Basis Points – January 14, 2020

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Above the Fold

Tragedy Alters Middle East Sentiment

Media outlets last week showed masses of Iranians shouting “death to America” in Tehran as General Soleimani was laid to rest. But the anger has turned inward as the Iranian government finally claimed responsibility for “unintentionally” shooting down a civilian aircraft with 176 souls aboard, many of whom were Iranian. The latest protests have grown larger and more intense as citizens now call for the country’s leaders to step down. Cries of “death to the dictator” were used as anger was redirected at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In a country known for repression, the uprising was even more symbolic as Iranians around the world got behind the protests in growing solidarity. 

Ukraine’s foreign minister has also asked leaders from the five nations whose citizens died in the airliner, to meet in London on Thursday to discuss possible legal action, while President Trump has already imposed even deeper sanctions after Iran attacked U.S. targets in Iraq.

Soleimani’s killing initially emboldened Iran’s leaders and even drew sympathy from some, but the government’s actions have since turned the tables and set the stage for what could be a dramatic, hopefully positive change in the region. 

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones of those killed aboard Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752. 


Three Things

  1. Google Wants Your Medical Records – In an effort to gather, analyze and utilize more of your personal data, Google has built partnerships with some of America’s largest health care providers. The company is developing a medical search tool for professionals it says would improve health outcomes, but some, like health-data company Cerner, question how the data would be used.  
  2. What Will It Take to Move You? – With the unemployment rate hovering at a 50-year low, manufacturers like Raytheon, Caterpillar and many others are desperate for workers as a near record number of jobs go unfilled in that sector. And despite some of the best relocation incentives ever offered, Americans are moving at the lowest rate in more than 70 years. For those willing, a location change might be extremely lucrative. 
  3. Booker Bails Out of the Race – Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey decided to drop his presidential bid as his message of political healing and unity has failed to resonate with voters. The field of major Democratic presidential candidates is now 12, down from more than 25 less than a year ago.  

Did You Know?

We Should All Be Independently Wealthy

Nearly 54 years ago, Time Magazine published an essay predicting that by the year 2000, everyone in America would be independently wealthy as our “machines” would do all our work for us, while we reaped the rewards. The article went on to explain that just 10% of the population would have jobs, as there simply wouldn’t be enough to go around. The good news is that even those on government assistance were expected to earn $35,000 (in 1966 dollars) or about $277,000 today.

A few forecasts that were eerily correct were that groceries and goods of all kinds would be purchased right on your “video phone,” and that “the contents of libraries and other forms of information or education [would] be stored in a computer… instantly obtainable by dialing a code” — or by simply unlocking your smartphone via complex facial recognition software.

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