Strategic Elements' The Weekender

The Weekender: Want to Retire Early?

Strategic Elements' The Weekender


  • 34.5%: The percentage of home purchases in the U.S. that are made with cash
  • 62: The average age of retirement
  • 62.2%: The 2023 U.S. college graduation rate
  • 85%: The national average public high school graduation rate
  • $28,950: The average student loan debt owed per borrower
  • 2.1 Million: The number of viewers who watched Caitlin Clark’s pro debut; the most-watched WNBA game in ESPN history

The Big 5

Will Ag Hit a Snag?

On Friday, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee unveiled the long-awaited Farm Bill. The multiyear bill will have a significant impact nationwide. The legislation addresses policies that affect food, production, natural resources, and nutrition for the underserved.

Last updated in 2019, the new Farm Bill is expected to be a point of attention – and contention. Republicans seek to reallocate funds from climate-smart ag initiatives and update the Thrifty Food Plan to be budget-neutral. This is the plan that funds SNAP benefits. Democrats want to maintain existing nutrition and climate funding levels.

Because it’s an election year, lawmakers aren’t only vying for good legislation; they’re also working to deliver for several key voting constituencies that depend on the policies and funds that are stuffed in the massive bill. And they’re on deadline. The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September, offering little wiggle room amid challenging discussions.

Read More at Politico

The Golden Years Are Coming Earlier

COVID-19 served to shake up many ways in which Americans view their lives. It was a stark reminder that each of us only lives once – and many are choosing not to spend their golden years working. In fact, most do not want to work past the traditional retirement age of 65 – and 46% don’t expect to clock in after 62. In March 2020, the New York Federal Reserve found that the number of years Americans expect to work dropped by 9.5% across age, education, and income groups.

Today, just a third of retirees are working until 65 or later. With Social Security projected to only have another 11 years of solvency, it’s not surprising that many are opting out of waiting for the 65 cake candles to call it quits, contributing to a labor shortage over the past few years.

Read More at Axios

One Man’s Geomagnetic Storm is Another’s Discotheque in the Sky

The most severe geomagnetic storm since 2003 hit the Earth this past Friday, causing an unforgettable dance of the aurora borealis to open their curtains across much of the United States and Europe. Typically reserved for our planet’s North and South Poles, these shows whipped all the way down to Alabama and Florida. The lights, which have captivated, terrified, and inspired humans throughout the millennia, are a stark (if not beautiful) reminder of the broader neighboring universe.

Solar storms shoot out immense amounts of electrically charged particles that travel in perpetuity in all directions. Some, after traveling 93 million miles, collide with Earth. Our invaluable magnetic field deflects the majority, but some particles become trapped inside of it, left to heat up via a process called “excitation,” and meet up with the oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere that puts on an extravagant extraterrestrial disco in the sky.

Remember, we live on an unremarkable pebble floating through the infinite darkness, held together by a delicate balance of the laws of physics. So go out for that drink, befriend that person with opposing viewpoints, call your mother, donate to charity, and be good to each other. While the sun is constantly bombarding our planet with vicious storms, we can be a ray of aurora for our neighbors.

Read More at The Washington Post

Google’s AI Overhaul

Google changed how people interact with the internet once before; now the tech mega giant wants to do it again. If you Google search “how does AI work?”, AI will provide a direct response at the top of search results. The same goes for most searches users enter into the engine. While the intent is to help web surfers quickly find the answers they need without hopping from webpage to webpage, it could spell trouble for users. AI chatbots, like the one Google is “employing” to provide succinct answers to queries, can still be unreliable in their response. These bots pull information from a range of sources across the web, including unchecked source materials.

Even if the AI were 100% correct all the time, Google providing direct answers to questions pulls web traffic away from the journalists, businesses, blog posters, and publishers who are making concerted efforts to get more eyes on their content.

The old saying “you vote with your dollar” means that people can decide what goods and services they want in their communities by spending money at those institutions. In the internet age, the updated version “you vote with your minute” reigns supreme. Google has every right to streamline their own search engine – it played a critical role in revolutionizing the internet to become what it is today. It is worth considering, however, that while consumers may enjoy the time saved in clicking on pages to find the answer they need at the drop of a hat, small businesses relying on e-commerce and users who need completely factual information may be the ones to feel the swing of the bat.  

Listen in at The Post Reports

Temu Cools in U.S.

Temu, the bargain app owned by Chinese e-commerce giant PDD Holdings, saw the American consumer base as a gold rush for new business. After a flurry of Super Bowl ads, shameless plugs aimed at American TikTok users, and nearly $2 billion on Facebook ads, the company may be realizing the U.S. water may not taste as appealing as it looks. The TikTok bill is forcing the app’s Chinese owner to either sell the social media platform or face a U.S. ban – sparking new fears for Temu that it may be next.

Washington legislators have been quick to accuse Temu and its fellow Chinese-born rival Shein of leveraging forced labor to sustain their goods’ low-price points. Lawmakers also recognize Temu and Shein as taking advantage of an American tax exemption that allows goods less than $800 to enter to country tariff-free. As a result, the clothing distributor is turning to non-U.S. markets for new fruit to bear. Temu will continue selling in the U.S., but they will be looking for new ways to break into the Mexican and European market in case Congress decides to take action against them.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

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