In overlaying the primary yr of the Biden administration, I’ve witnessed triumph and frustration in equal measure. But my pursuits have all the time taken me to the hidden corners of coverage, economics, and enterprise. Here’s a sampling of what I notably appreciated in 2021.
We spent loads of 2020 speaking about what the following president might do with out congressional approval; we spent loads of 2021 monitoring whether or not President Biden took our recommendation. The Executive Action Tracker, available here, is essentially the most complete supply for this.
Twenty years in the past, once I was nonetheless working in tv, I used to be assigned to cowl the Future of Music Conference, which appeared on the affect of know-how on artists and the trade. (The keynote speaker was a songwriter and in addition senator named Orrin Hatch.) I really feel like I chronicled the following 20 years after that on this story, which demonstrates how artists are beset on all sides by predatory music monopolies.
One of the obscure, however vital, subjects over Biden’s first time period is the dichotomy of his personnel selections. He’s appointed many aggressive reformers, however beneath that, on the workers stage, many of the appointees are coming from the extra circumspect regulators on the Federal Reserve. I attempted to seize that on this piece.
Why are congressional hearings so horrible? How can they be higher? I had loads of enjoyable delving into the archives and retelling the historical past of when Congress really functioned as a policymaking physique.
One of my massive themes of the yr was coverage design: how authorities invariably creates applications that put a tax on individuals’s time, and switch them into little bureaucrats who need to endure huge problem to obtain advantages for which they qualify. The $46 billion in rental help accredited by Congress, which barely dribbled out through the yr, is an effective case examine.
Our Infrastructure Summer sequence remains to be going (it’s now known as Infrastructure Endless Summer), as negotiations on the Build Back Better Act drag on. And I believe these two consultant items from it clarify why it’s nonetheless happening. First, a synthetic spending cap was positioned on the method; subsequent, no person prioritized what ought to keep or go away, as a substitute slicing all of BBB’s applications to the purpose of unrecognizability.
Inflation has change into the overwhelming circumstance of the Biden presidency, however it didn’t occur because of this president’s insurance policies, however moderately 4 many years of outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics. We’ll have rather more on this within the coming yr.
I learn 4 books on “unicorn” founder CEOs, coming to the conclusion that there’s no actual distinction between a profitable and a failed company titan. Their biographers’ worth judgments hinge fully on whether or not the enterprise managed to thrive, not whether or not they’ve harm everybody near them and ravaged society.
I’m cautious of massive political mission statements that promise “the way in which to win.” But on this piece, I simply wished to level out that you just can’t promise widespread initiatives over and over with out delivering them and count on your political model to stay intact.
This story a couple of medical machine firm whose merchandise hold getting listed as intercourse toys on Amazon exemplifies loads of my work on company energy, which focuses on the management giant corporations maintain over their clients, staff, companions, and society.
If there may be one enduring change in our lives popping out of the pandemic, it simply is perhaps the way it sparked this period of labor militancy, the place low-wage staff who’ve been humiliated and exploited for many years merely determined that they’ve had sufficient. I actually loved speaking to dozens of staff who stop their jobs, centering the narrative round on a regular basis individuals reckoning with what to worth after the trauma of COVID.