WELCOME BACK TO ETHICAL DILEMMAS
Welcome back to a new edition of The Weekender… where the Supreme Court catches a case of ethical dilemmas, and Facebook hopes to win over younger generations. From politics and prose to ethical woes, The Weekender will tell you how everything goes.
Who Watches the Watchmen?
Typically, the hot seats in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) are reserved for the prosecutors and defendants, but recently, the Justices themselves are feeling the heat. Revelations indicating that Justice Thomas failed to disclose significant gifts and private trips have ignited a debate over SCOTUS’s ethics guidelines. While current ethics rules for SCOTUS justices are porous and difficult to enforce, the act of reforming them is even more difficult. The main defense used to counteract the alleged inappropriate action is too politically heavy to wield: impeachment by the House and a two-thirds vote in the Senate. As expected, Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on the proposals to modernize SCOTUS ethics, nor is there a clear determination if Congress has the Constitutional power to do so. According to our nation’s founding documents, all three branches of government are equal, so having one enact policy against the other is rare. Similarly, it is unlikely that the court will enact regulations upon itself. The questions regarding the aftermath of Justice Thomas’ actions and potential legislative oversight still linger, but without bipartisan action or a Constitutional framework to engage, we may not have the answers we are looking for. Read more at The New York Times.
Facebook (Born: 2004, Died: 202?)
When was the last time you logged onto Facebook? Be careful how you answer… it might show your age. For Millennials and younger, Facebook feels like their parent’s social media, and instead opt for Instagram (which Facebook’s parent, Meta, owns) or TikTok. Despite their criticism of it being “cheugy,” more than a third of the world’s population log onto Facebook every month, and two billion people log in every day. Yet after two decades, the platform fights an uphill battle to remain relevant as its user base ages. All empires that rise must inevitably fall (see also: MySpace, Yik Yak, Vine), but don’t move too fast. Facebook’s 20-year reign is nothing to ignore. Meta has a deep understanding of the landscape, recognizing that social technology popularity is largely groupthink trend-chasing; it is democratic, and the votes that matter most are those of the younger generation. Despite youth seeking alternatives, Facebook is still enjoying their moment in the sun. Meta reported nearly $32.2 billion in revenue in the last quarter of 2022, ahead of what analysts anticipated. The company also sees 2023 as its “Year of Efficiency” and expects up to $28.5 billion, which would represent an increase from the year-ago quarter to break Meta’s streak of consecutive quarterly losses. As TikTok steals consumers and advertisers, Meta will not willingly give up the social network throne and crown. Read more at The Associated Press.
Lawmakers or Lawbreakers?
U.S. Representative George Santos of New York has been indicted by a federal prosecutor on 13 federal charges, all of which he pleaded not guilty. According to the indictment, Representative Santos faces seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. Rep. Santos released that he will not resign from his seat following his arraignment, but his support in the Republican party wanes. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said he will not support Santos’ reelection campaign; and if the Ethics Committee found he broke the law while running for office, Speaker McCarthy will call for his resignation. But Rep. Santos isn’t the lone lawmaker lawbreaker. The Washington Post reports 29 legislators have been indicted since 1980. In total, 85 American federal legislators have been convicted of crimes related to their position. The most recent? In 2022, Nebraska Republican Representative Jeff Fortenberry was found guilty on one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts, and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Read more at The New York Times.
Inflation Still Inflated, but Moderately
The transition from temporary to chronic pain does not reduce suffering; it only teaches more successful coping mechanisms. Could the same apply to Americans dealing with high, high, and higher prices? Last fall, inflation was the top political issue for 25% of Americans, but today, that number has dropped to 9%. People are still paying more for the same goods, but they’re used to it. According to economists, this is likely bad news; the acceptance increases the likelihood that prices will stay high. Although inflation rose 4.9% through April 2023, consumers feel slightly safer since gas prices have dropped by 12%. The original domino that led to inflation is no secret: COVID-19’s economic afterburn and the war in Ukraine led to supply chain disruptions, while federal stimulus packages and near-zero interest rates ignited demand across the economy. Today, supply chains have largely resumed normal behavior, and the markets have mostly overcome the impact of Russian aggression against Ukraine, but inflation persists. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.
New Hampshire Brings New Hope to 2024 GOP Candidates
If 2024 feels far away, you are either not running for president or live outside New Hampshire. On May 10, four GOP presidential candidates occupied the nation’s fifth-smallest state to secure early support for next year’s election. Former President Donald Trump participated in a CNN Town Hall that was preempted by an attack ad from former Representative Liz Cheney, a widely considered 2024 contender. Former House Intel Chairman and FBI Agent Mike Rogers engaged with NH Americans for Prosperity just days after his featured “Conversation with the Candidate” town hall. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson held a meet-and-greet with NH Republican women. And Michigan businessman Perry Johnson gave a policy speech at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics. This flurry of political engagements continues as the DNC attempts to reshuffle their state primary order – replacing Iowa with South Carolina as first-in-the-nation, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada. New Hampshire Democrats say the change will put them in a “no-win position.” Why? Their state Constitution requires them to go first. Read more at Politico.
Turkish Election May Gobble Up Erdogan
Kılıçdaroğlu, the 74-year-old leader of the Republican People’s Party, is leading the polls with 49.3% favorability, leaving President Erdogan with 43.7%. These polls were conducted prior to the withdrawal of Muharrem Ince, one of the four candidates, whose supporters are expected to largely flock to Kılıçdaroğlu’s team. President Erdogan’s campaign has been disrupted by a complicated cost-of-living crisis in Turkey, and a devastating earthquake that killed 50,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Kılıçdaroğlu’s rhetoric has focused largely on optimism and hope for the Turkish people, calling for an end to “authoritarian rule” while repairing the Turkish economy. His focus on reestablishing the bureaucratic institutions in Turkey’s government and move away from Erdogan’s preferred one-man governance style has been a selling point, in addition to his success in creating alliances across political divides. Kılıçdaroğlu would likely preserve the country’s ties to Russia as a necessary trading partner, but says he’d work to make relations with the U.S. more “balanced.” The future of Turkey’s government hangs in the balance this upcoming Sunday. Read more in Reuters.
- 23 Million: The number of flowers 1-800-Flowers delivers each Mother’s Day. More than 5,000 local florists and delivery services help the company fulfill its orders.
- 1/4: The percentage point the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank raised interest rates.
- 1.5%: The rise in iPhone shipments over the last quarter despite analysts expecting a fall, demonstrating Apple’s dominance as the global smartphone market slumps.
- 13: The percentage of 8th graders that tested proficient in U.S. history per a recent assessment called “America’s Report Card.” These history scores are the lowest recorded since the assessment began in 1994.
- 70 Feet: The expected deepening of the Colorado River by the fall. This offers some relief after a historic drought in the Southwest.
- 78: The amount of times Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling since 1960.
- 9.65 Billion: Shell’s quarterly profits.
- $31.4 Trillion: The United States’ standing debt limit as set by Congress in 2021.