Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

Is a College Degree Always a Good Idea?


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5/17/18 – In arguing that college may no longer be worth it for many students, a Boston-based professor says many jobs don’t really require a college degree. So “why do employers demand a degree for jobs that don’t require them?” she asks. “Because they can.” In Issues, a longtime workforce scholar recently foreshadowed this assessment, […]

Expanding Public Participation in Policy Making


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5/15/18 – The Open Government Partnership, created to bring citizens and governments closer in policy-making, just released a new “toolkit” that details best practices and action plans proven to work in projects around the world and explains how other groups can use the lessons in pursing open government reforms. In Issues, a self-described “change maker […]

Trade Deal May Miss Opportunity


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5/12/18 – Negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement have reportedly hit a snag that may make it impossible to reach agreement on a new deal by a fast-approaching deadline for gaining approval from the US Congress. But in a broader look behind the scenes, an economic analyst has argued in Issues that the […]

Fake News Hitting Mexico


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5/11/18 – An Arizona-based scholar of emerging technologies recently described in Issues what he called weaponized narratives, or the use of communication tools and services to spread stories intended to undermine an adversary’s resiliency. Even as he saw the United States being particularly vulnerable, the threat has now reached into Mexico, with a variety of false […]

Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Woes Continue


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5/9/18 – Months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, some rural areas of the island still lack electricity, and even restored sections of the power grid face regular outages. Such disruptions of basic infrastructure by extreme weather events are likely to become more common with climate change, a trio of analysts recently noted in Issues, […]

Caution Light Flashing for Self-Driving Cars


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5/7/18 – Recent accidents involving self-driving cars have rekindled debate about regulating their use and prompted one state to require companies testing them to more fully report glitches that occur. In Issues, an analyst who focuses on governance of emerging technologies recently took a deep look at how self-driving cars may change the world in […]

Looking Behind Vow to End “War on Coal”


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5/5/18 – The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency recently told a New York radio show that he planned to end what he called the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” declaring that the government should not use its regulatory power to pick “winners and losers” in the energy industry. But in Issues, the head a […]

US Leadership Needed on Pandemic Preparedness


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4/30/18 – Entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates says the US government needs to develop an overarching strategy and new tools to prepare the nation and the world for the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” One challenge will be counteracting the misinformed texts, tweets, e-mails, blogs, and videos that […]

How Global Conservatives See Climate Change


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4/25/18 – Around the globe—except in the United States—climate change is a nonpartisan issue even among conservatives, says a video report in the New York Times. And as Issues has presented, even as US political waters roil there are a number of ways to address climate change that could find political and public support across […]

Rocket Business Taking Off


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4/24/18 – Not long ago in Issues, a space analyst described how private industry was moving increasingly into the space business, adding that the shift would require the US government to adjust its space programs and policies accordingly. Well, that trend is only gaining altitude, says a report in the Washington Post, as an expanding roster […]

The Real Factors Driving Coal’s Decline


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2/26/18 – Three signals recently sounded for the coal industry, according to an opinion article in the New York Times, with all of them suggesting that coal-fired power in the United States is in trouble and likely won’t be making a significant comeback. In Issues, an experienced environmental consultant has laid out a timeline of […]

Migratory Animals Face Increasing Perils


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2/23/18 – Migratory herds of animals, the lifeblood of many landscapes in the western United States, face increasing perils, says a researcher who tracks them, but in a ray of hope, government and private groups have proposed a variety of creative ways to help these wanderers. In an earlier analysis in Issues, a specialist in […]

US Charges Russians with Political Interference


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2/20/18 – In Issues recently, a scholar who studies the ethical and social dimensions of emerging technologies laid out the ways that nations and groups can use “weaponized narratives” to undermine the common values and beliefs of their adversaries. Now, the concept has struck home, with the US Justice Department indicting a group of Russian […]

New Way for the Highway


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2/15/18 – President Trump just called for lawmakers to raise the federal fuel tax to help pay for the nation’s roads and bridges, but the proposal met fierce opposition and its fate remains uncertain. There may be a better mousetrap anyway. In Issues, an engineer who studies technological adaptation recently proposed shifting to a vehicle […]

Infrastructure for All


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2/14/18 – The Trump administration just announced its long-awaited infrastructure plan, which is light on federal spending and heavy on expected investments from the private sector. But in Issues, two scholars recently detailed how private investors in past efforts to deploy three major types of infrastructure—railroads, electricity, and the internet—initially targeted communities that were already […]

Arrests of Immigrants Gaining Speed


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2/13/18 – Arrests of immigrants in the United States surged by 40% during the past fiscal year, with the biggest jump occurring among immigrants who had committed no crime other than being in the country illegally. This marks one of many ways that government has defined millions of people as being “outside of civil society,” […]

Nuclear Energy at Tipping Point


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2/9/18 – The United States is at a “tipping point” with its fading nuclear power sector, a federal official told a US congressional committee, adding that its future will depend on developing advanced reactors that are cheaper to build and safer to operate. Issues has recently taken several deep dives into these waters, with experts […]

HUD Says Storm Recovery Must Account for Rising Seas


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2/8/18 – The US Department of Housing and Urban Development just announced that states receiving federal funding for recovery following last year’s three major hurricanes must take into account projected rises in sea level when building in flood-prone areas. The rule aligns with proposals offered recently in Issues as analysts detailed why the nation needs […]

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Tesla!


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  2/7/18 – As a symbol of the private sector venturing into the space business, little might rise higher than Falcon Heavy, the giant rocket built and test-launched recently by SpaceX, a company owned by the entrepreneur Elon Musk, and carrying as payload a red electric sports car from another Musk company, Tesla. But this […]

Mass Incarceration Exacts Major Health Toll


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2/6/18 – Mass incarceration in the United States is a public health scourge that hits not only those locked up but also their family members and even the workers in detention settings, says a new review. In Issues, two correctional experts also recently examined the status of health care in prisons and jails, offering a […]

Coping with Fake News During Health Emergencies


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2/1/18 – As the flu continues to spread, false reports have also marched across the internet, including claims that a government doctor linked the epidemic to the flu vaccine itself. Indeed, an innovator in digital networks recently suggested in Issues that coping with major disease outbreaks will likely be complicated by misinformation magnified through the […]

Memo to Davos: Business Should Aim for a Better World


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1/29/18 – Reflecting on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a New York Times columnist declared that the most interesting participants were the entrepreneurs striving to use technology and other tools of business to address social problems. In Issues, a leading social thinker recently offered an even broader perspective, suggesting that society most needs […]

AI to Create New “Alternative Data” Jobs for Humans


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1/28/18 – In what he hoped would help drive an ongoing national analysis, an economic analyst examined in Issues the types of skills and jobs that are now or will soon become vulnerable to replacement by artificial intelligence and robotics, seeing possible problems for many current workers, but also potential for significant gains. In an […]

Even as Congress Dithers, Immigration Can Be Improved


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1/27/18 – A powerful Republican lawmaker is expected to introduce a bill in the US Senate that would more than double the number of temporary visas available to high-skilled workers from overseas, as other legislators call for reducing the number of visas offered. But even as arguments swirl, proposals are already available in Issues for […]

State Lessons on Reducing Incarceration


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1/26/18 – More than two-thirds of states significantly reduced their prison populations between 2008 and 2016, and all but one of them saw a simultaneous drop in crime rates, according to an analysis of new federal statistics. As part of a series on mass incarceration in Issues, two officials at the Council of State Governments […]

Twitter Users Reportedly Conned by Russia


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1/22/18 – The social media giant Twitter just disclosed thousands of accounts associated with the Russian government and a Kremlin-linked troll farm that collectively posted more than a million misleading messages preceding the 2016 US elections, adding that “such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere.” In Issues, a scholar who studies the ethical […]

China: Emerging Scientific Superpower


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1/20/18 – Voluminous data in two new federal reports suggest that China has become—or is on the verge of becoming—a scientific and technical superpower, says the economics columnist for the Washington Post. In Issues, a scholar at one of China’s leading universities recently provided something of an insider’s look at what may be fueling his […]

EV Credits Survive, but Much Work Remains


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  12/20/17 – Once tipped for elimination, federal income tax credits for buying electric vehicles (EVs) still remain under the newly adopted tax overhaul. But even if credits help put more EVs on the road, other policy and technology advances, described recently by an energy analyst in Issues, will be required to capitalize on their potential […]

Cognitive Dissonance: Republican Views of Climate Change


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  12/19/17 – Among registered Republicans nationwide, only about half say that climate change is happening and fewer than a third say humans are responsible, yet a majority in every congressional district say they support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, according to a new study. In such context, a trio of analysts has presented […]

Possible Health Risks from Fracking


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  12/17/17 – Pregnant women living near an oil or natural gas “fracking” well were more likely to give birth to worryingly small babies than were women living farther away, says a new study described here. In Issues, a team of analysts earlier expressed concern that the public lacks credible information on potential public health […]