From JR Smith to Donald Trump: Pop Culture and The Shaping of the World’s Economy

We live in a world in which money runs everything. Many people measure their worth in money. Although this may not be a good outlook on life, it is one many people struggle to past. If you are rich, than you are worth more than someone who is poor. This idea is even applied to countries, on an even bigger scale. Money determines a nation’s power, the advancement of its technology, and even the happiness of it’s citizens. Economics can be seen as the underlying factor that creates many other discipline’s. Without a solid economy, more developed countries would not have the opportunity to invest money into the improvement of technology and sciences, and instead worrying more about how to use the money they have for the health of their citizens and infrastructure.

Earl Joseph “JR” Smith was considered to have the worst basketball IQ in the NBA at one point in his career. Donald John Trump was widely known as a somewhat “self-made” billionaire, but was also known for a few bankruptcy filings, a fake university, and a couple rude remarks about women. And yet, both of these infamous names have completely turned their reputations around, one being considered one of the best role players in the NBA, and the other now the President-Elect of the United States of America. Additionally, both are entrepreneurs.

From business owners, sport stars, store clerks, corporations, or even websites, the economy of a country comes from many different locations. This constant transfer of money in a nation can help the country improve its quality of life tremendously, and a lack of transfer can cripple a country for decades. Profit is the motivation for every person, business and even country. When profit is not there, and debt takes its place, it is not a good look for any of the parties involved.

“Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect”

by Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker, 9.28.16

Genes are what make us who we are, but not everything has been learned about genes, especially how the play a role in our mental development — Image Cited

This article explains how practice can affect different people, and explores the idea behind nature vs nurture. It goes into depth on how people were studied to see how they achieved great feats, whether it be athletics or academics or businesses, or professions. It compares how certain people react to different regimens and how practice can make anyone better. But some people are at an advantage, given to them at birth. Athletes for example, are sometimes born with gifts, and sets of muscles that help them excel without as much practice as someone who isn’t as athletic. And this is also seen in academics. “That is not the whole story, though, as Lubinski points out. To him, the interesting finding is the striking range of abilities within this élite sample. “Individual differences in the top one per cent matter,” Lubinski told me. “People think of the top one per cent, whether in I.Q. or reasoning or what have you, as categorical. But that top contains one-third of the ability range you see in other samples. There is a huge amount of psychological diversity among the gifted.” Some accomplish a lot, but some, even with all their promise, end up indistinguishable from their initially less gifted counterparts. Genes give everyone a possible peak, but whether you reach that peak depends on a constellation of other factors.” This explains a lot of how the article goes. It focuses a lot on how an extreme amount of practice can distinguish the good from the great, along with certain factors that aren’t necessarily in the subjects control.

For many entrepreneurs, it takes years of trial and error to accomplish a great goal, reaching the profit they yearn for their whole lives. Many weren’t born with the idea that made them rich, a combination of factors placed them into many situations, and it only takes one perfect situation, with the perfect conditions that separates the good from the great.

“ The Misunderstanding of JR Smith”

by Charles Bethea

On paper, J.R. Smith should be an all-star,

but not enough basketball I.Q. to match his talent. Or so people think. J.R. is an amazing player, making shots people wouldn’t dream of taking, and in serious situations with the game on the line. In this piece, J.R. Smith discusses some of the antics that he pulled to make him a target of the NBA board of executives, from untying other player’s shoes mid-game, not once, but twice, to throwing elbows at opponents. He was conflicted, after switching teams multiple times, and even playing a year in China, before returning to the NBA to play for the Knicks. But even then, he couldn’t find a place to be comfortable. “‘Nothing I did in New York was working by the end, before going to Cleveland,’ he told me. He couldn’t get the balance right between work and life. ‘At one point I thought I was at the gym too much.’ He’d spend hours there working on his fundamentals, but it didn’t help. ‘So I started going out a lot, thinking I was taking the game too seriously. Then I partied too much. That wasn’t working. So I started messing with this girl, changing things up relationship-wise. That wasn’t working. Then I was having trouble with my daughter’s mom. And I’m like, Man, what’s going on? I couldn’t get out of my own way. I tried to have fun on the court, pulling somebody’s shoestring: fifty-thousand-dollar fine. I’d been doing that for years. Then the weed: suspended five games. It was like, This thing will not stop.’” (“THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF J. R. SMITH”, by Charles Bethea) Soon, he was traded to Cleveland, and it seems he has found his place there. Just coming off winning a NBA Championship in his second season there, it seems as though things are look up for J.R. Smith. J.R. has recently opened a new shoe store in his hometown, starting his career as an entrepreneur. He is determined to make his store successful and use the money from his store to help out the area’s children, by created new playgrounds and clubs. “It was an exciting day in Millstone: Smith, who is a shoe “enthusiast,” as he put it — he owns more than a thousand pairs — was there to open his new boutique sneaker store, Team Swish. (“Swish” is one of Smith’s nicknames.) The store sits on a three-and-a-half-acre property that’s been in Smith’s family for fifty-five years. When the original family home burned down, three decades ago, Smith’s father, Earl, a mason contractor, replaced it with an office building, which J.R. helped build. The building is now a three-unit strip mall, with a consignment shop, called Ida’s Place, run by Smith’s mother; a coffee and bagel spot; and, in between, Team Swish.”

“Why Vine was a Bad Match for Twitter”

by Brian Patrick Eha

The logo for Vine — Image Cited

This article explains how the social media network Vine is being closed down, after 4 years of allowing people to display their 6 second videos on the internet. At one point, Vine was one of the biggest social networking apps on the market. It allowed a place for sharing videos before it was integrated into the larger social networks site. “When Twitter acquired Vine, in 2012, for thirty million dollars, there was no Periscope, Twitter video, or Facebook Live — there was no easy way to broadcast video. And, as Mike Isaac pointed out in the Times, its six-second limit was developed when mobile video was new and people worried about running up the cost of their phones’ data plans. But now video is everywhere on social media. Vine has become superfluous, and Pachter was not surprised to learn that Twitter plans to shut it down in the months to come.” I remember when vine came out, it was an enormous procrastination machine. I could spend hours watching vines after my high school classes. But, at one point, I started to realize the lack of advertisements of the app itself. I was thankful that the lack of advertisements disturbing my binge of funny clips. This is the reason why the app is failing. It provides a great product, but no income due to its format. And in a world run by profit, it only makes sense to kill a project that doesn’t bring you that much, and invest into better ideas.

“Why America Is Rich, At Least For Now”

by Adam Davidson

This article explains aspects of the economic state of the USA. It shows how although the USA economic state is stable, growing, and even helping other countries, but people still think that the USA is still in a state of some sort of financial crisis. The article then explains how politics plays a role in the economic status discussion. The author makes a really interesting point. “Every four years, Republicans argue that they, alone, can help the economy grow, while Democrats argue that they will make sure that economic growth doesn’t just help the rich. If either argument were true, we might expect to see growth and inequality rise and fall in four- or eight-year cycles. The data we have, though, contradict this basic story. Growth is actually notably higher during Democratic Administrations. The graph of economic performance since the Second World War shows growth averaging 4.33 per cent a year under Democratic Presidencies, while growing at 2.54 per cent under Republican ones.” Later on in the article, it does take a turn to a more biased opinion favoring democrats. The author explains how Donald Trump’s platform for the presidential race threatens to undermine the entire US economy, and economic authors compares Trump to Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, a rich general who declared himself the dictator of Rome one day, and Juan Perón, an Argentine who went on to overthrow the government in 1943. “No one knows what Trump would do as President, but, based on his statements on the campaign trail, it’s possible to imagine a nation where people have less confidence in the courts, the military, and their rights to free speech and assembly. When this happens, history tells us, people stop dreaming about what they could have if they invest in education, new businesses, and new ideas. They focus, instead, on taking from others and holding tightly to what they’ve already amassed. Those societies, without the institutions that protect us from our worst impulses, become poorer, uglier, more violent. That is how nations fail.”

“Ivanka Trump and Her Father”

by Margaret Talbot

This article gives insight between the relationship between Ivanka Trump and her father’s presidential campaign. It shows how they kind of contradict each other, and how Ivanka is always on clean-up duty on the campaign. Her father says, or does, something that doesn’t please the public, and Ivanka is quick to come appease the crowd. Her poise and beauty play a large part in why Trump is still even in the race. “But elegant, beautiful Ivanka, possessed of the self-discipline and social graces that permanently elude her father, has been like the white-noise machine of the campaign, muting and sometimes neutralizing his outbursts.”She explains what her father “intends” or “implies” by his constant, rude and disrespectful comment. The campaign is constantly getting harder and Ivanka is trying extremely hard on the side of damage control, especially of the side of many waning women Trump supporters (so we thought, this article was written before the 22016 Election), especially due to the disgusting tape released recent, and the sexual harassment accusers coming out against Trump. Plus there are the odd comments said by Donald Trump about his daughter, “What was there, ever, to say in his favor as a champion of women? He had employed women in his company, some in positions of authority, as most employers who run large operations get around to doing eventually. He has certainly been a booster of Ivanka herself (‘My father is a feminist,’ she told the Sunday Times of London, in July. ‘It’s a big reason I am the woman I am today’), though the terms in which he has publicly complimented her can tend toward the unsavory or benighted. He has repeated that line about how he would have dated her if she wasn’t his daughter; he once endorsed Howard Stern’s request to refer to her as an attractive ‘piece of ass.’ And yet, as Lizzie Widdicombe noted in her magazine Profile of Ivanka, ‘when pressed to name a woman he might appoint to his Cabinet,’ Trump ‘could think of only one: his daughter.’” And yet, she still supports her father wholeheartedly, thinking he will make an excellent president. She has been charged with the immense task of convincing voters that her father should be taken seriously, and that he is the best option for our country’s future. A task that gets harder everyday, due to her father’s demeanor and idiocy.

“What the Markets Can, and Can’t, Tell Us About A Trump Presidency”

by Adam Davidson

This article explains how the election of Donald Trump has changed the world economic state. But they aren’t sure if it is in a good way or bad. This is mainly due to the spontaneity of Donald Trump. No one really knows what he is planning on doing as the president of the United States. His plans and platform for running has been hazy, filled with promises and assurances, but no actual description of his intentions. Plus there are the statements and jabs that Trump took and so many people and nations during his presidential campaign. It explains how the United States has based and connected its economy and the economy of other nations and associations off of promises and securities. “These include the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. We will use our Navy to make the seas safe for commerce and our military might to insure that the world’s developed nations see their interests and ours as intertwined. Trump has attacked every one of these foundations. How much should you pay for Apple stock, say, if we have to worry about the dollar plummeting in value and the President declaring a trade war on China, which is both Apple’s chief supplier and its fastest-growing market? There is no financial model, right now, for that many levels of structural uncertainty.” It also takes into the accounts of the other promises made by Trump not supposed to be related to the economy, but come with unintended economic consequences. “The repeal of Obamacare, alone, would force many people to forgo their riskier, entrepreneurial ambitions for the safety of a job with a health plan. Curtailing immigration will redirect the world’s most ambitious citizens elsewhere. A trade war with Mexico and China would be damaging in ways that are hard to fathom or measure. Trump’s tax plan will turn America’s serious but manageable debt burden into a crisis weighing on future generations.”

“The Failure of the Euro”

by John Lanchester


The Euro was created to be a universal currency of the continent of Europe, backed by the European Union, a financial institution created by a collection of European countries to help the economy of the continent as a whole. But with the creation of the Euro, created an unstable economic situation for the countries accepted into the EU. The larger, economically stable countries don’t want to assist the economically smaller countries, creating an unbalanced, fragile state. This situation was exposed in the end of the 2010s, with the financial crisis that occurred. The US has since recovered from this, but Europe has not. “Americans may have got out of the habit of talking about their economy as a success story, but from a European perspective it unmistakably is one. As Stiglitz points out, the U.S. unemployment rate hit ten per cent for a single month in 2009 and is now below five per cent; the eurozone unemployment rate hit ten per cent around the same time, and is still in double digits. In some European countries, youth unemployment is more than forty per cent. America’s economy is bigger than it was when the crisis hit. The eurozone’s is smaller.” They blame the Euro for this because all of the countries’ currencies are now linked together, but the big dogs don’t want to help the struggling smaller ones. And with the recent exit of the UK from the EU, the situation is not getting any better, for the UK or the EU.

“America’s Surprising Views on Income Inequality”

by Maria Konnikova

This article goes in depth on how Americans see their own incomes compared to others. Describing the correlation between income and happiness, the article explains how people relate to each other on an economic scale. Studies have shown that happiness is related to money in a large way. “According to social-science research, self-reported happiness traditionally correlates roughly with income inequality… Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan who studies income and happiness, told me that one way to understand it is to imagine him taking a dollar from Bill Gates and giving it to me. ‘Each extra dollar buys less happiness,’ he says, noting that I would get more happiness from that dollar than Gates did. ‘It’s the basic marginal benefit of each extra dollar. Inequality reduces happiness — every social scientist has a strong presumption of this.’” Many Americans are unaware of the income gap between the top ten percent and everyone else. And that maybe why many people haven’t seen a problem, therefore not decreasing their happiness. “So one might expect to see a rising wave of discontent during the past several years, as inequality has increased sharply. But here’s the strange thing: in polls that have sought to capture that rise directly, not much has changed. That is, people say they’d be happier if there were a more equitable distribution of wealth, but they’ve actually remained just about as happy, even as inequality has gone up…. The answer, it turns out, has two elements above and beyond the fact that we are all better off than before. First, Americans tend not to realize just how much inequality exists. ‘Across the population, people underestimate wealth inequality,’ Davidai says. Ideally, people think that wealth inequality should be relatively low.” People aren’t aware of the huge gap, so they don’t see it as an issue. If they did, it is suspected the happiness would fall. People would see themselves as not as happy or have a worse quality of life as the top ten percent. Plus, the article highlights the fact money becomes relative when it comes to happiness. Even if they have enough to be just as well off say nutrition or life, if they see someone has better in some way, they won’t feel as content with what they have.


The world is now more interconnected than ever, in ways such as the internet and communication. And yet, many are unaware of the role economics play on a global scale. Countries now rely on each other on a scale larger than anyone has seen before. Nations create alliances through trade and promises, using money and credit as a form of peace between countries. If trade between country is stopped abruptly, it is never a good sign. With a President-Elect that has already fired shots at many different trade partners, the future seems a little hazy. The new leader of the United States, Donald Trump, has already started playing a role in the economics of the worlds, and it cannot be seen whether his role will benefit of worsen the lives of this country or the world. Placing a person with very little government background at the helm of one of the largest economies the world has ever seen may or may not be a good idea. He has already come under fire by nearly all of the younger adult population of the USA, along with JR Smith’s Cavaliers teammates. LeBron James has already shown his distaste for Donal Trump, and even endorsed Hillary Clinton when she was running for president. Iman Shumpert, who was Smith’s teammate on the Knicks, and was trade to the Cavaliers along with Smith, voiced his opinion on Donald Trump in an interview with Complex Magazine: “‘I understand people’s stance on Trump. I can’t get caught up in the racial, sexist bullshit he’s got going on. That’s his personal thing, ya dig? But I just don’t think he can make anything shake like that. He not finna start no civil war out here. I do think he’s crazy — straight up. I think he did that stuff to get people to think he’s willing to shake it up. But did I vote for him? No. The other stuff that comes with him, I can’t get with. But now that he’s here, I’m not finna drag my feet. I gotta work here, at least until the offseason, if I wanna go get a crib in the Islands.’” We have already started to see some changes, but none harmful, but with four years to come of Donald Trump in the Oval office, it seems as though anything can happen. But for now, the United States must hope for the best.