10 Festive Christmas Activities in San Antonio

Sylvia Patterson

As far as Texas goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and what better way to get in the holiday spirit than to get off campus and do something festive? There’s something about the holiday season, with its festivity, anticipation, and sense of joy, that makes it the perfect excuse to do something fun with your friends or significant other. Even so, with finals approaching, it’s extra important to set aside time to reconnect with those closest to us as the semester comes to a close. 

In San Antonio, there are many ways to celebrate the season and get in the Christmas spirit. With decorations, lights, and nostalgic music everywhere we go, Christmas allows us to see the world in a more optimistic light. Make the most of the opportunities that Christmas has to offer and create some amazing holiday memories here in San Antonio. 

  1. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of the most quintessential holiday activities and San Antonio has a downtown outdoor skating rink at this time of year. Getting out on the ice truly embraces wintertime, and modern technology makes this possible even in South Texas. There are rental skates available, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. No matter your skill level, you’ll have a great time learning to skate or showing off your skills. Be sure to grab some cocoa to warm up afterwards!

  1. See a Movie

Watch a holiday movie to get in a Christmas mindset. There are usually a lot of movies that come out during the holiday season, so you could book tickets to see something new at the movie theater. Alternatively, you can rewatch a classic Christmas movie at home cozied up with blankets and snacks in your dorm.

  1. Lightscape

The San Antonio Botanic Garden offers an on-site light show every holiday season. Known as “Lightscape,” the event involves illuminating the garden with stunning Christmas lights when the sun goes down (on my side of town). Purchase tickets online, and you’ll be in for a magical night of festivity, lights, and music all in the dynamic setting of a Botanic Garden. 

  1. Visit a Christmas Market

Christmas markets can be found all around the world and are a fail-proof way to get in the Christmas spirit. San Antonio has a few, including the Christmas Market and the Christmas Market in the Park. You’ll be sure to find handmade goods, gift ideas, and a number of holiday snacks and treats.

  1. Italian Dinner Night

You can’t go wrong with the classic dinner date. Braza Brava has a classically romantic atmosphere and Barbaro is on the lively side. Both have great quality Italian food for a reasonable price. Order a pasta dish or share a wood oven fired pizza and antipasti, whether you go with friends or as a date night.

  1. Check out the River Walk

The city of San Antonio is famous for its River Walk and in the holiday season, it only gets better. From Downtown to the Pearl, the trees are strung with Christmas lights, and the river itself is illuminated in some places. Not only is walking good for your health, but it’s also the perfect time to econnect with friends and have a great conversation as you walk. There’s also a holiday boat show on the river, which is sure to be a magical experience.

  1. Look at Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are one of the surest signs that the holiday season has arrived. We’re all thankful for the people who go all-out with their Christmas decorations! The suburb of Windcrest is the perfect place to see over-the-top holiday decorations in the area. In fact, the neighborhood has a Christmas lights contest every year and people come from all around the San Antonio area to see the displays. For the ultimate San Antonio experience, the Alamo itself has a Christmas lights event if you want to see the famous mission in its holiday splendor.

  1. Bake Christmas Cookies

Baking something together is a great bonding experience. Make use of the communal dorm kitchen, go grocery shopping, and bake a batch of delicious and festive holiday sugar cookies. The scent of baking cookies is amazing, even if they’re frozen or from a mix. 

  1. Go Christmas Shopping

Get your Christmas shopping done on a weekend here in San Antonio. Visit the Quarry shopping center down the road or drive out to La Cantera for even more store variety. What’s more iconic than looking at the holiday decor and displays, shopping bags in tow, and Christmas music playing overhead?

  1. Get Festive Drinks at a Cafe

Find a quaint cafe or bakery, like Bakery Lorraine at the Pearl or Summer Moon Coffee on St. Mary’s Street. Order hot drinks, whether you prefer a latte, hot chocolate, or herbal tea and maybe a pastry too. Be sure to get something seasonal. You can go for a walk afterwards or bring a book and read.

To Conclude

Christmas is a season of joy and a time to show appreciation for those we love. Celebrate with your friends or significant other by exploring the Christmas-themed activities that San Antonio has to offer. Embrace the Christmas spirit and create lasting memories by doing one or more of these festive holiday activities. 

A Nudge in the Right Direction? Richard Thaler and Libertarian Paternalism 

Sylvia Patterson

We don’t often stop to think about the thousands of influences that contribute to the decisions we make every day, or the hidden forces that may be exploiting our psychology to act a certain way. The nudge is one such force, and although it seems like an innocent reminder, as we will learn, we should never underestimate the effect of the nudge.

Bounded Rationality 

It was an economist named Dr. Richard Thaler who defined the idea of the nudge, beginning with the idea that human beings are not rational creatures. Thaler was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2017 for his contributions to Behavioral Economics. His awarding was met with a degree of controversy due to the merging of the field of Psychology with Economics.

On October 10, 2020, Dr. Richard Thaler spoke at Trinity University. Despite his prestigious place in the world of academia, Thaler came across as a very knowledgeable, yet down to earth and even humorous speaker, someone who illustrated his points through a series of entertaining stories, real world examples of human nature. 

Dr. Thaler stressed the importance of that which economic theory tends to ignore, most crucially, the fact that human beings are not rational. Humans have bounded rationality and bounded willpower, and will more often than not submit to temptation in the moment, rather than act for the long-term good. This is because, for most of human history, people did not live long enough to worry about saving. This is why long term planning is evolutionarily one of the spheres where rationality falls short. 

Through his research, Thaler found that people have a strong tendency to keep what they have. Although economic theory says that the people who value something the most will end up with it, in reality, status quo bias comes into play, and people have the tendency to stick with what they have, what he refers to as ‘inertia.’ The tendency toward inertia can be utilized through a type of nudge. 

The Default

In real life, Thaler used his work to nudge people into choosing the optimal pension plan that would allow them to save the most in the long run. Instead of having them opt into the program, they were automatically enrolled as the default option and instead would have to opt out. It was successful in getting people that normally wouldn’t have saved to acquire a retirement fund. The idea of the nudge all comes down to choice architecture, or how you create the environment in which people choose. 

Nudges are a part of choice architecture because they are features of the environment that influence humans. According to Thaler, nudging is not taking away choices, it is choice preserving, or  “libertarian paternalism,” which, Thaler explains, is not an oxymoron. Essentially, we are encouraged to act a certain way, but the choice is still ours.

One of the most powerful types of nudges is the default. By changing the default option, we can change people’s choices. Because of people’s tendency toward loss aversion, and their resistance to change options, or inertia as Thaler called it, the desired outcome happens if they simply do nothing. Thus, a new default, or automatic enrollment, can achieve the optimal goal. 

Libertarian Paternalism

This research comes with a series of implications, first, that nudges are very powerful, and second, that the effects are long lasting. The work of Richard Thaler shows us that human nature is key to understanding any human decision, and that we can nudge for good. But the question remains: are all nudges good?

At the end of the day, there are nudges all around us, more than we think, and not often as nobly applied as in the pension-plan case. Some common examples of this marketing tactic include, the default “subscribe and save” option on Amazon, pop-up announcements or reminders from websites, a psychological anchor, like a visible before and after price on a good, or even simply the relative ease or noticeability of a choice, such as the placement of food items in a cafeteria. 

In the right hands, the nudge can be used to influence productive and beneficial behavior in individuals, but at the least, it is a clever marketing tactic.  But this leaves the unanswered question: can the nudge be used for ill?

The Nefarious Nudge

The concept of the nudge gets the most murky when it comes to the government and policy enforcement. Although Thaler published a paper defending libertarian paternalism, our instinct is to see it as something dystopian. Needless to say, the nudge has not been without its fair share of criticism. It’s human nature to bristle at the thought of a powerful entity subtly influencing us into making the desired choice. Where do we draw the line with the nudge? Ultimately, who determines what the “right” decision is? The Nudge can be used for good, but like any phenomenon, it can also be abused

Already, we have witnessed the rise of the Behavioral Insights Team (BIT), also known as the ‘Nudge Unit’, which is a “ global social purpose company” founded in 2010. The BIT has offices around the world, including in the UK where it began, as well as in America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Latin America. The BIT uses social engineering based on behavioral insights and tactics from psychology and marketing to influence public thought and decision making to be in compliance with government policy. The goal is to minimize costs related to poor compliance of government policy and regulation. 

The BIT has done work in a variety of concepts, from assessing the risk of gambling, to more overtly progressive political goals, like designing ways to get people to drive less to reduce emissions, studying how to establish diversity task forces, and running numerous experiments to find the most effective way to use social norms to get people to wear masks during COVID. 

Nudge theory has also been used to nudge people into getting the COVID vaccine. Researchers used reminders that were “carefully designed to reduce barriers to following through” in addition to “behaviourally informed messaging designed to amplify individuals’ desire to get vaccinated” and “information-provision intervention aimed at correcting the misconceptions that drive vaccine hesitancy”. What else could be achieved by nudge units if they so desired? 

Due to the Nudge Unit’s success, a number of similar organizations have since popped up around the world. According to OECD, there are 202 institutions across the globe that have applied behavioral insights to public policy. Most people don’t know that these organizations exist, or that they are influencing compliance and promoting their goals all around us. 

What is most off-putting is the fact that nudges are not transparent about their objectives. Instead of being forthright about their desired policy, they rely on manipulative methods to achieve their goals. At what point does the nudge become deceit? When does it become subversive? At what point does it become unethical? Governments and corporations see the need to act as a parent-figure and guide us in the “right” direction, as if we are not worthy of hearing a logical argument and making a decision based on evidence and reasoning.

Closing thoughts 

Originally used to help clients save for the future, the concept of the nudge has since been adopted in politics, finance, retail, and beyond. It is important to be aware of this phenomenon, how it can not only help you, but also how it can hurt you. Due to human nature and imperfect information, it is impossible to be perfectly rational. We should, however, learn all that we can and ultimately strive for rationality. Only then will we be free to make the best decision for ourselves, not the decision that other entities nudge us towards. The first step is to identify and accept that we are irrational, and understand how these irrationalities can be manipulated for a desired outcome. Then, we can consciously, rather than subconsciously, choose whether to follow or resist the nudges we encounter. 

15 San Antonio Date Ideas for Trinity Students

There are so many date opportunities in and around San Antonio. If you are looking for engaging date ideas to get away from your routine, look no further than this list. College is a once in a lifetime experience with so many opportunities at our fingertips, often in a brand new city away from home. So, go out and make the most of the college experience by spending some of it getting to know your girlfriend or boyfriend better. 

From casual and low effort outings to ideas that require a bit more planning, these are some creative date ideas for every situation, schedule, and relationship stage in college. 

Get dinner at a food truck

This is a perfect way to grab a meal after a busy day and get off campus without the time commitment and expense of a sit-down restaurant. At the same time, an authentic food truck is better quality than fast-food. You can bring the food back to eat in a study room or find a picnic table outdoors if the weather is nice. One of our favorite places is Tacos El Regio on St. Mary’s Street.

Go for a hike

It’s always a good idea to get outside and be in nature, and a hike also presents a great opportunity to get to know each other as you talk while looking at scenic sights. Research city and state parks nearby to visit and experience the natural landscape of the region. Some recommendations include: Government Canyon State Park, San Antonio Missions State Park, and Denman Estate Park. There’s sure to be some great photo opportunities in these parks. 

Go Two-Steppin’

Go country dancing at a dancehall. Cowboys Dancehall plays the most popular new country songs and is just down the highway (it’s free if you get there before 8:30). Or, if you want a more authentic experience, plan a visit to the historic Gruene Hall or the famous Luckenbach, Texas for live music and a more laid-back atmosphere. It’s also the perfect occasion to get dressed up western-style. If you don’t know how to dance already, look into on-campus dance classes or clubs as a free way to learn how.

Go on a daytrip to Fredericksburg, Texas

Find a weekend when you’re both free and plan a trip to the historic German town of Fredericksburg located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Spend the day trying the local cuisine, browsing the boutiques, and just exploring a new location. You can even visit Enchanted Rock State Park nearby. You’ll be sure to come back with incredible memories and photos of your adventure.

Go grocery shopping and cook a meal together 

Instead of going out to eat, plan and cook a meal together. Even going to the grocery store is exciting with someone you love. Make use of the communal dorm kitchen and follow a simple recipe. Creating and sharing food together is a true bonding experience. 

Go tubing on the San Marcos

Spending time on the water is an amazing way to get outdoors and change up your routine.  Rent innertubes and drift down the San Marcos River for a relaxing afternoon out on the water and under the sun. 

Get dinner at the Pearl and then go for a stroll on the Riverwalk

One of San Antonio’s best offerings is the Pearl, a revived historic brewery that’s now a center for dining and shopping. Get dinner at the food hall, which offers many different cuisines, and afterwards, buy ice cream and go for a stroll down the riverwalk. 

Go to brunch off campus

Often, we think of dining dates as just for dinner. For something new, on a Saturday morning, put on a pretty dress and go out to brunch with your date at a cute cafe or diner. Some great places to check out include Snooze Eatery, NOLA cafe, and Commonwealth.

Take a walk in a historic neighborhood

Find the historic neighborhoods in San Antonio for a walk to admire the mansions and upscale homes. Consider Monte Vista, Dignowity Hill, Tobin Hill, and Government Hill. Discuss the architecture and landscaping and pick out your favorite houses. What would it be like to live there?

Visit the botanic garden

Walk hand in hand amongst the beautiful flowers and plants of a botanic garden for a classically romantic date. Around Christmas time, the garden offers a lightshow every year, so be sure to check the garden out in wintertime, too.

Go to a play, concert, or talk on campus

Want to do something intellectual? Go to one of Trinity’s plays, musicals, or symphonies put on by the University’s own students. The University also has many guest speakers for different fields of study, so if one seems interesting, go together. Make use out of being in college and enjoy classical entertainment for free.

Go stargazing

Go stargazing with your significant other. Drive out past the city limits one evening, where the sky is clear and unpolluted from city lights. Pull over into a field or park to admire the stars. It’s a great time to ask each other thought-provoking questions, admire the constellations, and be amazed by the infinity of the universe.

Plan a picnic

Picnics are a timelessly romantic date idea. You get to share a meal outdoors, in nature, with someone you love. Plan and put together a meal that’s transportable, locate a picnic blanket, and find a pretty park to enjoy your picnic in. Other fun picnic ideas include listening to music, painting pictures, and petting dogs you see in the park.

Go thrifting 

Whether you need new clothes for an event or just in general, visit a thrift store and see if you can snag any finds. Create outfit ideas for each other just for fun. Buffalo Outlet is a good place to start and tends to have a good selection.

Visit the farmer’s market

A farmers’ market is always a great date idea. Visit the farmer’s market at the Pearl on Saturday or Sunday. It’s a great way to support local businesses while also enjoying quality produce and goods. Be sure to check out the Texas BBQ stand and the lemonade stand!

Closing thoughts

Dating in college is the perfect remedy to the busy school year. However, it’s all too easy to overlook creative ideas and opportunities. It’s crucial to take time off and make the time to spend one-on-one with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If all goes well, you’ll cherish memories from these first four years together for years to come. 

The Fine Line Between Utopia and Dystopia: Saudi Arabia’s Plans for a Futuristic “Smart City”

With issues like energy, conservation, and property ownership considered some of the most pressing of our times, the future of our living and working arrangements has become one of the most thought-provoking topics. Saudi Arabia has a two-word answer to the question of future cities: The Line. 

In the past, we would speculate on what sorts of dystopian communities would appear in the vague and distant future. The Line, which is already under construction, is now set to become a reality within the next few years.  

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salaman recently revealed the design concepts for The Line, a massive linear city that will be a “civilizational revolution that puts humans first” and will provide “an unprecedented urban living experience while preserving the surrounding nature.” The Line “redefines the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like.”

Living on a Thin Line 

According to the project’s website, The Line is only 0.1 mile wide, is 0.3 miles tall, and over 105 miles long. It’s also meant to house 9 million people with an infrastructure footprint of just over 21 square miles. The Line will have a controlled climate, access to nature, amenities within a 5-minute walk, and an end to end commute of just 20 minutes. The building will also be run on 100% renewable energy, with no roads, cars, or emissions. The website stresses that, for the first time, this city prioritizes health over infrastructure. 

The Line is only one of three facets of Neom, a planned $500 billion one-building city that is set to be constructed in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Neom will serve as an ambitious model of sustainable living, working, and travel. It consists of Oxagon, a floating city in which “industries and technology come together in harmony with nature,” Trogena, “a year-round mountain destination,” and The Line, which is up first for development.  

Saudi Vision 2030

Neom itself is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, an aim to bolster the country’s economy, infrastructure, and reputation. Saudi Arabia claims the project will create 380,000 jobs and add $48 billion to the country’s GDP by diversifying its oil-dependent economy, promoting tourism, and developing the country’s public sector. Saudi Vision 2030 also serves another purpose. It is a rebranding, an attempt to reform the country while distancing itself from its questionable human rights record.  

Even though Saudi Arabia attempts to project an image of a new kingdom, as shiny as the mirror-plated walls of The Line, the country cannot escape or gloss over its controversies. 

First, women in Saudi Arabia only gained the right to vote in 2015 and weren’t allowed to drive until 2018, making Saudi Arabia the last country in the world to let women drive. That same year, the questionable assasination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi took place, which the Crown prince took responsibility for. Then, only months ago in march of 2022, there was a mass execution of 81 people, the largest in modern history.

The plan for The Line was released on January 10, 2021 and now, the newly released video promotion and statement from July 25, 2022 brought The Line into the current spotlight. With the attention came, of course, came criticism.

Utopia or Dystopia?

The major criticisms of The Line are that it is dystopian and artificial. Human beings don’t want to live in synthetic environments, be completely dependent on technology, live in such close quarters to so many people, and ultimately lack space, resources, and autonomy.

Critics also view the project as preposterously unrealistic and far-fetched. According to the WSJ, The Line will include a number of bin Salaman’s fanciful amenities including a sports stadium, robot maids, a yacht marina, robotic dinosaurs, flying taxis, glow in the dark beaches, and an artificial moon. These absurd additions only discredit the validity of the project. 

The information that has been released about The Line so far is sparse in its details, telling us only the what, but not the how. Where will Saudi Arabia get the money, the materials, the energy, the technology to create this? Not only does Neom seem infeasible, but even though The Line attempts to appeal to the Green Movement with its promises of emission-free living, the project has drawn criticism for environmental reasons regarding the need for increased Saudi oil production in order to build the structure. Environmentalists have also spoken out about how the monolithic building will disrupt the  migratory patterns of wildlife. Another concerning factor is the forced eviction of the Huwaitat people, who were removed from the region to make room for the building.

In the end, many unanswered questions remain as to the logistics of The Line. What would the laws and government of the city be like? Would there be religious requirements since it’s located in Saudi Arabia? How would it be powered and what if the power grid failed? 

Already, Neom, which was supposed to have major progress completed by 2020, has been delayed, and it is unlikely that the original 2025 deadline for the building will be met. 

Cautionary Tales 

Neom is eerily reminiscent of other grandiose schemes from corrupt governments’ attempts to prove their effectiveness to the world. Most notably, the Ryugyong Hotel of North Korea, nicknamed the Hotel of Doom, was meant to showcase the success of the communist regime. It was supposed to be the tallest building in the world, but it now stands empty and unfinished in the capital city of Pyongyang, symbolic of the country’s decay.

The climate-centric focus of The Line also does not bode well for its sustainability. The cautionary tale Sri Lanka’s collapse after the country tried to go organic on a national level stands testament that trying to go green to please the global elites is not an economically sound course of action. 

Closing Thoughts

The future residents of The Line will be living on a thin line, both literally and figuratively.  Will The Line be an ideal nature-centric community, or an insubstantial totalitarian nightmare? Idealistic at best, The Line seems like something from a dystopian sci fi movie, but on the other hand, if it’s pulled off successfully, it would be a much better alternative for many people who are living in slums. Saudi Arabia too, walks a fine line between regressive oppression and progressive idealism. In the end, is there that much of a difference between the two? Ultimately, only the future will show whether The Line will be a shining model for other nations, or yet another cautionary tale.

Texas House Candidate Mark Dorazio speaks at first YCT meeting of the Semester

Trinity University’s chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas kicked off their first meeting of the semester with a guest speaker, Mark Dorazio, the Republican candidate for Texas House District 122. He believes in living out his values of family, faith, and service, and hopes to apply these guiding principles in his work if elected to congress. 

Mark is also a small business owner; he started his own construction company in San Antonio, for which he currently has three patents pending. He became involved in politics after realizing the direction that the country and the state were heading in. He started attending meetings and talking with candidates, as well as taking on various leadership roles, including running the Bexar County Senate District 25 Convention as chairman in 2020. 

Dorazio opened his speech by saying that this generation, this group, is made up of the future leaders, inventors, and innovators of the state and underscored the importance of becoming involved. 

He then dove into the major issues facing the near future of the state of Texas. First was to keep DC out of Texas and limit the federal government’s involvement in state issues. Next, he discussed the massive illegal immigration crisis that Texas faces, and the fact there is nothing to stop illegal immigrants from registering to vote. 

Dorazio then addressed the pressing issue of a much needed power grid upgrade, something the Snowmageddon of 2021 illustrated all too well. He believes that fossil fuels are more efficient and reliable than wind and solar power, and still remain the state’s best energy source, especially due to recent improvements in the production process. Dorazio also advocated for thorium reactors, which are clean and easily expandable as cities develop. 

Regarding education, school choice is another key issue affecting American families and their children. This would give parents autonomy in choosing their child’s education and create competition amongst public schools to attract attendees, and in that way better themselves. Dorazio explained how there is an 18-page list of failing schools in the state, yet the government continues to fund them.

As for the economy, Dorazio proposes removing the property taxes in Texas because the state government already runs at a surplus budget, meaning that there is no need for additional revenue from property taxes. This puts more money back into the pockets of the citizens. He also touched on the dangers of digitizing the currency, and how this action would be an infringement on the privacy of citizens by the government.

Finally, Mark Dorazio concluded that the real choice we have as Americans is between innovation and security. He posed the question: do we want to get a ‘safe’ job and work for a corporation that decides what we believe in and how we spend our money, or do we want to be free-thinking leaders, the country’s next great inventors, creators of new businesses, and live out our own beliefs? Dorazio’s overarching theme was the importance of protecting the freedoms that allow for the innovation that has distinguished America for the past centuries as the world’s leader in entrepreneurship and invention. And the best way to do that is to start at the most local level, Trinity University. 

Roaring into Recession 

Travel back in time a whole century to the year 1922, the dawn of what has become known as the roaring ‘20s.  Forever immortalized in the textbooks, literature, and imaginations of America, the 1920s will be remembered as a time of decadence, affluence, technological advances, and moral degradation.  Does it sound familiar?  We think of Art Deco, The Great Gatsby, the flappers, and the speakeasies.  What doesn’t come to mind nearly as often is that just like in 2022, a hundred years back, the world was also only several years out from a global pandemic, the Spanish flu of 1919-1920.  Another point of interest is the turning point in Russia at the time.  The Soviet Union was formed in 1922.  Today, the invasion of Ukraine has once again placed Russia in the spotlight of the international news.  The ‘20s today eerily mirror the ‘20s of the twentieth century.  And what is the significance of this?  Everyone knows what brought the roaring ‘20s to a screeching halt.  According to a number of economic trends, it looks like the United States may once again be on the road to another economic recession.

We’ll start by taking a look at the effect of the major global crisis of the times: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia, as well as companies pulling out of the nation, have naturally led to supply chain issues, of which we are feeling the effect.  As a significant producer of oil and other commodities, these actions against Russia have hiked up prices in oil, food, and components for consumer goods, only leading to further inflation and economic hardship.   Necessities are now taking up a larger percent of a person’s income, and this decreases demand in other industries.  Now, decreased purchasing power leads to less consumer spending, due to their deceased discretionary income.  Less consumer spending means less money flowing through the economy, which ultimately slows economic growth. All of this leads to a reduced GDP growth and an increased risk of recession, ultimately leaving citizens to fear a possible return to the ‘70s.

 Stagflation, a combination of stagnation and inflation, was the hallmark of the 1970s and is once again applicable in this day and age.  Essentially, it means a combination of elevated prices, inflation, and decreased economic growth, or stagnation.  The government increased printing of new dollars in the past two years in hopes of stimulating the economy after the lockdowns.  Injecting more money into the economy will also inevitably lead to inflation, which is at a 40 year high.  In response, the Fed raised its interest rates in hopes of stopping this inflation.  Raising interest rates, however, slows down economic growth through disincentivizing loans, and can even cause recessions.  In doing so, the government is walking a fine line between inflation and recession. 

Another time-tested indicator of recession is an inverted yield curve.  What exactly does this mean? To begin, a yield curve is a graph showing the difference in interest rates between bonds. 

 The yield curve should slope up, but now, it slopes downward instead.  An inversion in the yield curve means that short-term interest rates, in this case 2 year bonds, exceed the rates for long-term, 10 year bonds, meaning investors believe the economy will fall sharply.  An inversion in the yield curve corresponds to the onset of an economic recession; it has predicted every economic recession in the last 50 years.  Essentially, when short-term rates are higher than long-term ones, banks no longer want to lend money, limiting opportunity for economic growth and making it harder for companies to pay off current loans.  The inverted yield curve heralds a looming recession in the near future. 

Although it may have seemed like a positive, the low unemployment levels may be yet another cause of concern for the future.  Firstly, low unemployment can be taken as a green light to raise interest rates, which naturally slows down economic growth.  Secondly, this low unemployment rate is causing increased inflation.  In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re seeing the rapid retirement of the baby boomers, the wealthiest generation in history, who control 53% of the USA’s wealth.   This leaves a workforce vacuum, leaving a multitude of available jobs and positions which creates the low unemployment.  Since there are now more jobs than people willing or available to work, the labor costs are rising. In order to afford the labor costs, prices also must go up, which leads to inflation.  Essentially, with the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world tried to turn the world economy off and then turn back on. This is simply not how it works.  Inevitably, the fallout of the lockdowns is leading to economic concern. 

It is a known phenomenon that everything tends to regress to the mean.  We are currently at a time of economic excess, with high inflation a telltale sign.  The only way to alleviate these excesses is to decrease economic activity through a recession.  Historically, peaks in inflation have been followed by a recession.  

The economy goes in cycles.  History goes in cycles. The economy shapes history and history shapes the economy. Every aspect of the economy is intricately interwoven with the past, current, and future events.  While major, external circumstances like disasters and politics are the major drivers of the macroeconomic scene, at the individual level, we have the power to make day to day financial decisions that microscopically shape the economy.  Some tips for preparing for an economic recession include, setting aside an emergency fund, paying off any current debts, living a more frugal lifestyle, and building up your resume in case of job loss.  And so, we as college students, with our lives ahead of us, face an uncertain future in terms of the economy upon graduation.  But how we prepare, budget, and save is up to us.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that we have the ability to learn from history.

Christian Watson Criticizes Critical Race Theory

When Christian Watson, spokesperson for Color Us United, came to Trinity University to talk about critical race theory (CRT), it was evident that the event would be controversial. Color Us United is an organization that advocates for a “race-blind America.”  The audience gathered in Chapman Great Hall was composed of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) members, a table of liberal students, and a handful of other students interested in hearing Watson’s take on CRT. When asked how he decided to come to Trinity, he replied, “It wasn’t hard at all. I was invited, and I came.” 

Watson was raised by a liberal single mother, but as he grew older, he was exposed to alternative perspectives and started attending seminars that sparked his interest. When asked how he became interested in critical race theory, Watson explained that as an African American man, he interacted with CRT in his personal life and tended to have conversations about it, which led to “a deeper intellectual interest.”  Watson says he approaches his viewpoints from the perspective of  “philosophy, reason, and debate.”

Watson’s thesis is that the so-called diversity that is popular in America does not reflect true diversity. Today’s idea of diversity is limited to identity, a superficial way to sum up an individual. Judging someone simply on external criteria, as many institutions are prone to do for diversity action programs, ultimately gives an incomplete picture of a nuanced human being. He explained that diversity is naturally all around us, in our skills, abilities, personal beliefs, and interests. “Everyone has unique abilities and certain gifts which they must identify.” The problem is that society tries to push people away from their natural gifts and make them conform to a stereotype of what they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to behave. Watson concluded with a statement echoing the transcendentalists of time gone by: “Knowing yourself is the most important tool that you could possibly have in this life.”  

After he finished his lecture, a question and answer session followed. As mentioned before, a group of liberal students came to question him. They asked him about the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to which he replied that Biden nominated her based on race alone, rather than qualification, a perfect subversion of how it should be. When questioned about police brutality against African Americans, Watson countered, “What police brutality?” He said that the idea of systematic racism in the police force was a myth contrived by the leftist media and that the police were inherently good people. Another question came up about intentional inclusivity in the workplace, and he said it was absolutely not a good idea; people should be hired based on abilities rather than identity. This all goes back to the concept of the color-blind system Watson promotes, to ultimately treat everyone equally. 

Christian Watson’s key takeaway is to judge people based on their ideas and what they have to offer, rather than based on external criteria, a lesson that the world desperately needs to hear. His personal experience as an African American in a world distorted by critical race theory drives home the true significance of his message. Watson was an excellent speaker, convicted in his beliefs, which he explained clearly and concisely. Christian Watson delivered a refreshing and thought-provoking critique of critical race theory to the Trinity University students who gathered to hear him and his ideas.

Cover photo taken by Ellis Jacoby.