GPR GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW
FA L L 2 0 1 7 THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF POLITICS IN RURAL GA – 5 SUCCESSES AND FAILURES IN FOREIGN AID – 24 ATLANTA UNITED: SOCCER’S RISE IN THE SOUTH – 31
BIG MONEY IN STUDENT GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS PAGE 18
GPR GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW
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IN THIS ISSUE
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N OT TO B E FOR GOTTE N A detailed examination of the present and future of politics in rural Georgia
TH E TE R R OR S OF TRA N S IT The relationship between infrastructure and social mobility in Atlanta
WH AT COLOR IS GEOR GIA? What current political activity means for the future of politics in Georgia
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TH E FU TU R E OF TH E FE D Janet Yellen’s reforms and her relationship with the Trump administration
SA N CTUA RY C ITIES The historical significance behind the modern debate
TA X R E FOR M An analysis of current Congressional proposals for tax reform
L IFE A FTE R TH E WH ITE H OU S E What U.S. presidents do after their time in the Oval Office is up
COV E R STORY: B IG M ON E Y IS WATC H ING YO U Investigating the trend of 501(c)(3) organizations becoming involved in student government elections at universities across the country
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TH E S H I’A PR OB L E M The implications of the marginalization of Shi’a Muslims
AS A ID PRACTIC ES S H IFT, GEOR GIA L E A D S The changing focus of international aid and development
E U R OPE ’S R ES PON S E TO IS L A M Comparing France and Germany in their responses to Islam
A STORY OF POL ITIC S , COR R U PTION , & S CA NDA L The political crisis in Brazil and its massive impact on Latin America
30 31 32 34
A I IN POL IC IN G Potential applications of artificial intelligence to criminal justice reform
ATL A N TA U N ITE D Soccer’s unexpected rise to popularity in the South
TEC H WA R S : TH E N E W “TOO B IG TO FA I L” A look at the impending legal battles between tech giants and the DOJ
H OL LY WOOD IN ATL A N TA How Atlanta’s portrayal in film shapes its artistic and cultural growth
G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
LETTER from the EDITOR Dear reader, In this thirteenth edition of the Georgia Political Review, I think you’ll find that this season has been anything but unlucky for our incredible staff of writers and designers who produced this magazine. The pages that follow contain analysis on topics ranging from rural Georgia politics to the future of the tech industry, and everything in between. Our goal is to provide analytical insight on previously unexamined issues, like the growing role of super PAC funding in student government elections, or how suburban transportation infrastructure affects income mobility in America. Produced entirely by students, this magazine is the product of our staff’s diverse interests and expertise. With writers from all ideological backgrounds, we strive to present fact-based analysis from a variety of perspectives. This sets us apart on campus and beyond, and I am proud to present a publication that stands for reasoned discourse across the political spectrum. In addition to this magazine, GPR has continued to produce compelling online content and host events that contribute
THIRTEENTH EDITORIAL BOARD OF THE GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Bailey Palmer MANAGING EDITOR Sebastian Puerta OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Simran Modi SENIOR EDITOR Seamus Murrock ASSISTANT SENIOR EDITORS Tommy Desoutter Samuel Driggers Grant Mercer Alex Vanden Heuvel BUSINESS MANAGER Ashton Peter Jones-Doherty SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING DIRECTOR Katie Kinard LAYOUT & DESIGN EDITOR Jessica Ma
meaningfully to the academic and cultural community on campus. This could not have been done without the full effort of our editorial board, so many thanks are in order! Senior editor Seamus Murrock and our team of assistant senior editors edit and curate the content on our website, georgiapoliticalreview.com, which is updated weekly. The same kind of insight that you’ll find in this magazine is available year-round online, so I encourage you to check it out! Our operations director Simran Modi put together our annual Great Debate alongside the Debate Union, which continues to be a can’t-miss event on campus. She also coordinated a fascinating professor panel on historic preservation and Confederate statues, as well as internal events that make GPR just as fun to be a part of as it is to read. Katie Kinard and her marketing team did a fantastic job publicizing the great work published by GPR writers, and their work is likely the reason this magazine found its way into your hands. Its design can be credited to Jessica Ma and the team of designers, who never fail to produce a
STAFF WRITERS Advait Ramanan Alexander Boylston Ali Elyaman Aly Shakoor Amy Pan Angela Tsao Aumber Sharma Austin Emery Ben Diamond Benjamin Burnum Bennett Souter Bhanodai Pippala Branham Culpepper Catherine Carter Cecilia Walker Chase Solomon Christian Pedraza Christian Sullivan Christina Matacotta Christopher Townsend Claire Brunner Cole Mullis Colton Pace Eleanor Goldin Ellie Ritter Emily Maloney Emma Elizabeth Rice
Evan Katz Gavin Frame Halle Hammond Hannah Lumapas Hunter Riggall Jacquelyn Faye Harms Jake Frenkel James Haverly James West Jessica Pasquarello Kaitlin Dippolito Karan Noble Jacob Madison Cruz Magali Lapu Mathilde Carpet Matt Fasig Meredith Brasher Miranda Abe Miriam Mokhemar Natalie Speier Nathan Li Nina Reddy Phillip Jones Polo Vargas Ronnie Thompson Shane Duer Shuchi Goyal Steven Feng
BAILEY PALMER magazine that is as attractive as it is informative. Behind the scenes of this all with invaluable technical know-how is managing editor Sebastian Puerta, who pulls all of the magic together and keeps GPR running like a well-oiled machine. I invite you to turn the page, and let us know what you think. Follow us on social media, or lend the magazine to a friend. We are excited and honored to be UGA’s first choice for even-handed analysis that goes beyond the headlines. Without further ado, let’s get political.
Bailey Palmer Editor-in-Chief
Torus Lu Vaibhav Kumar Valtteri (Walter) Tamminen William Brockman Zoe Li Zoe Smith MARKETING STAFF Jessica Batten Michael Shutley Nisha Malik DESIGN STAFF Uma Kasibhatla Tarun Ramesh Mollie Simon Ashley Willard
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GEO RGI A
Not to Be Forgotten Rural Georgia in 2018 BY AL I E LYA M A N
ince the 1950’s, the population of rural Georgia has been steadily declining in relation to the state population as whole. It now includes roughly 17 percent of the state’s population in 108 counties throughout the state. As its portion of the electorate has shrunk, so has its legislative priority in Atlanta. Many counties face failing infrastructure, struggling schools, hospital closures, and little to no broadband access. Despite this retreat from the focus of policymakers, there are urgent problems facing over a million of the state’s residents that deserve attention. The rural communities throughout the state possess a rich and distinct history in state politics. When each county had its own representative, state politics were essentially rural politics, simply because rural politicians held a more powerful majority. The only U.S. President from Georgia hails from Sumter County, one the most sparsely populated counties in the state. However, representation systems later became proportionate to population, and as substantial amounts of residents began flocking to the urban centers of Atlanta and Savannah, rural Georgia became largely an afterthought to many of the politicians in Atlanta. The voting bases throughout these rural regions of the state vary, with the southwest portion of the state boasting a large black Democratic base, while the southeast and north regions have a majority white, Republican base. The problems they face, however, are largely the same. Rural communities have seen a steady job decline over the last 20 years due to a variety of reasons. Many areas don’t have broadband internet, for instance, because
of the high costs associated with building out the region’s technical infrastructure. Other rural issues have gained attention from 2018 gubernatorial candidates as well. Several leading candidates, including Casey Cagle, Stacey Abrams, Brian Kemp, and Stacey Evans, have addressed these problems, and some have even put out plans to proactively combat these issues. Cagle released a plan specifically for expanding broadband in rural areas. Stacey Abrams has talked about putting out a similar plan, but her commitment to the region appeared more symbolic. By kicking off her campaign in Albany, Georgia,
munities throughout the country, contributed to Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the Republican grip on rural voters isn’t as unchallenged as it may seem. While Trump’s approval rating in rural areas remains 22 percent higher than in urban areas, rural voters are often more likely to support whoever they feel hears their voices most, regardless of party. These folks found their hope in Donald Trump’s mantra of being a voice for the “forgotten men and women” of America. It’s no surprise, then, that many of the candidates have realized that taping into the frustration rural voters feel will increase their chances of winning exponentially. Despite this attention on the campaign trail, the rural vote still represents a relatively insignificant portion of the voter pool for the gubernatorial election. Dr. Charles Bullock, an expert on southern Politics, stated that “rural Georgia will only have an effect on the election if its close.” Hillary Clinton, Michelle Nunn, and Jason Carter all lost in Georgia by roughly 200,000 votes. If anti-Trump sentiment continues to grow in the affluent Atlanta suburbs, which put John Ossoff within striking distance of winning the deep red 6th congressional district of Georgia, rural Georgia could be the deciding factor in the upcoming election. While many of the candidates have voiced their support for helping rural Georgia and stymieing it’s decline, the importance of catering to the region’s needs from an electoral standpoint has never been higher. If Trump’s success in rural America taught pundits anything, it is that rural Americans are not to be forgotten. Georgia is no different.
Rural voters are often more likely to support whoever they feel hears their voices most, regardless of party. the economic center of the sparsely populated southwestern region of the state, she hoped to push the idea that she would be a governor for all of Georgia. Brian Kemp, while not putting out any legislative plans, has made rural Georgia a centerpiece of his campaign as well, hoping to use its votes to overcome Cagle in the Republican primary. Like his opposition, he has largely focused on the issue of broadband internet, but also promotes supporting the agricultural industry, the back bone of many rural counties in the state. Stacey Evans, who is from the rural town of Ringgold, Georgia, has focused on expanding Medicaid to help support rural hospitals. She also has focused on creating better infrastructure throughout the state to help rural areas compete with Atlanta and other urban centers for industry. While rural Georgia, and rural com-
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G EORG I A
The Terrors of Transit Burning the bridge between Atlanta and the American dream BY S E BAS T I AN PU E RTA
tarting and stopping. Start, only to stop a moment later. Starting and stopping again. The occasional burst of curse words possibly followed by a middle finger. Stopping and starting. For those that live in or near a large city in America, this is the familiar story of the daily commute. In Atlanta, the average commuter spends 71 hours per year in traffic. However, traffic is not the only bad thing about Atlanta’s transportation system. Many residents, in the city and in the nearby suburbs, see Atlanta’s dreadful transportation system as common knowledge. The city’s burning bridges, urban sprawl, weak public transit, lack of walkability, and continuous construction led Atlanta’s traffic to be ranked ninth-worst
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in the world and fourth-worst nationally. This has a huge economic impact. Using an average value of time and average operating cost for vehicle, The Texas Transportation Institute estimated the annual cost of congestion for Atlanta in 2014 to be more than three billion dollars. The cost per commuter was $1,130. But the actual cost is considerably larger. Lousy transit is more than just a time waster. It is a dream killer. Out of the 50 largest cities in the United States, Atlanta has the second worst social mobility, ahead of only Milwaukee and Charlotte. Much of this is due to the failures of transit. Only four percent of children born to the bottom 20 percent of income (about $25,000) in the Atlanta area make it to the
top 20 percent (about $100,000) in their lifetimes. Compare this to the ten percent of children nationally who make it to the top, or the 11.2 percent of children from the San Francisco area that climb the ladder. This traps children born to the bottom rung of the ladder in a cycle of poverty. Their chances to find a good job and lead a fulfilling life are limited. But the argument is not only moral or ideological. There are economic arguments for moving from the status quo. First, low social mobility leads to a semi-permanent welfare class that is a large strain on public resources. In 2012, 3,341,535 residents in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Area were receiving public assistance, and $386.3 million was spent on Temporary
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Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Second, low social mobility is a contributing factor to decreased labor force participation rates, a national problem keeping many economists busy. The relationship between transportation infrastructure and income mobility is now well understood. The Equality of Opportunity Project, led by economist and John Bates Clark Medal Winner Raj Chetty, has done much research on the subject and spurred hundreds other papers and studies. One of their most influential papers sparked an uproar among transportation economists and urban geographers, claiming that areas with shorter commutes have higher mobility rates. Many studies have followed that confirm and expand upon this finding. One paper found that urban sprawl and longer commute times lead directly to lower social mobility due to “spatial mismatch in job access”. This implies that the further away people are from potential employment, by distance or by time, the lower social mobility is. Bad transportation infrastructure also leads to racial and income segregation. Both negatively correlate with social mobility. Atlanta is famous for both. Just how bad is transportation in Atlanta? Very bad. It goes back to Atlanta’s infancy. After being stolen from Native Americans, the land was distributed to white settlers in a large land lottery, leading to a haphazard urban design without the grid system that makes most cities easy to navigate. Atlanta then hit its most dramatic rate of growth as it was becoming a railroad transportation hub. The already messy street system grew around a system meant to accommodate trains, not cars. By the 1990s, the Atlanta area’s population had exploded, growing by 38.4 percent due to sunbelt migrants— baby boomers seeking warmer climates—
and the 1996 Olympic Games. This led to tremendous urban sprawl and a larger burden on transportation infrastructure. Adding insult to injury, the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is limited in scope, underfunded (although an expansion plan is in the works), and suffers frequent delays. 92 percent of respondents to the 2016 Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey Report say that improving public transit is “very important” or “somewhat important”. The average commute in the Atlanta metro area is 12.8 miles and is more than half an hour long. This has severe effects on the city. A Brookings study found that between 2000 and 2012 the number of jobs within 12.8 miles of the average resident decreased by 15 percent. And of course, we have burning bridges. Fortunately, everyone agrees Atlanta has a transportation problem. On March 30th of 2017, the last day of the legislative session, HR 848, written by a group of bi-partisan sponsors, created the House Commission on Transit Governance & Funding. It is a bi-partisan commission tasked with studying the state’s existing transit infrastructure, its future needs, along with exploring ways to pay for transit expansion. The commission, at the time of writing, has only held two meetings and is in a stage of gathering information. They also plan to hire an outside consultant that will recommend shortand long-term investments. Unfortunately, a key player in the commission, MARTA’s CEO Keith Parker, resigned in early September to become CEO of Goodwill in North Georgia, seeking “something else that gave [him] passion.” Outside of the commission, some other solutions have been proposed. Some legislators toyed with the idea of consolidating bus services. There is currently an
alphabet soup of transit systems covering Atlanta: CobbLinc, GCT, MARTA, GRTA, etc. 2018 Republican candidate for governor Casey Cagle, likes the idea of Atlanta’s metro going underground. Mary Norwood, currently running for mayor, has incorporated the idea into her platform as well. The Atlanta Region’s Plan Regional Transportation Plan, recently adopted by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a multifaceted blueprint with various solutions including a widening of major thoroughfares and the improvement of highway interchanges, building a network of managed toll lanes, expanding transit service, and creating more walk-and bike-friendly communities. Georgia’s economic prospects look healthy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Atlanta first in the rate of job growth and third in the number of jobs added in 2017 among the 12 largest metropolitan areas in the country. However, there is still much to be done. If the Atlanta Area’s transportation infrastructure isn’t fixed, much of the growth will benefit only a select few while others will remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. Economists have found that the unequal distribution of economic growth is a principal cause of lower income mobility, not the lack of growth. Additionally, this inequality leads to diminished long-term growth. An increase of 0.07 of the income share of the top 20 percent lowers the average annual GDP growth rate by about half a percentage point. Thus, the city may be growing currently but unless its transportation problems are resolved, Atlanta’s poor children will remain at the bottom of the ladder and future growth will suffer due to inequality. Because of this, everyone will be worse off. The City of Trees must avoid becoming the City on a Hill too steep to climb. G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
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What Color Is Georgia? What the governor’s race means for the future of Georgia BY AL E X VA N DE N HE UV E L
eorgia was blue for over 100 years, turned purple in the 1990s, and in recent years has become bright red. Obviously the soil has not changed, but the colors on the political map have. Georgia has perhaps changed more than almost any other state in the past several decades. From 1990 to 2000, the state’s population exploded by a huge 26%, well above the national growth rate, as people flocked to the Atlanta metro area. As expected of a site of drastic population change, Georgia is increasingly seen as a swing state on the national level. The margins by which Democrats have lost Georgia during recent presidential and gubernatorial elections have dropped anywhere from a half to a third compared to elections in the early 2000s. The Republican Party, however, has a grip on state politics that is stronger than ever. There are Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the Georgia legislature, and every statewide elected position is held by a Republican. With these facts in mind, the strategies both parties pursue in the 2018 state elections will be crucial.
Georgia Democrats: A Question of Strategy In a few months, the Democratic Party of Georgia will be deep in the midst of the affectionately named “Stacey Bowl”, the primary battle for Governor between Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans, two high-ranking members of the Democratic state house delegation. In essence, the primary is a battle over how the Georgia Democrats will attempt to build a majority voting bloc in the state. Abrams, whose legislative district covers most of East Atlanta in DeKalb County, has been endorsed by several leading figures in the black political community and believes
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that focusing on minority turnout with a progressive message is the key to winning as the state becomes more diverse. Abrams has been endorsed and aided by many large national organizations, like Democracy for America, Daily Kos, NARAL Pro Choice and EMILY’s List. NARAL and EMILY’s List are both pro-choice advocacy organizations, while Democracy for America and Daily Kos are progressive organizations. She has also received extensive coverage from national level publications. On the other side, Stacey Evans represents a district covering chunks of Smyrna and Marietta. Evans has emphasized a more moderate posture; her campaign message has focused more on issues involving the HOPE scholarship and other issues that would ostensibly appeal to suburban voters, who are increasingly leaning to the center left, as evidenced by Jon Ossoff’s near upset in the 6th congressional district and changing demographics in Gwinnett County and Cobb County. Evans also hails from the North Georgia mountains, and has focused on winning back rural Georgians who voted for Democrats before the early 2000s. Her 16 Homes campaign video made a splash to that purpose. She also has the backing of many state legislators across Georgia, and that of former Governor Roy Barnes. Rob Oldham, a GPR alum writing for GeorgiaPol, a political blog that covers Georgia politics, did some back-of-theenvelope calculations that had findings in Abrams’ favor. Using partisan breakdowns by race, Oldham found that if white voters turned out to vote at levels similar to the 2014 state elections, and if minority voters voted at rates similar to the 2012 election, Abrams would defeat a hypothetical Republican nominee by 9 percentage points.
Evans, however, should not be written off. It is not always clear how to reliably stimulate turnout, but to her supporters, the flip of heavily populated suburban Gwinnett, Cobb, and Henry counties in the 2016 presidential election and Ossoff’s near win are more than enough to inspire confidence.
Georgia Republicans: A Question of Message The Republican Party of Georgia has had a tight grip on the state for over a decade, but the most salient question facing it now is how to convince voters that the Georgia GOP deserves continued support. The four major candidates running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination all have different brands and affiliations – representative of the current divergence facing the Republican party nationally. Representing the faction currently dominant within the state party, which is more “establishment” and business oriented, is Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle. Cagle had already raised over $2.7 million by July, over a million more than the second place Republican. Cagle has held his current office for 12 years, and was a state senator prior to that. He represents a continuation of outgoing Governor Nathan Deal’s policy agenda: focusing on education and business growth. Cagle also hails from Gainesville, and has picked up significant political support from local politicians in the northern part of the state. Also competing with Cagle is Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. Kemp had raised $1.7 million by July, and has a similar level of name recognition to Cagle. Kemp represents a slightly more grassroots approach to the party; he takes a slightly more populist tack on issues, but still adheres to party orthodoxy in terms of style.
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Kemp is from Athens, and once represented an Athens-based district in the state senate. A higher-profile analogue to Kemp would be someone like U.S. Senators David Perdue or Ron Johnson. Moving in a more ideologically purist direction is Hunter Hill, who made his first foray into politics to represent a part of East Cobb and the Fulton County corridor in the state senate for four years. He proved to be adept at campaigning; his is one of the more competitive seats, and he managed to defeat his opponent in 2016 by four percentage points even as Hillary Clinton won the district by 10 points. More of a minimalist in the senate, he raised a bill involving a private school subsidy program for the children of military veterans, which died in committee. He cosponsored another bill, perhaps familiar to Athenians, that allowed craft brewers to sell beer directly to customers. It came into effect this past summer. His views, along with his campaigning style as a fresh face in the Capitol, could be compared to Marco Rubio. Finally, there is Michael Williams, the former state senator who represented almost all of Forsyth County. His claim to fame is that he was the first elected official in Georgia to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for president. Williams’ campaign has taken on a decidedly Trump-like style. He campaigns with Dog the Bounty Hunter, and has organized his own protests and other publicity stunts. Williams also got
his start as a businessman, owning several Sports Clips locations and self-funding both his own campaign for state senate and his current campaign for Governor. Williams is certainly hoping to capitalize on Trump’s brand and momentum in order to reach the Governor’s Mansion. Whoever moves into the Governor’s Mansion is certain to face challenges, and each candidate would have very different approach. If a Democrat is elected – and if Obamacare remains in place – we would likely see Georgia take on the Medicaid expansion some states have accepted as part of the ACA framework. This would drastically cut the number of uninsured people in the state, but also incur heavy costs once federal subsidies expire. Republicans seem eager to try out privatization strategies for Georgia’s educational system, which undoubtedly needs improvements. Could we see a return of the Opportunity School District amendment? Many of the Republicans running have also committed to signing a religious freedom bill, which incumbent Governor Deal vetoed. This would have a large impact on business in Georgia, and this issue reflects the major conflict within the state GOP about how to prioritize in situations where business interests and social issues collide. Choosing a new executive for our state is certain to be a difficult task, but also one of the most crucial at this momentous juncture in Georgia’s history. What are we going to do?
As expected of a site of drastic population change, Georgia is increasingly seen as a swing state on the national level.
MEET THE CAN DI DAT ES Stacey Abrams (D) Georgia House Minority Leader Platform: Workplace equality & Advanced Energy Jobs Plan
Casey Cagle (R) Lieutenant Governor Platform: Education and business growth
Stacey Evans (D) Georgia State Representative Platform: Increasing HOPE funding & decreasing minimum GPA
Hunter Hill (R) Georgia State Senator Platform: Private school subsidies
Brian Kemp (R) Secretary of State Platform: Grassroots populism
Michael Williams (R) Georgia State Senator Platform: Georgia Fair Tax
G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
UN IT E D S TAT ES
The Future of the Fed Who is the right fit for the Trump administration? BY BRANHAM CULPEPPER
t has been a strange four years for the Fed under Janet Yellen. Although the economy has largely recovered from the events of 2008 and job creation has been healthy in recent times, the various recovery and stimulus efforts of the crisis era remain largely in place. At that time, the Federal Reserve began pumping money into banks by buying bonds and lowering interest rates to encourage borrowing. The Fed was, for a long period, reluctant to begin unraveling these programs for fear of harming the nascent recovery, but has recently begun normalizing its monetary policy, meaning that it is returning rates to higher, pre-crisis levels. Although the Fed has raised interest rates and will continue to do so, the rate of tapering for its quantitative easing programs remains a source of debate. Additionally, both unemployment and inflation stand at unusually low levels (4.4% and 1.9%, respectively), a seeming contradiction of traditional macroeconomic theory, and a quandary which the Fed will have to resolve as it continues to guide the economy on the slow path toward normalcy. When the American economy was wrecked by the financial crisis of 2008, the Federal Reserve stepped in to alleviate the worst of the recession that followed. It first reduced short-term interest rates to effectively zero, a stronger-than-usual application of a standard strategy to stimulate the economy. This bold move, however, was not enough to mitigate the effects of such a massive fi-
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nancial meltdown. The Fed thus took to what was termed “quantitative easing,” a strategy first employed by the Bank of Japan in the early 2000s. This process essentially involved the large-scale purchase of financial assets, similar to the Fed’s standard open-market operations, which involve purchasing bonds to increase the money supply. Quantitative easing possesses one significant difference, however: rather than limit its buying to short-term U.S. Treasury bonds, the Fed purchased longer-term bonds and mortgage-backed securities in order to reduce long-term interest rates and alleviate some of the problems in the housing market. Three rounds of “QE,” as it is called in the financial world, were conducted, at the end of which the Fed held around $4.5 trillion in assets, around four times what it held before the start of the crisis. Simply put, the Fed bought riskier assets in far higher quantities than usual to reduce the negative effects of the financial crisis. When Yellen took over Ben Bernanke’s post in 2014, she inherited an economy still recovering from the Great Recession. Although declining, unemployment still stood near an uncomfortably-high seven percent. Inflation was below the Fed’s two-percent target. The Fed itself was in the midst of its third round of quantitative easing, snapping up assets to the tune of 85 billion dollars worth of bonds per month. Janet Yellen assumed this mantle as the first woman to hold the position in the Federal Reserve’s
100-year history, and was widely considered to be one of the most highly-qualified candidates ever for the position. Yellen had already served as the vice-chair of the Fed, a member of the Open Market Committee, and head of the San Francisco regional bank, in addition to leading a very successful academic career at UC Berkeley. Janet Yellen began her term by confirming the need to normalize monetary policy by raising rates and shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet. However, she also conveyed her desire to take a slow and cautious approach to this goal. She wanted to avoid a repeat of 2013’s “taper tantrum,” the three-day free-fall in stock prices that followed Ben Bernanke’s announcement of his intention to begin reducing QE efforts. The Fed devised a plan to end the purchase of additional bonds and implemented it in October 2014; it also plans to begin shrinking its bloated balance sheet this year, though these were delayed until interest rates rose closer to normal levels (so they could be lowered again in the event of a downturn) and unemployment dropped further. In December 2015, the Fed raised rates for the first time since the crisis, by a quarter of a percentage point; despite plans for several more increases, it raised rates only once in the year following (also in December) due to the disruption caused by the fall in oil prices and the presidential election. However, in 2017 the Fed has raised rates twice, in March and June, signaling its belief that
UNI TED S TAT E S the economy no longer needs low rates to prop it up. Mrs. Yellen’s term as chair of the Federal Reserve Board ends in February; the vice-chair, Stanley Fischer, has also announced plans to retire. Combined with the two existing vacancies on the Fed Board, this represents an unprecedented state of the system. It has not had a full regiment of seven governors in years, and now a majority of the seats are open. President Donald Trump thus has the opportunity to nominate four members of the board, more than any single president save Woodrow Wilson, who nominated the original Fed Board; he could pack it if he wishes. He is expected to nominate Randal K. Quarles (a George-Bush-era Treasury official) and Marvin Goodfriend (a former Richmond Fed official) for two of the board’s vacancies. However, his choice for chair of the board is still a matter of debate. One strong contender for the chairmanship is Gary Cohn, former chief operating officer of Goldman-Sachs and the current director of President Trump’s Economic Advisory Council. Cohn would have significant influence as chair to assist with Trump’s deregulatory plans. However, in his current position he plays a large role in promoting tax reform, and the President may decide that he is more valuable on that front. Additionally, he favors a slow retreat from the low interest rates and quantitative easing that defined the post-crisis period, even more so than Janet Yellen, despite his hawkish reputation. He is a banker rather than an economist by trade, and his nomination would be an unusual choice given Trump’s populist leanings. It would also be a break with precedent; the last time a non-economist served as Fed chairman was during the Carter administration. Cohn was widely considered the frontrunner for the job until he became embroiled in a conflict with the president regarding the latter’s response to the events
in Charlottesville, Virginia, which nearly led to Cohn’s resignation. A second possibility for the Fed chairmanship is Kevin Warsh, a former member of the Federal Reserve Board, as well as a member of George Bush’s National Economic Council and a former executive director at Morgan Stanley. His views are also consistent with the President’s deregulatory tack, and he has experience in both finance and academic economics (including with the Fed itself). He is also the son-in-law of Robert Lauder, a personal friend of Trump’s. However, Warsh received heavy criticism for expressing support for problematic financial products before the financial crisis struck and his opposition to the ultra-low interest rates and quantitative-easing programs deployed afterward, potentially rendering him a tough sell for Congressional confirmation. Additionally, his hawkishness on inflation puts him at odds with the President, who favors low interest rates. One final possibility is that President Trump will simply re-nominate Janet Yellen to the chair. This would be consistent with precedent; the last few Fed chairmen have received second terms from Presidents of the opposite party. Yellen has plenty of experience, and has certainly proven her expertise and discretion; given the tricky problems facing the Fed in the near future, these may prove essential. Her often-dovish outlook would place her in line with Trump’s desire to maintain low interest rates;
however, the current low rate of unemployment has led her to favor deliberate and consistent rate increases. One major point of contention exists between the President and the Chairwoman: financial regulation. Where Trump intends to loosen restrictions on the financial industry as part of a larger deregulatory agenda, Yellen has been an ardent supporter of the Dodd-Frank Act and pushing deregulation past her would prove an uphill battle for the administration. Regardless of who claims the Chair, the Federal Reserve faces several complex problems going forward. It must raise interest rates to be prepared for future downturns and to stave off excessive inflation, yet it must do so without upsetting financial markets. It must determine how to unravel the $4.5 trillion in bonds it currently holds as a result of quantitative easing, again without jeopardizing the state of the financial system. Finally, it must determine how the labor market tightened to achieve such a low unemployment rate despite low inflation, and how to respond, should it choose to do so. Many possibilities remain open for the future of the Fed, but whatever path it follows, the next few years are certain to be eventful.
From left to right: Janet Yellen, Kevin Warsh, and Gary Cohn
G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
U NIT E D S TAT ES
Urban havens: the sanctuary city in the past and present
CITIES BY TOMMY DESOUT T E R
GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW
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he Trump administration has frequently denounced the establishment of “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that legally limit the cooperation of their local law enforcement agencies with federal immigration authorities. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to withhold federal law enforcement funding from any city that adopts this policy. New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and the entire state of California – frequently seen as anti-Trump bastions – are facing a potentially severe reduction in funding due to the “sanctuary” policies they have in place. Narrowly, the administration’s assault on sanctuary cities is a crucial piece of its largescale campaign against illegal immigrants. As the proposed wall and enhanced border patrol are meant to physically block new immigrants, the crackdown on sanctuary cities is meant to root out those who are already here. The move is also believed to be political payback for these cities’ reputation for opposition to Trump. But in a broader sense, the conflict over sanctuary cities is a battle in the philosophical war over the city’s role as a haven – or a den of sin. Cities have always been a sanctuary for those who have a reason to fear or flee. The history of African-Americans has largely been one of rural terror and urban sanctuary. Both before and after the Civil War, the economy of the South was built on exploited black labor on rural farms. Even after the abolition of slavery, black farmers were paid low wages, prevented from owning land, and forced into a form of involuntary servitude known as “debt peonage.” A massive change came during World Wars I and II, as five million Southern blacks moved to Northern cities in a process known as the Great Migration. Wartime drafts left a huge demand for factory workers; some companies, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad, actually paid blacks to move north. But job opportunities were only half of the story, as blacks fled the lynching, disfranchisement, and segregation of the south. “They left as though they were fleeing some curse,” wrote the scholar Emmett J. Scott. “They were seeking political asylum within the borders of their own country, not unlike refugees in other parts of the world fleeing famine, war and pestilence.” In the major cities of the North, blacks found the opportunity to flourish that they had been denied in the South. Isabel Wilkerson writes, “They would become Richard Wright the novelist instead of Richard Wright the sharecropper. They would become John Coltrane, jazz musician instead of tailor; Bill Russell, NBA pioneer instead of paper mill worker; Zora Neale Hurston, beloved folklorist instead of maidservant. The children of the Great Migration would reshape professions that, had
their families not left, may never have been open to them, from sports and music to literature and art: Miles Davis, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Jacob Lawrence, Diana Ross, Tupac Shakur, Prince, Michael Jackson, Shonda Rhimes, Venus and Serena Williams and countless others.” It was the Great Migration that made Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh into centers of black culture. It was also this period that saw the flourishing of Harlem as a center of black culture, first in the New Negro Movement and later the Harlem Renaissance. These cities became cultural powerhouses and had a profound impact on American cultural and political life. Black voters became a desirable political constituency, courted by the Republican and Democratic parties that had paid them no mind in the South, and much of the political activism that would culminate in the Civil Rights Movement found its origins in black activism and intellectual activity in Northern cities. In addition to the political and cultural empowerment provided by the urban setting, blacks were empowered by the act of choosing to pick up and move. Wilkerson writes, “They
In some ways, it was the first step that the nation’s servant class ever took without asking. left on their own accord for as many reasons as there are people who left. They made a choice that they were not going to live under the system into which they were born anymore and in some ways, it was the first step that the nation's servant class ever took without asking." The history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the United States is closely tied to sites, particularly sites of nightlife, in major cities. Resistance to a police raid by patrons of the Stonewall Inn in June 1969 is frequently considered the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement, but the history of LGBT people in American cities is older than that. The West Village region of New York City has historically been a hub of queer American culture. Many gay veterans settled in Greenwich Village and Harlem after World War I uprooted them from hometowns throughout the country. Because Prohibition pushed all alcohol consumption underground, homosexuality was just one of many elements of nightlife being policed, and bars had outlaw status regardless of the orientation of their clientele. The Beat Generation poets of 1950s New York wrote openly about homosexuality. Charles Kaiser writes that after World War II, “New York City became the literal gay metropolis for hundreds of thousands of immigrants
within and without the United States: the place they chose to learn how to live openly, honestly, and without shame.” Like San Francisco, the city was a haven of tolerance, a beacon of safety and acceptance to queer individuals throughout the country and world. Even more relevant to the current sanctuary city controversy has been the traditional role of American cities as havens for immigrants. The United States had open borders until 1924; with a few exceptions, almost all immigration was legal. The museum on Ellis Island and the neighborhoods called “Chinatown” and “Little Italy” in cities throughout the country testify to the experiences of the waves of immigrants that reshaped our cities and culture. Three-quarters of the roughly eleven million undocumented immigrants in the United States came from Mexico or Central America. In recent years, these countries have experienced a surge in violence related to drugs and gangs. American demand for heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana, and cocaine provides the great majority of the profit for the Mexican drug cartels that rule large swaths of Northern Mexico. In El Salvador, the second-largest source of illegal immigrants in the US, civilians are terrorized by the powerful MS-13 gang that was hardened in American prisons before deportation. Many of the factors driving Mexicans and Central Americans to migrate to the United States resemble those that drove African-Americans in the Great Migration. Businesses to the north demand labor; high demand for a lucrative product leads Americans to ignore the brutal consequences of their consumption. In an echo of the Great Migration, illegal immigration to the United States is a “step that the nation’s servant class [has taken] without asking.” It is certainly no exaggeration to see Mexicans as America’s new servant class, given that they comprise the majority of our farm workers and often suffer appalling conditions in these roles. Voting with their feet, millions of Mexicans and Central Americans have made the “choice that they were not going to live under the system into which they were born anymore”: the arrangement whereby the United States enjoys a far higher standard of living than its neighbors while they serve as sources of cheap labor for its consumer products and drugs for its recreation. Furthermore, the use of police raids to search for immigrants is uniquely charged due to the history of forceful state invasion of the “sanctuary” that cities have provided to people despised elsewhere. As in the Stonewall Riots and the modern controversies over policing in urban black communities, the violation of this sanctuary is a painful reminder that the harsh rules of the outside world apply even when it appears that a safe haven has been reached. GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW
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Tax Reform Another clog in Congressional gridlock BY MI RI AM MOKHEMAR
fter repetitive healthcare debacles and travel ban policies, President Trump is left itching for a PR victory. He thinks he can overhaul America’s tax code, but his failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have proven that Congressional gridlock won’t be easy to overcome. It will be up to President Trump to navigate Congress by crafting a piece of legislation that pleases enough of the fractured U.S. Congress to enact tax reform. The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated that roughly 7.5 million Americans are slipping under the poverty line because of inequity in the federal tax system. The study found a family with three children in 2016 would be eligible for a higher Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that was worth over $6,000. For a family without children, its EITC would only calculate to $506, not nearly enough to offset other taxes and a less helpful standard deduction. Similarly, a single woman earning poverty-line wages in 2016 would owe a little over $1,000, primarily from other taxes. The EITC would only offset $184 of this total charge. In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services defined the poverty line at $12,060 for a single person. In the end, this woman is situated below the official poverty marker.
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Another problem with the tax behemoth is that the corporate tax misallocates company resources. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates that the U.S. is the only G-7 country that taxes businesses on their worldwide income. In 2017 alone, the Tax Foundation found that the U.S. corporate tax rate was 38.91%, which is greater than the worldwide average of 22.49%. The lack of tax harmonization between the U.S. and other countries incentivizes businesses to merge with or purchase foreign companies so that they are no longer subject to American corporate taxes. A Harvard Business School study analyzed how higher tax rates in the U.S. force big corporations, like Texas Electronics and Dell, to relocate their business operations to countries like India, Ireland, and Netherlands. In 2004, IBM bought an Indian outsourcing firm, Daksh eServices, in order to increase production of technology and retain its “World’s Largest Design Company” title according to Daksh’s Chief Executive Officer. Without certainty of their future tax burden, it can be difficult for businesses to strategize what their future operations will look like. Major healthcare companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and America’s Health Insurance Plans, issued letters to the President and Congress, begging for lawmakers to “simplify administrative processes.”
These organizations cautioned Congress against proposed legislation that would increase premiums by nearly 20%. The Leonard D. Schaeffer Initiative for Innovation in Health Policy verified that uncertainty surrounding the healthcare reform debate hurt insurance companies, concluding that “lack of clarification of the future of the Affordable Care Act cost-sharing subsidies and individual mandates” instills “instability” in the healthcare market. Vital negotiators on tax reform legislation have issued contradicting statements. In a press release, President Trump declared that his tax proposal will have “the greatest tax reduction in the history of our country.” Two days later in a FOX Business interview, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised tax legislation would be “revenue neutral” and not add to the country’s trillion dollars of debt. Secretary Mnuchin’s version of tax legislation would mean that any cuts made in the bill would be offset with other changes and that the government’ s net revenue would remain constant. In a briefing, President Trump said he “hopes for a corporate tax at 15%.” Meanwhile, in an Associated Press interview, Paul Ryan proclaimed this demand to be unfeasible as it would add to the ballooning U.S. debt. The House and Senate delegates have yet to settle on a new corporate
UNI TE D S TAT E S President Donald Trump promotes his tax reform plan to energy workers at a North Dakota oil refinery on September 6, 2017.
tax rate or how to balance new tax cuts. explanation of tax legislation will likely be subjected to an uproar from political opposition, economists, and those residing in high-tax states. Congress is likely to rollout a tax proposal in October or November and a vote in early 2018, but lack of GOP unity means it may meet the same end as healthcare reform. Proposed tax cuts would do little to help economic inequality. The Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimates that the GOP plan, “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code,” would give 87 percent of tax cuts to the top 20 percent of American households. The net income of the bottom 80 percent of households would rise by less than a percent, whereas the income of the top 0.1 percent would be boosted by ten percent. The Trump-GOP proposal increases the Child Tax Credit. In most circumstances, these benefits are negated by other provisions in the outline, such as the elimination of personal exemptions and the increase in the bottom marginal rate from 10 percent to 12 percent for some filers. The summary is also missing the critical element of de-
fining the amount of increase of the maximum Child Tax Credit, a credit of up to $1,000 per child under age 17. The plan indicates that families would only get $1,500 even if they had more than one child. This, however, does not help families. For example, a married couple earning $48,700 with one child that applies for the child tax credit would only receive “a net tax cut of just $180.” The benefits from raising the Child Tax Credit from
repeal the inheritance tax (also known as the death tax) and the generation-skipping transfer (GST) profoundly. The GST tax would transfer wealth during life or death that skips a generation of a family. A great deal of inherited wealth is untaxed profits, and the proposal would create a loophole for wealthy families who could pass enormous untaxed wealth to their heirs. The elimination of certain personal taxes is an attempt to simplify tax rules by consolidating benefits into a larger standard deduction, items not included in taxes but that were paid for. Unfortunately, the repeal of most itemized deductions may hurt taxpayers in states with high real estate and state income taxes. The Republican-controlled Congress remains torn over central tax issues. They want to cut tax rates for the rich but remain divided over the cost of such a policy. The exact details of the tax reform are unknown because there is a lack of consensus among leaders about what the reform would entail. Due to contradicting statements from officials and an unclear tax reform proposal, we know even less about the reform than we did a few months ago.
Lawmakers are considering abolishing the estate tax and dropping the number of tax brackets from seven to three. $1,000 to $1,500 for this couple would be minimized by other changes in the tax. This change to the tax credit does not appear to increase the amount of any credit that is returnable; if a low-income taxpayer has other tax obligations, this won’t increase the amount of their refund. The message of the current tax proposal resounds strongly: Make the rich richer. New tax reform frameworks would
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Life After The White House What do you do when your time as POTUS comes to an end? BY GRANT MERC ER
lexander Hamilton feared that former presidents would “wander among the people like discontented ghosts.” Lacking meaningful work to occupy their days, they would “sow discord and unrest” throughout the newfound nation. Fortunately, Hamilton’s prediction has not come true. Former chief executives have traveled many paths demonstrating that life does not end upon relinquishing the highest office in the land. Here are a few of the ex-presidents’ endeavors. Upon leaving office, George Washington returned to Mount Vernon, falling back upon his farming background. Taking advantage of his fields of barley and rye, he started a whiskey distillery. Despite having no experience in producing spirits, Washington’s distillery soon became the largest in the nation, earning him over $100,000 a year (in today’s dollars). Another Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, devoted his life to education after leaving the presidency at age 65. Almost single-handedly, he founded the University of Virginia, both developing the university’s curriculum and designing the buildings, including the grand rotunda modeled after Rome’s Pantheon. He served as its first president as the University’s doors opened for classes until his death one year later. The University leadership was then assumed by another former president, James Madison. Theodore Roosevelt took a far different route for his post-presidential years. He sought refuge in the wilds of South America after his failed attempt at a third presidential term. While on a trip to Brazil, Roosevelt was invited to join a team charged with exploring the uncharted River of Doubt. He gladly accepted. The trek quickly morphed into a quest for survival as the explorers faced attacks from malaria, starvation, deadly rapids, and even a murderer from within their ranks. A nasty fall slashed Roosevelt’s leg, resulting in a festering wound
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and agonizing pain. A feverish, weakened Roosevelt repeatedly demanded to be left behind to die, but was denied his request. Seven months later, the emaciated explorers emerged from the jungle, having mapped the 1000-milelong Amazon tributary. Roosevelt later wrote that harrowing expedition “stole away 10 years of my life”. He died five years later. Of all the former presidents, Jimmy Carter best exemplifies the role of a global humanitarian. A year after his landslide defeat by Ronald Reagan, he established the Atlanta-based Carter Center, dedicated to diplomatic and humanitarian work. Since 1989, the Center has monitored over 100 elections in 39 countries, ensuring fair elections throughout Africa, Asia and South America. For this work, Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize twenty-one years after he left the Oval Office. One of Carter’s greatest achieve-
ments has been the near-eradication of Guinea worm disease, a painful condition caused by consumption of contaminated water. Thanks to his work, the number of Guinea worm cases has plummeted from 3.5 million in 1986 to a mere 25 in 2016. Carter’s one-term presidency is often defined as among the least successful. Even he stated, “I can’t deny I’m a better ex-president than I was a president,” but at age 93, Carter continues to define the impact that a former president can have. George W. Bush’s retirement from public service took a creative turn. Inspired by Winston Churchill’s foray into painting, he followed suit. Looking to discover his “inner Rembrandt,” he took lessons to improve his technique and spent hours each day in front of a canvas. His paintings were a private matter until a Romanian hacker breached Bush’s sister’s email account. Finding pictures of the paintings, the
hacker posted them online for the world to see. After that, Bush decided to share his calling, publishing a book of his work, “Portraits of Courage,” in 2017. The book contains the paintings and stories of 66 veterans, Bush’s way of honoring them. “People ask me, ‘Do you miss being President?’” Bush noted. “The answer is not really, but I miss saluting people who have volunteered to wear the uniform.” The second acts of U.S. ex-presidents have been a mixed bag. Some have, by necessity, had to find other sources of income; others have become national and global influencers, while still others have pursued the passions they were forced to neglect by the demands of the Oval Office. As Benjamin Harrison observed, “Great lives never go out; they go on.” Life after the White House gives each former president an opportunity to redefine himself; a chance to go on.
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THE RISE OF OUTSIDE INFLUENCE ON STUDENT GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS BY K A LVI S G OLD E
GEORGIA POLITICAL REVIEW
eddling in elections is increasingly commonplace in the United States. From super PACs and the meteoric rise in spending on behalf of political candidates, to allegations of foreign interference in the most recent presidential race, Americans are no strangers to outside influence on the ballot box. But the pressure reaches deeper than races for federal, state, or local office, to a sphere rarely considered by the public or media: university student government elections. Within the past five years, various non-profit organizations have embarked upon buying or otherwise influencing the election of student government officials at colleges around the country. A natural progression of the great American elections-spending arms race, the targeting of student government elections is a new component in the political strategy of building coalitions within local government and grassroots movements to supplement power in Washington, a strategy commonly employed by both major parties as well as national advocacy groups. This trend enjoyed scant attention for years. Now students are starting to pay attention.
A POL I TI CAL T URNI NG POI NT The political 501(c)(3) non-profit organization holds special status in the United States tax code. Because they are restricted from directly supporting political candidates, these groups are granted tax exemptions and a large degree of autonomy in their financial operations. A small army of these politically inclined non-profit organizations dots political centers around the country, ranging from powerful think tanks like the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Heri-
tage Foundation to single-issue advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the group that led the push for the current national drinking age of 21. A number of these organizations have arms dedicated to younger generations or university students, such as CAP’s Generation Progress unit or the Campus Action Network of the National Organization for Women. Many of these national groups have spawned student club chapters at universities around the country, using this vast network to champion their issues to students and recruit them for the group’s efforts. One such group is Turning Point USA, a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2012 by rising political star Charlie Kirk in order to help students “promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” The group boasts a student organization or other form of presence at over 1,000 schools around the United States, including the University of Georgia. The group gained national notoriety for its Professor Watchlist, an online database of professors reported to “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” While provocative, the group certainly is not unique. Many universities boast overtly political groups such as the College Republicans and Young Democrats, and there are a host of left-leaning 501(c)(3) organizations famous for their activism on college campuses, such as Move On and— likely familiar to UGA students—the group Athens For Everyone. The difference between Turning Point USA and its counterparts on both the ideological right and left is strictly one of strategy. As of now, Turning Point and its partner, the Campus Leadership Project, are the only groups publicly known to target student government elections to advance their efforts. G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
U NIT E D S TAT ES O N T H E O F FE NS IV E “It might seem like kind of a silly thing to try to take over student government associations,” Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk conceded during a 2015 speech to a right-wing political group called the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC). Yet in reality the strategy is far from naive. The voice of the student body at most schools, student government often wields significant influence on university administration as well as state and local policy. Occasionally their budgets sit in the range of millions of student fee dollars. In many states, the ranks of the political elite swell with veterans of student government, especially from flagship institutions. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Richard Nixon all trace their roots to bids for the student body presidency at their respective colleges. There is real power to be found in university student government, and Kirk believes he has found a way in. “The only vulnerability there is, the only little opening,” Kirk explained to the DHFC, “is student-government-association races and elections, and we’re investing a lot of time and energy and money in it.” So what does this “time and energy and money” look like in practice? The evidence is murky and incomplete, due largely to the national organization’s tight-lipped policy. But various university newspapers around the country have uncovered bits and pieces. Occasionally it constitutes direct monetary aid. Two years ago, the president of the University of Maryland College Republicans sent a message through his group’s listserv advertising an enticing opportunity: “Anyone who wants to run for SGA president, Turning Point is offering to pay thousands of dollars (literally) to your campaign to help get a conservative into the position.” This past year at Ohio State University, leaked text messages between a Turning Point representative and student candidates disclosed nearly $6000 in offered financial support. While that amount of money may seem inconsequential when compared to the nearly $2.4 billion spent on the 2016 presidential race alone, it can make a big difference at the collegiate level. Most universities set a spending cap for student government candidates at a few thousand dollars, so Turning Point assistance can quite literally double or triple a campaign budget. “You would be amazed,” Kirk gushed to the DHFC, hinting at this leverage. “You spend $5,000 on a race, you can win. You could retake a whole college or university.”
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Other times, this aid takes the form of non-monetary support. Turning Point reportedly employs teams who “wake up every single day, just as if you’re running a congressional or mayoral race or senate race, trying to develop messaging, fliers, banners, Twitter profiles” for candidates, according to Kirk. Occasionally, bits of this aid go public. At the University of Maryland, the student newspaper “The Diamondback” reported that this past year’s Unity Party received undisclosed logo designs from a Turning Point designer. Some candidates have even been offered physical manpower. Leaked messages between a Turning Point representative and an Ohio State student discussed sending “a bunch of people with tablets making people vote and everything” on voting day, at no cost to the candidate —“they’ll pay those people too.”
I N THE DARK Many of the mammoth private groups that spend on national elections, from various cheerily named super PACs to the Koch brothers, are widely known. Yet this notoriety usually comes despite their best efforts. Groups that attempt to sway votes
tions are made public, the Turning-Pointbacked ticket or candidate tends to lose. The entire Unity Party at the University of Maryland withdrew from the race after the source of their logo designs was revealed. At Ohio State, candidates with allegations of Turning Point ties dropped out a few days before the election following a student media firestorm. Last year’s One Oregon ticket at the University of Oregon lost what promised to be a successful elections bid after evidence of Turning Point aid surfaced to the student body. (There is no evidence that a candidate backed by Turning Point has successfully completed a bid for student government at the University of Georgia.) Yet in many cases, especially when undiscovered, the operation seems to achieve rather marked success. When a victorious presidential candidate at the University of Colorado was kicked out after the discovery of undisclosed Turning Point funding, a prominent conservative lawyer filed a flurry of legal action which resulted in a decision by the UC chancellor to reinstate the candidate as the victor. The attorney refused to release the source of his funding.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at a Turning Point USA event at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference. with dollars generally prefer to operate in secret, and this is certainly true for Turning Point. Their effort to influence student body elections is a “rather undercover, underground operation,” founder Charlie Kirk explained. This choice is for good reason. At schools where their efforts to sway elec-
This past January, an email leaked from a candidate at Rice University who sought assistance from the Campus Leadership Project, a Turning Point partner, in their school’s elections. The leak exposed a sobering statistic: “Last year, [Turning Point USA] candidates won 26 of 30 universities, so the odds are in our favor.”
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In January 2017, a leaked email revealed that a candidate at Rice University sought assistance from the Campus Leadership Project, a partner of Turning Point USA.
A B ROAD E R MOV E M E NT The sudden rise in outside spending on student government races did not occur in a vacuum. The United States has been grappling with seismic shifts in the elections-funding landscape for nearly a decade. In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion in the case Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission that blew the door open for unlimited elections spending by corporations. The ruling followed a controversial concept in jurisprudence: just as human beings are protected by the Constitution from federal restrictions on their freedom of political speech (dollar-speech included), so are corporations. Super PACs, once a fringe element of American elections, owe their modern prominence almost entirely to the Citizens United decision. But in the world of nonprofits, that ruling applies solely to 501(c) (4) organizations such as PACs, which are not barred from spending on behalf of political candidates and thus are not granted the same tax-exempt status as 501(c)(3) groups. Turning Point USA is classified as a 501(c) (3) organization. While the rapid expansion of its targeting of student government elections cannot be traced to the Supreme Court as directly as the Political Action Committee, the very concept of Turning Point’s strategy stems from the consequences of that case. Its classification as a 501(c)(3) should, in theory, prevent Turning Point from contrib-
uting financially to candidates for student government. But there is a notable caveat. IRS restrictions on 501(c)(3) contributions to political candidates concern only those running for public office. As of now, the legal world does not classify student government representatives as public officials, an exception cited in leaked messages from a Turning Point representative to a student at Ohio State: “[Our support is] totally legal and everything, because it’s a student government campaign, it’s not like Congress or the president.” With all the controversy surrounding the onslaught of moneyed interests in university elections, however, it’s possible that the legal definitions here may change in the future—especially for student government officials at public, state-funded universities. The political landscape at universities is facing drastic change as well, as controversial issues once again encroach on campuses around the country. The police shooting of Michael Brown in St. Louis prompted protests at the University of Missouri which led to the ouster of leading school officials and an enrollment crisis at Mizzou that lingers today. The alt-right
movement led by Richard Spencer in Charlottesville, VA, and the resulting death of a counter-protester have rocked the University of Virginia to its core. As Mr. Spencer and other alt-right speakers amp up their national college tours, protests—and student arrests—have been sparked around the country in response. And the federal government has now waded into the fray, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent promise to back lawsuits against schools that have banned Mr. Spencer and other speakers from appearing on their campuses. Spending on student government elections and controversial university speech are distinct yet pivotal factors in the undeniable, forceful return of politics to college campuses around the country. The best thing students can do in response to the turmoil is to pay attention. A watchful eye, an open mind, and concerned participation in university life can go a long way in diffusing the political tension pressuring students at our nation’s colleges. Now more than ever, it is critical that students affirm their commitment to their schools, and to each other.
Student government often wields significant influence on university administration as well as state and local policy.
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The Shi’a Problem: A Legacy of Misrepresentation The singling out of the Shi’a Muslim community BY AL E X B OY LSTON
ne can see a common theme plastered across major news outlets throughout the West, with headlines proclaiming that Iran remains the “top terror sponsor,” support for terrorist groups is “integral to Iran’s foreign policy,” and that a new “Shia-order” is emerging in the region. The message is simple: Shi’a Muslim militant groups, backed by state sponsor of terror and U.S. arch-enemy Iran, are threatening to take over the Sunni-majority Middle East via an orchestrated campaign
This tension comes largely as a result of what many perceive as growing Iranian influence within and beyond the “Shi’a Crescent,” an area containing a substantial Shi’a population stretching from Bahrain to Lebanon, where Iran has supposedly been engineering the transfer of Shi’a Muslims to abandoned, war-torn Sunni villages in order to gain a foothold in the region. This growing Shi’a/Iranian power has concerned the West, along with its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, to the point where they have worked to
Shi’a militiamen parade through Baghdad as a show of strength against ISIL militants occuyping northern Iraq. of propaganda, terrorism, and military operations. Iran has been at odds with the U.S. since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in which the U.S.-backed regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown, but events following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and 2011 Arab Spring have once again brought US-Iranian relations to a boil.
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overthrow the Iran-backed Bashar al-Assad, formed a coalition with Western and other Gulf States to fight the Shi’a Houthi rebels in Yemen, and once more opposed the Lebanese Shi’a militia Hezbollah in its role in the Syrian Civil War. However, no matter how much of a destabilizing force Iran is perceived to be, what is lost in these attempts to curtail
Iran’s (and by proxy Shi’a Islam’s) clout in the region is the plight of the Shi’a themselves. Splitting from the Sunni not long after the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632 CE due to their belief that only relatives of Muhammad should succeed him as the leader of the Muslim community, the Shi’a have experienced both hostile and friendly relations with the Sunni over time. At times they have controlled substantial empires, such as the Fatamid and Safavid, but have always been a minority group in the Muslim world and today only make up between 10 to 13 percent of the world’s Muslim population (about onethird of whom live in Iran). Today, out of the 57 members making up the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, only four (Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain) have majority-Shi’a populations. Even this overstates their representation, however, since the Shi’a in Bahrain are oppressed by the country’s ruling Sunni minority while in Iraq the Shi’a were denied any sort of political power under the rule of Saddam Hussein and are still largely unable to govern effectively today. While Western pundits are keen to point out that Iran harbors prejudice towards its Sunni population or that Shi’a militias in Iraq fighting ISIL are “sectarian” and targeting Sunnis, they tend to minimize the fact that the Sunni are the overwhelming majority population in much of the Muslim world, with Sunni extremists often targeting the marginalized Shi’a. Adding on to ISIL’s campaign of genocide against Shi’a (including a 2014 massacre in Iraq in which over 1,500 Shi’a were singled out and killed) and destroying their holy sites in cities they had conquered, Sunni extremists from Pakistan to Iraq and Afghanistan continue to target Shi’a places of worship in terrorist attacks. This violence against Shi’a is even spreading to the West as
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well, with people claiming to have been inspired by the ideology of ISIL firebombing Shi’a Islamic centers in places like Sweden and Australia. Attacks on Shi’a have become so expected by governments and Shi’a Muslims themselves that extreme security measures are required. During the observance of Muharram, a time of mournful rituals for Shi’as, Afghani Shi’as have been forced to arm themselves in case of an attack while Pakistani authorities shut down all mobile phone services in Karachi to prevent any coordinated attacks on Shi’a processions. An apologist could simply assert that all aforementioned attacks were carried out by Sunni zealots and that these actions do not represent the Sunni attitude towards Shi’a in general. In reality, the attitudes and actions of Sunni governments against Shi’a populations within their borders have done more to inspire attacks than any jihadist group. The worst offender is perhaps Saudi Arabia, the regional Sunni powerhouse and spiritual home of Islam. Saudi religious leaders have encouraged the killing of Shi’a, called Shi’a Islam a “Jewish conspiracy,” and condemned mixing between the sects. Meanwhile, the government has besieged and shelled the poor Shi’a town of Awamiya after labelling its protesting inhabitants “terrorists” and executed revered Shi’a cleric Nimr al-Nimr for challenging the government (his 23 yearold nephew currently sits on death row.) The country is home to upwards of two
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million Shi’a but has no Shi’a mosques, mayors, police chiefs, nor representation in higher levels of government. Shi’a children, often attending schools with nonShi’a administrators, are taught from birth that they are heretics and the textbooks from which they learn are so extreme (stating that Shi’a, gays, and other non-believers should be killed) that ISIL used them in their schools. Even abroad, Saudi Arabia has been accused of war crimes in Yemen for carrying out indiscriminate bombings against Shi’a-majority areas while also providing clandestine support to extremist Sunni rebels in Syria and elsewhere who target Shi’a. The Saudis are not the only government that has sanctioned attacks and discrimination against its Shi’a population. While it has a population which is two-thirds Shi’a, Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni family that excludes the
Shi’a are often accused of being only loyal to Iran and also the main perpetrators of terrorism.
Shi’a majority from the government and media. In Malaysia, a 1996 ruling describing Shi’a Islam as a “deOMAN viant” sect effectively banned Shi’a Muslims from publicly practicing their faith while its government has been spared censure from the international community. In the United Arab Emirates, an NYU professor was denied a chance to teach at the school’s Abu Dhabi campus due to his Shi’a faith. Even Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country and once known for its syncretic, tolerant version of Islam, has seen Shi’a become reluctant to be open about their faith out of fear of reprisal. Due to the Western view of Iran as a sponsor of terrorism, the Shi’a are often accused of being only loyal to Iran and of being the main perpetrators of terrorism. This view harms the Shi’a since the implication of dual loyalty, as in the case with the Jewish community and Israel, only serves to isolate the Shi’a and portray them as foreigners in their native lands. Despite the US State Department’s singling out of Iran and Hezbollah for terrorism, most perpetrators of terrorism in the West and abroad are not Shi’a but rather followers of Salafism (or in Saudi Arabia Wahhabism), a puritanical Sunni sect considered to be the “main source of global terrorism.” Salafism is professed by groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda while propagated by countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. No matter Iran’s motives and actions in the Middle East, the West, in its endless pursuit to undermine and punish Iran for what it views as insubordination and aggression, has inadvertently ostracized hundreds of millions of Shi’as simply for professing the same faith as Iran’s leadership. G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
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As Aid Practices Shift, Georgia Leads Learning from mistakes in development aid BY SA M U E L D R IG G E R S Special thanks to Caitlin Fischer of MedShare and Kathryn Hearn of MAP International, public relations officers for their respective organizations, as well as Mark Mosely, Senior Director of Cross International and an expert in international aid, for their contributions to this piece.
n 1984, a famine engulfed Ethiopia. Exacerbated by a civil war and kleptocratic government, Ethiopians faced true destitution. Pictures of starving Ethiopians quickly made their way into Western newspapers, but it was televised scenes of the “biblical” Ethiopian famine — the first scenes of the African continent many Westerners had ever seen — which drove citizens of the Western world to empty their wallets for starving Africans. The response to the Ethiopian famine was unlike any before; aid organizations such as Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Save the Children more than doubled their annual number of donations. In an event which would define the decade, a televised, 16-hour rock concert benefit called “Live Aid” took place simultaneously in London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, raising more than 100 million dollars for the famine — with Phil Collins famously flying on a Concorde jet to play in both concerts. In hindsight, scholars have argued that the fanfare that developed around the Ethiopian famine, and particularly the Live Aid programs, resulted from the media’s portrayal of a humanitarian crisis solvable with merely shipments of food. Without long term engagement, however, the systemic problems leading to famines will recur. Throwing aid money at disas-
ter relief, while not in itself a bad thing, is rarely an effective way to solve problems in lesser-developed countries. On occasion, generosity has caused more harm than good. The massive Western response to the Ethiopian famine quickly overwhelmed the distributive resources of NGOs within the country, so donor organizations offered the Ethiopian government the excess funding even though it was embroiled in an all-consuming civil war. Both sides of the Ethiopian Civil War utilized starvation as a tool of war, and as in most modern-day famines, this was a primary determinant of the size and scale of the famine. Once the Ethiopian government was inundated with international aid, it diverted the supplies meant for the starving Ethiopian populace to its massive army, with food aid becoming its soldiers’ payment and an attraction for new conscripts. In this way, the Western aid response intensified and prolonged the war, extending the famine and indirectly contributing to the death of Ethiopian civilians. This egregious failure of international aid, while particularly dramatic, is not the only example of backfiring aid. When NGOs send used clothing or when companies send donations of their products
Writing checks for disaster relief without engaging communities is an ineffective substitute for sustainable development aid.
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overseas, the local markets are negatively impacted — driving out local textile and manufacturing industries and actually generating a dependence on the developed world. Some evangelical aid organizations, too, are regularly criticized for requiring conversion for receipt of aid. And in 2012, 1.17 billion dollars were spent in Malawi only to have 30 million dollars siphoned out of the nation’s treasury by corrupt officials. Since 1984, scholars and veteran practitioners in the international aid sector have commented on the flawed nature of the system through which developed countries provide humanitarian assistance. Mark Mosely, Senior Director of Cross International and an expert in the field of international aid, noted, “aid organizations often fail in their work because they work on immediate needs, but [aid organizations] need to transfer skills and capacity toward sustainable development. The only way to do aid correctly is to allow [communities] to participate in the direction of development projects, meeting the needs they help define. That’s how you provide good, solid, sustain-
WO RL D able development”. In pursuit of effective and sustainable development, a number of international organizations have developed best practices for international aid. These best practices generally recommend that aid organizations remain transparent to donors and minimize overheard costs to ensure that funding is spent on programs and not CEO salaries. Additionally, they recommend that aid organizations develop expertise so that aid consistently reaches and positively impacts those in need, rather than being lost due to lackluster program oversight, as in the Red Cross’s aid response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, or being misappropriated by kleptocrats, something the New York Times estimates happens to 20 to 40 percent of aid funding. Writing checks for disaster relief without engaging communities is an ineffective substitute for sustainable development aid. As NGOs find themselves facing an increasingly educated donor-base, they are steadily aligning their work with internationally recognized best practices in international aid. The up-and-coming state of Georgia — with its worldwide connections offered by the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the ports of Savannah and Brunswick, its burgeoning economy, and its growing educated workforce — has a number of organizations which are at the forefront of this movement, striving to ensure that international aid is provided in a manner which benefits those with the greatest need. MAP International, a Christian international aid organization headquartered in Brunswick, Georgia, works to increase access to essential medicines in locations where no market f o r
medications and medical supplies exists. By supporting community programs that increase access to basic healthcare services in resource poor countries, MAP and its partner organizations reach more than ten million people every year, regardless of their religion, gender, or race. Through medical aid provided to refugees of the Syrian Civil War, the treatment of neglected tropical diseases in Cote d’Ivoire, and medications provided to clinics in Guatemala, MAP is working with communities in more than 100 countries to provide sus-
to hospitals in Ghana, resuscitation equipment to hospitals in Gambia, and medical gloves to hospitals in Haiti, MedShare helps to fulfill critical needs in 100 countries. MAP International and MedShare are both highly regarded organizations, with each spending a mere fraction of their annual revenue on overhead costs. Over the past few years, more than 99 percent of MAP’s expenditures and almost 96 percent of MedShare’s were directed toward aid programs. Their impact, too, has been immense. MAP International treats more
After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal in 2015, MAP International, a Georgia-based aid organization, responded with Medical Mission Packs, Interagency Emergency Health Kits, and essential relief medicines. tainable solutions, impacting many of the world’s most poverty stricken people. MedShare, a secular international aid organization based in Decatur, Georgia, works to “strengthen health systems sustainably, to increase healthcare capacity of low-resource areas, and to improve the quality of life of people and our planet.” Organizations working in impoverished communities request needed medical supplies and equipment from MedShare, which then selects pieces from its inventory of repaired, surplus medical equipment, provides translated manuals, and ships the equipment to the requesting organization. Once the shipment is received, a biomedical engineer from MedShare travels to the requesting organization and trains its healthcare professionals on the use of the equipment and repairs any broken equipment. Providing biomedical equipment
than ten million people each year and has provided more than six billion dollars of medical supplies since its inception. MedShare has equipped more than 766,000 healthcare professionals and treated more than 19 million patients. With these organizations, donor money truly reaches those in need. Generosity, in and of itself, is never a bad thing. Sometimes, however, altruism can be rendered ineffective, or even harmful when the administration of aid fails. As international aid is increasingly directed toward more sustainable programs, the world may finally see development in the world’s poorest countries. In facilitating this work, however, donors are reminded to do their research. While providing aid is an inherently moral thing, some aid is ineffective — and a quick Google search can make sure that funding goes to organizations engaging communities with sustainable development aid. G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
Europe’s Response To Islam France vs. Germany: a question of integration or radicalization BY P OLO VA RG AS
ccording to the Pew Research Center, France and Germany have the largest Muslim populations of any country in the European Union. Germany has 4.8 million Muslim residents and citizens, while France has 4.7 million. These two western European countries, however, operate according to very different attitudes towards their Muslim communities. Recently, Germany seems to lend them a hand, while Muslims living in France have often felt unwelcome. Non-coincidentally, there have been 60 Islamic terrorist attacks in France between the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and September 15, 2017. By comparison, Germany has suffered almost half that number with 32 attacks within that same time span. What accounts for such as significant difference between the two nations? What is Germany doing differently than France for the Muslim community, and why
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does it seem to limit the number of Islamic attacks there? For starters, data suggests that the French discriminate against the Muslim community when it comes to economic opportunities. As of 2017, the national unemployment rate in France is 9.5 percent. The unemployment rate for residents living in one of France’s banlieues, impoverished neighborhoods in suburbs consisting of immigrant communities, is approximately 22 percent. Shedding light on the issue, a study conducted by Jean-François Amadieu, a researcher at the University of Paris, reveals a trend of employment discrimination against foreigners in France. In his study, a researcher responded to 258 job advertisements with identical resumes that differed only according to the name and address. The results strongly suggest preferences for non-immigrants: white male applicants from metro-
politan addresses received 75 invitations to interview, white males from cités (working-class neighborhoods) received 45 call-backs, and men who had North African names received only 13 invitations. As a result, many immigrants use a different name when applying to jobs, but the unemployment rate suggests discrimination may persist. In comparison, Germany’s relatively strong economy seems poised to give its people more opportunities to succeed financially, including people from the Muslim community. A study conducted by researchers Dirk Halm and Martina Sauer shows that Germany has done an excellent job at integrating Muslim immigrants into their labor market. A study conducted by Halm and Sauer shows that about 60 percent of the 4.7 million Muslims are fully employed. Stunningly, German Muslims have a lower unemployment rate than the national average.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized for her lenient position on immigration.
The opportunities Germany offers the Muslim community to integrate and prosper financially prevents recent immigrants from feeling isolated and without prospects. This effectively reduces the number of hopeless and desperate citizens that radical Islamic recruiting systems tend to attract. Moreover, anti-immigrant sentiment has grown among the French in the past few years. The past two presidents have passed laws widely viewed as islamophobic. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy passed a law prohibiting full-face veils in 2010. Members of the Muslim community in France argued that this law was specifically meant to target Muslims as many practicing women wear the niqab. Following the 2015 Paris attacks, President François Hollande passed a state of emergency, which allowed police to conduct warrantless searches in suspicious people’s homes. This garnered criticism as security forces largely only targeted homes of people affiliated with the Muslim faith. The most recent sign of surging islamophobia in France is the stunning rise of the far-right Front National party. During the 2016 French presidential race, Marine Le Pen managed to gain enough votes to enter the runoff against Emmanuel Macron. Le Pen ran her campaign with a rhetoric centered on nationalism and islamophobia. During a speech kicking off her campaign, she mentioned that “Islamic fundamentalism is attacking [the French people] at home”. Le
Pen also promised that “The places of Islamic preaching will be closed and the propagators of hate will be condemned and expelled,” while going on to describe that Islamist globalization “will bring France to its knees.” Although Le Pen ultimately did not win, a large portion of the country rallied behind her message. Her success and what it represents will likely polarize the French on the topic of the Islamic faith for a long time to come. Often considered outsiders in their own country and facing a lack of economic opportunity, non-first generation Muslim youth are often the most affected by France’s anti-Muslim hostility. This pressure makes them easy targets for radical jihadists as they offer French Muslim youths a place to seek inclusion. Many of these young people then travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for the jihadist movement, but 20 to 30 percent later return home. In a way, social hostility and prejudice make French citizens indirectly responsible for the majority of terroristic attacks in France’s border. In contrast to the French, Germany has attempted in good faith to support the Muslim community by accepting refugees from the war-stricken areas in the Middle East, predominantly inhabited by Muslims. This happened in 2015, when Angela Merkel passed an “open-door policy,” a policy intending to admit as many legitimate asylum seekers as possible. Compared to France, which has
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passed laws that ostracize Muslims, Germany has attempted to embrace the community, especially those in need of refuge. Still, some say no good deed goes unpunished. Germans have criticized Merkel for her lenient position on immigration, especially with over one million refugees immigrating to Germany since the beginning of the open-door policy. This has also led to anti-immigrant sentiments, as shown by the rise of the far-right party Aternative für Deutschland (AfD), which gained 12.6 percent of the vote in recent elections in September 2017. However, Germany can still be considered more “moderate” in terms of national islamophobia compared to France’s stricter laws and inhospitable attitude towards the Muslim community. How can France prevent losing its Muslim people to radical groups? It should take notes from Germany and do more for its people financially. Measures to reduce employer discrimination against immigrants could decrease the unemployment rate among the French Muslim community. France should also focus on providing aid to the many banlieues, whose people are at the highest risk of wanting change by straying to the more inclusive radical groups. Perhaps most importantly, the French must become more tolerant towards this minority group and start embracing them as their own – many of them are, in fact, French.
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A Story of Politics, Corruption, and Scandal Brazil, the world’s real-life telenovela BY J E S S PAS Q UA R E LLO
few years ago, Brazil was considered a rising economic powerhouse. With increasing exports of oil and soybeans, an extraordinarily popular president in Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and a growing middle class, the largest country in Latin America seemed to be making its entry onto the international stage as a great power. But the signs were too good to be true; as the writer Millôr Fernandes wrote, it seems that “Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be.” Since 2014, the nation has faced three major corruption scandals, each involving at least one of the country’s last three presidents. With complex webs of bribery, money laundering, prison sentences, and even an impeachment, the scandals swept through all aspects of Brazilian life, destroying the economy and fostering a generation of Brazilians utterly disillusioned with their government.
Throw in a few dashes of sexism and billions of dollars, and Brazil could be reasonably compared to the thing that the nation is best known for—a dramatic telenovela, always leaving its viewers aghast and wondering what will happen next. First, a recap. In 2014, Operation Lava Jato, or “Car Wash,” began as an investigation into corruption at the state-run oil company, Petrobras. Under this framework, Petrobras received billions of dollars in bribes from various construction firms throughout the country, such as Odebrecht. Much of the money from these bribes soon reached the hands of prominent politicians, including Lula. The BBC cites allegations that much of the money was utilized to “pay off politicians and buy their votes and help with political campaigns.” Lava Jato expanded into a sweeping anti-corruption investigation that has ensnared huge portions of
Brazil’s political class. Lula has been called the “mastermind” of this scandal and was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison. Fast-forward to the presidency of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, whose time in office was equally plagued by drama, reaching a climax in 2016 when she was impeached upon accusations of moving funds between different budgets. Rousseff claimed that this practice was common among her predecessors, but opponents argued that it was deliberately done to boost specific social programs and increase her likelihood of reelection. Nevertheless, Rousseff claims that the proceedings amounted to a coup d’etat against her. The Speaker of the House at the time, Eduardo Cunha, led the campaign to oust Rousseff. Cunha’s center-right party, the PMDB, was previously allied with Rousseff’s Workers’ Party during the 2014 election, but turned on Rousseff and spearheaded her impeachment to install one of its own as President. After the impeachment was “successful,” PMDB member Michel Temer became President of Brazil. Regardless of the reasoning, there was little resistance to Rousseff’s impeachment, because despite the lack of evidence against her in Lava Jato, many Brazilians believed that she was corrupt due to her previous position as chair of Petrobras. Nevertheless, too often in Brazil, a change in power does not signify a change in political
From left to right: Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva, Dilma Rousseff, Michel Temer, & Jair Bolsonaro
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culture. Corruption is so ingrained in the politics of Brazil that even post-impeachment President Temer is dogged by scandals. The most notable involved JBS, the nation’s biggest meatpacking firm, and an audio recording that the company released in which Termer discussed paying off Cunha to supposedly stay quiet regarding his role in the Petrobras issue and in Rousseff’s impeachment. Although there have been protests calling for Temer’s impeachment and his approval ratings have remained in the single digits for months, the 77-year-old remains in office. Feminists throughout the country are calling for an investigation. Why has he not been impeached like Rouseff? Was Rousseff seen as weak by her male colleagues and thereby forced out of office? While no one can answer this question with certainty, one can say that Brazilian politics are intrinsically a male-dominated field. Only 48% of the Brazilian population identifies as male and 48% as white, while 100% of Temer’s cabinet consists of
white males. It is therefore reasonable to question the growing role of anti-feminist sentiment as a whole in Brazil, and the implications of this for future political outcomes. Yet, feminists are far from the only Brazilians questioning their government. After the recent corruption scandals, only a minority of citizens still believe in democracy, and many Brazilians who are desperate for a change have turned to the inflammatory former military officer Jair Bolsonaro as their potential savior. Bolsonaro, who is running for President in 2018, has been compared to Donald Trump on numerous occasions, often employing racism, sexism and xenophobia in his campaign. He openly praises Brazil’s former military dictatorship and supports presidential use of the military against the other branches of government. He has made several provocative statements about the LGBTQ+ community, arguing that “homosexual groups are trying to take over society” and that gay couples’ right to adopt is comparable to pedophilia. He
twice told a fellow lawmaker that he “would not rape her because [she was] not worth it.” Despite (or perhaps partially due to) this controversial rhetoric, Bolsonaro remains a strong candidate for President as he is one of only a handful of politicians not found complicit in the Lavo Jato scandal. Interestingly, Lula also remains a potential candidate even though he has been sentenced to a decade in prison and lies on the opposite end of the “corruption involvement” spectrum. In summary, with Brazilian unemployment at its worst in 20 years, many citizens are wondering how their country became so entangled in this web of drama. No one knows what direction the country will go next, nor if the corruption can ever be contained. But one thing is certain: if Brazil is a telenovela, everyone will be tuning into the next episodes.
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AI in Policing Utilizing artificial intelligence as a tool for criminal justice reform BY S I M R AN MODI
hief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was recently asked, “Can you foresee a day when smart machines, driven with artificial intelligences, will assist with courtroom fact-finding or, more controversially, even judicial decision-making?” According to Roberts, that day is already here. Although shocking, perhaps his answer should not be all that surprising. We see artificial intelligence used in everything from automatic email categorization to optimizing your morning commute. Artificial intelligence is beginning to take root in the criminal justice system as well, from tools that provide bail and sentencing decisions to those that help the police determine if a suspect is dangerous. In the wake of a fractured criminal justice system with hundreds of overturned convictions and a lack of resources, artificial intelligence could be the answer. Predictive policing has been used for decades to allocate scarce resources, and now it is being combined with algorithms to make the process more accurate. Risk assessment tools are used to deploy resources to high risk, crime-ridden areas. Larry Schwartztol, the Executive Director of Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy program, stated, “Risk assessment tools are used all over the place and will likely continue to grow in popularity and complexity given their widespread applicability. These tools have the potential to speed up processes and potentially decrease bias.” This type of change is already occurring in Chicago. In 2014, Chicago’s notoriously high crime rate led the city to launch the Custom Notification Program. This program utilized big data, which are large data sets that can be analyzed computationally to reveal trends and patterns, particularly in relation to human behavior and interactions. It was used to identify those who were likely to commit violent crimes or be the victim of one. Interventions were staged and social services were offered to the people identified. So far, the program has a 100 percent success rate, meaning that
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each of the individuals identified has avoided committing a crime or being victimized. The artificial intelligence tool used in this case analyzed prior arrests, known criminal associates, and future sentencing impacts to create a “heat list” of those in imminent danger. Then, the Chicago Police Department used this information to prevent and decrease criminal activity in highly susceptible neighborhoods. Artificial intelligence is also aiding police officers in the field. Companies on the front lines of technology development are creating body camera software that can analyze suspect behavior in seconds. These body cameras can be used to collect information about whether a suspect poses a threat, is highly dangerous, or has already committed a crime. This type of information can help prevent officers from overreacting due to unconscious bias, which is the kind of bias which has led to highly-publicized shootings of unarmed subjects in the past. This technology is already being implemented. When the Oakland Police Department noticed a 72 percent decrease in use-of-force incidents and a 54 percent drop in citizen complaints with the use of normal body cameras, it decided to work with Stanford University to conduct a similar analysis of their video data to reduce the possibility of passive bias by police officers. These tools can also determine which officers to send to de-escalate a tense situation. In addition, they help identify police officers that are having psychological problems after a tough case. However, critics of artificial intelligence technology in criminal justice point out that we often
do not know what algorithms are used to make life-changing decisions. In the case of Wisconsin v. Loomis, Eric Loomis was given a longer sentence because a risk assessment tool gave him a “high risk” score. He challenged this, and the state supreme court ruled that he was not privy to the inner workings of the algorithm. Even though artificial intelligence can provide important information, we must be critical of its results and implement them thoughtfully. Predictive intelligence tools have made their way into the courtroom as well. These models can predict a defendant’s recidivism rate or the likelihood that the defendant will skip out on bail. The outputs are used to advise courts on things like bail, sentences, and whether parole should be granted. While humans use intuition and experience to determine their judgments, AI tools can use empirical reasoning to provide an unbiased answer. A study conducted by Cornell researchers in conjunction with the National Bureau of Economic Research indicated that the predictions generated by artificial intelligence tools could decrease crime by almost 25 percent with no increase in incarceration, or reduce the number of inmates in jail by 42 percent with no increase in crime. Perhaps this is the solution that the justice system needs to reduce inequalities and become more efficient. As we embrace artificial intelligence and apply it to criminal justice reform, it is important to create a socially-responsible system of change. After all, the goal is to create a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system, not just a more automated one.
While humans use intuition and experience to determine their judgments, AI tools can use empirical reasoning to provide an unbiased answer.
Atlanta United Connects Soccer with the South
How a global sport found a home in the South BY PAUL OSHI NSKI
n July 21st, Major League Soccer (MLS) team Orlando City FC seemingly stopped Atlanta United with a 0-0 draw, and Orlando fans began contently heading towards stadium exits. Then, something magical happened: four minutes before the final whistle, Atlanta United striker Héctor Villalba dashed down the left flank, split the defense and fired a rising shot that scorched over Orlando Goalkeeper Joe Bendik and thunderbolted into the back netting. The crowd erupted as Atlanta United secured yet another thrilling victory in their inaugural MLS season. Results like this have become the standard for Atlanta United, which is unbeaten at home for 13 straight games. Atlanta United Manager Gerardo Martino–a former manager for FC Barcelona–has guided Atlanta into third place in their division and already clinched a playoff spot for the new team. Atlanta United striker and Venezuelan national Josef Martínez, one of the top scorers in the MLS, has led an energetic offensive with South American attackers Villalba and Miguel Almirón netting fiery goals in nearly every game. The gripping success of Atlanta United has grabbed the city’s attention: at the Orlando City game in September, Atlanta fans set a MLS single-game attendance record in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, even dwarfing crowds at popular English Premier League matchups and registering as the fourth-largest soccer crowd in the world that day. The upper deck seats in Mercedes-Benz were initially closed off for a more intimate fan experience; now these seats are selling out as Atlanta United fans fill the stadium with bigger crowds than the Atlanta Falcons receive. As Atlanta United dominates the MLS in attendance and fan enthusiasm, everyone seems to be asking the same question: how did MLS soccer become an instant hit in the South? Atlanta United franchise leaders’ commitment to augmenting the fan experience has amplified the team’s appeal in the city. From serving some of the cheapest concessions in professional sports to offering discounted tickets for college students, Atlanta United regularly displays appreciation for their supporters. Atlanta United President Darren Eales describes instances of the franchise putting fans over capital, noting that “We built a supporters stand above the two
Atlanta United players celebrate after a goal against a regional rival. corporate boxes. We bought out those boxes because it’s more important to have the facilities for our fans.” Additionally, founding member and season ticket holder John Robertson attributes the success of the team in Atlanta to the years of advance planning by Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank and Eales that consolidated a core fan base that rallies support for the team across the city. Passionate fans and rich tradition have also propelled Atlanta United’s appeal to new heights in the city. Atlanta United fan groups such as Terminus Legion pioneer traditions unique to Atlanta, such as pounding a golden spike into the field before each game–a reference to Atlanta’s birthplace as a railroad terminus. “Why be like everybody else” says Curtis Jenkins, who helped design fan traditions for Atlanta United. “We have a chance here as a new club where we have no history. We can do whatever we want.” Fan chants at home games draw melodies anywhere from R.E.M.’s single “Losing My Religion” to Outkast’s hit song “Hootie Hoo”—incorporating Peach State culture and uniting Georgians from Athens to Albany behind Atlanta United. Atlanta United’s connection to Atlanta’s music culture has nurtured an enthusiastic fan base that is proud of their city. Hip-hop artists such as Mike Will have organized concerts for Atlanta United fans, local rappers
such as Big Boi attend home games, and Atlanta United fan groups such as Footie Mob are named to commemorate famous Atlanta rap groups. Jenkins, president of Footie Mob, corroborates this bilateral relationship between soccer and hip-hop, noting that “If you are a student of hip-hop, you know that people get together over a beat and rap as long as they possibly can, passing the verse off one person to the next. That’s the same thing you see on the field. Soccer moves are an inch away from breakdancing. Tifo is graffiti.” Hip-hop, one of the defining cultural features of Atlanta, is interwoven into the city’s new soccer team and adds yet another dimension of appeal to Atlanta United. They said Atlanta wasn’t a soccer city. Citing America’s disinterest in soccer–especially in the South–and Atlanta’s apathy for other sports in the city such as former hockey team the Atlanta Thrashers, few predicted the immense outpouring of support for Atlanta United FC. The synergy of an electrifying soccer team, a franchise devoted to its supporters, and fans conjoining the team to Atlanta’s rich culture and history has packed Mercedes-Benz with more fans than Eales and Blank ever expected. As the team competes in the playoffs in their inaugural MLS season, the message that Atlanta United carries is clear: The South got something to say. G EO R G I A P O LI TICA L REVIEW
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Tech Wars: The New “Too Big To Fail” As the tech sector grows, problems follow
BY S E A M U S M UR ROCK
Travis Kalanick is forced to step down as CEO of Uber Apple is ordered by the EU to pay over $14.5 billion in taxes owed to Ireland
Amazon finalizes acquisition of Whole Foods Equifax announces breach of consumer credit data Yahoo! CEO announces a hack of > 500 million users’ data
Facebook is forced to turn over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads
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Former Uber engineer writes blog post outlining years of sexual harassment at the company
2017 the scandal-ridden financial sector that has granted tech companies positive media reception for much of this century, the tide of public opinion has begun to turn following a series of unsavory events in Silicon Valley this year involving some of the industry’s biggest names. The trouble began early in the year for Uber, Silicon Valley’s hottest ride-sharing app, led at the time by former CEO Travis Kalanick. Following the implementation of President Donald Trump’s travel ban in January, thousands of protesters descended upon John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The only problem? Taxi drivers, who would ordinarily play a large role in getting protesters to the airport, were protesting the controversial legislation themselves. The subsequent rush to use Uber led to exorbitant surge pricing in the area, which then led to the rise of the hashtag #DeleteUber as activists, further incensed by Kalanick’s lukewarm condemnation of the travel ban, began to perceive Uber as a corporation running bereft of its social responsibilities. As a result of the hashtag gaining traction on Twitter, over 200,000 users deleted the Uber app from their phones. About a month later, the New York Times published a scathing insider article detailing disturbing accounts of sexual harassment and professional misconduct at Uber’s offices in San Francisco. Months of sharp criticism ensued, with Kalanick at the middle of seemingly every controversy, including a dashboard camera video of him verbally berating one of his Uber drivers. Ultimately, Kalanick was forced to step down as CEO at the end of June. The company’s new chief, Dara Khosrowshahi, was poached from Expedia in late August of 2017. He faces the monumental task of rebuilding Uber’s
hen the collapse of the US housing market in 2008 triggered the onset of a global financial crisis, lawmakers and activists set out on a mission to determine who could be held responsible. The Wall Street banks, longtime foils for the dubious ideals of American opportunity, had blood on their hands after orchestrating a speculative bubble in the mortgage-backed securities market. These securities tied together the success of the formerly independent commercial and investment banking arms of firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in a way that twisted our economic incentive system into outright convulsion, and ended with the demise of long-time Wall Street staples like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. While some smaller banks were allowed to collapse, the Federal Reserve was forced to step in and bail out the institutions that then-Chairman Ben Bernanke famously labeled “too big to fail.” Ten years removed from the Great Recession, many Americans again face the threat of outsize corporate influence wreaking havoc on our social and economic structures. This time, however, the threat comes not from the hallowed halls of Wall Street’s most prodigious investment banks, but from the sleek, modern technology firms populating California’s Silicon Valley. From Uber to Equifax, Amazon to Apple, and Facebook to Tesla, the technology sector of the American economy has been growing rapidly since the beginning of the dot-com boom in the late 1990’s. While the Silicon Valley power structure’s top position shifts from firm to firm over time, these companies’ collective abilities to attract top talent, investor capital, and legislative clout has been growing throughout the 21st century. Despite a favorable juxtaposition with
CULT URE public image while also staving off increasingly robust domestic competitors such as Lyft and international firms like China’s Didi Chuxing. Another tech company that has come under fire in 2017 is the ubiquitous social media brand Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who many have speculated has political aspirations of his own, has been pulling the company he started from his Harvard dorm room through a series of PR disasters that began during last year’s remarkably tense presidential election. While the jury is still out regarding Facebook’s actual role in the spread of misinformation, or “fake news,” throughout the election cycle, details have emerged throughout the summer and fall that cast light on the company’s negligence. A company disclosure in early September revealed that the Russian government purchased Facebook advertisements worth over $100,000 during the 2016 presidential election, presumably with the intention of aiding President Trump’s rise to power and riling up his voter base online. Additionally, virtually anonymous users that came to be known as Russian “bots” posed as credible sources on the social media platform during the election and helped to spread the misinformation presented via the Russian-bought ads. Zuckerberg has taken alternately strong- and weak-handed stances against claims that Facebook implicitly aided the campaign of President Trump by refusing to address these problems earlier on in the election cycle. Despite having no major scandals so far this year, the tech giant Amazon is perhaps modern tech’s best imitator of ‘too big to fail.’ The online retailing firm, led by CEO Jeff Bezos, has been quietly expanding several of its business platforms in 2017, from software
platform Amazon Web Services to inhome assistant Alexa. In late August, the company sent shockwaves through the economy by announcing its acquisition of the high-end grocery store chain Whole Foods. Amazon, which had been developing its Prime delivery services to eventually include groceries and other ‘soft’ goods, believed it had found the perfect addition to its growing armada of consumer services. The company promptly lowered Whole Foods prices by as much as 43 percent the very next day after the deal was announced. While largely viewed as a win for the American consumer, the massive deal ignited a fresh round of antitrust complaints from many in the policy and law communities. After decimating the retail sector by offering cheaper goods online for much of the past decade, Amazon has been slowly gathering market share in its secondary pursuits as well, such as the software industry with Amazon Web Services and the entertainment space with Amazon Prime Video. Many have speculated that Bezos, who now also owns the legacy newspaper The Washington Post, plans to immorally grow the company into an economic giant while skirting federal antitrust laws by keeping its prices artificially low. The primary criterion for the U.S. Department of Justice in deciding antitrust cases is the pricing impact on consumers, and as anyone who has shopped on Amazon knows, the firm does an exceptional job of keeping
its prices low. Still, many policymakers fear the implications, whether economic, social, or political, of letting Amazon, or any company, grow rapidly unchecked into many diverse sectors. The dominance of Amazon in many sectors of the economy can prevent traditional retailers or newer firms from entering or competing in the marketplace, leading to increased unemployment and undue social clout for the firm. As the influence of these technology companies grows seemingly exponentially, the necessity of their being a force for social and economic good should become increasingly clear to both policymakers and citizens alike. When America’s largest banks failed in 2008, millions watched the fate of their retirement accounts dangle in the hands of a powerful few in Washington. It’s important, then, that lawmakers step in now to prepare for the possible moments of reckoning these firms face as more and more rely on them each day. From the Equifax scandal in which millions of users had their credit data reached by hackers, to Facebook’s role in the spread of misinformation in last year’s election, the need for regulation has never been clearer. The response to this shift in the American financial hierarchy, which has empowered startups with access into every aspect of our lives, will carry far-ranging implications for the way Americans live, work, and interact into the next century.
Ten years removed from the Great Recession, many Americans again face the threat of outsize corporate influence wreaking havoc on our social and economic structures.
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Hollywood in Atlanta Defining Georgia’s growing film industry BY NATALI E SPI ER
he film industry has long been synonymous with the mammoth production studios of Los Angeles and the glittering skyline of New York City. Though California and New York still hold the place in the American psyche as the home of film production, the landscape of both film and television production is shifting–and it seems that Georgia is coming out on top. Over the past seven years, Georgia has been home to the production of an ever increasing amount of major motion pictures including big names like “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Hunger Games.” In 2016, Georgia hosted more feature film production than any other location, surpassing California and competitive international markets such as the UK and Canada. With the burst in film production, many television series like Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” have flocked to the peach state to film as well. This recent surge in film and television production, however, is no coincidence. Many production companies have set their sights on Georgia as an ideal location because of a lucrative tax incentive put in place by the state government in 2005. The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, which was revised in 2008, provides a 30 percent tax credit to production companies on money spent directly related to production, which the companies can then sell for around 90 cents on the dollar to Georgia businesses. This means that for every million dollars spent, production companies will receive around $270,000 back, or closer to $300,000 if the company is based in Georgia. Though other states have similar programs, Georgia’s program is different because there is no limit on the money spent and because more expenses count toward the rebate. The tax incentive may account in large part for the state’s film boom, but
there are a host of other reasons that make Georgia such a viable location. One major factor drawing film to Georgia is the wide variety of locations and environments within the state. With cityscapes in Atlanta, rural farmland in Putnam, and historic charm in Savannah, the state of Georgia can accommodate a huge number of scripts. On top of this, Georgia’s temperate climate is ideal for filming year-round. The state also has a growing workforce and infrastructure dedicated to film production. Over 20,000 Georgians work directly in the film industry, and there are already 45 fully equipped sound stages in Georgia with plans to build more in the
going against some legislators in his own party. He argues that though the costs may be high, the film industry has a massive positive impact on the state’s economy. During the 2017 fiscal year, the film industry spent close to $2.7 billion in Georgia, generating an estimated fiscal impact of $9.5 billion dollars in the state. The growth in film has also lead to around 79,000 new jobs and over $4 billion in wages. The industry has proven to be a major driver of increased employment in fields involved directly and indirectly in film production. The gains from the film industry are not purely economic. Film and television production have proven to be important sources of cultural growth in cities like Los Angeles, and Georgia could stand to benefit in similar ways. Georgia currently is home to 20 yearly film festivals including the Atlanta Film Festival and the Savannah Film and Video Festival, and attendance is continually increasing. As a whole, the film and television industry is experiencing a Renaissance of creativity. If film and television production in the state continues to grow, Georgia will play a vital role in bringing these artistic endeavors to life. Atlanta has already proven itself to be a center for culture and art. Critically acclaimed movies and shows like “Baby Driver” and Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” not only use Atlanta as a backdrop, but actively integrate the city’s creative and cultural pulse into their respective narratives. This kind of creative development need not be limited to just Atlanta. With the wide variety of shooting locations in Georgia, the state has the potential to spread the cultural benefits far past Atlanta’s city limits and into areas not known for a rich cultural and artistic scene. The economic impacts only tell half the story of these tax credits; it is the potential cultural changes within the state that will truly define the success of Georgia’s film industry.
Many production companies have set their sights on Georgia as an ideal location because of a lucrative tax incentive put in place by the state government in 2005.
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works. This means that production teams can hit the ground running when they arrive in Georgia since a great deal of the resources needed are already there. The low cost of living in Georgia–especially when compared to California and New York–and the convenience of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport make filming in the state a no-brainer. With all the success of Georgia’s film industry, it’s main driver, the tax incentive, is not without its critics. In the seven years since the plan’s inception, the tax credit has been met by considerable opposition from the state’s more conservative members who see the $376 million price tag of the incentive as too high. Republican Governor Nathan Deal has come out as a champion of the tax credits,
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Vol. XIII of The Informed Student's Guide To: The Present and Future of Politics in Rural Georgia Successes and Failures in Foreign Aid Atla...
Published on Nov 13, 2017
Vol. XIII of The Informed Student's Guide To: The Present and Future of Politics in Rural Georgia Successes and Failures in Foreign Aid Atla...