Although this site has been created primarily for my students, everyone is welcome. In these pages you'll find many sources of information.
The Online Resources section below has numerous links that are of current interest. For more links to material on just about any topic you're looking for, use the E-Links button above. Linked off of that page are pages containing hundreds of links to sites covering a number of topics.
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Quote of the Month
At the level of taxes we’ve been at the last couple decades and the magnitude of the changes we’ve had, it’s hard to make the argument that tax rates have a big effect on economic growth. Bill Clinton and the elder George Bush both raised taxes in the early 1990s, and conservatives predicted disaster. Instead, the economy boomed, and incomes grew at their fastest pace since the 1960s. Then came the younger Mr. Bush, the tax cuts, the disappointing expansion and the worst downturn since the Depression.
News of the Month
Business lobbyists and conservative think tanks are not big fans of President Biden’s proposed tax increases on the wealthy. The Tax Foundation has said that Biden wants to raise the capital gains tax to “highs not seen since the 1920s.” Suzanne Clark of the US Chamber of Commerce called the same plan “outrageous.” Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers called the proposed increase in the corporate tax rate “archaic.” And Brendan Bechtel, the chief executive of the construction company that bears his family name, said that “it doesn’t feel fair.”
All of this rhetoric has obscured a basic fact about Biden’s tax plan: It would not actually raise tax rates on the rich to high levels, historically speaking.
If all of Biden’s proposed tax increases passed — on the corporate tax, as well as on investment taxes and income taxes for top earners — the total federal tax rate on the wealthy would remain significantly lower than it was in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It would also remain somewhat lower than during the mid-1990s, based on an analysis by Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley.
The chart below shows the total federal rate for both the top 0.01% of earners (who currently make about $28 million a year on average) and the top 1% of earners (who make $1.4 million on average). The data is a reminder of just how far taxes on the wealthy have fallen over the past 70 years. In the decades just after World War II, many corporations paid about half of their profits in federal taxes. (Shareholders, who are disproportionately affluent, effectively pay those taxes). Today, corporate taxes are only about one-fourth as large, as a share of GDP, as they were in the 1950s and ’60s.
The declines are not all ancient history, either. For most of the past quarter-century, taxes on the affluent have continued falling, including the rates on corporate profits, personal income, stock dividends, stock holdings and inheritances. Barack Obama reversed some of the declines, but only some. “The net effect over the past 25 years of federal income tax policy has been to reduce the overall revenue collected from top earners,” says Owen Zidar, a Princeton University economist.
Whether you like Biden’s plan or dislike it, it is not radical. For that reason, it is highly unlikely to have the harmful effects on economic growth that its critics are claiming. Remember: In the 1990s, the last time tax rates were as high as the ones Biden has proposed, the economy boomed. It also grew rapidly after World War II, when tax rates were higher yet.
History suggests that tax rates on the wealthy are not the main determinant of economic growth (and, if anything, higher taxes on the rich can sometimes lift growth). The main effect of Biden’s tax plan probably won’t be on the level of GDP. It will instead be on the relative tax burden that wealthy people pay. When they criticize the plan as unfair, archaic and outrageous, they are really saying that they enjoy paying low tax rates.
Then and Now
May is Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month.
05/01/1898 - Commodore George Dewey gave the command, "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley," as an American naval force destroyed a Spanish fleet in Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War.
05/01/1931 - New York City dedicated the 102-story Empire State building.
05/01/1948 - The People's Democratic Republic of Korea was proclaimed.
05/01/1960 - The Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 reconnaissance plane near Sverdlovsk and captured its pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
05/01/1971 - Amtrak went into service.
05/01/2021 - May Day
05/01/2021 - Law Day
05/01/2021 - Loyalty Day (signed into law by George Bush in 2002)
05/01/2021 - Beltane (Northern Hemisphere) and Samhain (Southern Hemisphere) - Wicca, Celtic
05/02/1519 - Leonardo Da Vinci died in France.
05/02/1670 - England's King Charles II chartered the Hudson Bay Company.
05/02/1863 - Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s men accidentally wounded him at Chancellorsville VA. He died eight days later.
05/02/1936 - Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev, had its world premier in Moscow.
05/02/2011 - US Special Forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad Pakistan.
05/02/2021 - Brothers and Sisters Day
05/03/1802 - Washington DC was incorporated as a city.
05/03/1921 - West Virginia imposed the first state sales tax. Wouldn't you love that distinction?
05/03/1979 - Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first female Prime Minister.
05/03/2003 - President George W. Bush told reporters it was a matter of when - not if - weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq.
05/04/1626 - Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on present-day Manhattan Island.
05/04/1904 - The US began building the Panama Canal.
05/04/1961 - A group of Freedom Riders left Washington for New Orleans to challenge racial segregation in interstate buses and bus terminals.
05/04/1970 - Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four students and wounding nine others.
05/05/1816 - O Solitude, John Keats' first published poem, appeared in The Examiner.
05/05/1862 - Mexican forces loyal to Benito Juarez defeated French troops sent by Napoleon III in the Battle of Puebla.
05/05/1925 - Tennessee authorities arrested John Scopes for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.
05/05/2021 - Cinco de Mayo
05/06/1935 - The Works Progress Administration began operation.
05/06/1962 - In the first test of its kind, the submerged submarine USS Ethan Allen fired a Polaris missile armed with a nuclear warhead that detonated above the Pacific Ocean.
05/06/2001 - Pope John Paul II, during his visit to Syria, became the first pope to enter a mosque as he called for brotherhood between Christians and Muslims.
05/06/2021 - National Day of Prayer
05/07/1847 - The American Medical Association was founded in Philadelphia.
05/07/1939 - Germany and Italy announced a military and political alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.
05/07/1945 - Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Allied headquarters in Rheims, France.
05/08/1541 - Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto reached the Mississippi River.
05/08/1886 - Atlanta pharmacist John Styth Pemberton invented the flavor syrup for Coca-Cola.
05/08/1945 - President Truman announced in a radio address that WWII had ended in Europe.
05/08/1973 - Militant American Indians who'd held the South Dakota hamlet of Wounded Knee for ten weeks surrendered.
05/08/2021 - World Red Cross Day
05/08/2021 - V-E Day, commemorating the Allies' defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII.
05/09/1960 - The FDA approved a pill, Enovid, as safe for birth control use.
05/09/1961 - FCC Chairman Newton Minow condemned television programming as a "vast wasteland" in a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters.
05/09/2021 - Mother’s Day
05/09/2021 - Lailat al Qadr begins at sunset – Muslim
05/10/1775 - Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys captured the British fortress at Ticonderoga NY.
05/10/1869 - A golden spike was driven at Promontory, Utah marking the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the US.
05/10/1924 - J. Edgar Hoover became FBI director.
05/11/1946 - The first CARE packages arrived in Europe.
05/11/1949 - The UN admitted Israel as the 59th member.
05/11/1973 - Citing government misconduct, Judge William Byrne dismissed charges against Daniel Ellsberg for his role in the Pentagon Papers.
05/11/1981 - Reggae artist Bob Marley died.
05/12/1949 - The Soviet Union announced an end to the Berlin Blockade.
05/12/1978 - The Commerce Department said it would no longer give only female names to hurricanes.
05/12/2021 - Mangers pour divers loas – Vodun
05/12/2021 - Eid-al Fitr begins at sunset (Ramadan ends) – Muslim
05/13/1607 - The English colony at Jamestown VA was settled.
05/13/1918 - The first US airmail stamps, featuring a picture of an airplane, were introduced.
05/13/1958 - Rocks thrown by anti-US demonstrators in Caracas Venezuela battered Vice President Nixon's limousine.
05/13/1981 - A Turkish assailant shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.
05/13/2021 - Ascension of Jesus – Christian
05/14/1804 - Lewis and Clark's expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory left St. Louis.
05/14/1904 - The 1st Olympic Games held in the US opened in St. Louis.
05/14/1942 - The Women's Auxiliary Army Corps was established.
05/14/1948 - The independent state of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv.
05/14/1955 - Representatives from eight Communist bloc countries, including the Soviet Union, signed the Warsaw Pact in Poland.
05/14/1973 - The US launched Skylab One, its first manned space station.
05/15/1602 - English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold discovered Cape Cod.
05/15/1918 - US airmail began service between Washington, Philadelphia and New York.
05/15/1940 - Nylon stockings went on general sale for the first time in the US.
05/15/1972 - George C. Wallace was shot and left paralyzed while campaigning in Laurel MD for the Democratic presidential nomination.
05/15/2021 - Peace Officers Memorial Day
05/15/2021 - Armed Forces Day
05/16/1868 - The Senate failed by one vote to convict President Andrew Johnson as it took its 1st ballot on one of eleven articles.
05/16/1929 - The first Academy Awards were presented during a banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The movie Wings won for Best Production. Emil Jannings won the award for Best Actor. Janet Gaynor won the award for Best Actress.
05/16/1975 - Japanese climber Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
05/16/1991 - Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to address the US Congress.
05/16/2021 - Shavuot begins at sunset and ends the evening of 05/18 – Judaism
05/17/1792 - Brokers, meeting under a tree located on what is now Wall Street, founded the NY Stock Exchange.
05/17/1875 - The first Kentucky Derby ran ... the winner was Aristides.
05/17/1946 - President Truman seized control of the nation's railroads, delaying a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen.
05/17/1948 - The Soviet Union recognized the new state of Israel.
05/17/1954 - The Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that racially segregated public schools are inherently unequal.
05/17/1973 - The Senate opened its hearings into the Watergate scandal.
05/18/1980 - Mount St. Helens in Washington exploded.
05/18/2021 - Manger pour Gran'n Aloumandia – Vodun
05/19/1921 - Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, which established national quotas for immigrants.
05/19/1958 - The US and Canada formally established the North American Air Defense Command.
05/19/1967 - The Soviet Union ratified a treaty with the US and Britain banning nuclear weapons from outer space.
05/20/1927 - Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island aboard the Spirit of St. Louis.
05/20/1961 - A white mob attacked a busload of Freedom Riders in Montgomery.
05/20/1969 - Following one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War, US and South Vietnamese forces captured Hamburger Hill.
05/21/1832 - The first Democratic National Convention got under way in Baltimore.
05/21/1881 - Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.
05/21/1991 - A suicide bomber assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during national elections.
05/21/2021 - Malcolm X Day
05/21/2021 - Endangered Species Day
05/21/2021 - Simbi Blanc – Vodun
05/22/1761 - The first life insurance policy in the US was issued in Philadelphia.
05/22/1947 - The US Congress enacted the Truman Doctrine and appropriated military and economic aid for Greece and Turkey.
05/22/2021 - Biodiversity Day
05/23/1430 - The Burgundians captured Joan of Arc and sold her to the English.
05/23/1934 - In an ambush in Bienville Parish LA, police shot and killed bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
05/23/2021 - Declaration of the Bab – Baha'i
05/23/2021 - Pentecost – Christian
05/24/1830 - The first passenger railroad in the US began service between Baltimore and Elliott's Mills MD.
05/24/1844 - Samuel FB Morse transmitted the message, "What hath God wrought!" from Washington to Baltimore as he formally opened America's first telegraph line.
05/24/1883 - The Brooklyn Bridge, linking Brooklyn and Manhattan, opened to traffic.
05/24/1962 - Astronaut Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit the earth as he flew aboard Aurora 7.
05/25/1787 - The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia after enough delegates had shown up for a quorum.
05/25/1961 - President Kennedy asked the nation to work toward putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
05/25/1963 - The Organization of African Unity began in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
05/26/1521 - The Edict of Worms banned Martin Luther because of his religious beliefs and writings.
05/26/1805 - Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned king of Italy.
05/26/1978 - The first legal casino in the eastern US opened in Atlantic City.
05/26/2021 - Visakha Puja (Buddha Day) – Buddhist
05/26/2021 - Saga Dawa Duchen – Buddhist
05/27/1647 - The first recorded American execution of a ‘witch’ took place in Massachusetts.
05/27/1933 - Walt Disney's The Three Little Pigs was released.
05/27/1937 - The Golden Gate Bridge connecting San Francisco and Marin County opened to the public.
05/28/1863 - The first black regiment from the North left Boston to fight in the Civil War.
05/28/1892 - The Sierra Club organized in San Francisco.
05/28/2021 - Ascension of Baha'u'llah – Baha’i
05/29/1943 - Norman Rockwell's portrait of Rosie the Riveter appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
05/29/1992 - The Texas Lottery began operation with the scratch-off game Lone Star Millions.
05/30/1431 - Joan of Arc, condemned as a heretic, burned at the stake in Rouen, France.
05/30/1539 - Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto landed in Florida.
05/30/1922 - Chief Justice William Howard Taft dedicated the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
05/30/1971 - The American space probe Mariner 9 blasted off from Cape Kennedy, Florida on a journey to Mars.
05/30/2021 - Trinity Sunday – Christian
05/31/1819 - Poet Walt Whitman was born in West Hill NY.
05/31/1913 - The 17th amendment to the Constitution, providing for the popular election of US senators, took effect.
05/31/1961 - South Africa became an independent republic.
05/31/1977 - The trans-Alaska oil pipeline began operation after three years in the making.
05/31/2021 - Memorial Day
Online Resource Links
What ISIS Really Wants: The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy and for how to stop it | ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks First of the Storm | Syria Iraq: The Islamic State Militant Group | Isis: The Inside Story | Frontline: The Rise of ISIS | Council on Foreign Relations: A Primer on ISIS | Cracks in ISIS Are Becoming More Clear | How ISIS’ Attacks Harm the Middle East | Timeline: the Rise, Spread and Fall of the Islamic State
Check out Today's Front Pages. Each day, you can see the front pages of more than 800 newspapers from around the world in their original, unedited form.
Whether or not you noticed, the earth's population passed 7 billion a while back. You might enjoy NPR's wonderful video, Visualizing How a Population Grows to 7 Billion.
Check out the St. Louis Fed's presentation The Financial Crisis: What Happened?. The original video is no longer available but you can view the power point presentation.
Want to take a survey but not sure how many responses to collect? This Survey Calculator gives you the number for any given population size and desired confidence level. A reverse calculator lets you enter characteristics of an existing survey and gives the confidence interval (±X%) to apply to the results. The Survey System site, sponsored by a survey software company, also gives clear explanations of statistical significance, survey design and related concepts. Also check out 20 Questions a Journalist (and You, too!) Should Ask About Poll Results.
PBS's 30 Second Candidate allows you to view more political ads than you ever knew existed. Choose the Historical Timeline link to see how political ads have changed over the years. Start with the infamous Daisy Ad that Lyndon Johnson used against Barry Goldwater. Click on Watch Johnson ads. Then click on either the QuickTime link or the Real Video link next to Daisy.
Check out Political Compass. The site does a good job of explaining political ideologies (although with definitions different from those I use) and gives you a chance to discover your own political philosophy.
Law Library of Congress: North Korea: Collection of links to websites on North Korean government, politics and law. Includes legal guides, country studies and links to constitutions and branches of government (where available). Council on Foreign Relations: North Korea: Background, articles and opinion pieces about North Korea government and politics. Many of the articles focus on North Korea's nuclear program. From the Council on Foreign Relations, "an independent membership organization and a nonpartisan think tank and publisher."
State of the Union (SOTU): The site uses an interactive timeline to provide a visual representation of prominent words in presidential State of the Union addresses by displaying significant words as "determined by comparing how frequently the word occurs in the document to how frequently it appears throughout the entire body of SOTU addresses." The Appendices section describes the statistical methods used. Also includes the full text of addresses.
Small Town Papers: This site provides access to scanned images of recent issues of dozens of small town newspapers from throughout the United States. Newspapers are updated periodically, 2-3 weeks after publication. The site also includes a searchable archive (of articles, photos and advertisements), which covers different periods for each paper, some as far back as the 1890s. Access to the archives requires free registration.
This website serves as a centralized location to learn about the Congressional Research Service and search for CRS reports that have been released to the public by members of Congress. (CRS Reports do not become public until a member of Congress releases the report.) Features a searchable database with more than 8,000 reports, a list of recently released reports, other collections of CRS reports and a FAQ about CRS.
Instances of the Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798 - 2020: This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its armed forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past US military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted.
Keeping the Shi'ites Straight Based on the opinion that no story has been more confusing for the Western news media to cover in postwar Iraq than the politics of the country's Shi'ite majority, this article provides a basic outline of Shi'ite religious history. Discusses the Sadr family (Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and Muqtada as-Sadr), Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and other figures.
This commercial site presents brief information about dozens of Black Inventors from the United States. Some entries include portraits and images. Also includes a searchable timeline covering 1721-1988. Does not include bibliographic information.
Annenberg Political Fact Check: This site describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in US politics. The site provides original articles, with summaries and sources, analyzing factual accuracy in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Searchable. From the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
White House Tapes: The President Calling: Three of America's most compelling presidents -- Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon -- bugged their White House offices and tapped their telephones. In this documentary project, American Radio Works eavesdrops on presidential telephone calls to hear how each man used one-on-one politics to shape history. Includes audio, a transcript of the documentary and background information on each president and the tapes.
The State of State and Local Finances: New studies afford a state-by-state or city-by-city analysis of fiscal well being. The Year of Living Dangerously: While leaders in a growing number of states appear to believe they're serving the public good by squeezing government dry, there's little question that minimizing management carries a host of dangers that directly affect the lives of citizens.
Government Debt by Country Map: Shows countries' general government gross debt as a percentage of GDP in 2012.
First Amendment Library: Provides info on Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence, including rulings, arguments, briefs, historical material, commentary and press coverage.
If you need a presentation or workshop for your group,
or the link at the top of the page.