Thursday, August 31, 2006
As many as one in five members of the armed services are being preyed on by loan centers set up near military bases that can charge cash-strapped military families interest of 400% or more, a new Pentagon report has found.
“We're seeing a growing trend of folks who are not eligible to deploy because of financial problems,” says Capt. Mark Patton, commander of Naval Base Point Loma in California. Patton says debt problems can cost some servicemembers their security clearances.
This is just brilliant. I thought soldiers were supposed to be safe on their home base.
Monday, August 28, 2006
"When Estrada was ousted, we realized the power of texting,"
said Palatino, the slight, well-spoken president of a
national youth party. "Since then we have never stopped
using it to advance our causes."
At 1:45, Palatino's phone pinged again, this time with the
message: "ASSEMBLE RIGHT NOW!"
A smile crossed his face. With a few more taps of his
thumbs, he forwarded the command down the text brigade
ranks. He sent it to those on his phone list, and each who
received it did the same. In seconds, about 1,000 students
were in the street, stopping traffic and sending cars and
bicycle taxis scattering.
Two students quickly hooked up a public address system to
the battery of a vehicle. One by one, leaders climbed on top
of it to fire up the crowd. Palatino demanded that President
Arroyo do more to end the killings and allocate more money
"Books, not bullets!" he shouted.
We American kids really need to get on this. Where's our national youth party? Where's our texting armies? All of y'all Facebook people, what's up??
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s.
Update:a followup story:
The nation’s median household income rose slightly faster than inflation last year for the first time in six years, the Census Bureau reported yesterday.
The rise, however, had little to do with bigger paychecks — in fact, both men and women earned less in 2005 than 2004. Rather, census officials said, more family members were taking jobs to make ends meet, and some people made more money from investments and other sources beyond wages.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
They're the Millennials. And they're coming to getcha.
Friday, August 25, 2006
On the wider front, some good stories in the Times and Times Magazine, some great ones in the Times-Picayune , and this one's from Reuters.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Why Does College Cost so Much--And is it Worth it?
The star is, um, Newt Gingrich. Yup, that Newt.
They filmed me in the basement of a local cafe where i sometimes bring my laptop...it was a long time before i could go back there. : )
Monday, August 21, 2006
For the past few decades the federal government has been racking up massive amounts of debt without frightening away lenders thanks to a sterling reputation of debt repayment. Those days, however, may be gone as we stand at the precipice of the retirement of the Baby Boom Generation and our political leaders are increasingly unable to prepare for the impending crisis. Today, as yet another fiscally irresponsible and reckless session of Congress winds down, we find ourselves confronting a half-trillion dollar war (so far); a massive, multibillion dollar Gulf Coast rebuilding effort; a looming energy crisis; a $260 billion deficit and an $8.5 trillion national debt. But the real challenges lay ahead, toward the obligations to this nation's citizens, and the magnitude of the problem should give even the most reckless of congressional members pause.
----Isn't the deficit basically an example of intergenerational imperialism? Generations X, Y, and those beyond us are subject to taxation without representation.
Friday, August 18, 2006
DEBT IS NOT just a mode of financing but a mode of pedagogy. We tend to think of it as a necessary evil attached to higher education but extraneous to the aims of higher education. What if we were to see it as central to people's actual experience of college? What do we teach students when we usher them into the post-welfare state university?
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
So do we spend too much time worrying about college rankings? Or not nearly enough?
Not so long ago, college administrators could respond that they seemed to be doing just fine. American universities have long attracted talented students from other continents, and this country’s population was once the most educated in the world.
But it isn’t anymore. Today the United States ranks ninth among industrialized nations in higher-education attainment, in large measure because only 53 percent of students who enter college emerge with a bachelor’s degree, according to census data. And those who don’t finish pay an enormous price. For every $1 earned by a college graduate, someone leaving before obtaining a four-year degree earns only 67 cents.
Last week, in a report to the Education Department, a group called the Commission on the Future of Higher Education bluntly pointed out the economic dangers of these trends. “What we have learned over the last year makes clear that American higher education has become what, in the business world, would be called a mature enterprise: increasingly risk-averse, at times self-satisfied, and unduly expensive,” it said. “To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance.”
Friday, August 11, 2006
ON the tests, I'll quote a correspondent from my email inbox:
I'm totally against state standardized tests. It will erode the integrity of higher education just like it
has to early education. The government needs to learn that it can't stick it's nose into everything. Let
the market determine the strengths and weaknesses of our higher education system and allow it to adjust
accordingly or perish.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
People don't understand this stuff, because it's demonically complicated, and that may be the biggest way that students suffer.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
What’s an “unfair internship”?
It’s an entry-level position with normal responsibilities that benefit the employer but called an “internship” so as to avoid paying an entry-level salary or any salary at all.
What’s a “fair internship”?
It’s an internship that should be called an apprenticeship: the intern receives a lot of coaching (more than a regular new staff), his presence is more of a burden than a benefit for the organization. If the intern receives an entry-level salary, with normal responsibilities, it’s a job by another name.
It includes resources on what to do if you see that your internship is illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
It also has a fair assessment of my NYT piece. I want to clarify one point: I stated in the piece that internships are not real jobs, only simulations.
Some internships involve real work. In that case, I think the intern should be fairly compensated as this blog argues.
Some internships do not involve real work. They involve busywork, and lots of staring at computer screens. In that case, I think the intern should quit.
A couple of commenters point out that Starbucks jobs are better than your average retail job. They pay around $7 an hour and you can get health benefits. True, but I still support the Starbucks workers' fundamental right to organize.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Am I a dork because I think an article discussing& simplifying federal budgets and accounting methods is really cool?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
"To be fair, I made the choices that put me in this situation. I attended an expensive university 3,000 miles from home. I stayed at that school, even though I could get a cheaper education elsewhere. I studied an impractical subject that I loved, then continued my studies at an obscure foreign university. I wasn't always aware of financial consequences.
Yet I made my choices based on the values I had been taught -- that helping others is more important than making money for yourself, meaningful career is more important than net worth, and brains, determination, and charisma are the key ingredients of success. I realize now that I subscribed to the fantasy of an equal society, when in fact everyone's options arise from class, race, gender, and a thousand other subtle differences in our experiences, assumptions, and privileges...What is writ large in corporate bankruptcies, withering federal programs and industrial outsourcing is writ small in stories of impossible choices and shattered educational dreams. The real tragedy is not that America's young people can't afford their college education -- the tragedy is that they are told their entire lives that education is their birthright and a chance to social mobility, and then are forced to watch that birthright crumble under the weight of unbearable debt."
I think this girl is totally right, and it's terrible what happened, but she also made mistakes that others can learn from. I so wish I could give everybody this news:
1. You likely don't need a graduate degree to do what you love, unless what you love is to practice medicine. (this girl decided to enter a master's program in "social change.")
2. Your first job is probably going to suck. You stuck out school for four years, so give the first job a chance for 2 years [she was "burnt out" after 6 months as a union organizer and "retreated" (her words) back to school. Big mistake.]
3. Big student loan debt is a big deal.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
“Is the U.S. a Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?,” by economist John Schmitt and researcher Ben Zipperer, found that the United States fares worse than Europe on a range of social and economic indicators, including most measures of poverty, health, education and crime rates.. the U.S. is the most unequal of the major OECD countries, with a higher Gini coefficient, lower relative incomes among poor households and a bigger gap between rich and poor. The report notes that:
- The U.S. has a smaller share of low-income workers that make it to higher income levels than any other OECD country. This contradicts the widespread belief that American workers have a much greater chance of getting ahead than do European workers.
In totally unrelated news, House Republicans pulled a major slime move this week, passing a $2 minimum wage increase BUT tying it to a repeal of the estate tax, which helps a tiny percentage of the very very rich. NYT: Democrats criticized the decision as a cynical charade intended
to give Republicans the appearance of supporting an increase in the
minimum wage through a bill that would not clear the Senate because of
opposition to an estate tax change aimed at extremely affluent
"In all my years here, this is the height of hypocrisy," said
Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who said
Republicans considered a raise in the minimum wage only out of fear of
losing House seats in November. "If you really cared, you would have
acted long ago. This is not an election-year conversion; it is an