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How Fear of a WWII Invasion Gave Rise to Smokey Bear

August 9, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

“Remember Pearl Harbor!” “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships.” Those are among the most famous slogans of World War II. But another poster child birthed during the war—Smokey Bear—might be even better remembered. The ad campaign that spawned the cartoonish bear, and a fire prevention legend, was only made possible by wartime paranoia about the possibility of a Japanese invasion of the continental United States.

At the time, many Americans worried that explosive devices might spark forest fires along the Pacific coast—for which the U.S. was hardly prepared.

World War II was a tricky time for forest fire fighting. In the face of wartime rationing, it became harder and harder to get ahold of modern firefighting equipment. As more and more male firefighters joined the war efforts, officials faced a dilemma. “Foresters feared that the forest fire problem might soon get out of hand unless the American public could be awakened to [its] danger,” explained forestry researcher J. Morgan Smith.

It took an attack on U.S. soil to drive the danger home. In February 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled the Ellwood Oil Field a few miles north of Santa Barbara, California. The 20-minute-long shelling missed its mark; there were no injuries and it inflicted little damage. But it was one of the few attacks of the war that took place on U.S. soil.

READ MORE: Why America’s Deadliest Wildfire Is Largely Forgotten Today

One of the first Smokey Bear posters during WWII, circa 1946.

The shelling sparked a national invasion panic, with speculation as to just what Axis fighters could be capable of on U.S. soil. The specter of devastating fires loomed large. Not only were local men assisting with the war effort instead of watching for fires, but firefighting had long been considered a local concern.

Though federal funds had been going toward forest fire fighting since the early 20th century, there was no national effort to fight forest fires. The Ellwood shelling was enough to spark a cooperative effort. State forestry services and the Forest Service joined the newly created War Advertising Council to create the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program in 1942.

The program focused on public service advertising, and posters urging the public to aid the war effort by preventing forest fires were soon splashed across the country. In 1944, the program enlisted a famous poster child, Disney’s Bambi. But Disney only lent the …read more


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How Andrew Jackson Rode a Populist Wave to Become America's First 'Outsider' President

August 9, 2019 in History

By Dave Roos

In the 1820s, no one had heard about an anti-establishment candidate—until Andrew Jackson’s campaign invented it.

The “outsider” candidate running against “Washington insiders” has become a familiar figure on both ends of the political spectrum. But back in the 1820s, there was no such thing as an anti-establishment, populist candidate—until Andrew Jackson invented it.

At the time, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution was approaching, and Americans were anxious that their republican experiment was faltering. President James Monroe would be the last of the original Founding Fathers to occupy the White House, and when his second term expired in January 1825, the torch would be passed to a new generation.

Harry Watson, a history professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, says that the 1824 presidential candidates—all Democratic-Republicans who had served in Monroe’s cabinet—looked like “a disappointing group” to many American voters.

“They were all busily backstabbing each other and working more for themselves than what looked to many like the president’s agenda or the common good,” says Watson, author of Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America.

READ MORE: Why Andrew Jackson Legacy Is Controversial

But Andrew Jackson was different. He wasn’t a career politician, but a bona fide military hero from the War of 1812. Jackson wasn’t born among the Northeastern elite, but to Scotch-Irish immigrants in South Carolina. He didn’t reside in Washington, D.C., but in Nashville, Tennessee, then considered the “West.”

Critics said Jackson was unfit for office because he had limited governing experience (he briefly served as territorial governor of Florida and as a senator in Tennessee). But Jackson’s supporters flipped the script, claiming that his outsider status would provide exactly the housecleaning that the country needed.

Back then, presidential candidates didn’t actively campaign for themselves; that was considered uncouth. So they had political boosters who would do the dirty work for them. One of Jackson’s closest allies was John Eaton, a Nashville lawyer who wrote a fawning biography of the war hero in 1817.

For the 1824 campaign, Eaton penned a series of anonymous letters called “The letters of Wyoming,” published widely in newspapers, that made the case for Jackson as the only true patriot worthy of the White House.

Election poster for Andrew Jackson’s campaign.

“Gentlemen, candidates for the first office in the gift …read more


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A Tool Meant to Help Minorities Buy Homes Is Instead Speeding up Gentrification in D.C.

August 9, 2019 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

More than 50 years after the passage of comprehensive anti-discrimination
, American cities remain highly segregated.
The nation’s capital is a glaring example: The D.C.
area’s African American residents are concentrated in the
Northwest D.C. neighborhoods of Brightwood, 16th Street Heights and
Petworth — and, above all, in Northeast D.C. and east of the
Anacostia River, where 25 census tracts (the U.S. Census
Bureau’s geographic subdivisions) have African American
population shares exceeding 90 percent.

Yet Washington is also the most rapidly gentrifying metropolitan
area in the United States. Since 2000, 22 percent of D.C. census tracts have seen a large
influx of wealthier
. Gentrification has demographic implications, too.
Between 1990 and 2010, the two tracts covering
the section of Columbia Heights between 14th and 16th streets saw
the black share of the population drop by 20 and 30 percentage
points, respectively. The white share in each jumped by more than
20 points.

As they renovate dilapidated buildings and attract new
businesses, “gentrifiers” are having a positive impact
on many communities. Yet a common downside of gentrification is the
displacement of historic low-income residents, particularly
renters, who struggle to keep up with a rising cost of living. Now
evidence suggests that a major financial regulation enacted to
promote financial inclusion may in fact be accelerating
displacement, at least in the D.C. area.

The CRA appears to be
accelerating the displacement of minority renters in gentrifying
communities, without increasing the proportion of minority
residents who can buy homes.

The Community Reinvestment
(CRA), passed in 1977, sought to stem “redlining,” the
systematic exclusion of minority communities and neighborhoods from
access to credit. Redlining made it hard for black Americans to buy
homes and move closer to economic opportunities. Its legacy
persists in the form of a $154,000 median
wealth gap
between whites and blacks, much of it explained by
differences in home

The CRA requires banks to demonstrate a record of lending in
low-income communities and gives bank regulators the authority to
block bank mergers if the
banks fail to perform. Banks have a strong incentive to get high
CRA marks.

According to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition,
banks have made a cumulative $6 trillion worth of CRA-related
since 1992. In the District, banks lent out $2.7
billion worth of mortgages eligible for CRA points in 2017. But
making loans in compliance with the CRA is no guarantee that they
will reach historically underserved residents, because loans …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Freeports Must Not Come at the Expense of Broader Free Trade

August 9, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Liz Truss has wasted little time burnishing her liberalising
credentials as the new Secretary of State for International Trade.
Last week her department announced a panel to advise on creating 10
British “freeports”- areas around existing ports and
airports with business-friendly incentives on tariffs, taxes and

The idea itself is nothing new. Since 1981, the Adam Smith
Institute has advocated that areas around ports be designated
foreign territory for economic purposes. Yet last time the concept
was adopted here, the benefits were stamped out by the EU and UK
governments’ unwillingness to cede meaningful exemptions to
taxes and red tape.

Outside the EU’s clutches and with a pro-market
government, advocates hope for a meaningful second attempt at
implementation. Struggling towns around existing ports are
understandably keen to win designation.

The real open question is
what freeports imply about the Government’s broader post-Brexit
trade agenda.

Around the world, freeports operate with different levels of
freedom. The US equivalents, for example, are called “foreign
trade zones”. Physically located in the US, these fall
outside domestic administrative jurisdiction for assessment of
customs duties.

Such areas therefore allow manufacturers the opportunity to
import intermediate inputs tariff-free and without complying with
extensive customs rules and red tape. Value-added activity using
these inputs can take place within the FTZ, with tariffs only paid
when products enter the rest of the domestic economy. If finished
products or the inputs are re-exported, there’s no customs
duties at all.

Freeports then can be considered true uninhibited “free
trade” areas, pushing customs borders further inland. Cost
reductions and deferrals for businesses are the major policy
innovation. Freeports also afford firms “tariff
inversion” benefits — taking advantage of situations
where final manufactured goods face lower eventual tariff rates
when entering the full economy than their component parts (which
enter the freeport tariff-free).

Truss wants all this, plus to add in a streamlined planning
processes, a lighter-touch regulatory environment and
pro-investment tax incentives, increasing cost savings to
businesses further. Her freeports would be a kind of love child of
American FTZs and Margaret Thatcher’s enterprise zones.

This framework brings obvious and widely highlighted costs.
Policy preferentialism unavoidably displaces some activity from
other areas of the UK into the freeport. There will be a fiscal
cost too, given the tariff and tax exemptions — the shortfall
for which must result in spending reductions, other tax rises or
more borrowing.

Inevitably, then, freeports tend to be discussed as a tool of
regional regeneration. Of moving activity around to poorer areas.
Critics will compare any fiscal shortfall against estimates of jobs
created and argue that most observable activity comes at the
expense of elsewhere and the taxpayer, a claim that will be partly

The …read more

Source: OP-EDS