thus far in 2019, below the
average monthly gain of 47,000 in 2018. 
 
Social assistance employment continued on an upward trend in August (+13,000). Within
the industry, individual and family services added 17,000 jobs. Social assistance has
added 100,000 jobs in the last 6 months.

Mining employment declined by 6,000 in August, with nearly all of the loss in support
activities for mining (-5,000).  

Retail trade employment changed little in August (-11,000). General merchandise stores
lost 15,000 jobs over the month and 80,000 jobs over the year. Building material and
garden supply stores added 9,000 jobs over the month.

Employment showed little change over the month in construction, manufacturing, transportation
and warehousing, and leisure and hospitality. Job growth in these industries has moderated
thus far in 2019 compared with 2018.

In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by
11 cents to $28.11, following 9-cent gains in both June and July. Over the past 12 months,
average hourly earnings have increased by 3.2 percent. In August, average hourly earnings
of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 11 cents to $23.59.
(See tables B-3 and B-8.) 
 
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour
to 34.4 hours in August. In manufacturing, the average workweek increased by 0.2 hour to
40.6 hours, and overtime declined by 0.1 hour to 3.2 hours. The average workweek of private-
sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 0.1 hour to 33.6 hours. 
(See tables B-2 and B-7.) 
 
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down by 15,000 from
+193,000 to +178,000, and the change for July was revised down by 5,000 from +164,000 to
+159,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 20,000
less than previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received
from businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the
recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 156,000 per
month over the last 3 months. 

_____________
The Employment Situation for September is scheduled to be released on Friday,
October 4, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).



The PDF version of the news release

News release charts

Supplemental Files Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: September 06, 2019 

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Aug.
2018
June
2019
July
2019
Aug.
2019
Change from:
July
2019-
Aug.
2019

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

258,066 259,037 259,225 259,432 207

Civilian labor force

161,802 162,981 163,351 163,922 571

Participation rate

62.7 62.9 63.0 63.2 0.2

Employed

155,604 157,005 157,288 157,878 590

Employment-population ratio

60.3 60.6 60.7 60.9 0.2

Unemployed

6,197 5,975 6,063 6,044 -19

Unemployment rate

3.8 3.7 3.7 3.7 0.0

Not in labor force

96,264 96,057 95,874 95,510 -364

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

3.8 3.7 3.7 3.7 0.0

Adult men (20 years and over)

3.5 3.3 3.4 3.4 0.0

Adult women (20 years and over)

3.5 3.3 3.4 3.3 -0.1

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

12.7 12.7 12.8 12.6 -0.2

White

3.4 3.3 3.3 3.4 0.1

Black or African American

6.3 6.0 6.0 5.5 -0.5

Asian

3.0 2.1 2.8 2.8 0.0

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

4.7 4.3 4.5 4.2 -0.3

Total, 25 years and over

3.2 3.0 3.0 2.9 -0.1

Less than a high school diploma

5.7 5.3 5.1 5.4 0.3

High school graduates, no college

3.9 3.9 3.6 3.6 0.0

Some college or associate degree

3.5 3.0 3.2 3.1 -0.1

Bachelor’s degree and higher

2.0 2.1 2.2 2.1 -0.1

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

2,868 2,736 2,798 2,876 78

Job leavers

866 888 833 781 -52

Reentrants

1,864 1,868 1,810 1,801 -9

New entrants

586 541 595 574 -21

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,199 1,961 2,201 2,207 6

5 to 14 weeks

1,722 1,830 1,797 1,757 -40

15 to 26 weeks

927 769 905 835 -70

27 weeks and over

1,320 1,414 1,166 1,243 77

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

4,368 4,347 3,984 4,381 397

Slack work or business conditions

2,581 2,707 2,385 2,678 293

Could only find part-time work

1,377 1,337 1,364 1,351 -13

Part time for noneconomic reasons

21,803 21,524 21,437 21,697 260

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

1,443 1,571 1,478 1,564

Discouraged workers

434 425 368 467

– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: September 06, 2019 

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.a.htm

 

Story 3: Universal Basic Income or Graduated Fair Tax Less With $1000 Monthly Tax Prebate — Videos

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Why everyone is talking about free cash handouts—an explainer on universal basic income

11:42
Elon Musk and Andrew Yang support Universal Basic Income — here’s what it…

The idea of free cash for all may seem too good to be true, but a growing number of high-profile people — from Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang to tech billionaire Elon Musk — say universal basic income, or UBI, may become a reality.

And the rest of America is becoming more interested, too: Google searches for the term “universal basic income” have multiplied as much as 50 times between 2015 and 2019.

So what is UBI? Here’s a primer.

What is UBI?

Universal basic income refers to regular cash payments made to a given population (such as adult U.S. citizens, for example) with minimal or no requirements for receiving the money, in order to increase people’s income, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Beyond that, however, there is often disagreement about what constitutes UBI.

”[T]here is no established common understanding” of UBI, according to economists Maura Francese and Delphine Prady. And therefore, “very different income-support programs are often labeled ‘universal basic income,’ even when they have little in common or do not aim at the same goal.”

However, common variances on the basic tenet include whether cash handouts replace or supplement existing social welfare programs, whether payments are distributed to a household or individual, who foots the bill and how often the payments are distributed.

Why is everybody talking about UBI now?

There are two main conditions fueling the emergence of UBI as a serious topic over the last few years.

The first is fears that automation will put millions of people out of work, leaving them with little or no income.

“There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk told CNBC in 2016. “Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen.”

0:00
Elon Musk: Robots will take your jobs, government will have to pay your wage

This is Andrew Yang’s thinking too. Yang, a 44-year-old entrepreneur running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made UBI the foundation of his 2020 campaign platform. His plan, which he calls the “Freedom Dividend,” is for the federal government to give all U.S. citizens ages 18 and over $1,000 per month.

Fellow Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders said in 2015 he is “absolutely sympathetic to that approach,” and former Vice President Joe Biden said in 2018 he would consider a UBI as a last resort. Republicans are more likely to be against UBI.

Americans, however, are split on whether they would support universal basic income as a solution for those whose jobs are replaced by robots: 48% support and 52% do not, according to a February 2018 Gallup survey.

There is also debate as to whether robots will actually take people’s jobs: A 2017 McKinsey & Company report estimates as much as one-third of the U.S. workforce may need to learn new skills and find a new job because of automation by 2030, while a 2017 report from Gartner says artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it eliminates.

The other major situation motivating the current conversation about UBI is America’s extreme and growing wealth inequality. Some see cash payments as a way to help even the playing field.

CNBC Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang in his campaign headquarters in February 2019.
CNBC Make It

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for one, falls into this camp.

“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract …. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas,” Zuckerberg said in his 2017 Harvard commencement speech. After all, he said, it was because he had a financial safety net from his dentist father that he felt free to try something as risky as turning Facebook into a business.

The wave of interest in UBI is also inspiring a smattering of experiments and pilot studies with UBI in the U.S.

The once-bankrupt town of Stockton, California, initiated an 18-month experiment in February, distributing monthly checks for $500 to 130 randomly selected Stockton residents to mitigate poverty and inequality. Michael Tubbs, the town’s now 28-year-old mayor, decided on the program after reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” In the book, King writes: ”… the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

And one of the country’s top start-up accelerators’ research arm, Y Combinator Research, has run small-scale tests in Oakland, California, to test and improve procedures ahead of a larger-scale program. In that program, 1,000 randomly selected individuals across two as-yet-undisclosed states will receive $1,000 per month for three years to study the impact of the cash transfer.

Who pays?

That depends on who you talk to.

Hillary Clinton seriously considered running her 2016 campaign for president on a platform built with UBI. But she couldn’t figure out a reasonable way to pay for it.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the numbers work,” Clinton wrote in her campaign memoir, “What Happened.” “To provide a meaningful dividend each year to every citizen, you’d have to raise enormous sums of money, and that would either mean a lot of new taxes or cannibalizing other important programs. We decided it was exciting but not realistic….”

Others believe there is a solution.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, a UBI supporter, says a guaranteed basic income should be paid for by the wealthiest 1% of society, according to his book, “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn.”

Chris Hughes

@chrishughes

Recurring cash payments, directly to the people who need it most, are a proven tool to beat back against the rising tide of . Discover how a can help lift 20 million people out of poverty overnight at http://fairshotbook.com .

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And Yang proposes to pay for UBI by implementing a value-added tax, or VAT, of 10% on goods and services a company produces. “Because our economy is so vast, this would generate between $700 and $800 billion in revenue,” he said on Reddit in 2018. Indeed, Eric Toder of the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Policy Center told CNBC Make It in 2018 that such a VAT in the United States could raise anywhere from $500 billion to $1 trillion, depending on how broadly the tax is applied.

One thing is certain, however: It would cost a lot.

“A truly universal UBI would be enormously expensive,” say Hilary Hoynes and Jesse Rothstein, economics and public policy professors at the University of California at Berkeley. “The kinds of UBIs often discussed would cost nearly double current total spending on the ‘big three’ programs (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid),” according to their working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in February. They also say these social welfare programs would still be needed even with UBI.

Will it work?

Critics say universal basic income is too expensive, that it gives people incentive to be unproductive, that it’s bad for people’s self-worth and that there are more efficient ways to spend government money to help those who can’t support themselves.

“Just giving $1,000 to everybody in itself is not the right solution” if helping those who need it most in society is the goal, Thomas Piketty, an economist and professor at the Paris School of Economics, told CNBC Make It at Columbia University in March.

And Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford, argued in the Financial Times that “individuals gain not only income, but meaning, status, skills, networks and friendships through work. Delinking income and work, while rewarding people for staying at home, is what lies behind social decay.”

Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz told CNBC in April, “I think there’s a certain dignity from work. Some of my younger students say, ‘Oh there could be a lot of dignity from meditation and from other ways of spending time.’ But I think for most people there will be a real desire to work,” Stiglitz says.

As far as the data goes, it’s mixed.

Some of the news seems positive. For example, left-leaning think tank Roosevelt Institute says a $1,000-a-month payment would actually grow the economy by $2.5 trillion by 2025 if it was paid for by increasing the federal deficit; however, increasing taxes would have no net benefit to the economy.

And some small UBI use cases seem to show that cash handouts help those who receive them in some ways — alleviating emotional stress and helping individuals pay their bills. However, it is not a silver bullet for unemployment.

Joseph Stiglitz on inequality, automation and UBI

For instance, preliminary results of a two-year experiment in Finland that gave 2,000 unemployed people 560 euros ($638) a month show that, for the first year of the study, 2017, those getting cash payments reported improved well-being. However, there was no effect on employment status. Results for employment status in 2018, the second year of the study, are not yet available.

A basic income pilot program in Ontario, Canada, launched in April 2017 with a plan to distribute varying monthly payments to more than 4,000 people living on incomes less than $34,000 Canadian (or about $25,925 U.S.) for up to three years via tax credits. In July, the government of Ontario announced it would shut down the program (due to the cost and a change in government leadership), and in August, it said that payments would run through March. But the advocacy group Basic Income Canada Network got some feedback. Responses from 424 participants indicated the payments gave them increased personal agency, relief from anxiety, increased social connection and the ability to invest in things like education and job-hunting.

Then there are the residents of Alaska, who receive a yearly dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund, which was launched in 1982 to pass along oil profits to future generations. In 2018, the payment was $1,600. Alaskans reportedly use the money for everything from heating oil and clothing to medical emergencies, travel and student loan payments. And a 2018 study of Alaskans suggests that “a universal and permanent cash transfer does not significantly decrease aggregate employment.”

Mark Zuckerberg: Alaska’s cash handout program “provides some good lessons for the rest of the country”

Correction: This article has been revised to reflect that Andrew Yang expanded his “Freedom Dividend” to include all U.S. citizens ages 18 and over and to reflect that Google Trends data shows the term “universal basic income” has been searched 50 times more in 2019 as it was in 2015.

See also:

Elon Musk: Robots will take your jobs, government will have to pay your wage

This California city’s 27-year-old mayor will give residents $500 free cash per month

Billionaire Mark Cuban: One of the ‘most patriotic’ things you can do is get ‘obnoxiously rich’

Universal Basic Income, Its Pros and Cons With Examples

Should Everyone Get a Guaranteed Income?

A universal basic income is a government guarantee that each citizen receives a minimum income. It is also called a citizen’s income, guaranteed minimum income, or basic income.

 

The Purpose of Universal Basic Income

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. said a guaranteed income would abolish poverty. That means reducing income inequality as well.

Economist Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax. The poor would receive a tax credit if their income fell below a minimum level. It would be equivalent to the tax payment for the families earning above the minimum level.
In 2018, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes outlined his plan in his book “Fair Shot.” He argues that U.S. workers, students, and caregivers making $50,000 or less a year should receive a guaranteed income of $500 a month. “Cash is the best thing you can do to improve health outcomes, education outcomes and lift people out of poverty,” Hughes said.
Hughes’ guaranteed income is financed by taxes on the top 1 percent. It would work through a modernization of the earned income tax credit.

To Hughes, it’s the only solution to an economy where “a small group of people are getting very, very wealthy while everyone else is struggling to make ends meet.” Hughes said automation and globalization have destroyed the employment market. It’s created a lot of part-time, contract, and temporary jobs. But those positions aren’t enough to provide a decent standard of living.

Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates agree. They argue that automation has fundamentally changed the structure of the U.S. economy. Sir Richard Branson said a guaranteed income is inevitable. Artificial intelligence will take too many jobs from people. Elon Musk said robotics will take away most people’s jobs, so a universal income is the only solution.
  • Workers could afford to wait for a better job or better wages.
  • People would have the freedom to return to school or stay home to care for a relative.
  • The “poverty trap” would be removed from traditional welfare programs.
  • Citizens could have simple, straightforward financial assistance that minimizes bureaucracy.
  • The government would spend less to administer the program than with traditional welfare.
  • Payments would help young couples start families in countries with low birth rates.
  • The payments could help stabilize the economy during recessionary periods.

Cons

  • Inflation could be triggered because of the increase in demand for goods and services.
  • There won’t be an increased standard of living in the long run because of inflated prices.
  • A reduced program with smaller payments won’t make a real difference to poverty-stricken families.
  • Free income may disincentivize people to get jobs, and make work seem optional.
  • Free income could perpetuate the falling labor force participation rate.
  • It would be difficult especially in the US to get legislation passed because of stiff opposition to handouts for the unemployed.

 

Detailed Advantages

An unconditional basic income would enable workers to wait for a better job or negotiate better wages. They could improve their marketability by going back to school. They could even quit their job to care for a relative.

Current welfare programs are also complicated for administrators and recipients. A simple cash payment would cut down on bureaucracy. It would replace housing vouchers, food stamps, and other programs.
The simplicity of the program means it would also cost governments less. Cash payments that went to everyone would eliminate costly income-verification paperwork. Conservative Utah Senator Mike Lee told the Heritage Foundation, “There’s no reason the federal government should maintain 79 different means-tested programs.” Only applicants with low incomes qualify for means-tested programs.
Some countries are concerned about falling birth rates. A guaranteed income would give young couples the confidence they need to start a family. It would also provide workers the confidence to bid up wages. From a macro viewpoint, it would give society a much-needed ballast during a recession.

 

Detailed Disadvantages

If everyone suddenly received a basic income, it would create inflation. Most would immediately spend the extra cash, driving up demand. Retailers would order more, and manufacturers would try to produce more. But if they couldn’t increase supply, they would raise prices. Higher prices would soon make the basics unaffordable to those at the bottom of the income pyramid. In the long run, a guaranteed income would not raise their standard of living.

A guaranteed income that’s enough to eliminate poverty would be too expensive. In 2012, there were 179 million working-age adults. It would cost $2.14 trillion to pay each of them $11,945 (the poverty level) each year. But it would replace existing welfare programs that cost $1 trillion a year. So it would add $1.2 trillion to the deficit, or 7.5 percent of the total economic output that year.
To save money, some programs would not pay as much. But research shows that payments of a few hundred dollars aren’t enough to make a real difference in the lives of the poverty-stricken.
If everyone received a free income, it could remove the incentive to work hard. Oren Cass, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, says it would make work seem optional. Many recipients might prefer to live on the free income rather than get a job. They would not acquire work skills or a good resume. It could prevent them from ever getting a good job in a competitive environment. It could reduce an already-falling labor force participation rate.
Lastly, such a plan would be difficult to get passed in the United States. Most people are opposed to handouts to those who don’t work. For that reason, many already oppose welfare and even unemployment benefits. Even raising the U.S. minimum wage has been difficult, despite the widespread belief that hard workers should be rewarded.

 

Guaranteed Income History in the U.S.

In 1968, President Johnson’s administration launched a test of the negative income tax in New Jersey. It found that welfare recipients received a higher payment from that program than they did from the standard income tax. A higher-paying program was tested in Seattle and Denver.

Results showed reduced incentive to work. It also broke up families, since husbands and wives no longer had to remain together for financial reasons. The administrative costs were very high for both programs.
The earned income tax credit is a form of guaranteed income. It provides a percentage tax credit for every dollar of earned income up to a maximum credit. Since the credit increases along with income, it promotes the incentive to work. But as the income reaches a maximum level, the tax credit phases out and decreases. That creates a disincentive to earn more. A 1990 study revealed that 40 percent of benefits were paid to families who weren’t eligible for the EITC.

 

Current Examples in the U.S. and Other Countries

Alaska has had a guaranteed income program since 1982. The Alaska Permanent Fund pays each resident an average of $1,200 a year out of oil revenues. Almost three-fourths of recipients save it for emergencies.

In 2017, the Hawaii state legislature passed a bill declaring that everyone is entitled to basic financial security. It directed the government to develop a solution, which may include a guaranteed income.
In Oakland, California, the seed accelerator Y Combinator will pay 100 families between $1,000 to $2,000 a month.
Stockton, California, is planning a two-year pilot program for fall 2018. It would give $500 a month to 100 local families. It hopes to keep families together, and away from payday lenders, pawn shops, and gangs.
Chicago, Illinois, is considering a pilot to give 1,000 families $500 a month.
Canada is experimenting with a basic income program. It will give 4,000 Ontario residents living in poverty C$17,000 a year or C$24,000/couple. They can only keep half of their income from any jobs they have.
In 2017, Finland began a two-year experiment. It gave 2,000 unemployed people 560 euros a month for two years, even if they found work. The recipients said it reduced stress. It also gave them more incentive to find a good job or start their own business. The Finnish government was supposed to extend the trial to employed workers in 2018. Researchers wanted to see if that would help them get better jobs, as well. But the Finnish government scrapped the expansion before it began. It is exploring other social welfare programs instead.
A pilot program in Utrecht, Holland, pays 250 people 960 euros a month.
In 2017, Kenya announced a 12 year pilot to benefit 6,000 villagers. They will receive a $22 monthly payment on their smart phone equivalent. It will double some residents’ income. They must remain in their town. MIT economist Abhijit Banerjee will monitor the results.
Scotland is funding research into a program that pays every citizen for life. Retirees would receive 150 pounds a week. Working adults would get 100 pounds and children under 16 would be paid 50 pounds a week.
Taiwan may vote on a basic income. Younger people have left rural areas in search of decent wages. Some have even left the country to look for work. A guaranteed income might keep them from emigrating. It would also help the senior citizens left behind who live in poverty. The country only spends 5 percent of its gross domestic product on welfare programs. The average for developed countries is 22 percent.
Under the proposal, the government would pay NT$6,304 per month for children under 18 and NT$12,608 per month for adults. It would cost NT$3.4 trillion, or 19 percent of GDP. To fund it, Taiwan would levy a 31 percent tax on earnings above NT$840,000 per year. As a result, the program would raise the incomes of two-thirds of the population. The richer third would lose NT$710 billion.
In 2016, Switzerland voted against universal income. The government proposed paying every resident 2,500 Swiss francs per month.
Economists Kalle Moene and Debraj Ray propose a payment system tied to a country’s economic output. They suggest 10 to 12 percent of GDP go directly to the universal income payments. The benefit is it would automatically rise with national prosperity and inflation.
It’s too soon to tell if these pilot programs will work. The universal income’s simplicity makes it an attractive alternative to welfare programs. But its proponents haven’t suggested solutions to its several potential issues.

https://www.thebalance.com/universal-basic-income-4160668

Stanford scholar explores pros, cons of ‘basic income’

Stanford historian Jennifer Burns said that while political challenges exist to implement a “universal basic income,” this type of measure would protect workers and families against the fluidity of today’s workplace and employment worlds.

Given the flux of American politics right now, an idea like “universal basic income” could gain political traction, a Stanford historian says.

Stanford scholar Jennifer Burns, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and an associate professor of history in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, says such a program could help protect workers who hit rock bottom in an age of technological disruption.

A basic income – also called basic income guarantee, universal basic income or basic living stipend – is a program in which citizens of a country receive a regular sum of money from the government. Tech leaders Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have floated the idea, and the city of Chicago is considering such a proposal as a way to reduce the disruptions of automation in the workforce.

Jennifer Burns, associate professor of history, says a universal basic income program could help protect workers who have hit rock bottom.(Image credit: Courtesy Jennifer Burns)

Burns researches and writes about 20th-century American intellectual, political, and cultural history and is currently writing a book about the economist Milton Friedman, who supported the idea of a universal income.

 

What would be the benefits of a universal basic income if it were to become a reality?

The most attractive aspect of universal basic income, or UBI, is that it can serve to underwrite market participation, in contrast to other welfare programs that essentially require people to not be employed to receive the benefit. Some programs even require participants to have essentially zero assets in order to qualify. In effect, the programs kick in when people have hit rock bottom, rather than trying to prevent them from getting there in the first place.

 

What are the best arguments against a universal basic income?

The best argument against UBI is feasibility. You may be surprised I do not mention cost. If one multiplies the popular figure for an annual UBI – typically $12,000 a year – by the population of the United States, you get an eye-popping figure of over $3 trillion. The figure varies depending on whether children are included and at what benefit level. However, if you set this against current taxes and transfers, and conceptualize the UBI as a benefit that can be taxed for higher earners, the costs come down significantly.

The real challenge is political. First, there is significant bias against unconditional transfer programs. Most welfare programs in the United States are tied in some way to employment; for example, think of Social Security. Building popular support for a program that breaks this connection between welfare and work will require political leadership of the highest order. And then there is the enormous hurdle of integrating a UBI with the extant institutional and bureaucratic structure of the federal state. For these reasons, we may see a UBI on the state level first.

 

What did Milton Friedman think of the idea of a universal basic income?

Although he didn’t call it a UBI, the idea of a minimum income was the earliest policy proposal Friedman came up with. In his papers, I was astounded to find his first proposal for what he called “a minimum standard of living” written in 1939. This is when he was completely unknown as an economist, although he was clearly already thinking big.  Eventually, he revised it into a proposal for a negative income tax, which was enacted through the earned income tax credit, or EITC, a policy still in place today. The EITC is considered a highly successful program, with well-documented benefits for children in particular. Scholars have also found it serves to increase workforce participation among recipients.

Although he has a reputation as a radical libertarian, Friedman believed there was a clear role for the state in society. In particular, he believed there would always be persons who could not compete effectively in a market economy. He also recognized the role of luck in life, even calling the memoir he wrote with his wife, Rose, Two Lucky People. Whether it was temporary assistance or long-term support, Friedman saw a place for welfare. But Friedman was a great believer in the power of choice. Rather than give poor people specific benefits – food stamps, for example – he favored giving people cash that they could then bring into the marketplace and use to exercise individual choice.

 

Wouldn’t people stop working if they got “free money”?

That’s another common response to the idea of UBI. In most scenarios, the grant would not be enough to forsake paid employment altogether. The idea is that when combined with paid income, a UBI would lift the living standard of even low-skilled, low-income workers. This is why the EITC has been so effective. However, families could pool grants, perhaps enabling several members to leave the workforce altogether. This possibility has proven a point of interest both to conservatives, who point out that current welfare programs often incentivize fathers to live apart from their children, and progressives who want to provide cash benefits to mothers and others providing family care.

Milton Friedman had an interesting take on this issue. William F. Buckley asked him if he wasn’t worried about people taking the money and neglecting their children, etc. Friedman responded: “If we give them the money, we will strengthen their responsibility.” He seemed to be making a point that more recent social science research has fleshed out. Poverty, scholars have found, actually makes it harder to be responsible, to plan, to think about the future. When you are focused on getting enough to eat, or making rent, you don’t have many psychological resources left over to focus on anything else. And, when you can’t pay a traffic fine or afford safe housing, all the other foundations of a good life like steady employment and getting your children an education can also be out of reach.

 

What does the future hold for universal basic income in the U.S.?

If the future of UBI can be gauged from media interest, its future is bright. Also, the idea has attracted an enormous number of high-level supporters. Particularly in Silicon Valley, it’s a genuine fad, attracting adherents from entrepreneurs and tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.

There are two challenges ahead. The first is to spread the basic idea so that it continues to move from fringe to mainstream. The second is to build it into a workable policy with a political base. Given the fluidity of American politics right now, it could be the perfect moment for a policy that is at once utopian, bipartisan and deeply rooted in American thought.

Stanford scholar explores pros, cons of ‘basic income’

California City Experiments With Universal Basic Income

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang wants to give cash to every American each month.

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Susie Garza has never heard of Yang. But since February, she’s been getting $500 a month from a nonprofit in Stockton, California, as part of an experiment that offers something unusual in presidential politics: a trial run of a campaign promise, highlighting the benefits and challenges in real time.

Garza can spend the money however she wants. She uses $150 of it to pay for her cellphone and another $100 or so to pay off her dog’s veterinarian bills. She spends the rest on her two grandsons now that she can afford to buy them birthday presents online and let them get the big bag of chips at the 7-Eleven.

“I’ve never been able to do that. I thought it was just the coolest thing,” said Garza, who is unemployed and previously was addicted to drugs, though she said she has been sober for 18 years following a stint in prison. “I like it because I feel more independent, like I’m in charge. I really have something that’s my own.”

Garza is part of an experiment testing the impact of “universal basic income,” an old idea getting new life thanks to the 2020 presidential race, although Stockton’s project is an independent one and has no connection to any presidential race.

Yang, a tech entrepreneur, has anchored his longshot bid with a proposal to give $1,000 in cash to every American, saying the payments will shield workers from the pain of certain job losses caused by automation. The idea has helped him win unexpected support and even muscle out some better-known candidates from the debate stages. His proposal isn’t too far off from one by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, one of the top contenders for the Democratic nomination, who has a proposal to give up to $500 a month to working families.

Stockton, once known as the foreclosure capital of the country and for one of the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcies, is a step ahead of both candidates. In February, the city launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, a pilot program spearheaded by a new mayor and financed in part by the nonprofit led by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The city chose 125 people who live in census tracts at or below the city’s median household income of $46,033. They get the money on a debit card on the 15th of each month.

“I think poverty is immoral, I think it is antiquated and I think it shouldn’t exist,” said Michael Tubbs, the city’s 29-year-old Democratic mayor.

Tubbs’ personal story includes a cousin who was killed, a father who is in prison and a mother who, as a teenager, raised him with the help of multiple jobs. He found his way to Stanford and public service, where he persuaded his beleaguered city to sign on to a provocative new idea: guaranteed cash.

Stockton residents, who have elected Republican mayors for 16 out of the last 22 years, were skeptical, worried about encouraging people not to work. Tubbs said he calmed their fears by noting the money came from private donations, not taxpayer dollars.

“I would tell people all that time that would be upset or would call angry, I would say, well, I’m just as angry as you are, but I’m angry about the problem. I’m not angry about possible solutions,” Tubbs said.

A team of researchers is monitoring the participants. Their chief interest is not finances but happiness. They are using what they call a “mattering scale” to measure how much people feel like they matter to society.

“Do people notice you are there? Those things are correlated to health and well-being,” said Stacia Martin-West, a researcher at the University of Tennessee who is working on the program along with Amy Castro-Baker at the University of Pennsylvania.

The money has made Jovan Bravo happier. The 31-year-old Stockton native and construction worker is married and has three children, ages 13, 8 and 4. He said he didn’t see enough of his children when he worked six days a week to pay the bills.

That changed when he started getting $500 a month. Now he only works one Saturday a month. He uses the other Saturdays to take his kids to the amusement park and ride bikes with them in the park.

“It’s made a huge difference,” he said. “Just being able to spend more time with the wife and kids, it brings us closer together.”

Stockton officials do not release the names of the program participants. They arrange interviews with journalists only for those who volunteer to discuss their experiences.

The idea of a guaranteed income dates back to at least the 18th century and has crossed ideological and cultural lines.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Republicans Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney oversaw four guaranteed-income experiments scattered across the country when Rumsfeld, later a defense secretary, was director of President Richard Nixon’s Office of Economic Opportunity and Cheney, the future vice president, was his deputy.

The program had some hiccups, including a woman who spent all the money on alcohol and a man who went into debt buying expensive furniture for his government-subsidized apartment, according to a 1970 New York Times story. But the experiment concluded that the money did not stop people from working and led Nixon to propose expanding the program, which ultimately did not pass Congress.

Since then, other studies have reached similar results. A 2018 study in Alaska, where residents have gotten a share of the state’s oil revenue every year since 1982, found the money has not shrunk the state’s labor force. The same was found in a 2010 UCLA study in North Carolina, where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has shared casino revenue with its members since the mid-1990s.

The latest momentum comes with the help of the technology industry, which is grappling with how to prepare for the job losses likely to come with automation and artificial intelligence.

The tech connection has drawn criticism from left-leaning labor unions skeptical of the industry’s motives.

“We think the future of work should be defined by working people, not tech billionaires,” said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation, a group of 1,200 unions and a reliable ally for some of the state’s most liberal policies. “If there are no jobs available, you are pretty much stuck with your $1,000 a month check while the CEO of the tech company that automated you out of a job is being paid a billion dollars a year.”

Other critics note that the programs can chip away at the social safety net. Yang’s plan requires recipients to decline food stamps and some other government assistance.

There’s also the question of how to pay for it.

Stockton’s program, giving 125 people $500 per month for 18 months, will cost just over $1.1 million. Harris’ plan, which covers working families making up to $100,000 annually, would cost about $275 billion per year, according to the Tax Policy Center. To pay for it, she says she would repeal some of the 2017 GOP tax cuts and impose new taxes on corporations.

Yang’s plan, which covers every adult in the United States, would cost $2.8 trillion per year. He would impose a new tax on businesses’ goods and services while shrinking some other government assistance programs. Representatives for Yang and Harris did not respond to interview requests.

The Stockton experiment runs through July 2020. Researchers expect to release their first round of data this fall, when the presidential campaigns are preparing for the Iowa caucuses and state primaries.

Tubbs says he already sees success in making the city a focal point in the discussion about the future of capitalism and the U.S. economy. But once the experiment is over, he’s not sure what’s next. He says guaranteed income would need to be much bigger — at least statewide — to really have an impact.

Garza does not know what’s next for her, either. She relies on her husband for most things, and he recently lost his job. The extra $500 a month was so helpful, it left her wondering how she was lucky enough to get it — a question she posed to the program’s director.

“She goes, ‘Because you’re blessed,'” Garza said. “And I just left it at that.”

https://hosted.ap.org/article/758f8d90cb664ba5bca303f93e46da3a/california-buzzy-campaign-idea-gets-test-run

Fighting technological unemployment

With advanced technology taking over more and more blue and white collar jobs, UBI would act as a sort of security net for the millions of people who will be left jobless by the tech revolution. Research shows that the longer you are unemployed, the longer it takes to find employment. If the jobless had a small source of income to help them back on their feet, they could find new jobs and start contributing to the economy sooner.

Ending abuse

Those who suffer domestic abuse, mainly women, become trapped in violent situations because they don’t have the means to leave them. UBI would make leaving an abusive partner easy, and would unleash the potential of countless people trapped by domestic violence.

Supporting unpaid care workers

Those with ill or differently abled relatives are often forced to quit their jobs and look after them full-time. UBI would allow care-workers to support themselves, encouraging care work and taking pressure off public services that provide care to the sick and elderly.

Expanding the middle class

The economic growth of high-income countries is making the rich richer, but having very little effect on the working classes. The research of economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty showed that “the bottom half of earners went from making 20 percent of overall income in 1979 to just 13 percent in 2014. The top 1 percent, on the other hand, have gone from making 11 percent to 20 percent. The pie has gotten vastly bigger, and the richest families have reaped bigger and bigger pieces from it.” UBI would help balance this inequality and expand the ever-shrinking middle class.

Ending poverty

Advocates for UBI believe that in some of the richest countries in the world, no one should be too poor to live. UBI would bring everyone’s income above the poverty line.

Eliminating the need for social security

There exist countless governmental organisations responsible for helping those in poverty, handing out unemployment benefits, food stamps, subsidised housing, etc. UBI would cut a country’s spending by eliminating these organisations.

Discouraging low wages

UBI would give employees bargaining power. As Annie Lowrey says, “why take a crummy job for 7.25 an hour when you have a guaranteed 1,000 dollars a month to fall back on?”

Think of it like Monopoly

Most people intuitively think that jobs lead to money, but the reality is that money actually leads to jobs. Without money, you cannot build a life that will get you a job. In order to get a job, you need to have a house with a shower, a set of clothes, money for transport, money for food, etc. If you want to contribute to the economy on an even greater scale and start your own business, you’ll need even more money. In the game Monopoly, everyone starts off with a little bit of money – without it, the game wouldn’t work and no one would be able to become rich or successful. UBI is like Monopoly – everyone starts off with a little bit of money, and uses it to fuel a thriving economy.

Successful implementation of UBI would mean improvements in food security, stress, mental health, physical health, housing, education, and employment.

Universal Basic Income

What are the possible disadvantages of Universal Basic Income?

Motivation to work

The biggest concern is that UBI would incite millions of workers to stop working. If people aren’t working, there is less taxable income. However, people may choose to stop working for reasons that benefit society as a whole, like getting a better education or caring for an elderly relative.

Cost

The cost of implementing UBI in the United States is estimated to be about 3.9 trillion per year. The idea is that UBI would take pressure off health services and make social security institutions redundant, but this is still a high cost.

Inequality

Some wonder if it is really fair to give the same amount of money to those born into poverty as multi-millionaires. Does Bill Gates really need extra money each month? Some believe that a certain accumulation of wealth should show you have out-grown UBI.

Philosophical counterarguments

Is money a birthright? Capitalist countries are built on the ideological foundation that money is something we earn – UBI would completely change this. Some believe that community service should be a requirement for receiving UBI.

Case Studies

Iran 

In 2010, the government of Iran ran a UBI trial, giving citizens transfers of 29 percent of the median income each month. Poverty and inequality were reduced, and there was no sign of large amounts of people leaving the labour market. In fact, people used it to invest in their businesses, encouraging the growth of small enterprises.

Canada 

A UBI trial in Manitoba, Canada, showed a modest reduction in workers, along with fewer hospitalisations and mental health diagnoses.

In her new book, Give People Money, Annie Lowrey speaks to experts around the world about Universal Basic Income, the simple idea to solve inequality and revolutionise our lives.

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/2018/universal-basic-income-pros-cons/

Basic income

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On 4 October 2013, Swiss activists from Generation Grundeinkommen organized a performance in Bern in which roughly 8 million coins, one coin representing one person out of Switzerland’s population, were dumped on a public square. This was done in celebration of the successful collection of more than 125,000 signatures, forcing the government to hold a referendum in 2016 on whether or not to incorporate the concept of basic income in the federal constitution. The measure did not pass, with 76.9% voting against changing the federal constitution to support basic income.[1]

Basic income, also called universal basic incomecitizen’s incomecitizen’s basic income in the United Kingdom, basic income guarantee in the United States and Canada, or basic living stipend or universal demogrant, is a periodic payment delivered to all on an individual basis without means test or work requirement.[2] The incomes would be:

  • Unconditional: A basic income would vary with age, but with no other conditions. Everyone of the same age would receive the same basic income, whatever their gender, employment status, family structure, contribution to society, housing costs, or anything else.
  • Automatic: Someone’s basic income would be automatically paid weekly or monthly into a bank account or similar.
  • Non-withdrawable: Basic incomes would not be means-tested. Whether someone’s earnings increase, decrease, or stay the same, their basic income will not change.
  • Individual: Basic incomes would be paid on an individual basis and not on the basis of a couple or household.
  • As a right: Every legal resident would receive a basic income, subject to a minimum period of legal residency and continuing residency for most of the year.[3]

Basic income can be implemented nationally, regionally or locally. An unconditional income that is sufficient to meet a person’s basic needs (at or above the poverty line) is sometimes called a full basic income while if it is less than that amount, it is sometimes called partial. A welfare system with some characteristics similar to those of a basic income is a negative income tax in which the government stipend is gradually reduced with higher labour income. Some welfare systems are sometimes regarded as steps on the way to a basic income, but because they have conditionalities attached they are not basic incomes. If they raise household incomes to specified minima they are called guaranteed minimum income systems. For example, Bolsa Família in Brazil is restricted to poor families and the children are obligated to attend school.[4]

Several political discussions are related to the basic income debate. Examples include the debates regarding robotization, artificial intelligence (AI), and the future of work. A key issue in these debates is whether robotisation and AI will significantly reduce the number of available jobs. Basic income often comes up as a proposal in these discussions.

Contents

History

The idea of a state-run basic Income dates back to the early 16th century, when Sir Thomas More‘s Utopia depicted a society in which every person receives a guaranteed income.[5] In the late 18th century, English radical Thomas Spence and American revolutionary Thomas Paine both declared their support for a welfare system that guaranteed all citizens a certain income. Nineteenth-century debate on basic income was limited, but during the early part of the 20th century a basic income called a “state bonus” was widely discussed, and in 1946 the United Kingdom implemented unconditional family allowances for the second and subsequent children of every family. In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States and Canada conducted several experiments with negative income taxation, a related welfare system. From the 1980s and onward, the debate in Europe took off more broadly and since then it has expanded to many countries around the world. A few countries have implemented large-scale welfare systems that have some similarities to basic income, such as Bolsa Família in Brazil. From 2008 onward, several experiments with basic income and related systems have taken place.

Governments can contribute to individual and household income maintenance strategies in three ways:

  1. The government can establish a minimum income guarantee and not allow income to fall below levels set for various household types, maintaining these levels by paying means-tested benefits.
  2. Social insurance can pay benefits in the case of sickness, unemployment, or old age, on the basis of contributions paid
  3. Universal unconditional payments, such as the United Kingdom’s Child Benefit for children.[6]

In more detail:

  1. A means-tested benefit that raises a household’s income to a guaranteed minimum level is unlike a basic income in that income delivered under a system of guaranteed minimum income is reduced proportionally as other sources of income increase whereas income received from a basic income is constant regardless of other sources of income. Johannes Ludovicus Vives (1492–1540), for example, proposed that the municipal government should be responsible for securing a subsistence minimum to all its residents “not on grounds of justice but for the sake of a more effective exercise of morally required charity”. However, Vives also argued that to qualify for poor relief the recipient must “deserve the help he or she gets by proving his or her willingness to work”.[7]
  2. The first to develop the idea of a social insurance was Marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794). After playing a prominent role in the French Revolution, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death. While in prison, he wrote the Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain (published posthumously by his widow in 1795), whose last chapter described his vision of a social insurance and how it could reduce inequality, insecurity and poverty. Condorcet mentioned, very briefly, the idea of a benefit to all children old enough to start working by themselves and to start up a family of their own. He is not known to have said or written anything else on this proposal, but his close friend and fellow member of the Constitutional Convention Thomas Paine (1737–1809) developed the idea much further, a couple of years after Condorcet’s death.
  3. The first social movement for Basic Income developed around 1920 in the United Kingdom. Its proponents included Bertrand Russell, Dennis Milner (with his wife Mabel) and C. H. Douglas.
  • Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) argued for a new social model that combined the advantages of socialism and anarchism, and that basic income should be a vital component in that new society.
  • Dennis and Mabel Milner, a Quaker married couple in the Labour Party, published a short pamphlet entitled “Scheme for a State Bonus” (1918) that argued for the “introduction of an income paid unconditionally on a weekly basis to all citizens of the United Kingdom”. They considered it a moral right for everyone to have the means to subsistence, and thus it should not be conditional on work or willingness to work.
  • C. H. Douglas was an engineer who became concerned that most British citizens could not afford to buy the goods that were produced, despite the rising productivity in British industry. His solution to this paradox was a new social system he called social credit, a combination of monetary reform and basic income.

In 1944 and 1945, the Beveridge Committee led by the British economist William Beveridge developed a proposal for a comprehensive new welfare system of social insurance, means-tested benefits and unconditional allowances for children. Committee member Lady Rhys-Williams argued that the incomes for adults should be more like a basic income. She was also the first to develop the negative income tax model.[8][9] Her son Brandon Rhys Williams proposed a basic income to a parliamentary committee in 1982 and soon after that in 1984 the Basic Income Research Group, now the Citizen’s Basic Income Trust, began to conduct and disseminate research on basic income.[10]

In the 1960s and 1970s, some welfare debates in the United States and Canada included discussions of basic income. Six pilot projects were also conducted with the negative income tax. Then President Richard Nixon once even proposed a negative income tax in a bill to the Congress, but Congress eventually only approved a guaranteed minimum income for the elderly and the disabled, not for all citizens, thus:[11]

Nixon proposed more ambitious programs than he enacted, including the National Health Insurance Partnership Program, which promoted health maintenance organizations (HMOs). He also proposed a massive overhaul of federal welfare programs. The centerpiece of Nixon’s welfare reform was the replacement of much of the welfare system with a negative income tax, a favorite proposal of conservative economist Milton Friedman. The purpose of the negative income tax was to provide both a safety net for the poor and a financial incentive for welfare recipients to work.

[11]

In the late 1970s and the 1980s, basic income was more or less forgotten in the United States, but it started to gain some traction in Europe. Basic Income European Network, later renamed to Basic Income Earth Network, was founded in 1986 and started to arrange international conferences every two years.[2] From the 1980s, some people outside party politics and universities took interest. In West Germany, groups of unemployed people took a stance for the reform.[12]

From 2010 onwards, Basic Income again became an active topic in many countries. Basic income is currently discussed from a variety of perspectives—including in the context of ongoing automation and robotisation, often with the argument that these trends mean less paid work in the future, which would create a need for a new welfare model. Several countries are planning for local or regional experiments with basic income or related welfare systems. For example, experiments in Canada, Finland, India and Namibia have received international media attention. The first and only national referendum about basic income was held in Switzerland in 2016. The result was a rejection of the basic income proposal by a vote of 76.9% to 23.1%.

Perspectives in the basic income debate

Automation

The debates about basic income and automation are closely linked. For example, Mark Zuckerberg argues that the increase in automation creates a greater need for basic income. Concerns about automation have prompted many in the high-technology industry to argue for basic income as an implication of their business models. Presidential candidate and non-profit founder Andrew Yang states automation causing the loss of 4 million manufacturing jobs in the midwest, resulting in the election of Donald Trump[13] Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk came out in support of basic income and Andrew Yang due to automation and AI.[14]

Many technologists believe that automation, among other things, is creating technological unemployment. Journalist Nathan Schneider first highlighted the turn of the “tech elite” to these ideas with an article in Vice magazine which cited Marc AndreessenSam AltmanPeter Diamandis and others.[15][16][17] Some studies about automation and jobs validate these concerns. In a report to the Congress, the White House estimated that a worker earning less than $20 an hour in 2010 would eventually lose their job to a machine with 83% probability. Even workers earning as much as $40 an hour faced a probability of 31%.[16] With a rising unemployment rate, poor communities would become more impoverished worldwide. Proponents of universal basic income argue that it could solve many world problems like high work stress and could create more opportunities and efficient and effective work. In a study in Dauphin, Manitoba, only 13% of labor decreased from a much higher expected number.[18] In a study in several Indian villages, basic income in the region raised the education rate of young people by 25%.[19]

Besides technological unemployment, some tech-industry experts worry that automation would destabilize the labor market or increase economic inequality. One example is Chris Hughes, co-founder of both Facebook and Economic Security Project. Automation has been happening for hundreds of years and while it has not permanently reduced the employment rate, it has constantly caused employment instability. It displaces workers who spend their lives learning skills that become outmoded and forces them into unskilled labor. Paul Vallée, a Canadian tech-entrepreneur and CEO of Pythian, argues that automation is at least as likely to increase poverty and reduce social mobility as it is to create ever-increasing unemployment rate. At the 2016 North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress in Winnipeg, Vallée examined slavery as a historical example of a period in which capital (African slaves) could do the same things that paid labor (poor whites) could do. He found that slavery did not cause massive unemployment among poor whites, but instead it increased economic inequality and lowered social mobility.[20]

Bad behavior

Some worry that some people would spend a basic income on alcohol and other drugs.[21][22] However, studies of the impact of direct cash transfer programs provide evidence to the contrary. A 2014 World Bank review of 30 scientific studies concludes: “Concerns about the use of cash transfers for alcohol and tobacco consumption are unfounded”.[23]

Basic income as a part of a post-capitalistic economic system

Harry Shutt proposed basic income and other measures to make all or most enterprises collective rather than private. These measures would create a post-capitalist economic system.[24]

Erik Olin Wright characterizes basic income as a project for reforming capitalism into an economic system by empowering labor in relation to capital, granting labor greater bargaining power with employers in labor markets which can gradually de-commodify labor by decoupling work from income. This would allow for an expansion in scope of the social economy by granting citizens greater means to pursue activities (such as the pursuit of art) that do not yield strong financial returns.[25]

James Meade advocated for a social dividend scheme funded by publicly owned productive assets.[26] Russell argued for a basic income alongside public ownership as a means of shortening the average working day and achieving full employment.[27]

Economists and sociologists have advocated for a form of basic income as a way to distribute economic profits of publicly owned enterprises to benefit the entire population, also referred to as a social dividend, where the basic income payment represents the return to each citizen on the capital owned by society. These systems would be directly financed from returns on publicly owned assets and are featured as major components of many models of market socialism.[28]

Guy Standing has proposed financing a social dividend from a democratically-accountable sovereign wealth fund built up primarily from the proceeds of a levy on rentier income derived from ownership or control of assets—physical, financial and intellectual.[29][30]

Herman Daly, considered as one of the founders of ecologism, argued primarily for a zero growth economy within the ecological limits of the planet. To have such a green and sustainable economy, including basic economic welfare and security to all people, he wrote a lot about the need for structural reforms of the capitalistic system, including basic income, monetary reform, land value tax, trade reforms and higher eco-taxes (taxes on pollution and carbon dioxide). For him, basic income was part of a larger structural change of the economic system towards a more green and sustainable system.

Different ideological arguments

  • Georgist views: geolibertarians seek to synthesize propertarian libertarianism and a geoist (or Georgist) philosophy of land as unowned commons or equally owned by all people, citing the classical economic distinction between unimproved land and private property. The rental value of land is produced by the labors of the community and, as such, rightly belongs to the community at large and not solely to the landholder. A land value tax (LVT) is levied as an annual fee for exclusive access to a section of earth which is collected and redistributed to the community either through public goods, such as public security or a court system, or in the form of a basic guaranteed income called a citizen’s dividend. Geolibertarians view the LVT as a single tax to replace all other methods of taxation which are deemed unjust violations of the non-aggression principle.
  • Conservative views: support for basic income has been expressed by several people associated with conservative political views. While adherents of such views generally favor minimization or abolition of the public provision of welfare services, some have cited basic income as a viable strategy to reduce the amount of bureaucratic administration that is prevalent in many contemporary welfare systems. Others have contended that it could also act as a form of compensation for fiat currency inflation.[31][32][33]
  • Feminist views: feminist views on basic income are loosely divided into two opposing views. One view supports basic income as a means of guaranteeing minimum financial independence for women and of recognizing women’s unpaid work in the home. The opposing feminist view opposes basic income as something that might discourage women from participation in the workforce—reinforcing traditional gender roles of women belonging in the private area and men in the public area.[34][35]

Economic critique

In 2016, the IGM Economic Experts panel at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business was asked if “Granting every American citizen over 21-years old a universal basic income of $13,000 a year — financed by eliminating all transfer programs (including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, housing subsidies, household welfare payments, and farm and corporate subsidies) — would be better policy than the status quo”, 58 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, 19 percent were uncertain and 2 percent agreed. Cost was an issue for those who disagreed as well as a lack of optimization in the structure proposed. Daron Acemoglu, Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, expressed these doubts in the survey: “Current US status quo is horrible. A more efficient and generous social safety net is needed. But UBI is expensive and not generous enough”.[36] Eric Maskin has stated that “a minimum income makes sense, but not at the cost of eliminating Social Security and Medicare”.[37] Simeon Djankov, professor at the London School of Economics, argues the costs of a generous system are prohibitive.[38]

Another critique comes from the far-left. Douglas Rushkoff, a professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at the City University of New York, suggests that universal basic income is another way that “obviates the need for people to consider true alternatives to living lives as passive consumers”. He sees it as a sophisticated way for corporations to get richer on the expense of public money.[39]

Economic growth

Some proponents have argued that basic income can increase economic growth because it would sustain people while they invest in education to get interesting and well-paid jobs.[40][21] However, there is also a discussion of basic income within the degrowth movement, which argues against economic growth.[41]

Employment

One argument against basic income is that if people have free and unconditional money, they would “get lazy” and not work as much.[42][43][44] Critics argue that less work means less tax revenue and hence less money for the state and cities to fund public projects. The degree of any disincentive to employment because of basic income would likely depend on how generous the basic income was.

Some studies have looked at employment levels during the experiments with basic income and negative income tax and similar systems. In the negative income tax-experiments in United States in the 1970s, for example, there was a five percent decline in the hours worked. The work reduction was largest for second earners in two-earner households and weakest for the main earner. The reduction in hours was higher when the benefit was higher. Participants in these experiments knew that the experiment was limited in time.[43]

In the Mincome experiment in rural Dauphin, Manitoba also in the 1970s, there were also slight reductions in hours worked during the experiment. However, the only two groups who worked significantly less were new mothers and teenagers working to support their families. New mothers spent this time with their infant children, and working teenagers put significant additional time into their schooling.[45] Under Mincome, “[t]he reduction of work effort was modest: about one per cent for men, three per cent for wives, and five per cent for unmarried women”.[46]

A recent study of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend—the largest scale universal basic income program in the United States which has run since 1976—seems to show this belief is untrue. The researchers—Damon Jones from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and Ioana Marinescu from the University of Pennsylvania School of Public Policy and Practice—maintain that although there is a small decrease in work by recipients due to reasons like those in the Manitoba experiment, there has been a 17 percent increase in part-time jobs. The authors theorize that employment remained steady, because the extra income that let people buy more also increased demand for service jobs. This finding is consistent with the economic data of the time. No effect was seen when it came to jobs in manufacturing, which produce exports. Essentially, the authors argue, macro-economic effects of higher spending supported overall employment. To use an illustrative but hypothetical example, someone who uses the dividend to help with car payments can cut back on hours working as a cashier at a local grocery store. Because more people are spending more, the store must replace the worker who started working less. Meanwhile, distribution of the dividend doesn’t affect the international demand for oil and the jobs connected to it.[47][48] Jones and Marinescu found instead that the larger scale of the program is what allows it to work and not dissuade people out of the work force.

Another study that contradicted such decline in work incentive was a pilot project implemented in 2008 and 2009 in the Namibian village of Omitara. The study found that economic activity actually increased, particularly through the launch of small businesses, and reinforcement of the local market by increasing households’ buying power.[49] However, the residents of Omitara were described as suffering “dehumanising levels of poverty” before the introduction of the pilot, and as such the project’s relevance to potential implementations in developed economies is unknown.[50]

James Meade states that a return to full employment can only be achieved if, among other things, workers offer their services at a low enough price that the required wage for unskilled labor would be too low to generate a socially desirable distribution of income. He therefore concludes that a “citizen’s income” is necessary to achieve full employment without suffering stagnant or negative growth in wages.[51]

If there is a disincentive to employment because of basic income, the magnitude of such a disincentive may depend on how generous the basic income was. Some campaigners in Switzerland have suggested a level that would be only just liveable, arguing that people would want to supplement it.[52]

Tim Worstall, a writer, blogger and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute,[53] has argued that traditional welfare schemes create a disincentive to work because such schemes typically cause people to lose benefits at around the same rate that their income rises (a form of welfare trap where the marginal tax rate is 100 percent). He has asserted that this particular disincentive is not a property shared by basic income since the rate of increase is positive at all incomes.[54]

Freedom

Philippe Van Parijs has argued that basic income at the highest sustainable level is needed to support real freedom, or the freedom to do whatever one “might want to do”.[55] By this, Van Parijs means that all people should be free to use the resources of the Earth and the “external assets” people make out of them to do whatever they want. Money is like an access ticket to use those resources, and so to make people equally free to do what they want with world assets, the government should give each individual as many such access tickets as possible—that is, the highest sustainable basic income.

Karl Widerquist and others have proposed a theory of freedom in which basic income is needed to protect the power to refuse work[56] which can be summarized as follows. If the resources necessary to an individual’s survival are controlled by another group, that individual has no reasonable choice other than to do whatever the resource-controlling group demands. Before the establishment of governments and landlords, individuals had direct access to the resources they needed to survive. Today, resources necessary for the production of food, shelter and clothing have been privatized in such a way that some have gotten a share and others have not.

Therefore, the argument goes that the owners of those resources owe compensation back to non-owners, sufficient at least for them to purchase the resources or goods necessary to sustain their basic needs. This redistribution must be unconditional because people can consider themselves free only if they are not forced to spend all their time doing the bidding of others simply to provide basic necessities to themselves and their families.[21] Under this argument, personal, political and religious freedom are worth little without the power to say no. In this view, basic income provides an economic freedom which—combined with political freedom, freedom of belief and personal freedom—establish each individual’s status as a free person.

Gender equality

The Scottish economist Ailsa McKay has argued that basic income is a way to promote gender equality.[57][58] She noted in 2001 that “social policy reform should take account of all gender inequalities and not just those relating to the traditional labor market” and that “the citizens’ basic income model can be a tool for promoting gender-neutral social citizenship rights”.[57]

Poverty reduction

Advocates of basic income often argue that it has the potential to reduce or even eradicate poverty.[59]

According to a randomized controlled study in the Rarieda District of Kenya run by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on the Give Directly program, the impact of an uncondition was that for every $1,000 disbursed, there was a $270 increase in earnings, a $430 increase in assets, and a $330 increase in nutrition spending, with a 0% effect on alcohol or tobacco spending.[60]

Milton Friedman, a renowned economist, supported UBI, reasoning that it would help to reduce poverty. He said:

The virtue of [a negative income tax] is precisely that it treats everyone the same way. […] [T]here’s none of this unfortunate discrimination among people.[61]

Martin Luther King Jr. was also an advocate of UBI, as he believed that a basic income was a necessity that would help to reduce poverty, regardless of race, religion or social class. In King’s last book before his assassination Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, he said:

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.[62]

Reduction of medical costs

The Canadian Medical Association passed a motion in 2015 in clear support of basic income and for basic income trials in Canada.[63]

British journalist Paul Mason has stated that universal basic income would probably reduce the high medical costs associated with diseases of poverty. According to Mason, stress, diseases like high blood pressure, type II diabetes and the like would probably become less common.[64]

Transparency and administrative efficiency

Basic income is potentially a much simpler and more transparent welfare system than welfare states currently use.[65] Instead of separate welfare programs (including unemployment insurance, child support, pensions, disability, housing support) it could be one income, or it could be a basic payment that welfare programs could add to.[66] This could require less paperwork and bureaucracy to check eligibility. The lack of means test or similar bureaucracy would allow for saving on social welfare which could be put towards the grant. The Basic Income Earth Network claims that basic income costs less than current means-tested social welfare benefits, and has proposed an implementation that it claims is financially viable.[67][68]

A real world example of how basic income is being implemented to save money can be seen in the program that is being conducted by the Netherlands in a few cities. The city councillor for the city of Nijmegen, Lisa Westerveld had this to say in an interview – “In Nijmegen we get £88m to give to people on welfare, but it costs £15m a year for the civil servants running the bureaucracy of the current system”.[69] Her view is also shared by Dutch historian and author Rutger Bregman who believes the Netherlands welfare system is flawed and also economist Loek Groot who believes the country welfare system wastes too much money. Outcomes of this program will be analysed by eminent economist Loek Groot, a professor at the University of Utrecht who hopes to learn if a guaranteed income might be a more effective approach.[70] However, other proponents argue for adding basic income to existing welfare grants, rather than replacing them.

Wage slavery and alienation

Frances Fox Piven argues that an income guarantee would benefit all workers by liberating them from the anxiety that results from the “tyranny of wage slavery” and provide opportunities for people to pursue different occupations and develop untapped potentials for creativity.[71] André Gorz saw basic income as a necessary adaptation to the increasing automation of work, yet basic income also enables workers to overcome alienation in work and life and to increase their amount of leisure time.[72]

These arguments imply that a universal basic income, or UBI, would give people enough freedom to pursue work that is satisfactory or interesting even if that work does not pay enough to sustain their everyday living. One example is that of Nelle Harper Lee, who lived as a single woman in New York City in the 1950s, writing in her free time and supporting herself by working part-time as an airline clerk. She had written several long stories, but achieved no success of note. One Christmas in the late fifties, a generous friend gave her a year’s wages as a gift with the note: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas”. A year later, Lee had produced a draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel that subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize.[73][74] Most proponents of UBI argue that the net creative output from even a small percentage of basic income subscribers would be a significant contributor to human productivity, one that might be lost if these people are not given the opportunity to pursue work that is interesting to them.

Welfare trap

The welfare trap or poverty trap is a proposed problem with means-tested welfare. Recipients of means-tested welfare may be implicitly encouraged to remain on welfare due to economic penalties for transitioning off of welfare. These penalties include loss of welfare and possibly higher tax rates. Opponents claim that this creates a harsh marginal tax for those rising out of poverty. A 2013 Cato Institute study claimed that workers could accumulate more wealth from the welfare system than they could from a minimum wage job in at least nine European countries. In three of them, namely Austria, Croatia and Denmark, the marginal tax rate was nearly 100%.[75][76]

Proponents of universal basic income claim that it could eliminate welfare traps by removing conditions to receive such an income, but large-scale experiments have not yet produced clear results.[77]

Pilot programs and experiments

Omitara, one of the two poor villages in Namibia where a local basic income was tested in 2008–2009

Since the 1960s and in particular after 2010, there has been a number of so-called basic income pilots. Among them the following:

  • Experiments with negative income tax in United States and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The province of Manitoba, Canada, experimented with Mincome, a basic guaranteed income in the 1970s.[78]
  • The basic income grant in Namibia, launched in 2008 and ended in 2009.[79]
  • An independent pilot implemented in São Paulo, Brazil.[80]
  • Basic income trials in several villages in India,[81] whose government has proposed a guaranteed basic income for all citizens.[82]
  • The GiveDirectly experiment in Nairobi, Kenya—the biggest and longest basic income pilot as of 2017.[83]
  • An experiment in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands, launched in early 2017, that is testing different rates of aid.[82]
  • A three-year basic income pilot that the Ontario provincial governmentCanada, launched in the cities of HamiltonThunder Bay and Lindsay in July 2017.[84] Although called basic income, it was only made available to those with a low income and funding would be removed if they obtained employment,[85] making it more related to the current welfare system than actual basic income. The pilot project was cancelled on 31 July 2018 by the newly elected Progressive Conservative government under Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
  • A two-year pilot the Finnish government began in January 2017 which involves 2,000 subjects[86][87] In April 2018, the Finnish government rejected a request for funds to extend and expand the program from Kela (Finland’s social security agency).[88]
  • A project called Eight in a village in Fort Portal, Uganda, that a nonprofit organization launched in January 2017 which provides income for 56 adults and 88 children through mobile money.[89]

Examples of payments with similarities

Alaska Permanent Fund

The Permanent Fund of Alaska in the United States provides a kind of basic income based on the oil and gas revenues of the state to nearly all state residents, however the payment is not high enough to cover basic expenses and is not a fixed, guaranteed amount. For these reasons it is not considered a basic income.

During his 2020 presidential campaign, founder of the nonprofit Venture for America (VFA) Andrew Yang used the Alaska Permanent Fund as evidence that Republicans can be convinced to implement a dividend. The entrepreneur and philanthropist claims it has improved children’s health, created thousands of jobs, and decreased income inequality.[90]

During her 2016 presidential campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton considered including a policy similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund called Alaska for America as part of her platform after reading Peter Barnes‘s book on the subject With Liberty and Dividends for All. Ultimately, Clinton decided not to, stating in her 2016 presidential election memoir What Happened: “Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the numbers work”.[91] However, Clinton also said in retrospect: “I wonder now whether we should have thrown caution to the wind and embraced ‘Alaska for America’ as a long-term goal and figured out the details later”, considering that former Republican Treasury Secretaries James Baker and Henry Paulson have also proposed a similar nationwide policy.[92][93]

Quasi-UBI programs

  • Old age pension is a payment which in some countries is guaranteed to all citizens above a certain age. The only difference from Basic Income is that it is restricted to people over a certain age.
  • Child benefit – A similar program to old pensions but is restricted to children, or more precisely it is given to parents for each child they have. It is also like Basic Income except that is restricted to children.
  • Conditional Cash Transfer – This is also a regular payment given to families, however it is only given to the poor and is usually dependent on basic conditions such as sending their children to school or having them vaccinated. Programs include Bolsa Familia in Brazil and a similar program in México.
  • Guaranteed Minimum Income – Despite the name, this differs from a Basic Income in that it is restricted only to those in search of work. Example programs are unemployment benefit in the UK and RSA in France.

Bolsa Família is a large social welfare program in Brazil that provides money to many poor families in the country. The system is related to basic income, but has more conditions, like asking the recipients to keep their children in school until graduation. Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy championed a law that ultimately passed in 2004 that declared Bolsa Família a first step towards a national basic income. However, the program has not yet been expanded in that direction.

Rythu Bandhu scheme, is a welfare scheme started on 10 May 2018 aimed towards helping farmers that is being implemented by the state of Telangana in India where each farmland owner gets a fixed amount of money ₹4000 per acre twice a year for rabi and kharif harvests. A budget allocation of ₹12,000 crores($138 billion at the time of conversion) was made in 2018–2019 state budget, the scheme offers a financial help of ₹8,000 per year to each farmer (two crops) and there is no cap on money disbursed to number of acres of land owned and it does not discriminate between rich or poor land owners.[94] The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been monitoring the program and is doing a study they have yet to published, but their preliminary results already show promising results in getting farmers funding they need to invest in farming—procuring fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and other inputs—which serves the purpose of the scheme. The first phase of the survey concluded that 85% of farmers received cheques for amounts ranging from ₹1,000 to ₹20,000 for farm land comprising less than an acre to about five acres and about 10% of farmers received cheques for amounts above ₹20,000 to ₹50,000 and only 1% of farmers got amounts more than ₹50,000. The spending pattern revealed that a large chunk, 28.5% of farmers opted to buy seed, about 18% spent the money on fertilizer, 15.4% on new agricultural assets, including farm equipment, 8.6% on pesticides and some used it to engage farm labor and only 4.4% of beneficiaries said they utilized it for household consumption and a minuscule percentage for repayment of loans.[95] The scheme received a high satisfaction rate of 92% from farmers since other forms of capital investment like welfare or loans had many strings attached to it and would not reach the farmers before the cropping season starts, many other states and countries are following the development of the program to see if they can implement it for their farmers. Since farmers worldwide are facing many difficulties and in a lot of countries it has become unprofitable, governments are either proving subsidies, welfare or loans, but this a new type of program that is considered as an embryonic UBI or quasi-UBI to replace traditional systems of agricultural support.[96]

Citizen Capitalism is a supplemental income program proposed by the legal scholar Lynn Stout and her co-authors Tamara Belinfanti and Sergio Gramitto in their book Citizen Capitalism: How A Universal Fund Can Provide Influence and Income to All which was published in 2019. In the book, Stout and her co-authors propose the building of a not-for-profit universal fund composed of shares donated by corporations and philanthropic individuals in which every American would receive one share. These shares could not be sold, bequeathed, donated, or borrowed against, but each “citizen shareholder” would receive an even portion of the net dividends paid out by shares in the fund, therefore contributing to the amelioration of income inequality. Each shareholder would also receive additional influence in the form of a vote (corresponding to their shares in the fund), providing in theory for a significantly expanded degree of citizen engagement in the role that public corporations play in American society.[97]

Basic income in crypto currencies and as part of social media apps

Nimses is a concept that offers universal basic income to every member of its system.[98] The idea of Nimses consists of time-based currency called Nim (1 nim = 1 minute of life). Every person in Nimses receives nims that can be spent on different goods and services. This concept was initially adopted in Eastern Europe.[99]

Electroneum is a cryptocurrency project which uses a mobile application to pay users.[100] The first KYC/AML compliant cryptocurrency, Electroneum enables users to mine[101] using their mobile phone through a simulated mining system. The system pays up to $3.00 per month to its users, with the goal of enabling the world’s unbanked population with financial freedom.[102] The cryptocurrency can currently be used to purchase mobile top-ups from the South African telecommunications company The Unlimited[103] as well as to transact with any business that has integrated the Electroneum API, or directly between individuals.

National debates

Basic Income is debated in many countries. There have also been several basic income experiments held in various countries such as Namibia, Kenya and Canada as discussed elsewhere on this page. The policy was discussed by the Indian Ministry of Finance in an economic survey in 2017,[104] and a green paper was commissioned on the topic by the Government of Ireland in 2002.[105] There are also a number of countries such as Ireland and Mexico that have programs with elements reminiscent of UBI such as child benefitold age pensions or conditional cash transfers, but these are usually not discussed in relation to Basic Income. So far no country has introduced an unconditional basic income as law.

Public opinion

Support for a universal basic income varies widely across Europe, as shown by a recent wave of the European Social Survey. A high share of the population tends to support the scheme in southern and central eastern european union countries, while support tends to be lower in western european countries such as France and Germany, and even lower in Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden. Individuals who face greater economic insecurity, for instance because of low income and unemployment tend to be more supportive of a basic income [106]

Petitions, polls and referendums

  • 2008: an official petition for basic income was started in Germany by Susanne Wiest.[107] The petition was accepted and Susanne Wiest was invited for a hearing at the German parliament’s Commission of Petitions. After the hearing, the petition was closed as “unrealizable”.[108]
  • 2013–2014: a European Citizens’ Initiative collected 280,000 signatures demanding that the European Commission studies the concept of an unconditional basic income.[109]
  • 2015: a citizen’s initiative in Spain received 185,000 signatures, short of the required number to mandate that parliament discuss the proposal.[110]
  • 2016: the world’s first universal basic income referendum in Switzerland on 5 June 2016 was rejected with a 76.9 percent majority.[1][111] Also in 2016, a poll showed that 58 percent of the European people are aware of basic income and 65 percent would vote in favor of the idea.[112]
  • 2017: Politico/Morning Consult asked 1,994 American people about their opinions on several political issues. One question addressed attitudes towards a national basic income in the United States. 43 percent either “strongly supported” or “somewhat supported” the idea.[113]

Prominent advocates

Prominent contemporary advocates include Economics Nobel Prize winners Peter Diamond and Christopher Pissarides,[114] tech investor and engineer Elon Musk,[115] political philosopher Philippe Van Parijs,[116] Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece,[117] Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook[118][119] and entrepreneur and non-profit founder Andrew Yang, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 United States presidential election on a platform of instituting a universal basic income called The Freedom Dividend.[120]

Prominent critics

See also

References …

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income

Who Really Stands to Win from Universal Basic Income?

It has enthusiasts on both the left and the right. Maybe that’s the giveaway.

In 1795, a group of magistrates gathered in the English village of Speenhamland to try to solve a social crisis brought on by the rising price of grain. The challenge was an increase in poverty, even among the employed. The social system at the time, which came to be known as Elizabethan Poor Law, divided indigent adults into three groups: those who could work, those who could not, and those—the “idle poor”—who seemed not to want to. The able and disabled received work or aid through local parishes. The idle poor were forced into labor or rounded up and beaten for being bums. As grain prices increased, the parishes became overwhelmed with supplicants. Terrorizing idle people turned into a vast, unmanageable task.

The magistrates at Speenhamland devised a way of offering families measured help. Household incomes were topped up to cover the cost of living. A man got enough to buy three gallon loaves a week (about eight and a half pounds of bread), plus a loaf and a half for every other member of his household. This meant that a couple with three children could bring home the equivalent of more than twenty-five pounds a week—a lot of bread. The plan let men receive a living wage by working for small payments or by not working at all.

Economics is at heart a narrative art, a frame across which data points are woven into stories about how the world should work. As the Speenhamland system took hold and spread across England, it turned into a parable of caution. The population nearly doubled. Thomas Malthus posited that the poverty subsidies allowed couples to rear families before their actual earnings allowed it. His contemporary David Ricardo complained that the Speenhamland model was a prosperity drain, inviting “imprudence, by offering it a portion of the wages of prudence and industry.” Karl Marx attacked the system years later, in “Das Kapital,” suggesting that it had kept labor wages low, while Karl Polanyi, the economic historian, cast Speenhamland as the original sin of industrial capitalism, making lower classes irrelevant to the labor market just as new production mechanisms were being built. When the Speenhamland system ended, in 1834, people were plunged into a labor machine in which they had no role or say. The commission that repealed the system replaced it with Dickensian workhouses—a corrective, at the opposite extreme, for a program that everyone agreed had failed.

In 1969, Richard Nixon was preparing a radical new poverty-alleviation program when an adviser sent him a memo of material about the Speenhamland experiment. The story freaked Nixon out in a way that only Nixon could be freaked out, and although his specific anxiety was allayed, related concerns lingered. According to Daniel P. Moynihan, another Nixon adviser, who, in 1973, published a book about the effort, Speenhamland was the beginning of a push that led the President’s program, the Family Assistance Plan, toward a work requirement—an element that he had not included until then.

Nixon had originally intended that every poor family of four in America with zero income would receive sixteen hundred dollars a year (the equivalent of about eleven thousand dollars today), plus food stamps; the supplement would fade out as earnings increased. He sought to be the President to lift the lower classes. The plan died in the Senate, under both Republican and Democratic opposition, and the only thing to survive was Nixon’s late-breaking, Speenhamland-inspired fear of being seen to indulge the idle poor. By the end of his Administration, a previously obscure concept called moral hazard—the idea that people behave more profligately when they’re shielded from consequences—had become a guiding doctrine of the right. A work requirement stuck around, first in the earned-income tax credit, and then in Bill Clinton’s welfare reforms. The core of Nixon’s plan—what Moynihan, in “The Politics of a Guaranteed Income,” called “a quantum leap in social policy”—was buried among his more flamboyant flops.

Recently, a resurrection has occurred. Guaranteed income, reconceived as basic income, is gaining support across the spectrum, from libertarians to labor leaders. Some see the system as a clean, crisp way of replacing gnarled government bureaucracy. Others view it as a stay against harsh economic pressures now on the horizon. The questions that surround it are the same ones that Nixon faced half a century ago. Will the public stand for such a bold measure—and, if so, could it ever work?

Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World” (Crown), by the economic journalist Annie Lowrey, is the latest book to argue that a program in this family is a sane solution to the era’s socioeconomic woes. Lowrey is a policy person. She is interested in working from the concept down. “The way things are is really the way we choose for them to be,” she writes. Her conscientiously reported book assesses the widespread effects that money and a bit of hope could buy.

A universal basic income, or U.B.I., is a fixed income that every adult—rich or poor, working or idle—automatically receives from government. Unlike today’s means-tested or earned benefits, payments are usually the same size, and arrive without request. Depending on who designs a given system, they might replace all existing governmental assistance programs or complement them, as a wider safety net. “A UBI is a lesson and an ideal, not just an economic policy,” Lowrey writes. The ideal is that a society, as a first priority, should look out for its people’s survival; the lesson is that possibly it can do so without unequal redistributive plans.

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People generally have a visceral reaction to the idea of a universal basic income. For many, a government check to boost good times or to guard against starvation in bad ones seems like an obviously humane measure. Others find such payments monstrous, a model of waste and unearned rewards. In principle, a government fixes the basic income at a level to allow subsistence but also to encourage enterprise and effort for the enjoyment of more prosperity. In the U.S., its supporters generally propose a figure somewhere around a thousand dollars a month: enough to live on—somewhere in America, at least—but not nearly enough to live on well.

“So basically you’re a dog now.”

Recent interest in U.B.I. has been widespread but wary. Last year, Finland launched a pilot version of basic income; this spring, the government decided not to extend the program beyond this year, signalling doubt. Other trials continue. Pilots have run in Canada, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Iran. Since 2017, the startup incubator Y Combinator has funded a multiyear pilot in Oakland, California. The municipal government of Stockton, an ag-industrial city east of San Francisco, is about to test a program that gives low-income residents five hundred dollars a month. Last year, Stanford launched a Basic Income Lab to pursue, as it were, basic research.

One cause of the program’s especial popularity in Northern California is also a reason for the urgency of its appeal: it is a futurist reply to the darker side of technological efficiency. Robots, we are told, will drive us from our jobs. The more this happens, the more existing workforce safety nets will be strained. In “Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream” (2016), the labor leader Andy Stern nominates U.B.I. as the right response to technological unemployment. Stern, a lifetime labor guy, is a former president of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union. But he thinks that the rise of robots and the general gig-ification of jobs will “marginalize the role of collective bargaining,” so he has made a strategic turn to prepare for a disempowered working class. “You go into an Apple store and you see the future,” he quotes an economist saying. “The future of the labor force is all in those smart college-educated people with the T-shirts whose job is to be a retail clerk.” (This presumes that people will frequent brick-and-mortar shops in the first place.)

By Lowrey’s assessment, the existing system “would falter and fail if confronted with vast inequality and tidal waves of joblessness.” But is a U.B.I. fiscally sustainable? It’s unclear. Lowrey runs many numbers but declines to pin most of them down. She thinks a U.B.I. in the United States should be a thousand dollars monthly. This means $3.9 trillion a year, close to the current expenditure of the entire federal government. To pay, Lowrey proposes new taxes on income, carbon, estates, pollution, and the like. But she is also curiously sanguine about costs, on the premise that few major initiatives balance out on the federal books: “The Bush tax cuts were not ‘paid for.’ The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not ‘paid for.’ ” When the country wants to launch a big project, she insists, the double joints and stretchy tendons of a giant, globalized economy come into play.

This open planning won’t exactly soothe the cautious. A big reason for chariness with a U.B.I. is that, so far, the program lives in people’s heads, untried on a national scale. Then again, by the same mark, the model couldn’t be called under-thunk. The academic counterpart to Lowrey’s journalistic book is Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght’s recent “Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy” (Harvard), a meticulously comprehensive, frequently persuasive accounting of U.B.I.’s superiority by measures economic, philosophical, and pragmatic. Like Lowrey, they see basic income as a sound social program and a corrective “hope”: not a perfect system, but better than anything else.

Traditionally, a challenge for means-tested aid is that it must determine who is most deserving—a vestige of the old Elizabethan system. Often, there’s a moralizing edge. Current programs, Lowrey points out, favor the working poor over the jobless. Race or racism plays into the way that certain policies are shaped, and bureaucratic requirements for getting help can be arcane and onerously cumulative. Who will certify the employee status of a guy who’s living on the streets? How can you get disability aid if you can’t afford the doctor who will certify you as disabled? With a universal income, just deserts don’t seem at issue. Everybody gets a basic chance.

Observers often are squeamish about that proposition. Junkies, alcoholics, scam artists: Do we really want to hand these people monthly checks? In 2010, a team of researchers began giving two-hundred-dollar payments to addicts and criminals in Liberian slums. The researchers found that the money, far from being squandered on vice, went largely to subsistence and legitimate enterprise. Such results, echoed in other studies, suggest that some of the most beneficial applications of a U.B.I. may be in struggling economies abroad.

Like many students of the strategy, Lowrey points to Kenya, where she reported on a U.B.I. pilot in a small village. (She won’t say which, for fear of making it a target for thieves—a concern worth counting as significant.) The pilot is run by a nonprofit called GiveDirectly, and is heavily funded through Silicon Valley; in that respect, it’s a study in effective philanthropy, not a new model of society. But the results are encouraging. Before GiveDirectly sent everyone the equivalent of twenty-two U.S. dollars a month (delivered through a mobile app), Village X had dirt roads, no home electricity, and what Lowrey genteelly calls an “open defecation” model for some families. Now, by her account, the village is a bubbling pot of enterprise, as residents whose days used to be about survival save, budget, and plan. (The payments will continue until 2028.)

A widow tells her, “I’ll deal with three things first urgently: the pit latrine that I need to construct, the part of my house that has been damaged by termites, and the livestock pen that needs reinforcement, so the hyena gets nothing from me on his prowls.” A heavy-drinking deadbeat buys a motorbike for a taxi business, sells soap, buys two cows, and opens a barbershop. His work income quadruples. He boasts to Lowrey of his new life.

Purely as a kind of foreign aid, Lowrey suggests, a basic income is better than donated goods (boxes of shoes, mosquito nets), because cash can go to any use. The Indian government’s chief economic adviser tells her that, with a U.B.I. of about a hundred U.S. dollars a year, India, where a third of the world’s extreme poor live, could bring its poverty rates from twenty-two per cent to less than one per cent. Those figures are stunning. But India is in the midst of major bureaucratic change. Would there be any chance of a U.B.I. finding a foothold in the entrenched U.S. political climate?

Advocates have noted that the idea, generally formulated, has bipartisan support. Charles Murray, the conservative welfare critic, was an early enthusiast. His book “In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State” (2006) called for a U.B.I. of ten thousand dollars a year, plus catastrophic health insurance, to replace existing social programs, including Social Security. Rather than fester for years under the mismanaging claws of Big Government, he thought, money could flow directly to individual recipients. “The UBI lowers the rate of involuntary poverty to zero for everyone who has any capacity to work or any capacity to get along with other people,” Murray declared.

But although politically dissimilar people may support a U.B.I., the reasons for their support differ, and so do the ways they set the numbers. A rising group of thinkers on the left, including David Graeber and Nick Srnicek, tout a generous version of U.B.I. both as a safety net and as a way to free people from lives spent rowing overmanaged corporate galleons. Business centrists and Silicon Valley types appreciate it as a way to manage industry side effects—such as low labor costs and the displacement of workers by apps and A.I.—without impeding growth. In “The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future” (Hachette), Andrew Yang, the Venture for America founder who has already filed for Presidential candidacy in 2020, recommends the model as a way to bypass kludgy governmental systems. He imagines it paired with something he calls “human capitalism.” “For example, a journalist who uncovered a particular source of waste, an artist who beautified a city, or a hacker who strengthened our power grid could be rewarded with Social Credits,” he explains. “Most of the technologists and young people I know would be beyond pumped to work on these problems.”

Many of the super-rich are also super-pumped about the universal basic income. Elon Musk has said it will be “necessary.” Sir Richard Branson speaks of “the sense of self-esteem that universal basic income could provide to people.” What’s the appeal for the plutocracy? For one thing, the system offers a hard budget line: you set the income figure, press start, go home. No new programs, no new rules. It also alleviates moral debt: because there is a floor for everyone, the wealthy can feel less guilt as they gain more wealth. Finally, the U.B.I. fits with a certain idea of meritocracy. If everybody gets a strong boost off the blocks, the winners of the economic race—the ultra-affluent—can believe that they got there by their industry or acumen. Of course the very rich appreciate the U.B.I.; it dovetails with a narrative that casts their wealth as a reward.

Anotable exception is Chris Hughes, who, in “Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn” (St. Martin’s), seeks to shed the idea that special skills brought him success. Hughes, who is helping to fund the Stockton U.B.I. experiment, was part of the dorm-room crew that founded Facebook. By his late twenties, when the company went public, he was worth around five hundred million dollars. Before the I.P.O., he worked for Barack Obama’s first Presidential campaign; afterward, he bought a majority stake in The New Republic, mismanaged it so brazenly as to prompt a huge staff exodus, then sold it. He’s forthright about his failures, and he’s diffident about his putative triumphs. “Fair Shot” tells an interesting success story, because its author has doubts about how he succeeded. It’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” if Charlie said “Why me?” and Wonka shrugged.

Hughes’s book is divided between policy and memoir. When he was growing up, in suburban North Carolina, he writes, his mom clipped coupons and he went to an after-school program with mostly nonwhite kids. He dreamed of a bigger life, and applied to top high schools. Andover offered financial aid, but not enough. He called up its admissions office and pleaded for more. Once there, Hughes felt poor, and sought validation in schoolwork. This led him to Harvard, where he ended up rooming with three guys he didn’t know too well, including Mark Zuckerberg.

Hughes had no technical knowledge. But he was there when Facebook was being set up, and he could talk and write, so he was put in charge of its early P.R. On graduating, he found himself leading Facebook’s communications and marketing and watching venture capitalists invest “jaw-dropping” sums. It bemused him. “I didn’t feel like some kind of genius, and while Mark was smart and talented, so were many of the other people I went to college with,” he writes.

Hughes searches for points of exception that explain why he, not someone else from another middle-middle-class family, ended up with half a billion dollars and a speaking circuit out of the gate. His scramble to get into Andover, for one thing, seems central. But should the randomness of this early ambition—which, even if it doesn’t have to do with resources, does reflect community information transfer—really determine who’s in with a chance? Hughes thinks these individual zaps of opportunity have a large-scale correlate: the very economic setup that made him and his roommates super-rich. “In a winner-take-all world, a small group of people get outsized returns as a result of early actions they take,” he writes. Massive tech companies such as Facebook have been possible because of deregulation, financialization, tax cuts, and lowered tariffs rolled out, he thinks, at a cost to ordinary people since the nineteen-seventies.

“Is the flight completely full, extremely full, or very full?”

The solution, Hughes has decided, is a modest basic income: five hundred dollars a month for every adult in a household making less than about fifty thousand dollars. He sees it as a boost to the current system, and argues that the money can be found by closing tax exemptions for the ultra-wealthy—“people like me.”

Six thousand dollars a year is not a lot of money. But Hughes believes that a light padding is enough. He describes receiving his first big payout from Facebook—a hundred thousand dollars—and realizing that if he set aside a five-per-cent return each year he could count on a lifelong annual income of at least five thousand dollars, no matter what. It was a little, but it meant a lot. “The further you get from subsistence, the easier it is to ask fundamental questions like: What do I want, and how do I get it?” he writes. The covetable entity that the Andover kids of his youth possessed wasn’t actually wealth. Their crucial asset was the assurance of choice.

Framing basic income in terms of choice, not money, helps to clarify both its opportunities and its limits. On the immediate level, one might wonder whether Hughes’s proposal of five hundred dollars a month is really enough to boost one’s existential swagger. That number, he says, would lift twenty million people over the poverty line, but any three-hundred-billion-dollar program should. More to the point are Hughes’s qualms about a universal basic income—or even a lower-middle basic income, like his—replacing means-tested aid. (“Trading in benefits earmarked for the poor for a benefit like guaranteed income, which is designed to provide financial stability to the middle class and the poor alike, would be regressive,” he says.) Why spray so much money over people doing fine, he wonders, when you could direct cash as needed?

One answer is that it makes the program palatable to those who cannot stomach anything resembling government handouts. A wide range of people stand to benefit from a cushion: any worker with an abusive boss is free to take the basic wage and leave. By certain measures, in fact, giving everyone a flat check naturally rebalances opportunities for choice. A thousand bucks handed to a multimillionaire means almost nothing, but it’s significant for a middle-income person, and for a poor person it could open up the world.

Skeptics might point out that what was meant to be a floor can easily become a ceiling. This was Marx’s complaint about Speenhamland: a society with a basic income has no pressure to pay employees a good wage, because the bottom constraint, subsistence, has fallen away. We see such an effect already in the gig economy, where companies pay paltry wages by claiming that their endeavors are flexible and part-time and that workers surely have subsistence income from elsewhere.

Supporters of the U.B.I. frequently counter that the raised floor will lift other things. If workers are no longer compelled to take any available job to put food on the table, supporters say, work must be worth their while. Certainly, this will be true for highly undesirable jobs: the latrine cleaner can expect a pay bump and an engraved pen. But for jobs whose appeal goes beyond the paycheck—in other words, most middle-class jobs—the pressures are less clear. Competitive, prestigious industries often pay entry- to mid-level employees meagrely, because they can; ambitious people are so keen for a spot on the ladder that they accept modest wages. And, since that is an easier concession for the children and intimates of the moneyed classes, influential fields can fill up with fancy people. This is not a problem that the U.B.I. would solve. If anything, paychecks in desirable jobs would be free to shrink to honorarium size, and choice opportunity would again redound to the rich, for whom the shrinkage would not mean very much.

In that sense, what’s at issue with U.B.I. isn’t actually the movement of money but the privileging of interests—not who is served but who’s best served. An illuminating parallel is free college. One criticism of Bernie Sanders’s no-tuition plan, in 2016, was that many American families could afford at least part of a tuition. With no fees to pay, that money would be freed to fund enrichments: painting lessons, private tutoring, investments, trips to rescue orphans and pandas, and other things with which well-resourced people set the groundwork for an upward-spiralling bourgeois life. Especially among the small subset of colleges that have competitive admissions—the sector of the education market which, today, serves most reliably as an elevator toward class, influence, and long-term employment access—those who truly have no cash for college would still be starting from behind. Opportunity would be better equalized, at least while other things in America remain very unequal, by meting out financial aid as kids actually need it.

Hughes was one such kid, of course, and then he stepped into a jet stream leading from Harvard Yard to the cover of a business magazine. Now he is part of the one per cent, which means that his son is seventy-seven times as likely to end up in the Ivy League as his counterpart from the bottom fifth in the income distribution. These effects relate to what’s often called “structural inequality.” Since, his story suggests, they have little to do with the details of Hughes’s childhood finances and a lot to do with the decades-long diversion of profit from workers to shareholders, any program to protect the workforce in the long term must go deeper than just redisbursing cash or benefits. Such a solution would need to privilege public interests, not just public awards. It may even require what many U.B.I. fans hate: a rejiggering of regulation. Simply lifting the minimum-income level leaves the largest, most defining foundations of inequality intact.

The realization that a universal basic income is useful but insufficient for the country’s long-term socioeconomic health—that you can’t just wind up a machine and let it run—may cause attrition among some supporters who admire the model precisely because it seems to mean that no one will have to deal with stuff like this again. It may also dampen the scheme’s sunny political prospects, since a healthy U.B.I. would have to be seated among other reforms, the sum of which would not be cost- or interest-neutral. This doesn’t mean that it’s not a practical idea. It means only that it’s not a magic spell.

Or perhaps the difference could be split. A couple of years ago, the Dutch professional thought leader Rutger Bregman championed universal basic income in his popular book “Utopia for Realists”—a title that reflects the volume’s tone. Bregman, who studied history, hoped that we could abolish poverty, border control, and the forty-hour workweek. (He prefers fifteen.) He pointed out that G.D.P. is a questionable metric of prosperity, since it doesn’t reflect health, clean air, and other attributes that now define First World success. His interest in a basic income was meant to synthesize the wishful and the practical; like many supporters, he touted it as a matter of both categorical principle and maximized good, and tried to make these virtues square. The effort brought him back to Speenhamland, whose reputation as a failure Bregman called, flatly, “bogus.”

According to Bregman’s analysis, accounts of Speenhamland’s disastrousness were based on a single report by the commission empowered to replace it. The report was “largely fabricated,” Bregman writes. The era’s population growth was attributable not to irresponsible family planning, as Malthus thought, but to an excess of responsibility—children, once they reached working age, were lucrative earners for a household—plus declining rates of infant mortality. (Parallel population explosions happened in Ireland and Scotland, where the Speenhamland system was not in effect.) Wages were low during Speenhamland, but, the historian Walter I. Trattner has noted, they were nearly as low before Speenhamland, and the extra falloff followed the adoption of the mechanical thresher, which obviated an entire class of jobs.

Speenhamland does offer a lesson, in other words, but it is not the one most widely taught. In “The Failed Welfare Revolution” (2008), the sociologist Brian Steensland suggests that, if Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan had passed, conservative policy might have evolved along a different path. George H. W. Bush, then a congressman, supported the guaranteed-income scheme. So did Donald Rumsfeld. From the late sixties into the seventies, he and Dick Cheney helped run trials on thirteen hundred families to see how much a modest financial top-up discouraged them from working. The falloff was smaller than expected, and the researchers were pleased. We might hope that, with Speenhamland’s false myths finally cleared, the United States will do better going forward. But our aptitude for managing the future is no stronger than our skill at making sense out of the past. ♦

This article appears in the print edition of the July 9 & 16, 2018, issue, with the headline “Take the Money and Run.”

 

 

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Story 1: 23 Texas Towns Hit With Ransomware Attack — Videos

Ransomware As Fast As Possible

Officials Working To Help 23 Local Texas Governments After Ransomware Attack

Ransomware attack hits government computers in over 20 Texas towns

Texas government agencies hit by ransomware attack

Ransomware attack hits 23 Texas towns

Twenty-two Texas Towns Hit By Ransomware

Ransomware attack hits 23 Texas towns

23 local Texas governments hit with ransomware attack

How Ransomware Locks Your PC & Holds Your Data Hostage

How one ransomware attack cost £45m to fix – BBC News

What is ransomware and how can I protect myself?

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RANSOMWARE

Wana Decrypt0r (Wanacry Ransomware) – Computerphile

 

Texas is hit with ransomware attack as at least 20 local governments come under ‘coordinated’ cyber assault

  • Texas state government reports coordinated ransomware attacks in 20 cities
  • State Department of Information Resources is leading the response
  • Ransomware cripples computer infrastructure with demand for payment 

Texas has been hit with a wave of ransomware attacks targeting at least 20 local government entities.

The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) said late Friday that it is leading the response to a ‘coordinated ransomware attack’ that is crippling critical government infrastructure across the state.

Ransomware disables computer networks and holds them hostage in demand for payment.

Workers are seen inside the Texas Division of Emergency Management, State Operations Center in Austin in a file photo
‘Currently, DIR, the Texas Military Department, and the Texas A&M University System’s Cyberresponse and Security Operations Center teams are deploying resources to the most critically impacted jurisdictions,’ the department said in a statement.

WHAT IS RANSOMWARE?

Cybercriminals use ‘blockers’ to stop their victim accessing their device.

This may include a mesage telling them this is due to ‘illegal content’  such as porn being identified on their device.

Anyone who has accessed porn online is probably less likely to take the matter up with law enforcement.

Hackers then ask for money to be paid, often in the form of Bitcoins or other untraceable cryptocurrencies, for the block to be removed.

In May 2017, a massive ransomware virus attack called WannaCry spread to the computer systems of hundreds of private companies and public organisations across the globe.

The department urged local jurisdictions who have been impacted to contact their local TDEM Disaster District Coordinator.

‘DIR is fully committed to respond swiftly to this event and provide the necessary resources to bring these entities back online,’ the agency said.

It was not immediately clear which cities had been impacted by the attacks and what entity is suspected of perpetrating them.

A spokesman for DIR did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com on Saturday.

The attack came within hours of a massive failure of U.S. Customs and Border Protection computers that caused huge travel delays across the country – although the federal agency has insisted that the outage was not ‘malicious’ in nature. 

‘The affected systems are coming back online and travelers are being processed. CBP will continue to monitor the incident. There is no indication the disruption was malicious in nature at this time,’ CBP said in a statement at 6.30pm ET on Friday.

22 Texas Towns Hit With Ransomware Attack In ‘New Front’ Of Cyberassault

Texas state Capitol building in Austin. This week, state officials confirmed that 22 municipalities have been infiltrated and ransom demanded.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Updated at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday ET

Texas is the latest state to be hit with a cyberattack, with state officials confirming this week that computer systems in 22 municipalities have been infiltrated by hackers demanding a ransom. A mayor of one of those cities said the attackers are asking for $2.5 million to unlock the files.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and state cybersecurity experts are examining the ongoing breach, which began Friday morning and has affected mostly smaller local governments. Officials have not disclosed which specific places are affected.

Investigators have also not yet identified who or what is behind the attack that took the systems offline, but the Texas Department of Information Resources says the evidence so far points to “one single threat actor.”

Elliott Sprehe, a spokesman for the department, said he was “not aware” of any of the cities having paid the undisclosed ransom sought by hackers. He said the areas impacted are predominantly rural. The department initially put the number of cities attacked at 23.

Two cities so far have come forward to say their computer systems were affected. Officials in Borger in the Texas Panhandle, said the attack has affected city business and financial operations. Birth and death certificates are not available online, and the city can’t accept utility payments from any of its 13,25o residents. “Responders have not yet established a time-frame for when full, normal operations will be restored,” city officials said.

Keene, Texas, a city of some 6,100 people outside Fort Worth, was also hit, officials announced. The city’s government is also unable to process utility payments.

Keene Mayor Gary Heinrich told NPR that the hackers broke into the information technology software used by the city and managed by an outsourced company, which he said also supports many of the other municipalities targeted.

“Well, just about everything we do at City Hall is impacted, Heinrich said.

Heinrich said the hackers want a collective ransom of $2.5 million.

“They got into our software provider, the guys who run our IT systems,” Heinrich said. “A lot of folks in Texas use providers to do that, because we don’t have a staff big enough to have IT in house.”

State officials would not comment on the nature of the attack or confirm the ransom amount. But Heinrich said there is no way his city will be coughing up anything for the hackers.

“Stupid people,” he said of the cyber-attackers. “You know, just no sense in this at all.”

Experts say that while government agencies have increasingly been hit by cyberattacks, simultaneously targeting nearly two dozen cities represents a new kind of digital assault.

“What’s unique about this attack and something we hadn’t seen before is how coordinated attack this attack is,” said threat intelligence analyst Allan Liska. “It does present a new front in the ransomware attack,” he said. “It absolutely is the largest coordinated attack we’ve seen.”

Liska’s research firm, Recorded Future, has found that ransomware attacks aimed at state and local government have been on the rise, finding at least 169 examples of hackers breaking into government computer systems since 2013. There have been more than 60 already this year, he said.

In recent months, the data networks of Baltimore, the Georgia courts system and a county in Utah have all been hit by ransomware.

The hacker bait tends to come in the form of a seemingly benign email with links or attachments that, once opened, can infect a system. There are other popular ways of tapping into government networks, Liska said, like through remote desktop systems, which can be vulnerable to hackers.

While the attackers tend to be anonymous and their locations undisclosed, Liska said his research has found that few are based in the U.S. Many, he said, are breaching local government computer systems from operations based in parts of Eastern Europe or Russia.

And sometimes local governments see no other option to restoring their crippled networks than paying a ransom demanded by hackers. In Lake City, Fla., a town of about 12,000 residents, officials paid $460,000 in the form of bitcoin, the preferred payment method among cybercriminals.

“They turned off the servers. They literally went room through room through city hall, unplugging people’s networks cables and turning off all the computers,” Mike Lee, a sergeant with the Lake City Police Department, told NPR in July.

The ransom was paid by insurance, but taxpayers were still on the hook for a $10,000 deductible.

The Recorded Future study found that about 17% of local agencies hit with ransomware viruses paid up, a practice federal law enforcement officials discourage, saying it incentivizes cybercriminals to keep engaging in the activity.

Liska said in cities he has worked with that have been preyed upon by hackers, there are instances in which ponying up for the return of data is the only viable option.

“Sometimes the reality of the situation may call for it,” he said. “If the backups aren’t working or if the bad guys have encrypted your backups, then unfortunately that’s what you’re left with.”

Individuals, businesses and institutions such as hospitals have been targeted by ransomware attacks for years. With the recent attacks on state and city government, local officials are rushing to secure their computer systems, holding new training and backing up their servers, Liska said. But in smaller, cash-strapped localities, there could be challenges to building a security defense.

Tad McGalliard studies local government cybersecurity at the Washington-based city manager group ICMA. He has been pushing for municipalities to find more funding to fight back against hackers.

“Somebody out there on the bad guy front is seeing an opportunity in local governments and we got to make a better job of making sure our employees are as well-trained and as well-equipped as possible,” McGalliard said.

McGalliard said the Texas case should be a wake-up call to cities in remote parts of the country.

“We might have thought this was a big city problem, or at least an affluent city or county problem, but I think what’s clear now is just about any local government is vulnerable,” he said.

In Texas, state authorities have not yet disclosed where exactly the attacks were based or how many computers have been swept up in the breach, meaning it is not yet known what services or data might have been compromised.

“Hitting 23 towns at once was bad, but we don’t know how much damage was done,” Liska said. “One computer in each town versus 100 computers in each town is a big difference.”

https://www.npr.org/2019/08/20/752695554/23-texas-towns-hit-with-ransomware-attack-in-new-front-of-cyberassault

Story 2: President Trump Does Not Support Universal Background Checks But Does Support Meaningful Intelligent Background Checks  — Videos

White House pushes back on background check claims

Lou Dobbs Tonight 8/20/19 | Breaking Fox News August 20, 2019

Story 3: President Trump Looking At Payroll Tax Cuts — Videos

Bank of America CEO Moynihan on the Economy, Recession Risks and Trade

What are the warning signs of a recession?

Are we heading for a global recession? – BBC Newsnight

The Point: Trump admits China war could bring economic recession

President Trump Wants To Cut Payroll Taxes

President Trump Says He’s Considering Payroll Tax Cut To Boost Economy | NBC Nightly News

President Trump may be considering options to prevent recession

Trump touts economy but payroll tax discussion reveals recession fears

Trump attacks Fed chair, pushes back on recession fears

Donald Trump says he will risk a ‘RECESSION for two months’ as a price for his China trade war saying only ‘dumb people’ don’t get what he us doing – and he admits he IS considering emergency tax cuts

  • Donald Trump spent morning retweeting aides and media allies to back his claim that recession warnings are a plot to unseat him in 2020
  • He retweeted a supporter who described him as having ‘super human energy,’ and a series of claims that the media is trying to crash the economy
  • ‘Somebody had to take China on,’ he argued. ‘China’s been grifting off this country for 25 years’ 
  • Told a reporter asking about a recession: ‘I am doing this whether it’s good or bad for your statement about, “Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?” ‘
  • Trump declared, ‘The fact is, somebody had to take China on. My life would be a lot easier, if I didn’t take China on. But I like doing it, because I have to do it’
  • Also tweeted Mike Pence claiming Michigan’s economy is strong on day electorally-critical state was hit by U.S. Steel layoffs 
  • Admitted during an Oval Office meeting with Romania’s president that he’s considering a payroll tax cut and railed against the Federal Reserve and China
  • Dow closed 173.35 points down at 25,962.44 after rallying on Monday, in the latest market fluctuation. 

President Donald Trump says he’s willing to risk a ‘recession for two months’ to bring China to heel, declaring Tuesday that only ‘dumb people’ don’t understand his trade war and tariffs policies.

An angry Trump warned reporters that if he hadn’t challenged China, theft of intellectual property would hurt companies like Apple even more in the long term than his tariffs.

‘Somebody had to take China on,’ he argued. ‘China’s been grifting off this country for 25 years, but longer than that. And it’s about time, whether it’s good for our country, or bad for our country short term. Long term, it’s imperative that somebody does this because our country cannot continue to pay China $500 billion because stupid people are running it.’

He argued, ‘Whether its good or bad short term is irrelevant. We have to solve the problem with China.’

‘Whether it’s good or bad, the short term is irrelevant. We have to solve the problem with China because they’re taking out $500 billion a year plus. And that doesn’t include intellectual property theft and other things. And also, national security, so I am doing this whether it’s good or bad for your statement about, “Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?” ‘ he told a journalist asking him about the possibility of a downturn.

Trump declared, ‘The fact is, somebody had to take China on. My life would be a lot easier, if I didn’t take China on. But I like doing it, because I have to do it. And we’re getting great help. China’s had the worst year they’ve had in 27 years, and a lot of people saying the worst year they’ve had in 54 years, OK?

President Donald Trump says he's willing to risk a 'recession for two months' to bring China to heel, declaring Tuesday that only 'dumb people' don't understand his trade war and tariffs policies

President Donald Trump says he’s willing to risk a ‘recession for two months’ to bring China to heel, declaring Tuesday that only ‘dumb people’ don’t understand his trade war and tariffs policies

Trump will risk recession as trade war with China ‘had to be done’

Fuming, the president insisted to journalists: ‘We’re winning big. I took it on.

‘And I’m happy to do it. Because it had to be done. And the smart people say, thank you very much. And the dumb people have no idea. And then you have the political people, and they go with the wind. But they all know.’

He defended his tariffs on China, arguing, ‘My trade deals aren’t causing a problem. This is something that had to be done.’ 

Trump also confirmed that he’s looking at a payroll tax cut, acknowledging that it’s ‘something we think about and a lot of people would like’ him to pursue to stimulate the economy.

Sitting next to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, the president denied that the U.S. economy is in distress.

‘I think the word recession is a word that’s inappropriate,’ he asserted. ‘Certain people and the media are trying to build up, because they’d love to see a recession.’

He urged the Federal Reserve to cut rates again and said at a ‘minimum they should be doing nothing,’ as he lashed out against the financial institution.

Trump slams Fed, says US economy is ‘far from a recession’

Trump said it should not be decreasing the amount of money in circulation, a monetary policy known as quantitative tightening.

‘The fed is psychologically very important,’ he said in the Oval Office meeting, where he took half-an-hour of questions from gathered journalists.

The president offered up the EU and Germany as examples, saying, ‘You have to be proactive, and so we really need a fed cut rate because if you look what’s going on with the European Union, as an example, they’re cutting.

‘If you take a look at Germany, what they’re doing and what they’re doing, and what they’re paying, they’re actually doing something inverse, nobody’s ever seen it before, we have to at least keep up to an extent,’ he said. ‘So we’re looking for a rate cut.’

Trump’s remarks aired on television as Wall Street was winding down for the day.

It closed 173.35 points down at 25,962.44 after rallying on Monday, in the latest market fluctuation.

Trump accused Democrats Tuesday of running a strategy to drive the nation into recession, as he amplified claims from his allies that the economy is stronger under his leadership.

In a morning tweet storm which came as White House officials discussed how to stimulate the economy at the same time as Trump is denying a recession is looming, he retweeted Mike Pence, his campaign manager and three favored media allies – Geraldo Riviera and Jesse Watters of Fox News and Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business network.

One credited Trump with ‘super human energy,’ and pushed his own claim that Democrats are trying to drive the country into recession to beat him in 2020.

And GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel argued in tweets that manufacturing optimism is up and unemployment is down.

Trump seconded his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who proclaimed in a message, ‘The liberal media is so deranged by President [Donald Trump] that they’re now cheering for the economy to tank – sorry to disappoint Democrats, but the economy has never been stronger!’

And the tweetstorm pointedly included praise for the economy in Michigan from vice president Mike Pence, who was traveling there Tuesday, on the day that U.S. Steel was revealed to be laying off hundreds and shuttering blast furnaces.

 

 

 

Tweet storm of praise: Trump turned to Twitter for backers of his claim that warnings of a recession are being driven by a desire to remove him from office

Tweet storm of praise: Trump turned to Twitter for backers of his claim that warnings of a recession are being driven by a desire to remove him from office

U.S. Steel –  a company whose renaissance has been a key part of the Trump narrative – said it would lay off 200 workers. It will also idle two blast furnaces for at least six months at Great Lakes and Gary Works plants, citing lower steel prices and softening demand.

The layoffs were characterized as temporary in filings,but the company admitted they could last longer than six months, in another indicator that the U.S. economy is slowing down.

Michigan is critical to Trump’s re-election prospects after the shock victory there played a key part in putting him in the White House.

In more bad news for Trump, a top lender, JP Morgan Chase assessed that Trump’s tariffs on China will cost American consumers $1,000 a household.

Despite Trump’s bravado on social media and previous bullish public comments, his  White House spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed talks were under way on some form of stimulus.

He denied only a specific report that the measure bring considered a payroll tax cut and told Fox News: ‘It’s not being considered at this time but he’s looking at all options out there to try and give people back so much of the hard earned money they’ve made.’

A Washington Post report had cited sources at the White House said the administration was considering a temporary cut to the 6.2 percent tax to prevent a downturn.

The suggestion was modeled after a two percent slash Obama made in his first term, which expired in 2013 as job growth ticked up again.

On Monday night, a White House official told DailyMail.com that a payroll tax isn’t under discussion currently, although the person left the door open to future tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

‘As Larry Kudlow said yesterday, more tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time,’ the official said.

Kudlow had on Fox News Sunday said the president’s Oct. 2018 promise to pursue tax cuts for the middle class was still alive.

He denied that the nation was on the verge of a recession, however, after fill-in host Dana Perino asked about emergency action to counteract a recession.

‘Well, first of all I don’t see a recession at all. Second of all, the Trump pro-growth program, which I believe has been succeeding lower tax rates, bid rollback of regulations, energy opening, trade reform, we’re going to stay with that,’ he said. ‘We believe that’s the heart of the free enterprise. We want an incentive-oriented supply-side economy, providing opportunities for everybody across the board.’

He said, ‘That’s about as good as it gets and I notice, at the end of the week, a lot of the Wall Street firms have been marking up their economic growth forecasts. I think we’re in pretty good shape and I want to just say you know, we should not be afraid of optimism.’

Under questioning about a call that Trump had last Wednesday with JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon and the CEOs of two other leading lenders, he suggested the conversation was about the president’s tariffs on China.

The lender said Tuesday that the next round of tariffs, which were delayed until Dec. 15, are likely to bring the cost per household this year up to $1,000.

Trump and his aides have now spent days denying publicly that a recession is on the horizon and the U.S. needs to take action. The president said Sunday that he’s ‘prepared’ to counteract one, though, if a financial downturn takes the country by surprise.

Trump insisted that American consumers are ‘not paying for the tariffs’ that he has on $250 billion of Chinese goods, so far, and said he’s reconsidering a plan to put tariffs on laptops and cells phones in December, to protect American consumers and companies.

He accused his political opponents of trying to bring down the United States’ economy to hurt his reelection chances on Monday, as his administration tried to put out a wildfire of claims that a recession might be on the way.

Trump said Monday that economy is doing well despite ‘very selfish’ political angling of Democrats on a mission to oust him from the White House.

‘Our Economy is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed, but the Democrats are trying to “will” the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election. Very Selfish! Our dollar is so strong that it is sadly hurting other parts of the world,’ he tweeted.

On the spot: Donald Trump and his aides have now spent days denying that a recession is looming

On the spot: Donald Trump and his aides have now spent days denying that a recession is looming

Trump said that economy is doing well despite 'very selfish' political angling of Democrats, who are on a mission to oust him from the White House

Trump said that economy is doing well despite ‘very selfish’ political angling of Democrats, who are on a mission to oust him from the White House

He added, ‘The Fed Rate, over a fairly short period of time, should be reduced by at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well. If that happened, our Economy would be even better, and the World Economy would be greatly and quickly enhanced-good for everyone!’

Last week, the president accused the media of ‘doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election.’

He blamed a wide array of third parties, including Joe Biden and the Hong Kong protesters, accusing them of scuttling a trade deal with Beijing that would help both countries’ economies.

Three-quarters of economists predict a U.S. recession by 2021 in survey – but number who say it will be after the presidential election rises

A number of U.S. business economists appear sufficiently concerned about the risks of some of President Donald Trump’s economic policies that they expect a recession in the U.S. by the end of 2021.

In total, 74% economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, in a report being released Monday, said they believe a slowing economy will tip into recession by 2021.

However there is some good news in the survey for the president, with the number who see a recession in 2020 down from 42% to 38%, while the number predicting a 2021 recession is at 34%.  That’s up from 25% in a survey taken in February.

Only 2% of those polled expect a recession to begin this year, down from 10% in February. A slightly higher number than before – 14% – say it will be later than 2021.

Trump, however, has dismissed concerns about a recession, offering an optimistic outlook for the economy after last week’s steep drop in the financial markets and saying on Sunday, ‘I don’t think we’re having a recession.’ A strong economy is key to the Republican president’s 2020 reelection prospects.

The economists have previously expressed concern that Trump’s tariffs and higher budget deficits could eventually dampen the economy.

Response: What business economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics are saying about a downturn

Response: What business economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics are saying about a downturn

The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on goods from many key U.S. trading partners, from China and Europe to Mexico and Canada.

Officials maintain that the tariffs, which are taxes on imports, will help the administration gain more favorable terms of trade. But U.S. trading partners have simply retaliated with tariffs of their own.

Trade between the U.S. and China, the two biggest global economies, has plunged. Trump decided last Wednesday to postpone until Dec. 15 tariffs on about 60% of an additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, granting a reprieve from a planned move that would have extended duties to nearly everything the U.S. buys from China.

The financial markets last week signaled the possibility of a U.S. recession, adding to concerns over the ongoing trade tensions and word from Britain and Germany that their economies are shrinking.

The economists surveyed by the NABE were skeptical about prospects for success of the latest round of U.S.-China trade negotiations. Only 5% predicted that a comprehensive trade deal would result, 64% suggested a superficial agreement was possible and nearly 25% expected nothing to be agreed upon by the two countries.

The 226 respondents, who work mainly for corporations and trade associations, were surveyed between July 14 and Aug. 1.

That was before the White House announced 10% tariffs on the additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, the Chinese currency dipped below the seven-yuan-to-$1 level for the first time in 11 years and the Trump administration formally labeled China a currency manipulator.

As a whole, the business economists’ recent responses have represented a rebuke of the Trump administration’s overall approach to the economy.

Still, for now, most economic signs appear solid. Employers are adding jobs at a steady pace, the unemployment rate remains near a 50-year low and consumers are optimistic. U.S. retail sales figures out last Thursday showed that they jumped in July by the most in four months.

The survey showed a steep decline in the percentage of economists who found the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade ‘too stimulative’ and likely to produce higher budget deficits that should be reduced, to 51% currently from 71% in August 2018.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7376495/Trump-says-hes-looking-payroll-tax-cut-pushes-recession-claims.html

 

Story 4: Big Lie Media. Radical Extremist Democrat Socialists (REDS), and Trump Haters Hope The United States Economy Goes Into A Recession to Defeat Trump — Betrayal of The American People — Videos

Are Trump’s media critics rooting for recession?

Bill Maher roots for recession to get Trump out of office

Bill Maher says recession is ‘worth it’ if Trump loses in 2020

Lou Dobbs Tonight 8/20/19 | Breaking Fox News August 20, 2019

Is the world heading for a recession? | FT

Trump Warns of Economic Downturn if He Loses Next Year

Trump’s Victory Shattered The Democrats, They’ve Been Struggling Ever Since

White House dismisses fears of a recession l ABC News

 

Recession is at the top of Trump haters’ wish list

I’m not saying they are just hoping for a recession. It’s obvious the haters would like that.

But are they trying to cause a recession?

Comedian and Trump ultra-hater Bill Maher has already spoken for his side. “We have survived many recessions. We can’t survive another Donald Trump term,” Maher is quoted as saying.

You know what: Trying to cause a recession would actually be the most rational thing the president’s opponents have tried. The trouble is, this strategy doesn’t seem to be working. Not yet, at least.

I’ll get to that in a bit.

But first let’s go over the more irrational solutions that the president’s opponents have considered or have actually acted upon.

Right after the election, the Trump haters floated these doozies: Get the Electoral College voters to go against the wishes of their states and keep Trump from the presidency. When that didn’t work, they tried — at least according to a wishful press — to get members of Trump’s own cabinet to decline him unfit for office.

Strike two.

And, of course, there was whatever was going on inside the FBI and other intelligence agencies that were spying on the Trump campaign and pulling dirty tricks before and after his election.

That didn’t work either and we will find out more about what was going on when a report concerning all this comes from Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, sometime in the very near future.

So that brings us back to the possibility — and for the haters, the last hope — that there will be a recession and that it will affect the next presidential election, which is a little more than a year away.

As I said, this isn’t an irrational tactic to take against Trump.

Elections are mostly won or lost on how the economy is doing. And right now, while there is lots of talk about a 2020 recession that will hurt Trump, that’s really all it is — talk. And it’s mostly talk in the media and among Democrats.

But this chatter is causing Trump to bring up the issue of a recession regularly to defend himself — which publicizes the possibility of an economic downturn even more.

You have probably heard that consumers control about 80% of the US economy. Recessions happen for a lot of reasons — a mistake by the Federal Reserve, economic problems overseas, careless lending by banks, a stock market crash, trade wars and war wars.

Some of those things, and others, can lead to a recession. But most of the things I just mentioned have been going on at times over the past 10 years and still there hasn’t been a recession since the Great One of 2007 to 2009.

But the quickest way to cause a recession is to kill the confidence of consumers. Without the consumer being willing to spend, the economy will crap out.

That’s where all the talk of a recession comes in. If the Trump haters in and outside the media can convince consumers that the next recession is right around the corner, the next recession just might be right around the corner.

And with any luck, the recession will happen just in time to be on voters’ minds when they decide whether to keep President Trump in office or kick him to the cul-de-sac.

What the haters really need is for Americans to forget all the irrational stuff they’ve already failed at and just focus on the economy. “It’s the economy, stupid,” is a Bill Clinton campaign motto that would need to be revised.

But here’s the problem. While helping cause a recession might be the rational thing for the haters to do politically, it comes with many drawbacks.

The biggest is that voters might figure out what the haters are doing and be pissed.

A recession will bring job losses. Will the American public blame the president, or can Trump cast the blame on his opponents?

And if this tactic is perceived as just another dirty trick, it might take the Democrats a very long time to regain the public’s support.

Trump certainly isn’t getting the kind of economy he wanted and even predicted. But growth is still around 2% a year, about where it was during most of the Obama administration.

Unemployment for everyone is down. And people are still spending, as recent retail sales figure show.

And the stock market is doing just fine, despite the president’s panic every time if falls a few percentage points.

But US debt levels have skyrocketed as Trump tried to boost the economy through a tax cut. And a tricky thing is happening in the bond markets — yields of shorter maturity government securities are higher than long-maturity yields.

This yield “inversion,” the experts say, is an omen of a coming recession. And the haters hope they are right.

Maybe, maybe not.

The chaos in the world could be making the US bond market flaky as foreign investors try to get assets out of their own country and into ours. And that, or some other market quirk, could be causing the inversion.

This is all quite intriguing and will make a great movie one of these days. But right now, it’s just a drama that will end — thankfully — in November 2020.

https://nypost.com/2019/08/19/recession-is-at-the-top-of-trump-haters-wish-list/

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1294, July 23, 2019, Story 1: Spending Beyond The Means of The American People and Burdening Future Generations — Shame on Democrat and Republican Politicians For Out-of Control Government Spending or Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — They Have No Shame —  Betrayal of American People By Their Elected Representatives — Two Party Tyranny — Tea Party 2.0 Time To Stand-up A New Political Party — American Independence Party — to Challenge Both Democrats and Republicans — Send Them All Home — To Save The American Constitutional Representative Republic From Bankruptcy, Default, Socialism, and Budget Busting  Warfare and Welfare Statists — President Trump Either Vetoes This Bill or Faces The Dump The Two Party Tyranny Movement — Videos — Story 2: United States and Israel Joint Strike Targeting Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Weapon System Programs Deep Underground in Mountains will Require Low Yield Nuclear Weapons To Be Successful — Waiting For Trump To Start World War 3 To Stop Nuclear Proliferation in The Middle East and Far East — Videos

Posted on July 24, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Applications, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, China, Coal, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Disasters, Diseases, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hardware, Hate Speech, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), Media, Medicare, Military Spending, Monetary Policy, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Relations, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Senate, Servers, Social Security, Spying, Success, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP_, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, United Kingdom, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1294 July 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1293 July 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1278 June 20, 2019 

Pronk Pops Show 1277 June 19, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Story 1: Spending Beyond The Means of The American People and Burdening Future Generations — Shame on Democrat and Republican Politicians For Out-of Control Government Spending or Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — They Have No Shame —  Betrayal of American People By Their Elected Representatives — Two Party Tyranny — Tea Party 2.0 Time To Stand-up A New Political Party — American Independence Party — to Challenge Both Democrats and Republicans — Send Them All Home — To Save The American Constitutional Representative Republic From Bankruptcy, Default, Socialism, and Budget Busting  Warfare and Welfare Statists — President Trump Either Vetoes This Bill or Faces The Dump The Two Party Tyranny Movement — Videos — 

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Big Spender

Hey Big Spender

The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender,
Good looking, so refined.
Say, wouldn’t you like to know
What’s going on in my mind?
So, let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see.
Hey, big spender, spend,
A little time with, me, me, me!
Do you wanna have fun?
How’s about a few laughs?
I can show you a, good time,
Do you wanna have fun, fun, fun?
How’s about a few laughs
Laughs laughs
(I can show you a good time)
(Good time)
(Good time)
(Good time)
What did you say you are?
How’s about a ,
I could give you some,
Are you ready for,
How would you like a,
Let me show you a, (good time)
Hey, big spender,
Hey, big spender,
The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender.
Good looking, so refined.
Say wouldn’t you like to know
What’s going on in my mind?
So, let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see.
Hey, big spender,
Hey, big spender!
Hey, big spender!
Spend a little time with me!
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Fields Coleman
Hey Big Spender lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing LLC

 

Fiscal Conservatism Dead: Trump’s Deal with Democrats Unleashes Spending, Uncaps Debt

David Stockman And Peter Schiff Address Trump – Mr. President, if you watch this-Stop

GOP repeals the entire legacy of the Tea Party in one fell swoop

· July 23, 2019
    Font Size A A A

Franklin with debt

DNY59 | Getty Images

All Republicans had to do when they won the election in 2016 was to hold the line on the budget bill they helped pass in 2011 with control of just one branch of government. Instead, first with control of all three branches and now with control of two of the three, they are about to undo the one spending success of the past decade, and with it, pre-empt any leverage they have to pressure Democrats on a single issue.

Why is it that not a single mile of new fencing has been constructed for Trump’s entire term? Why is it that we’ve spent billions taking 21,000 sick illegal aliens to the hospital, chewing up 250,000 man-hours of Border Patrol at hospitals and away from patrolling, yet not a penny more was spent on Border Patrol or the military holding the line against the cartel smuggling?

Look no further than the budget deals Trump signed over and over again, which collectively increased discretionary spending by 16 percent but not a dime for new border walls or deportations. He gave away his leverage for free. Now, with Trump agreeing to the deal Senate Republicans and his treasury secretary just forged, the total spending binge will rise to 20 percent above fiscal year 2017 levels and will still not include a dime for the border.

Here are the toplines of the deal:

  • The debt ceiling will once again be suspended until July 31, 2021, with zero reforms or spending cuts. We will likely accrue over $2 trillion in additional debt over that time. And that is if Congress holds the line one any new “supplemental” or “emergency” spending over the next two years, which is next to impossible.
  • By canceling the budget caps for the final two years of the Budget Control Act (FY 2020 and FY 2021), Trump will seal our fiscal ruin. All they had to do was simply pass a clean continuing resolution, and the automatic spending cuts would kick back in. Now that leverage is gone.
  • The total cost of erasing the spending cuts plus adding new spending will be $321 billion over two years.
  • What Republicans accomplished with one branch of government was erased when their power grew. After winning back control of the Senate, noted fiscal “conservative” Paul Ryan forged a deal to bust the caps by a total of $80 billion in FY 2016 and FY 2017. When Republicans won the White House, they agreed to another budget-busting bill of $296 billion for FY 2018 and FY 2019. Now they will add another $320 billion. In other words, by simply coasting with the status quo baseline, Republicans could have pocketed nearly $700 billion in less spending, yet they chose to use their power to spend everything Democrats wanted.
  • Making this deal the new baseline for the next two years will lead to nearly $2 trillion in more spending over 10 years.
  • Crafters of the deal are claiming that there are $77.4 billion in spending offsets, but the majority of it is scandalous. It’s from what’s called CHIMPs. No, it’s not chimpanzee-style math, but it as may as well be so. Changes IMandatory Programs means that they just write a line in the bill saying, “In 10 years from now we will spend less on entitlement programs, and that will free up immediate increases for spending on discretionary programs.” They’ve been doing this for decades, and of course the cuts never happen. Imagine if you had a credit card limit and you got to say, “Hey, in 10 years I will find some funding to pay for the extra $100,000 I want to spend today, so here it is, fully offset.” Real monkey business.
  • Consider that revenue is now $1.5 trillion higher than in 2009-2010 – during the Great Recession – yet the emerging deficits will rival those of the Obama stimulus era.

Republicans and even the Trump administration will once again hide behind military spending as excuse for this deal. But the entire point of the 2018 deal was to secure that spending. We already paid the price. Why does military spending have to be increased yet again, especially when we won’t even properly counter the Mexican cartels or Iran?

Even if Trump were inclined to agree with this madness, at least make the Senate work through the August recess on sovereignty and border security issues and build the case for a better budget deal in September. Why give away all your leverage at once on both the debt ceiling and spending caps?


 

There’s only one reason why Congress is doing this so quickly and rushing it before the August recess. They know the president is influenced by his conservative base and will reject this plan if it’s allowed to be exposed to the sunlight of the August townhalls held by members of Congress. Where is the outrage from media members who claim the mantle of conservatism? At the precise moment when their voice needs to be heard, they remain silent.

When spending and illegal immigration numbers were not nearly as bad as they are today, Trump was very clear about what should be done with debt ceiling negotiations:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The Republicans must use the debt ceiling as leverage to make a great deal!

400 people are talking about this

Yet almost seven years later and $6 trillion deeper into the abyss of debt, Trump as president is now agreeing to a blank check, which will in turn preclude any leverage to deal with illegal immigration, which is about three times as large as it was at the time of that tweet.

 

 

White House, congressional leaders work to sell two-year budget deal


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

July 23 at 2:20 PM

White House officials and congressional leaders defended a controversial budget deal on Tuesday, hoping to assuage concerns from conservatives and liberals ahead of a crucial House vote this week.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Senate Republicans at a lunch on Capitol Hill, conveying that President Trump fully supported the deal and would sign it into law. Republicans felt burned by Trump last year after they voted on a budget deal they thought he supported, only to have the White House withdraw its backing at the last minute.

“The four (congressional) leaders and the president are fully on board with this,” Mnuchin told reporters as he left the meeting.

Still, the effort to whip up political support showed signs of strain.

A number of conservative Senate Republicans announced their opposition to the two-year, $320 billion deal, complaining it adds to the ballooning deficit while doing nothing to constrain spending. Mnuchin defended the agreement, saying it was crucial to increase military spending and suspend the debt ceiling through July 2021, lifting the prospect of a full-blown financial crisis later this year.

But Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he’d told Mnuchin the deal should have included changes to take the threat of future government shutdowns off the table.

“If we don’t get a structural reform in exchange for an increase the debt ceiling, I don’t see how I can support this thing,” Johnson said.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said he declared his opposition to the deal during the lunch with Mnuchin. And while some senators said Mnuchin had effectively conveyed the stakes for the Pentagon budget and looming debt crisis absent a deal, others left the lunch with the treasury secretary unpersuaded.

Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) said Mnuchin’s message to senators amounted to, “’Yippee yippee yay, I made a deal.’”

“I didn’t learn anything. … It was more of a rah, rah session,” Kennedy said, adding he was undecided how he’d vote. “I think it says about the United States Congress, both sides, that we really don’t have a commitment to getting control of the credit card.”

On the Democratic side, some liberals including Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) expressed consternation about a side agreement struck by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to keep controversial policy provisions off spending bills. This would include agreeing not to limit Trump’s ability to transfer money to build his border wall. The practical implication of the agreement seems limited, since any such changes would require bipartisan support anyway, but White House officials were touting it as an important win.

Despite the complaints from rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties, White House officials and Democratic and Republican leaders all argued that the deal was the best they could get in divided government, and blamed their political opponents if it wasn’t any better.

“I make no apologies for this two-year caps deal,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “I think we’ve done the best we can with this divided government.”

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and vote-counter, said the deal was better than any of the alternatives.

“The notion of shutting down the government or defaulting on the America debt — those are unacceptable,” Durbin said.

Exiting the GOP lunch, Mnuchin was asked how he would defend the deal against its GOP critics. “Well we needed a debt ceiling increase, that was incredibly important,” Mnuchin replied. “And again we couldn’t get a deal without getting bipartisan support, so the Democrats, they compromised on a lot of things along the way, and we had to make certain compromises.”

The budget deal, announced Monday, would suspend the debt ceiling through July 2021 and raise the budget for the military and many other programs for two years. Lawmakers will still need to approve individual spending bills, but the agreement is expected to make it much less likely that there will be a government shutdown when existing agency budgets run out Oct. 1. But the budget also appears to lock in a large gap between tax revenue and government spending, which could breach $1 trillion this year and continue in perpetuity if changes aren’t made.

The government must borrow money to finance that gap and pay interest on the growing debt.

Lawmakers were rushing to cut the deal because Mnuchin had warned the Treasury could run out of money by early September to pay all of the government’s bills if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised by then. Congress is set to go on a lengthy August recess soon, leaving legislators little time to maneuver.

The House is expected to vote on the deal this week, with the Senate voting next week.

Pelosi released a letter to House Democrats touting what she described as wins in the deal, including extending the debt limit, obtaining increased domestic nondefense spending, avoiding onerous budget caps known as “sequestration,” and staving off the administration’s demands for spending cuts to accompany the budget increases.

But reaction from lawmakers in the House made clear the speaker will have to navigate opposition from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans to pass the deal with the votes of more moderate-leaning lawmakers in both parties.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) complained about a double standard that prioritized tax cuts and spending that Republicans favored but refused to extend money for things she advocates for, like college education.

And Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) posted a video on Twitter of the comic book figure the “Joker” standing in front of an inferno, and labeled it “Budget deal.”

Acting White House budget director Russ Vought, who had fought largely unsuccessfully to secure large spending cuts as part of the agreement, acknowledged the GOP frustration and promised to push for spending reductions in the future.

“Look, I love the concern of the conservatives who are bringing attention to the problems that we have with fiscal responsibility in this town,” Vought said on Fox News.

The budget has grown markedly since Trump took office, even though he campaigned on a promise to eliminate the now-$22 trillion debt by the time he left the White House after eight years.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/white-house-congressional-leaders-work-to-sell-two-year-budget-deal/2019/07/23/fb2fe29a-ad55-11e9-a0c9-6d2d7818f3da_story.html?utm_term=.a1a4223b2b69

Deal sealed on federal budget ensures no shutdown, default

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have announced a critical debt and budget agreement that’s an against-the-odds victory for Washington pragmatists seeking to avoid political and economic tumult over the possibility of a government shutdown or first federal default.

The deal, announced Monday by Trump on Twitter and in a statement by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, will restore the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills past next year’s elections and build upon recent large budget gains for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck,” Trump tweeted, saying there will be no “poison pills” added to follow-up legislation. “This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

The agreement is on a broad outline for $1.37 trillion in agency spending next year and slightly more in fiscal 2021. It would mean a win for lawmakers eager to return Washington to a more predictable path amid political turmoil and polarization, defense hawks determined to cement big military increases and Democrats seeking to protect domestic programs.

Nobody notched a big win, but both sides view it as better than a protracted battle this fall.

Pelosi and Schumer said the deal “will enhance our national security and invest in middle class priorities that advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people.” Top congressional GOP leaders issued more restrained statements stressing that the deal is a flawed but achievable outcome of a government in which Pelosi wields considerable power.

“While this deal is not perfect, compromise is necessary in divided government,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

However, it also comes as budget deficits are rising to $1 trillion levels — requiring the government to borrow a quarter for every dollar the government spends — despite the thriving economy and three rounds of annual Trump budget proposals promising to crack down on the domestic programs that Pelosi is successfully defending now. It ignores warnings from deficit and debt scolds who say the nation’s fiscal future is unsustainable and will eventually drag down the economy.

“This agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington advocacy group. “It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious.”

A push by the White House and House GOP forces for new offsetting spending cuts was largely jettisoned, though Pelosi, D-Calif., gave assurances about not seeking to use the follow-up spending bills as vehicles for aggressively liberal policy initiatives.

The head of a large group of House GOP conservatives swung against the deal.

“No new controls are put in place to constrain runaway spending, and a two-year suspension on the debt limit simply adds fuel to the fire,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La. “With more than $22 trillion in debt, we simply cannot afford deals like this one.”

Fights over Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, other immigration-related issues and spending priorities will be rejoined on spending bills this fall that are likely to produce much the same result as current law. The House has passed most of its bills, using far higher levels for domestic spending. Senate measures will follow this fall, with levels reflecting the accord.

At issue are two separate but pressing items on Washington’s must-do agenda: increasing the debt limit to avert a first-ever default on U.S. payments and acting to set overall spending limits and prevent $125 billion in automatic spending cuts from hitting the Pentagon and domestic agencies with 10 percent cuts starting in January.

The threat of the automatic cuts represents the last gasp of a failed 2011 budget and debt pact between former President Barack Obama and then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that promised future spending and deficit cuts to cover a $2 trillion increase in the debt. But a bipartisan deficit “supercommittee” failed to deliver, and lawmakers were unwilling to live with the follow-up cuts to defense and domestic accounts. This is the fourth deal since 2013 to reverse those cuts.

Prospects for an agreement, a months-long priority of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., became far brighter when Pelosi returned to Washington this month and aggressively pursued the pact with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin , who was anointed lead negotiator instead of more conservative options like acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or hardline Budget Director Russell Vought.

Mnuchin was eager to avert a crisis over the government’s debt limit. There’s some risk of a first-ever U.S. default in September, and that added urgency to the negotiations.

The pact would defuse the debt limit issue for two years, meaning that Trump or his Democratic successor would not have to confront the politically difficult issue until well into 2021.

Washington’s arcane budget rules give each side a way to paint the numbers favorably. Generally speaking, the deal would lock in place big increases won by both sides in a 2018 pact driven by the demands of GOP defense hawks and award future increases consistent with low inflation.

Pelosi and Schumer claimed rough parity between increases for defense and nondefense programs, but the veteran negotiator retreated on her push for a special carve-out for a newly reauthorized program for veterans utilizing private sector health care providers. Instead non-defense spending increases would exceed increases for the military by $10 billion over the deal’s two-year duration.

In the end, non-defense appropriations would increase by $56.5 billion over two years, giving domestic programs 4% increases on average in the first year of the pact, with a big chunk of those gains eaten up by veterans increases and an unavoidable surge for the U.S. Census. Defense would increase by $46.5 billion over those two years, with the defense budget hitting $738 billion next year, a 3% hike, followed by only a further $2.5 billion increase in 2021.

Trump retains flexibility to transfer money between accounts, which raises the possibility of attempted transfers for building border barriers. That concession angered the Senate’s top Appropriations Committee Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who said he has “many concerns” with a memorandum outlining the agreement that promised there will also be no “poison pills,” new policy “riders,” or bookkeeping tricks to add to the deal’s spending levels.

The results are likely to displease some on both sides, especially Washington’s weakening deficit hawks and liberals demanding greater spending for progressive priorities. But Pelosi and McConnell have longtime histories with the Capitol’s appropriations process and have forged a powerful alliance to deliver prior spending and debt deals.

The measure would first advance through the House this week and win the Senate’s endorsement next week before Congress takes its annual August recess. Legislation to prevent a government shutdown will follow in September.

https://apnews.com/b72be6c420bb478ea469da72c73065e2

The US national debt just pushed past $22 trillion — here’s how Trump’s $2 trillion in debt compares with Obama, Bush, and Clinton

donald trump chart debt obamaJoe Raedle/Getty Images
  • On February 11, the US national debt eclipsed $22 trillion for the first time.
  • Since President Donald Trump took office, the US has added over $2 trillion in new federal debt.
  • See how Trump’s debt accumulation — and projected debt accumulation — stacks up to that of recent presidents including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

The US national debt passed $22 trillion on February 11, the first time the federal debt had breached that threshold.

The landmark came just over two years after President Donald Trump, who once promised to eliminate the federal debt in eight years, took over the Oval Office.

But compared with some other recent presidents’, Trump’s debt accumulation is not as stunning as it first appears.

Read more: The US national debt just topped $22 trillion for the first time

The US Treasury has been tracking day-by-day debt accumulationsince the start of 1993, meaning daily debt figures are available for the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump.

In raw terms, Trump added the second-most debt of any recent president. According to the Treasury data, the US added $2.07 trillion — $2,065,536,336,472.90 to be exact — in new debt between Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, and February 11, when the country pushed past $22 trillion. (The US added another $2.8 billion through February 15, the latest daily figures available.)

That is less than the $3.46 trillion added between Obama’s inauguration in January 2009 and February 11, 2011, but it is more than the $676 billion added under Bush and the $617 billion added under Clinton in their first 752 days as president.

One important difference between Trump’s debt figures and Obama’s is that Trump has added a massive amount of debt while the US economy has been strong, whereas Obama took over during the depths of the financial crisis.

Economists typically recommend that the federal government increase spending, and thus add more debt, during times of economic struggles and then pay down that debt when the economy recovers. So while economic theory would support Obama’s spending to help support the economy, Trump’s recent debt binge has less support among economists.

Looking ahead, recent legislative changes are expected to help Trump catch up to some of his predecessors in the debt-accumulation department.

The combination of the new GOP tax law and the recent bipartisan spending deal are projected to increase the speed of debt accumulation over the rest of Trump’s presidency.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the annual deficit — the shortfall of federal revenue compared with spending in a given fiscal year — will soon push past $1 trillion. 2018’s budget deficit was the largest since 2012, when the US was still dealing with the fallout from the recession.

Based on the CBO’s projections, Trump will have accumulated $3.73 trillion in new debt by the end of the 2020 fiscal year, which, because of federal budget rules, actually runs until the end of September 2020. And by the end of fiscal 2024, the last year of Trump’s second term if he wins reelection, the total debt added is projected to come in at $8.78 trillion.

A lot could change over that time period — adjustments to the tax code that increase revenue or spending cuts would alter the CBO’s projections. But as it stands, Trump could add roughly the same amount of debt as Obama over two terms.

total debt accumulated by president v2Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

But while the raw debt figures are astonishing, putting the accumulation in percentage terms provides a somewhat different picture. Based on Treasury data and CBO projections:

  • The national debt grew by 15% through February 11 of Clinton’sfirst term and ended up growing by 36% by the end of the 2000 fiscal year, the final full fiscal year of his presidency.
  • The debt grew by 12% during Bush’s first 752 days and grew by 75% when the 2008 fiscal year came to a close.
  • Under Obama’s first two years and change, the national debt grew by 33%, and it grew by 84% by the end of the 2016 fiscal year.
  • The debt grew 10% in Trump’s first 752 days and is projected to grow by 44% by the end of the 2024 fiscal year.
percent change though feb 11Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-national-debt-deficit-compared-to-obama-bush-clinton-2019-2

Story 2: United States and Israel Joint Strike Targeting Iran’s Nuclear and Missile Weapon System Programs Deep Underground in Mountains will Require Nuclear Weapons To Be Successful — Waiting For Trump To Start World War 3 — Videos —

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Dr. Strangelove – Ending

We’ll Meet Again
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Til the blue skies
Drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them it won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singin’ this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Hughie Charles / Ross Parker
We’ll Meet Again lyrics © Music Sales Corporation, Universal Music Publishing Group

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Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What at a Glance
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ContactKelsey DavenportDirector for Nonproliferation Policy, (202) 463-8270 x102; Kingston ReifDirector for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, (202) 463-8270 x104

Updated: July 2019

At the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States hoped to maintain a monopoly on its new weapon, but the secrets and the technology for making nuclear weapons soon spread. The United States conducted its first nuclear test explosion in July 1945 and dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Just four years later, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test explosion. The United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), and China (1964) followed. Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.

India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals. Iraq initiated a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has tested nuclear devices since that time. Iran and Libya have pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms, and Syria is suspected of having done the same. Still, nuclear nonproliferation successes outnumber failures and dire forecasts decades ago that the world would be home to dozens of states armed with nuclear weapons have not come to pass.

At the time the NPT was concluded, the nuclear stockpiles of both the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia numbered in the tens of thousands. Beginning in the 1970s, U.S. and Soviet/Russian leaders negotiated a series of bilateral arms control agreements and initiatives that limited, and later helped to reduce, the size of their nuclear arsenals. Today, the United States and Russia each deploy roughly 1,400 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles, and are modernizing their nuclear delivery systems.

China, India, and Pakistan are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems. In addition, Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats. North Korea continues its nuclear pursuits in violation of its earlier denuclearization pledges.

Nuclear-Weapon States:

The nuclear-weapon states (NWS) are the five states—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States—officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the NPT. The treaty legitimizes these states’ nuclear arsenals, but establishes they are not supposed to build and maintain such weapons in perpetuity. In 2000, the NWS committed themselves to an “unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” Because of the secretive nature with which most governments treat information about their nuclear arsenals, most of the figures below are best estimates of each nuclear-weapon state’s nuclear holdings, including both strategic warheads and lower-yield devices referred to as tactical weapons.

China

  • About 290 total warheads.

France

  • About 300 total warheads.

Russia

  • March 2019 New START declaration: 1,461 strategic warheads deployed on 524 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
  • The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimates approximately 4,490 stockpiled warheads and 2,000 retired warheads for a total of roughly 6,490 warheads, as of early 2019.

United Kingdom

  • About 120 strategic warheads, of which no more than 40 are deployed at sea on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine at any given time. The United Kingdom possesses a total of four ballistic missile submarines.
  • Total stockpile is estimated up to 200 warheads.

United States:

  • March 2019 New START declaration: 1,365 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 656 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
  • FAS estimates approximately 3,800 stockpiled warheads and 2,385 retired warheads for a total of 6,185 warheads as of early 2019.

Non-NPT Nuclear Weapons Possessors:

  • India, Israel, and Pakistan never joined the NPT and are known to possess nuclear weapons.
  • India first tested a nuclear explosive device in 1974. That test spurred Pakistan to ramp up work on its secret nuclear weapons program.
  • India and Pakistan both publicly demonstrated their nuclear weapon capabilities with a round of tit-for-tat nuclear tests in May 1998.
  • Israel has not publicly conducted a nuclear test, does not admit or deny having nuclear weapons, and states that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Israel is universally believed to possess nuclear arms, although it is unclear exactly how many.

The following arsenal estimates are based on the amount of fissile material—highly enriched uranium and plutonium—that each of the states is estimated to have produced. Fissile material is the key element for making nuclear weapons. India and Israel are believed to use plutonium in their weapons, while Pakistan is thought to use highly enriched uranium.

IndiaBetween 130-140 nuclear warheads.
IsraelAn estimated 80-90 nuclear warheads, with fissile material for up to 200.
PakistanBetween 150-160 nuclear warheads.


States of Immediate Proliferation Concern:

Prior to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran pursued a uranium-enrichment program and other projects that provided it with the capability to produce bomb-grade fissile material and develop nuclear weapons, if it chose to do so. Iran’s uranium enrichment program continues, but it is restricted and monitored by the nuclear deal. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003 and tested nuclear devices and nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. Uncertainty persists about how many nuclear devices North Korea has assembled. In 2007, Israel bombed a site in Syria that was widely assessed to be a nuclear reactor being constructed with North Korea’s assistance. Syria has refused to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s attempts to investigate.

Iran:

  • No known weapons or sufficient fissile material stockpiles to build weapons.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the institution charged with verifying that states are not illicitly building nuclear weapons, concluded in 2003 that Iran had undertaken covert nuclear activities to establish the capacity to indigenously produce fissile material.
  • July 2015: Iran and six world powers negotiated a long-term agreement to verify and significantly reduce Iran’s capacity to produce material for nuclear weapons.
  • As part of this agreement, the IAEA and Iran concluded an investigation into Iran’s past nuclear weapons-related activities. The agency concluded that Iran had an organized program to pursue nuclear weapons prior to 2003. Some of these activities continued through 2009, but there were no indications of weaponization activities taking place after that date.

North Korea:

  • Estimated as of June 2019 to have approximately 20-30 warheads and the fissile material for 30-60 nuclear weapons.
  • While there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding North Korea’s fissile material stockpile and production, particularly on the uranium enrichment side, North Korea is estimated to have 20-40 kilograms of plutonium and 250-500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium. The estimated annual production of fissile material is enough for 6-7 weapons.
  • North Korea operates its 5-megawatt heavy-water graphite-moderated reactor used to extract plutonium in the past for nuclear warheads on an intermittent basis since August 2013. There has also been intermittent activity at North Korea’s reprocessing facility since 2016, indicating that Pyongyang has likely separated plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel.
  • North Korea unveiled a centrifuge facility in 2010. It is likely that Pyongyang is using the facility to produce highly-enriched uranium for weapons. U.S. intelligence suggests that there are several additional centrifuge facilities in North Korea.
  • By 2020, experts estimate that North Korea could have anywhere between 20-100 nuclear warheads based on the rate of its stockpile growth and technological improvements.

Syria:

  • September 2007: Israel conducted an airstrike on what U.S. officials alleged was the construction site of a nuclear research reactor similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor.
  • The extent of Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation is unclear, but is believed to have begun in 1997.
  • Investigations into U.S. claims uncovered traces of undeclared man-made uranium particles at both the site of the destroyed facility and Syria’s declared research reactor.
  • Syria has not adequately cooperated with the IAEA to clarify the nature of the destroyed facility and procurement efforts that could be related to a nuclear program.

States That Had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Weapons Programs at One Time:

  • Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states.
  • South Africa secretly developed but subsequently dismantled its small number of nuclear warheads and also joined the NPT in 1991.
  • Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but was forced to verifiably dismantle it under the supervision of UN inspectors. The U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein definitively ended his regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • Libya voluntarily renounced its secret nuclear weapons efforts in December 2003.
  • Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.

Sources: Arms Control Association, Federation of American Scientists, International Panel on Fissile Materials, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat

The F-35 has already freaked out Iran and changed everything in the Middle East

Jake Novak
CC: Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II
Robert Sullivan | FlickrCC

No conversation about the world’s massive political and economic changes since 2015 is complete without mentioning the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, developed by Lockheed Martin.

That became even clearer this week thanks to a somewhat cheeky statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Iran’s provocative moves in the Persian Gulf and other threats from Tehran. Standing in front of an F-35 jet parked at an Israeli Air Force base, Netanyahu barely held back a smile as he said that Israel can reach Iran, but Iran cannot reach Israel.

He didn’t add the words “undetected by radar,” but it was surely implied.

To understand why that soundbite with the visual backdrop was more than just bluster, you have trace the F-35′s incredible history in the Middle East over the past four years.

We hopped into a F-35 simulator. Here’s what it’s like

You don’t have to be a military genius to know that a supersonic jet that can fly undetected by radar for hundreds of miles will make a difference anywhere in the world. But the F-35′s already powerful impact in the Middle East was multiplied extensively during the months leading up to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. That was still more than a year before the jet was put into service anywhere in the world.

But it was late summer 2015 when reports in the Israeli news media surfaced about how Israelis working on F-35 prototypes had managed to double the jet’s flight and stealth capacity. It wasn’t lost on anyone that the extension meant Israeli Air Force pilots could use the F-35 to fly from Israel to Tehran and back without detection — and without having to refuel at U.S. air bases in Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

Suddenly, U.S.-Israeli air superiority in the region had risen to a new level. Saudi Arabia had already begun the process of cooperating more with Israel on defense and security matters for some time, something Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at during a “60 Minutes” interview after President Trump’s election. But the idea of letting Israeli jets land and refuel in that Arab country was still a stretch in 2015. Iraqi leaders were also not receptive to the idea. But the new technology was now rendering the objections moot.

The move only acted to bring the Saudis and the Israelis closer. It was one thing for the two countries to have a common enemy in Iran that was on the verge of getting billions of dollars and a clear, if supposedly delayed, path to a nuclear weapon. But with the new F-35 and its expanded capacities in the picture, there was something more tangible than political promises and intelligence sharing to hang their hopes on.

Israel says it’s the first country to use F-35 fighter jet in combat

All of that made it easier for King Salman to shake up his regime and name Mohammed bin Salman the new crown prince. Mohammad, who is aggressive on defense, wasted little time enhancing military ties with Israel and the U.S. There was even an unconfirmed report that he visited Israel secretly in September 2017.

Yet the most direct effects of the F-35 were still to come. In July 2018, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that Israel had flown a test mission of at least three F-35 jets to Tehran and back from an airbase near Tel Aviv. While never confirmed publicly, a good number of military and political leaders in the region believed and still believe the story. The long-rumored threat the F-35 posed to Iran now seemed like a reality.

Earlier this month, reports in the same Kuwaiti newspaper said that Iran’s military leadership panicked enough over the purported stealth mission that it kept news of it from reaching Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

But when Khamenei found out about the mission, he reportedly moved to fire not only Iran’s air force chief but also the long-serving and powerful commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. That’s major impact without even firing a shot.

All of this comes as Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has decided to choose procuring Russia’s S-400 missile program at the expense of getting promised F-35s from the U.S. Judging by how much his neighbors in the region fear and revere the F-35, this appears to be a ruinous choice.

US halts delivery of F-35 equipment to Turkey

The impact of the F-35′s development has had a major financial impact, as well. Since reports of the Israeli stealth enhancement first surfaced, Lockheed Martin shares are up more the 75%. The F-35 program is also the most expensive defense project in U.S. history, and it has faced a long history of criticism for that cost.

But considering how much the very existence of the jet has already achieved in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran, it may already be more than worth it.

Jake Novak is a political and economic analyst at Jake Novak News and former CNBC TV producer. You can follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/18/f-35-has-freaked-out-iran-and-changed-everything-in-the-middle-east.html

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: The United States
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Updated: July 2019

According to the Federation of the American Scientists, as of April 2019, the United States possesses 3,800 stockpiled strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads and an additional 2,385 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, for a total of 6,185 nuclear warheads. On Feb. 2, 2018, the Trump administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, detailing its strategy for the role of U.S. nuclear forces. The United States has destroyed about 90.6% of its chemical weapons arsenal as of 2017 and is due to complete destruction by September 2023. It is party to the Biological Weapons Convention and has destroyed its biological weapons arsenal, although Russia alleges that U.S. biodefense research violates the BWC.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Ballistic Missile Defense Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
  • New START
  • Nuclear Reductions Beyond New START
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
  • Syrian Chemical Weapons

 

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1970

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

– – –

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1982

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

– – –

2015

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2015

Back to Top

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group Status
Australia Group Member
Missile Technology Control Regime Member
Nuclear Suppliers Group Member
Wassenaar Arrangement Member
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol Signed in 1998, entered into force January, 2009.
Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism Co-founder with Russia
Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation Participant
Proliferation Security Initiative Founder
UN Security Council Resolutions1540 and 1673 The United States has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states.

Back to Top

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

According to the Federation of the American Scientists, as of April 2019, the United States possesses 3,800 stockpiled strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads and an additional 2,385 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, for a total arsenal of 6,185 warheads. In April 2019, the Defense Department stated it would no longer declassify the number of U.S. nuclear warheads.

Under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the United States can deploy no more than 1,550 treaty accountable strategic warheads on 700 deployed delivery systems until February 2021 when the treaty expires. According to the March 2019 New START data exchange, the United States deploys 1,365 strategic nuclear warheads on 656 strategic delivery systems.

The United States also deploys an additional 150 tactical (non-strategic) nuclear warheads based in Europe. While the United States and Russia maintain similarly sized total arsenals, the United States possesses a much larger number of strategic warheads and delivery systems while Russia possesses a much larger number of non-strategic (or tactical) nuclear warheads.

The United States is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against another country, dropping two bombs (one apiece) on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Delivery Systems

(For a detailed overview of current and planned U.S. nuclear modernization programs, see our fact sheet here.)

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  •  As of April 2019, the United States Air Force deploys 400 LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs.
    • The Minuteman III has a range of over 6,000 miles (9,650-13,000 km).
    • Each missile is equipped with either one 300 kt W87 warhead or one 335 kt W78 warhead.
  • Under New START, the United States reduced the number of deployed ICBMs from 450 to 400. 50 excess silos have not been destroyed but have been kept in a “warm” operational status and can be loaded with missiles relatively quickly if necessary.
  • In 2015, the United States concluded a multibillion dollar, decade-long modernization program that will extend the service life of the Minuteman III to beyond 2030.
  • The U.S. Air Force is also developing a new ICBM, known as the ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD), which is intended to replace the Minuteman III between 2029 and 2035.

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

Submarines:

  • The U.S. Navy operates 14 Ohio-class SSBNs submarines, two of which are undergoing overhaul of their nuclear reactors at any given time. The remaining 12 are available for deployment. However, since some operational SSBNs also undergo minor repairs at any given time the actual number of SSBNs at sea usually numbers at around 10.
  • 7 submarines are based out of Bangor, Washington and 5 submarines are based out of Kings Bay, Georgia.
  • The submarines originally had 24 missile tubes for Trident II D5 SLBMs, but under New START, the Navy deactivated 4 tubes on each submarine, finishing this process in 2017.
  • The Ohio-class submarines have a life-span of 42 years.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs):

  • The Trident II D5 was first deployed in 1990 and has an operational range of 7,400-12,000 km.
  • The Trident II D5 missile can hold up to eight warheads (but usually holds an average of four to five) and carries 3 variants:
    • the W88—a 475 kt Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) warhead.
    • the W76-0—a 100 kt MIRV warhead.
    • the W76-1—a 100 kt MIRV warhead.
  • To comply with New START, the Navy will not deploy more than 240 missiles. As of February 2018, 203 submarine-launched ballistic missiles were deployed.
  • An ongoing life extension program is expected to keep the Trident II D5 in service until  2042.
  • The Trident II D5 is the only MIRV’ed (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) strategic missile remaining in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Bombers

  • As of April 2019, the Air Force deploys 46 nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress bombers and 20 nuclear-capable B-2A Spirit bombers.
  • The Air Force plans to deploy no more than 60 nuclear-capable strategic bombers under New START.
  • An estimated 850 nuclear warheads are assigned to the strategic bombers, but only about 300 are typically deployed at bomber bases.
    • B-52H Stratofortress bombers: dual-capable; can carry 20 AGM-86B cruise missiles. The AGM-86B has a range of 2,500 km and is equipped with a 5-150 kt W80-1 warhead
    • B-2A Spirit bombers: dual capable; can carry 16 B61-7, B61-11, or B83-1 gravity bombs.
  • The United States also maintains several fighter-aircraft that serve in a dual-capable role. The F-15E and F-16C have been the cornerstone of this aspect of nuclear deterrence, carrying the B61 gravity bomb. The new stealth F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, will replace the F-16 as the U.S. Air Force’s primary nuclear capable fighter-aircraft.

Ballistic Missile Defense Systems

The United States develops and deploys several ballistic missile defense systems around the world. To learn more, see: “U.S. Missile Defense Programs at a Glance.”

Fissile Material

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • The United States has publicly declared that it no longer produces fissile material for weapons purposes. It stopped production of HEU in 1992.
  • In March 2016, the United States announced the declassification of its national inventory of highly enriched uranium (HEU) of 585.6 tons, as of September 30, 2013.
  • The United States halted the production of HEU for weapons in 1964 and ceased plutonium separation for weapons in 1992.
  • Estimates from 2016 place the U.S. HEU stockpile at around 600 metric tons, including 253 metric tons of military HEU and 264 metric tons of fresh and spent naval HEU.
  • According to the 2015 Global Fissile Material Report, the United States has about 40 metric tons of HEU remaining to be downblended of the 187 metric tons it declared as excess to defense requirements and has committed to dispose.

Plutonium

  • The United States ended production of separated plutonium in 1988.
  • At the end of 2014, U.S. military plutonium stockpiles amounted to a total of 87.6 declared metric tons (49.3 metric tons of which are declared as excess military plutonium).
  • In October 2016, citing U.S. failure to meet its obligations under the agreement, Russia suspended its own implementation of the deal. Russia refuses to resume the agreement’s implementation until U.S. sanctions against Russia are lifted and NATO forces in Europe are reorganized along lines favorable to Russia. Russia contends that U.S. plans to abandon the conversion of plutonium into MOX fuel in favor of a cheaper and faster downblending method does not meet the terms of the deal because doing so would fail to change the composition of the plutonium from weapons-grade to reactor grade.
  • The United States possesses no separated civilian plutonium but at the end of 2014, an estimated 625 metric tons of plutonium were contained in spent fuel stored at civilian reactor sites.
  • Under the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), finalized with Russia in 2000, the United States committed to disposing of 34 metric tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium beginning in 2018. The agreement was amended in 2010 to change the agreed disposition methods in which Russia abandoned using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in light-water reactors in favor or irradiating plutonium in its fast-neutron reactors. The amendment also expressed renewed U.S. commitment to provide $400 million towards the Russian disposition program. Russia suspended cooperation with the agreement in November 2016.

 Proliferation Record

  • A close relationship exists between U.S. and British nuclear weapons programs. The United States supplies the United Kingdom with the Trident II D5 SLBM.
  • Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey all host U.S. tactical nuclear gravity bombs as part of NATO nuclear sharing agreements. The estimated 180 weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime, but some may be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.
  • Beginning with President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” initiative, the United States has engaged in extensive worldwide trading and exchanging of fissile materials and technical information for nuclear science research and the peaceful use of nuclear technology. In 1954, an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act allowed bilateral nuclear agreements with U.S. allies to proceed, with the intent of exporting only low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel; however, this soon expanded to include HEU.
  • Under the “Atoms for Peace” program a number of former, aspiring, and current nuclear-weapon states such as South Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Israel all received, directly or indirectly, training and technology transfers utilized in their nuclear weapons programs. For example, in 1967, the United States supplied Iran with a 5 megawatt nuclear research reactor along with HEU fuel. Iran admitted to using the reactor in the early 1990s for the production of small amounts of Polonium-210, a radioactive substance capable of starting a chain reaction inside a nuclear weapon.
  • Since the end of the Cold War the United States has tried to mitigate the adverse effects of the “Atoms for Peace” initiative and returned exported HEU and plutonium to the United States.

Nuclear Doctrine

Then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, in a Feb. 2, 2018 press briefing, claimed that the 2018 NPR “reaffirms that the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear policy is deterrence.” Critics of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) argue that the NPR reverses previous policy to reduce the role and number of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Declaratory Policy

The NPR dictates that the use of nuclear weapons will only be considered under “extreme circumstances” to defend the “vital interests” of the United States and its allies. It defines “extreme circumstances,” which the 2010 NPR did not, to include “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” against “U.S., allied or partner civilian population or infrastructure, and attacks on U.S. or allied nuclear forces, their command and control, or warning and attack assessment capabilities.” For more on declaratory policy, see: Nuclear Declaratory Policy and Negative Security Assurances.

Negative Security Assurance

The NPR also includes a negative security assurance that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons states that are “party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations.” The review caveats this negative security assurance by retaining “the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of non-nuclear strategic attack technologies and U.S. capabilities to counter that threat.” For more on negative security assurances, see: U.S. Negative Security Assurances at a Glance.

Testing
The United States has conducted 1,030 nuclear weapons tests. The first test was conducted on July 16, 1945 and the last test occurred on Sept. 23, 1992. The United States was the first country to conduct a nuclear test.

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Biological Weapons

  • In the early 1970s, the United States destroyed its entire stockpile of biological weapons, which had been developed between 1943 and 1969.
  • The United States ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in 1975.  However, in 2001, the Bush administration opposed and killed an effort dating back to 1995 to augment the Biological Weapons Convention with a legally binding verification protocol. U.S. officials said the protocol would be too burdensome on legitimate governments and private biodefense programs, while at the same time failing to deter cheaters.
  • According to a 2016 State Department report, “In December 2015 at the annual Meeting of States Parties to the BWC, the delegation of the Russian Federation asserted that the United States had knowingly transferred live anthrax spores to a foreign country for use in open-air testing, and that this constituted a ‘grave violation’ of Articles III and IV of the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention].”
  • The United States maintains that these transfers were a blunder. The report also notes that, “All U.S. activities during the reporting period were consistent with the obligations set forth in the BWC. The United States continues to work toward enhancing transparency of biological defense work using the BWC confidence-building measures.”

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Chemical Weapons

  • Behind Russia, the United States has declared the second-largest stockpile of chemical agents.
  • As of 2017, the United States had destroyed about 25,154 metric tons, or about 90.6 percent, of its declared Category 1 chemical weapons stockpile. The United States has completed destruction of all its Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons.
  • The United States received several extensions on its initial deadline for chemical weapons destruction under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and it now due to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal by September 2023.
  • Destruction of the United States’ largest remaining stockpile of chemical weapons began in 2016 at Colorado’s Pueblo Chemical Depot. Upon completion, the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky will have the last remaining chemical agent stockpile in the United States.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities  

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
The 1987 INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union requires the United States and Russia to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty resulted in the United States and the Soviet Union destroying a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.
However, in July 2014 the U.S. State Department officially assessed Russia to be in violation of the agreement citing Russian production and testing of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile. The State Department reiterated this conclusion in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. In February 2019 the United States announced its intention to suspend its obligations and withdraw from the treaty, beginning a six-month withdrawal period that will end in August.  For more information on the INF Treaty visit our “INF Treaty at a Glance” fact sheet.

New START
In April 2010, the United States and Russia signed a successor agreement to the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) accord. The 2010 agreement, known as New START, commenced on Feb. 5, 2011. It requires that both sides reduce their arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons on no more than 700 ICBMs, SLMBs, and bombers by Feb. 5, 2018 and both sides met the limits by the deadline. In addition, it contains rigorous monitoring and verification provisions to ensure compliance with the agreement. President Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of New START, calling it a “one-sided” agreement.

New START allows for a five-year extension subject to the agreement of both parties. The Trump administration has begun an interagency review on whether to extend the treaty and is weighing several factors, including the lack of China’s participation in the agreement, Russia’s new and developing strategic systems, and Russian tactical delivery systems currently not covered by the treaty. Though no official decision has been made yet regarding the Trump administration’s decision to extend, National Security Advisor John Bolton called it“unlikely” in June 2019.

Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
In February 2013, President Obama announced that the United States intended to engage with Russia to further reduce deployed strategic warheads by one-third below the New START limit to around 1,100 to 1,000 deployed warheads. However, there has been little progress toward achieving such reductions due to the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s insistence that other issues, such as limits on U.S. missile defenses, be part of negotiations on further reductions. In the spring of 2019, the White House told reporters that the administration is seeking a new trilateral arms control agreement that limits all types of nuclear weapons and includes China in addition to the United States and Russia.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum by the international community. At the 65-member CD, the United States has expressed support for continuing discussions on the CD’s core issues: nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances. The United States has been a prominent supporter of a proposed FMCT.

In March 1995, the CD took up The Shannon Mandate which established an ad hoc committee directed to negotiate an FMCT by the end of the 1995 session. A lack of consensus over verification provisions, as well as desires to hold parallel negotiations on outer space arms control issues, prevented negotiations from getting underway. Later, in May 2006, the United States introduced a draft FMCT along with a draft mandate for its negotiations. However, following an impasse in negotiations on a FMCT in 2010, the United States (and others) signaled its desire to look at alternative approaches outside the CD and called for negotiations to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly where the agreement could be endorsed by a majority vote. However, the United States no longer makes comments to this effect.

The United States does not support negotiations on PAROS, deeming it unnecessary because there are no weapons yet deployed in outer space. China and Russia continue to articulate a desire to hold parallel negotiations, a point which has further stalled efforts to begin FMCT negotiations.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
The United States has ratified a protocol to the Latin America and the Caribbean Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) treaty pledging not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the contracting parties. The U.S. has declined to ratify similar additional protocols to any of the remaining NWFZ treaties for Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific.

Nuclear Security Summits
In April 2010, the United States hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC. Participants included 47 countries, 38 of which were represented at the head of state or head of government level, and the heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union. At the summit, the participants unanimously adopted the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in the next four years. The United States also attended the NSS in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26-27, 2012 and the third NSS on Mar. 24-25, 2014. Washington hosted a fourth summit in the Spring of 2016 where attendees developed action plansfor five global organizations to continue the work of the summits.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
Under the Obama administration the United States played the central role in the brokering of the July 2015 JCPOA, better known as the “Iran deal,” which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Congress in September 2015 debated a resolution that would have blocked implementation of the accord, but it failed to receive enough votes to pass the Senate. In January 2016, sanctions on Iran, including those targeting the financial and oil sectors, were lifted and $100 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets were released after international inspectors confirmed that Iran had rolled back large sections of its nuclear program and met more intrusive monitoring requirements.

On May 8, 2018 President Trump violated the JCPOA by reimposing sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the agreement, despite the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Iran was adhering to its commitments under the deal and over objections from the remaining parties to the agreement. Since the U.S. decision to withdraw, the remaining parties to the deal have reiterated their commitment to the JCPOA and taken steps to bypass U.S. sanctions and preserve legitimate trade with Iran.

Syrian Chemical Weapons
In September 2013, in the aftermath of the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, United States reached an agreement with Russia to account, inspect, control, and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Before the deal was reached, the United States was planning to use airstrikes to punish the perpetrators of the attack, which the United States blamed on the Syrian government. By July 2014, Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had been successfully removed from the country and flagged for destruction following a broad multilateral operation. However, the United States has raised concerns about the accuracy of Syria’s declaration.

In September 2014, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that chlorine gas was being used in Syria. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Mar. 6, 2015 condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to suggest that the Assad regime was the likely perpetrator of the chlorine gas attacks; Russia, however, was hesitant to assign blame. In August 2016, the third report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism was released, finding that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks.

In April 2017, another chemical weapon attack was carried out in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun where Syrian government warplanes were accused of spreading a nerve agent via bombs, killing dozens. U.S. President Donald Trump responded by immediately blaming the regime of Bashar Assad and launching 59 Tomahawk missiles targeting the airfield that had allegedly launched the attack. Following the launches, Trump stated that “It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” As a justification for the U.S. response, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that “If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken.”

(For a detailed timeline on Syrian chemical weapons, see our fact sheet here.)

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/unitedstatesprofile

9 questions about the US-Iran standoff you were too embarrassed to ask

Will the US and Iran go to war?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on the suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman at the State Department on June 13, 2019, in Washington, DC.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on the suspected attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman at the State Department on June 13, 2019, in Washington, DC.
 Win McNamee/Getty Images

For the past month and a half, the US and much of the world has been consumed by a terrifying question: Is America going to war with Iran?

It’s an understandable question. The Trump administration says an Iranian strike on Americans in the Middle East remains “imminent” and has blamed Tehran for attacks on oil tankers in a vital waterway. Iran, meanwhile, has told its proxies to prepare for war and indicated it may stop abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal within just a matter of days (though it hasn’t said that it plans to pursue a nuclear weapon).

Those developments, combined with the rise of Iran hawks in the administration like National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have led to widespreadfear that some sort of conflict between Washington and Tehran is imminent.

Here’s the good news: Right now it seems fairly unlikely that a full-blown war is on the horizon — even though a limited strike was considered this week — mostly because President Donald Trump and American allies don’t want one. Nor does Iran, it seems.

But the situation is still very tense, and the room for error and miscalculation on both sides remains high.

So what exactly is going on? How did we get here? Why did this escalation happen so suddenly? And what would a conflict with Iran even look like, anyway?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. What follows are answers to some of the most pressing questions about the latest US-Iran standoff; hopefully they’ll allow you to breathe just a little easier.

1) What is actually going on?

The current crisis started on May 5, when National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the US was deploying an aircraft carrier and bomber planes to the Persian Gulf in response to “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of threats from Iran.

This move, Bolton said, was meant “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” He said that the US “is not seeking war with the Iranian regime,” but added, “we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”

At the time, it was unclear exactly what that intelligence said, but reports over the following days provided a bit more clarity. Iran apparently intended to target US troops in Iraq and Syria, or even use drones against Americans in a key waterway near Yemen. There was also information that Iran put cruise missiles on ships, heightening fears that it might attack US Navy vessels with them.

The severity of the intelligence remains in dispute, and some say Bolton and others have inflated the threat. What isn’t in dispute is that America’s response dramatically raised the tension between the two countries — and a series of subsequent events only made things worse.

On May 8, three days after Bolton’s statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that his country would no longer comply with parts of the 2015 nuclear deal if European signatories to the deal didn’t provide Iran with financial relief within 60 days.

Specifically, Rouhani said Iran would start stockpiling extra low-enriched uranium and heavy water, the kind used in nuclear reactors that could be used to produce a nuclear weapon, and would enrich uranium to previously banned levels.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations on September 26, 2018.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations on September 26, 2018.
 Spencer Platt/Getty Images

All those actions remain banned by the agreement, which Iran, as well as some European powers, Russia, and China, is still party to. But Tehran’s decision, which it telegraphed days in advance, came exactly one year after Trump ended the US’s commitment to the accord.

Rouhani made sure all of that wasn’t an escalation. “The path we have chosen today is not the path of war,” he said, “it is the path of diplomacy.”

Still, that set the stage for a potential confrontation: The Trump administration doesn’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and while Rouhani’s announcement still wouldn’t put Tehran anywhere near obtaining the bomb, it inched a little closer. And with the threat of a military fight hanging over it all, the chance for miscalculation grew.

But it didn’t stop there. A few days later, four oil tankers were damaged in attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway aggressively patrolled by Iran through which a third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 20 percent of the world’s oil production flows.

Two of the oil tankers belonged to Saudi Arabia and one belonged to the United Arab Emirates — both staunch enemies of Iran and friends to the US. (The fourth was owned by a Norwegian company.) United Nations ambassadors from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Norway said two weeks ago that the damages came after a country used divers to place mines on the large ships. The diplomats didn’t specifically name Iran as the culprit, but the US had already blamed Tehranfor the sabotage.

Iran denied any involvement. But one day after the suspected attack, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched an assault on a Saudi oil pipeline. And one of Iran’s top military leaders reportedly told militias in Iraq to prepare for a war, prompting the US to remove some staff from the embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Erbil last month.

Then, last week, two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman — just east of the Strait of Hormuz — were damaged in suspected attacks. The Trump administration said Iran was responsible.

That was followed by an Iranian official on Monday saying his country would stockpile enough low-enriched uranium that it would blow through the limits imposed in the 2015 nuclear deal, the same one the US withdrew from last year. The US soon after responded y saying it would send 1,000 more troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.

And then on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (the timing is still unclear), Iran shot down a US military drone (no one was hurt). That’s by far the biggest provocation yet in the weeks-long standoff, and could cause the tensions to skyrocket.

Trump authorized a limited strike on Iran to retaliate for the downing, but suddenly reversed himself, he said on Friday morning, worried that potentially killing Iranians wouldn’t be a proportionate response.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!

52K people are talking about this

Put together, it’s a fraught, delicate, and dangerous situation that could spiral out of control if not carefully managed by both countries. Worries of a larger war are widespread, and it’s not clear how the US and Iran will walk back from the brink.

2) Why is all of this happening right now?

The US and Iran have been at odds for decades. Since a 1979 revolution in Iran that overthrew the American-backed and installed leader, both countries have held aggressive stances toward the other.

Over the years, Iranian-backed groups have fought and attacked US forces, leaving hundreds of American troops dead in total. The US has also launched assaults of its own, including a devastating cyberattack, a naval campaign to sink Iranian ships, and mistakenly downing an Iranian commercial airliner.

First, the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year, reimposing sanctions on the country and compelling European allies to stop importing Iranian oil. That has started to tank Iran’s economy.

Second is how the intelligence and military actions have been perceived over the past few weeks. According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran may have feared an American attack was imminent and is taking action to dissuade the US from doing so.

That view would make sense, according to some Iran experts. “To counterattack in response to pressure is a standard part of the Iranian playbook,” Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, tweeted on May 6.

The Iranian Islamic Republic Army demonstrates in solidarity with people in the street during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They are carrying posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian religious and political leader.
The Iranian Islamic Republic Army demonstrates in solidarity with people in the street during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. They are carrying posters of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian religious and political leader.
 Keystone/Getty Images

Misperception and miscalculation are always worrisome in situations like this. One wrong move by the US, for example, could lead Iran to think war is afoot, thereby compelling Tehran to make aggressive countermoves or even launch assaults of its own. The same is true if Tehran startles Washington with some action, leading the White House to authorize a strike.

Which takes us to the third “push”: the Iran hawks in the Trump administration who are itching for a fight.

John Bolton, Trump’s top national security aide, has long argued for regime change in Iran and advocated for bombing the country to stop it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also pushed the US to confront the Iranian regime.

In May 2018, he gave a speech outlining 12 ways the clerical government must change — including stopping its support for proxy groups and halting its missile program — before the US lifts any financial and diplomatic pressure off Tehran.

Together, they have made the Trump administration a lot more antagonistic toward the Islamic Republic. It’s a stark difference from when Trump was flanked by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. While they both expressed deep distrust of Iran, they didn’t make maximalist demands or threaten conflict so brazenly.

It’s important to note that Trump says he doesn’t want a war with Iran, but the problem is that he’s effectively outsourced his Iran policy to the hawks. That means that at a time when cooler heads should prevail, there aren’t many cool heads to be found.

“Moments like these are when institutions should matter: leadership at the cabinet level, a serious policy-making process, intelligence standards, professional ethics. All those have been eroded by the Trump administration,” Maloney tweeted.

3) Wait, why do Bolton and Pompeo hate Iran so much?

It’s hard to find two more anti-Iran figures in Washington than the national security adviser and the secretary of state.

Let’s start with Bolton: The longtime Republican official and operative rarely has found an authoritarian regime he hasn’t wanted to punish in some way, but Iran seems to hold a special place in his heart.

In 2015, he wrote an op-ed for the New York Times making the case that the US should bomb Iran to keep it from getting a nuclear weapon. “Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program,” Bolton wrote, slamming the Obama administration’s efforts to strike a diplomatic agreement with Tehran. “The inconvenient truth is that only military action … can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

And in 2017, just eight months before becoming Trump’s third national security adviser, Bolton gave a paid speech to an Iranian exile group that wants to overthrow the country’s leadership.

Clearly, he agrees with them: “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he said. “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”

“Before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran,” he concluded. Well, it’s 2019 now, so perhaps Bolton hopes to make up for lost time.

Where Bolton’s animus seems driven by Cold War-era thinking, Pompeo’s seems to come from something much deeper.

The nation’s chief diplomat has made no secret of his evangelical Christian faith, which he admits guides his policy views. That holds true for world affairs, where his religious beliefs have partly led him to offer unqualified support for Israel, a key American ally — and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees Iran as an existential threat to his country.

During a March 20 visit to Jerusalem, for example, Pompeo and Netanyahu both vowed to continue their joint pressure on Iran. Five days later, the secretary gave a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to show his support for the US ally and disdain for Iran.

“We’ve enacted the strongest pressure campaign in history against Iran and its proxies, and they are feeling the pain,” Pompeo said to applause. He added: “Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, and any nation that espouses anti-Zionism, like Iran, must be confronted. We must defend the rightful homeland of the Jewish people.”

Pompeo, then, has expressly linked America’s combative stance against Iran to support for Israel. While he has also said Iran deserves pushback for its pursuit of a nuclear program and its support for terrorists and dictators like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it’s clear Pompeo views Iran as a threat to a country important to his Christian faith.

Which means Bolton and Pompeo are unlikely to tamp down growing tensions with Iran. If anything, they will want to escalate matters now that they have the chance.

4) Are the US and Iran going to war?

Breathe easy: It doesn’t look like the US will go to war with Iran anytime soon, although that possibility can’t be fully counted out. But there are three main reasons for optimism (or just not outright pessimism).

First some experts say the US military deployments to the Middle East aren’t so out of the ordinary.

Sure, the US moved an anti-missile battery to the region last month, but it removed four of them months earlier, Ilan Goldenberg, an Iran expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, tweeted on May 11. He added that the aircraft carrier sent to the Middle East to deter an Iranian attack was previously scheduled to be in the region.

“So what is actually happening? Someone in the administration has decided to dramatically increase the media posture of the US government around these deployments to apply pressure on Iran,” Goldenberg continued. The reason for the exaggeration, though, is not entirely clear.

Second, Trump doesn’t seem to want a war with Iran. He campaigned on not getting the US further involved in wars abroad, particularly in the Middle East. While Trump is no dove on Iran and seems to relish the US-led pressure on it, he’s not aching for a fight like some around him. He reportedly told his acting Pentagon chief in May that he doesn’t want to get into a skirmish with Iran right now.

And when Trump was asked on May 16 if the US was going to war Iran, he simply responded: “Hope not.”

MSNBC

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Reporter: “Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?”

President Trump: “Hope not.”

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Third, it actually seems like tensions may be fairly low in the grand scheme of things. For example, Pompeo is leaning on European allies to compel Iran to “de-escalate” the tensions, the New York Times reported in May. It’s unclear if he’s doing this under Trump’s orders or if he’s decided to tamp down his typical hawkish Iran policies for the time being.

However, the recent attacks on oil tankers, Iran’s statement that it won’t abide by a crucial part of the nuclear deal, and the downing of the drone means problems might mount in the days ahead.

Donald J. Trump

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Iran made a very big mistake!

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Still, the US-Iran standoff isn’t quite as dire as it seems and may settle down. That’s not guaranteed, of course, as there’s always room for error. But for now, it doesn’t look like the US and Iran are going to war.

5) If the US did decide to go to war with Iran, what would be the rationale?

Based on the Trump administration’s statements and past US policy, America might choose to go to war for three reasons: 1) Iran gets close to obtaining a nuclear weapon, 2) the US decides to overthrow the regime, or 3) Iran launches a massive attack on Americans requiring an even bigger response in return.

Let’s start with the nuclear issue. US policy in this and previous administrations is that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. That’s why President Barack Obama signed the Iran nuclear deal — to delay Tehran’s path to the bomb. Trump pulled out of the deal for a variety of reasons, but one was that he claimed it made Iran’s ability to get a nuke more likely, even though most experts disagree.

As of today, Iran is still far away from having a reliable nuclear arsenal at its disposal — and it has never officially said it is even seeking the bomb in the first place. But if it starts to move seriously in that direction, one could imagine folks like Bolton and Netanyahu pushing for a military strike on its nuclear facilities. As a sign of Israel’s seriousness on this issue, it has reportedly even killed nuclear scientists working for the Iranian regime.

Iran’s armed forces during an April 17, 2008 military parade.
Iran’s armed forces during an April 17, 2008, military parade.
 Majid/Getty Images

But what would that actually accomplish in the long run? Would we be able to stop Iran from ever getting a bomb if it really wanted to?

“We can probably destroy the existing program” with limited strikes, Richard Nephew, an architect of the Iran nuclear deal, told me last month. But “we cannot prevent Iran from reconstituting that program. So we would then have to either attack again in the future to deal with a reconstituted nuclear program or acquiesce to Iran having a nuclear weapon.”

Attacking Iran, he added, could actually compel the country to pursue the bomb in earnest in order to deter more US strikes.

Okay, so what about starting a war to overthrow the regime? That’s even less likely to happen, as it would take a colossal military effort. Right now the administration is reportedly considering sending 6,000 more troops to the gulf region, far below what would be required to carry out a major war against Iran.

That’s a far cry from previous considerations. In May administration weighed one plan which included sending 120,000 US troops to the Middle East — a plan Trump denied was ever in the works. Colin Kahl, who oversaw the Pentagon’s Iran planning from 2009 to 2011, tweeted on May 13 that the US would only deploy that many service members if regime change was the goal, although he noted it’s still too small of a force for a full-scale invasion.

By comparison, the US sent around 150,000 troops in the initial phase of the 2003 invasion of Iraq — and Iran is a much bigger country than Iraq.

If the White House aims to remove Iran’s leadership permanently, then, it would need to launch an invasion on a scale even bigger than the one in Iraq — starting what would be one of the most horrific wars in recent memory and leading to hundreds of thousands dead.

It’s hard to imagine Trump would find much love for a full-scale war. “Almost nobody would support an Iraq-like ground invasion for regime change under current circumstances,” Eric Brewer, who worked on Iran in Trump’s National Security Council, told me last month. “It’s hard to over-emphasize how costly such a conflict would be.”

Finally, war could break out if Iran were to attack American forces. Iran’s military leadershipdoes have its troops and proxies on high alert, but that doesn’t mean Tehran plans to imminently attack Americans.

The Islamic Republic is almost certainly aware that any action that puts US troops, diplomats, or private citizens in mortal danger will provide Trump advisers like Bolton or Pompeo with the ammunition needed to push harder for war.

The pressure will also be on Trump to respond in kind — if not more forcefully — if Iran kills Americans during this tense time. That pressure actually already exists, with some saying the attacks on two oil tankers last week requires a US military response.

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That therefore incentivizes Tehran not to make overly provocative moves right now.

Luckily, then, none of these main pathways to war seem particularly open. And while it’s unlikely they will be, that’s not a certainty either.

6) What would a war with Iran look like?

That really comes down to what the US wants to accomplish, experts say. As noted above, war could take the form of targeted US military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, or it could look like a full-scale invasion of Iran by the US.

But it’s worth noting that there are lower-level ways the US and Iran could fight each other.

US Army soldiers take part in a joint Israeli-American military exercise at a Patriot missile battery site October 27, 2009, in Tel Aviv, Israel.
US Army soldiers take part in a joint Israeli-American military exercise at a Patriot missile battery site on October 27, 2009, in Tel Aviv, Israel.
 Ziv Koren-Pool/Getty Images

For example, the US could launch cyberattacks on Iran’s infrastructure and power grid, a plan the military has already named “Nitro Zeus.” The Obama administration used this method to bring down part of Iran’s nuclear program. However, Iran has cyber capabilities of its own that it could use to target important American companies or even the government.

What’s more, Iran’s proxies across the Middle East could target Americans in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere in the Middle East. Perhaps worried about that possibility, the US removed staff from two of its missions in Iraq last month.

Importantly, Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons, so the worst attack imaginable is off the table. Still, it’s possible that Tehran could use its growing missile program to target American ships and troops in the area.

It therefore wouldn’t take a full-on fight for things to get really, really bad between the US and Iran pretty quickly. Let’s hope we don’t find out.

7) Does anyone outside the US want an Iran war?

Mainly no, but there are some out there who do.

Israel, which in the past has advocated for strikes on Iran, is actively trying to stay out of the fray. The main reason is that a major war with Tehran would certainly involve Israel, most likely pitting it against Hezbollah, Iran’s ally and proxy in Lebanon.

Axios reported in May that Netanyahu has told his top defense and intelligence leadership that his country should “make every effort not to get dragged into the escalation in the Gulf and would not interfere directly in the situation.” So Israel, along with the United Arab Emirates, has backed off its openly hawkish Iran stances so as not to spark a war right now.

Russia and European countries, especially those still party to the Iran nuclear deal, are also working as go-betweens to end the standoff. Experts also say that European nations worry greatly about millions of refugees streaming into the continent if a war with Iran breaks out, which would put immense pressure on governments already dealing with the fallout of the Syrian refugee crisis.

That’s bad news for Bolton and others who might want a full-on war with Iran. For the US to be successful, it will need political and military support from Israel and Europeans. Without them, the US would struggle to have the international legitimacy and help it needs not only to win the fight but also to deal with the immense fallout.

But the US does have some support for a fight. Most of it comes from Saudi Arabia, which has been locked in a decades-long cold war of sorts with Iran for control in the Middle East. Arab News, a Riyadh-aligned newspaper, called for the US to launch a “surgical strike” on Iran in May.

That said, Riyadh doesn’t seem to want a war right now. Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters last month that “the kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that.” He added: “if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests.”

Still, it seems that if the US decided to launch a war with Iran, it would mostly do so alone. That must surely give even those itching for a fight in the Trump administration some pause.

8) This feels like the runup to the Iraq War. Is it similar?

Not really, no. “There are valid concerns that some in the administration are casting intelligence in a certain light to further their goals of regime change, but I think there are more differences than similarities to Iraq,” says Brewer, who is now at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

In the runup to the Iraq War, George W. Bush’s administration made a clear and repeated case that Saddam Hussein, the country’s brutal dictator, had weapons of mass destruction. The problem is that it was based on cherry-picked intelligence that proved not to be credible, leading the US to launch a war based on faulty information and a misleading public pitch.

“There was a serious, coordinated effort by the Bush administration — via major speeches, interviews, etc. — to lay out its case for war. None of that appears to be happening now,” Brewer told me.

Still, there’s a good reason some compare the current Iran moment to the previous Iraq one. You have a Republican administration, featuring some of the same figures who pushed the US to war in Iraq (namely, Bolton), saying it has intelligence showing an imminent threat against Americans.

So let’s be clear about what we actually know — that is, what reports say the US has found:

  • Iran had plans to target US troops in Iraq and Syria, and a top Iranian military leader told the nation’s proxies to prepare for war.
  • Iran has placed missiles on ships that it could use to attack the US Navy, and could use drones against Americans in a key waterway near Yemen.
  • The US military released video the US claims shows Iranians removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of one of the oil tankers attacked last week.

Experts are mostly unanimous in believing that intelligence like this exists and is credible. Where they differ is on just how much it clearly shows a new level of Iranian aggression.

Phillip Smyth, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me in May that major threats from Tehran’s proxies have continued since early 2018. “There have been maneuvers in the past that sent a signal to the Americans” of a worsening regional situation, he said.

But he noted that just because there are indications that an attack could happen doesn’t mean an Iranian proxy will launch one soon. “These guys are very smart and very patient with how they plan and execute,” he said.

Others, like Brookings’s Maloney, have said that people shouldn’t assume the intelligence is bogus, mainly because Iran would likely retaliate forcefully to the Trump administration’s antagonism.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 13, 2019 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 13, 2019, in Washington, DC.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

What gives many pause, though, is that there seems to be a difference in what the US and its allies glean from the intelligence. For example, a top British military official involved in the coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq told Pentagon reporters last month that the threats weren’t extraordinary.

Meanwhile, senators from both parties in Congress have been briefed on the Iran intelligence — and both came away with completely different reads.

After a May briefing with National Security Adviser John Bolton on Monday, administration ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted, “It is clear that over the last several weeks Iran has attacked pipelines and ships of other nations and created threat streams against American interests in Iraq. … If the Iranian threats against American personnel and interests are activated we must deliver an overwhelming military response.”

Meanwhile Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), an outspoken critic of Trump’s foreign policy and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also tweeted his take. “I‘m listening to Republicans twist the Iran intel to make it sound like Iran is taking unprovoked, offensive measures against the US and our allies. Like it just came out of nowhere,” he said. “I’ve read the intel too. And let me be clear: That’s not what the intel says.”

US defense and intelligence officials familiar with the information wouldn’t provide me with any more information than is already public.

But what makes all this different from the Iraq War is that both Congress and the press are refusing to take the administration’s claims at face value, and instead are pushing the Trump administration to back up those claims with actual proof.

9) Does the US-Iran standoff have anything to do with oil?

Pretty much anytime talk of America going to war in the Middle East comes up, people wonder if it’s merely a quest to control more oil. That’s fair to an extent, as the US and other world powers have launched wars to take charge of energy sources.

That’s not really the case here. What the US does care about, though, is ensuring that vessels are allowed to sail freely through the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial maritime passage aggressively patrolled by Iran where a third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 20 percent of the world’s oil production flows. When US-Iran tensions spike, Iran typically threatens to shut down the strait.

Doing so would send the global energy market into a tailspin and cause a worldwide crisis.

But Iran doesn’t usually follow through with its bluster, surely aware of the fury it would face from the United States and others. So when news of the mystery attacks on oil tankers surfaced twice in two months, it raised worries that Tehran may have found a way to send a message.

“By signaling that this supply is not safe and can be disrupted, Tehran is letting the world know it has escalation options,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told me last month.

But while the continued supply of cheap oil is definitely important to the US, it’s not really the reason some in the Trump administration are pushing for an Iran fight today. That really comes down to this: Bolton, Pompeo, and others want regime change in Iran, and are using intelligence that shows Tehran doing provocative things to advocate for a more combative stance.

But Trump is still the boss, and so far he’s expressed no real appetite for war with Iran. Which means that a major, bloody conflict remains an unlikely possibility — at least for now.

https://www.vox.com/2019/5/20/18628977/us-iran-war-trump-oil-tanker-attacks-nuclear-program-pompeo-bolton-irgc

 

Iran and weapons of mass destruction

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Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is not known to currently possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and has signed treaties repudiating the possession of weapons of mass destruction including the Biological Weapons Convention,[1] the Chemical Weapons Convention,[2] and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).[3] The country has first-hand knowledge of WMD effects—over 100,000 Iranian troops and civilians were victims of chemical weapons during the 1980s Iran–Iraq War.[4][5]

On ideological grounds, a public and categorical religious decree (fatwa) against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons has been issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khameneialong with other clerics,[6][7] though it is approved by some relatively minor clerics.[8] Later versions of this fatwa forbid only the “use” of nuclear weapons, but said nothing about their production.[9] Iran has stated its uranium enrichment program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.[10][11] The IAEA has confirmed the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran but has also said it “needs to have confidence in the absence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”[12][13]

In December 2014, a Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control report by Lincy and Milhollin based on International Atomic Energy Agency data concluded that Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear warhead in 1.7 months [14] In 2012, sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, reported that Iran was pursuing research that could enable it to produce nuclear weapons, but was not attempting to do so.[15]The senior officers of all of the major American intelligence agencies stated that there was no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any attempt to produce nuclear weapons since 2003.[16] In a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the United States Intelligence Community assessed that Iran had ended all “nuclear weapon design and weaponization work” in 2003.[17] U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated in January 2012 that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, but was not attempting to produce nuclear weapons.[18] In 2009, U.S. intelligence assessed that Iranian intentions were unknown.[19][20] Some European intelligence believe Iran has resumed its alleged nuclear weapons design work.[21] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he had seen no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran,[22] while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Iran was close to having the capability to produce nuclear weapons.[23][24] Iran has called for nuclear weapons states to disarm and for the Middle East to be a nuclear weapon free zone.[25]

After the IAEA voted in a rare non-consensus decision to find Iran in non-compliance with its NPT Safeguards Agreement and to report that non-compliance to the UN Security Council,[26][27] the Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities[28][29] and imposed sanctions against Iran[30][31][32][33] when Iran refused to do so.[34] Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad argued that the sanctions were illegal.[35] The IAEA has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but not the absence of undeclared activities.[36] The Non-Aligned Movement has called on both sides to work through the IAEA for a solution.[37]

In November 2009, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted[38] a resolution against Iran which urged Iran to apply the modified Code 3.1 to its Safeguard Agreement,[39] urged Iran to implement and ratify the Additional Protocol,[39] and expressed “serious concern” that Iran had not cooperated on issues that needed “to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”[40] Iran said the “hasty and undue” resolution would “jeopardize the conducive environment vitally needed” for successful negotiations[40] and lead to cooperation not exceeding its “legal obligations to the body”.[41]

Contents

Nuclear weapons

Overview

In September 2005, the IAEA Board of Governors, in a rare non-consensus decision with 12 abstentions,[42] recalled a previous Iranian “policy of concealment” regarding its enrichment program[43] and found that Iran had violated its NPT Safeguards Agreement.[44] Another IAEA report stated “there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities … were related to a nuclear weapons program.”[43] Iran has claimed that the military threat posed by Israel and the United States is forcing it to restrict the release of information on its nuclear program.[45] Gawdat Bahgat of the National Defense University speculates that Iran may have a lack of confidence in the international community which was reinforced when many nations, under pressure from the United States, rejected or withdrew from signed commercial deals with the Iranian nuclear authority.[46]

On 31 July 2006, the Security Council passed a resolution demanding Iran suspend its enrichment program.[34] On 23 December 2006, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Iran,[30] which were later tightened on 24 March 2007,[31] because Iran refused to suspend enrichment. Iran’s representative to the UN argued that the sanctions compelled Iran to abandon its rights under the NPT to peaceful nuclear technology.[30] The Non-Aligned Movement called on both sides to work through the IAEA for a solution.[37]

US intelligence predicted in August 2005 that Iran could have the key ingredients for a nuclear weapon by 2015.[47] On 25 October 2007, the United States declared the Revolutionary Guards a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction”, and the Quds Force a “supporter of terrorism”.[48] Iran responded that “it is incongruent for a country [US] who itself is a producer of weapons of mass destruction to take such a decision.”[48] Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the IAEA at the time, said he had no evidence Iran was building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding “fuel to the fire” with their rhetoric.[49] Speaking in Washington in November 2007, days before the IAEA was to publish its latest report, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz called for ElBaradei to be sacked, saying: “The policies followed by ElBaradei endanger world peace. His irresponsible attitude of sticking his head in the sand over Iran’s nuclear programme should lead to his impeachment.” Israel and some western governments fear Iran is using its nuclear programme as a covert means to develop weapons, while Iran says it is aimed solely at producing electricity. For its part in the conflict-ridden Middle East, Israel is a member of the IAEA, but it is not itself a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is widely believed to currently be the only nuclear-armed state in the region.[50]

History

Iran’s nuclear program began as a result of the Cold War alliance between the United States and the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who emerged as an important American ally in the Persian Gulf.[51] Under the Atoms for Peace program, Iran received basic nuclear research facilities from the United States. In return, Tehran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968. Fueled by high oil prices in the 1970s, Iran sought to purchase large-scale nuclear facilities from Western suppliers in order to develop nuclear power and fuel-cycle facilities with both civilian and potential military applications.[51] In March 1974, the shah established the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).[52] Sensing a heightened risk of nuclear proliferation, the United States convinced western allies to limit the export of nuclear fuel-cycle facilities to Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whose revolution displaced the shah’s monarchy in 1979 and ruled the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran until his death in 1989, placed little emphasis on nuclear weapons development because it was viewed as a suspicious western innovation.[53] During that time, many of Iran’s top scientists fled the country while the United States organized an international campaign to block any nuclear assistance to Iran.

Following the death of Ayotollah Khomeini, the leadership of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei sought to revive Iran’s overt nuclear civilian program and expand undeclared nuclear activities during the 1990s.[54] According to a strategic dossier from International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran turned away from Western suppliers and obtained nuclear assistance from Russia and China in a number of key areas, including uranium mining, milling and conversion, as well as technology for heavy-water research reactors.[51] However, Washington intervened with Moscow and Beijing to prevent Iran from fully acquiring its list of nuclear power and fuel-cycle facilities. The 1990s also saw Iran expand its furtive nuclear research into conversion, enrichment and plutonium separation. “Most importantly, on the basis of additional centrifuge assistance from the A.Q. Khan network, Iran was able to begin the construction of pilot-scale and industrial-scale enrichment facilities at Natanz around 2000.”[51] Full exposure of Iran’s nuclear activities came in 2002, when an Iranian exiled opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) declared the Natanz project in August of that year. Since that time, international pressure on Iran has remained steady, hampering but not halting the country’s nuclear development.[51] Iran remains legally bound to the NPT and states its support for the treaty.

There are various estimates of when Iran might be able to produce a nuclear weapon, should it choose to do so:

  • A 2005 assessment by the International Institute for Strategic Studies concluded “if Iran threw caution to the wind, and sought a nuclear weapon capability as quickly as possible without regard for international reaction, it might be able to produce enough HEU for a single nuclear weapon by the end of this decade”, assuming no technical problems. The report concludes, however, that it is unlikely that Iran would flatly ignore international reactions and develop nuclear weapons anyway.[55]
  • A 2005 US National Intelligence Estimate stated that Iran was ten years from making a nuclear weapon.[56]
  • In 2006 Ernst Uhrlau, the head of German intelligence service, said Tehran would not be able to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb before 2010 and would only be able to make it into a weapon by about 2015.[57]
  • A 2007 annual review the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London stated that “If and when Iran does have 3,000 centrifuges operating smoothly, the IISS estimates it would take an additional 9-11 months to produce 25 kg of highly enriched uranium, enough for one implosion-type weapon. That day is still 2–3 years away at the earliest.”[58]
  • The former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said on 24 May 2007 that Iran could take between 3 and 8 years to make a bomb if it went down that route.[58]
  • On 22 October 2007, Mohamed ElBaradei repeated that, even assuming Iran was trying to develop a nuclear bomb, they would require “between another three and eight years to succeed”, an assessment shared by “all the intelligence services”.[59]
  • In December 2007, the United States National Intelligence Estimate (representing the consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies) concluded with a “high level of confidence” that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and “with moderate confidence” that the program remains frozen as of mid-2007. The new estimate says that the enrichment program could still provide Iran with enough raw material to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade, but that intelligence agencies “do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons” at some future date.[60][61] Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said 70 percent of the U.S. report was “true and positive,” but denied its allegations of Iran having had a nuclear weapons program before 2003. Russia has said there was no proof Iran has ever run a nuclear weapons program.[62] The former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had seen “maybe some studies about possible weaponization”, but “no evidence” of “an active weaponization program” as of October 2007.[63] Thomas Fingar, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council until December 2008, in reference to the 2007 Iran NIE and using intelligence to anticipate opportunities and shape the future, said intelligence has a “recently reinforced propensity to underscore, overstate, or ‘hype’ the findings in order to get people to pay attention” and that the 2007 NIE was intended to send the message “you do not have a lot of time but you appear to have a diplomatic or non-military option”.[64] A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the most authoritative written judgment concerning a national security issue prepared by the Director of Central Intelligence.[65]
  • The U.S. Director of National Intelligence said in February 2009 that Iran would not realistically be able to a get a nuclear weapon until 2013, if it chose to develop one.,[66] and that US intelligence does not know whether Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons, but believes Iran could at least be keeping the option to develop them open.[67] Mossad Chief Meir Dagan was more cautious, saying recently that it would take the Iranians until 2014. German, French, and British intelligence say that under a worst-case scenario it would take Iran a minimum of 18 months to develop a nuclear weapon if it chose to build one, and it would have to first purify its uranium and weaponize its uranium.[66] An anonymous source in the German Foreign Intelligence Service (BND) whose rank was not provided has gone further and claimed Iran could produce a nuclear bomb and conduct an underground test in 6 months if it wanted to and further asserted that Iran had already mastered the full uranium enrichment cycle, and possessed enough centrifuges to produce weapons-grade uranium.[68][69] Physicists say that if Iran were to choose to develop a nuclear weapon, it would have to withdraw from the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and expel International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the country.[70]George Friedman, head of the global intelligence company Stratfor, has said Iran is “decades away” from developing any credible nuclear-arms capacity.[71]
  • On 12 February 2010 US think tank expert David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, said in a report that Iran was seeking to “make sufficient weapons-grade uranium”. His claim was criticized by former chief U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter.[72]
  • An IAEA report issued 8 November 2011 provided detailed information outlining the IAEA’s concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, noting that Iran had pursued a structured program or activities relevant to the development of nuclear weapons.[73]
  • On 30 April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu revealed thousands of files he said were copied from a “highly secret location” in Teheran which show an Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons between 1999 and 2003.[74]
  • On 1 May 2018 the IAEA reiterated its 2015 report, saying it had found no credible evidence of nuclear weapons activity in Iran after 2009.[75][76][77]

IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an autonomous international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes.

On 6 March 2006, the IAEA Secretariat reported that “the Agency has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices … however, after three years of intensive verification, there remain uncertainties with regard to both the scope and the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme“.[78] However, the inspectors did find some sensitive documents, including instructions and diagrams on how to make uranium into a sphere, which is only necessary to make nuclear weapons. Iran furnished the IAEA with copies, claiming not to have used the information for weapons work, which it had obtained along with other technology and parts in 1987 and the mid-1990s.[79] It is thought this material was sold to them by Abdul Qadeer Khan,[80] though the documents did not have the necessary technical details to actually manufacture a bomb.

On 18 December 2003, Iran voluntarily signed, but did not ratify or bring into force, an Additional Protocol that allows IAEA inspectors access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual-use equipment, certain military-owned workshops, and research and development locations.[81] Iran agreed voluntarily to implement the Additional Protocol provisionally, however when the IAEA reported Iran’s non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council on 4 February 2006 Iran withdrew from its voluntary adherence to the Additional Protocol.[82]

On 12 May 2006, claims that highly enriched uranium (well over the 3.5% enriched level) was reported to have been found “at a site where Iran has denied such sensitive atomic work”, appeared. “They have found particles of highly enriched uranium [HEU], but it is not clear if this is contamination from centrifuges that had been previously found [from imported material] or something new,” said one diplomat close to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These reports have not yet been officially confirmed by the IAEA (as of 1 June 2006).[83][84][85]

On 31 July 2006, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities.[34]

In late 2006, “New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium– potential material for atomic warheads– have been found [by the IAEA] in a nuclear waste facility in Iran.” However, “A senior U.N. official who was familiar with the report cautioned against reading too much into the findings of traces of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, saying Iran had explained both and they could plausibly be classified as byproducts of peaceful nuclear activities.”[86] In 2007 these traces were determined to have come from leaking used highly enriched uranium fuel from the Tehran Research Reactor, which the U.S. supplied to Iran in 1967, and the matter was closed.[87]

In July 2007 the IAEA announced that Iran has agreed to allow inspectors to visit its Arak nuclear plant, and by August 2007 a plan for monitoring the Natanz uranium enrichment plant will have been finalised.[88]

In August 2007 the IAEA announced that Iran has agreed to a plan to resolve key questions regarding its past nuclear activities. The IAEA described this as a “significant step forward”.[89]

In September 2007 the IAEA announced it has been able to verify that Iran’s declared nuclear material has not been diverted from peaceful use. While the IAEA has been unable to verify some “important aspects” regarding the nature and scope of Iran’s nuclear work, the agency and Iranian officials agreed on a plan to resolve all outstanding issues, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said at the time.[90] In an interview with Radio Audizioni Italiane the same month, ElBaradei remarked that “Iran does not constitute a certain and immediate threat for the international community”.[91] In October 2007, ElBaradei amplified these remarks, telling Le Monde that, even if Iran did intend to develop a nuclear bomb, they would need “between another three and eight years to succeed”. He went on to note that “all the intelligence services” agree with this assessment and that he wanted to “get people away from the idea that Iran will be a threat from tomorrow, and that we are faced right now with the issue of whether Iran should be bombed or allowed to have the bomb”.[59]

In late October 2007, according to the International Herald Tribune, the former head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had seen “no evidence” of Iran developing nuclear weapons. The IHT quoted ElBaredei as stating that,

“We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, who led the International Atomic Energy Agency. “That’s why we have said that we cannot give Iran a pass right now, because there is still a lot of question marks.”

“But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No.”

The IHT report went on to say that “ElBaradei said he was worried about the growing rhetoric from the U.S., which he noted focused on Iran’s alleged intentions to build a nuclear weapon rather than evidence the country was actively doing so. If there is actual evidence, ElBaradei said he would welcome seeing it.”[63]

In November 2007 ElBaradei circulated a report to the upcoming meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors.[92][93][94] Its findings conclude that Iran has made important strides towards clarifying its past activities, including provided access to documentation and officials involved in centrifuge design in the 1980s and 1990s. Answers provided by Iran regarding the past P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs were found to be consistent with the IAEA’s own findings. However, Iran has ignored the demands of the UN Security council, and has continued to enrich uranium in the past year. The IAEA is not able to conclusively confirm that Iran isn’t currently enriching uranium for military purposes, as its inspections have been restricted to workshops previously declared as part of the civilian uranium enrichment program, and requests for access to certain military workshops have been denied; the report noted that “As a result, the agency’s knowledge about Iran’s current nuclear program is diminishing”. The report also confirmed that Iran now possesses 3000 centrifuges, a 10-fold increase over the past year, though the feed rate is below the maximum for a facility of this design. Data regarding the P-2 centrifuge, which Ahmadinejad has claimed will quadruple production of enriched uranium, was provided only several days before the report was published; the IAEA plan to discuss this issue further in December. In response to the report the US has vowed to push for more sanctions, whilst Iran has called for an apology from the US.[95]

In his final November 2009 statement to the IAEA Board of Governors, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but that other issues of concern had reached a “dead end” unless Iran were to fully cooperate with the agency. ElBaradei stated it would be helpful if “we were able to share with Iran more of the material that is at the centre of these concerns”, and also said it would be helpful if Iran fully implemented the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement and fully implemented the Additional Protocol. ElBaradei said Iran’s failure to report the existence of a new fuel enrichment facility until September 2009 was inconsistent with its obligations under the Subsidiary Arrangements to its Safeguards Agreement. ElBaradei closed by saying international negotiations represented a “unique opportunity to address a humanitarian need and create space for negotiations”.[96]

On 18 February 2010 the IAEA released a new report on Iran’s nuclear program. Ivan Oelrich and Ivanka Barzashka, writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, suggested “the media has seriously misrepresented the actual contents of the report” and that “in fact, no new information has been revealed.” They wrote that there was “no independent assessment that Iran is engaged in weapons work” and that this was “hardly the first time that the agency has discussed potential evidence of Tehran’s nuclear weapons research”.[97] Iran’s envoy to the UN atomic watchdog criticized Western powers for interpreting the IAEA report in an “exaggerated, selective and inaccurate” manner.[98] PressTV reported that the report verified the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran and that Iran started enriching uranium to a higher level in the presence of IAEA inspectors.[99]

In an April 2010 interview with the BBC, former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said Western nations were seeking harsher sanctions “out of frustration”. “I don’t think Iran is developing, or we have new information that Iran is developing, a nuclear weapon today .. there is a concern about Iran’s future intentions, but even if you talk to MI6 or the CIA, they will tell you they are still four or five years away from a weapon. So, we have time to engage,” he said. ElBaradei further said the building of trust between the parties would “not happen until the two sides sit around the negotiating table and address their grievances. Sooner or later that will happen.”[100]

Alleged weaponization studies

Former IAEA Director General ElBaradei said in 2009 that the agency had been provided with “no credible evidence” that Iran is developing nuclear weapons,[101] but the New York Times reported in January 2009 that the IAEA is investigating U.S. allegations Project 110and Project 111 could be names for Iranian efforts for designing a nuclear warhead and making it work with an Iranian missile.[102] “We are looking to those suppliers of information to help us on the question of authenticity, because that is really a major issue. It is not an issue that involves nuclear material; it’s a question of allegations,” ElBaradei further said.[103] ElBaradei has strongly denied reports that the agency had concluded Iran had developed technology needed to assemble a nuclear warhead,[104] when a November 2009 article in The Guardian said the allegations included Iran’s weapon design activities using two point implosion designs.[105]

The New York Times article cited classified US intelligence reports asserting that Professor Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is in charge of the projects, while Iranian officials assert these projects are a fiction made up by the United States.[102] The article further reported that “while the international agency readily concedes that the evidence about the two projects remains murky, one of the documents it briefly displayed at a meeting of the agency’s member countries in Vienna last year, from Mr. Fakrizadeh’s projects, showed the chronology of a missile launching, ending with a warhead exploding about 650 yards above ground – approximately the altitude from which the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was detonated.”[102] Gordon Oehler, who ran the CIA’s nonproliferation center and served as deputy director of the presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction, wrote “if someone has a good idea for a missile program, and he has really good connections, he’ll get that program through.. But that doesn’t mean there is a master plan for a nuclear weapon.”[106] Outside experts note that the parts of the report made public lack many dates associated with Iran’s alleged activities meaning it is possible Iran had a Project 110 at one time, but scrapped it as US intelligence insists.[107] The Washington Post reports that “nowhere are there construction orders, payment invoices, or more than a handful of names and locations possibly connected to the projects.”[108] Former IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency didn’t have any information that nuclear material has been used and didn’t have any information that any components of nuclear weapons had been manufactured.[103] Iran has asserted that the documents are a fabrication, while the IAEA has urged Iran to be more cooperative and Member States to provide more information about the allegations to be shared with Iran.[109]

In August 2009 an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz alleged that ElBaradei had “censored” evidence obtained by IAEA inspectors over the preceding few months.[110] ElBaradei has angrily rejected claims from Israel, France and the US that he had suppressed the internal IAEA report, saying all relevant and confirmed information had been presented to member states.[101] ElBaradei said he and the Agency have repeatedly said the rumors of censorship were “totally baseless, totally groundless. All information that we have received that has been vetted, assessed in accordance with our standard practices, has been shared with the Board.”[103]

On 16 November 2009 the Director General provided a report to the Board of Governors. The report stated “there remain a number of outstanding issues which give rise to concerns, and which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.” “The Agency is still awaiting a reply from Iran to its request to meet relevant Iranian authorities in connection with these issues”, the report said. The report further said, “it would be helpful if Member States which have provided documentation to the Agency would agree to share more of that documentation with Iran, as appropriate.”[111][112]

Russia has denied allegations of “continued Russian assistance to Iran’s nuclear weapons program” as “totally groundless” and said the November 2009 IAEA report reaffirmed the absence of a military component in Iran’s efforts in the nuclear field.[113]

In December 2009, The Times claimed that a document from an unnamed Asian intelligence agency described the use of a neutron source which has no use other than in a nuclear weapon, and claimed the document appeared to be from an office in Iran’s Defense Ministry and may have been from around 2007.[114][115] Norman Dombey, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at Sussex University, wrote in that “nothing in the published ‘intelligence documents’ shows Iran is close to having nuclear weapons” and argued that it is “unlikely that nuclear weapon projects would be distributed among several universities, or weapon parts marketed to research centres.”[116] A senior U.N. official who saw the document said it may or may not be authentic, that it was unclear when the document was written, and that it was unclear whether any experiments had ever actually been performed.[117] The C.I.A. did not declare whether it believes the document was real, and European spy agencies also did not give any authentication to the document.[118] Western intelligence agencies said that, if genuine, it was unclear whether the paper provided any new insights into the state of Iranian weapons research.[118] “It’s very troubling – if real,” said Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council.[118] The Institute for Science and International Security, said that it “urges caution and further assessment” of the document and noted that “the document does not mention nuclear weapons .. and we have seen no evidence of an Iranian decision to build them.”[118] Anton Khlopkov, the founding director of the Center for Energy and Security Studies, said the media leak may be being used “as a pretext for inciting the campaign against Iran.”[119] Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has also said after the public publications of the documents “Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon”.[120] Russia’s representative to the IAEA, Alexander Zmeyevskiy, has noted that though the IAEA is in possession of these documents, the IAEA’s findings “do not contain any conclusions about the presence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.”[121] Iran pointed out the claims had not been verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency and argued that “some countries are angry that our people defend their nuclear rights.”[122] “I think that some of the claims about our nuclear issue have turned into a repetitive and tasteless joke,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in response to the documents.[123]

Iranian stance

Iran states that the purpose of its nuclear program is the generation of power and that any other use would be a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, as well as being against Islamic religious principles. Iran claims that nuclear power is necessary for a booming population and rapidly industrialising nation. It points to the fact that Iran’s population has more than doubled in 20 years, the country regularly imports gasoline and electricity, and that burning fossil fuel in large amounts harms Iran’s environment drastically. Additionally, Iran questions why it shouldn’t be allowed to diversify its sources of energy, especially when there are fears of its oil fields eventually being depleted. It continues to argue that its valuable oil should be used for high value products and export, not simple electricity generation. Furthermore, Iran argues that nuclear power makes fairly good economic sense. Building reactors is expensive, but subsequent operating costs are low and stable, and increasingly competitive as fossil-fuel prices rise.[124] Iran also raises funding questions, claiming that developing the excess capacity in its oil industry would cost it $40 billion, not to speak of paying for the power plants. Harnessing nuclear power costs a fraction of this, considering Iran has abundant supplies of accessible uranium ore.[125]These claims have been echoed by