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Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

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Introduction

Previously education was mostly about "finding yourself" -- developing understanding of the world and yourself, as well as developing those set of abilities that you was gifted most. And deciding what you want to do in the future, within contins of job market and your abilities.  Neoliberalism has changed that dramatically. Education now is just in "investment" into your "entrepreneurial self" to increase your value as "human capital" holder and this your value in the "labout market." (Symptomatic Redness -Philip Mirowski - YouTube).  That's bullsh*t, but people already brainwashed by neoliberals from the middle school buy it uncritically.

Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves…. Neoliberalism  is the philosophy of the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign…. They are pretend to belong to so called "creative vlass", but in reality are self-interested, parasitical, and predatory. Common people are not admissible to this new aristocracy even if they have two university educations.

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, it designed to propagate the current status of parents and at least in some cases, became more of a social trap converting poorer or more reckless (as in specializing in areas were job market is not existent) graduates into debt slaves without chances to repay the loans. All this is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk.

Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was the hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and persistent tales of graduates working as bartenders) to pay inflated tuition fees. That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit minted during dot-com boom expensive private colleges, who hunt for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces). It remains viable only in elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

In some disciplines such as economics University presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollar salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Job market situation and hidden financial rip offs

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change you specialization late in the education cycle. But early choice entail typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008. That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: this is a kind of "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in a particular specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet you are done.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities bacem appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first of all assume that it is functioning not to their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such salaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sense parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial resource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

The cruel world of neoliberal university

Of course bad things that happened to you during your university years are soon forgotten and nostalgia colors everything in role tones, but the truth is that the modern university is a very cruel world. Now more then ever. Here are some random observations of the subject (See also my Diploma Mills page about high education sharks for which sucking you dry financially is the main goal ):

Lysenkoism and petty, greedy pseudo-scientific scum as professors and teachers

Most teachers and Professors in the university are good, honest people who are trying to make some contribution to science and teach students (difficult things to mix). But not all. One of the most dangerous feature of neoliberal university are influx of people who represent a toxic mix of teacher, snake oil seller, careerist and cult follower. They are not teachers but brainwashers, hired guns -- propagandists masquerading as University professors. That is why we have witnessed such a corruption and politicization of science and rising proportion of research and theories taught at the universities that are fraudulent.

Previously teacher was a person somewhat similar to a monk. A person who consciously traded the ability to work in science to the possibility of acquiring material wealth, at least excessive material wealth. As Ernest Rutherford once reminded Pyotr Kapitsa "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

But in neoliberal university way too many teachers/researchers took Faustian bargain when one trades the academic independence for above average personal wealth, influence, for the power grab. And despite popular image of scientists and university professors they proved to be as corruptible by money as Wall Street traders ;-). This is because the sponsors of their research such as big business, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government vie to publish reports and results that put the sponsors in the best light. Good example is relations of pharmaceutical industry and academia

“The answer to that question is at once both predictable and shocking: For the past two decades, medical research has been quietly corrupted by cash from private industry. Most doctors and academic researchers aren't corrupt in the sense of intending to defraud the public or harm patients, but rather, more insidiously, guilty of allowing the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to manipulate medical science through financial relationships, in effect tainting the system that is supposed to further the understanding of disease and protect patients from ineffective or dangerous drugs. More than 60 percent of clinical studies--those involving human subjects--are now funded not by the federal government, but by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. That means that the studies published in scientific journals like Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine--those critical reference points for thousands of clinicians deciding what drugs to prescribe patients, as well as for individuals trying to educate themselves about conditions and science reporters from the popular media who will publicize the findings--are increasingly likely to be designed, controlled, and sometimes even ghost-written by marketing departments, rather than academic scientists. Companies routinely delay or prevent the publication of data that show their drugs are ineffective.

...

“ Novartis, stepped in and provided additional funding for development. In 1984, private companies contributed a mere $26 million to university research budgets. By 2000, they were ponying up $2.3 billion, an increase of 9000 percent that provided much needed funds to universities at a time when the cost of doing medical research was skyrocketing.”

Historically the scientific community is held together through its joint acceptance of the same fundamental principles of conducting research (and teaching those results) and ethics. Scientific research is best practiced in a voluntary, honest and free atmosphere. But this idyllic arrangement as well as scientific ethics now belongs to the past ( The Corruption of Science )

“It’s a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research.

...There is immense pressure on scientists to produce results, to publish, to seek glory, or just to get tenure. Scientists are human beings, after all, and sometimes they approach their field with preconceptions or biases. Politics certainly comes into play; consider eugenics in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, or eugenics in Nazi Germany.

Now we can talk only about the level of political and economical pressure and corresponding level of corruption on professors and scientists, not so much about presence or absence of corruption in science and education. What really matters for students is that when they feel that a professor is a scum, they nevertheless try to imitate. See for example Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia.

Historically the situation started to change even before neoliberal university became a dominant educational institution. Previously, despite the fact that money for science were in short supply, scientists maintained a self-discipline. That changed after WWII. Prior to World War II there was little government financial support for science. A graduate student working on a Ph.D. degree was expected to make a new discovery to earn that degree. And if somebody else came first he needed to find a new theme and to restart his work.

But with the advent of NSF scientists started to "propose" directions of research to get funding. And be sure this instill atmosphere of sycophantism and political correctness. This process accelerated dramatically since 1980th with the ascendance of neoliberalism as a dominant USA ideology, when greed became playing significant role in US universities. It should be understood that now the university professor is no longer is a teacher and a scientist, but predominantly "grants provider" for the university and that means that he/she is in the first place a political agent, a manipulator on a mission from the external agent (typically the state via NSF or other agency, see The Corruption of Science in America -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net)

For the unwashed masses University professor career still represents the ultimate carrier of truth for a given discipline, so his opinion have a distinct political weight. And the architects of our neoliberal world fully use this "superstition". Like we can see with neoclassical economics, economists have turned into an instrument of cognitive manipulation, when under the guise of science financial oligarchy promote beneficial to itself but false and simplistic picture of the world, using University professors to brainwash the masses into "correct" thinking.

Professors literally became a religious figures, and cult members or even cult leaders. The first sign of this dangerous disease of the modern university was probably Lysenkoism in the USSR. In this sense one can say that Lysenkoism represented a natural side effect of shrinking of freedom of the scientific community and growing influence of political power on science. As by Frederick Seitz noted in his The Present Danger To Science and Society

Everyone knows that the scientific community faces financial problems at the present time. If that were its only problem, some form of restructuring and allocation of funds, perhaps along lines well tested in Europe and modified in characteristic American ways, might provide solutions that would lead to stability and balance well into the next century. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex, made so by the fact that the scientific establishment has become the object of controversy from both outside and inside its special domain. The most important aspects of the controversy are of a new kind and direct attention away from matters that are sufficiently urgent to be the focus of a great deal of the community's attention.

The assaults on science from the outside arise from such movements as the ugly form of "political correctness" that has taken root in important portions of our academic community. There are to be found, in addition, certain tendencies toward a home-grown variant of the anti-intellectual Lysenkoism that afflicted science in the Stalinist Soviet Union. So-called fraud cases are being dealt with in new, bureaucratic ways that cut across the traditional methods of arriving at truth in science. From inside the scientific community, meanwhile, there are challenges that go far beyond those that arise from the intense competition for the limited funds that are available to nourish the country's scientific endeavor.

The critical issue of arriving at a balanced approach to funding for science is being subordinated to issues made to seem urgent by unhealthy alliances of scientists and bureaucrats. Science and the integrity of its practitioners are under attack and, increasingly, legislators and bureaucrats shape the decisions that determine which paths scientific research should take. There is, in addition, a sinister tendency, especially in environmental affairs, toward considering the undertaking of expensive projects that are proposed by some scientists to remedy worst-case formulations of problems before the radical and expensive remedies are proven to be needed. They are viewed seriously though they are based on the advice of opportunistic alarmists in science who leap ahead of what is learned from solid research to encourage support for the expensive remedies they perceive to be necessary. The potential for very great damage to science and society is real.

Textbook racket is a part of neoliberal transformation of university education

Unfortunately a large part of the textbook market in the USA has all signs of corrupted monopoly infested with cronyism and incompetence to the extent that Standard Oil practices looks pretty benign in comparison. As the site MakeTextbooksAffordable.com states on its font page:

The report found that even though students already pay $900 year for textbooks, textbook publishers artificially inflate the price of textbooks by adding bells and whistles to the current texts, and forcing cheaper used books off the market by producing expensive new editions of textbooks that are barely different from the previous edition.

And some university professors are part of these scheme. Congressmen David Wu sites the opinion of the publisher in his letter "If a student is paying hundreds of dollars for a book, it's because the professor has ordered the Cadillac edition". But that might be true only for CS where any professor can easily find a cheaper high quality substitute from publishers like O'Reilly (and students can do this too, see Softpanorama Bookshelf actually about finding the best CS book (and some other) at reasonable prices. In other disciplines like mathematics situation is a real racket: The cost of a common calculus textbook is over $100 in the USA. This is a blatant, open rip-off. Economics is probably even worse with some useless junk selling for almost $300 per book.

In the meantime, enterprising students have many ways to cut the cost of buying textbooks.

But here one needs to see a bigger picture: low quality of recommended textbooks and, especially, the quality of university instruction makes it necessary buying additional textbooks. Also the ownership of best textbooks often makes the difference between success and failure in the particular course. In this sense additional $100 spending for books for each course makes economic sense as the common alternative is to drop the course, which often means $1K of more loss.

There are several ways to save on additional textbooks that hopefully can somewhat compensate for the low quality of tuition in a typical university. With some effort a student can often save approximately 50% of the cover price. Again my Links2bookstores page contains more information.

At the same time if the instructor is weak, or, worse, belongs to "fundamentalists", a category of instructors that does not distinguish between important and unimportant things and overloads the course with "useless overcomplexity" additional books are one of few countermeasures against this typical university-style rip-off. Dropping the course is a difficult maneuver that requires perfect timing and problems with instructor and the course content usually do not surface during the first month of the study when you can still do it for free or with minimal damage.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

Tim Taylor on why textbooks cost so much:

Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks: High textbook prices are a pebble in the shoe of many college students. Sure, it's not the biggest financial issue they face, But it's a real and nagging annoyance that for hinders performance for many students. ...
David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein at National Public Radio took up this question recently on one of their "Planet Money" podcasts. ... For economists, a highlight is that they converse with Greg Mankiw, author of what is currently the best-selling introductory economics textbook, which as they point out is selling for $286 on Amazon. Maybe this is a good place to point out that I am not a neutral observer in this argument: The third edition of my own Principles of Economics textbook is available through Textbook Media. The pricing varies from $25 for online access to the book, up through $60 for both a paper copy (soft-cover, black and white) and online access.

Several explanations for high textbook prices are on offer. The standard arguments are that textbook companies are marketing selling to professors, not to students, and professors are not necessarily very sensitive to textbook prices. (Indeed, one can argue that before the rapid rise in textbook prices in the last couple of decades, it made sense for professors not to focus too much on textbook prices.) Competition in the textbook market is limited, and the big publishers load up their books with features that might appeal to professors: multi-colored hardcover books, with DVDs and online access, together with test banks that allow professors to give quizzes and tests that can be machine-graded. At many colleges and universities, the intro econ class is taught in a large lecture format, which can include hundreds or even several thousand students, as well as a flock of teaching assistants, so some form of computerized grading and feedback is almost a necessity. Some of the marketing by textbook companies involves paying professors for reviewing chapters--of course in the hope that such reviewers will adopt the book.

The NPR show casts much of this dynamic as a "principal-agent problem," the name for a situation in which one person (the "principal") wants another person (the "agent") to act on their behalf, but lacks the ability to observe or evaluate the actions of the agent in a complete way. Principal-agent analysis is often used, for example, to think about the problem of a manager motivating employees. But it can also be used to consider the issue of students (the "principals") wanting the professor (the "agent") to choose the book that will best suit the needs of the students, with all factors of price and quality duly taken into account. The NPR reporters quote one expert saying that the profit margin for high school textbooks is 5-10%, because those books decisions are made by school districts and states that negotiate hard. However, profit margins on college textbooks--where the textbook choice is often made by a professor who may not even know the price that students will pay--are more like 20%.

The NPR report suggests this principal-agent framework to Greg Mankiw, author of the top-selling $286 economic textbook. Mankiw points out that principal-agent problems are in no way nefarious, but come up in many contexts. For example, when you get an operation, you rely on the doctor to make choices that involve costs; when you get your car fixed, you rely on a mechanic to make choices that involve costs; when you are having home repairs done, you rely on a repair person or a contractor to make choices that involve costs. Mankiw argues that professors, acting as the agents of students, have legitimate reason to be concerned about tradeoffs of time and money. As he notes, a high quality book is more important "than saving them a few dollars"--and he suggests that saving $30 isn't worth it for a low-quality book.

But of course, in the real world there are more choices than a high-quality $286 book and a low-quality $256 book. The PIRG student surveys suggest that up to two-thirds of students are avoiding buying textbooks at all, even though they fear it will hurt their grade, or are shifting to other classes with lower textbook costs. If a student is working 10 hours a week at a part-time job, making $8/hour after taxes, then the difference between $286 book and a $60 book is 28.25 hours--nearly three weeks of part-time work. I am unaware of any evidence in which students were randomly assigned different textbooks but otherwise taught and evaluated in the same way, and kept time diaries, which would show that higher-priced books save time or improve academic performance. It is by no means obvious that a lower-cost book (yes, like my own) works less well for students than a higher-cost book from a big publisher. Some would put that point more strongly.

A final dynamic that may be contributing to higher-prices textbooks is a sort of vicious circle related to the textbook resale market. The NPR report says that when selling a textbook over a three-year edition, a typical pattern was that sales fell by half after the first year and again by half after the second year, as students who had bought the first edition resold the book to later students. Of course, this dynamic also means that many students who bought the book new are not really paying full-price, but instead paying the original price minus the resale price. The argument is that as textbooks have increased in price, the resale market has become ever-more active, so that sales of a textbook in later years have dwindled much more quickly. Textbook companies react to this process by charging more for the new textbook, which of course only spurs more activity in the resale market.

A big question for the future of textbooks is how and in what ways they migrate to electronic forms. On one side, the hope is that electronic textbooks will offer expanded functionality, as well as being cheaper. But this future is not foreordained. At least at present, my sense is that the functionality of reading and taking notes in online textbooks hasn't yet caught up to the ease of reading on paper. Technology and better screens may well shift this balance over time. But even setting aside questions of reading for long periods of time on screen, or taking notes on screen, at present it remains harder to skip around in a computerized text between what you are currently reading and the earlier text that you need to be checking, as well as skipping to various graphs, tables, and definitions. To say it more simply, in a number of subjects it may still be harder to study an on-line text than to study a paper text.

Moreover, as textbook manufacturers shift to an on-line world, they will bring with them their full bag of tricks for getting paid. The Senack report notes:

Today’s marketplace offers more digital textbook options to the student consumer than ever. “Etextbooks” are digitized texts that students read on a laptop or tablet. Similar to PDF documents, e-textbooks enable students to annotate, highlight and search. The cost may be 40-50 percent of the print retail price, and access expires after 180 days. Publishers have introduced e-textbooks for nearly all their traditional textbook offerings. In addition, the emergence of the ereader like the Kindle and iPad, as well as the emergence of many e-textbook rental programs, all seemed to indicate that the e-textbook will alter the college textbook landscape for the better.

However, despite this shift, users of e-textbooks are subject to expiration dates, on-line codes that only work once, page printing limits, and other tactics that only serve to restrict use and increase cost.

Unfortunately for students, the publishing companies’ venture into e-textbooks is a continuation of the practices they use to monopolize the print market.

JohnH:

My understanding is that there are cases where the professor requires the textbook he wrote and for which he receives royalties...

In such cases, the publisher and the professor's interests align against the student, who pays through the teeth.

djb:

good article but i have a real problem with introductory texts on economics

they are completely biased, mostly towards supply side of the debate

meaning, of course, they are wrong

if they just contained that which is undeniably true then ok, or if they presented it as this school of thought says this and that school of thought says the other, ok,

The Raven:

A general rule of thumb: half the selling price of a book is spent before the first impression is made on paper. Speaking as a very small publisher, I think the main problem is that the texts are expensive to produce.

They take a lot of editorial and design effort, so the fixed costs of textbook production are high, the production costs are often high, and textbook bestsellers are not common, so they don't usually make it up on volume.

Now, one could, for standard freshman and sophomore texts, aim at lower costs and higher volumes, but that's not academic publishing, and nothing is going to help with upper-level texts; the market is just not that big.

pgl -> to The Raven...

Excellent! With a high elasticity of demand, the increase in quantity beats the drop in price. Unless the marginal cost of printing books is higher than I suspect it is, Mankiw's publisher is not a profit maximizing monopolist. I'm telling you the best economics is right here and we don't charge $286!

The Raven -> to pgl...

Thanks.

You'd have to market a book *hard* to get that increase in demand, though. It's not a student-by-student sale decision; the professors have to be marketed. The other thing about publishing economics that people outside the industry don't realize: most books don't make much money, so publishers rely on the good-sellers and the best-sellers for much of their profits. If you've got something you're pretty sure is going to be in demand, *you mark it up,* because in William Golding's immortal phrase, "Nobody knows anything."

Over the past 25 or so years, the consolidation of publishing has put the money types more and more in control of the business. And the money types always want to only market best sellers. This is sort of like Germany saying that everyone should make money exporting. "That trick never works."

Now, if anyone wanted to bring the price of an Econ 101 book down, one could do a no-frills book, small, soft-covered, and strictly monochrome, or perhaps an ebook. (But watch out—only some ebook readers support mathematics well.) It might cost $50 or so (I'm guessing—I'm not a textbook publisher.) It would not look impressive, and this might make a problem for marketing, but students could still learn from it. And—who knows?—it might even sell.

T.J.:

The issue is that textbook publishers release new editions every couple of years. For many subjects, including economics, this is absurd. Sciences don't change that quickly.

For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200.

Has principles of microeconomics changed that much over the course of 6 years? No, but textbook companies make a few changes on the margin and charge you hundreds of dollars for a new edition. Many times, professors require online access codes to supplement their lecture. Therefore, the student is forced into the newer edition, in which often there is no substantial differences or major improvements in presenting the material.

When you have that sort of market power, it is easy to achieve economic rents.

pgl -> to T.J....

"Sciences don't change that quickly". One would hope those freshwater books changed after their utter failures to predict the most recent recession. But they likely haven't.

cm -> to T.J....

There are errata, and some content that the author has in mind doesn't make it into the first edition, or not at the intended quality/depth. Most people who have never published something substantial have no idea how much work it is to get non-fiction scientific/technical stuff publication ready. Not only on the author's part but also editing and proofreading/giving feedback at a collegial level. (Not meaning to knock down fiction, that's a different set of challenges.)

Bill Ellis:

Two Ideas I would like to see combined. A period of Universal public service that earns a free higher and or tech education. Something like the GI bill for all.

I think making universal public service a right of passage could help us be a more unified society. If we have kids from inner city Detroit, rural West Virginia, suburban San Francisco and the oil fields of Oklahoma working side by side it would open their eyes to each other in ways that are never experienced by most American kids who are living in communities of institutional self-segregation.

Having said that.. free education is a no brainer no matter what.
To cover everyone's tuition it would only cost us about forty billion more than the feds already spend on higher ed. That's a rounding error in terms of our total budget.

We subsidize big oil and gas to the tune of about 50 billion a year.

The maddening thing is that the national debate is not even close to taking Free Ed seriously. Instead Liz Warren is portrayed some kind of wild eyed radical for proposing a modest cut in interest rates on student loans and some narrow way to get some forgiveness of debt.

John Cummings:

It is part of the educational industrial complex (which include vouchers and government backed private school industrial complex)

Educational industrial complex
Military industrial complex
Medical industrial complex
Prison industrial complex

Fred C. Dobbs:

(Evidently, 'It’s Economics 101'.)

Higher education: Why textbooks cost so much http://econ.st/1yzDU5Z via @TheEconomist - Aug 16th 2014

Students can learn a lot about economics when they buy Greg Mankiw’s “Principles of Economics”—even if they don’t read it. Like many popular textbooks, it is horribly expensive: $292.17 on Amazon. Indeed, the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation (see chart, at link).

Like doctors prescribing drugs, professors assigning textbooks do not pay for the products themselves, so they have little incentive to pick cheap ones. Some assign books they have written themselves. The 20m post-secondary students in America often have little choice in the matter. Small wonder textbooks generate megabucks.

But hope is not lost for poor scholars. Foreign editions are easy to find online and often cheaper—sometimes by over 90%. Publishers can be litigious about this, but in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to buy and resell copyrighted material obtained legally. Many university bookstores now let students rent books and return them. Publishers have begun to offer digital textbooks, which are cheaper but can’t be resold. And if all else fails, there is always the library.

Related: How Your Textbook Dollars Are Divvied Up http://t.usnews.com/a2B567 via @usnews - Aug 28, 2012

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(A bunch of experts discuss the matter.)

Room for Debate: The Real Cost of College Textbooks http://nyti.ms/1qEHasX - July 2010

(Including a couple of economists!)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half -- or More-Kiplinger http://po.st/nCZsxY - August 2014

(By renting e-books, donchaknow.)

(Turns out Mankiw's Econ textbook, which
currently costs $289 in hardcover from
Amazon, can be rented in Kindle format
for a mere $173 - for 180 days.)

(Hardcover rental is $70, however.)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(Wait a second. The Federales fixed
this problem back in 2008...)

Advocates say a new set of federal provisions, aimed at driving down the cost of college textbooks, should help students this fall. On July 1, (2010) these rules took effect:

Publishers must give professors detailed information about textbook prices, revision histories and a list of alternate formats.

Publishers have to sell materials typically bundled with textbooks -- such as CDs, DVDs and workbooks -- separately so students don't have to buy them.

Colleges have to include in-course schedules with required textbooks for each class, including the book's price and International Standard Book Number, an identifying tool.

The protections, included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, are an attempt to lessen student debt, said U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday.

"The cost of education is of concern not only to students and families but to the nation," Durbin said, explaining why the government got involved in textbook prices. "Students are emerging with more and more debt."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/22/97931_new-federal-rules-take-aim-at.html?rh=1

Charles Peterson:

A $289 econ text is only marked up 20% ???

I'm not sure how to account for this, but I believe a full account of markup should include royalties if they have become outrageous economic rent.

Jim Harrison:

Textbooks have been outrageously expensive for a long time, though some of the prices quoted in this article were astonishing to me and I used to be in the business. Nothing much has changed. The complaints and the defenses sound very familiar. Even in the 70s and 80s, publishers groused about how the used trade hurt their sales and the suggestion was repeatedly made that one way around the trap was to produce much cheaper texts and make up the difference on volume. Unfortunately, the numbers never add up for that business plan since the major textbook publishers have huge sunk costs in the big sales forces needed to support the current model. Anyhow, good cheap books have long been available for many big undergrad courses if profs want to assign them and don't mind producing their own tests and other teaching aids. A handful of profs do just that and were already doing it thirty years ago, but they are a distinct minority.

About the revision racket: the funny thing is that old editions of textbooks are often better than more recent editions. Market research makes good books worse in much the same way that it eventually screws up software by the relentless addition of bells and whistles. I'm a technical writer these days and keep copies of several old classics at hand when I need to brush up: Feynman's lectures on physics; the first edition of Freeman, Pisani, and Purves on Statistics; the 2nd edition of Linus Pauling's Intro Chem text; Goldstein on Thermo; and a real museum piece, Sylvaner Thomas' Calculus Made Easy. Many of these books have been reprinted by Dover and are available for peanuts.

To be fair, the high price for textbooks makes more sense in some fields than in others. The three or four year revision cycle is absurd for math books since the math remains the same decade after decade, but texts in areas like molecular biology really do have to be revised frequently and substantively, a very labor-intensive task. Which is why I give a pass to the Biology editors and the folks who struggle to update the Intermediate Accounting books with the latest FASB standards.

cm -> to Jim Harrison...

Can you elaborate on the revision "paradox"? Surely not only in very new fields, the state of the art progresses, or textbook authors see a need or opportunity to include new material (I suspect somebody setting out to write a comprehensive text has more ideas what to write about than can be finished at the required quality in the required time, for the first edition).

How would the subsequent editions be worse, if the new content is driven by the author and not by external marketing considerations, unless the new material is at the expense of older material (e.g. #pages limit)?

From my very limited experience, authors who are not in it for making a profit, and who write for a small market (selling up to a few thousand copies per year is a small market) run into substantial overhead costs for editing, marketing (i.e. making the existence of the book known to the target audience), and distribution, and basically have to do the work for free. Some, and perhaps most, certainly academic, publishers have "charity" programs where they publish small editions where they at best break even or even cross-subsidize them out of "full rate" publications. Then people complain about excessive prices for the latter.

Leading Edge Boomer:

Jeebus, $286 for a textbook, from an author who is often wrong lately? I co-authored a graduate computer science text (low volume = higher cost) that retailed in the low two digits.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I will not comment on the author's merit or lack thereof, but $286 is really in "WTF" territory, for any textbook.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I once contributed to a book, and the authors/editors decided to collectively waive their royalties to hit an affordable price (and I suspect it was still a charity deal on the part of the largely academic publisher). But I got my free copy.

Jim Harrison:

At least for big market textbooks, the motive for revisions is generally financial and that's as true for the authors as the publishers. In fact, the authors are often the ones who push for new editions as their royalty checks steadily diminish. In cases where it's the authors who are reluctant to revise for whatever reason, publishers often sweeten the deal with advances, grants, or other goodies.

I don't mean to be completely cynical. Authors and editors certainly try to produce a better product when they put out new editions, and it very often happens that the second edition is better than the first. Especially in later cycles, however, the changes are usually pretty cosmetic. The editor in charge of the project solicits advice from users and potential users and comes up with a list of "improvements" in a process not entirely different than what happens when various interests in Washington get their pet provisions put in a bill. If you think that professor X is likely to adopt the text if you go along with his ideas and plug his contributions in the acknowledgements, the idea is very likely to be irresistible.

The sales force also weighs in. They want feature they can tout; but since real improvements are hard to come by, that usually means more and more pedagogy: boxes, pictures, computer programs, and umpteen forms of emphasis. Let me assure you it takes desperate ingenuity to come up with something new to add to an Intermediate Algebra textbook. "Now with a new way to factor trinomials" isn't exactly a memorable pitch. Meanwhile, after three or four editions, the author, who presumably would be the best source of serious innovation for a new edition, is generally bored to death with the project.

As I said above, there are textbooks that really do need perpetually revision for substantive reasons; but in most fields what Freshmen and Sophomores need to learn has been known for a long time. My remarks on revisions also don't apply very well to upper level texts in smaller markets, in part because students tend to hang on to serious books in their majors so the companies have less incentive to beat the used book market with new editions.

reason:

From what I remember of my university days (in the long distant past), we didn't have text books (that was for school kids). We had lectures and lists of reading materials (that if we were lucky we could find in the library and photocopy relvant sections). I did have a copy of Samualson (relatively cheap). But the emphasis was on a reading a variety of sources. What has changed, and why?

reason:

P.S. Not have text books would have the advantage of ensuring that the students attended lectures and stayed awake during them.

Jay:

No mention of the cost for this textbook...

http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Paul-Krugman/dp/1429251638/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413545846&sr=8-2&keywords=krugman+wells

grizzled:

My own biggest peeve concerns calculus textbooks, especially introductory calculus textbooks. The material hasn't changed in at least 60 years, if not longer. If it weren't for the current ridiculously long copyright terms people could just use old ones.

The last time I took the subject our professor went to some lengths to let us use the previous edition, which was available used. The only real change in the next edition was in the problems. That is, if a student was assigned "problem 8 in section xxx" having the most recent edition was the only way to know what the problem was.

I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Bloix:

My son took an intro geology course a few years ago. The textbook price at the school bookstore was about $125. He purchased the gray market (legal) "international edition" - word for word, page for page the same, but with a different picture on the cover - over the internet for about $50.

It's my understanding that this sort of price-differential is common. Mankiw's book appears to be available in the "international edition" for $60 (soft cover).

http://www.abebooks.com/9781285165875/Principles-Economics-7th-Edition-Mankiw-128516587X/plp

Please don't tell me that publishers and authors are not making money when they sell their books for US$50 or 60 in Australia.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Sep 21, 2018] Bannon comes off surprisingly well in this book. I suspect he is a source for much of the info.

Sep 21, 2018 | www.amazon.com

3.0 out of 5 stars

span class="a-size-base a-color

Fear: Trump in the White House

w.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R26ONK8S0HS7J2/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B075RV48W3">

By Jason on September 19, 2018
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

First, let me say I voted for Trump as a "Disrupter" and to that end he has exceeded expectations.

The book starts out great through the first 5 or 6 chapters, but then becomes a bit convoluted. The bottom line of the book and reality is that Trump is surrounded by apprentice scoundrels, and that he is the boss scoundrel.

He demands loyalty but gives none. As a Former Marine I would not follow him into battle; I would never have the opportunity because he and his sons would never go into harm's way.

The best of the book was the hinted forthcoming bombshells, that never exploded. Woodward dropped the ball on this one, and as an author myself, it's nice to see even the big boys, Simon & Schuster, have editing issues.

Jay Fitzpatrick author of "The Patsy".

[Sep 16, 2018] After the iron curtain fell, there was a big demand for Russian-trained programmers because they could program in a very efficient and light manner that didn't demand too much of the hardware, if I remember correctly

Notable quotes:
"... It's a bit of chicken-and-egg problem, though. Russia, throughout 20th century, had problem with developing small, effective hardware, so their programmers learned how to code to take maximum advantage of what they had, with their technological deficiency in one field giving rise to superiority in another. ..."
"... Russian tech ppl should always be viewed with certain amount of awe and respect...although they are hardly good on everything. ..."
"... Soviet university training in "cybernetics" as it was called in the late 1980s involved two years of programming on blackboards before the students even touched an actual computer. ..."
"... I recall flowcharting entirely on paper before committing a program to punched cards. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Bill Herschel 2 days ago ,

Very, very slightly off-topic.

Much has been made, including in this post, of the excellent organization of Russian forces and Russian military technology.

I have been re-investigating an open-source relational database system known as PosgreSQL (variously), and I remember finding perhaps a decade ago a very useful whole text search feature of this system which I vaguely remember was written by a Russian and, for that reason, mildly distrusted by me.

Come to find out that the principle developers and maintainers of PostgreSQL are Russian. OMG. Double OMG, because the reason I chose it in the first place is that it is the best non-proprietary RDBS out there and today is supported on Google Cloud, AWS, etc.

The US has met an equal or conceivably a superior, case closed. Trump's thoroughly odd behavior with Putin is just one but a very obvious one example of this.

Of course, Trump's nationalistic blather is creating a "base" of people who believe in the godliness of the US. They are in for a very serious disappointment.

kao_hsien_chih Bill Herschel a day ago ,

After the iron curtain fell, there was a big demand for Russian-trained programmers because they could program in a very efficient and "light" manner that didn't demand too much of the hardware, if I remember correctly.

It's a bit of chicken-and-egg problem, though. Russia, throughout 20th century, had problem with developing small, effective hardware, so their programmers learned how to code to take maximum advantage of what they had, with their technological deficiency in one field giving rise to superiority in another.

Russia has plenty of very skilled, very well-trained folks and their science and math education is, in a way, more fundamentally and soundly grounded on the foundational stuff than US (based on my personal interactions anyways).

Russian tech ppl should always be viewed with certain amount of awe and respect...although they are hardly good on everything.

TTG kao_hsien_chih a day ago ,

Well said. Soviet university training in "cybernetics" as it was called in the late 1980s involved two years of programming on blackboards before the students even touched an actual computer.

It gave the students an understanding of how computers works down to the bit flipping level. Imagine trying to fuzz code in your head.

FarNorthSolitude TTG a day ago ,

I recall flowcharting entirely on paper before committing a program to punched cards. I used to do hex and octal math in my head as part of debugging core dumps. Ah, the glory days.

Honeywell once made a military computer that was 10 bit. That stumped me for a while, as everything was 8 or 16 bit back then.

kao_hsien_chih FarNorthSolitude 10 hours ago ,

That used to be fairly common in the civilian sector (in US) too: computing time was expensive, so you had to make sure that the stuff worked flawlessly before it was committed.

No opportunity to seeing things go wrong and do things over like much of how things happen nowadays. Russians, with their hardware limitations/shortages, I imagine must have been much more thorough than US programmers were back in the old days, and you could only get there by being very thoroughly grounded n the basics.

[Sep 16, 2018] Challenging Freedom: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democratic Education by Robert Karaba

"Teaching to the test" is a perversion of education. Excessive quantification is bad. Both are primary features of neoliberal education.
Notable quotes:
"... If we care about the prospects of democratic education, we must take neoliberalism's success seriously, for it is a philosophical framework in which freedom and democratic education are mutually exclusive. ..."
"... We must intentionally challenge the neoliberal notion of the value freedom and the usefulness of its associated philosophical assumptions. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | democracyeducationjournal.org

Goodlad, et al. (2002) rightly point out that a culture can either resist or support change. Schein's (2010) model of culture indicates observable behaviors of a culture can be explained by exposing underlying shared values and basic assumptions that give meaning to the performance. Yet culture is many-faceted and complex. So Schein advised a clinical approach to cultural analysis that calls for identifying a problem in order to focus the analysis on relevant values and assumptions. This project starts with two assumptions:

  1. The erosion of democratic education is a visible overt behavior of the current U.S. macro-culture, and
  2. This is a problem.

I intend to use this problem of the erosion of democratic education as a basis for a cultural analysis. My essential question is: What are the deeper, collective, competing value commitments and shared basic assumptions that hinder efforts for democratic education? The purpose of this paper is to start a conversation about particular cultural limitations and barriers we are working with as we move toward recapturing the civic mission of education.

... ... ...

Neoliberalism's success in infiltrating the national discourse shuts out alternative discourses and appears to render them irrelevant in everyday American culture (R. Quantz, personal communication, Summer 2006). If we care about the prospects of democratic education, we must take neoliberalism's success seriously, for it is a philosophical framework in which freedom and democratic education are mutually exclusive. Dewey (1993), in all his wisdom, warned:

And let those who are struggling to replace the present economic system by a cooperative one also remember that in struggling for a new system of social restraints and controls they are also struggling for a more equal and equitable balance of powers that will enhance and multiply the effective liberties of the mass of individuals. Let them not be jockeyed into the position of supporting social control at the expense of liberty [emphasis added]. (p. 160)

Yet, that is exactly the situation in which we find ourselves today. Democratic education is viewed as a social control policy, as an infringement on the supremacy of the [neoliberal] freedom. We witness a lack of democratic citizenship, moral, and character education in our schools. We see a lack of redistributing resources for equality of educational opportunity. We observe a lack of talk about education's civic mission, roles, and goals. Democratic education is viewed as tangential, secondary, and mutually exclusive from the prioritized value of "liberty." How can we foster alternative notions of freedom, such as Lincoln's republican sense of liberty as collectively inquiring and deciding how we rule ourselves?

We must intentionally challenge the neoliberal notion of the value freedom and the usefulness of its associated philosophical assumptions.

[Sep 16, 2018] Challenging Freedom: Neoliberalism and the Erosion of Democratic Education

Sep 16, 2018 | democracyeducationjournal.org

Goodlad, et al. (2002) rightly point out that a culture can either resist or support change. Schein's (2010) model of culture indicates observable behaviors of a culture can be explained by exposing underlying shared values and basic assumptions that give meaning to the performance. Yet culture is many-faceted and complex. So Schein advised a clinical approach to cultural analysis that calls for identifying a problem in order to focus the analysis on relevant values and assumptions. This project starts with two assumptions:

(1) The erosion of democratic education is a visible overt behavior of the current U.S. macro-culture, and

(2) this is a problem.

I intend to use this problem of the erosion of democratic education as a basis for a cultural analysis. My essential question is: What are the deeper, collective, competing value commitments and shared basic assumptions that hinder efforts for democratic education? The purpose of this paper is to start a conversation about particular cultural limitations and barriers we are working with as we move toward recapturing the civic mission of education.

[Sep 16, 2018] Ending the Secrecy of the Student Debt Crisis

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes.
Notable quotes:
"... Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage . ..."
"... By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine ..."
"... Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills. ..."
"... Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew. ..."
"... With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances. ..."
"... When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems. ..."
"... Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization." ..."
"... "Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost." ..."
"... A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains. ..."
"... Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This article describes how the stigma of struggling to pay student debt is a burden in and of itself. I wish this article had explained how little it take to trigger an escalation into default interest rates and how punitive they are. The piece also stresses the value of activism as a form of psychological relief, by connecting stressed student debt borrowers with people similarly afflicted.

But the bigger issue is the way indebtedness is demonized in a society that makes it pretty much impossible to avoid borrowing. One reader recounted how many (as in how few) weeks of after tax wages it took to buy a car in the 1960s versus now. Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase. And if you don't have installment credit or a mortgage, the consumer credit agencies ding you!

It goes without saying that the sense of shame is harder to endure due to how shallow most people's social networks are, which is another product of neoliberalism.

In keeping, the New York Times today ran an op-ed by one of its editors on how student debtors are also victims of the crisis, reprinted from a longer piece in The Baffler (hat tip Dan K). Key sections :

Because of the loans' disgracefully high interest rates, my family and I have paid more or less the equivalent of my debt itself in the years since I graduated, making monthly payments in good faith -- even in times of unemployment and extreme duress -- to lenders like Citigroup, a bank that was among the largest recipients of federal bailout money in 2008 and that eventually sold off my debt to other lenders. This ruinous struggle has been essentially meaningless: I now owe more than what I started out owing, not unlike my parents with their mortgage .

Many people have and will continue to condemn me personally for my tremendous but unexceptional student debt, and the ways in which it has made the recession's effects linger for my family. I've spent quite a lot of time in the past decade accepting this blame. The recession may have compounded my family's economic insecurity, but I also made the conscious decision to take out loans for a college I couldn't afford in order to become a journalist, a profession with minimal financial returns. The amount of debt I owe in student loans -- about $100,000 -- is more than I make in a given year. I am ashamed and embarrassed by this, but as I grow older, I think it is time that those profiting from this country's broken economic system share some of my guilt

[At my commencement in 2009] Mrs. Clinton then echoed a fantasy of boundless opportunity that had helped guide the country into economic collapse, deceiving many of the parents in attendance, including my own, into borrowing toward a future that they couldn't work hard enough to afford. "There is no problem we face here in America or around the world that will not yield to human effort," she said. "Our challenges are ones that summon the best of us, and we will make the world better tomorrow than it is today." At the time, I wondered if this was accurate. I now know how wrong she was.

By Daniela Senderowicz. Originally published in Yes! Magazine

Activists are building meaningful connections among borrowers to counter the taboo of admitting they can't pay their bills.

Gamblers and reality TV stars can claim bankruptcy protections when in financial trouble, but 44 million student loan borrowers can't. Unemployed, underpaid, destitute, sick, or struggling borrowers simply aren't able to start anew.

With a default rate approaching 40 percent , one would expect armies of distressed borrowers marching in the streets demanding relief from a system that has singled out their financial anguish. Distressed student debtors, however, seem to be terror-struck about coming forward to a society that, they say, ostracizes them for their inability to keep up with their finances.

When we spoke to several student borrowers, almost none were willing to share their names. "I can't tell anyone how much I'm struggling," says a 39-year-old Oregon physician who went into student loan default after his wife's illness drained their finances. He is terrified of losing his patients and reputation if he speaks out about his financial problems.

"If I shared this with anyone they will look down upon me as some kind of fool," explains a North Carolina psychologist who is now beyond retirement age. He explains that his student debt balance soared after losing a well-paying position during the financial crisis, and that he is struggling to pay it back.

Financial shame alienates struggling borrowers. Debtors blame themselves and self-loathe when they can't make their payments, explains Colette Simone, a Michigan psychologist. "There is so much fear of sharing the reality of their financial situation and the devastation it is causing in every facet of their lives," she says. "The consequences of coming forward can result in social pushback and possible job -- related complications, which only deepen their suffering."

Debtors are isolated, anxious, and in the worst cases have taken their own lives . Simone confirms that she has "worked with debtors who were suicidal or had psychological breakdowns requiring psychiatric hospitalization."

With an average debt of just over $37,000 per borrower for the class of 2016 , and given that incomes have been flat since the 1970s , it's not surprising that borrowers are struggling to pay. Student loans have a squeaky-clean reputation, and society tends to view them as a noble symbol of the taxpayers' generosity to the working poor. Fear of facing society's ostracism for failure to pay them back has left borrowers alienated and trapped in a lending system that is engulfing them in debt bondage.

"Alienation impacts mental health issues," says New York mental health counselor Harriet Fraad. "As long as they blame themselves within the system, they're lost."

Student debtors can counter despair by fighting back through activism and political engagement, she says. "Connection is the antidote to alienation, and engaging in activism, along with therapy, is a way to recovery."

Despite the fear of coming forward, some activists are building a social movement in which meaningful connections among borrowers can counter the taboo of openly admitting financial ruin.

Student Loan Justice, a national grassroots lobby group, is attempting to build this movement by pushing for robust legislation to return bankruptcy protections to borrowers. The group has active chapters in almost every state, with members directly lobbying their local representatives to sign on as co-sponsors to HR 2366. Activists are building a supportive community for struggling borrowers through political agitation, local engagement, storytelling, and by spreading a courageous message of hope that may embolden traumatized borrowers to come forward and unite.

Julie Margetaa Morgan , a fellow at The Roosevelt Institute, recently noted that student debt servicers like Navient have a powerful influence on lawmakers. "Student loan borrowers may not have millions to spend on lobbying, but they have something equally, if not more, powerful: millions of voices," she says.

A recent manifesto by activist and recent graduate Eli Campbell calls for radical unity among borrowers. "Young people live in constant fear that they'll never be able to pay off their debt. We're not buying houses or able to afford the hallmarks of the American dream," he explains.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change. In a recent interview he explained that the conditions for borrowers are so bad already that debtors may not join the boycott willingly. Instead, participation may simply happen by default given the lack of proper work opportunities that lead to borrowers' inability to pay.

While a large-scale default may not happen through willful and supportive collective action, ending the secrecy of the crisis through massive national attention may destigmatize the shame of financial defeat and finally bring debtors out of the isolation that causes them so much despair.

Activists are calling for a significant conversation about the commodification of educating our youth, shifting our focus toward investing into the promise of the young and able, rather than the guarantee of their perpetual debt bondage. In calling for collective action they soothe the hurt of so many alienated debtors, breaking the taboos that allow them to say, "Me, too" and admit openly that in this financial climate we all need each other to move forward.


Jane , September 16, 2018 at 4:15 am

How much are the interest rates on student loans there in the USA? Here in India its 11.5% if you want to finance studies abroad. 8.5 for some select institutions.

JVR , September 16, 2018 at 5:36 am

I wonder if the media's obsession with "millenials" isn't primarily a way to try to divide people with shared interests, above all around the topics of student debt and the job market and to make the problems seem like they have shallower roots than they really do. The individuals mentioned here are older than that 24-37 age cohort, one of them much older.

Epistrophy , September 16, 2018 at 6:42 am

Dealers don't want to talk to buyers who want to pay in full at the time of purchase.

Yes Yes. Car manufacturers are actually finance houses selling products manufactured by subcontractors – such is the state of American industry – but their dream is to move to a SaaS model where ownership, of anything, becomes a relic of the past (except for the overlords and oligarchs).

This could not be possible without government corruption and revolving-door regulation. Maybe these PAYG vehicles will contain built-in body scanners too; for our own security, of course.

In his call for a unified national boycott of student loan payments, inevitably leading to a mass default on this debt, Campbell hopes to expose this crisis and instigate radical change.

Default, or radical change, would bring the economy to it's knees. But when there is another economic downturn, this is going to happen anyway. Terrible situation; negative real interest rates destroying the pensions of the elderly, student loan servitude destroying the youth and the middle class being squeezed to oblivion. What can be done to fix it, I ask?

Yet they are doing God's work, are they? Well, this is not a God I choose to worship.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

Well good for you. How many cars, of what age, have you bought, for your anecdote to rate as anything vaguely resembling the wide reality, and how does your personal financial situation let you just write checks for $30 or $70,000?

Do a little research on car selling and you will see the pressures on the dealer sales force to suck the vast majority of buyers into long term debt. Car loans are now five or six years, routinely.

And one wonders what the investment is in trying to impeach the points of this report, wth such an unlikely and atypical claim.

UserFriendly , September 16, 2018 at 6:57 am

NYT ran the same story , interesting they edited out his total debt and major though.

JTMcPhee , September 16, 2018 at 8:39 am

Maybe a little traction, then, for the notion, and increasingly the inescapable reality, of #juststoppaying on those "remember Joe Biden" virtually non-dischargeable, often fraudulently induced, "student loan" debt shackles?

[Sep 16, 2018] Essentially, this book is just Michael Wolfe or Omarosa's stories, only drier and with more footnotes

Notable quotes:
"... Rather than being a revelatory, shocking look behind the curtain of an administration run by the single dumbest man to ever hold his office, the book just confirms the stories we've already heard, mixing in additional commentary from people in or close to the White House, mostly former employees who clearly still agree with Trump's agenda, even if they could no longer stand the man himself. ..."
"... Woodward presents anecdotes from these individuals--people like Sen. Lindsay Graham, a renown proponent of endless wars in the Middle East, and Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist, an out-and-proud xenophobe and fascist--without commentary or context, which has the odd effect of presenting these people only in contrast and comparison to Trump himself. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Edward Novak on September 15, 2018

A frustratingly neutral collection of accounts from morally questionable people.

Trump is really, really bad at being President. This isn't news to anyone who has been following the leaks, rumors, announcements, policies, and tweets coming out of the White House for the last nineteen months.

Rather than being a revelatory, shocking look behind the curtain of an administration run by the single dumbest man to ever hold his office, the book just confirms the stories we've already heard, mixing in additional commentary from people in or close to the White House, mostly former employees who clearly still agree with Trump's agenda, even if they could no longer stand the man himself.

Woodward presents anecdotes from these individuals--people like Sen. Lindsay Graham, a renown proponent of endless wars in the Middle East, and Steve Bannon, former Chief Strategist, an out-and-proud xenophobe and fascist--without commentary or context, which has the odd effect of presenting these people only in contrast and comparison to Trump himself.

One unfamiliar with Bannon, for example, could come away from the book thinking that he was a fairly reasonable person (rather than a racist, white nationalist) because he is only ever shown as a foil to the ongoing circus of incompetence that is the Trump administration.

This is Woodward's style, of course; he presents himself as an almost entirely neutral presence, merely transcribing the things he learned, but when discussing such dangerous and reprehensible people, a paragraph here and there dedicated to reminding readers what, exactly, these people claim to believe would have been appreciated additional context.

Essentially, this book is just Michael Wolfe or Omarosa's stories, only drier and with more footnotes.

[Sep 14, 2018] The book Journalists for Hire How the CIA Buys the News Dr. Udo Ulfkotte was "privished"

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Anyone who claims there are no conspiracies, that there are no behind-the-scenes efforts by powerful people to suppress information that would expose their efforts at global domination, is full of crap. ..."
"... How many CIA-paid journalists do you have on staff at the Washington Post? ..."
"... The author who was a deputy editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine and worked there for 17 years turns whistleblower and spills the beans on the corruption of German media by US lobby agencies which have CIA backing. ..."
"... The news is always given a pro American slant and journalists can look forward to rewards for their efforts. Should they not collude then their career is over. Corrupted German journalists are named and shamed. The EU is also revealed to be equally corrupt . ..."
"... German journalists assigned to EU reporting have to sign a document stating that they will never write anything negative about the EU. The level of manipulation by the EU is also frightening. ..."
"... This situation reeks of Stasi or Asian plutocratic realms. We want our freedom back! What are you people (including colluding Amazon) trying to cover up? Shame on you! ..."
"... The collussion of corporate media and Western intelligence is a taboo subject one must surmise. It suggests that our power structure realizes it has a rather fragile hold on the popular mind when the CIA morphs into the former KGB to simply suppress and disappear unacceptable reporting. ..."
"... I would suggest that the absolute silence by MSM about this book and its censorship validates the authors contentions that much of MSM reporting is right out of the Western intelligence agencies and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality on the ground. ..."
Sep 14, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Steven Yates 5.0 out of 5 stars August 7, 2017 Format: Hardcover

This book was "privished"

No, I haven't read the book, because it is priced completely out of my reach. I am giving it five stars anyway because of what I've read *about* it, as I've followed its author's saga -- the blackout by German media of the original German edition Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) for a couple of years now, raids by German police on the author's house, his noting how he feared for his life, and his finally being found dead on January 13 of this year "from a heart attack" (he was only 56, and because it is possible to kill someone in ways that look like a heart attack, some people believe he was murdered).

The fate of a whistleblower against one of the world's most powerful organizations in a controlled society being passed off as a democracy?

Two things are abundantly clear:

(1) The English translation of this book has been "privished." There are a couple of good recent discussions of what it means to "privish" a book, but Amazon will not allow me to link to them. So let's just say: the purpose of "privishing" is make a book with an unwanted message disappear without a trace by limiting information about it, destroying its marketability by printing too few copies, and refusing reprint rights, so that the copies available are too expensive for readers of ordinary means (which is nearly all of us).

(2) Anyone who claims there are no conspiracies, that there are no behind-the-scenes efforts by powerful people to suppress information that would expose their efforts at global domination, is full of crap.

XXX, September 30, 2017 Format: Paperback
Sell this book so we can buy it!

Amazon, you are a tool of the State. This book is available in English at a market competitive price. Why do you refuse to make it available to your customers?

How many CIA-paid journalists do you have on staff at the Washington Post? To the reviewer who asked how much money the author will see from the exhorbotant price of the book, he won't see any because he is dead.

He died of hearth issues shortly after the publication of the book. He did have a history of heart ailments so I am not implying a sinister act. You can find an good interview with him on YouTube if they haven't removed it.

XXX, November 11, 2017 Format: Paperback
Dynamite

Have read this book in German but as far as I know it is no longer available in bookshops in Germany either. The author who was a deputy editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine and worked there for 17 years turns whistleblower and spills the beans on the corruption of German media by US lobby agencies which have CIA backing.

The news is always given a pro American slant and journalists can look forward to rewards for their efforts. Should they not collude then their career is over. Corrupted German journalists are named and shamed. The EU is also revealed to be equally corrupt .

German journalists assigned to EU reporting have to sign a document stating that they will never write anything negative about the EU. The level of manipulation by the EU is also frightening. The author himself was part of the set up and even received a prestigious reward for his pro America efforts but eventually became disgusted by the system and his collusion in it.

I pre ordered the book last year in English on Amazon as my son wanted to read it but I kept receiving emails from Amazon changing publication dates and eventually they informed me that they were unable to access the book. There is no doubt that the book is dynamite and has been suppressed because of this.

XXX, July 31, 2017 Format: Hardcover
Tyranny in America Writ Large In A Super-Large Price

Somebody has set the price of this book -- available in English though it is -- so high as to make it unavailable. I wonder, if some rich or extremely extravagant person were to bye this book at the $1300 price it's offered at, would the author ever see a dime of that?

This situation reeks of Stasi or Asian plutocratic realms. We want our freedom back! What are you people (including colluding Amazon) trying to cover up? Shame on you!

XXX, August 16, 2017 Format: Paperback
Second book I've wanted that's been banned

Second book I've wanted that's been banned by Amazon. Shame on you, Mr. Bezos. Unfortunately for you, more people are waking up to this. The cracks are starting to show.

bossaboy on November 19, 2017
The suppression of the English language version of this book is censorship of the most Orwellian kind.

I have been awaiting the English version of this book for several years now, watching with interest while the publishing date was delayed multiple times. As a best seller in Germany one had to wonder why it would take years to translate the book to English unless there were forces working against publication. Well, low and behold it is finally set to publish in May 2017 when it again doesn't and finally disappears from sight. The obvious suppression of this book is censorship of the press and of course speaks volumes about Western "freedom of the press" as a fantasy.

The collussion of corporate media and Western intelligence is a taboo subject one must surmise. It suggests that our power structure realizes it has a rather fragile hold on the popular mind when the CIA morphs into the former KGB to simply suppress and disappear unacceptable reporting.

I would suggest that the absolute silence by MSM about this book and its censorship validates the authors contentions that much of MSM reporting is right out of the Western intelligence agencies and has nothing whatsoever to do with reality on the ground.

Somewhere in the great beyond Orwell is smiling and thinking "I told you so."

[Sep 13, 2018] Today we live in a world of predatory educators

Notable quotes:
"... Interesting article on and comments by Thomas Frank, touching on the cognitive elite as a unified class and war on the middle class (my words not his) ..."
"... "Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education......." ..."
Sep 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Sep 13, 2018 2:38:42 AM | link

Interesting article on and comments by Thomas Frank, touching on the cognitive elite as a unified class and war on the middle class (my words not his)

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/09/read-book-itll-make-radical-conversation-thomas-frank.html

".....the ongoing dissolving and crumblingand sinking -- all his metaphors -- of our society. And with such metaphors Frank describes the "one essential story" he is telling in Rendezvous with Oblivion: "This is what a society looks like when the glue that holds it together starts to dissolve. This is the way ordinary citizens react when they learn that the structure beneath them is crumbling. And this is the thrill that pulses through the veins of the well-to-do when they discover that there is no longer any limit on their power to accumulate" "

And this

"Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, even predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves . Liberalism itself has changed to accommodate its new constituents' technocratic views. Today, liberalism is the philosophy not of the sons of toil but of the 'knowledge economy' and, specifically, of the knowledge economy's winners: the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama's 2008 campaign . They are a 'learning class' that truly gets the power of education......."

[Sep 07, 2018] How Can We Fix The Broken Economics of Open Source?

Notable quotes:
"... [with some subset of features behind a paywall] ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

If we take consulting, services, and support off the table as an option for high-growth revenue generation (the only thing VCs care about), we are left with open core [with some subset of features behind a paywall] , software as a service, or some blurring of the two... Everyone wants infrastructure software to be free and continuously developed by highly skilled professional developers (who in turn expect to make substantial salaries), but no one wants to pay for it. The economics of this situation are unsustainable and broken ...

[W]e now come to what I have recently called "loose" open core and SaaS. In the future, I believe the most successful OSS projects will be primarily monetized via this method. What is it? The idea behind "loose" open core and SaaS is that a popular OSS project can be developed as a completely community driven project (this avoids the conflicts of interest inherent in "pure" open core), while value added proprietary services and software can be sold in an ecosystem that forms around the OSS...

Unfortunately, there is an inflection point at which in some sense an OSS project becomes too popular for its own good, and outgrows its ability to generate enough revenue via either "pure" open core or services and support... [B]uilding a vibrant community and then enabling an ecosystem of "loose" open core and SaaS businesses on top appears to me to be the only viable path forward for modern VC-backed OSS startups.
Klein also suggests OSS foundations start providing fellowships to key maintainers, who currently "operate under an almost feudal system of patronage, hopping from company to company, trying to earn a living, keep the community vibrant, and all the while stay impartial..."

"[A]s an industry, we are going to have to come to terms with the economic reality: nothing is free, including OSS. If we want vibrant OSS projects maintained by engineers that are well compensated and not conflicted, we are going to have to decide that this is something worth paying for. In my opinion, fellowships provided by OSS foundations and funded by companies generating revenue off of the OSS is a great way to start down this path."

[Sep 07, 2018] 30% of America's Student Loan Borrowers Can't Keep Up After Six Years

Sep 07, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

recently ruled that under some circumstances employers can link their 401(k) matching contributions to the amount of an employee's student loan repayments -- making it easier for recent graduates to take advantage of this employer benefit. But that's one spot of good news in a sea of bad, according to one anonymous Slashdot reader: Two new articles criticize America's student loan policies (under both the Obama and Trump administrations). CNBC cites reports that within six years, more than 15% of student borrowers had officially defaulted , while 10% more had stopped making payments and another 4.8% were at least 90 days late. And for-profit colleges fared even worse, where nearly 25% of graduates defaulted, and a total of 44% faced "some form of loan distress."

These trends were masked by Department of Education reports which stopped tracking repayment rates after just three years (reporting defaults rates of just 10%), according to Ben Miller, senior director for post-secondary education at the left-leaning Center for American Progress. "Official statistics present a relatively rosy picture of student debt. But looking at outcomes over more time and in greater detail shows that hundreds of thousands more borrowers from each cohort face troubles repaying."

[Sep 04, 2018] Kunstler Warns -Some Kind Of Epic National Restructuring Is In The Works

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ). ..."
"... As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale. ..."
"... Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods. ..."
"... Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. ..."
"... A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up) ..."
"... The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens. ..."
"... It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries. ..."
"... As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. ..."
Sep 04, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

And so the sun seems to stand still this last day before the resumption of business-as-usual, and whatever remains of labor in this sclerotic republic takes its ease in the ominous late summer heat, and the people across this land marinate in anxious uncertainty.

What can be done?

Some kind of epic national restructuring is in the works. It will either happen consciously and deliberately or it will be forced on us by circumstance. One side wants to magically reenact the 1950s; the other wants a Gnostic transhuman utopia. Neither of these is a plausible outcome.

Most of the arguments ranging around them are what Jordan Peterson calls "pseudo issues." Let's try to take stock of what the real issues might be.

Energy

The shale oil "miracle" was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday ( The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground ).

For all that, the shale oil producers still couldn't make money at it. If interest rates go up, the industry will choke on the debt it has already accumulated and lose access to new loans. If the Fed reverses its current course - say, to rescue the stock and bond markets - then the shale oil industry has perhaps three more years before it collapses on a geological basis, maybe less. After that, we're out of tricks. It will affect everything.

The perceived solution is to run all our stuff on electricity, with the electricity produced by other means than fossil fuels , so-called alt energy. This will only happen on the most limited basis and perhaps not at all. (And it is apart from the question of the decrepit electric grid itself.) What's required is a political conversation about how we inhabit the landscape, how we do business, and what kind of business we do. The prospect of dismantling suburbia -- or at least moving out of it -- is evidently unthinkable. But it's going to happen whether we make plans and policies, or we're dragged kicking and screaming away from it.

Corporate tyranny

The nation is groaning under despotic corporate rule. The fragility of these operations is moving toward criticality. As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale.

Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods.

The implosion of national chain retail is already underway. Amazon is not the answer, because each Amazon sales item requires a separate truck trip to its destination, and that just doesn't square with our energy predicament. We've got to rebuild main street economies and the layers of local and regional distribution that support them. That's where many jobs and careers are.

Climate change is most immediately affecting farming. 2018 will be a year of bad harvests in many parts of the world. Agri-biz style farming, based on oil-and-gas plus bank loans is a ruinous practice, and will not continue in any case. Can we make choices and policies to promote a return to smaller scale farming with intelligent methods rather than just brute industrial force plus debt? If we don't, a lot of people will starve to death. By the way, here is the useful work for a large number of citizens currently regarded as unemployable for one reason or another.

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. Both are destined to be severely downscaled.

A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up).

We need millions of small farmers more than we need millions of communications majors with a public relations minor. It may be too late for a single-payer medical system. A collapsing oil-based industrial economy means a lack of capital, and fiscal hocus-pocus is just another form of racketeering. Medicine will have to get smaller and less complex and that means local clinic-based health care. Lots of careers there, and that is where things are going, so get ready.

Government over-reach

The leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens.

It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries.

As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. It's happening already, whether we like it or not, as geopolitical relations shift drastically and the other nations on the planet scramble for survival in a post-industrial world that will be a good deal harsher than the robotic paradise of digitally "creative" economies that the credulous expect.

This country has enough to do within its own boundaries to prepare for survival without making extra trouble for itself and other people around the world. As a practical matter, this means close as many overseas bases as possible, as soon as possible.

As we get back to business tomorrow, ask yourself where you stand in the blather-storm of false issues and foolish ideas, in contrast to the things that actually matter.

[Aug 24, 2018] My father, who was a professor, used to say: "Jesus was a great teacher, but he didn't publish enough to get tenure."

Aug 24, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

YALENSIS August 23, 2018 at 1:56 pm

My father, who was a professor, used to say: "Jesus was a great teacher, but he didn't publish enough to get tenure."
JEN August 23, 2018 at 2:18 pm
Jesus would not stay very long on Twitter. People would take his tweets all too literally and he would get tired of having to explain for the umpteenth time that he didn't believe that a camel really could walk through the eye of a needle.

[Aug 15, 2018] Most US graduates won't be debt-free until they're in their 40s.

Aug 15, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

This fall, more than 20 million college students will begin a new academic year. To help cover rising tuition rates that continue to outpace inflation , they'll rely on one or more of the federal government's six low-interest loan programs, adding to the $1.5 trillion of student debt already owed in the United States. Despite nine repayment plans, eight forgiveness programs, and almost three dozen deferment options offered by the government, most won't be debt-free until they're in their 40s.

[Aug 08, 2018] Zone23 is sort of a cross between 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but with better, much funnier, dialogue. It also introduces the corporate-state-hybrid as a menacing enemy.

Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

BillDakota , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 6:28 am GMT

Zone 23 was one of the best novels I've ever read. I'm a big reader, and Zone 23 stands out as one of the better fiction books in my lifetime. It is sort of a cross between 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World, but with better, much funnier, dialogue. It also introduces the corporate-state-hybrid as a menacing enemy.

[Aug 08, 2018] Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People

Notable quotes:
"... please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war. ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [207] Disclaimer , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 7:08 am GMT

After observing Skynet's coordinated attack on Alex Jone's Infowars yesterday, we can hardly wait to implement Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement on the already identified Enemies of the People, and eagerly await the God-Emperor's word.

Second, please recall Bill Clinton's rules of engagement as applied to the Serbs in 1999, wherein he decided that the political leaders, bureaucratic support structure, media infrastructure and intellectual underpinnings of his enemies' war effort were legitimate targets of war.

No one else may have been paying attention to the unintended consequences of that, but many folks on our side of the present divide were. Food for thought. A reminder about the shape of the battlefield (legal and otherwise) and Bill Clinton's Rules of Engagement.

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2010/03/man-bites-dog-dogs-get-pissed-off.html

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministries of Nineteen Eighty-Four

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to navigation Jump to search "Ministry of Love" redirects here. For other uses, see Ministry of Love (disambiguation) .

The Ministries of Love , Peace , Plenty , and Truth are ministries in George Orwell 's futuristic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four , set in Oceania . [1] Despite the name, no actual "ministers" are mentioned in the book, and all public attention is focused on the idealized figurehead Big Brother .

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink .

--   Part II, Chapter IX
Contents Ministry of Love [ edit ]

The Ministry of Love ( Newspeak : Miniluv ) serves as Oceania's interior ministry . It enforces loyalty to Big Brother through fear, buttressed through a massive apparatus of security and repression, as well as systematic brainwashing . The Ministry of Love building has no windows and is surrounded by barbed wire entanglements, steel doors, hidden machine-gun nests , and guards armed with "jointed truncheons ". Referred to as "the place where there is no darkness", its interior lights are never turned off. It is arguably the most powerful ministry, controlling the will of the population. The Thought Police are a part of Miniluv.

The Ministry of Love, like the other ministries, is misnamed, since it is largely responsible for the practice and infliction of misery, fear, suffering and torture . In a sense, however, the name is apt, since its ultimate purpose is to instill love of Big Brother -- the only form of love permitted in Oceania -- in the minds of thoughtcriminals as part of the process of reverting them to orthodox thought. This is typical of the language of Newspeak , in which words and names frequently contain both an idea and its opposite; the orthodox party member is nonetheless able to resolve these contradictions through the disciplined use of doublethink .

Room 101 [ edit ] "Room 101" redirects here. For other uses, see Room 101 (disambiguation) .

Room 101 , introduced in the climax of the novel, is the basement torture chamber in the Ministry of Love, in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare , fear or phobia , with the object of breaking down their resistance.

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.

--   O'Brien , Part III, Chapter V

Such is the purported omniscience of the state in the society of Nineteen Eighty-Four that even a citizen's nightmares are known to the Party. The nightmare, and therefore the threatened punishment, of the protagonist Winston Smith is to be attacked by rats . This is manifested in Room 101 by confronting Smith with a wire cage that contains two large rats. The front of the cage is shaped so that it can fit over a person's face. A trap-door is then opened, allowing the rats to devour the victim's face. This cage is fitted over Smith's face, but he saves himself by begging the authorities to let his lover, Julia , suffer this torture instead of him. The threatened torture, and what Winston does to escape it, breaks his last promise to himself and to Julia: never to betray her. The book suggests that Julia is likewise subjected to her own worst fear (although it is not revealed what that fear is), and when she and Winston later meet in a park, he notices a scar on her forehead. The intent of threatening Winston with the rats was to force him into betraying the only person he loved and therefore to break his spirit.

Orwell named Room 101 after a conference room at Broadcasting House where he used to sit through tedious meetings. [2] When the original room 101 at the BBC was due to be demolished, a plaster cast of it was made by artist Rachel Whiteread and displayed in the cast courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum from November 2003 until June 2004. [3] [4]

Ministry of Peace [ edit ]

The Ministry of Peace ( Newspeak : Minipax ) serves as the war ministry of Oceania's government, and is in charge of the armed forces , mostly the navy and army . The Ministry of Peace may be the most vital organ of Oceania, seeing as the nation is supposedly at an ongoing genocidal war with either Eurasia or Eastasia and requires the right amount of force not to win the war, but keep it in a state of equilibrium.

As explained in Emmanuel Goldstein 's book, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism , the Ministry of Peace revolves around the principle of perpetual war . Perpetual war uses up all surplus resources, keeping most citizens in lives of constant hardship – and thus preventing them from learning enough to comprehend the true nature of their society. Perpetual warfare also "helps preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs." Since that means the balance of the country rests in the war, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of fighting the war (mostly centered around Africa and India), but making sure to never tip the scales, in case the war should become one-sided. Oceanic telescreens usually broadcast news reports about how Oceania is continually winning every battle it fights, though these reports have little to no credibility.

As with all the other Nineteen Eighty-Four ministries, the Ministry of Peace is named the exact opposite of what it does, since the Ministry of Peace is in charge of maintaining a state of war. The meaning of peace has been equated with the meaning of war in the slogan of the party, "War is Peace". Like the names of other ministries, it also has a literal application. Perpetual war is what keeps the "peace" (the status quo) in Oceania and the balance of power in the world.

Ministry of Plenty [ edit ]

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

Ministry of Truth [ edit ] Senate House, London , where Orwell's wife worked at the Ministry of Information , was his model for the Ministry of Truth

The Ministry of Truth ( Newspeak : Minitrue ) is the ministry of propaganda . As with the other ministries in the novel, the name Ministry of Truth is a misnomer because in reality it serves the opposite: it is responsible for any necessary falsification of historical events.

As well as administering truth, the ministry spreads a new language amongst the populace called Newspeak , in which, for example, "truth" is understood to mean statements like 2 + 2 = 5 when the situation warrants. In keeping with the concept of doublethink, the ministry is thus aptly named in that it creates/manufactures "truth" in the Newspeak sense of the word. The book describes the doctoring of historical records to show a government-approved version of events.

Description [ edit ]

Winston Smith , the main character of Nineteen Eighty-Four , works at the Ministry of Truth. [5] It is an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete rising 300 metres (980 ft) into the air, containing over 3000 rooms above ground. On the outside wall are the three slogans of the Party: "WAR IS PEACE," "FREEDOM IS SLAVERY," "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." There is also a large part underground, probably containing huge incinerators where documents are destroyed after they are put down memory holes . For his description, Orwell was inspired by the Senate House at the University of London . [6]

Role in information [ edit ]

The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite history to change the facts to fit Party doctrine for propaganda effect. For example, if Big Brother makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, the employees of the Ministry of Truth correct the record to make it accurate. This is the "how" of the Ministry of Truth's existence. Within the novel, Orwell elaborates that the deeper reason for its existence, the "why", is to maintain the illusion that the Party is absolute. It cannot ever seem to change its mind (if, for instance, they perform one of their constant changes regarding enemies during war) or make a mistake (firing an official or making a grossly misjudged supply prediction), for that would imply weakness and to maintain power the Party must seem eternally right and strong.

Minitrue plays a role as the news media by changing history, and changing the words in articles about events current and past, so that Big Brother and his government are always seen in a good light and can never do any wrong. The content is more propaganda than actual news.

Departments [ edit ]

The following are the sections or departments of the ministry mentioned in the text:

Cultural impact [ edit ]

The novel's popularity has resulted in the term "Room 101" being used to represent a place where unpleasant things are done.

In fiction [ edit ]

In The Ricky Gervais Show , Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant play a game called "Room 102", based on the concept of "Room 101", in which Karl Pilkington has to decide what things he dislikes enough to put in Room 102. This would result, according to their game, in these things being erased from existence. [ citation needed ]

The name "Ministry of Peace", and shorthand "Minipax", appear in the US science fiction TV series Babylon 5 . The Ministry of Peace first appears in the episode " In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum ". It is a sinister organisation, created to instill loyalty to the government of Earth and root out dissent; one of its senior staff is a "Mr Welles". In its role it more closely resembles the novel's § Ministry of Love (which is responsible for the Thought Police and the interrogation of dissidents) than it does the Ministry of Peace depicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four . [ citation needed ]

In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier , set in Britain after the fall of the Big Brother government , the Ministry of Love is actually MI5 and its physical location is given as the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross , noted by a young spy named Jimmy (a thinly veiled James Bond ). [ citation needed ]

In the 2011 Doctor Who episode " The God Complex ", The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a hotel full of their own personal Room 101s, each with their greatest fear in it. [8]

One sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Sound involved the hapless residents of room 102, the telescreen repair centre, who could not ignore the things happening in the next room. [ citation needed ]

In the 2002 game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind there is a floating rock known as "The Ministry of Truth".

References [ edit ]
  1. Jump up ^ Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four . Secker and Warburg. ISBN 0-452-28423-6 .
  2. Jump up ^ "The Real Room 101" . BBC. Archived from the original on 5 January 2007.
    Meyers, Jeffery. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation . W.W.Norton. 2000. ISBN 0-393-32263-7 , p. 214.
  3. Jump up ^ "BBC Broadcasting House – Public Art Programme 2002–2008" . Archived from the original on 2009-05-19 . Retrieved 2009-05-18 .
  4. Jump up ^ Brooks, Richard (23 March 2003). "Orwell's room 101 to be work of art" . The Sunday Times . London . Retrieved 2009-05-18 .
  5. Jump up ^ "Literature Network, George Orwell, 1984, Summary Pt. 1 Chp. 4" . Retrieved 2008-08-27 .
  6. Jump up ^ Stansky, Peter (1994). London's Burning . Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 0-8047-2340-0 .
    Tames, Richard (2006). London . Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-19-530953-7 .
    Humphreys, Rob (2003). The Rough Guide to London . Rough Guides Limited. p. 146. ISBN 1-84353-093-7 .
    "Orwell Today, Ministry of Truth" . Retrieved 2008-08-27 .
  7. Jump up ^ Byrnes, Sholto; Tonkin, Boyd (18 June 2004). "Anna Funder: Inside the real Room 101" . The Independent . London . Retrieved 2008-02-02 . (Profile of Funder and her book, Stasiland )
  8. Jump up ^ Risely, Matt (18 September 2011). "Doctor Who: "The God Complex" Review" . IGN . Retrieved 31 March 2012 .

[Aug 07, 2018] Ministry of Plenty

Aug 07, 2018 | en.wikipedia.org

The Ministry of Plenty ( Newspeak : Miniplenty ) is in control of Oceania's planned economy . It oversees rationing of food , supplies , and goods . As told in Goldstein's book, the economy of Oceania is very important, and it's necessary to have the public continually create useless and synthetic supplies or weapons for use in the war, while they have no access to the means of production . This is the central theme of Oceania's idea that a poor, ignorant populace is easier to rule over than a wealthy, well-informed one. Telescreens often make reports on how Big Brother has been able to increase economic production, even when production has actually gone down (see § Ministry of Truth ).

The Ministry hands out statistics which are "nonsense". When Winston is adjusting some Ministry of Plenty's figures, he explains this:

But actually, he thought as he readjusted the Ministry of Plenty's figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of time you were expected to make them up out of your head.

Like the other ministries, the Ministry of Plenty seems to be entirely misnamed, since it is, in fact, responsible for maintaining a state of perpetual poverty , scarcity and financial shortages. However, the name is also apt, because, along with the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty's other purpose is to convince the populace that they are living in a state of perpetual prosperity. Orwell made a similar reference to the Ministry of Plenty in his allegorical work Animal Farm when, in the midst of a blight upon the farm, Napoleon the pig orders the silo to be filled with sand, then to place a thin sprinkling of grain on top, which fools human visitors into being dazzled about Napoleon's boasting of the farm's superior economy.

A department of the Ministry of Plenty is charged with organizing state lotteries . These are very popular among the proles, who buy tickets and hope to win the big prizes – a completely vain hope as the big prizes are in fact not awarded at all, the Ministry of Truth participating in the scam and publishing every week the names of non-existent big winners.

In the Michael Radford film adaptation , the ministry is renamed the Ministry of Production, or MiniProd.

[Aug 06, 2018] For Many College Students, Hunger Can 'Make It Hard To Focus In Class' naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... "The USHA was empowered to advance loans amounting to 90% of project costs, at low-interest and on 60-year terms. By the end of 1940, over 500 USHA projects were in progress or had been completed, with loan contracts of $691 million. The goal was to make the program self-sustainable through the collection of rents: one-half of rent from the tenants themselves, one-third paid by contributions from the Federal government; and one-sixth paid by annual contributions made by the localities themselves." ..."
Aug 06, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Charles Leseau , August 5, 2018 at 7:06 am

The first thing that popped into my head for whatever reason was a little bit in Roald Dahl's Dickensian little childhood autobiography, Boy .

"At Prep School in those days, a parcel of tuck was sent once a week by anxious mothers to their ravenous little sons, and an average tuck-box would probably contain, at almost any time, half a home-made currant cake, a packet of squashed-fly biscuits, a couple of oranges, an apple, a banana, a pot of strawberry jam or Marmite, a bar of chocolate, a bag of Liquorice Allsorts, and a tin of Bassett's lemonade powder. An English school in those days was purely a money-making business owned and operated by the Headmaster. It suited him, therefore, to give the boys as little food as possible himself and to encourage the parents in various cunning ways to feed their offspring by parcel post from home.
'By all means, my dear Mrs Dahl, do send your boy some little treats now and again,' he would say. 'Perhaps a few oranges and apples once a week' – fruit was very expensive – 'and a nice currant cake, a large currant cake perhaps because small boys have large appetites, do they not, ha-ha-ha Yes, yes, as often as you like. More than once a week if you wish Of course he'll be getting plenty of good food here, the best there is, but it never tastes quite the same as home cooking, does it? I'm sure you wouldn't want him to be the only one who doesn't get a lovely parcel from home every week."

Lindsay Berge , August 5, 2018 at 8:09 am

This reminds me of the old joke.
Q. What is the difference between graduate students and galley slaves?
A. They fed galley slaves.

Grumpy Engineer , August 5, 2018 at 9:37 am

Today's "Pearls Before Swine" touched on the same theme:

https://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2018/08/05

Alas, it was a little too on-target for me to chuckle today.

jrs , August 5, 2018 at 1:12 pm

It won't fix homelessness. 1 in 5 Los Angeles community college students is homeless and 1 in 10 Cal State students are homeless.

The thing is though not necessarily free community college is cheap anyway about $200 a class, and Cal State about 7k a year. One might be able to afford housing if they didn't have this expense? ONLY if they could pay for housing with student loans. In other words Houston we might have much bigger problems.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , August 5, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Here's my question: When?
When will the overworked, distracted, and misinformed denizens of this great nation declare they have had enough?
That the richest society on Earth adds to the coffers of its billionaires, let's its corporations run offshore and tax-free, supplies unlimited munificence on its military death machine while its students starve, its populace moves further and further to financial precarity, its water and highway systems grind to a halt, its health care system generates infant mortality worse than Bulgaria.
What exactly is the tipping point?

ChrisAtRU , August 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

Say hello to my little friend, "United States Housing Authority" ??? ;-)

All I'm saying is that we have the power to fix everything , and we can look back to many things that were part of FDR's New Deal as guide posts to bigger and better solutions that are desperately needed today.

From the FDR & Housing Legislation site (fdrlibrary.org):

"The USHA was empowered to advance loans amounting to 90% of project costs, at low-interest and on 60-year terms. By the end of 1940, over 500 USHA projects were in progress or had been completed, with loan contracts of $691 million. The goal was to make the program self-sustainable through the collection of rents: one-half of rent from the tenants themselves, one-third paid by contributions from the Federal government; and one-sixth paid by annual contributions made by the localities themselves."

This where I believe Basic Income in tandem with a JG could provide a symbiotic relationship. You can give students a BI to (help) cover expenses beyond free tuition so they (and/or their families) could get affordable housing or subsidized university housing.

#WeCanDoBoldThings

Daniel F. , August 5, 2018 at 1:52 pm

I'd call this person* a "raging regressive leftist" instead of a centrist: the latter tends to do excessive navel-gazing while the former blames those racist white people for anything and everything.
Then again, I was born in Europe, live in Europe, engage in live "politicking" in Europe, so my experiences with American politics come mostly from the internet.

On topic: getting your first degree in my country is mostly free in state-funded colleges and universities. Mostly, because 1: the applicant needs to meet a minimum point** threshold, 2: the applicant needs to meet the institutions's own threshold*** for that given department, 3: the applicant needs to rank high enough compared to the rest, because admissions are limited by nature, 4: the applicant needs to maintain a high enough GPA to stay in a state funded slot for their given department, and lastly, 5: there are some departments that receive no funding at all, and choosing one of those means paying by default.

During my university years, I've never met anyone who had to starve, not even the poorest students. There were, and are, several different scholarship programs aside from the usual "get a real high GPA and you'll receive a free price if you're lucky" ones. Students can usually get a student job in our larger cities, and depending on the department, there are some other ways to earn some money: engineering and IT students often get picked by larger firms in their sophomore or senior year, and even if they don't, there's always someone in need of some help with those killer assignments.

The problem here is housing. Dorm spaces are limited, and renting a room is relatively expensive costing somewhere around $500 USD per month in a country with a $22000 USD yearly median income (estimate by OECD). Getting a degree was widely regarded as a means of upward mobility by my father's generation, but the years after the destruction of the Iron Curtain proved them wrong. And of course, they knew nothing about the Free Western States.

*While I see a woman, these are the people who'd bite my face off for misgendering them. No such thing in continental Europe, for now.
**There's a minimum threshold of 260 points. Base points are calculated from high school grades, third and fourth year, and the high school diploma's grades. Bonus points are awarded for state accredited language certificates, high placements on certain students' competitions, and other degrees.
***Institutions apply their own thresholds based on the quantity and quality of their applicants.

ChrisAtRU , August 5, 2018 at 9:08 pm

Thanks for the insights from the other side of the Atlantic!

Alex Cox , August 5, 2018 at 11:03 am

When I was a graduate student at UCLA the food on campus was pretty cheap and the salads were sold by the size of the bowl, not by weight. We all became expert at piling those bowls high.

When I taught at CU Boulder, the food on campus was expensive and the salads were weighed. A healthy salad could easily cost you eleven bucks, so I stopped eating campus food and took sandwiches to work instead.

The increase in food prices seems to have parallelled the increase in fees over those forty years.

However, I would make another observation: many young people, in my experience, when they are stressed or working hard, tend to forget to eat – irrespective of how well-off they are. And many of the students I taught had been addicted at high school to "attention deficit" drugs like Ritalin and Adderol, which, being forms of speed, are appetite-suppressants.

Eureka Springs , August 5, 2018 at 11:48 am

Ah yes. When splurging meant buying a dozen eggs to drop in ramen noodles and still miraculously paying one seventh of the phone bill before cutoff.

Frobn , August 5, 2018 at 5:28 pm

One of our local charities has setting up a pantry with food from Feeding America for a state college in a rural area of Florida.

wilroncanada , August 5, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Two of my daughters graduated from a university in a university town in Nova Scotia in the late1990s. That university set up its own food bank many years ago, to supplement the food banks set up by two churches and the town and county. Housing was still available (small town, student, faculty and school money spent locally), from shared apartments to rooming houses. In any sizable city in Canada or the US, those options for students may not now be available at all, because of greedy landlords, gentrification, and Air B'nb.

On the other hand, during the 1930s, my father-in-law was living in Vancouver, a teenager. He frequently told us stories of the many poor students who lived on or just off the beaches in the western part of the city, in shanties of driftwood and scraps while attending university. Try that now, in any city.

So, you see, today's undergraduates are in many ways even worse off than "great depression" students. Their possible makeshift accommodations have been legislated away.

Tyronius , August 6, 2018 at 1:27 am

Robbing the future of our nation to pay the fatcats. What a wonderful way to run a country! If We the People- loosely defined as the other 90%- don't step up and take our country back, we won't have one to speak of in another decade.

[Aug 04, 2018] When the daily newspapers are brimming with lurid tales of hideous demons walking among us and attacking people on every street corner, but you yourself have never actually seen one, you may gradually grow suspicious.

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
Aug 04, 2018 | www.unz.com

All of us obtain our knowledge of the world by two different channels. Some things we discover from our own personal experiences and the direct evidence of our senses, but most information comes to us via external sources such as books and the media, and a crisis may develop when we discover that these two pathways are in sharp conflict. The official media of the old USSR used to endlessly trumpet the tremendous achievements of its collectivized agricultural system, but when citizens noticed that there was never any meat in their shops, "Pravda" became a watchword for "Lies" rather than "Truth."

Now consider the notion of "anti-Semitism." Google searches for that word and its close variants reveal over 24 million hits, and over the years I'm sure I've seen that term tens of thousands of times in my books and newspapers, and heard it endlessly reported in my electronic media and entertainment. But thinking it over, I'm not sure that I can ever recall a single real-life instance I've personally encountered, nor have I heard of almost any such cases from my friends or acquaintances. Indeed, the only persons I've ever come across making such claims were individuals who bore unmistakable signs of serious psychological imbalance.

When the daily newspapers are brimming with lurid tales of hideous demons walking among us and attacking people on every street corner, but you yourself have never actually seen one, you may gradually grow suspicious.

Indeed, over the years some of my own research has uncovered a sharp contrast between image and reality. As recently as the late 1990s, leading mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times were still denouncing a top Ivy League school such as Princeton for the supposed anti-Semitism of its college admissions policy, but a few years ago when I carefully investigated that issue in quantitative terms for my lengthy Meritocracy analysis I was very surprised to reach a polar-opposite conclusion. According to the best available evidence, white Gentiles were over 90% less likely to be enrolled at Harvard and the other Ivies than were Jews of similar academic performance, a truly remarkable finding. If the situation had been reversed and Jews were 90% less likely to be found at Harvard than seemed warranted by their test scores, surely that fact would be endlessly cited as the absolute smoking-gun proof of horrendous anti-Semitism in present-day America.

[Jul 23, 2018] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is." ..."
"... Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility. ..."
"... Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form. ..."
"... As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division. ..."
"... In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes. ..."
"... Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution. ..."
"... Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution. ..."
"... This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change . ..."
Aug 21, 2017 | www.globalresearch.ca
Region: USA Theme: Media Disinformation , Police State & Civil Rights

More people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

On the big screens above us beautiful young people demonstrated their prowess. We were sitting in the communications center, waiting for print outs to tell us what they'd done before organizing the material for mass consumption. Outside, people were freezing in the snow as they waited for buses. Their only choice was to attend another event or attempt to get home.

The area was known as the Competition Zone, a corporate state created for the sole purpose of showcasing these gorgeous competitors. Freedom was a foreign idea here; no one was more free than the laminated identification card hanging around your neck allowed.

Visitors were more restricted than anyone. They saw only what they paid for, and had to wait in long lines for food, transport, or tickets to more events. They were often uncomfortable, yet they felt privileged to be admitted to the Zone. Citizens were categorized by their function within the Organizing Committee's bureaucracy. Those who merely served -- in jobs like cooking, driving and cleaning -- wore green and brown tags. They could travel between their homes and work, but were rarely permitted into events. Their contact with visitors was also limited. To visit them from outside the Zone, their friends and family had to be screened.

Most citizens knew little about how the Zone was actually run, about the "inner community" of diplomats, competitors and corporate officials they served. Yet each night they watched the exploits of this same elite on television.

The Zone, a closed and classified place where most bad news went unreported and a tiny elite called the shots through mass media and computers, was no futuristic fantasy. It was Lake Placid for several weeks in early 1980 -- a full four years before 1984.

In a once sleepy little community covered with artificial snow, the Olympics had brought a temporary society into being. Two thousand athletes and their entourage were its royalty, role models for the throngs of spectators, townspeople and journalists. This convergence resulted in an ad hoc police state, managed by public and private forces and a political elite that combined local business honchos with an international governing committee. They dominated a population all too willing to submit to arbitrary authority.

Even back then, Lake Placid's Olympic "village" felt like a preview of things to come. Not quite George Orwell's dark vision, but uncomfortably close.

In Orwell's imagination, society was ruled in the future by Big Brother. It wasn't a computer, but rather the collective expression of the Party. But not like the Republicans; this Party was an autonomous bureaucracy and advanced surveillance state interested only in perpetuating itself as a hierarchy. In this dystopia, "the people" had become insignificant, without the power of "grasping that the world could be other than it is."

Concepts like freedom were perverted by a ruthless Newspeakperpetuated by the Party through the media. A Goodthinker was someone who followed orders without thinking. Crimestop was the instinctual avoidance of any dangerous thought, and Doublethink was the constant distortion of reality to maintain the Party's image of infallibility.

Writing in 1948, Orwell was projecting what could happen in just a few decades. By most measures, even 70 years later we're not quite there yet. But we do face the real danger that freedom and equality will be seriously distorted by a new form of Newspeak, a Trumpian version promoted by the administration and its allies through their media. We already have Trumpian Goodthinkers -- the sychophantic surrogates who follow his lead without thinking, along with Crimestop -- the instinctual avoidance of "disloyal" thought, and Doublethink -- the constant distortion of reality to maintain Trump's insatiable ego and image of infallibility. Orwellian ideas are simply resurfacing in a post-modern/reality TV form.

Our fast food culture is also taking a long-term toll. More and more people are becoming alienated, cynical, resentful or resigned, while too much of mass and social media reinforces less-than-helpful narratives and tendencies. The frog's in the frying pan and the heat is rising.

Much of what penetrates and goes viral further fragments culture and thought, promoting a cynicism that reinforces both rage and inaction. Rather than true diversity, we have the mass illusion that a choice between polarized opinions, shaped and curated by editors and networks, is the essence of free speech and democracy. In reality, original ideas are so constrained and self-censored that what's left is usually as diverse as brands of peppermint toothpaste.

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, the notion that freedom of speech and the press should be protected meant that the personal right of self-expression should not be repressed by the government. James Madison, author of the First Amendment, warned that the greatest danger to liberty was that a majority would use its power to repress everyone else. Yet the evolution of mass media and the corporate domination of economic life have made these "choicest privileges" almost obsolete.

As community life unravels and more institutions fall into disrepute, media have become among of the few remaining that can potentially facilitate some social cohesion. Yet instead they fuel conflict and crisis. It's not quite Crimestop, but does often appeal to some of the basest instincts and produce even more alienation and division.

In general terms, what most mass media bring the public is a series of images and anecdotes that cumulatively define a way of life. Both news and entertainment contribute to the illusion that competing, consuming and accumulating are at the core of our aspirations. Each day we are repeatedly shown and told that culture and politics are corrupt, that war is imminent or escalating somewhere, that violence is random and pervasive, and yet also that the latest "experts" have the answers. Countless programs meanwhile celebrate youth, violence, frustrated sexuality, and the lives of celebrities.

Between the official program content are a series of intensely packaged sales pitches. These commercial messages wash over us, as if we are wandering in an endless virtual mall, searching in vain for fulfillment as society crumbles.

In 1980, Ralph Nader called the race for president at that time -- between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- a choice between mediocrity and menace. It was funny then, but now we can see what real menace looks like. Is Trump-ism what Orwell warned us about? Not quite, though there are similarities. Like Trump, you can't talk to Big Brother. And he rarely gives you the truth, only doublespeak. But Trump is no Big Brother. More like a Drunk Uncle with nukes.

So, is it too late for a rescue? Will menace win this time? Or can we still save the environment, reclaim self-government, restore communities and protect human rights? What does the future hold?

It could be summer in Los Angeles in 2024, the end of Donald Trump's second term. The freeways are slow-moving parking lots for the Olympics. Millions of people hike around in the heat, or use bikes and cycles to get to work. It's difficult with all the checkpoints, not to mention the extra-high security at the airports. Thousands of police, not to mention the military, are on the lookout for terrorists, smugglers, protesters, cultists, gangs, thieves, and anyone who doesn't have money to burn or a ticket to the Games.

Cash isn't much good, and gas has become so expensive that suburban highways are almost empty.

Security is tight and hard to avoid, on or offline. There are cameras everywhere, and every purchase and move most people make is tracked by the state. Still, there are four bombings in the first week of the Games. There is also another kind of human tragedy. Four runners collapse during preliminary rounds as a result of a toxic mix -- heat and pollution.

... ... ...

Greg Guma is the Vermont-based author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Spirits of Desire, Big Lies, and The People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.

This article was originally published by Greg Guma: For Preservation & Change .

[Jul 23, 2018] The Prophecy of Orwell's 1984. Totalitarian Control and the Entertainment Culture that Takes Over by Edward Curtin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life. ..."
"... There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity. ..."
"... The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought. ..."
"... As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more. ..."
"... This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult. ..."
"... But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth. ..."
"... Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there. ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.globalresearch.ca

The Sexual Passion of Orwell's Winston Smith

"Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice." – Frederick Nietzsche , Beyond Good and Evil

"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen." – D. H. Lawrence , Lady Chatterley's Lover

"The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one's own destruction, has become a 'biological' need." – Herbert Marcuse , One Dimensional Man

There is a vast literature analyzing the political prophecy of George Orwell 's Nineteen Eighty-Four . Big Brother, double-speak, telescreens, crimestop, etc. – all applied to our current political situation. The language has become part of our popular lexicon, and as such, has become clichéd through overuse. Blithe, habitual use of language robs it of its power to crack open the safe that hides the realities of life.

There is no doubt that Orwell wrote a brilliant political warning about the methods of totalitarian control. But hidden at the heart of the book is another lesson lost on most readers and commentators. Rats, torture, and Newspeak resonate with people fixated on political repression, which is a major concern, of course. But so too is privacy and sexual passion in a country of group-think and group-do, where "Big Brother" poisons you in the crib and the entertainment culture then takes over to desexualize intimacy by selling it as another public commodity.

The United States is a pornographic society. By pornographic I do not just mean the omnipresent selling of exploitative sex through all media to titillate a voyeuristic public living in the unreality of screen "life" and screen sex through television, movies, and online obsessions. I mean a commodified consciousness, where everyone and everything is part of a prostitution ring in the deepest sense of pornography's meaning – for sale, bought.

And consumed by getting, spending, and selling. Flicked into the net of Big Brother, whose job is make sure everything fundamentally human and physical is debased and mediated, people become consumers of the unreal and direct experience is discouraged. The natural world becomes an object to be conquered and used. Animals are produced in chemical factories to be slaughtered by the billions only to appear bloodless under plastic wrap in supermarket coolers. The human body disappears into hypnotic spectral images. One's sex becomes one's gender as the words are transmogrified and as one looks in the mirror of the looking-glass self and wonders how to identify the one looking back.

Streaming life from Netflix or Facebook becomes life the movie. The brilliant perverseness of the mediated reality of a screen society – what Guy Debord calls The Society of the Spectacle – is that as it distances people from fundamental reality, it promotes that reality through its screen fantasies. "Get away from it all and restore yourself at our spa in the rugged mountains where you can hike in pristine woods after yoga and a breakfast of locally sourced eggs and artisanally crafted bread." Such garbage would be funny if it weren't so effective. Debord writes,

The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images .Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

Thus sex with robots and marrying yourself are not aberrations but logical extensions of a society where solipsism meets machine in the America dream.

As this happens, words and language become corrupted by the same forces that Orwell called Big Brother, whose job is total propaganda and social control. Just as physical reality now mimics screen reality and thus becomes chimerical, language, through which human beings uncover and articulate the truth of being, becomes more and more abstract. People don't die; they "pass on" or "pass away." Dying, like real sex, is too physical. Wars of aggression don't exist; they are "overseas contingency operations." Killing people with drones isn't killing; it's "neutralizing them." There are a "ton" of examples, but I am sure "you guys" don't need me to list any more.

Orwell called Big Brother's language Newspeak, and Hemingway preceded him when he so famously wrote in disgust In a Farewell to Arms ,

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene "

This destruction of language has been going on for a long time, but it's worth noting that from Hemingway's WW I through Orwell's WW II up until today's endless U.S. wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, etc., there has been the parallel development of screen and media culture, beginning with silent movies through television and onto the total electronic media environment we now inhabit – the surround sound and image bubble of literal abstractions that inhabit us, mentally and physically. In such a society, to feel what you really feel and not what, in Hemingway's words, "you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel" has become extremely difficult.

... ... ...

But as we learn in 1984 and should learn in the U.S.A. today , "seemed" is the key word. Their triumph was temporary. For sexual passion reveals truths that need to be confirmed in the mind. In itself, sexual liberation can be easily manipulated, as it has been so effectively in the United States. "Repressive de-sublimation" Herbert Marcuse called it fifty years ago. You allow people to act out their sexual fantasies in commodified ways that can be controlled by the rulers, all the while ruling their minds and potential political rebelliousness. Sex becomes part of the service economy where people service each other while serving their masters. Use pseudo-sex to sell them a way of life that traps them in an increasingly totalitarian social order that only seems free. This has been accomplished primarily through screen culture and the concomitant confusion of sexual identity. Perhaps you have noticed that over the past twenty-five years of growing social and political confusion, we have witnessed an exponential growth in "the electronic life," the use of psychotropic drugs, and sexual disorientation. This is no accident. Wars have become as constant as Eros – the god of love, life, joy, and motion – has been divorced from sex as a stimulus and response release of tension in a "stressed" society. Rollo May, the great American psychologist, grasped this:

Indeed, we have set sex over against eros, used sex precisely to avoid the anxiety-creating involvements of eros We are in flight from eros and use sex as the vehicle for the flight Eros [which includes, but is not limited to, passionate sex] is the center of vitality of a culture – its heart and soul. And when release of tension takes the place of creative eros, the downfall of the civilization is assured.

Because Julia and Winston cannot permanently escape Oceania, but can only tryst, they succumb to Big Brother's mind control and betray each other. Their sexual affair can't save them. It is a moment of beauty and freedom in an impossible situation. Of course the hermetically sealed world of 1984 is not the United States. Orwell created a society in which escape was impossible. It is, after all, an admonitory novel – not the real world. Things are more subtle here; we still have some wiggle room – some – although the underlying truth is the same: the U.S. oligarchy, like "The Party," "seeks power entirely for its own sake" and "are not interested in the good of others," all rhetoric to the contrary. Our problem is that too many believe the rhetoric, and those who say they don't really do at the deepest level. Fly the flag and play the national anthem and their hearts are aflutter with hope. Recycle old bromides about the next election when your political enemies will be swept out of office and excitement builds as though you had met the love of your life and all was well with the world.

But understanding the history of public relations, advertising, propaganda, the CIA, the national security apparatus, technology, etc., makes it clear that such hope is baseless. For the propaganda in this country has penetrated far deeper than anyone can imagine, and it has primarily done this through advanced technology and the religion of technique – machines as pure abstractions – that has poisoned not just our minds, but the deepest wellsprings of the body's truths and the erotic imagination that links us in love to all life on earth.

In "Defence of Poetry," Percy Bysshe Shelley writes:

The great secret of morals is love; or a going out of our nature, and an identification of ourselves with the beautiful which exists in thought, action, or person, not our own. A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasure of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.

We are now faced with the question: Can we escape the forces of propaganda and mind control that run so very deep into American life? If so, how? Let's imagine a way out.

Orwell makes it very clear that language is the key to mind control, as he delineates how Newspeak works. I think he is right. And mind control also means the control of our bodies, Eros, our sex, our physical connections to all living beings and nature. Today the U.S. is reaching the point where "Oldspeak" – Standard English – has been replaced by Newspeak, and just "fragments of the literature of the past" survive here and there.

This is true for the schooled and unschooled. In fact, those more trapped by the instrumental logic, disembodied data, and word games of the power elite are those who have gone through the most schooling, the indoctrination offered by the so-called "elite" universities. I suspect that more working-class and poor people still retain some sense of the old language and the fundamental meaning of words, since it is with their sweat and blood that they "earn their living." Many of the highly schooled are children of the power elite or those groomed to serve them, who are invited to join in living the life of power and privilege if they swallow their consciences and deaden their imaginations to the suffering their "life-styles" and ideological choices inflict on the rest of the world. In this world of The New York Times , Harvard, The New Yorker , Martha's Vineyard, The Washington Post , Wall St., Goldman Sachs, the boardrooms of the ruling corporations, all the corporate media, etc., language has become debased beyond recognition. Here, as Orwell said of Newspeak, "a heretical thought should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express." The intelligently orthodox, he adds, must master the art of "doublethink" wherein they hold two contradictory ideas in their minds simultaneously, while accepting both of them. This is the key trick of logic and language that allows the power elites and their lackeys in the U.S. today to master the art of self-deception and feel good about themselves as they plunder the world. In this "Party" world, the demonization, degradation, and killing of others is an abstraction; their lives are spectral. Orwell describes doublethink this way:

To tell deliberate lives while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink . For by using the word one admits one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

... ... ...

*

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely; he is a frequent contributor to Global Research. He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/ .

[Jun 10, 2018] It might well be that among the skilles to gain entrance in the Ivy colleges one is the acceptance of neoliberal ideology. Stray too far from the Clinton/Bush/Obama's neoliberalism and identity politics and your application goes into the garbage can and with it your chance of joining our governing elite

Notable quotes:
"... Perhaps, Lin, by voluntarily entering an establishment in order to alter one's consciousness- whether in Vietnam or America- you are signaling your surrender and defeat in the war on the "true nature of reality." ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

unit472 , June 3, 2018 at 11:57 am GMT

I would agree that the America of the neighborhood tavern is dying but would not characterize our political leadership as a 'rootless, criminal cabal. Criminal they maybe but they are rooted in the Ivy League, principally Yale and Harvard, and the ideology to gain admission to those schools. I would say skills to gain entrance but, today, it is more a matter of ideology. Stray too far from the Clinton/Bush crony capitalist model or Obama's identity politics and your application goes into the garbage can and with it your chance of joining our governing elite.
TG , June 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm GMT
Indeed. I would say this from a slightly different angle: forget about the details of politics: constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy, a republic, democratic socialism, even marxism, checks and balances, an independent judiciary, an independent central bank, a written constitution all of these can be made to work, more or less, if the elites care about the nation as whole. And none of these will matter if the elites no longer care, if they value their own short-term profit over the long-term stability and strength of their nation.

Back under FDR etc., the elites of this nation were worried about communists, and anarchists, and then Nazis. That made them care about this nation, they feared that if the nation went down they would go down as well. So they cared about the working class. I am old enough to remember when we used to celebrate that we had the highest wages in the world – that was considered a magnificent joint accomplishment and proof of the greatness of this nation. Now high American wages are routinely derided as evil, as proof that Americans are selfish and lazy and they need to be replaced by all those wonderful third-world refugees who have no alternative but to work for sub-poverty wages

I think the core of this rot is that the elites are no longer afraid. They no longer have reason to care. They live in gated estates, they fly from private airports (even first class in a public airport is not good enough/removed enough from the masses for them!), and if things fall apart they will just sail away in their yachts, tut-tutting about how Americans no longer deserve their presence

Stonehands , June 3, 2018 at 10:21 pm GMT
Perhaps, Lin, by voluntarily entering an establishment in order to alter one's consciousness- whether in Vietnam or America- you are signaling your surrender and defeat in the war on the "true nature of reality."

The alcohol delusion amplifies greed hatred bondage.

And is anathema to wholesome higher insights.

Whether alcohol or heroin these self- ingrained defilements are an obstruction to the complete repose to the human spirit.

Dan , June 4, 2018 at 3:07 am GMT
@TG

Everything is financialized and the elites are supranational. End of story. Enjoy the little things.

JohnnyWalker123 , June 6, 2018 at 5:25 am GMT
@TG

Exactly. America's leaders behave criminally because they're not scared of the population. So there's nothing to constrain our leaders from behaving like grifters and conmen.

At some point, however, this will come to an end. Our massively skyrocketing national debt is totally unpayable, so investors will eventually stop buying our bonds. When that happens, our national economy and standard of living will collapse dramatically.

It's at that point when our leaders are either put in jail or flee the country.

Swan Knight , Website June 9, 2018 at 2:42 pm GMT
@unit472

Rootless criminal cabal sounds right to me. I would add psychopathic

m___ , June 9, 2018 at 2:59 pm GMT
@TG

Elites are global, Americans are locals.

m___ , June 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm GMT
@Dan

elites are supranational

Indeed so.

So is capital, when the dollar will have only limited reserve currency status to the rest of the world, the American locals will be proportionately ruled by Russian oligarchs and Chinese priviledge.

American locals are just bulk humanity to these supranationals, they are defined by global consumerism of the same crap the elites despise. They sweat corn syrup and palm oil and seem to look "Pinker Steve" happy when digitally masturbating and being chemically subdued, encased in concrete scenarios.

Now after consumerism, since it is offset by limited resources of our planet, it will be real misery, as in plowing concrete. That must be mostly indifferent to our supranationals. Bulk humanity is basically obsolete, and extra-ordinary lucky. If it were for the supranational nuclei to have a long term policy, we the deplorables would be wiped away, say three quarters of us.

They are though eagerly observing, if we not, as always, will do it ourselves to us. The problem would die on itself. The ethnic White middle class down to the street is pointing the way.

[Jun 06, 2018] The Privilege of an Education

Notable quotes:
"... At this point, I'm wondering whether life was easier in the old days, when you could buy a spot in the elite university of your choice with cold cash. Then I remind myself that Grandfather lasted only one year at Yale. In those days, the Ivies kicked you out if you weren't ready for action. Today, you have to self-combust in a newsworthy way before they show you the door. ..."
"... Excellent Sheep ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... In the United States, the premium that college graduates earn over their non-college-educated peers in young adulthood exceeds 70 percent. ..."
"... All of this comes before considering the all-consuming difference between "good" schools and the rest. Ten years after starting college, according to data from the Department of Education, the top decile of earners from all schools had a median salary of $68,000 . But the top decile from the 10 highest-earning colleges raked in $220,000 -- make that $250,000 for No. 1, Harvard -- and the top decile at the next 30 colleges took home $157,000. (Not surprisingly, the top 10 had an average acceptance rate of 9 percent, and the next 30 were at 19 percent.) ..."
"... But the fact is that degree holders earn so much more than the rest not primarily because they are better at their job, but because they mostly take different categories of jobs. Well over half of Ivy League graduates, for instance, typically go straight into one of four career tracks that are generally reserved for the well educated: finance, management consulting, medicine, or law. To keep it simple, let's just say that there are two types of occupations in the world: those whose members have collective influence in setting their own pay, and those whose members must face the music on their own. It's better to be a member of the first group. Not surprisingly, that is where you will find the college crowd. ..."
"... The candy-hurling godfather of today's meritocratic class, of course, is the financial-services industry. Americans now turn over $1 of every $12 in GDP to the financial sector; in the 1950s, the bankers were content to keep only $1 out of $40. ..."
"... It isn't a coincidence that the education premium surged during the same years that membership in trade unions collapsed. In 1954, 28 percent of all workers were members of trade unions, but by 2017 that figure was down to 11 percent. ..."
"... Education -- the thing itself , not the degree -- is always good. A genuine education opens minds and makes good citizens. It ought to be pursued for the sake of society . In our unbalanced system, however, education has been reduced to a private good, justifiable only by the increments in graduates' paychecks. Instead of uniting and enriching us, it divides and impoverishes. ..."
"... If the system can be gamed, well then, our ability to game the system has become the new test of merit. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | newrepublic.com

My 16-year-old daughter is sitting on a couch, talking with a stranger about her dreams for the future. We're here, ominously enough, because, she says, "all my friends are doing it." For a moment, I wonder whether we have unintentionally signed up for some kind of therapy. The professional woman in the smart-casual suit throws me a pointed glance and says, "It's normal to be anxious at a time like this." She really does see herself as a therapist of sorts. But she does not yet seem to know that the source of my anxiety is the idea of shelling out for a $12,000 "base package" of college-counseling services whose chief purpose is apparently to reduce my anxiety. Determined to get something out of this trial counseling session, I push for recommendations on summer activities. We leave with a tip on a 10-day "cultural tour" of France for high schoolers. In the college-application business, that's what's known as an "enrichment experience." When we get home, I look it up. The price of enrichment: $11,000 for the 10 days.

That's when I hear the legend of the SAT whisperer. If you happen to ride through the yellow-brown valleys of the California coast, past the designer homes that sprout wherever tech unicorns sprinkle their golden stock offerings, you might come across him. His high-school classmates still remember him, almost four decades later, as one of the child wonders of the age. Back then, he and his equally precocious siblings showed off their preternatural verbal and musical talents on a local television program. Now his clients fly him around the state for test-prep sessions with their 16-year-olds. You can hire him for $750, plus transportation, per two-hour weekend session. (There is a weekday discount.) Some of his clients book him every week for a year.

Affirmative-action programs are to some degree an extension of the system of wealth preservation. They indulge rich people in the belief that their college is open to all.

At this point, I'm wondering whether life was easier in the old days, when you could buy a spot in the elite university of your choice with cold cash. Then I remind myself that Grandfather lasted only one year at Yale. In those days, the Ivies kicked you out if you weren't ready for action. Today, you have to self-combust in a newsworthy way before they show you the door.

Inevitably, I begin rehearsing the speech for my daughter. It's perfectly possible to lead a meaningful life without passing through a name-brand college, I'm going to say. We love you for who you are. We're not like those tacky strivers who want a back-windshield sticker to testify to our superior parenting skills. And why would you want to be an investment banker or a corporate lawyer anyway? But I refrain from giving the speech, knowing full well that it will light up her parental-bullshit detector like a pair of khakis on fire.

The skin colors of the nation's elite student bodies are more varied now, as are their genders, but their financial bones have calcified over the past 30 years. In 1985, 54 percent of students at the 250 most selective colleges came from families in the bottom three quartiles of the income distribution. A similar review of the class of 2010 put that figure at just 33 percent. According to a 2017 study, 38 elite colleges -- among them five of the Ivies -- had more students from the top 1 percent than from the bottom 60 percent . In his 2014 book, Excellent Sheep , William Deresiewicz, a former English professor at Yale, summed up the situation nicely: "Our new multiracial, gender-neutral meritocracy has figured out a way to make itself hereditary."

The wealthy can also draw on a variety of affirmative-action programs designed just for them. As Daniel Golden points out in The Price of Admission , legacy-admissions policies reward those applicants with the foresight to choose parents who attended the university in question. Athletic recruiting, on balance and contrary to the popular wisdom, also favors the wealthy, whose children pursue lacrosse, squash, fencing, and the other cost-intensive sports at which private schools and elite public schools excel. And, at least among members of the 0.1 percent, the old-school method of simply handing over some of Daddy's cash has been making a comeback. ( Witness Jared Kushner, Harvard graduate .)

The mother lode of all affirmative-action programs for the wealthy, of course, remains the private school. Only 2.2 percent of the nation's students graduate from nonsectarian private high schools, and yet these graduates account for 26 percent of students at Harvard and 28 percent of students at Princeton. The other affirmative-action programs, the kind aimed at diversifying the look of the student body, are no doubt well intended. But they are to some degree merely an extension of this system of wealth preservation. Their function, at least in part, is to indulge rich people in the belief that their college is open to all on the basis of merit.

The plummeting admission rates of the very top schools nonetheless leave many of the children of the 9.9 percent facing long odds. But not to worry, junior 9.9 percenters! We've created a new range of elite colleges just for you. Thanks to ambitious university administrators and the ever-expanding rankings machine at U.S. News & World Report , 50 colleges are now as selective as Princeton was in 1980, when I applied. The colleges seem to think that piling up rejections makes them special. In fact, it just means that they have collectively opted to deploy their massive, tax-subsidized endowments to replicate privilege rather than fulfill their duty to produce an educated public.

The only thing going up as fast as the rejection rates at selective colleges is the astounding price of tuition. Measured relative to the national median salary, tuition and fees at top colleges more than tripled from 1963 to 2013. Throw in the counselors, the whisperers, the violin lessons, the private schools, and the cost of arranging for Junior to save a village in Micronesia, and it adds up. To be fair, financial aid closes the gap for many families and keeps the average cost of college from growing as fast as the sticker price. But that still leaves a question: Why are the wealthy so keen to buy their way in?

The short answer, of course, is that it's worth it.

In the United States, the premium that college graduates earn over their non-college-educated peers in young adulthood exceeds 70 percent. The return on education is 50 percent higher than what it was in 1950, and is significantly higher than the rate in every other developed country. In Norway and Denmark, the college premium is less than 20 percent; in Japan, it is less than 30 percent; in France and Germany, it's about 40 percent.

All of this comes before considering the all-consuming difference between "good" schools and the rest. Ten years after starting college, according to data from the Department of Education, the top decile of earners from all schools had a median salary of $68,000 . But the top decile from the 10 highest-earning colleges raked in $220,000 -- make that $250,000 for No. 1, Harvard -- and the top decile at the next 30 colleges took home $157,000. (Not surprisingly, the top 10 had an average acceptance rate of 9 percent, and the next 30 were at 19 percent.)

It is entirely possible to get a good education at the many schools that don't count as "good" in our brand-obsessed system. But the "bad" ones really are bad for you. For those who made the mistake of being born to the wrong parents, our society offers a kind of virtual education system. It has places that look like colleges -- but aren't really. It has debt -- and that, unfortunately, is real. The people who enter into this class hologram do not collect a college premium; they wind up in something more like indentured servitude.

So what is the real source of this premium for a "good education" that we all seem to crave?

One of the stories we tell ourselves is that the premium is the reward for the knowledge and skills the education provides us. Another, usually unfurled after a round of drinks, is that the premium is a reward for the superior cranial endowments we possessed before setting foot on campus. We are, as some sociologists have delicately put it, a "cognitive elite."

Behind both of these stories lies one of the founding myths of our meritocracy. One way or the other, we tell ourselves, the rising education premium is a direct function of the rising value of meritorious people in a modern economy. That is, not only do the meritorious get ahead, but the rewards we receive are in direct proportion to our merit.

But the fact is that degree holders earn so much more than the rest not primarily because they are better at their job, but because they mostly take different categories of jobs. Well over half of Ivy League graduates, for instance, typically go straight into one of four career tracks that are generally reserved for the well educated: finance, management consulting, medicine, or law. To keep it simple, let's just say that there are two types of occupations in the world: those whose members have collective influence in setting their own pay, and those whose members must face the music on their own. It's better to be a member of the first group. Not surprisingly, that is where you will find the college crowd.

why do America's doctors make twice as much as those of other wealthy countries? Given that the United States has placed dead last five times running in the Commonwealth Fund's ranking of health-care systems in high-income countries, it's hard to argue that they are twice as gifted at saving lives. Dean Baker, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has a more plausible suggestion : "When economists like me look at medicine in America -- whether we lean left or right politically -- we see something that looks an awful lot like a cartel." Through their influence on the number of slots at medical schools, the availability of residencies, the licensing of foreign-trained doctors, and the role of nurse practitioners, physicians' organizations can effectively limit the competition their own members face -- and that is exactly what they do.

Lawyers (or at least a certain elite subset of them) have apparently learned to play the same game. Even after the collapse of the so-called law-school bubble, America's lawyers are No. 1 in international salary rankings and earn more than twice as much, on average, as their wig-toting British colleagues. The University of Chicago law professor Todd Henderson, writing for Forbes in 2016, offered a blunt assessment : "The American Bar Association operates a state-approved cartel."

Similar occupational licensing schemes provide shelter for the meritorious in a variety of other sectors. The policy researchers Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles detail the mechanisms in The Captured Economy . Dentists' offices, for example, have a glass ceiling that limits what dental hygienists can do without supervision, keeping their bosses in the 9.9 percent. Copyright and patent laws prop up profits and salaries in the education-heavy pharmaceutical, software, and entertainment sectors. These arrangements are trifles, however, compared with what's on offer in tech and finance, two of the most powerful sectors of the economy.

By now we're thankfully done with the tech-sector fairy tales in which whip-smart cowboys innovate the heck out of a stodgy status quo. The reality is that five monster companies -- you know the names -- are worth about $3.5 trillion combined, and represent more than 40 percent of the market capital on the nasdaq stock exchange. Much of the rest of the technology sector consists of virtual entities waiting patiently to feed themselves to these beasts.

Let's face it: This is Monopoly money with a smiley emoji. Our society figured out some time ago how to deal with companies that attempt to corner the market on viscous substances like oil. We don't yet know what to do with the monopolies that arise out of networks and scale effects in the information marketplace. Until we do, the excess profits will stick to those who manage to get closest to the information honeypot. You can be sure that these people will have a great deal of merit.

The candy-hurling godfather of today's meritocratic class, of course, is the financial-services industry. Americans now turn over $1 of every $12 in GDP to the financial sector; in the 1950s, the bankers were content to keep only $1 out of $40. The game is more sophisticated than a two-fisted money grab, but its essence was made obvious during the 2008 financial crisis. The public underwrites the risks; the financial gurus take a seat at the casino; and it's heads they win, tails we lose. The financial system we now have is not a product of nature. It has been engineered, over decades, by powerful bankers, for their own benefit and for that of their posterity.

Who is not in on the game? Auto workers, for example. Caregivers. Retail workers. Furniture makers. Food workers. The wages of American manufacturing and service workers consistently hover in the middle of international rankings. The exceptionalism of American compensation rates comes to an end in the kinds of work that do not require a college degree.

You see, when educated people with excellent credentials band together to advance their collective interest, it's all part of serving the public good by ensuring a high quality of service, establishing fair working conditions, and giving merit its due. That's why we do it through "associations," and with the assistance of fellow professionals wearing white shoes. When working-class people do it -- through unions -- it's a violation of the sacred principles of the free market. It's thuggish and anti-modern. Imagine if workers hired consultants and "compensation committees," consisting of their peers at other companies, to recommend how much they should be paid. The result would be -- well, we know what it would be, because that's what CEOs do.

It isn't a coincidence that the education premium surged during the same years that membership in trade unions collapsed. In 1954, 28 percent of all workers were members of trade unions, but by 2017 that figure was down to 11 percent.

Education -- the thing itself , not the degree -- is always good. A genuine education opens minds and makes good citizens. It ought to be pursued for the sake of society . In our unbalanced system, however, education has been reduced to a private good, justifiable only by the increments in graduates' paychecks. Instead of uniting and enriching us, it divides and impoverishes. Which is really just a way of saying that our worthy ideals of educational opportunity are ultimately no match for the tidal force of the Gatsby Curve. The metric that has tracked the rising college premium with the greatest precision is -- that's right -- intergenerational earnings elasticity, or IGE. Across countries, the same correlation obtains: the higher the college premium, the lower the social mobility.

As I'm angling all the angles for my daughter's college applications -- the counselor is out, and the SAT whisperer was never going to happen -- I realize why this delusion of merit is so hard to shake. If I -- I mean, she -- can pull this off, well, there's the proof that we deserve it! If the system can be gamed, well then, our ability to game the system has become the new test of merit.

So go ahead and replace the SATs with shuffleboard on the high seas, or whatever you want. Who can doubt that we'd master that game, too? How quickly would we convince ourselves of our absolute entitlement to the riches that flow directly and tangibly from our shuffling talent? How soon before we perfected the art of raising shuffleboard wizards? Would any of us notice or care which way the ship was heading?

Let's suppose that some of us do look up. We see the iceberg. Will that induce us to diminish our exertions in supreme child-rearing? The grim truth is that, as long as good parenting and good citizenship are in conflict, we're just going to pack a few more violins for the trip.

[May 16, 2018] How university economic theories are failing us all RT -- Renegade Inc.

Notable quotes:
"... "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" ..."
May 14, 2018 | www.rt.com

The economist John Maynard Keynes said "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" But many students continue to be deceived by their professors who, even after the great financial crisis, refuse to change their mind and continue to actively peddle theories that are plain wrong. So on the show we ask if the academics are failing us, how do we begin to reverse such a heavily entrenched education system? Host Ross Ashcroft is joined by Professor Steve Keen and the author and economist Steven Payson.

[Apr 30, 2018] New Book Describes Bluffing Programmers in Silicon Valley

Notable quotes:
"... Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley ..."
"... Older generations called this kind of fraud "fake it 'til you make it." ..."
"... Nowadays I work 9:30-4:30 for a very good, consistent paycheck and let some other "smart person" put in 75 hours a week dealing with hiring ..."
"... It's not a "kids these days" sort of issue, it's *always* been the case that shameless, baseless self-promotion wins out over sincere skill without the self-promotion, because the people who control the money generally understand boasting more than they understand the technology. ..."
"... In the bad old days we had a hell of a lot of ridiculous restriction We must somehow made our programs to run successfully inside a RAM that was 48KB in size (yes, 48KB, not 48MB or 48GB), on a CPU with a clock speed of 1.023 MHz ..."
"... So what are the uses for that? I am curious what things people have put these to use for. ..."
"... Also, Oracle, SAP, IBM... I would never buy from them, nor use their products. I have used plenty of IBM products and they suck big time. They make software development 100 times harder than it could be. ..."
"... I have a theory that 10% of people are good at what they do. It doesn't really matter what they do, they will still be good at it, because of their nature. These are the people who invent new things, who fix things that others didn't even see as broken and who automate routine tasks or simply question and erase tasks that are not necessary. ..."
"... 10% are just causing damage. I'm not talking about terrorists and criminals. ..."
"... Programming is statistically a dead-end job. Why should anyone hone a dead-end skill that you won't be able to use for long? For whatever reason, the industry doesn't want old programmers. ..."
Apr 30, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

Long-time Slashdot reader Martin S. pointed us to this an excerpt from the new book Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Portland-based investigator reporter Corey Pein.

The author shares what he realized at a job recruitment fair seeking Java Legends, Python Badasses, Hadoop Heroes, "and other gratingly childish classifications describing various programming specialities.

" I wasn't the only one bluffing my way through the tech scene. Everyone was doing it, even the much-sought-after engineering talent.

I was struck by how many developers were, like myself, not really programmers , but rather this, that and the other. A great number of tech ninjas were not exactly black belts when it came to the actual onerous work of computer programming. So many of the complex, discrete tasks involved in the creation of a website or an app had been automated that it was no longer necessary to possess knowledge of software mechanics. The coder's work was rarely a craft. The apps ran on an assembly line, built with "open-source", off-the-shelf components. The most important computer commands for the ninja to master were copy and paste...

[M]any programmers who had "made it" in Silicon Valley were scrambling to promote themselves from coder to "founder". There wasn't necessarily more money to be had running a startup, and the increase in status was marginal unless one's startup attracted major investment and the right kind of press coverage. It's because the programmers knew that their own ladder to prosperity was on fire and disintegrating fast. They knew that well-paid programming jobs would also soon turn to smoke and ash, as the proliferation of learn-to-code courses around the world lowered the market value of their skills, and as advances in artificial intelligence allowed for computers to take over more of the mundane work of producing software. The programmers also knew that the fastest way to win that promotion to founder was to find some new domain that hadn't yet been automated. Every tech industry campaign designed to spur investment in the Next Big Thing -- at that time, it was the "sharing economy" -- concealed a larger programme for the transformation of society, always in a direction that favoured the investor and executive classes.

"I wasn't just changing careers and jumping on the 'learn to code' bandwagon," he writes at one point. "I was being steadily indoctrinated in a specious ideology."


Anonymous Coward , Saturday April 28, 2018 @11:40PM ( #56522045 )

older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

Older generations called this kind of fraud "fake it 'til you make it."

raymorris ( 2726007 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @02:05AM ( #56522343 ) Journal
The people who are smarter won't ( Score: 5 , Informative)

> The people can do both are smart enough to build their own company and compete with you.

Been there, done that. Learned a few lessons. Nowadays I work 9:30-4:30 for a very good, consistent paycheck and let some other "smart person" put in 75 hours a week dealing with hiring, managing people, corporate strategy, staying up on the competition, figuring out tax changes each year and getting taxes filed six times each year, the various state and local requirements, legal changes, contract hassles, etc, while hoping the company makes money this month so they can take a paycheck and lay their rent.

I learned that I'm good at creating software systems and I enjoy it. I don't enjoy all-nighters, partners being dickheads trying to pull out of a contract, or any of a thousand other things related to running a start-up business. I really enjoy a consistent, six-figure compensation package too.

brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

* getting taxes filled eighteen times a year.

I pay monthly gross receipts tax (12), quarterly withholdings (4) and a corporate (1) and individual (1) returns. The gross receipts can vary based on the state, so I can see how six times a year would be the minimum.

Cederic ( 9623 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Fuck no. Cost of full automation: $4m Cost of manual entry: $0 Opportunity cost of manual entry: $800/year

At worse, pay for an accountant, if you can get one that cheaply. Bear in mind talking to them incurs most of that opportunity cost anyway.

serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Nowadays I work 9:30-4:30 for a very good, consistent paycheck and let some other "smart person" put in 75 hours a week dealing with hiring

There's nothing wrong with not wnting to run your own business, it's not for most people, and even if it was, the numbers don't add up. But putting the scare qoutes in like that makes it sound like you have huge chip on your shoulder. Those things re just as essential to the business as your work and without them you wouldn't have the steady 9:30-4:30 with good paycheck.

raymorris ( 2726007 ) writes:
Important, and dumb. ( Score: 3 , Informative)

Of course they are important. I wouldn't have done those things if they weren't important!

I frequently have friends say things like "I love baking. I can't get enough of baking. I'm going to open a bakery.". I ask them "do you love dealing with taxes, every month? Do you love contract law? Employment law? Marketing? Accounting?" If you LOVE baking, the smart thing to do is to spend your time baking. Running a start-up business, you're not going to do much baking.

If you love marketing, employment law, taxes

raymorris ( 2726007 ) writes:
Four tips for a better job. Who has more? ( Score: 3 )

I can tell you a few things that have worked for me. I'll go in chronological order rather than priority order.

Make friends in the industry you want to be in. Referrals are a major way people get jobs.

Look at the job listings for jobs you'd like to have and see which skills a lot of companies want, but you're missing. For me that's Java. A lot companies list Java skills and I'm not particularly good with Java. Then consider learning the skills you lack, the ones a lot of job postings are looking for.

Certifi

goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @02:34PM ( #56524475 ) Journal
Re: older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 5 , Insightful)
You don't understand the point of an ORM do you? I'd suggest reading why they exist

They exist because programmers value code design more than data design. ORMs are the poster-child for square-peg-round-hole solutions, which is why all ORMs choose one of three different ways of squashing hierarchical data into a relational form, all of which are crappy.

If the devs of the system (the ones choosing to use an ORM) had any competence at all they'd design their database first because in any application that uses a database the database is the most important bit, not the OO-ness or Functional-ness of the design.

Over the last few decades I've seen programs in a system come and go; a component here gets rewritten, a component there gets rewritten, but you know what? They all have to work with the same damn data.

You can more easily switch out your code for new code with new design in a new language, than you can switch change the database structure. So explain to me why it is that you think the database should be mangled to fit your OO code rather than mangling your OO code to fit the database?

cheekyboy ( 598084 ) writes:
im sick of reinventors and new frameworks ( Score: 3 )

Stick to the one thing for 10-15years. Often all this new shit doesn't do jack different to the old shit, its not faster, its not better. Every dick wants to be famous so make another damn library/tool with his own fancy name and feature, instead of enhancing an existing product.

gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

amen to that.

Or kids who can't hack the main stuff, suddenly discover the cool new, and then they can pretend they're "learning" it, and when the going gets tough (as it always does) they can declare the tech to be pants and move to another.

hence we had so many people on the bandwagon for functional programming, then dumped it for ruby on rails, then dumped that for Node.js, not sure what they're on at currently, probably back to asp.net.

Greyfox ( 87712 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

How much code do you have to reuse before you're not really programming anymore? When I started in this business, it was reasonably possible that you could end up on a project that didn't particularly have much (or any) of an operating system. They taught you assembly language and the process by which the system boots up, but I think if I were to ask most of the programmers where I work, they wouldn't be able to explain how all that works...

djinn6 ( 1868030 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
It really feels like if you know what you're doing it should be possible to build a team of actually good programmers and put everyone else out of business by actually meeting your deliverables, but no one has yet. I wonder why that is.

You mean Amazon, Google, Facebook and the like? People may not always like what they do, but they manage to get things done and make plenty of money in the process. The problem for a lot of other businesses is not having a way to identify and promote actually good programmers. In your example, you could've spent 10 minutes fixing their query and saved them days of headache, but how much recognition will you actually get? Where is your motivation to help them?

Junta ( 36770 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

It's not a "kids these days" sort of issue, it's *always* been the case that shameless, baseless self-promotion wins out over sincere skill without the self-promotion, because the people who control the money generally understand boasting more than they understand the technology. Yes it can happen that baseless boasts can be called out over time by a large enough mass of feedback from competent peers, but it takes a *lot* to overcome the tendency for them to have faith in the boasts.

It does correlate stron

cheekyboy ( 598084 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

And all these modern coders forget old lessons, and make shit stuff, just look at instagram windows app, what a load of garbage shit, that us old fuckers could code in 2-3 weeks.

Instagram - your app sucks, cookie cutter coders suck, no refinement, coolness. Just cheap ass shit, with limited usefulness.

Just like most of commercial software that's new - quick shit.

Oh and its obvious if your an Indian faking it, you haven't worked in 100 companies at the age of 29.

Junta ( 36770 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Here's another problem, if faced with a skilled team that says "this will take 6 months to do right" and a more naive team that says "oh, we can slap that together in a month", management goes with the latter. Then the security compromises occur, then the application fails due to pulling in an unvetted dependency update live into production. When the project grows to handling thousands instead of dozens of users and it starts mysteriously folding over and the dev team is at a loss, well the choice has be

molarmass192 ( 608071 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @02:15AM ( #56522359 ) Homepage Journal
Re:older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

These restrictions is a large part of what makes Arduino programming "fun". If you don't plan out your memory usage, you're gonna run out of it. I cringe when I see 8MB web pages of bloated "throw in everything including the kitchen sink and the neighbor's car". Unfortunately, the careful and cautious way is a dying in favor of the throw 3rd party code at it until it does something. Of course, I don't have time to review it but I'm sure everybody else has peer reviewed it for flaws and exploits line by line.

AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) writes: < mojo@@@world3...net > on Sunday April 29, 2018 @05:15AM ( #56522597 ) Homepage Journal
Re:older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 4 , Informative)
Unfortunately, the careful and cautious way is a dying in favor of the throw 3rd party code at it until it does something.

Of course. What is the business case for making it efficient? Those massive frameworks are cached by the browser and run on the client's system, so cost you nothing and save you time to market. Efficient costs money with no real benefit to the business.

If we want to fix this, we need to make bloat have an associated cost somehow.

locketine ( 1101453 ) writes:
Re: older generations already had a term for this ( Score: 2 )

My company is dealing with the result of this mentality right now. We released the web app to the customer without performance testing and doing several majorly inefficient things to meet deadlines. Once real load was put on the application by users with non-ideal hardware and browsers, the app was infuriatingly slow. Suddenly our standard sub-40 hour workweek became a 50+ hour workweek for months while we fixed all the inefficient code and design issues.

So, while you're right that getting to market and opt

serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

In the bad old days we had a hell of a lot of ridiculous restriction We must somehow made our programs to run successfully inside a RAM that was 48KB in size (yes, 48KB, not 48MB or 48GB), on a CPU with a clock speed of 1.023 MHz

We still have them. In fact some of the systems I've programmed have been more resource limited than the gloriously spacious 32KiB memory of the BBC model B. Take the PIC12F or 10F series. A glorious 64 bytes of RAM, max clock speed of 16MHz, but not unusual to run it 32kHz.

serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

So what are the uses for that? I am curious what things people have put these to use for.

It's hard to determine because people don't advertise use of them at all. However, I know that my electric toothbrush uses an Epson 4 bit MCU of some description. It's got a status LED, basic NiMH batteryb charger and a PWM controller for an H Bridge. Braun sell a *lot* of electric toothbrushes. Any gadget that's smarter than a simple switch will probably have some sort of basic MCU in it. Alarm system components, sensor

tlhIngan ( 30335 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Insightful)
b) No computer ever ran at 1.023 MHz. It was either a nice multiple of 1Mhz or maybe a multiple of 3.579545Mhz (ie. using the TV output circuit's color clock crystal to drive the CPU).

Well, it could be used to drive the TV output circuit, OR, it was used because it's a stupidly cheap high speed crystal. You have to remember except for a few frequencies, most crystals would have to be specially cut for the desired frequency. This occurs even today, where most oscillators are either 32.768kHz (real time clock

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Interesting)

Yeah, nice talk. You could have stopped after the first sentence. The other AC is referring to the Commodore C64 [wikipedia.org]. The frequency has nothing to do with crystal availability but with the simple fact that everything in the C64 is synced to the TV. One clock cycle equals 8 pixels. The graphics chip and the CPU take turns accessing the RAM. The different frequencies dictated by the TV standards are the reason why the CPU in the NTSC version of the C64 runs at 1.023MHz and the PAL version at 0.985MHz.

Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

LOL what exactly is so special about 16K RAM? https://yourlogicalfallacyis.c... [yourlogicalfallacyis.com]

I cut my teeth on a VIC20 (5K RAM), then later a C64 (which ran at 1.023MHz...)

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Interesting)

Commodore 64 for the win. I worked for a company that made detection devices for the railroad, things like monitoring axle temperatures, reading the rail car ID tags. The original devices were made using Commodore 64 boards using software written by an employee at the one rail road company working with them.

The company then hired some electrical engineers to design custom boards using the 68000 chips and I was hired as the only programmer. Had to rewrite all of the code which was fine...

wierd_w ( 1375923 ) , Saturday April 28, 2018 @11:58PM ( #56522075 )
... A job fair can easily test this competency. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)

Many of these languages have an interactive interpreter. I know for a fact that Python does.

So, since job-fairs are an all day thing, and setup is already a thing for them -- set up a booth with like 4 computers at it, and an admin station. The 4 terminals have an interactive session with the interpreter of choice. Every 20min or so, have a challenge for "Solve this problem" (needs to be easy and already solved in general. Programmers hate being pimped without pay. They don't mind tests of skill, but hate being pimped. Something like "sort this array, while picking out all the prime numbers" or something.) and see who steps up. The ones that step up have confidence they can solve the problem, and you can quickly see who can do the work and who can't.

The ones that solve it, and solve it to your satisfaction, you offer a nice gig to.

ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:50AM ( #56522321 )
Re:... A job fair can easily test this competency. ( Score: 5 , Informative)
Then you get someone good at sorting arrays while picking out prime numbers, but potentially not much else.

The point of the test is not to identify the perfect candidate, but to filter out the clearly incompetent. If you can't sort an array and write a function to identify a prime number, I certainly would not hire you. Passing the test doesn't get you a job, but it may get you an interview ... where there will be other tests.

wierd_w ( 1375923 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

BINGO!

(I am not even a professional programmer, but I can totally perform such a trivially easy task. The example tests basic understanding of loop construction, function construction, variable use, efficient sorting, and error correction-- especially with mixed type arrays. All of these are things any programmer SHOULD now how to do, without being overly complicated, or clearly a disguised occupational problem trying to get a free solution. Like I said, programmers hate being pimped, and will be turned off

wierd_w ( 1375923 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @04:02AM ( #56522443 )
Re: ... A job fair can easily test this competency ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Again, the quality applicant and the code monkey both have something the fakers do not-- Actual comprehension of what a program is, and how to create one.

As Bill points out, this is not the final exam. This is the "Oh, I see you do actually know how to program-- show me more" portion of the process. This is the part that HR drones are not capable of performing, due to Dunning-Krueger. Those that are actually, REALLY competent will do more than just satisfy the requirements of the challenge, they will provide actually working solutions to the challenge that properly validate their input, and return proper error states if the input is invalid, etc-- You can learn a LOT about a potential hire by observing their work. *THAT* is what this is really about. The triviality of the problem is a necessity, because you ***DON'T*** try to get free solutions out of people.

I realize that may be difficult for you to comprehend, but you *DON'T* do that. The job fair is to let people know that you have a position available, and try to curry interest in people to apply. A successful pre-screening is confidence building, and helps the potential hire to feel that your company is actually interested in actually hiring somebody, and not just fucking off in the booth, to cover for "failing to find somebody" and then "Getting yet another H1B". It gives them a chance to show you what they can do. That is what it is for, and what it does. It also excludes the fakers that this article is about-- The ones that can talk a good talk, but could not program a simple boolean check condition if their life depended on it.

If it were not for the time constraints of a job fair (usually only 2 days, and in that time you need to try and pre-screen as many as possible), I would suggest a tiered challenge, with progressively harder challenges, where you hand out resumes to the ones that make it to the top 3 brackets, but that is not the way the world works.

luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
This in my opinion is really a waste of time. Challenges like this have to be so simple they can be done walking up to a booth are not likely to filter the "all talks" any better than a few interview questions could (imperson so the candidate can't just google it).

Tougher more involved stuff isn't good either it gives a huge advantage to the full time job hunter, the guy or gal that already has a 9-5 and a family that wants to seem them has not got time for games. We have been struggling with hiring where I work ( I do a lot of the interviews ) and these are the conclusions we have reached

You would be surprised at the number of people with impeccable-looking resumes failing at something as simple as the FizzBuzz test [codinghorror.com]

PaulRivers10 ( 4110595 ) writes:
Re: ... A job fair can easily test this competenc ( Score: 2 )

The only thing fuzzbuzz tests is "have you done fizzbuzz before"? It's a short question filled with every petty trick the author could think ti throw in there. If you haven't seen the tricks they trip you up for no reason related to your actual coding skills. Once you have seen them they're trivial and again unrelated to real work. Fizzbuzz is best passed by someone aiming to game the interview system. It passes people gaming it and trips up people who spent their time doing on the job real work.

Hognoxious ( 631665 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
they trip you up for no reason related to your actual codung skills.

Bullshit!

luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @07:49AM ( #56522861 ) Homepage
filter the lame code monkeys ( Score: 4 , Informative)
Lame monkey tests select for lame monkeys.

A good programmer first and foremost has a clean mind. Experience suggests puzzle geeks, who excel at contrived tests, are usually sloppy thinkers.

No. Good programmers can trivially knock out any of these so-called lame monkey tests. It's lame code monkeys who can't do it. And I've seen their work. Many night shifts and weekends I've burned trying to fix their shit because they couldn't actually do any of the things behind what you call "lame monkey tests", like:

    pulling expensive invariant calculations out of loops using for loops to scan a fucking table to pull rows or calculate an aggregate when they could let the database do what it does best with a simple SQL statement systems crashing under actual load because their shitty code was never stress tested ( but it worked on my dev box! .) again with databases, having to redo their schemas because they were fattened up so much with columns like VALUE1, VALUE2, ... VALUE20 (normalize you assholes!) chatting remote APIs - because these code monkeys cannot think about the need for bulk operations in increasingly distributed systems. storing dates in unsortable strings because the idiots do not know most modern programming languages have a date data type.

Oh and the most important, off-by-one looping errors. I see this all the time, the type of thing a good programmer can spot on quickly because he or she can do the so-called "lame monkey tests" that involve arrays and sorting.

I've seen the type: "I don't need to do this shit because I have business knowledge and I code for business and IT not google", and then they go and code and fuck it up... and then the rest of us have to go clean up their shit at 1AM or on weekends.

If you work as an hourly paid contractor cleaning that crap, it can be quite lucrative. But sooner or later it truly sucks the energy out of your soul.

So yeah, we need more lame monkey tests ... to filter the lame code monkeys.

ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )
Someone could Google the problem with the phone then step up and solve the challenge.

If given a spec, someone can consistently cobble together working code by Googling, then I would love to hire them. That is the most productive way to get things done.

There is nothing wrong with using external references. When I am coding, I have three windows open: an editor, a testing window, and a browser with a Stackoverflow tab open.

Junta ( 36770 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Yeah, when we do tech interviews, we ask questions that we are certain they won't be able to answer, but want to see how they would think about the problem and what questions they ask to get more data and that they don't just fold up and say "well that's not the sort of problem I'd be thinking of" The examples aren't made up or anything, they are generally selection of real problems that were incredibly difficult that our company had faced before, that one may not think at first glance such a position would

bobstreo ( 1320787 ) writes:
Nothing worse ( Score: 2 )

than spending weeks interviewing "good" candidates for an opening, selecting a couple and hiring them as contractors, then finding out they are less than unqualified to do the job they were hired for.

I've seen it a few times, Java "experts", Microsoft "experts" with years of experience on their resumes, but completely useless in coding, deployment or anything other than buying stuff from the break room vending machines.

That being said, I've also seen projects costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, with y

Anonymous Coward , Sunday April 29, 2018 @12:34AM ( #56522157 )
Re:Nothing worse ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

The moment you said "contractors", and you have lost any sane developer. Keep swimming, its not a fish.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Informative)

I agree with this. I consider myself to be a good programmer and I would never go into contractor game. I also wonder, how does it take you weeks to interview someone and you still can't figure out if the person can't code? I could probably see that in 15 minutes in a pair coding session.

Also, Oracle, SAP, IBM... I would never buy from them, nor use their products. I have used plenty of IBM products and they suck big time. They make software development 100 times harder than it could be. Their technical supp

Lanthanide ( 4982283 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

It's weeks to interview multiple different candidates before deciding on 1 or 2 of them. Not weeks per person.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Insightful)
That being said, I've also seen projects costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, with years of delays from companies like Oracle, Sun, SAP, and many other "vendors"

Software development is a hard thing to do well, despite the general thinking of technology becoming cheaper over time, and like health care the quality of the goods and services received can sometimes be difficult to ascertain. However, people who don't respect developers and the problems we solve are very often the same ones who continually frustrate themselves by trying to cheap out, hiring outsourced contractors, and then tearing their hair out when sub par results are delivered, if anything is even del

pauljlucas ( 529435 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

As part of your interview process, don't you have candidates code a solution to a problem on a whiteboard? I've interviewed lots of "good" candidates (on paper) too, but they crashed and burned when challenged with a coding exercise. As a result, we didn't make them job offers.

VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) writes:
I do the opposite ( Score: 2 )

I'm not a great coder but good enough to get done what clients want done. If I'm not sure or don't think I can do it, I tell them. I think they appreciate the honesty. I don't work in a tech-hub, startups or anything like that so I'm not under the same expectations and pressures that others may be.

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Bigger building blocks ( Score: 2 )

OK, so yes, I know plenty of programmers who do fake it. But stitching together components isn't "fake" programming.

Back in the day, we had to write our own code to loop through an XML file, looking for nuggets. Now, we just use an XML serializer. Back then, we had to write our own routines to send TCP/IP messages back and forth. Now we just use a library.

I love it! I hated having to make my own bricks before I could build a house. Now, I can get down to the business of writing the functionality I want, ins

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 , Insightful)

But, I suspect you could write the component if you had to. That makes you a very different user of that component than someone who just knows it as a magic black box.

Because of this, you understand the component better and have real knowledge of its strengths and limitations. People blindly using components with only a cursory idea of their internal operation often cause major performance problems. They rarely recognize when it is time to write their own to overcome a limitation (or even that it is possibl

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

You're right on all counts. A person who knows how the innards work, is better than someone who doesn't, all else being equal. Still, today's world is so specialized that no one can possibly learn it all. I've never built a processor, as you have, but I still have been able to build a DNA matching algorithm for a major DNA lab.

I would argue that anyone who can skillfully use off-the-shelf components can also learn how to build components, if they are required to.

thesupraman ( 179040 ) writes:
Ummm. ( Score: 2 )

1, 'Back in the Day' there was no XML, XMl was not very long ago.
2, its a parser, a serialiser is pretty much the opposite (unless this weeks fashion has redefined that.. anything is possible).
3, 'Back then' we didnt have TCP stacks...

But, actually I agree with you. I can only assume the author thinks there are lots of fake plumbers because they dont cast their own toilet bowels from raw clay, and use pre-build fittings and pipes! That car mechanics start from raw steel scrap and a file.. And that you need

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

For the record, XML was invented in 1997, you know, in the last century! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
And we had a WinSock library in 1992. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Yes, I agree with you on the "middle ground." My reaction was to the author's point that "not knowing how to build the components" was the same as being a "fake programmer."

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:46AM ( #56522313 ) Homepage
Re:Bigger building blocks ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

If I'm a plumber, and I don't know anything about the engineering behind the construction of PVC pipe, I can still be a good plumber. If I'm an electrician, and I don't understand the role of a blast furnace in the making of the metal components, I can still be a good electrician.

The analogy fits. If I'm a programmer, and I don't know how to make an LZW compression library, I can still be a good programmer. It's a matter of layers. These days, we specialize. You've got your low-level programmers that make the components, the high level programmers that put together the components, the graphics guys who do HTML/CSS, and the SQL programmers that just know about databases. Every person has their specialty. It's no longer necessary to be a low-level programmer, or jack-of-all-trades, to be "good."

If I don't know the layout of the IP header, I can still write quality networking software, and if I know XSLT, I can still do cool stuff with XML, even if I don't know how to write a good parser.

frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )

I was with you until you said " I can still do cool stuff with XML".

Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

LOL yeah I know it's all JSON now. I've been around long enough to see these fads come and go. Frankly, I don't see a whole lot of advantage of JSON over XML. It's not even that much more compact, about 10% or so. But the point is that the author laments the "bad old days" when you had to create all your own building blocks, and you didn't have a team of specialists. I for one don't want to go back to those days!

careysub ( 976506 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )

The main advantage is that JSON is that it is consistent. XML has attributes, embedded optional stuff within tags. That was derived from the original SGML ancestor where is was thought to be a convenience for the human authors who were supposed to be making the mark-up manually. Programmatically it is a PITA.

Cederic ( 9623 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )

I got shit for decrying XML back when it was the trendy thing. I've had people apologise to me months later because they've realized I was right, even though at the time they did their best to fuck over my career because XML was the new big thing and I wasn't fully on board.

XML has its strengths and its place, but fuck me it taught me how little some people really fucking understand shit.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Silicon Valley is Only Part of the Tech Business ( Score: 2 , Informative)

And a rather small part at that, albeit a very visible and vocal one full of the proverbial prima donas. However, much of the rest of the tech business, or at least the people working in it, are not like that. It's small groups of developers working in other industries that would not typically be considered technology. There are software developers working for insurance companies, banks, hedge funds, oil and gas exploration or extraction firms, national defense and many hundreds and thousands of other small

phantomfive ( 622387 ) writes:
bonfire of fakers ( Score: 2 )

This is the reason I wish programming didn't pay so much....the field is better when it's mostly populated by people who enjoy programming.

Njovich ( 553857 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @05:35AM ( #56522641 )
Learn to code courses ( Score: 5 , Insightful)
They knew that well-paid programming jobs would also soon turn to smoke and ash, as the proliferation of learn-to-code courses around the world lowered the market value of their skills, and as advances in artificial intelligence allowed for computers to take over more of the mundane work of producing software.

Kind of hard to take this article serious after saying gibberish like this. I would say most good programmers know that neither learn-to-code courses nor AI are going to make a dent in their income any time soon.

AndyKron ( 937105 ) writes:
Me? No ( Score: 2 )

As a non-programmer Arduino and libraries are my friends

Escogido ( 884359 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @06:59AM ( #56522777 )
in the silly cone valley ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

There is a huge shortage of decent programmers. I have personally witnessed more than one phone "interview" that went like "have you done this? what about this? do you know what this is? um, can you start Monday?" (120K-ish salary range)

Partly because there are way more people who got their stupid ideas funded than good coders willing to stain their resume with that. partly because if you are funded, and cannot do all the required coding solo, here's your conundrum:

  • top level hackers can afford to be really picky, so on one hand it's hard to get them interested, and if you could get that, they often want some ownership of the project. the plus side is that they are happy to work for lots of equity if they have faith in the idea, but that can be a huge "if".
  • "good but not exceptional" senior engineers aren't usually going to be super happy, as they often have spouses and children and mortgages, so they'd favor job security over exciting ideas and startup lottery.
  • that leaves you with fresh-out-of-college folks, which are really really a mixed bunch. some are actually already senior level of understanding without the experience, some are absolutely useless, with varying degrees in between, and there's no easy way to tell which is which early.

so the not-so-scrupulous folks realized what's going on, and launched multiple coding boot camps programmes, to essentially trick both the students into believing they can become a coder in a month or two, and also the prospective employers that said students are useful. so far it's been working, to a degree, in part because in such companies coding skill evaluation process is broken. but one can only hide their lack of value add for so long, even if they do manage to bluff their way into a job.

quonset ( 4839537 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @07:20AM ( #56522817 )
Duh! ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

All one had to do was look at the lousy state of software and web sites today to see this is true. It's quite obvious little to no thought is given on how to make something work such that one doesn't have to jump through hoops.

I have many times said the most perfect word processing program ever developed was WordPefect 5.1 for DOS. Ones productivity was astonishing. It just worked.

Now we have the bloated behemoth Word which does its utmost to get in the way of you doing your work. The only way to get it to function is to turn large portions of its "features" off, and even then it still insists on doing something other than what you told it to do.

Then we have the abomination of Windows 10, which is nothing but Clippy on 10X steroids. It is patently obvious the people who program this steaming pile have never heard of simplicity. Who in their right mind would think having to "search" for something is more efficient than going directly to it? I would ask the question if these people wander around stores "searching" for what they're looking for, but then I realize that's how their entire life is run. They search for everything online rather than going directly to the source. It's no wonder they complain about not having time to things. They're always searching.

Web sites are another area where these people have no clue what they're doing. Anything that might be useful is hidden behind dropdown menus, flyouts, popup bubbles and intriately designed mazes of clicks needed to get to where you want to go. When someone clicks on a line of products, they shouldn't be harassed about what part of the product line they want to look at. Give them the information and let the user go where they want.

This rant could go on, but this article explains clearly why we have regressed when it comes to software and web design. Instead of making things simple and easy to use, using the one or two brain cells they have, programmers and web designers let the software do what it wants without considering, should it be done like this?

swb ( 14022 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @07:48AM ( #56522857 )
Tech industry churn ( Score: 3 )

The tech industry has a ton of churn -- there's some technological advancement, but there's an awful lot of new products turned out simply to keep customers buying new licenses and paying for upgrades.

This relentless and mostly phony newness means a lot of people have little experience with current products. People fake because they have no choice. The good ones understand the general technologies and problems they're meant to solve and can generally get up to speed quickly, while the bad ones are good at faking it but don't really know what they're doing. Telling the difference from the outside is impossible.

Sales people make it worse, promoting people as "experts" in specific products or implementations because the people have experience with a related product and "they're all the same". This burns out the people with good adaption skills.

DaMattster ( 977781 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @08:39AM ( #56522979 )
Interesting ( Score: 3 )

From the summary, it sounds like a lot of programmers and software engineers are trying to develop the next big thing so that they can literally beg for money from the elite class and one day, hopefully, become a member of the aforementioned. It's sad how the middle class has been utterly decimated in the United States that some of us are willing to beg for scraps from the wealthy. I used to work in IT but I've aged out and am now back in school to learn automotive technology so that I can do something other than being a security guard. Currently, the only work I have been able to find has been in the unglamorous security field.

I am learning some really good new skills in the automotive program that I am in but I hate this one class called "Professionalism in the Shop." I can summarize the entire class in one succinct phrase, "Learn how to appeal to, and communicate with, Mr. Doctor, Mr. Lawyer, or Mr. Wealthy-man." Basically, the class says that we are supposed to kiss their ass so they keep coming back to the Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, or Cadillac dealership. It feels a lot like begging for money on behalf of my employer (of which very little of it I will see) and nothing like professionalism. Professionalism is doing the job right the first time, not jerking the customer off. Professionalism is not begging for a 5 star review for a few measly extra bucks but doing absolute top quality work. I guess the upshot is that this class will be the easiest 4.0 that I've ever seen.

There is something fundamentally wrong when the wealthy elite have basically demanded that we beg them for every little scrap. I can understand the importance of polite and professional interaction but this prevalent expectation that we bend over backwards for them crosses a line with me. I still suck it up because I have to but it chafes my ass to basically validate the wealthy man.

ElitistWhiner ( 79961 ) writes:
Natural talent... ( Score: 2 )

In 70's I worked with two people who had a natural talent for computer science algorithms .vs. coding syntax. In the 90's while at COLUMBIA I worked with only a couple of true computer scientists out of 30 students. I've met 1 genius who programmed, spoke 13 languages, ex-CIA, wrote SWIFT and spoke fluent assembly complete with animated characters.

According to the Bluff Book, everyone else without natural talent fakes it. In the undiluted definition of computer science, genetics roulette and intellectual d

fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) writes:
Other book sells better and is more interesting ( Score: 2 )
New Book Describes 'Bluffing' Programmers in Silicon Valley

It's not as interesting as the one about "fluffing" [urbandictionary.com] programmers.

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Funny)

Ah yes, the good old 80:20 rule, except it's recursive for programmers.

80% are shit, so you fire them. Soon you realize that 80% of the remaining 20% are also shit, so you fire them too. Eventually you realize that 80% of the 4% remaining after sacking the 80% of the 20% are also shit, so you fire them!

...

The cycle repeats until there's just one programmer left: the person telling the joke.

---

tl;dr: All programmers suck. Just ask them to review their own code from more than 3 years ago: they'll tell you that

luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 )
Who gives a fuck about lines? If someone gave me JavaScript, and someone gave me minified JavaScript, which one would I want to maintain?

I donâ(TM)t care about your line savings, less isnâ(TM)t always better.

Because the world of programming is not centered about JavasScript and reduction of lines is not the same as minification. If the first thing that came to your mind was about minified JavaScript when you saw this conversation, you are certainly not the type of programmer I would want to inherit code from.

See, there's a lot of shit out there that is overtly redundant and unnecessarily complex. This is specially true when copy-n-paste code monkeys are left to their own devices for whom code formatting seems

Anonymous Coward , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:17AM ( #56522241 )
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)

I have a theory that 10% of people are good at what they do. It doesn't really matter what they do, they will still be good at it, because of their nature. These are the people who invent new things, who fix things that others didn't even see as broken and who automate routine tasks or simply question and erase tasks that are not necessary. If you have a software team that contain 5 of these, you can easily beat a team of 100 average people, not only in cost but also in schedule, quality and features. In theory they are worth 20 times more than average employees, but in practise they are usually paid the same amount of money with few exceptions.

80% of people are the average. They can follow instructions and they can get the work done, but they don't see that something is broken and needs fixing if it works the way it has always worked. While it might seem so, these people are not worthless. There are a lot of tasks that these people are happily doing which the 10% don't want to do. E.g. simple maintenance work, implementing simple features, automating test cases etc. But if you let the top 10% lead the project, you most likely won't be needed that much of these people. Most work done by these people is caused by themselves, by writing bad software due to lack of good leader.

10% are just causing damage. I'm not talking about terrorists and criminals. I have seen software developers who have tried (their best?), but still end up causing just damage to the code that someone else needs to fix, costing much more than their own wasted time. You really must use code reviews if you don't know your team members, to find these people early.

Anonymous Coward , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:40AM ( #56522299 )
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 5 , Funny)
to find these people early

and promote them to management where they belong.

raymorris ( 2726007 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:51AM ( #56522329 ) Journal
Seems about right. Constantly learning, studying ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

That seems about right to me.

I have a lot of weaknesses. My people skills suck, I'm scrawny, I'm arrogant. I'm also generally known as a really good programmer and people ask me how/why I'm so much better at my job than everyone else in the room. (There are a lot of things I'm not good at, but I'm good at my job, so say everyone I've worked with.)

I think one major difference is that I'm always studying, intentionally working to improve, every day. I've been doing that for twenty years.

I've worked with people who have "20 years of experience"; they've done the same job, in the same way, for 20 years. Their first month on the job they read the first half of "Databases for Dummies" and that's what they've been doing for 20 years. They never read the second half, and use Oracle database 18.0 exactly the same way they used Oracle Database 2.0 - and it was wrong 20 years ago too. So it's not just experience, it's 20 years of learning, getting better, every day. That's 7,305 days of improvement.

gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

I think I can guarantee that they are a lot better at their jobs than you think, and that you are a lot worse at your job than you think too.

m00sh ( 2538182 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
That seems about right to me.

I have a lot of weaknesses. My people skills suck, I'm scrawny, I'm arrogant. I'm also generally known as a really good programmer and people ask me how/why I'm so much better at my job than everyone else in the room. (There are a lot of things I'm not good at, but I'm good at my job, so say everyone I've worked with.)

I think one major difference is that I'm always studying, intentionally working to improve, every day. I've been doing that for twenty years.

I've worked with people who have "20 years of experience"; they've done the same job, in the same way, for 20 years. Their first month on the job they read the first half of "Databases for Dummies" and that's what they've been doing for 20 years. They never read the second half, and use Oracle database 18.0 exactly the same way they used Oracle Database 2.0 - and it was wrong 20 years ago too. So it's not just experience, it's 20 years of learning, getting better, every day. That's 7,305 days of improvement.

If you take this attitude towards other people, people will not ask your for help. At the same time, you'll be also be not able to ask for their help.

You're not interviewing your peers. They are already in your team. You should be working together.

I've seen superstar programmers suck the life out of project by over-complicating things and not working together with others.

raymorris ( 2726007 ) writes:
Which part? Learning makes you better? ( Score: 2 )

You quoted a lot. Is there one part exactly do you have in mind? The thesis of my post is of course "constant learning, on purpose, makes you better"

> you take this attitude towards other people, people will not ask your for help. At the same time, you'll be also be not able to ask for their help.

Are you saying that trying to learn means you can't ask for help, or was there something more specific? For me, trying to learn means asking.

Trying to learn, I've had the opportunity to ask for help from peop

phantomfive ( 622387 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

The difference between a smart programmer who succeeds and a stupid programmer who drops out is that the smart programmer doesn't give up.

complete loony ( 663508 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

In other words;

What is often mistaken for 20 years' experience, is just 1 year's experience repeated 20 times.
serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

10% are just causing damage. I'm not talking about terrorists and criminals.

Terrorists and criminals have nothing on those guys. I know guy who is one of those. Worse, he's both motivated and enthusiastic. He also likes to offer help and advice to other people who don't know the systems well.

asifyoucare ( 302582 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @08:49AM ( #56522999 )
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Good point. To quote Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord:

"I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent -- their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy -- they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief."

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Oops. Good thing I never did anything military. I am definitely in the "clever and lazy" class.

apoc.famine ( 621563 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

I was just thinking the same thing. One of my passions in life is coming up with clever ways to do less work while getting more accomplished.

Software_Dev_GL ( 5377065 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

It's called the Pareto Distribution [wikipedia.org]. The number of competent people (people doing most of the work) in any given organization goes like the square root of the number of employees.

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Matches my observations. 10-15% are smart, can think independently, can verify claims by others and can identify and use rules in whatever they do. They are not fooled by things "everybody knows" and see standard-approaches as first approximations that, of course, need to be verified to work. They do not trust anything blindly, but can identify whether something actually work well and build up a toolbox of such things.

The problem is that in coding, you do not have a "(mass) production step", and that is the

geoskd ( 321194 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

In basic concept I agree with your theory, it fits my own anecdotal experience well, but I find that your numbers are off. The top bracket is actually closer to 20%. The reason it seems so low is that a large portion of the highly competent people are running one programmer shows, so they have no co-workers to appreciate their knowledge and skill. The places they work do a very good job of keeping them well paid and happy (assuming they don't own the company outright), so they rarely if ever switch jobs.

The

Tablizer ( 95088 ) , Sunday April 29, 2018 @01:54AM ( #56522331 ) Journal
Re:Most "Professional programmers" are useless. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)
at least 70, probably 80, maybe even 90 percent of professional programmers should just fuck off and do something else as they are useless at programming.

Programming is statistically a dead-end job. Why should anyone hone a dead-end skill that you won't be able to use for long? For whatever reason, the industry doesn't want old programmers.

Otherwise, I'd suggest longer training and education before they enter the industry. But that just narrows an already narrow window of use.

Cesare Ferrari ( 667973 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Well, it does rather depend on which industry you work in - i've managed to find interesting programming jobs for 25 years, and there's no end in sight for interesting projects and new avenues to explore. However, this isn't for everyone, and if you have good personal skills then moving from programming into some technical management role is a very worthwhile route, and I know plenty of people who have found very interesting work in that direction.

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Insightful)

I think that is a misinterpretation of the facts. Old(er) coders that are incompetent are just much more obvious and usually are also limited to technologies that have gotten old as well. Hence the 90% old coders that can actually not hack it and never really could get sacked at some time and cannot find a new job with their limited and outdated skills. The 10% that are good at it do not need to worry though. Who worries there is their employers when these people approach retirement age.

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

My experience as an IT Security Consultant (I also do some coding, but only at full rates) confirms that. Most are basically helpless and many have negative productivity, because people with a clue need to clean up after them. "Learn to code"? We have far too many coders already.

tomhath ( 637240 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

You can't bluff you way through writing software, but many, many people have bluffed their way into a job and then tried to learn it from the people who are already there. In a marginally functional organization those incompetents are let go pretty quickly, but sometimes they stick around for months or years.

Apparently the author of this book is one of those, probably hired and fired several times before deciding to go back to his liberal arts roots and write a book.

DaMattster ( 977781 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

There are some mechanics that bluff their way through an automotive repair. It's the same damn thing

gweihir ( 88907 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

I think you can and this is by far not the first piece describing that. Here is a classic: https://blog.codinghorror.com/... [codinghorror.com]
Yet these people somehow manage to actually have "experience" because they worked in a role they are completely unqualified to fill.

phantomfive ( 622387 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
Fiddling with JavaScript libraries to get a fancy dancy interface that makes PHB's happy is a sought-after skill, for good or bad. Now that we rely more on half-ass libraries, much of "programming" is fiddling with dark-grey boxes until they work good enough.

This drives me crazy, but I'm consoled somewhat by the fact that it will all be thrown out in five years anyway.

[Apr 24, 2018] How neoliberal economics in universities achieve tenure

They achieve it by serving the financial oligarchy...
Few things are as dangerous as economists with physics envy [aeon.co].
Notable quotes:
"... "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning. ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

marku52 , April 20, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Stumbling and Mumbling has a good riff on this topic:
". Economics, for me, is not about armchair theorizing. It should begin with the facts, and especially the big ones. The facts are that share buy-backs do usually matter, so thought experiments that say otherwise are wrong from the off. Similarly, the fact that wage inflation has been low for years (pdf) is much more significant than any theorizing about Phillips curves."

The comments are good as well:
"That's a category error: you don't define "Economics", tenure committees define it, and they award tenure to people who have a long record of publishing "internally consistent" ("armchair theorizing") papers."
"I found myself sitting next to a very likable young middle-aged academic tenured at an elite British university, whom henceforth I will refer to as Doctor X and whose field is closely associated with this blog. Every year I publish papers in the top journals and they're pure shit." Doctor X, who by now had had a glass or two, felt bad about this, not least because "students these days are so idealistic and eager to learn; they're really wonderful." Furthermore Doctor X could and would like "to write serious papers but what would be the point?" "
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2018/04/facts-vs-hand-waving-in-economics.html#comments

hemeantwell , April 20, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Yeah. I'm inclined to think the author needs to curb his enthusiasms and take up dejected drinking.

The nub of his presentation was a model in which consumers, due to cognitive limitations, were unable to fully examine every single product they purchased. The result was that regulations guaranteeing a certain standard of safety, quality and the like could improve competition by giving people more time to shop around instead of having to devote so much time to investigate specific products. Thus, regulation would improve markets and competition

This is Nobel-level work? It amounts to finding a way to pitch a product to anti-regulation dogmatists. I'm sure that you could find similar arguments being made during the Progressive era regulatory push. Only they would have been framed more as "people will have more time to shop around if they're not killed by previous ingestion of the product."

Ape , April 22, 2018 at 3:32 am

Dude – they aren't actually doing fancy math. Linear regression – like it's 1850!

Most of their important proofs are irrelevant crap with wholes. The math is mostly undergraduate math! The emperor has no clothes!

The problem isn't just math trickery – it's not even proper ingenuity.

Just read a Summer or Krugman paper – it's 70 pages of words, 3 graphs of imaginary numbers and stats 2 equations. That's not mathematization.

Larry Motuz , April 22, 2018 at 4:34 pm

What I mean by 'mathemagics' is the misuse of mathematics –even simple mathematics -- to create the illusion that 'utility' or 'indifference curves' actually pertain to real concepts. In reality, they 'mathematize' gobbledygook passed off as coherent concepts. There is nothing so conceptually barren as 'utility' or 'indifference curve' analytics. The notion that one can derive any coherent 'demand' analysis for any one consumer that is individual human being (or life form of any kind) for any product, or that one can aggregate these up is mathematical junk.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 22, 2018 at 9:08 am

The Classical Economists used the broader political economy rather than today's narrow economics.

The Washington Consensus dreamed of a world run by the laws of economics.

The laws of economics worked in China's favour and the Western economies got hollowed out.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Maximising profit required minimising wages.

The minimum wage is set when disposable income equals zero.

The minimum wage = taxes + the cost of living

China had it made and the West had tilted the playing field against itself.

The US eventually woke up the geopolitical consequences of a world governed by the laws of economics that had worked in China's favour.

Trump has just made things worse with his tax cuts.

Theory:
If we reduce taxes on the wealthy they will create more jobs and wages.

Reality:
If we reduce taxes on the wealthy they will create more jobs and wages in Asia where they can make more profit. They can then ship the stuff back here increasing Western trade deficits.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 22, 2018 at 9:09 am

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning. " Warren Buffet, 25 May 2005

Did your class think about the geopolitics?
I don't think so.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 22, 2018 at 9:17 am

William White (BIS, OECD) is on board for the benefits of the broader political economy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iXBQ33pBo&t=2485s

[Apr 24, 2018] Neoliberal indoctrination at universities

Notable quotes:
"... First, we need to accept that there is no such thing as "value-free" analysis of the economy. As I've explained, neoclassical economics pretends to be ethically neutral while smuggling in an individualistic, anti-social ethos " – Howard Reed ..."
"... Fundamentally, economics is a religion, with priests, high priests, creed, dogma, punishment for heretics, and all the other trappings of a religion. But the pay is good, so Clive's rule for middle class jobs applies. ..."
"... Fooled by Randomness ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Economics conducted a curriculum review of 174 modules at 7 Russell Group universities -- rightly or wrongly considered the 'top' universities in the UK -- and we found that the uncritical acceptance of one type of economics begins with education. Under 10% of modules even mentioned anything other than mainstream or 'neoclassical' economics; in econometrics, over 90% of modules devoted more than two-thirds of their lectures to linear regression. Only 24% of exam questions required critical or independent thinking (i.e. were open-ended); this dropped to 8% if you only counted the compulsory macro and micro modules that form the core of economics education.

We have previously called this 'indoctrination', and while this may seem dramatic the dictionary definition of indoctrination is to "teach a person or set of people to accept a set of beliefs uncritically", which we think adequately characterises the results of the review, as well as our own experience and many widely used economics textbooks. Given this education, it is no wonder that economists remain wedded to the fundamental precepts of choice models and linear regression no matter where they turn their attention. By putting the method first, the implicit assumption becomes that answering a question using this framework is prima facie interesting, and critical evaluation of these tools against others is made unthinkable.


Jim Haygood , , April 20, 2018 at 11:01 am

For nearly thirty years after the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) became received gospel in the mid-1960s, the claim that stock prices exhibited momentum (which shouldn't be true in a perfectly efficient market) was roundly mocked by mainstream economists.

Then in 1993, Jegadeesh and Titman published a paper titled "Returns to Buying Winners and Selling Losers: Implications for Stock Market Efficiency" in the Journal of Finance . Its evidence for a momentum effect was impossible to refute.

So economists bolted en masse to the opposite side of the boat. Today there are thousands of papers on momentum, often presenting some fairly trivial arithmetic that home-based amateurs have long used. But it's formulated into equations with Greek letters, and a [totally boring] statistical panel appears in the Appendix to prove some statistical significance.

A few professors actually exploited their discoveries to get rich. Cliff Asness, a U of Chicago PhD (but a practitioner, not a professor) offers some light-hearted commentary on his mentor Eugene Fama:

Of course the book The Fama Portfolio also contains contributions by other authors (or how the heck did I get in there?) that reflect, directly or indirectly, on Gene's work.

Being able to read Gene's originals and some of the major papers by others that explore his work in one volume is both a treat and incredibly useful (these contributors, unlike John Liew and myself, are themselves serious academic luminaries!).

OK, enough shilling. If you love finance and don't immediately pine for this book, I can't help you any further☺

https://www.aqr.com/Insights/Perspectives/Add-More-Fama-to-Your-Portfolio

skippy , April 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Mr. Haygood

If it was only like the movie THX1138.

Where the police were call off their pursuit, when within a finger nail of – helping – their subject. Because the economic perimeters their models produced, with the help of computational machines, gave a ridged defined view of the operation. Seems the subject was operating outside the econometric perimeters due to mental illness – was a patient whom escaped at the time.

Alas we never get to see what he saw when he popped out on the surface, save a blinding orb.

In retrospect did they do the underground thingy to better control, could nature itself be a threat to the model, hence the need to control every aspect of environment for behavioral reasons.

Anywho I'll just leave this on my way to work:

"If we accept that we need fundamental reform, what should the new economics -- "de-conomics" as I'm calling it -- look like?

First, we need to accept that there is no such thing as "value-free" analysis of the economy. As I've explained, neoclassical economics pretends to be ethically neutral while smuggling in an individualistic, anti-social ethos " – Howard Reed

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/the-case-for-a-new-economics

Synoia , April 20, 2018 at 11:33 am

Linear regression is economists' preferred empirical technique

That's really a powerful tool in a world which is chaotic.

The trouble with embracing chaos and catastrophe theory is the "chaos" part of predicting the future. But economists, being human and liking their paychecks, are not interested in any predictions which do not cater, or pander, to the needs of their bosses or paymasters.

Why, that might suggest the boss is wrong! Such heresy leads to a quick execution!

Fundamentally, economics is a religion, with priests, high priests, creed, dogma, punishment for heretics, and all the other trappings of a religion. But the pay is good, so Clive's rule for middle class jobs applies.

Disclaimer: My view of Religion is similar: Why?
1. You'll get your reward in the afterlife, after you are dead!
2. We know this is true, because we've never had a complaint.

Chris , April 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Linear regression certainly is a powerful tool for examining linear distributions, but it essential to first confirm that the distribution is linear, and to remember that on occasion, samples drawn from random (unrelated) distributions can show a spurious correlation.

Synoia , April 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm

but it essential to first confirm that the distribution is linear

Very true, but how is this proven? In nature and economics are there any linear distributions? If so over what range?

I notice a preponderance of using straight lines instead of growth curves. I also notice chaos, or noise, in behaviors, coupled with a complete non-understanding of entropy.

In nature linear behavior is unlikely. If it were linear we'd see straight branches on trees, rainfall evenly distributed and the wind would always blow at constant speed, with predictable eddies.

I suppose a rock dropped would exhibit linear behaviors until it hits the ground, and at that point in time the "dropping rock" system become decidedly chaotic, from stuck in the mud, to bouncing in a random direction, to bursting into pieces, pieces who's destiny is completely uncertain.

blennylips , April 20, 2018 at 2:40 pm

― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

I've debated many economists who claim to specialize in risk and probability: when one takes them slightly outside their narrow focus, but within the discipline of probability, they fall apart, with the disconsolate face of a gym rat in front of a gangster hit man."

Nassim, I think covers all this better than anyone else. Would love to hear of similarly comprehensive works.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/series/INO/incerto

Fooled by Randomness covers problems with assumed linearity and normal distributions.

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves – and look who s buying by Grif Peterson and Yarden Katz

Notable quotes:
"... Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace". ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 04, 2018] Elite universities are selling themselves and look who's buying

Apr 04, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Bin Salman's affair with academia isn't a fluke – it's a result of the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly operate. As the journalist David Dickson noted in 1984, American universities and corporations have "teamed up to challenge the democratic control of knowledge" by delegating control over academic research to "the marketplace".

This market rationality extends even to the way research is evaluated – which the Saudi government has been gaming. To give one example, it paid highly cited mathematicians at universities around the world to list King Abdulaziz University as an affiliation, thereby making it the seventh "best" mathematics department worldwide in the 2014 US News and World Report university rankings .

Here, the Saudi government is only playing by the rules of a game designed by western elites. This is the same logic that has been used to allow corporations, nonprofits and the military to steadily buy out chunks of academia to the point where it makes little sense to presume clear boundaries exist between these entities. As a result, numerous partnerships entangle MIT researchers with Bin Salman. On his Boston tour, he also visited IBM's Cambridge research facility, which recently partnered with MIT to form an artificial intelligence research laboratory in exchange for a $240m commitment to the university. Boston Dynamics , an MIT partner that builds robots for the US military, also offered a demonstration. Such alliances ought to cast doubt on MIT's promise to understand the "societal and ethical" implications of AI and build socially beneficial technologies.

The terms of all of these partnerships are essentially opaque, while the secrecy that surrounds them denies the community the chance to deliberate and take action. The growth of unaccountable university partnerships, like other crises facing educational institutions, stems from the absence of democratic engagement. When universities decide to sell themselves to the highest bidder, they become deaf to the interests of their students and the wider societies in which they operate. Subservience to war criminals and corporate overlords tends to follow.

[Apr 02, 2018] For First Time, Tuition Is Public College's Biggest Revenue Source by Sophie Quinton

Notable quotes:
"... In over half of states, the share was higher. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware and Pennsylvania, over 70 percent of higher education funding came from tuition dollars last year. ..."
Mar 30, 2018 | www.governing.com

State colleges and universities are relying more on tuition dollars to fund their operations even as state funding rises and colleges come under pressure to keep tuition low.

Last fiscal year, for the first time, tuition revenue outpaced government appropriations for higher education in the majority of states, according to the annual higher education finance report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. The association represents chief executives of statewide governing, policy and coordinating boards of postsecondary education.

Tuition dollars are becoming a more important revenue source as more students head to college, tuition prices rise, and state lawmakers struggle to return higher education funding to the per-student levels seen before the Great Recession.

The report looked at net tuition revenue, which it defined as tuition and fees minus medical student tuition, state and institutional financial aid and other waivers and discounts. It found that tuition dollars paid by families -- a figure that includes federal grants and loans -- made up 46 percent of funding for U.S. public colleges and universities in fiscal 2017, almost double tuition's share of higher education funding in 1990.

In over half of states, the share was higher. In Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware and Pennsylvania, over 70 percent of higher education funding came from tuition dollars last year.

Nationwide, net tuition revenue peaked as a funding source for public higher education in 2013, after the collapsing economy sent a wave of students back to school at the same time as state lawmakers were cutting funding for colleges. Since then, enrollments have fallen and state investments in higher education and financial aid have increased.

RELATED Explaining the Cost of College Tuition in Every State

[Mar 27, 2018] Over One Fifth of Student Borrowers Used Loans to Gamble on Cryptocurrencies

Notable quotes:
"... res ipsa loquitur ..."
"... I doubt you could find 20% of college students who even know where to buy crypto. Maybe, maybe ..."
Mar 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

res ipsa loquitur although as one wag said, this news tidbit does seem to disprove the claim that young people aren't risk takers. But it may establish that they are innumerate or more specifically, bad at statistics. One of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's recommendations about investing boils down to "Be paranoid" and "Don't be greedy" and leveraged cryptocurrency speculation is the opposite of that.

This sort of thing does not help the image of student borrowers, although it does strengthen the case for regulating cryptocurrencies far more strictly. Given the decline in the status of cab drivers, who historically have been indicators of market peaks (when cab drivers talk about their stocks, it's usually sign of a bubble), this finding may also be a proof of Peak Cryptocurrency.

From Investopedia :

According to a study by The Student Loan Report, over one-fifth of current university students with student loan debt indicated that they used their student loan money to invest in digital currency such as bitcoin.

The student loan news and information website found that 21.2% of the 1,000 students they surveyed indicated that they used their borrowed cash to gamble on the highly volatile digital currency market. While school administrators may look down upon the practice of using borrowed funds for non-school expenses, Student Loan Report indicates that there are currently no rules against it. College students are able to use loans for "living expenses," a flexible category that covers a wide range of potential necessities.

Given that 70% of retail investors in futures lose money, there's not a strong reason for thinking that latecomers to the cryptocurrency party would be stellar traders. I wonder how many students who lose so much money on bad cryptocurrency wagers that it undermines their ability to finish their course of study (presumably they really did need at least some of that "living expense" money for bona fide living expenses) will be willing to 'fess up to that fact.


JTMcPhee , March 27, 2018 at 9:40 pm

I guess that means that almost 4/5ths of students did NOT use "loan" proceeds (which are part of the whole Casino enterprise, after all) to gamble invest "expose themselves to market risk" by moving those bits representing "money" into the block chain spurt

And I also guess that means that the Puritans among us, and the mopes who want to make sure everyone else gets as screwed by "the system" as they have been by so diligently paying off those student loans/debt millstones, will now have a new line of argument about why the Banksters and the scum among the legislators and "loan servicers" and kickback-collecting higher-education administrators should be fully armed to go after mope students and graduates-without-portfolios-but-with-lots-of-"credentials" and their parents and other "guarantors" to extract that last full measure of blood from the turnipheads who signed on the dotted line without much of a clue that the "contract" was drafted by some Shylock named "Mephistopheles "

Say it loud, say it clear -- "#juststoppaying. No other way to end the game, is there? And yes, there will be blood, economically speaking, in the Street

djrichard , March 27, 2018 at 11:14 pm

It's not so much the banksters that issued these student loans as it is the Fed Gov. http://www.privatestudentloanfacts.com/the-private-student-loan-market.html

But think how it helped stimulate the economy. Except that unlike other Fed Gov spending, the Fed Gov wants this money back. D'oh! And as we know, it's very difficult to discharge student loans through bankruptcy (which at least gives the economy more slack for other debt to be paid off).

So ultimately it doesn't stimulate the economy. It just feeds various maws: the education industry and its bubble, the corporations and their inflated requirements for hiring for jobs. Edit: And the cryptocurrency bubble who knew? While subtracting from other maws: housing starts, family starts, etc.

As Mosler puts it, still the same amount of dogs chasing down the same amount of bones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vTjLwYCi24

ocop , March 27, 2018 at 11:12 pm

Come on, no way this passes the smell test. Online "mobile-friendly" polling outfit (Pollfish), no additional info even in the actual source article.

https://studentloans.net/financial-aid-funding-cryptocurrency-investments/

I doubt you could find 20% of college students who even know where to buy crypto. Maybe, maybe you could find 20% who are more aware than "heard about it on the news".

[Mar 03, 2018] Strange science, economics. Judging from the titles, much of it consists of neoliberal cheerleading

Neoliberal economists are a new type of clergy. As simple as this. Neoliberal God is great that's what they are preaching to students.
Notable quotes:
"... Bronze Age: Greatest Age EVAH! ..."
"... It's surprising economists feel the need to engage in happy talk, considering that markets are supposed to be natural, just, and efficient. Like clergy preaching to a perpetually backsliding laity about the one true God, Whom only a fool would doubt. If God were so great, there'd be no need to harp on it. In any case, this goes some way toward accounting for Bennet's statement. ..."
"... It takes a half-educated person to say something like that. First you get the ideas by way of a certain education, and then you don't think about them, in part because the educators discourage that kind of thing. ..."
Mar 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Paul Cardan , March 2, 2018 at 3:12 pm

"[Capitalism] has been the greatest engine of, it's been the greatest anti-poverty program and engine of progress that we've seen."

I can almost smell the economics section of my local bookstore. Strange science, economics. Judging from the titles, much of it consists of cheerleading. Very different from history, anthropology, or sociology.

I never see history titles like Bronze Age: Greatest Age EVAH! It's surprising economists feel the need to engage in happy talk, considering that markets are supposed to be natural, just, and efficient. Like clergy preaching to a perpetually backsliding laity about the one true God, Whom only a fool would doubt. If God were so great, there'd be no need to harp on it. In any case, this goes some way toward accounting for Bennet's statement.

It takes a half-educated person to say something like that. First you get the ideas by way of a certain education, and then you don't think about them, in part because the educators discourage that kind of thing.

[Dec 22, 2017] Beyond Cynicism America Fumbles Towards Kafka s Castle by James Howard Kunstler

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people. ..."
"... They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats. ..."
"... The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot. ..."
"... Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43). ..."
"... This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer. ..."
"... The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth ! ..."
"... Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades. ..."
"... "Wow – is there ever negative!" ..."
"... You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'. ..."
"... My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece ..."
"... "Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor." ..."
"... Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\ ..."
"... It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's! ..."
"... E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop. ..."
"... The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.) ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

On America's 'long emergency' of recession, globalization, and identity politics.

Can a people recover from an excursion into unreality? The USA's sojourn into an alternative universe of the mind accelerated sharply after Wall Street nearly detonated the global financial system in 2008. That debacle was only one manifestation of an array of accumulating threats to the postmodern order, which include the burdens of empire, onerous debt, population overshoot, fracturing globalism, worries about energy, disruptive technologies, ecological havoc, and the specter of climate change.

A sense of gathering crisis, which I call the long emergency , persists. It is systemic and existential. It calls into question our ability to carry on "normal" life much farther into this century, and all the anxiety that attends it is hard for the public to process. It manifested itself first in finance because that was the most abstract and fragile of all the major activities we depend on for daily life, and therefore the one most easily tampered with and shoved into criticality by a cadre of irresponsible opportunists on Wall Street. Indeed, a lot of households were permanently wrecked after the so-called Great Financial Crisis of 2008, despite official trumpet blasts heralding "recovery" and the dishonestly engineered pump-up of capital markets since then.

With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people.

Bad ideas flourish in this nutrient medium of unresolved crisis. Lately, they actually dominate the scene on every side. A species of wishful thinking that resembles a primitive cargo cult grips the technocratic class, awaiting magical rescue remedies that promise to extend the regime of Happy Motoring, consumerism, and suburbia that makes up the armature of "normal" life in the USA. They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats.

The non-technocratic cohort of the thinking class squanders its waking hours on a quixotic campaign to destroy the remnant of an American common culture and, by extension, a reviled Western civilization they blame for the failure in our time to establish a utopia on earth. By the logic of the day, "inclusion" and "diversity" are achieved by forbidding the transmission of ideas, shutting down debate, and creating new racially segregated college dorms. Sexuality is declared to not be biologically determined, yet so-called cis-gendered persons (whose gender identity corresponds with their sex as detected at birth) are vilified by dint of not being "other-gendered" -- thereby thwarting the pursuit of happiness of persons self-identified as other-gendered. Casuistry anyone?

The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot.

In case you haven't been paying attention to the hijinks on campus -- the attacks on reason, fairness, and common decency, the kangaroo courts, diversity tribunals, assaults on public speech and speakers themselves -- here is the key take-away: it's not about ideas or ideologies anymore; it's purely about the pleasures of coercion, of pushing other people around. Coercion is fun and exciting! In fact, it's intoxicating, and rewarded with brownie points and career advancement. It's rather perverse that this passion for tyranny is suddenly so popular on the liberal left.

Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43).

The new and false idea that something labeled "hate speech" -- labeled by whom? -- is equivalent to violence floated out of the graduate schools on a toxic cloud of intellectual hysteria concocted in the laboratory of so-called "post-structuralist" philosophy, where sundry body parts of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Gilles Deleuze were sewn onto a brain comprised of one-third each Thomas Hobbes, Saul Alinsky, and Tupac Shakur to create a perfect Frankenstein monster of thought. It all boiled down to the proposition that the will to power negated all other human drives and values, in particular the search for truth. Under this scheme, all human relations were reduced to a dramatis personae of the oppressed and their oppressors, the former generally "people of color" and women, all subjugated by whites, mostly males. Tactical moves in politics among these self-described "oppressed" and "marginalized" are based on the credo that the ends justify the means (the Alinsky model).

This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer.

I would account for it as the psychological displacement among this political cohort of their shame, disappointment, and despair over the outcome of the civil rights campaign that started in the 1960s and formed the core of progressive ideology. It did not bring about the hoped-for utopia. The racial divide in America is starker now than ever, even after two terms of a black president. Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. The recent flash points of racial conflict -- Ferguson, the Dallas police ambush, the Charleston church massacre, et cetera -- don't have to be rehearsed in detail here to make the point that there is a great deal of ill feeling throughout the land, and quite a bit of acting out on both sides.

The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another. And that is exactly why a black separatism movement arose as an alternative at the time, led initially by such charismatic figures as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Some of that was arguably a product of the same youthful energy that drove the rest of the Sixties counterculture: adolescent rebellion. But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

What follows from these dynamics is the deflection of all ideas that don't feed a narrative of power relations between oppressors and victims, with the self-identified victims ever more eager to exercise their power to coerce, punish, and humiliate their self-identified oppressors, the "privileged," who condescend to be abused to a shockingly masochistic degree. Nobody stands up to this organized ceremonial nonsense. The punishments are too severe, including the loss of livelihood, status, and reputation, especially in the university. Once branded a "racist," you're done. And venturing to join the oft-called-for "honest conversation about race" is certain to invite that fate.

Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor. Hung out to dry economically, this class of whites fell into many of the same behaviors as the poor blacks before them: absent fathers, out-of-wedlock births, drug abuse. Then the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 wiped up the floor with the middle-middle class above them, foreclosing on their homes and futures, and in their desperation many of these people became Trump voters -- though I doubt that Trump himself truly understood how this all worked exactly. However, he did see that the white middle class had come to identify as yet another victim group, allowing him to pose as their champion.

The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth !

Life in this milieu of immersive dishonesty drives citizens beyond cynicism to an even more desperate state of mind. The suffering public ends up having no idea what is really going on, what is actually happening. The toolkit of the Enlightenment -- reason, empiricism -- doesn't work very well in this socioeconomic hall of mirrors, so all that baggage is discarded for the idea that reality is just a social construct, just whatever story you feel like telling about it. On the right, Karl Rove expressed this point of view some years ago when he bragged, of the Bush II White House, that "we make our own reality." The left says nearly the same thing in the post-structuralist malarkey of academia: "you make your own reality." In the end, both sides are left with a lot of bad feelings and the belief that only raw power has meaning.

Erasing psychological boundaries is a dangerous thing. When the rackets finally come to grief -- as they must because their operations don't add up -- and the reckoning with true price discovery commences at the macro scale, the American people will find themselves in even more distress than they've endured so far. This will be the moment when either nobody has any money, or there is plenty of worthless money for everyone. Either way, the functional bankruptcy of the nation will be complete, and nothing will work anymore, including getting enough to eat. That is exactly the moment when Americans on all sides will beg someone to step up and push them around to get their world working again. And even that may not avail.

James Howard Kunstler's many books include The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation , and the World Made by Hand novel series. He blogs on Mondays and Fridays at Kunstler.com .

Whine Merchant December 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Wow – is there ever negative!
Celery , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm
I think I need to go listen to an old-fashioned Christmas song now.

The ability to be financially, or at least resource, sustaining is the goal of many I know since we share a lack of confidence in any of our institutions. We can only hope that God might look down with compassion on us, but He's not in the practical plan of how to feed and sustain ourselves when things play out to their inevitable end. Having come from a better time, we joke about our dystopian preparations, self-conscious about our "overreaction," but preparing all the same.

Merry Christmas!

Fran Macadam , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:55 pm
Look at it this way: Germany had to be leveled and its citizens reduced to abject penury, before Volkswagen could become the world's biggest car company, and autobahns built throughout the world. It will be darkest before the dawn, and hopefully, that light that comes after, won't be the miniature sunrise of a nuclear conflagration.
KD , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:02 am
Eat, Drink, and be Merry, you can charge it on your credit card!
Rock Stehdy , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:38 am
Hard words, but true. Kunstler is always worth reading for his common-sense wisdom.
Helmut , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:04 am
An excellent summary and bleak reminder of what our so-called civilization has become. How do we extricate ourselves from this strange death spiral?
I have long suspected that we humans are creatures of our own personal/group/tribal/national/global fables and mythologies. We are compelled by our genes, marrow, and blood to tell ourselves stories of our purpose and who we are. It is time for new mythologies and stories of "who we are". This bizarre hyper-techno all-for-profit world needs a new story.
Liam , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:38 am
"The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another."

Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades.

Peter , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:34 am
I have some faith that the American people can recover from an excursion into unreality. I base it on my own survival to the end of this silly rant.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:08 am
Re: Whine Merchant, "Wow – is there ever negative!"

Can't argue with the facts

P.S. Merry Christmas.

Dave Wright , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:22 am
Hey Jim, I know you love to blame Wall Street and the Republicans for the GFC. I remember back in '08 you were urging Democrats to blame it all on Republicans to help Obama win. But I have news for you. It wasn't Wall Street that caused the GFC. The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act to pressure banks to relax mortgage underwriting standards. This was done at the behest of left wing activists who claimed (without evidence, of course) that the standards discriminated against minorities. The result was an effective repeal of all underwriting standards and an explosion of real estate speculation with borrowed money. Speculation with borrowed money never ends well.

I have to laugh, too, when you say that it's perverse that the passion for tyranny is popular on the left. Have you ever heard of the French Revolution? How about the USSR? Communist China? North Korea? Et cetera.

Leftism is leftism. Call it Marxism, Communism, socialism, liberalism, progressivism, or what have you. The ideology is the same. Only the tactics and methods change. Destroy the evil institutions of marriage, family, and religion, and Man's innate goodness will shine forth, and the glorious Godless utopia will naturally result.

Of course, the father of lies is ultimately behind it all. "He was a liar and a murderer from the beginning."

When man turns his back on God, nothing good happens. That's the most fundamental problem in Western society today. Not to say that there aren't other issues, but until we return to God, there's not much hope for improvement.

NoahK , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:15 am
It's like somebody just got a bunch of right-wing talking points and mashed them together into one incohesive whole. This is just lazy.
Andrew Imlay , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:36 am
Hmm. I just wandered over here by accident. Being a construction contractor, I don't know enough about globalization, academia, or finance to evaluate your assertions about those realms. But being in a biracial family, and having lived, worked, and worshiped equally in white and black communities, I can evaluate your statements about social justice, race, and civil rights. Long story short, you pick out fringe liberal ideas, misrepresent them as mainstream among liberals, and shoot them down. Casuistry, anyone?

You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'.

I get that this column is a quick toss-off before the holiday, and that your strength is supposed to be in your presentation, not your ideas. For me, it's a helpful way to rehearse debunking common tropes that I'll encounter elsewhere.

But, really, your readers deserve better, and so do the people you misrepresent. We need bad liberal ideas to be critiqued while they're still on the fringe. But by calling fringe ideas mainstream, you discredit yourself, misinform your readers, and contribute to stereotypes both of liberals and of conservatives. I'm looking for serious conservative critiques that help me take a second look at familiar ideas. I won't be back.

peter in boston , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:48 am
Love Kunstler -- and love reading him here -- but he needs a strong editor to get him to turn a formless harangue into clear essay.
Someone in the crowd , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:07 am
I disagree, NoahK, that the whole is incohesive, and I also disagree that these are right-wing talking points.

The theme of this piece is the long crisis in the US, its nature and causes. At no point does this essay, despite it stream of consciousness style, veer away from that theme. Hence it is cohesive.

As for the right wing charge, though it is true, to be sure, that Kunstler's position is in many respects classically conservative -- he believes for example that there should be a national consensus on certain fundamentals, such as whether or not there are two sexes (for the most part), or, instead, an infinite variety of sexes chosen day by day at whim -- you must have noticed that he condemned both the voluntarism of Karl Rove AND the voluntarism of the post-structuralist crowd.

My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece. QED.

Jon , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
This malaise is rooted in human consciousness that when reflecting on itself celebrating its capacity for apperception suffers from the tension that such an inquiry, such an inward glance produces. In a word, the capacity for the human being to be aware of his or herself as an intelligent being capable of reflecting on aspects of reality through the artful manipulation of symbols engenders this tension, this angst.

Some will attempt to extinguish this inner tension through intoxication while others through the thrill of war, and it has been played out since the dawn of man and well documented when the written word emerged.

The malaise which Mr. Kunstler addresses as the problem of our times is rooted in our existence from time immemorial. But the problem is not only existential but ontological. It is rooted in our being as self-aware creatures. Thus no solution avails itself as humanity in and of itself is the problem. Each side (both right and left) seeks its own anodyne whether through profligacy or intolerance, and each side mans the barricades to clash experiencing the adrenaline rush that arises from the perpetual call to arms.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:27 am
"Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor."

And to whom do we hand the tab for this? Globalization is a word. It is a concept, a talking point. Globalization is oligarchy by another name. Unfortunately, under-educated, deplorable, Americans; regardless of party affiliation/ideology have embraced. And the most ironic part?

Russia and China (the eventual surviving oligarchies) will eventually have to duke it out to decide which superpower gets to make the USA it's b*tch (excuse prison reference, but that's where we're headed folks).

And one more irony. Only in American, could Christianity, which was grew from concepts like compassion, generosity, humility, and benevolence; be re-branded and 'weaponized' to further greed, bigotry, misogyny, intolerance, and violence/war. Americans fiddled (over same sex marriage, abortion, who has to bake wedding cakes, and who gets to use which public restroom), while the oligarchs burned the last resources (natural, financial, and even legal).

The scientist 880 , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:48 am
"Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963."

Spoken like a white guy who has zero contact with black people. I mean, even a little bit of research and familiarity would give lie to the idea that blacks are more pessimistic about life today than in the 1960's.

Black millenials are the most optimistic group of Americans about the future. Anyone who has spent any significant time around older black people will notice that you don't hear the rose colored memories of the past. Black people don't miss the 1980's, much less the 1950's. Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\

It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's!

Here is the direct quote;

"In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant -- at least not certain of them. There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges. Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn't even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback. Today, former Bull Michael Jordan isn't just the greatest basketball player of all time -- he owns the team. (Laughter.) When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. (Laughter.) Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world. (Laughter.) We're no longer only entertainers, we're producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners -- we're CEOs, we're mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States. (Applause.)

I am not saying gaps do not persist. Obviously, they do. Racism persists. Inequality persists. Don't worry -- I'm going to get to that. But I wanted to start, Class of 2016, by opening your eyes to the moment that you are in. If you had to choose one moment in history in which you could be born, and you didn't know ahead of time who you were going to be -- what nationality, what gender, what race, whether you'd be rich or poor, gay or straight, what faith you'd be born into -- you wouldn't choose 100 years ago. You wouldn't choose the fifties, or the sixties, or the seventies. You'd choose right now. If you had to choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, "young, gifted, and black" in America, you would choose right now. (Applause.)"

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/obamas-howard-commencement-transcript-222931

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58cf1d9ae4b0ec9d29dcf283/amp

Adam , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:57 am
I love reading about how the Community Reinvestment Act was the catalyst of all that is wrong in the world. As someone in the industry the issue was actually twofold. The Commodities Futures Modernization Act turned the mortgage securities market into a casino with the underlying actual debt instruments multiplied through the use of additional debt instruments tied to the performance but with no actual underlying value. These securities were then sold around the world essentially infecting the entire market. In order that feed the beast, these NON GOVERNMENT loans had their underwriting standards lowered to rediculous levels. If you run out of qualified customers, just lower the qualifications. Government loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA were avoided because it was easier to qualify people with the new stuff. And get paid. The short version is all of the incentives that were in place at the time, starting with the Futures Act, directly led to the actions that culminated in the Crash. So yes, it was the government, just a different piece of legislation.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm
Kunstler itemizing the social and economic pathologies in the United States is not enough. Because there are other models that demonstrate it didn't have to be this way.

E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop.

The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.)

P.S. About the notionally high U.S. GDP. Factor out the TRILLIONS inexplicably hoovered up by the pathological health care system, the metastasized and sanctified National Security State (with its Global Cop shenanigans) and the cronied-up Ponzi scheme of electron-churn financialization ginned up by Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Banksters, and then see how much GDP that reflects the actual wealth of the middle class is left over.

One Guy , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm
Right-Wing Dittoheads and Fox Watchers love to blame the Community Reinvestment Act. It allows them to blame both poor black people AND the government. The truth is that many parties were to blame.
LouB , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm
One of the things I love about this rag is that almost all of the comments are included. You may be sure that similar commenting privilege doesn't exist most anywhere else.

Any disfavor regarding the supposed bleakness with the weak hearted souls aside, Mr K's broadside seems pretty spot on to me.

tzx4 , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm
I think the author overlooks the fact that government over the past 30 to 40 years has been tilting the playing field ever more towards the uppermost classes and against the middle class. The evisceration of the middle class is plain to see.

If the the common man had more money and security, lots of our current intrasocial conflicts would be far less intense.

Jeeves , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Andrew Imlay: You provide a thoughtful corrective to one of Kunstler's more hyperbolic claims. And you should know that his jeremiad doesn't represent usual fare at TAC. So do come back.

Whether or not every one of Kunstler's assertions can withstand a rigorous fact-check, he is a formidable rhetorician. A generous serving of Weltschmerz is just what the season calls for.

Wezz , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm
America is stupefied from propaganda on steroids for, largely from the right wing, 25? years of Limbaugh, Fox, etc etc etc Clinton hate x 10, "weapons of mass destruction", "they hate us because we are free", birtherism, death panels, Jade Helm, pedophile pizza, and more Clinton hate porn.

Americans have been taught to worship the wealthy regardless of how they got there. Americans have been taught they are "Exceptional" (better, smarter, more godly than every one else) in spite of outward appearances. Americans are under educated and encouraged to make decisions based on emotion from constant barrage of extra loud advertising from birth selling illusion.

Americans brain chemistry is most likely as messed up as the rest of their bodies from junk or molested food. Are they even capable of normal thought?

Donald Trump has convinced at least a third of Americans that only he, Fox, Breitbart and one or two other sources are telling the Truth, every one else is lying and that he is their friend.

Is it possible we are just plane doomed and there's no way out?

John Blade Wiederspan , says: December 21, 2017 at 4:26 pm
I loathe the cotton candy clown and his Quislings; however, I must admit, his presence as President of the United States has forced everyone (left, right, religious, non-religious) to look behind the curtain. He has done more to dis-spell the idealism of both liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, rich and poor, than any other elected official in history. The sheer amount of mind-numbing absurdity resulting from a publicity stunt that got out of control ..I am 70 and I have seen a lot. This is beyond anything I could ever imagine. America is not going to improve or even remain the same. It is in a 4 year march into worse, three years to go.
EarlyBird , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm
Sheesh. Should I shoot myself now, or wait until I get home?
dvxprime , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm
Mr. Kuntzler has an honest and fairly accurate assessment of the situation. And as usual, the liberal audience that TAC is trying so hard to reach, is tossing out their usual talking points whilst being in denial of the situation.

The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything.

Slooch , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm
Kunstler must have had a good time writing this, and I had a good time reading it. Skewed perspective, wild overstatement, and obsessive cherry-picking of the rare checkable facts are mixed with a little eye of newt and toe of frog and smothered in a oar and roll of rhetoric that was thrilling to be immersed in. Good work!
jp , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm
aah, same old Kunstler, slightly retailored for the Trump years.

for those of you familiar with him, remember his "peak oil" mania from the late 00s and early 2010s? every blog post was about it. every new year was going to be IT: the long emergency would start, people would be Mad Maxing over oil supplies cos prices at the pump would be $10 a gallon or somesuch.

in this new rant, i did a control-F for "peak oil" and hey, not a mention. I guess even cranks like Kunstler know when to give a tired horse a rest.

c.meyer , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm
So what else is new. Too 'clever', overwritten, no new ideas. Can't anyone move beyond clichés?
Active investor , says: December 22, 2017 at 12:35 am
Kunstler once again waxes eloquent on the American body politic. Every word rings true, except when it doesn't. At times poetic, at other times paranoid, Kunstler does us a great service by pointing a finger at the deepest pain points in America, any one of which could be the geyser that brings on catastrophic failure.

However, as has been pointed out, he definitely does not hang out with black people. For example, the statement:

But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

The notion of a 'national common culture' is interesting but pretty much a fantasy that never existed, save colonial times.

Yet Kunstler's voice is one that must be heard, even if he is mostly tuning in to the widespread radicalism on both ends of the spectrum, albeit in relatively small numbers. Let's face it, people are in the streets marching, yelling, and hating and mass murders keep happening, with the regularity of Old Faithful. And he makes a good point about academia loosing touch with reality much of the time. He's spot on about the false expectations of what technology can do for the economy, which is inflated with fiat currency and God knows how many charlatans and hucksters. And yes, the white working class is feeling increasingly like a 'victim group.'

While Kunstler may be more a poet than a lawyer, more songwriter than historian, my gut feeling is that America had better take notice of him, as The American ship of state is being swept by a ferocious tide and the helmsman is high on Fentanyl (made in China).

JonF , says: December 22, 2017 at 9:52 am
Re: The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act

Here we go again with this rotting zombie which rises from its grave no matter how many times it has been debunked by statisticians and reputable economists (and no, not just those on the left– the ranks include Bruce Bartlett for example, a solid Reaganist). To reiterate again : the CRA played no role in the mortgage boom and bust. Among other facts in the way of that hypothesis is the fact that riskiest loans were being made by non-bank lenders (Countrywide) who were not covered by the CRA which only applied to actual banks– and the banks did not really get into the game full tilt, lowering their lending standards, until late in the game, c. 2005, in response to their loss of business to the non-bank lenders. Ditto for the GSEs, which did not lower their standards until 2005 and even then relied on wall Street to vet the subprime loans they were buying.

To be sure, blaming Wall Street for everything is also wrong-headed, though wall Street certainly did some stupid, greedy and shady things (No, I am not letting them off the hook!) But the cast of miscreants is numbered in the millions and it stretches around the planet. Everyone (for example) who got into the get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme of house flipping, especially if they lied about their income to do so. And everyone who took out a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) and foolishly charged it up on a consumption binge. And shall we talk about the mortgage brokers who coached people into lying, the loan officers who steered customers into the riskiest (and highest earning) loans they could, the sellers who asked palace-prices for crackerbox hovels, the appraisers who rubber-stamped such prices, the regulators who turned a blind eye to all the fraud and malfeasance, the ratings agencies who handed out AAA ratings to securities full of junk, the politicians who rejoiced over the apparent "Bush Boom" well, I could continue, but you get the picture.

We have met the enemy and he was us.

kevin on the left , says: December 22, 2017 at 10:49 am
"The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything."

Pretty sure that calling other people to repent of their sin of disagreeing with you is not quite what the Holy Bible intended.

[Dec 19, 2017] Do not Underestimate the Power of Microfoundations

Highly recommended!
Nice illustration of ideologically based ostrakism as practiced in Academia: "Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders."
Notable quotes:
"... A more probable school of thought is that this game was created as a con and a cover for the status quo capitalist establishment to indulge themselves in their hard money and liquidity fetishes, consequences be damned. ..."
"... The arguments over internal and external consistency of models is just a convenient misdirection from what policy makers are willing to risk and whose interests they are willing to risk policy decisions for ..."
"... Mathematical masturbations are just a smoke screen used to conceal a simple fact that those "economists" are simply banking oligarchy stooges. Hired for the specific purpose to provide a theoretical foundation for revanschism of financial oligarchy after New Deal run into problems. Revanschism that occurred in a form of installing neoliberal ideology in the USA in exactly the same role which Marxism was installed in the USSR. With "iron hand in velvet gloves" type of repressive apparatus to enforce it on each and every university student and thus to ensure the continues, recurrent brainwashing much like with Marxism on the USSR universities. ..."
"... To ensure continuation of power of "nomenklatura" in the first case and banking oligarchy in the second. Connections with reality be damned. Money does not smell. ..."
"... Economic departments fifth column of neoliberal stooges is paid very good money for their service of promoting and sustaining this edifice of neoliberal propaganda. Just look at Greg Mankiw and Rubin's boys. ..."
"... "Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders." ..."
Apr 04, 2015 | Economist's View

Darryl FKA Ron -> pgl...

At the risk of oversimplifying might it not be as simple as stronger leanings towards IS-LM and kind are indicative of a bias towards full employment and stronger leanings towards DSGE, microfoundations, and kind are indicative of a bias towards low inflation?

IN general I consider over-simplification a fault, if and only if, it is a rigidly adhered to final position. This is to say that over-simplification is always a good starting point and never a good ending point. If in the end your problem was simple to begin with, then the simplified answer would not be OVER-simplified anyway. It is just as bad to over-complicate a simple problem as it is to over-simplify a complex problem. It is easier to build complexity on top of a simple foundation than it is to extract simplicity from a complex foundation.

A lot of the Chicago School initiative into microfoundations and DSGE may have been motivated by a desire to bind Keynes in a NAIRU straight-jacket. Even though economic policy making is largely done just one step at a time then that is still one step too much if it might violate rentier interests.

Darryl FKA Ron -> Barry...

There are two possible (but unlikely) schools of (generously attributed to as) thought for which internal consistency might take precedence over external consistency. One such school wants to consider what would be best in a perfect world full of perfect people and then just assume that is best for the real world just to let the chips fall where they may according to the faults and imperfections of the real world. The second such school is the one whose eyes just glaze over mesmerized by how over their heads they are and remain affraid to ask any question lest they appear stupid.

A more probable school of thought is that this game was created as a con and a cover for the status quo capitalist establishment to indulge themselves in their hard money and liquidity fetishes, consequences be damned.

Richard H. Serlin

Consistency sounds so good, Oh, of course we want consistency, who wouldn't?! But consistent in what way? What exactly do you mean? Consistent with reality, or consistent with people all being superhumans? Which concept is usually more useful, or more useful for the task at hand?

Essentially, they want models that are consistent with only certain things, and often because this makes their preferred ideology look far better. They want models, typically, that are consistent with everyone in the world having perfect expertise in every subject there is, from finance to medicine to engineering, perfect public information, and perfect self-discipline, and usually on top, frictionless and perfectly complete markets, often perfectly competitive too.

But a big thing to note is that perfectly consistent people means a level of perfection in expertise, public information, self-discipline, and "rationality", that's extremely at odds with how people actually are. And as a result, this can make the model extremely misleading if it's interpreted very literally (as so often it is, especially by freshwater economists), or taken as The Truth, as Paul Krugman puts it.

You get things like the equity premium "puzzle", which involves why people don't invest more in stocks when the risk-adjusted return appears to usually be so abnormally good, and this "puzzle" can only be answered with "consistency", that people are all perfectly expert in finance, with perfect information, so they must have some mysterious hidden good reason. It can't be at all that it's because 65% of people answered incorrectly when asked how many reindeer would remain if Santa had to lay off 25% of his eight reindeer ( http://richardhserlin.blogspot.com/2013/12/surveys-showing-massive-ignorance-and.html ).

Yes, these perfect optimizer consistency models can give useful insights, and help to see what is best, what we can do better, and they can, in some cases, be good as approximations. But to say they should be used only, and interpreted literally, is, well, inconsistent with optimal, rational behavior -- of the economist using them.

Richard H. Serlin -> Richard H. Serlin...
Of course, unless the economist using them is doing so to mislead people into supporting his libertarian/plutocratic ideology.

dilbert dogbert

As an old broken down mech engineer, I wonder why all the pissing and moaning about micro foundations vs aggregation. In strength of materials equations that aggregate properties work quite well within the boundaries of the questions to be answered. We all know that at the level of crystals, materials have much complexity. Even within crystals there is deeper complexities down to the molecular levels. However, the addition of quantum mechanics adds no usable information about what materials to build a bridge with.

But, when working at the scale of the most advanced computer chips quantum mechanics is required. WTF! I guess in economics there is no quantum mechanics theories or even reliable aggregation theories.

Poor economists, doomed to argue, forever, over how many micro foundations can dance on the head of a pin.

RGC -> dilbert dogbert...

Endless discussions about how quantum effects aggregate to produce a material suitable for bridge building crowd out discussions about where and when to build bridges. And if plutocrats fund the endless discussions, we get the prominent economists we have today.

Darryl FKA Ron -> dilbert dogbert...

"...I guess in economics there is no quantum mechanics theories or even reliable aggregation theories..."

[I guess it depends upon what your acceptable confidence interval on reliability is. Most important difference that controls all the domain differences between physical science and economics is that underlying physical sciences there is a deterministic methodology for which probable error is merely a function of the inaccuracy in input metrics WHEREAS economics models are incomplete probabilistic estimating models with no ability to provide a complete system model in a full range of circumstances.

YOu can design and build a bridge to your load and span requirements with alternative models for various designs with confidence and highly effective accuracy repeatedly. No ecomomic theory, model, or combination of models and theories was ever intended to be used as the blueprint for building an economy from the foundation up.

With all the formal trappings of economics the only effective usage is to decide what should be done in a given set of predetermined circumstance to reach some modest desired effect. Even that modest goal is exposed to all kinds of risks inherent in assumptions, incomplete information, externalities, and so on that can produce errors of uncertain potential bounds.

Nonetheless, well done economics can greatly reduce the risks encountered in the random walk of economics policy making. So much so is this true, that the bigger questions in macro-economics policy making is what one is willing to risk and for whom.

The arguments over internal and external consistency of models is just a convenient misdirection from what policy makers are willing to risk and whose interests they are willing to risk policy decisions for.]

Darryl FKA Ron -> Peter K....

unless you have a model which maps the real world fairly closely like quantum mechanics.

[You set a bar too high. Macro models at best will tell you what to do to move the economy in the direction that you seek to go. They do not even ocme close to the notion of a theory of everything that you have in physics, even the theory of every little thing that is provided by quantum mechanics. Physics is an empty metaphor for economics. Step one is to forgo physics envy in pursuit of understanding suitable applications and domain constraints for economics models.

THe point is to reach a decision and to understand cause and effect directions. All precision is in the past and present. The future is both imprecise and all that there is that is available to change.

For the most part an ounce of common sense and some simple narrative models are all that are essential for making those policy decisions in and of themselves. HOWEVER, nation states are not ruled by economist philosopher kings and in the process of concensus decision making by (little r)republican governments then human language is a very imprecise vehicle for communicating logic and reason with respect to the management of complex systems. OTOH, mathematics has given us a universal language for communicating logic and reason that is understood the same by everyone that really understands that language at all. Hence mathematical models were born for the economists to write down their own thinking in clear precise terms and check their own work first and then share it with others so equipped to understand the language of mathematics. Krugman has said as much many times and so has any and every economist worth their salt.]

likbez -> Syaloch...

I agree with Pgl and PeterK. Certain commenters like Darryl seem convinced that the Chicago School (if not all of econ) is driven by sinister, class-based motives to come up justifications for favoring the power elite over the masses. But based on what I've read, it seems pretty obvious that the microfoundation guys just got caught up in their fancy math and their desire to produce more elegant, internally consistent models and lost sight of the fact that their models didn't track reality.

That's completely wrong line of thinking, IMHO.

Mathematical masturbations are just a smoke screen used to conceal a simple fact that those "economists" are simply banking oligarchy stooges. Hired for the specific purpose to provide a theoretical foundation for revanschism of financial oligarchy after New Deal run into problems. Revanschism that occurred in a form of installing neoliberal ideology in the USA in exactly the same role which Marxism was installed in the USSR.
With "iron hand in velvet gloves" type of repressive apparatus to enforce it on each and every university student and thus to ensure the continues, recurrent brainwashing much like with Marxism on the USSR universities.

To ensure continuation of power of "nomenklatura" in the first case and banking oligarchy in the second. Connections with reality be damned. Money does not smell.

Economic departments fifth column of neoliberal stooges is paid very good money for their service of promoting and sustaining this edifice of neoliberal propaganda. Just look at Greg Mankiw and Rubin's boys.

But the key problem with neoliberalism is that the cure is worse then disease. And here mathematical masturbations are very handy as a smoke screen to hide this simple fact.

likbez -> likbez...

Here is how Rubin's neoliberal boy Larry explained the situation to Elizabeth Warren:

"Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don't listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People - powerful people - listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don't criticize other insiders."

Elizabeth Warren, A Fighting Chance

Syaloch -> likbez...

Yeah, case in point.

[Dec 19, 2017] Mark Ames Kathy Lally Was Caught Trying To Censor Journalism In Russia and Now Deceitfully Claims She's a Victim

Dec 19, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

We accompanied that with a prank in which we posed as Potanin calling the Washington Wizards for courtside seats, Harvard University business school to purchase a degree, and the Augusta National Golf Club -- brandishing Hiatt's article for access:

eXile : I am Russian banker, so-called robber baron capitalist, am interested in purchasing your degree.

Harvard : ( pause ) Uh, sir, you can't buy the degree, but you can enroll in our program. It's an intensive 9 week program, and you receive a certificate, not a degree.

eXile : No, this is no good. Do you realize who I am? Fred Hiatt wrote about me in today Washington Post, that I am not typical robber baron. I am ze baby billionaire.

Harvard : We read a lot about Russia and it sounds very exciting.

eXile : Of course it exciting. Now I vant Harvard degree.

Harvard : You can't buy a degree.

eXile : Maybe instead I build nice cafe for you on campus. Or I can donate small nightclub for Harvard degree.

Harvard : Sir, Harvard is a 350-year-old institution. It's not all just about money. We've turned down princes.

eXile : NOT ABOUT MONEY? Hah!

[Nov 29, 2017] The week after Open Access week by Ingrid Robeyns

Notable quotes:
"... knowledge is for sharing ..."
Oct 30, 2017 | crookedtimber.org

It was Open Access week last week, but I was too busy trying to meet the deadline today for submitting my book manuscript to Open Book Publishers . That sounds like a good excuse if one cares about open access, right? I slept too little for too many days, so don't expect any creative thoughts or subtle analyses from me tonight. But here's two interesting things I discovered while having a look on the web figuring out whether anything interesting happend during Open Access week.

First, Cambridge University digitalised the PhD dissertation of Stephen Hawking and put it online. Apparently the website crashed when that got announced. Any Cambridge University alumni who want to make their PhD dissertation Open Access are invited doing so (no more need to go to the reading room and sign a fat notebook that one has accessed a particular PhD dissertation, as I once did. Although, I should confess, it felt like an adventure. But it's highly inefficient obviously).

Second, for some weeks now, Open Book Publishers has been offering the PDFs of all of their books open access, to celebrate the 100th book they published (their regular regime is to have the books as html open access and selling the PDFs for a few pounds, or else the author can pay a fee for making the PDF open access).

Importantly, this may only last for another a day or two (I am drawing from my memory when I saw a tweet on that about two months ago), so while it lasts it may be worth checking out their collection of books in the humanities and the social sciences, such as Naom Chomsky's Delhi Lectures , Ruth Finnegan's book on Oral literature in Africa or textbooks on maths for university .

All for nothing. Because, as their slogan goes, knowledge is for sharing .

ccc 10.30.17 at 10:54 pm ( 1 )

Worth mentioning in this context: the CORE project released the final version of their impressive economics textbook "The Economy", freely (as in CC by-nc-dd licensed) available at http://www.core-econ.org/the-economy/

A great writeup about it by Samuel Bowles and Wendy Carlin (two of the authors) is here
http://voxeu.org/article/new-paradigm-introductory-course-economics

Ingrid Robeyns 10.31.17 at 7:25 am ( 2 )
thanks ccc! I didn't know about this and it looks great.

Anyone should feel free to post other major "Open Access week additions" in this thread.

Steve 10.31.17 at 11:32 am ( 3 )
I think that having open access publishers is great, and I would love to have books published this way. Here's the concern: I suspect that my University's promotions committee, etc, will view this kind of publication as "inferior" to one with some snazzy University Press.

I was wondering whether anyone has any advice about how to handle the fact that there are perverse incentives to publish your work in a format which will cost someone £70, rather than for free?

Harry 10.31.17 at 1:23 pm ( 4 )
I don't see a way of changing the situation Steve mentions except by having well established scholars who don't need to worry about those kinds of thing take the lead. Eg, Ingrid. and David Velleman (who has two books with Open Book, which I greedily downloaded). And Sam Bowles! -- thanks for the tip ccc, I knew about this from Bowles and had seen parts of it, but not the whole thing which looks great!
Ingrid Robeyns 10.31.17 at 6:31 pm ( 5 )
Steve, I fully understand the worry – and even for me (tenured full professor) there is a "status cost" to be paid by not publishing with an established University Press. But it's a vicious circle that has to be broken – and I agree with Harry, that those of us who can "afford" to publish Open Access, should do so, in order to try to contribute to the status of the Open Access Press.

I should say that in terms of refereeing – I've published two co-edited books, one with OUP, one with CUP – and the refereeing process at Open Books was the same, if not better. And a very important advantage of publishing with a publisher such as Open Books is the much shorter time between delivering the final manuscript and publication – if you do all your work properly, it's a matter of weeks or a few months, not, as with the established University Presses, (almost) a year (I've always wondered what the hell happens in that year, especially if they turn back the proofs which are full with typo's!)

I've been thinking someone should write a paper with the title: "If you have tenure, why don't you publish Open Access?"

SusanC 10.31.17 at 7:45 pm ( 6 )
@3,4: Possibly the switch to open access needs to be done at an institutional level, rather than by individuals.

e.g. A declaration by government evaluations such as the REF that publications won't be counted unless they are open access, followed by a declaration by your department that publications from now onwards won't be counted for promotions unless they are open access, might create the right incentives.

[There are potential issues regarding fairness towards academics who are moving between universities . how do you fairly compare job candidates when one is from a university that demanded open access publication, and another is from a university that didn't?]

John Quiggin 11.02.17 at 7:46 am ( 7 )

Not to make too much of the obvious, given that I'm writing a blog comment, but blogs offer some great opportunities here.

CT readers got to see nearly all of Zombie Economics before the book appeared, and if I ever finish Economics in Two Lessons it will be long after much of it was posted here.

[Nov 27, 2017] College Is Wildly Exploitative Why Arent Students Raising Hell

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... By David Masciotra, the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky). He has also written for Salon, the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Review of Books. For more information visit www.davidmasciotra.com. Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... Robert Reich, in his book Supercapitalism, explains that in the past 30 years the two industries with the most excessive increases in prices are health care and higher education. ..."
"... Using student loan loot and tax subsidies backed by its $3.5 billion endowment, New York University has created a new administrative class of aristocratic compensation. The school not only continues to hire more administrators – many of whom the professors indict as having no visible value in improving the education for students bankrupting themselves to register for classes – but shamelessly increases the salaries of the academic administrative class. The top 21 administrators earn a combined total of $23,590,794 per year. The NYU portfolio includes many multi-million-dollar mansions and luxury condos, where deans and vice presidents live rent-free. ..."
"... As the managerial class grows, in size and salary, so does the full time faculty registry shrink. Use of part time instructors has soared to stratospheric heights at NYU. Adjunct instructors, despite having a minimum of a master's degree and often having a Ph.D., receive only miserly pay-per-course compensation for their work, and do not receive benefits. Many part-time college instructors must transform their lives into daily marathons, running from one school to the next, barely able to breathe between commutes and courses. Adjunct pay varies from school to school, but the average rate is $2,900 per course. ..."
"... New York Times ..."
"... to the people making decisions ..."
"... it's the executives and management generally. Just like Wall Street, many of these top administrators have perfected the art of failing upwards. ..."
"... What is the benefit? What are the risks? ..."
"... Sophomore Noell Conley lives there, too. She shows off the hotel-like room she shares with a roommate . ..."
"... "As you walk in, to the right you see our granite countertops with two sinks, one for each of the residents," she says. A partial wall separates the beds. Rather than trek down the hall to shower, they share a bathroom with the room next door. "That's really nice compared to community bathrooms that I lived in last year," Conley says. To be fair, granite countertops last longer. Tempur-Pedic is a local company - and gave a big discount. The amenities include classrooms and study space that are part of the dorm. Many of the residents are in the university's Honors program. But do student really need Apple TV in the lounges, or a smartphone app that lets them check their laundry status from afar? "Demand has been very high," says the university's Penny Cox, who is overseeing the construction of several new residence halls on campus. Before Central Hall's debut in August, the average dorm was almost half a century old, she says. That made it harder to recruit. " If you visit places like Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama," Cox says, "and you compare what we had with what they have available to offer, we were very far behind." Today colleges are competing for a more discerning consumer. Students grew up with fewer siblings, in larger homes, Cox says. They expect more privacy than previous generations - and more comforts. "These days we seem to be bringing kids up to expect a lot of material plenty," says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of the book "Generation Me." Those students could be in for some disappointment when they graduate , she says. "When some of these students have all these luxuries and then they get an entry-level job and they can't afford the enormous flat screen and the granite countertops," Twenge says, "then that's going to be a rude awakening." Some on campus also worry about the divide between students who can afford such luxuries and those who can't. The so-called premium dorms cost about $1,000 more per semester. Freshman Josh Johnson, who grew up in a low-income family and lives in one of the university's 1960s-era buildings, says the traditional dorm is good enough for him. ..."
"... "I wouldn't pay more just to live in a luxury dorm," he says. "It seems like I could just pay the flat rate and get the dorm I'm in. It's perfectly fine." In the near future students who want to live on campus won't have a choice. Eventually the university plans to upgrade all of its residence halls. ..."
"... Competition for students who have more sophisticated tastes than in past years is creating the perfect environment for schools to try to outdo each other with ever-more posh on-campus housing. Keeping up in the luxury dorm race is increasingly critical to a school's bottom line: A 2006 study published by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers found that "poorly maintained or inadequate residential facilities" was the number-one reason students rejected enrolling at institutions. PHOTO GALLERY: Click Here to See the 10 Schools with Luxury Dorms ..."
"... Private universities get most of the mentions on lists of schools with great dorms, as recent ratings by the Princeton Review, College Prowler, and Campus Splash make clear. But a few state schools that have invested in brand-new facilities are starting to show up on those reviews, too. ..."
"... While many schools offer first dibs on the nicest digs to upperclassmen on campus, as the war for student dollars ratchets up even first-year students at public colleges are living in style. Here are 10 on-campus dormitories at state schools that offer students resort-like amenities. ..."
"... Perhaps some students are afraid to protest for fear of being photographed or videographed and having their face and identity given to every prospective employer throughout America. Perhaps those students are afraid of being blackballed throughout the Great American Workplace if they are caught protesting anything on camera. ..."
"... Mao was perfectly content to promote technical education in the new China. What he deprecated (and fought to suppress) was the typical liberal arts notion of critical thinking. We're witnessing something comparable in the U.S. We're witnessing something comparable in the U.S. ..."
"... Many of the best students feel enormous pressure to succeed and have some inkling that their job prospects are growing narrower, but they almost universally accept this as the natural order of things. Their outlook: if there are 10 or 100 applicants for every available job, well, by golly, I just have to work that much harder and be the exceptional one who gets the job. ..."
"... I read things like this and think about Louis Althusser and his ideas about "Ideological State Apparatuses." While in liberal ideology the education is usually considered to be the space where opportunity to improve one's situation is founded, Althusser reached the complete opposite conclusion. For him, universities are the definitive bourgeois institution, the ideological state apparatus of the modern capitalist state par excellance . The real purpose of the university was not to level the playing field of opportunity but to preserve the advantages of the bourgeoisie and their children, allowing the class system to perpetuate/reproduce itself. ..."
"... My nephew asked me to help him with his college introductory courses in macroeconomics and accounting. I was disappointed to find out what was going on: no lectures by professors, no discussion sessions with teaching assistants; no team projects–just two automated correspondence courses, with automated computer graded problem sets objective tests – either multiple choice, fill in the blank with a number, or fill in the blank with a form answer. This from a public university that is charging tuition for attendance just as though it were really teaching something. All they're really certifying is that the student can perform exercises is correctly reporting what a couple of textbooks said about subjects of marginal relevance to his degree. My nephew understands exactly that this is going on, but still . ..."
"... The reason students accept this has to be the absolutely demobilized political culture of the United States combined with what college represents structurally to students from the middle classes: the only possibility – however remote – of achieving any kind of middle class income. ..."
"... Straight bullshit, but remember our school was just following the national (Neoliberal) model. ..."
Jun 26, 2015 | naked capitalism

Yves here. In May, we wrote up and embedded the report on how NYU exploits students and adjuncts in "The Art of the Gouge": NYU as a Model for Predatory Higher Education. This article below uses that study as a point of departure for for its discussion of how higher education has become extractive.

By David Masciotra, the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky). He has also written for Salon, the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Review of Books. For more information visit www.davidmasciotra.com. Originally published at Alternet

Higher education wears the cloak of liberalism, but in policy and practice, it can be a corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation. It benefits immensely from right-wing McCarthy wannabes, who in an effort to restrict academic freedom and silence political dissent, depict universities as left-wing indoctrination centers.

But the reality is that while college administrators might affix "down with the man" stickers on their office doors, many prop up a system that is severely unfair to American students and professors, a shocking number of whom struggle to make ends meet. Even the most elementary level of political science instructs that politics is about power. Power, in America, is about money: who has it? Who does not have it? Who is accumulating it? Who is losing it? Where is it going?

Four hundred faculty members at New York University, one of the nation's most expensive schools, recently released a report on how their own place of employment, legally a nonprofit institution, has become a predatory business, hardly any different in ethical practice or economic procedure than a sleazy storefront payday loan operator. Its title succinctly summarizes the new intellectual discipline deans and regents have learned to master: "The Art of The Gouge."

The result of their investigation reads as if Charles Dickens and Franz Kafka collaborated on notes for a novel. Administrators not only continue to raise tuition at staggering rates, but they burden their students with inexplicable fees, high cost burdens and expensive requirements like mandatory study abroad programs. When students question the basis of their charges, much of them hidden during the enrollment and registration phases, they find themselves lost in a tornadic swirl of forms, automated answering services and other bureaucratic debris.

Often the additional fees add up to thousands of dollars, and that comes on top of the already hefty tuition, currently $46,000 per academic year, which is more than double its rate of 2001. Tuition at NYU is higher than most colleges, but a bachelor's degree, nearly anywhere else, still comes with a punitive price tag. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2014–2015 school year was $31,231 at private colleges, $9,139 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,958 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

Robert Reich, in his book Supercapitalism, explains that in the past 30 years the two industries with the most excessive increases in prices are health care and higher education. Lack of affordable health care is a crime, Reich argues, but at least new medicines, medical technologies, surgeries, surgery techs, and specialists can partially account for inflation. Higher education can claim no costly infrastructural or operational developments to defend its sophisticated swindle of American families. It is a high-tech, multifaceted, but old fashioned transfer of wealth from the poor, working- and middle-classes to the rich.

Using student loan loot and tax subsidies backed by its $3.5 billion endowment, New York University has created a new administrative class of aristocratic compensation. The school not only continues to hire more administrators – many of whom the professors indict as having no visible value in improving the education for students bankrupting themselves to register for classes – but shamelessly increases the salaries of the academic administrative class. The top 21 administrators earn a combined total of $23,590,794 per year. The NYU portfolio includes many multi-million-dollar mansions and luxury condos, where deans and vice presidents live rent-free.

Meanwhile, NYU has spent billions, over the past 20 years, on largely unnecessary real estate projects, buying property and renovating buildings throughout New York. The professors' analysis, NYU's US News and World Report Ranking, and student reviews demonstrate that few of these extravagant projects, aimed mostly at pleasing wealthy donors, attracting media attention, and giving administrators opulent quarters, had any impact on overall educational quality.

As the managerial class grows, in size and salary, so does the full time faculty registry shrink. Use of part time instructors has soared to stratospheric heights at NYU. Adjunct instructors, despite having a minimum of a master's degree and often having a Ph.D., receive only miserly pay-per-course compensation for their work, and do not receive benefits. Many part-time college instructors must transform their lives into daily marathons, running from one school to the next, barely able to breathe between commutes and courses. Adjunct pay varies from school to school, but the average rate is $2,900 per course.

Many schools offer rates far below the average, most especially community colleges paying only $1,000 to $1,500. Even at the best paying schools, adjuncts, as part time employees, are rarely eligible for health insurance and other benefits. Many universities place strict limits on how many courses an instructor can teach. According to a recent study, 25 percent of adjuncts receive government assistance.

The actual scandal of "The Art of the Gouge" is that even if NYU is a particularly egregious offender of basic decency and honesty, most of the report's indictments could apply equally to nearly any American university. From 2003-2013, college tuition increased by a crushing 80 percent. That far outpaces all other inflation. The closest competitor was the cost of medical care, which in the same time period, increased by a rate of 49 percent. On average, tuition in America rises eight percent on an annual basis, placing it far outside the moral universe. Most European universities charge only marginal fees for attendance, and many of them are free. Senator Bernie Sanders recently introduced a bill proposing all public universities offer free education. It received little political support, and almost no media coverage.

In order to obtain an education, students accept the paralytic weight of student debt, the only form of debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Before a young person can even think about buying a car, house or starting a family, she leaves college with thousands of dollars in debt: an average of $29,400 in 2012. As colleges continue to suck their students dry of every dime, the US government profits at $41.3 billion per year by collecting interest on that debt. Congress recently cut funding for Pell Grants, yet increased the budget for hiring debt collectors to target delinquent student borrowers.

The university, once an incubator of ideas and entrance into opportunity, has mutated into a tabletop model of America's economic architecture, where the top one percent of income earners now owns 40 percent of the wealth.

"The One Percent at State U," an Institute for Policy Studies report, found that at the 25 public universities with the highest paid presidents, student debt and adjunct faculty increased at dramatically higher rates than at the average state university. Marjorie Wood, the study's co-author, explained told the New York Times that extravagant executive pay is the "tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.

Unfortunately, students seem like passive participants in their own liquidation. An American student protest timeline for 2014-'15, compiled by historian Angus Johnston, reveals that most demonstrations and rallies focused on police violence, and sexism. Those issues should inspire vigilance and activism, but only 10 out of 160 protests targeted tuition hikes for attack, and only two of those 10 events took place outside the state of California.

Class consciousness and solidarity actually exist in Chile, where in 2011 a student movement began to organize, making demands for free college. More than mere theater, high school and college students, along with many of their parental allies, engaged the political system and made specific demands for inexpensive education. The Chilean government announced that in March 2016, it will eliminate all tuition from public universities. Chile's victory for participatory democracy, equality of opportunity and social justice should instruct and inspire Americans. Triumph over extortion and embezzlement is possible.

This seems unlikely to happen in a culture, however, where even most poor Americans view themselves, in the words of John Steinbeck, as "temporarily embarrassed millionaires." The political, educational and economic ruling class of America is comfortable selling out its progeny. In the words of one student quoted in "The Art of the Gouge," "they see me as nothing more than $200,000."

washunate June 26, 2015 at 10:07 am

Awesome question in the headline.

At a basic level, I think the answer is yes, because on balance, college still provides a lot of privatized value to the individual. Being an exploited student with the College Credential Seal of Approval remains relatively much better than being an exploited non student lacking that all important seal. A college degree, for example, is practically a guarantee of avoiding the more unseemly parts of the US "justice" system.

But I think this is changing. The pressure is building from the bottom as academia loses credibility as an institution capable of, never mind interested in, serving the public good rather than simply being another profit center for connected workers. It's actually a pretty exciting time. The kiddos are getting pretty fed up, and the authoritarians at the top of the hierarchy are running out of money with which to buy off younger technocratic enablers and thought leaders and other Serious People.

washunate June 26, 2015 at 10:17 am

P.S., the author in this post demonstrates the very answer to the question. He assumes as true, without any need for support, that the very act of possessing a college degree makes one worthy of a better place in society. That mindset is why colleges can prey upon students. They hold a monopoly on access to resources in American society. My bold:

Adjunct instructors, despite having a minimum of a master's degree and often having a Ph.D., receive only miserly pay-per-course compensation for their work, and do not receive benefits.

What does having a masters degree or PhD have to do with the moral claim of all human beings to a life of dignity and purpose?

flora June 26, 2015 at 11:37 am

There are so many more job seekers per job opening now than, say, 20 or thirty years ago that a degree is used to sort out applications. Now a job that formerly listed a high school degree as a requirement may now list a college degree as a requirement, just to cut down on the number of applications.

So, no, a B.A. or B.S. doesn't confer moral worth, but it does open more job doors than a high school diploma, even if the actual work only requires high school level math, reading, science or technology.

Ben June 26, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I agree a phd often makes someone no more useful in society. However the behaviour of the kids is rational *because* employers demand a masters / phd.

Students are then caught in a trap. Employers demand the paper, often from an expensive institution. The credit is abundant thanks to govt backed loans. They are caught in a situation where as a collective it makes no sense to join in, but as an individual if they opt out they get hurt also.

Same deal for housing. It's a mad world my masters.

What can we do about this? The weak link in the chain seems to me to be employers. Why are they hurting themselves by selecting people who want higher pay but may offer little to no extra value? I work as a programmer and I often think " if we could just 'see' the non-graduate diamonds in the rough".

If employers had perfect knowledge of prospective employees *and* if they saw that a degree would make no difference to their performance universities would crumble overnight.

The state will never stop printing money via student loans. If we can fix recruitment then universities are dead.

washunate June 26, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Why are they hurting themselves by selecting people who want higher pay but may offer little to no extra value?

Yeah, I have thought a lot about that particular question of organizational behavior. It does make sense, conceptually, that somebody would disrupt the system and take people based on ability rather than credentials. Yet we are moving in the opposite direction, toward more rigidity in educational requirements for employment.

For my two cents, I think the bulk of the answer lies in how hiring specifically, and management philosophy more generally, works in practice. The people who make decisions are themselves also subject to someone else's decisions. This is true all up and down the hierarchical ladder, from board members and senior executives to the most junior managers and professionals.

It's true that someone without a degree may offer the same (or better) performance to the company. But they do not offer the same performance to the people making decisions, because those individual people also depend upon their own college degrees to sell their own labor services. To hire significant numbers of employees without degrees into important roles is to sabotage their own personal value.

Very few people are willing to be that kind of martyr. And generally speaking, they tend to self-select away from occupations where they can meaningfully influence decision-making processes in large organizations.

Absolutely, individual business owners can call BS on the whole scam. It is a way that individual people can take action against systemic oppression. Hire workers based upon their fit for the job, not their educational credentials or criminal background or skin color or sexual orientation or all of the other tests we have used. But that's not a systemic solution because the incentives created by public policy are overwhelming at large organizations to restrict who is 'qualified' to fill the good jobs (and increasingly, even the crappy jobs).

Laaughingsong June 26, 2015 at 3:03 pm

I am not so sure that this is so. So many jobs are now crapified. When I was made redundant in 2009, I could not find many jobs that fit my level of experience (just experience! I have no college degree), so I applied for anything that fit my skill set, pretty much regardless of level. I was called Overqualified. I have heard that in the past as well, but never more so during that stretch of job hunting. Remember that's with no degree. Maybe younger people don't hear it as much. But I also think life experience has something to do with it, you need to have something to compare it to. How many times did our parents tell us how different things were when they were kids, how much easier? I didn't take that on board, did y'all?

sam s smith June 26, 2015 at 4:03 pm

I blame HR.

tsk June 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm

For various reasons, people seeking work these days, especially younger job applicants, might not possess the habits of mind and behavior that would make them good employees – i.e., punctuality, the willingness to come to work every day (even when something more fun or interesting comes up, or when one has partied hard the night before), the ability to meet deadlines rather than make excuses for not meeting them, the ability to write competently at a basic level, the ability to read instructions, diagrams, charts, or any other sort of necessary background material, the ability to handle basic computation, the ability to FOLLOW instructions rather than deciding that one will pick and choose which rules and instructions to follow and which to ignore, trainability, etc.

Even if a job applicant's degree is in a totally unrelated field, the fact that he or she has managed to complete an undergraduate degree–or, if relevant, a master's or a doctorate – is often accepted by employers as a sign that the applicant has a sense of personal responsibility, a certain amount of diligence and educability, and a certain level of basic competence in reading, writing, and math.

By the same token, employers often assume that an applicant who didn't bother going to college or who couldn't complete a college degree program is probably not someone to be counted on to be a responsible, trainable, competent employee.

Obviously those who don't go to college, or who go but drop out or flunk out, end up disadvantaged when competing for jobs, which might not be fair at all in individual cases, especially now that college has been priced so far out of the range of so many bright, diligent students from among the poor and and working classes, and now even those from the middle class.

Nevertheless, in general an individual's ability to complete a college degree is not an unreasonable stand-in as evidence of that person's suitability for employment.

Roland June 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Nicely put, Ben.

Students are first caught in a trap of "credentials inflation" needed to obtain jobs, then caught by inflation in education costs, then stuck with undischargeable debt. And the more of them who get the credentials, the worse the credentials inflation–a spiral.

It's all fuelled by loose credit. The only beneficiaries are a managerial elite who enjoy palatial facilities.

As for the employers, they're not so bad off. Wages are coming down for credentialled employees due to all the competition. There is such a huge stock of degreed applicants that they can afford to ignore anyone who isn't. The credentials don't cost the employer–they're not spending the money, nor are they lending the money.

Modern money makes it possible for the central authorities to keep this racket going all the way up to the point of general systemic collapse. Why should they stop? Who's going to make them stop?

Bobbo June 26, 2015 at 10:19 am

The only reason the universities can get away with it is easy money. When the time comes that students actually need to pay tuition with real money, money they or their parents have actually saved, then college tuition rates will crash back down to earth. Don't blame the universities. This is the natural and inevitable outcome of easy money.

Jim June 26, 2015 at 10:54 am

Yes, college education in the US is a classic example of the effects of subsidies. Eliminate the subsidies and the whole education bubble would rapidly implode.

washunate June 26, 2015 at 11:03 am

I'm very curious if anyone will disagree with that assessment.

An obvious commonality across higher education, healthcare, housing, criminal justice, and national security is that we spend huge quantities of public money yet hold the workers receiving that money to extremely low standards of accountability for what they do with it.

tegnost June 26, 2015 at 11:38 am

Correct, it's not the universities, it's the culture that contains the universities, but the universities are training grounds for the culture so it is the universities just not only the universities Been remembering the song from my college days "my futures so bright i gotta wear shades". getting rich was the end in itself, and people who didn't make it didn't deserve anything but a whole lot of student debt,creating perverse incentives. And now we all know what the A in type a stands for at least among those who self identify as such, so yes it is the universities

Chris in Paris June 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I don't understand why the ability to accept guaranteed loan money doesn't come with an obligation by the school to cap tuition at a certain percentage over maximum loan amount? Would that be so hard to institute?

Ben June 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Student loans are debt issuance. Western states are desperate to issue debt as it's fungible with money and marked down as growth.

Borrow 120K over 3 years and it all gets paid into university coffers and reappears as "profit" now. Let some other president deal with low disposable income due to loan repayments. It's in a different electoral cycle – perfect.

jrd2 June 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

You can try to argue, but it will be hard to refute. If you give mortgages at teaser rates to anybody who can fog a mirror, you get a housing bubble. If you give student loans to any student without regard to the prospects of that student paying back the loan, you get a higher education bubble. Which will include private equity trying to catch as much of this money as they possibly can by investing in for profit educational institutions just barely adequate to benefit from federal student loan funds.

jrs June 26, 2015 at 6:16 pm

A lot of background conditions help. It helps to pump a housing bubble if there's nothing else worth investing in (including saving money at zero interest rates). It helps pump an education bubble if most of the jobs have been outsourced so people are competing more and more for fewer and fewer.

Beans June 26, 2015 at 11:51 am

I don't disagree with the statement that easy money has played the biggest role in jacking up tuition. I do strongly disagree that we shouldn't "blame" the universities. The universities are exactly where we should place the blame. The universities have become job training grounds, and yet continue to droll on and on about the importance of noble things like liberal education, the pursuit of knowledge, the importance of ideas, etc. They cannot have it both ways. Years ago, when tuition rates started escalating faster than inflation, the universities should have been the loudest critics – pointing out the cultural problems that would accompany sending the next generation into the future deeply indebted – namely that all the noble ideas learned at the university would get thrown out the window when financial reality forced recent graduates to chose between noble ideas and survival. If universities truly believed that a liberal education was important; that the pursuit of knowledge benefitted humanity – they should have led the charge to hold down tuition.

washunate June 26, 2015 at 12:47 pm

I took it to mean blame as in what allows the system to function. I heartily agree that highly paid workers at universities bear blame for what they do (and don't do) at a granular level.

It's just that they couldn't do those things without the system handing them gobs of resources, from tax deductability of charitable contributions to ignoring anti-competitive behavior in local real estate ownership to research grants and other direct funding to student loans and other indirect funding.

Jim June 26, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Regarding blaming "highly paid workers at universities" – If a society creates incentives for dysfunctional behavior such a society will have a lot of dysfunction. Eliminate the subsidies and see how quicly the educational bubble pops.

James Levy June 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm

You are ignoring the way that the rich bid up the cost of everything. 2% of the population will pay whatever the top dozen or so schools will charge so that little Billy or Sue can go to Harvard or Stanford. This leads to cost creep as the next tier ratchet up their prices in lock step with those above them, etc. The same dynamic happens with housing, at least around wealthy metropolitan areas.

daniel June 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Hi to you two,

A European perspective on this: yep, that's true on an international perspective. I belong to the ugly list of those readers of this blog who do not fully share the liberal values of most of you hear. However, may I say that I can agree on a lot of stuff.

US education and health-care are outrageously costly. Every European citizen moving to the states has a question: will he or she be sick whilst there. Every European parent with kids in higher education is aware that having their kids for one closing year in the US is the more they can afford (except if are a banquier d'affaires ). Is the value of the US education good? No doubt! Is is good value for money, of course not. Is the return on the money ok? It will prove disastrous, except if the USD crashed. The main reason? Easy money. As for any kind of investment. Remember that this is indeed a investment plan

Check the level of revenues of "public sector" teaching staff on both sides of the ponds. The figure for US professionals in these area are available on the Web. They are indeed much more costly than, say, North-of-Europe counterparts, "public sector" professionals in those area. Is higher education in the Netherlands sub-par when compared to the US? Of course not.

Yep financing education via the Fed (directly or not) is not only insanely costly. Just insane. The only decent solution: set up public institutions staffed with service-minded professionals that did not have to pay an insane sum to build up the curriculum themselves.

Are "public services" less efficient than private ones here in those area, health-care and higher education. Yep, most certainly. But, sure, having the fed indirectly finance the educational system just destroy any competitive savings made in building a competitive market-orientated educational system and is one of the worst way to handle your educational system.

Yep, you can do a worst use of the money, subprime or China buildings But that's all about it.

US should forget about exceptionnalism and pay attention to what North of Europe is doing in this area. Mind you, I am Southerner (of Europe). But of course I understand that trying to run these services on a federal basis is indeed "mission impossible".

Way to big! Hence the indirect Washington-decided Wall-Street-intermediated Fed-and-deficit-driven financing of higher education. Mind you: we have more and more of this bankers meddling in education in Europe and I do not like what I see.

John Zelnicker June 27, 2015 at 1:36 pm

@washunate – 6/26/15, 11:03 am. I know I'm late to the party, but I disagree. It's not the workers, it's the executives and management generally. Just like Wall Street, many of these top administrators have perfected the art of failing upwards.

IMNSHO everyone needs to stop blaming labor and/or the labor unions. It's not the front line workers, teachers, retail clerks, adjunct instructors, all those people who do the actual work rather than managing other people. Those workers have no bargaining power, and the unions have lost most of theirs, in part due to the horrible labor market, as well as other important reasons.

We have demonized virtually all of the government workers who actually do the work that enables us to even have a government (all levels) and to provide the services we demand, such as public safety, education, and infrastructure. These people are our neighbors, relatives and friends; we owe them better than this.

/end of rant

Roland June 27, 2015 at 5:20 pm

Unionized support staff at Canadian universities have had sub-inflation wage increases for nearly 20 years, while tuition has been rising at triple the rate of inflation.

So obviously one can't blame the unions for rising education costs.

Spring Texan June 28, 2015 at 8:03 am

Thanks for your rant! You said a mouthful. And could not be more correct.

Adam Eran June 26, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Omitted from this account: Federal funding for education has declined 55% since 1972. Part of the Powell memo's agenda.

It's understandable too; one can hardly blame legislators for punishing the educational establishment given the protests of the '60s and early '70s After all, they were one reason Nixon and Reagan rose to power. How dare they propose real democracy! Harumph!

To add to students' burden, there's the recent revision of bankruptcy law: student loans can no longer be retired by bankruptcy (Thanks Hillary!) It'll be interesting to see whether Hillary's vote on that bankruptcy revision becomes a campaign issue.

I also wonder whether employers will start to look for people without degrees as an indication they were intelligent enough to sidestep this extractive scam.

washunate June 26, 2015 at 1:54 pm

I'd be curious what you count as federal funding. Pell grants, for example, have expanded both in terms of the number of recipients and the amount of spending over the past 3 – 4 decades.

More generally, federal support for higher ed comes in a variety of forms. The bankruptcy law you mention is itself a form of federal funding. Tax exemption is another. Tax deductabiliity of contributions is another. So are research grants and exemptions from anti-competitive laws and so forth. There are a range of individual tax credits and deductions. The federal government also does not intervene in a lot of state supports, such as licensing practices in law and medicine that make higher ed gatekeepers to various fiefdoms and allowing universities to take fees for administering (sponsoring) charter schools. The Federal Work-Study program is probably one of the clearest specific examples of a program that offers both largely meaningless busy work and terrible wages.

As far as large employers seeking intelligence, I'm not sure that's an issue in the US? Generally speaking, the point of putting a college credential in a job requirement is precisely to find people participating in the 'scam'. If an employer is genuinely looking for intelligence, they don't have minimum educational requirements.

Laughingsong June 26, 2015 at 3:12 pm

I heard that Congress is cutting those:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/10/congress-cuts-federal-financial-aid-for-needy-students/

different clue June 28, 2015 at 3:06 am

Why would tuition rates come down when students need to pay with "real money, money they or their parents have actually saved. . . " ? Didn't tuition at state universities begin climbing when state governments began boycotting state universities in terms of embargoing former rates of taxpayer support to them? Leaving the state universities to try making up the difference by raising tuition? If people want to limit or reduce the tuition charged to in-state students of state universities, people will have to resume paying former rates of taxes and elect people to state government to re-target those taxes back to state universities the way they used to do before the reductions in state support to state universities.

Jesper June 26, 2015 at 10:29 am

Protest against exploitation and risk being black-listed by exploitative employers -> Only employers left are the ones who actually do want (not pretend to want) ethical people willing to stand up for what they believe in. Not many of those kind of employers around . What is the benefit? What are the risks?

Tammy June 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm

What is the benefit? What are the risks?
I am not a progressive, yet, there is always risk for solidary progress.

Andrew June 26, 2015 at 10:53 am

The author misrepresents the nature and demands of Chile's student movement.

Over the past few decades, university enrollment rates for Chileans expanded dramatically in part due to the creation of many private universities. In Chile, public universities lead the pack in terms of academic reputation and entrance is determined via competitive exams. As a result, students from poorer households who attended low-quality secondary schools generally need to look at private universities to get a degree. And these are the students to which the newly created colleges catered to.

According to Chilean legislation, universities can only function as non-profit entities. However, many of these new institutions were only nominally non-profit entities (for example, the owners of the university would also set up a real estate company that would rent the facilities to the college at above market prices) and they were very much lacking in quality. After a series of high-profile cases of universities that were open and shut within a few years leaving its students in limbo and debt, anger mounted over for-profit education.

The widespread support of the student movement was due to generalized anger about and education system that is dearly lacking in quality and to the violation of the spirit of the law regulating education. Once the student movement's demands became more specific and morphed from opposing for profit institutions to demanding free tuition for everyone, the widespread support waned quickly.

And while the government announced free tuition in public universities, there is a widespread consensus that this is a pretty terrible idea as it is regressive and involves large fiscal costs. In particular because most of the students that attend public universities come from relatively wealthy households that can afford tuition. The students that need the tuition assistance will not benefit under the new rules.

I personally benefited from the fantastically generous financial aid systems that some private American universities have set up which award grants and scholarships based on financial need only. And I believe that it is desirable for the State to guarantee that any qualified student has access to college regardless of his or her wealth I think that by romanticizing the Chilean student movement the author reveals himself to be either is dishonest or, at best, ignorant.

RanDomino June 27, 2015 at 12:23 pm

The protests also involved extremely large riots.

The Insider June 26, 2015 at 10:57 am

Students aren't protesting because they don't feel the consequences until they graduate.

One thing that struck me when I applied for a student loan a few years back to help me get through my last year of graduate school – the living expense allocation was surprisingly high. Not "student sharing an apartment with five random dudes while eating ramen and riding the bus", but more "living alone in a nice one-bedroom apartment while eating takeout and driving a car". Apocryphal stories of students using their student loans to buy new cars or take extravagant vacations were not impossible to believe.

The living expense portion of student loans is often so generous that students can live relatively well while going to school, which makes it that much easier for them to push to the backs of their minds the consequences that will come from so much debt when they graduate. Consequently, it isn't the students who are complaining – it's the former students. But by the time they are out of school and the university has their money in its pocket, it's too late for them to try and change the system.

lord koos June 26, 2015 at 11:42 am

I'm sure many students are simply happy to be in college the ugly truth hits later.

optimader June 26, 2015 at 12:39 pm

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/education/compete-students-colleges-roll-out-amenities

Sophomore Noell Conley lives there, too. She shows off the hotel-like room she shares with a roommate.

"As you walk in, to the right you see our granite countertops with two sinks, one for each of the residents," she says.

A partial wall separates the beds. Rather than trek down the hall to shower, they share a bathroom with the room next door.

"That's really nice compared to community bathrooms that I lived in last year," Conley says.

To be fair, granite countertops last longer. Tempur-Pedic is a local company - and gave a big discount. The amenities include classrooms and study space that are part of the dorm. Many of the residents are in the university's Honors program. But do student really need Apple TV in the lounges, or a smartphone app that lets them check their laundry status from afar?

"Demand has been very high," says the university's Penny Cox, who is overseeing the construction of several new residence halls on campus. Before Central Hall's debut in August, the average dorm was almost half a century old, she says. That made it harder to recruit.

"If you visit places like Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama," Cox says, "and you compare what we had with what they have available to offer, we were very far behind."

Today colleges are competing for a more discerning consumer. Students grew up with fewer siblings, in larger homes, Cox says. They expect more privacy than previous generations - and more comforts.

"These days we seem to be bringing kids up to expect a lot of material plenty," says Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of the book "Generation Me."

Those students could be in for some disappointment when they graduate, she says.

"When some of these students have all these luxuries and then they get an entry-level job and they can't afford the enormous flat screen and the granite countertops," Twenge says, "then that's going to be a rude awakening."

Some on campus also worry about the divide between students who can afford such luxuries and those who can't. The so-called premium dorms cost about $1,000 more per semester. Freshman Josh Johnson, who grew up in a low-income family and lives in one of the university's 1960s-era buildings, says the traditional dorm is good enough for him.

"I wouldn't pay more just to live in a luxury dorm," he says. "It seems like I could just pay the flat rate and get the dorm I'm in. It's perfectly fine."

In the near future students who want to live on campus won't have a choice. Eventually the university plans to upgrade all of its residence halls.

So I wonder who on average will fair better navigating the post-college lifestyle/job market reality check, Noell or Josh? Personally, I would bet on the Joshes living in the 60's vintage enamel painted ciderblock dorm rooms.

optimader June 26, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Universities responding to the market

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/08/29/10-Public-Colleges-with-Insanely-Luxurious-Dorms

Competition for students who have more sophisticated tastes than in past years is creating the perfect environment for schools to try to outdo each other with ever-more posh on-campus housing. Keeping up in the luxury dorm race is increasingly critical to a school's bottom line: A 2006 study published by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers found that "poorly maintained or inadequate residential facilities" was the number-one reason students rejected enrolling at institutions.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click Here to See the 10 Schools with Luxury Dorms

Private universities get most of the mentions on lists of schools with great dorms, as recent ratings by the Princeton Review, College Prowler, and Campus Splash make clear. But a few state schools that have invested in brand-new facilities are starting to show up on those reviews, too.

While many schools offer first dibs on the nicest digs to upperclassmen on campus, as the war for student dollars ratchets up even first-year students at public colleges are living in style. Here are 10 on-campus dormitories at state schools that offer students resort-like amenities.

Jerry Denim June 26, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Bingo! They don't get really mad until they're in their early thirties and they are still stuck doing some menial job with no vacation time, no health insurance and a monstrous mountain of debt. Up until that point they're still working hard waiting for their ship to come in and blaming themselves for any lack of success like Steinbeck's 'embarrassed millionaires.' Then one day maybe a decade after they graduate they realize they've been conned but they've got bills to pay and other problems to worry about so they solider on. 18 year-olds are told by their high school guidance councilors, their parents and all of the adults they trust that college while expensive is a good investment and the only way to succeed. Why should they argue? They don't know any better yet.

different clue June 28, 2015 at 3:09 am

Perhaps some students are afraid to protest for fear of being photographed or videographed and having their face and identity given to every prospective employer throughout America. Perhaps those students are afraid of being blackballed throughout the Great American Workplace if they are caught protesting anything on camera.

Today isn't like the sixties when you could drop out in the confidence that you could always drop back in again. Nowadays there are ten limpets for every scar on the rock.

seabos84 June 26, 2015 at 11:16 am

the average is such a worthless number. The Data we need, and which all these parasitic professional managerial types won't provide –
x axis would be family income, by $5000 increments.
y axis would be the median debt level
we could get fancy, and also throw in how many kids are in school in each of those income increments.

BTW – this 55 yr. old troglodyte believes that 1 of the roles (note – I did NOT say "The Role") of education is preparing people to useful to society. 300++ million Americans, 7 billion humans – we ALL need shelter, reliable and safe food, reliable and safe water, sewage disposal, clothing, transportation, education, sick care, power, leisure, we should ALL have access to family wage jobs and time for BBQs with our various communities several times a year. I know plenty of techno-dweebs here in Seattle who need to learn some of the lessons of 1984, The Prince, and Shakespeare. I know plenty of fuzzies who could be a bit more useful with some rudimentary skills in engineering, or accounting, or finance, or stats, or bio, or chem
I don't know what the current education system is providing, other than some accidental good things for society at large, and mainly mechanisms for the para$ite cla$$e$ to stay parasites.

rmm.

Adam Eran June 26, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Mao was perfectly content to promote technical education in the new China. What he deprecated (and fought to suppress) was the typical liberal arts notion of critical thinking. We're witnessing something comparable in the U.S.

This suppression in China led to an increase in Mao's authority (obviously), but kept him delusional. For example, because China relied on Mao's agricultural advice, an estimated 70 million Chinese died during peacetime. But who else was to be relied upon as an authority?

Back the the U.S.S.A. (the United StateS of America): One Australian says of the American system: "You Yanks don't consult the wisdom of democracy; you enable mobs."

Tammy June 27, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Mao was perfectly content to promote technical education in the new China. What he deprecated (and fought to suppress) was the typical liberal arts notion of critical thinking. We're witnessing something comparable in the U.S. We're witnessing something comparable in the U.S.

Mao liked chaos because he believed in continuous revolution. I would argue what we're experiencing is nothing comparable to what China experienced. (I hope I've understood you correctly.)

Ted June 26, 2015 at 11:20 am

I am pretty sure a tradition of protest to affect political change in the US is a rather rare bird. Most people "protest" by changing their behavior. As an example, by questioning the value of the 46,000 local private college tuition as opposed the the 15k and 9k tiered state college options. My daughter is entering the freshman class next year, we opted for the cheaper state option because, in the end, a private school degree adds nothing, unless it is to a high name recognition institution.

I think, like housing, a downstream consequence of "the gouge" is not to question - much less understand - class relations, but to assess the value of the lifetyle choice once you are stuck with the price of paying for that lifestyle in the form of inflated debt repayments. Eventually "the folk" figure it out and encourage cheaper alternatives toward the same goal.

Jim June 26, 2015 at 3:18 pm

There's probably little point in engaging in political protest. Most people maximise their chances of success by focusing on variables over which they have some degree of control. The ability of most people to have much effect on the overall political-economic system is slight and any returns from political activity are highly uncertain.

jrs June 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm

How does anyone even expect to maintain cheap available state options without political activity? By wishful thinking I suppose?

The value of a private school might be graduating sooner, state schools are pretty overcrowded, but that may not at all be worth the debt (I doubt it almost ever is on a purely economic basis).

RabidGandhi June 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Maybe if we just elect the right people with cool posters and a hopey changey slogan, they'll take care of everything for us and we won't have to be politically active.

jrs June 26, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Of course refusal to engage politically because the returns to oneself by doing so are small really IS the tragedy of the commons. Thus one might say it's ethical to engage politically in order to avoid it. Some ethical action focuses on overcoming tragedy of the commons dilemmas. Of course the U.S. system being what it is I have a hard time blaming anyone for giving up.

chairman June 26, 2015 at 11:37 am

The middle class, working class and poor have no voice in politics or policy at all, and they don't know what's going on until it's too late. They've been pushed by all their high school staff that college is the only acceptable option - and often it is. What else are they going to do out of high school, work a 30 hour a week minimum wage retail job? The upper middle class and rich, who entirely monopolize the media, don't have any reason to care about skyrocketing college tuition - their parents are paying for it anyway. They'd rather write about the hip and trendy issues of the day, like trigger warnings.

Fool June 26, 2015 at 1:17 pm

To the contrary, they're hardly advised by "their high school staff"; nonetheless, subway ads for Phoenix, Monroe, etc. have a significant influence.

Uncle Bruno June 26, 2015 at 11:58 am

They're too busy working

Fool June 26, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Also Tinder.

collegestudent June 26, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Speaking as one of these college students, I think that a large part of the reason that the vast majority of students are just accepting the tuition rates is because it has become the societal norm. Growing up I can remember people saying "You need to go to college to find a good job." Because a higher education is seen as a necessity for most people, students think of tuition as just another form of taxes, acceptable and inevitable, which we will expect to get a refund on later in life.

Pitchfork June 26, 2015 at 1:03 pm

I teach at a "good" private university. Most of my students don't have a clue as to how they're being exploited. Many of the best students feel enormous pressure to succeed and have some inkling that their job prospects are growing narrower, but they almost universally accept this as the natural order of things. Their outlook: if there are 10 or 100 applicants for every available job, well, by golly, I just have to work that much harder and be the exceptional one who gets the job.

Incoming freshmen were born in the late 90s - they've never known anything but widespread corruption, financial and corporate oligarchy, i-Pads and the Long Recession.

But as other posters note, the moment of realization usually comes after four years of prolonged adolescence, luxury dorm living and excessive debt accumulation.

Tammy June 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Most Ph.D.'s don't either. I'd argue there have been times they have attempted to debate that exploitation is a good–for their employer and himself/herself–with linguistic games. Mind numbing . To be fair, they have a job.

Gottschee June 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I have watched the tuition double–double!–at my alma mater in the last eleven years. During this period, administrators have set a goal of increasing enrollment by a third, and from what I hear, they've done so. My question is always this: where is the additional tuition money going? Because as I walk through the campus, I don't really see that many improvements–yes, a new building, but that was supposedly paid for by donations and endowments. I don't see new offices for these high-priced admin people that colleges are hiring, and in fact, what I do see is an increase in the number of part-time faculty and adjuncts. The tenured faculty is not prospering from all this increased revenue, either.

I suspect the tuition is increasing so rapidly simply because the college can get away with it. And that means they are exploiting the students.

While still a student, I once calculated that it cost me $27.00/hour to be in class. (15 weeks x 20 "contact hours" per week =
300 hours/semester, $8000/semester divided by 300 hours = $27.00/hour). A crude calculation, certainly, but a starting point. I did this because I had an instructor who was consistently late to class, and often cancelled class, so much that he wiped out at least $300.00 worth of instruction. I had the gall to ask for a refund of that amount. I'm full of gall. Of course, I was laughed at, not just by the administrators, but also by some students.

Just like medical care, education pricing is "soft," that is, the price is what you are willing to pay. Desirable students get scholarships and stipends, which other students subsidize; similarly, some pre-ACA patients in hospitals were often treated gratis.

Students AND hospital patients alike seem powerless to affect the contract with the provider. Reform will not likely be forthcoming, as students, like patients, are "just passing through."

Martin Finnucane June 26, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Higher education wears the cloak of liberalism, but in policy and practice, it can be a corrupt and cutthroat system of power and exploitation.

I find the "but" in that sentence to be dissonant.

Mark Anderson June 26, 2015 at 3:12 pm

The tuition at most public universities has quadrupled or more over the last 15 to 20 years precisely BECAUSE state government subsidies have been
slashed in the meantime. I was told around 2005 that quadrupled tuition at the University of Minnesota made up for about half of the state money that the legislature had slashed from the university budget over the previous 15 years.

It is on top of that situation that university administrators are building themselves little aristocratic empires, very much modeled on the kingdoms of corporate CEOs
where reducing expenses (cutting faculty) and services to customers (fewer classes, more adjuncts) is seen as the height of responsibility and accountability, perhaps
even the definition of propriety.

Jim June 26, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Everyone should read the introductory chapter to David Graeber's " The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy."

In Chapter One of this book entitled "The Iron law of Liberalism and the Era of Total Bureaucratization" Graeber notes that the US has become the most rigidly credentialised society in the world where

" in field after field from nurses to art teachers, physical therapists, to foreign policy consultants, careers which used to be considered an art (best learned through doing) now require formal professional training and a certificate of completion."

Graeber, in that same chapter, makes another extremely important point. when he notes that career advancement in may large bureaucratic organizations demands a willingness to play along with the fiction that advancement is based on merit, even though most everyone know that this isn't true.

The structure of modern power in the U.S., in both the merging public and private sectors, is built around the false ideology of a giant credentialized meritorcracy rather than the reality of arbitrary extraction by predatory bureaucratic networks.

armchair June 26, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Anecdote: I was speaking to someone who recently started working at as a law school administrator at my alma mater. Enrollment is actually down at law schools (I believe), because word has spread about the lame legal job market. So, the school administration is watching its pennies, and the new administrator says the administrators aren't getting to go on so many of the all expense paid conferences and junkets that they used to back in the heyday. As I hear this, I am thinking about how many of these awesome conferences in San Diego, New Orleans and New York that I'm paying back. Whatever happened to the metaphorical phrase: "when a pig becomes a hog, it goes to slaughter"?

Another anecdote: I see my undergrad alma mater has demolished the Cold War era dorms on one part of campus and replaced it with tons of slick new student housing.

MaroonBulldog June 26, 2015 at 7:15 pm

No doubt those Cold War era dorms had outlived their planned life. Time for replacement. Hell, they had probably become inhabitable and unsafe.

Meanwhile, has your undergraduate school replaced any of its lecture courses with courses presented same model as on-line traffic school? I have a pending comment below about how my nephew's public university "taught" him introductory courses in accounting and macroeconomics that way. Please be assured that the content of those courses was on a par with best practices in the on-line traffic school industry. It would be hilarious if it weren't so desperately sad.

Roquentin June 26, 2015 at 5:04 pm

I read things like this and think about Louis Althusser and his ideas about "Ideological State Apparatuses." While in liberal ideology the education is usually considered to be the space where opportunity to improve one's situation is founded, Althusser reached the complete opposite conclusion. For him, universities are the definitive bourgeois institution, the ideological state apparatus of the modern capitalist state par excellance. The real purpose of the university was not to level the playing field of opportunity but to preserve the advantages of the bourgeoisie and their children, allowing the class system to perpetuate/reproduce itself.

It certainly would explain a lot. It would explain why trying to send everyone to college won't solve this, because not everyone can have a bourgeois job. Some people actually have to do the work. The whole point of the university as an institution was to act as a sorting/distribution hub for human beings, placing them at certain points within the division of labor. A college degree used to mean more because getting it was like a golden ticket, guaranteeing someone who got it at least a petit-bourgeois lifestyle. The thing is, there are only so many slots in corporate America for this kind of employment. That number is getting smaller too. You could hand every man, woman, and child in America a BS and it wouldn't change this in the slightest.

What has happened instead, for college to preserve its role as the sorting mechanism/preservation of class advantage is what I like to call degree inflation and/or an elite formed within degrees themselves. Now a BS or BA isn't enough, one needs an Master's or PhD to really be distinguished. Now a degree from just any institution won't do, it has to be an Ivy or a Tier 1 school. Until we learn to think realistically about what higher education is as an institution little or nothing will change.

Jim June 26, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Any credential is worthless if everybody has it. All information depends on contrast. It's impossible for everybody to "stand out" from the masses. The more people have college degrees the less value a college degree has.

sid_finster June 26, 2015 at 5:49 pm

When I was half-grown, I heard it said that religion is no longer the opiate of the masses, in that no one believes in God anymore, at least not enough for it to change actual behavior.

Instead, buying on credit is the opiate of the masses.

MaroonBulldog June 26, 2015 at 6:58 pm

My nephew asked me to help him with his college introductory courses in macroeconomics and accounting. I was disappointed to find out what was going on: no lectures by professors, no discussion sessions with teaching assistants; no team projects–just two automated correspondence courses, with automated computer graded problem sets objective tests – either multiple choice, fill in the blank with a number, or fill in the blank with a form answer. This from a public university that is charging tuition for attendance just as though it were really teaching something. All they're really certifying is that the student can perform exercises is correctly reporting what a couple of textbooks said about subjects of marginal relevance to his degree. My nephew understands exactly that this is going on, but still .

This is how 21st century America treats its young people: it takes people who are poor, in the sense that they have no assets, and makes them poorer, loading them up with student debt, which they incur in order to finance a falsely-so-called course of university study that can't be a good deal, even for the best students among them.

I am not suggesting the correspondence courses have no worth at all. But they do not have the worth that is being charged for them in this bait-and-switch exercise by Ed Business.

MaroonBulldog June 27, 2015 at 1:39 am

After further thought, I'd compare my nephew's two courses to on-line traffic school: Mechanized "learning" – forget it all as soon as the test is over – Critical thinking not required. Except for the kind of "test preparation" critical thinking that teaches one to spot and eliminate the obviously wrong choices in objective answers–that kind of thinking saves time and so is very helpful.

Not only is he paying full tuition to receive this treatment, but his family and mine are paying taxes to support it, too.

Very useful preparation for later life, where we can all expect to attend traffic school a few times. But no preparation for any activity of conceivable use or benefit to any other person.

Spring Texan June 28, 2015 at 8:07 am

Good story. What a horrible rip-off!

P. Fitzsimon June 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I read recently that the business establishment viewed the most important contribution of colleges was that they warehoused young people for four years to allow maturing.

Fred Grosso June 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Where are the young people in all this? Is anyone going to start organizing to change things? Any ideas? Any interest? Are we going to have some frustrated, emotional person attempt to kill a university president once every ten years? Then education can appeal for support from the government to beef up security. Meanwhile the same old practices will prevail and the rich get richer and the rest of us get screwed.

Come on people step up.

Unorthodoxmarxist June 27, 2015 at 6:22 pm

The reason students accept this has to be the absolutely demobilized political culture of the United States combined with what college represents structurally to students from the middle classes: the only possibility – however remote – of achieving any kind of middle class income.

Really your choices in the United States are, in terms of jobs, to go into the military (and this is really for working class kids, Southern families with a military history and college-educated officer-class material) or to go to college.

The rest, who have no interest in the military, attend college, much like those who wanted to achieve despite of their class background went into the priesthood in the medieval period. There hasn't been a revolt due to the lack of any idea it could function differently and that American families are still somehow willing to pay the exorbitant rates to give their children a piece of paper that still enables them to claim middle class status though fewer and fewer find jobs. $100k in debt seems preferable to no job prospects at all.

Colleges have become a way for the ruling class to launder money into supposed non-profits and use endowments to purchase stocks, bonds, and real estate. College administrators and their lackeys (the extended school bureaucracy) are propping up another part of the financial sector – just take a look at Harvard's $30+ billion endowment, or Yale's $17 billion – these are just the top of a very large heap. They're all deep into the financial sector. Professors and students are simply there as an excuse for the alumni money machine and real estate scams to keep running, but there's less and less of a reason for them to employ professors, and I say this as a PhD with ten years of teaching experience who has seen the market dry up even more than it was when I entered grad school in the early 2000s.

A Real Black Person purple monkey dishwasher June 28, 2015 at 9:13 pm

"Colleges have become a way for the ruling class to launder money into supposed non-profits and use endowments to purchase stocks, bonds, and real estate. "

Unorthodoxmarxist, I thought I was the only person who was coming to that conclusion. I think there's data out there that could support our thesis that college tuition inflation may be affecting real estate prices. After all, justification a college grad gave to someone who was questioning the value of a college degree was that by obtaining a "a degree" and a professional job, an adult could afford to buy a home in major metropolitan hubs. I'm not sure if he was that ignorant, (business majors, despite the math requirement are highly ideological people. They're no where near as objective as they like to portray themselves as) or if he hasn't been in contact with anyone with a degree trying to buy a home in a metropolitan area.

Anyways, if our thesis is true, then if home prices declined in 2009, then college tuition should have declined as well, but it didn't at most trustworthy schools. Prospective students kept lining up to pay more for education that many insiders believe is "getting worse" because of widespread propaganda and a lack of alternatives, especially for "middle class" women.

Pelham June 27, 2015 at 7:04 pm

It's hard to say, but there ought to be a power keg of students here primed to blow. And Bernie Sanders' proposal for free college could be the fuse.

But first he'd have the light the fuse, and maybe he can. He's getting huge audiences and a lot of interest these days. And here's a timely issue. What would happen if Sanders toured colleges and called for an angry, mass and extended student strike across the country to launch on a certain date this fall or next spring to protest these obscene tuitions and maybe call for something else concrete, like a maximum ratio of administrators to faculty for colleges to receive accreditation?

It could ignite not only a long-overdue movement on campuses but also give a big boost to his campaign. He'd have millions of motivated and even furious students on his side as well as a lot of motivated and furious parents of students (my wife and I would be among them) - and these are just the types of people likely to get out and vote in the primaries and general election.

Sanders' consistent message about the middle class is a strong one. But here's a solid, specific but very wide-ranging issue that could bring that message into very sharp relief and really get a broad class of politically engaged people fired up.

I'm not one of those who think Sanders can't win but applaud his candidacy because it will nudge Hillary Clinton. I don't give a fig about Clinton. I think there's a real chance Sanders can win not just the nomination but also the presidency. This country is primed for a sharp political turn. Sanders could well be the right man in the right place and time. And this glaring and ongoing tuition ripoff that EVERYONE agrees on could be the single issue that puts him front-and-center rather than on the sidelines.

Rosario June 28, 2015 at 1:18 am

I finished graduate school about three years ago. During the pre-graduate terms that I paid out of pocket (2005-2009) I saw a near 70 percent increase in tuition (look up KY college tuition 1987-2009 for proof).

Straight bullshit, but remember our school was just following the national (Neoliberal) model.

Though, realize that I was 19-23 years old. Very immature (still immature) and feeling forces beyond my control. I did not protest out of a) fear [?] (I don't know, maybe, just threw that in there) b) the sheepskin be the path to salvation (include social/cultural pressures from parent, etc.).

I was more affected by b). This is the incredible power of our current Capitalist culture. It trains us well. We are always speaking its language, as if a Classic. Appraising its world through its values.

I wished to protest (i.e. Occupy, etc.) but to which master? All of its targets are post modern, all of it, to me, nonsense, and, because of this undead (unable to be destroyed). This coming from a young man, as I said, still immature, though I fear this misdirection, and alienation is affecting us all.

John June 28, 2015 at 10:42 am

NYU can gouge away. It's filled with Chinese students (spies) who pay full tuition.

[Nov 27, 2017] How a half-educated tech elite delivered us into chaos by John Naughton

This is about neoliberalism, not about the structure of the university education and the amount of social courses required to get an STEM degree. The article is a baloney in this sense. And because neoliberalism defy regulation Google and Facebook were able to built " amazingly sophisticated, computer-driven engines for extracting users' personal information and data trails, refining them for sale to advertisers in high-speed data-trading auctions that are entirely unregulated and opaque to everyone except the companies themselves."
Notable quotes:
"... Put simply, what Google and Facebook have built is a pair of amazingly sophisticated, computer-driven engines for extracting users' personal information and data trails, refining them for sale to advertisers in high-speed data-trading auctions that are entirely unregulated and opaque to everyone except the companies themselves. ..."
"... Democracy in America ..."
"... All of which brings to mind CP Snow's famous Two Cultures lecture, delivered in Cambridge in 1959, in which he lamented the fact that the intellectual life of the whole of western society was scarred by the gap between the opposing cultures of science and engineering on the one hand, and the humanities on the other – with the latter holding the upper hand among contemporary ruling elites. Snow thought that this perverse dominance would deprive Britain of the intellectual capacity to thrive in the postwar world and he clearly longed to reverse it. ..."
"... Lack of education in the humanities is not the reason for misuse of the tech giant's products, as the author so emphatically states. It simply comes down to greed. That human drive to make more, more and more leads them to overlook things for the sake of making more. A class in political science or sociology is not going to change that. ..."
"... Zuckerberg and similar folks are guilty of the same thing that most people are - greed. Monetary greed is just one part. ..."
"... As for education, it's not easy to get an engineering or comp sci degree. But while you are getting hammered in classes that are far more complex than most other things taught on the campus, you do indeed have to take a variety of other non-technical electives outside of your technical major to complete the overall curriculum. ..."
"... This likely has been pointed out already, but the American University system requires all students to take a core of humanities classes regardless of major. SO they actually have been exposed to, most likely, a fair number of Western Civ, History, and Literature courses. Their deficiency I think lays more in the utopian roots of the internet and technology development of the 1990s. They have been strangely naive and ruthless at the same time, and its changing human interactions and society sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. ..."
"... Wow, if there ever was an example of why Trump won, the utter and complete self righteousness of the American liberal, this post is it. Congratulations. ..."
"... If you've every hung out in Silicon Valley with techies you'd know that mild sociopathy is indeed likely part of the problem. ..."
"... Capitalists will do what capitalists do. So ignoring social consequences in the pursuit of money is baked-in. Doesn't matter what your education is. In fact, class has more to do with their blindness than the lack of a liberal arts education. ..."
"... It ties in with what many of the fake-news-complainers are reluctant to discuss: there is an ocean of sociological/economic 'facts' that exist somewhere between 'easily-provable lie' and 'this may be a lie to the elite, but it is a true fact for the unwashed masses'. and in tandem with that: the uneasy questions about censorship that come with *any* attempt at regulating the press. ..."
"... This is too simple. The development of critical thought is the key thing and it isn't monopolized by any discipline. People without any qualifications and without much education can - and do - exercise critical ability. The problem is a cultural one. Consumerism and the pretend world in which people 'think' they can be what they want and live in make believe soaps is the problem. ..."
"... "If you have an issue with tech giants messing around with your personal data, don't give them your personal data." They'll take your personal data, regardless. Because they make money from selling it. ..."
Nov 19, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

One of the biggest puzzles about our current predicament with fake news and the weaponisation of social media is why the folks who built this technology are so taken aback by what has happened. Exhibit A is the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg , whose political education I recently chronicled . But he's not alone. In fact I'd say he is quite representative of many of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech world. We have a burgeoning genre of " OMG, what have we done? " angst coming from former Facebook and Google employees who have begun to realize that the cool stuff they worked on might have had, well, antisocial consequences.

Put simply, what Google and Facebook have built is a pair of amazingly sophisticated, computer-driven engines for extracting users' personal information and data trails, refining them for sale to advertisers in high-speed data-trading auctions that are entirely unregulated and opaque to everyone except the companies themselves.

The purpose of this infrastructure was to enable companies to target people with carefully customised commercial messages and, as far as we know, they are pretty good at that. (Though some advertisers are beginning to wonder if these systems are quite as good as Google and Facebook claim.) And in doing this, Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and co wrote themselves licenses to print money and build insanely profitable companies.

It never seems to have occurred to them that their engines could be used to deliver ideological and political messages

It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid? The cynical answer is they knew about the potential dark side all along and didn't care, because to acknowledge it might have undermined the aforementioned licenses to print money. Which is another way of saying that most tech leaders are sociopaths. Personally I think that's unlikely, although among their number are some very peculiar characters: one thinks, for example, of Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel – Trump's favourite techie; and Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber.

So what else could explain the astonishing naivety of the tech crowd? My hunch is it has something to do with their educational backgrounds. Take the Google co-founders. Sergey Brin studied mathematics and computer science. His partner, Larry Page, studied engineering and computer science. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, where he was studying psychology and computer science, but seems to have been more interested in the latter.

sWhy Facebook is in a hole over data mining | John Naughton

Now mathematics, engineering and computer science are wonderful disciplines – intellectually demanding and fulfilling. And they are economically vital for any advanced society. But mastering them teaches students very little about society or history – or indeed about human nature. As a consequence, the new masters of our universe are people who are essentially only half-educated. They have had no exposure to the humanities or the social sciences, the academic disciplines that aim to provide some understanding of how society works, of history and of the roles that beliefs, philosophies, laws, norms, religion and customs play in the evolution of human culture.

We are now beginning to see the consequences of the dominance of this half-educated elite. As one perceptive observer Bob O'Donnell puts it, "a liberal arts major familiar with works like Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America , John Stuart Mill's On Liberty , or even the work of ancient Greek historians, might have been able to recognise much sooner the potential for the 'tyranny of the majority' or other disconcerting sociological phenomena that are embedded into the very nature of today's social media platforms. While seemingly democratic at a superficial level, a system in which the lack of structure means that all voices carry equal weight, and yet popularity, not experience or intelligence, actually drives influence, is clearly in need of more refinement and thought than it was first given."

All of which brings to mind CP Snow's famous Two Cultures lecture, delivered in Cambridge in 1959, in which he lamented the fact that the intellectual life of the whole of western society was scarred by the gap between the opposing cultures of science and engineering on the one hand, and the humanities on the other – with the latter holding the upper hand among contemporary ruling elites. Snow thought that this perverse dominance would deprive Britain of the intellectual capacity to thrive in the postwar world and he clearly longed to reverse it.

Snow passed away in 1980, but one wonders what he would have made of the new masters of our universe. One hopes that he might see it as a reminder of the old adage: be careful what you wish for – you might just get it.

John Dumaker , 20 Nov 2017 18:26

Lack of education in the humanities is not the reason for misuse of the tech giant's products, as the author so emphatically states. It simply comes down to greed. That human drive to make more, more and more leads them to overlook things for the sake of making more. A class in political science or sociology is not going to change that.
Laney65 -> Dan Campbell , 20 Nov 2017 17:55
Middle and high school in the US need to tackle more philosophy, history and other humanities instead of force feeding kids test material for them to simply memorize. Then, lo and behold, by the time kids get into university, they may already have grasped the basics of human analytical skills. Why wait till further education?
capatriot -> Zenovia Iordache , 20 Nov 2017 17:34
Wtf? All this hue and cry that Facebook has "ruined" democracy ... and I see you've actually bought into it. Holy cow, who knew a few hundred thousand $$ gets Brexit and Trump done while $1 billion in actual adverts cannot elect Clinton?

Goodness, that's some powerful analytica, no? You guys should really hear yourselves ... you sound utterly deranged by this Trump thing!

Rita Ihly -> Declawed , 20 Nov 2017 17:24
If we are all concerned, we can remedy 'the problem'. Chuck Cable, ( I did 7 years ago), get off facebook, twitter and the like. We are all subject to the marketing, the allure of 'like' thinking, etc. Yet we need to 'grow up' mature, and be concerned about this path. Our youth is our hope, but if they are indoctrinated and sucked into the social network mess, I do not see a future or much hope. Yes, it is all about marketing, greed, and ego. Pretty difficult to overcome. Soul searching, integrity, and sincere concern for democracy is crucial.
Hallucinogen , 20 Nov 2017 17:18

It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid?

So stupid? Is the author claiming to have known this in advance of it happening?
Dizzy123 , 20 Nov 2017 17:17
A yes...science. "Once they go up, who cares where they come down, that's not my department, says Werner Von Braun" (Tom Leher) Man kind has always been willing to subjugate it's essential humanity for the elusive goal of "progress". The computer age is no different.
Dizzy123 -> AsboSubject , 20 Nov 2017 17:14
Well, actually , they did. Slaves were not allowed to vote in the UK either. And, one must remember, it was the UK that introduced slavery to North America which was, after all, a British colony ruled by British courts and British jurisprudence at that juncture.
Dan Campbell -> funcrew , 20 Nov 2017 16:27
Anyone who finishes engineering cannot be classified as a dim bulb. It's only understood by those that go through it how difficult it is in comparison to other things. The complexity is hard to explain to anyone outside of it. Most people fail out or quit, literally, and those are the ones that at least gave it a try. I watched many such people go on to the business or other schools and rush a frat and barely study and ace their courses. They said straight up that it wasn't even close.
Dan Campbell , 20 Nov 2017 16:25
Zuckerberg and similar folks are guilty of the same thing that most people are - greed. Monetary greed is just one part. Additionally, there's a ton of ego there to want to do things others haven't done or can't do or aren't doing, but ego is not exclusive to the tech industry. They were negligent in looking the other way while their products were exploited and they hid under freedom of speech, providing a functionality that isn't necessarily tied with or promotes nefarious conduct so they aren't responsible when it does. There's no shortage of this through years - radio, TV, nuclear power, guns, drug paraphernalia, chemicals, photo copiers, MP3 players and file copying services like Napster, on and on. It's not just technical items.

It's all about making money. Twitter is sitting back absolutely loving every Trump tweet, while individually at least some or many of the people there hate the actual tweets themselves or at least think the POTUS should be communicating in a better manner and put this ad hoc approach aside. I don't know of too many that think he's doing good things for the country or world or even his self image and reputation with it and should continue. But for Twitter it promotes their product and service and stock and pay check and bonus and livelihood. So the greed wins out.

As for education, it's not easy to get an engineering or comp sci degree. But while you are getting hammered in classes that are far more complex than most other things taught on the campus, you do indeed have to take a variety of other non-technical electives outside of your technical major to complete the overall curriculum. But there's only so much you can do, only so much time and interest. You can't necessarily expect each and everyone to be incredibly well rounded without at least sacrificing their ability to focus and specialize in their strength and interest. Pretty much every doctor I've met is aloof to some degree. Accountants have trouble thinking outside the strict confines of the accounting box. I know plenty of lawyers who aren't great with technology or computers. And few people in those professions that are also incredibly versed in the things the author mentions. Few have time to be once life and family kicks in.

ChinaDoubter , 20 Nov 2017 16:05
This likely has been pointed out already, but the American University system requires all students to take a core of humanities classes regardless of major. SO they actually have been exposed to, most likely, a fair number of Western Civ, History, and Literature courses. Their deficiency I think lays more in the utopian roots of the internet and technology development of the 1990s. They have been strangely naive and ruthless at the same time, and its changing human interactions and society sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.
Dan Campbell -> LuvvleeJubblee , 20 Nov 2017 15:44
He said he was "half educated" not because he finished only half of his comp sci degree (or even psychology) but because he wasn't educated in other subjects that may have given him insight into human behavior and sociology. There may be some truth to that but it seems kind of a stretch since pretty much most people are as he describes; he just seems to be picking on Zuckerberg since he developed something with such huge influence and is now on the hot seat for being at least naive if not deliberately looking the other way while his platform was used in ways he probably didn't envision or want but made them a ton of money. Most people aren't really that educated or versed in the things the author mentions, and that includes many people outside of the tech industry who could never accomplish what Zuckerberg or others have accomplished.
funcrew , 20 Nov 2017 15:26
A 4-year engineering degree already takes 5 years to complete (at least for a dim bulb like myself). We already have to take a bunch of non-technical social science, history, and English "core" classes.
David -> LuvvleeJubblee , 20 Nov 2017 15:23
Way to miss the point. Zuckerberg is poorly educated in understanding human behavior. I could've told these tech yokels exactly what was becoming of their practices.
Declawed -> Tersena , 20 Nov 2017 15:21

It's no coincidence that the people I know who eschew things like Twitter and Facebook are the techy people who can remember the internet in the good ol' days when the maxim was "don't tell anyone anything about anything".

God, I remember that feeling. Still on a modem and proudly watching people excitedly get into the Internet. And then I watched on in utter horror as they give away their real names. I didn't understand why people didn't understand. You can discard a mask - you can't discard your face!
uberkunst -> capatriot , 20 Nov 2017 14:59
And you fail to realize that your existence is not, never has and never will be an island that removes you from the rest of humanity. It is irrelevant to the rest of us if you volunteer to be ignorant of the rest of us, and yet you think that only if everyone else was like you the problem would be solved.

Sorry but, our existence is inherently governed by the fact that we are social animals and part of an Earth based biosphere and politically that requires we show more than smug diffidence. I realise that religions have spent the last 2000 years or so trying to separate us from each other and nature, by pretending we have individual souls far more important than our collective being, but that's not an excuse either.

Declawed , 20 Nov 2017 14:52

"While seemingly democratic at a superficial level, a system in which the lack of structure means that all voices carry equal weight, and yet popularity, not experience or intelligence, actually drives influence, is clearly in need of more refinement and thought than it was first given"

Erm. The inevitable effect of connection-seeking in a low friction environment is called The Singularity and people have been warning about it for at least the last couple of decades now.

Congratulations. You've recognized the Problem. Now, if you really want to look smart, explain why nobody involved wants to implement the Solution...

Zenovia Iordache -> capatriot , 20 Nov 2017 14:43
I have a feeling your poor friends get the Big picture while you dont. Trumps get elected while you are offline. Brexit happens while you are offline cause Cambridge Analytica and Farage .. well they work hard at protecting certain interests. And so on.. is about information wars and power. And their consequences on democracy. And you might not be immediately affected If you are white male and from an OK bakground. If you are privileged and well off maybe even your children will make it in the offline bubble.
But what about the rest?
AsboSubject -> capatriot , 20 Nov 2017 14:28
The UK history on democracy isn't exactly a roll call of enlightened thinking either. The only gains were made by often violent demonstrations by The Chartists and Suffragettes. But at least the UK never banned black people from voting.
AsboSubject -> blandino , 20 Nov 2017 14:19
You are not a nice person. Thinking that people you imagine aren't as intelligent or don't see the world the way you see it deserve dieing from poverty or opioid overdoses is quite unpleasant.
rogerfgay , 20 Nov 2017 13:52
Sure, pick on the engineers. They make more money than you do. But if your half-courage took a leap forward, you'd target the quarter-educated people who are driving this because they control the spending. But then, they're also the people you're asking for a job aren't they?
capatriot -> blandino , 20 Nov 2017 13:41
Wow, if there ever was an example of why Trump won, the utter and complete self righteousness of the American liberal, this post is it. Congratulations.

You never had a "democracy" ... or if you had one, it was in the very dim past and limited to propertied men ... in recent times, you've had a two-party oligarchy managed by military-tech corporations. Oh, those good old days of limited choice and Vietnam, how can we ever go back to those, amirite?

capatriot , 20 Nov 2017 13:32
Gosh, I guess they were not joking when they talked about the "global village" ... and anyone knows a village is full of gossip and half-truths.

I feel like almost every other day i need to point out to my hyperventilating Russia-fearing friends that you all do realize that all of this online-ness is voluntary, right? That a person can have a complete and real existence with no Facebook profile, not Tweet, none of that? I'm one such person, and I work in tech.

tommydog -> pipspeak , 20 Nov 2017 13:27
Are media companies prevented by regulation from reporting "fake news". In any supermarket you'll spot newspapers with headlines to the effect that "My Mother-in-Law is a Space Alien". Now, while I'd guess that is true some of the time, I have a hard time believing that there are really that many space aliens around harassing their earthling inlaws. I'm not aware that that reporting is regulated. Are you saying it is?
blandino , 20 Nov 2017 12:53
The vow claimed by Brin and other Google founders, "Do No Evil," should have been a warning. In a New Yorker piece on tech's influence on the election last summer, a Facebook employee was quoted as saying, "We joke about who we should give the election to." It has recently come out that as Apple, the most traitorous of all the giant tech corporations that are a product of the American educational system (before it was strangled by Republicans like Trump and Betsy DeVos), traitorous because they pay no corporate taxes in the U.S., had an opportunity to choose between making phones and PDAs addictive pleasure machines or responsible news devices. They chose addictive pleasures, because it's obviously more profitable, like McDonald's supersizing its French fries and sugary drinks.

They've created a generation of Americans who will swallow anything that's fed to them ("It must be true. I read it on the Internet."). These are the people who love Trump, who don't understand or care about the Constitution or the Bill of Rights and would probably vote against them in a referendum (which some Republicans have promoted as a new Constitutional Convention). Their minds have become morbidly obese, filled with Angry Birds and empty Twitter posts that leave them unable to comprehend ideas that take more than 140 characters to express.

Such people deserve their fate (poverty, death by opioids), but it's tragic and evil that they are wrecking the planet with climate change denial (which, of course, justifies unregulated pollution), science denial (in which Evangelical Christians commit the child abuse of denying evolution and trying to prohibit its teaching.Such Fake Christians also reject most of Jesus' liberal teachings.)

Here in the SF Bay Area it's hard to avoid knowing some of these techies. They aren't all clueless about social interaction, arrogant, selfish, and contemptuous of other people--only 90% of them. The remainder scratch their heads, smile, cash their paychecks and stock options, and retire to multimillion dollar ranches to write cookbooks and make wine.

So now we have a population of tech geeks who don't know much but think they know everything, who spout "Do No Evil," while doing the ultimate evil--making a world unsafe for democracy but a pleasure palace for the rich, using a technology that is a uniquely American product of an educational system that was once a shining example and is now in shambles to destroy the dream of democracy that America used to champion, but does no longer.

It makes the coming Chinese domination of the world seem like cosmic justice, doesn't it?

McNameeRing , 20 Nov 2017 12:42
More degrees in the humanities is no antidote to or remedy for amoral/harmful tech and those who create and market it. Nor is this a problem of white privilege and lack of inclusiveness -- minorities run after tech goodies with the same glee as everyone else.

Schools and just about everyone are promoting STEM degrees as the way to a good job and prosperity, and I don't foresee anybody creating jobs for philosophers to warn us against new tech developments.

This is one of those dangers that people don't foresee. They only see it when it's happened. Now it has; depending on how bad the fallout, the pushback and regulation will follow. Not sure if it will be sufficient, though. Especially under an Administration with little respect for facts or truth while it pursues the maximum dollar gain from the government before skedaddling.

pipspeak , 20 Nov 2017 12:41
If you've every hung out in Silicon Valley with techies you'd know that mild sociopathy is indeed likely part of the problem. But the argument that it's because their education lacked learning about history or society is a bit silly when you consider the bulk of the population has probably not studied such disciplines beyond high school and some of the greatest engineers who invented or built some of the most important creations in history lacked a degree in the humanities.

What differentiates past engineering eras from present is political and societal will to ensure inventions are used for the good of humanity. In short, a lack of regulation in the face of rampant neo-liberal capitalism that has enthralled the politicians who should be looking out for the public, not themselves and their cronies.

Facebook et al should long ago have been classified as media companies and regulated as such. Start hitting Zuckerburg with billions in fines and/or the threat of regulating him out of business and you'd very quickly see those much vaunted algorithms and engineering prowess spring into action to tackle the fake news and propaganda epidemic.

LuvvleeJubblee -> Arular , 20 Nov 2017 12:40
Ahh, yeah Aruler...thanks for that....I think....!

If you read this article and his former article on the subject(a big if), then you would be able to enlighten us on exactly what Laughton means by such comments as below. I actually completed my degree and so am 'fully educated but still struggle with the logic:-

"the hero's education rendered him incapable of understanding the world into which he was born. For although he was supposed to be majoring in psychology at Harvard, the young Zuckerberg mostly took computer science classes until he started Facebook and dropped out

LibertarianLeaning -> Dylan , 20 Nov 2017 12:39

Your post referenced economics, not social issues.

It seems that once the State expands to the size it is now (~43% of GDP is directly spent by government) then virtually everything becomes political: economics, politics, social.

(ps if i've got this horribly wrong and libertarianism as a word has just been coopted to mean 'minarchist' i apologise)

I suppose it depends on how you define "libertarian". I, and most of the theorists I read, see it as a quite broad label which stretches from anarchism at one (extreme) end, to small-state minarchism at the other.

And yes, I am "right-wing" in terms of economics (though fascism, typically described as a "far-right" movement, is actually quite far-left in terms of economics, which is why I try to avoid debating these matters in terms of left/right. But when people self-describe that way, one doesn't have much choice).

So, yes, I prefer no (or minimal) State involvement in areas of the economy that it is possible to have private suppliers compete against each other. So that includes healthcare (but not all healthcare; the time-critical nature of A&E services means they are not amenable to real competition), education, and various other things most people are used to having provided by their governments.

But the "natural monopolies" (things like roads/railways/pipelines/sewers) can't really be provided by competing suppliers, so it's reasonable that they are owned (but not necessarily run) by the State. So taxes need to be raised to pay for those things.

Unlike most minarchists, though, I see outright, allodial land ownership as unjustifiable (it's a capital good that no one created, and thus no-one can claim rightful ownership). So in that regard also I'm quite left-wing.

ElyFrog , 20 Nov 2017 12:26
Capitalists will do what capitalists do. So ignoring social consequences in the pursuit of money is baked-in. Doesn't matter what your education is. In fact, class has more to do with their blindness than the lack of a liberal arts education.
Arular -> LuvvleeJubblee , 20 Nov 2017 12:15
yeah, but if you read this article (big if) he's calling him 'half-educated' because he has a shoddy background in social systems that has left him ignorant of a vast body of historical knowledge and political theory, not because he didn't finish his degree. maybe you should try reading the article and/or writing comments relevant to it...
TheNuclearOption , 20 Nov 2017 12:12
If it were the Iate 15th century there would be a similar article decrying the printing press and if the 19th, the postage stamp. Newspapers have been targeting a partisan readership long before social media came along and all controlled & managed by humanities graduates. Conrad Black & Boris Johnson hardly exemplars of a solid grounding in humanities leading to informed decision making overcoming self interest.
LuvvleeJubblee , 20 Nov 2017 12:08
In a previous article, Naughton wrote:-

this half-baked education has left him bewildered and rudderless

He is now claiming that Zuckerberg is 'half-educated'. Just because he did not complete his degree?! This surely does not make him half-educated? Does that mean that those who do not have a degree are not educated? This smells a little of scholastic snobbery from our former Cambridge University graduate and Vice President !
Joy Dot -> CharleyTango , 20 Nov 2017 11:57
it's possible. it's also possible you choose to work for dummies... raise your game
WalkAmongUs -> rahs24 , 20 Nov 2017 11:56
What's so appalling is that I don't even think they have the slightest inkling that what you've just posted is the absolute reality of these types.

They are so convinced they're right, and that everything they think must prevail, that they simply ignore democracy and anything else that shows that they're actually completely wrong.

Dylan -> LibertarianLeaning , 20 Nov 2017 11:54
You mean you're not economically right wing? Minimal taxes, less state intervention in the economy (including health), etc? Your post referenced economics, not social issues. Socially we agree on a lot, probably nearly everything to be honest - I'm all for legalising based on harm caused by drugs, less military, anti snooper's charter/surveillance, etc, but I like taxes and I like the NHS, and that is where I think you're right wing and I am left! (ps if i've got this horribly wrong and libertarianism as a word has just been coopted to mean 'minarchist' i apologise)
JumpingSpider -> Joy Dot , 20 Nov 2017 11:53
No, I dislike prejudice wherever I see it. It's destructive and it never helps.
Clytamnestra Selena Dungen -> ViolaNeve , 20 Nov 2017 11:48
....Yes, to a certain extent that can happen via reading, but the biggest check on privilege and self-satisfaction is actually engaging with actual other people who don't share that privilege. And that just isn't happening at Stanford and Harvard....

As someone who grew up both first-world-poor and a nerd i cannot expres in words how much i hate that 'the elite' keeps insisting that *the truth* about life and love and everything can only be found in a mixture of greec classics and trips to india. You are only 'enlightened' if you have the time and money to read those books and make those trips and most importantly: if you come home from all that with the right opinions about detesting money, detesting xenophobia, etc.
they pat themselves on the back any time they listen to what they insist is 'an outsider' but is just someone of a different gender/color parroting back their own believes.

It ties in with what many of the fake-news-complainers are reluctant to discuss: there is an ocean of sociological/economic 'facts' that exist somewhere between 'easily-provable lie' and 'this may be a lie to the elite, but it is a true fact for the unwashed masses'. and in tandem with that: the uneasy questions about censorship that come with *any* attempt at regulating the press.

... ... ...

ID507599 , 20 Nov 2017 11:39
This is too simple. The development of critical thought is the key thing and it isn't monopolized by any discipline. People without any qualifications and without much education can - and do - exercise critical ability. The problem is a cultural one. Consumerism and the pretend world in which people 'think' they can be what they want and live in make believe soaps is the problem.
samuelrgates -> ianhurley17 , 20 Nov 2017 11:39
Right? Wolfowitz was a student of Leo Strauss, Kissinger was a Kantian, Zuckerberg reportedly quotes Virgil in meetings, and Jonah Peretti wrote this piece of Marx-ish critical theory: http://www.datawranglers.com/datawranglers.com/negations/issues/96w/96w_peretti.html

We must reckon with the obviousness that the humanities are in no way an armor against "evil."

ParisHiltonCommune -> Uncle_Paulie , 20 Nov 2017 11:20
"If you have an issue with tech giants messing around with your personal data, don't give them your personal data." They'll take your personal data, regardless. Because they make money from selling it.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Edna Lora , 20 Nov 2017 11:18
"A "liberal arts" education is now a selling point in some schools." Presumably schools from families so wealthy, the children will never have to worry about competing with 6 billion other people for a job someday.

[Nov 24, 2017] The battle between STEM and Humanities is mostly fake. The real problem is neoliberal indoctrination -- the MBA, Master of Business Administration are just tools. Neoliberals are the ones who control everything now

The author concerns are naive and misplaced (although he probably advocated the interests of the group to which he belongs). MBA, Master of Business Administration gradates are indoctrinated neoliberals. This is about neoliberalism, not about the structure of the university education and the amount of social coursers required to get an STEM degree.
Notable quotes:
"... First off, full disclosure: I'm in tech, so I'm an insider. I also absolutely agree that tech has a huge, huge problem with understanding the consequences of our actions. But it's a little bit naïve to act as though taking another year or two of humanities classes would magically prevent tech leaders from making antisocial products. ..."
"... Trump is the quintessential Exceptional American, weaponized. The Trump Organization constructed more than 180 skyscrapers and major properties worldwide within every cesspool of political, military, religious, organized crime, and civil corruption. Trump is the toughest SOB on the planet - and the most experienced. And he's ours. I stand with Trump. ..."
"... "It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters." That was supposed to be reserved for exclusive use of the Democratic Party. ..."
"... The writer clearly does not know much about the US higher education system where engineers and scientists cannot get away without taking humanities courses, unlike the UK. ..."
Nov 24, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

ParisHiltonCommune , 20 Nov 2017 11:08

Power and influence are not just a battle between STEM and Humanities, though. You've missed the MBA, Master of Business Admistration. They are the ones who control everything now.

It may have been the case some decades ago, but now it is Managerialism, in the guise of a whole ideology that has sprung from MBA's, that rules over both the STEM and Humanities workers.

From mid- and large- private companies, to the public sector, they all speak the same language and it is the language of the MBA. Corporate visions of embracing customer focused cost control while empowering our core mission values.

Time for an article on Managerialism, as it is the air we breathe these days.

LibertarianLening -> Dylan , 20 Nov 2017 10:58

Your username rather contradicts the assertions you make about your political orientation..

Well let's have a look at some typical libertarian policies. Recreational drugs decriminalised. The dismantling of the surveillance State. Stop covering for Israel's crimes in the UN. A much-reduced military that was for purely defensive purposes. How're they "right-wing", exactly?

ParisHiltonCommune -> VermontBede , 20 Nov 2017 10:55
My recent example is saying "It's like Quixote tiltiing at windmills" only to find the others, 6 or 7 people all with Firsts in STEM had no idea what I was on about. Also saying "It's far too Heath-Robinson" had the same effect.

It does dismay me how clever many of my colleagues are, but how painfully narrow their knowledge is. They study their subject (and I suspect most of that is just for career development i.e. love of money rather than knowledge) but little else.

Our culture has a bad attitude to wisdom in general. Each generation is taught to disregard the old timers, what can they possibly know about anything?

I guess it's all how the plutocracy like it. Their media can tell us that the Crusades were a defensive war and nobody knows enough to disagree. They can continually role out nonsense about the "good guys and the evil guys" to explain world problems and again, nobody knows anything other than that.

LibertarianLeaning -> Vigil2010 , 20 Nov 2017 10:54

Democracy is a political philosophy. Socialism is an economic theory.

Socialism is not an "economic" theory. Socialism (and I use the term in its original, Marxist sense: State ownership & control of the means of production, distribution, and exchange) has absolutely no economic theory behind it. Nowhere did Marx tell his followers how to run their economies; after they'd won, the Bolsheviks and Maoists were on their own. No wonder millions starved. It's impossible to make rational economic calculations in a socialist commonwealth because there is no price signal mechanism. Hence communist countries' famous gluts and shortages.

At its height, despite the fact its economy was much simpler than any here in the West's, economists of the USSR were setting the prices of more than 5 million items, and even they admitted it would have been impossible without knowing (and copying) the prices that arose in our (relatively) free-market economies.

In fact, they joked that once "the revolution" was complete and communism had taken over the world, they'd be required to have some small country remain free-market capitalist so they could have some clue about what prices should be.

And I have no idea of who concocted the "famous quote".

Lulz. You walked into that one: Alexis de Tocqueville

cguardian -> Travis , 20 Nov 2017 10:52
I can't up-vote this enough. MIT, for example, requires eight semesters of humanities for all undergraduates, regardless of major. If you talk to the faculty in the humanities dept, they'll tell you how much they enjoy teaching there, because they get really intelligent students who can think rigorously. (And also because they're almost all tenured professors -- not underpaid "adjuncts".)

Yes, there are a certain percentage of students who meet the stereotype of being socially awkward and not very interested in thinking about things outside of their science and technology focus, but they're not the majority and are more than balanced by the bulk of the student body who could hold their own in any liberal arts program in the world.

ParisHiltonCommune -> ViolaNeve , 20 Nov 2017 10:45
Great comment!

We live in a plutocracy and we get the tech that the plutocrats want us to have. Drives on diversity aren't working because those non-white-upper-middle-class-males who get the roles, are those who behave exactly the same as the white-upper-middle-class elite. So the changes are literally skin deep.

CharleyTango -> Joy Dot , 20 Nov 2017 10:41
Sadly, most of the women I've encountered at the top of the corporate tree have either been there through nepotism (e.g. MD's daughter or mistress) or been promoted way beyond their level of competence and have compensated for that with drink, drugs or appalling bullying.
The educated, savvy women all seem to baled out long before they reach that level!
ianhurley17 , 20 Nov 2017 10:40
Harvard required class of 1964 freshmen to read the published version "The Two Cultures" the summer before they matriculated. The general knowledge of college friends who were scientists and mathematicians (and went on to become university professors) was at least equal to other friends specializing in social sciences and humanities, because suburban American high schools in wealthy communities provide a good general education up to age 18, not 16 as in British public, comprehensive and grammar schools, and because American university courses require a large fraction of a student's course work lie outside their department of specialization.

Snow wrote about the British system. He deplored the willful scientific ignorance of many members of the British Civil Service of this acquaintance. His comments were not intended for or relevant to the American experience. A bright American student, as these computer tech executives' work histories show they must have been, will have gained familiarity with both "cultures" by the time they started their college courses. Their college experiences will have built upon this familiarity.

In my opinion It is inappropriate to blame the failure to regulate internet speech properly upon the education of American tech leaders. Corbyn and whoever replaces Trump will remedy theunderlying issues because they know unregulated capitalism cannot be trusted to act responsibly.

CharleyTango -> davidc929 , 20 Nov 2017 10:35

But often the customers don't know exactly what they want and constantly want to make changes.

True. "It's just what we asked for, but it's not what we want!", viz. Nimrod. And sometimes a supplier provides a system that they say is perfect for the task required, yet once it's installed it clearly is nothing of the sort. The customer's ex-MD retires to the sun, counting his backhander and giggling hysterically. I've encountered that more than once during my career, too.
ID597727 , 20 Nov 2017 10:31
"A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention with the possible exceptions of handguns and Tequila." 
--  Mitch Ratcliffe
Themroc5 , 20 Nov 2017 10:30
So what about those teaching and learning 'digital humanities', is this subject then a contradiction in terms? Surly these divides are redundant as subjects become multi disciplinary in our digital age, each will influence the other in new and interesting ways. There is no uninventing available to us here only the effort in rebalancing in how we value what it is to be human.
Alonso Schneeweiss , 20 Nov 2017 10:25
Oh, my - technology run amuck! So what's the solution? Oh yeah - more government.
ViolaNeve , 20 Nov 2017 10:08

First off, full disclosure: I'm in tech, so I'm an insider. I also absolutely agree that tech has a huge, huge problem with understanding the consequences of our actions. But it's a little bit naïve to act as though taking another year or two of humanities classes would magically prevent tech leaders from making antisocial products.

For one thing, more people in tech have humanities backgrounds than you might think (I do--I'm a software developer and educator with a BA from Stanford and am finishing an MSEE, and I have a fair number of colleagues with similarly mixed educational backgrounds). For another, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook when he was was what, 20? It's foolish to act like you can turn a 20-year-old, *any* 20-year-old, into a wise and thoughtful human who can understand all the consequences of their actions by sticking them in a classroom for another year or two. I certainly was a moron when I was 20. Shockingly, I was also a moron when I was 22. College kids just still have a lot of growing up to do.

Don't get me wrong, I work a lot with high schoolers and university students, and I'm a very big proponent of education. But the thing that makes the biggest difference in knocking adolescent heads is exposing kids to people that aren't like them. Yes, to a certain extent that can happen via reading, but the biggest check on privilege and self-satisfaction is actually engaging with actual other people who don't share that privilege. And that just isn't happening at Stanford and Harvard.

I'm white and the child of college-educated parents; at Stanford I still felt out of place, weird, and poor. I was surrounded by people who went to skiing in Switzerland at Christmas and had boats; it wasn't a world I was familiar with or understood. That effect is only magnified for kids of color or from more marginalized backgrounds, sprinkled lightly across classrooms that are overwhelmingly white and privileged. The idea that a white, middle-class kid -- even a gay female kid like me -- would be right near the bottom of the privilege scale I think tells you just about everything about that university culture that you need to know.

What's happening in tech is part of the sickness of our entire social and economic system; it's a toxic mixture of privilege perpetuating privilege, in terms of race and class and gender and money and access. Tech doesn't create antisocial products by itself. Having a lot of rich white kids sitting around discussing Plato in a classroom might make them more well-rounded on paper, but if you then still funnel them then into a money sea dominated by bro culture and VCs, with no necessity or encouragement to engage with people who live outside that bubble, you're still going to get people who are shocked, shocked!! to learn that their products have negative consequences for the lives of the people on the other side of the screen. Lots of *workers* in tech do partially bridge that gap, in one way or another. But the people at the top, making the decisions, are selected overwhelmingly by being white dudes who fit the "poorly socialized iconoclast" mold that VCs understand and then massively isolated by the enormous *heaps of cash* that investors have thrown at them to make something the investors think will get them the best return on their investment. *No part* of that is good for society writ large, beginning to end, in very large part because investors have no reason to care what happens to anyone else.

Here's an example! At this stage, anyone in tech who doesn't think that they're working on making every worker in the world, *including themselves*, obsolete, is deluding themselves. But most of us *do* know that and keep showing up for work, because we don't know any other way of paying our bills. We know that social and political action is needed, a lot of us are agitating for precisely that, but we can't do it on our own, and we have a pretty realistic idea about what kind of future lies for us and our families if we just decide to walk away from the industry. I'm a little too old to really be a millennial, but this is the rock and the hard place, for people even 3 years younger than I am, who graduated from college just in time for the crash: if you're in tech, you're keeping your head above water, barely. If you're not, you're working constantly with no benefits or security, just so you can live with your parents and form a punchline about avocados.

If you want to check tech, you need *political will.* You have to check the money, because it's never going to check itself. And if you want to make Silicon Valley actually become capable of making the utopian tech it likes to believe it can produce, it also wouldn't hurt to check the *overwhelming* bias in tech hiring and in elite education towards people who are white, privileged, and just like everybody else who's already there.

Peter Cini -> phubar , 20 Nov 2017 10:01
No obligation to vote for the array of muts on the ballot. The last guy I voted for is Nader and he was kicked off the ballot in the 2004v election
Bill Longenecker -> toomuch9 , 20 Nov 2017 10:00
I once met a man in a Texas prison who was incarcerated for programming a banks software to divert small fractions of (rounded off) pennies to his personal account. Those added up fast enough to get noticed.
Uncle Al Schwartz , 20 Nov 2017 10:00
Trump is the quintessential Exceptional American, weaponized. The Trump Organization constructed more than 180 skyscrapers and major properties worldwide within every cesspool of political, military, religious, organized crime, and civil corruption. Trump is the toughest SOB on the planet - and the most experienced. And he's ours. I stand with Trump.
Vigil2010 -> LibertarianLeaning , 20 Nov 2017 09:55
Democracy is a political philosophy. Socialism is an economic theory. The two are not mutually exclusive. And I have no idea of who concocted the "famous quote".
VermontBede , 20 Nov 2017 09:48
When you refer to someone as "Machiavellian" does an engineer understand? In the US there used to be a required college course entitled "The History of Western Civilization". It formed a common bond somewhat like serving in the military.
LibertarianLeaning , 20 Nov 2017 09:43

"a liberal arts major familiar with works like Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, or even the work of ancient Greek historians, might have been able to recognise much sooner the potential for the 'tyranny of the majority' or other disconcerting sociological phenomena that are embedded into the very nature of today's social media platforms..."

Such a person would most have likely held their nose and voted for Trump, knowing the appalling damage Hillary had done during her tenure in the State department.

The usual Graun assumption that it's only ignorance or selfishness that makes people eschew Leftists and their policies.

Sorry. Progressives are actually more ignorant about politics, economics and history, in my experience. I'm not "right-wing" myself but far more of my right-leaning friends are likely to know who de Tocqueville was and what he wrote than my Lefty friends.

And most of them will know this rather famous quote:

"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

Mirelle , 20 Nov 2017 09:37
Up to a point, Lord Copper.

The old "two cultures debate", which in my student days was conducted between FR Leavis and CP Snow, has not advanced very far. There is certainly something in it, but I suspect that the intellectuals of the sixteenth century, most of whom could be found in monasteries, complained that Gutenberg would never have pressed ahead so carelessly with printing using moveable type if he had had a proper grounding in Rhetoric and in Theology, instead of blacksmithing and goldsmithing...

After all... we went from Gutenberg printing in Strasbourg in 1445 to Martin Luther printing his 95 Theses in 1522...

I think we are seeing a similar democratisation of information today.

We can no more put the genie back in the bottle than could Sir Thomas More. If Zuckerberg, Page and Brin had not invented their money machines, someone else might have done so.

The only political leader who is actively trying to control the genie is Xi Jinping, and he may not be entirely successful in keeping up the Great Firewall of China.

I think we have to ride the wave, and keep in mind that political power itself is a matter of technology, as I am sure Marshal McLuhan would point out.

The Great Dictators of the last century were creatures of the radio and the cinema, which allowed them a one sided conversation with every household and made them bestride the silver screen.

Television replaced radio and cinema and with its more domestic scale it cut the monsters down to size and promoted democracy.

The social media have galvanised authoritarianism at the moment, but the wheels will continue to turn..

HiramsMaxim , 20 Nov 2017 09:34
Old model: People who disagree with me are wrong.

New Model: People who disagree with me are stupid.

Oh, and a column in The Guardian defending Mill's On Liberty ? Priceless.

By the way, the entire premise of the column is flawed. Harvard, like all US colleges, has requirements that students take classes outside their major, including humanities. My tech prowess allowed to me find that out. :)

rahs24 , 20 Nov 2017 09:31
Translation/TL;DR version:
> Trump won despite the amount of shameless fear-mongering and short-selling we in the MSM did for Hillary and Dems.
> Tech companies did not do their part in preventing Trump victory by actively censoring everyone WE disagree with.
> We need OUR (SJW/Humanities/Marxist/LiberalArts) people to MANAGE/WATCHOVER these tech guys.
> Guys like Zucker/Brin/Page are not essentially evil, they are just not educate ENOUGH in SJW/Marxist agenda.
> Guys like Thiel are pure evil.
> WE KNOW BEST, hence, we must be allowed to control and manipulate what people think and how they act.
JayThomas , 20 Nov 2017 09:30

So what else could explain the astonishing naivety of the tech crowd? My hunch is it has something to do with their educational backgrounds. Take the Google co-founders. Sergey Brin studied mathematics and computer science. His partner, Larry Page, studied engineering and computer science. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, where he was studying psychology and computer science, but seems to have been more interested in the latter.

Science should left in the hands of the political elite, who know what's best for the people.

Buck Brogan -> AVBrown , 20 Nov 2017 09:28
People need not be good at math to know when a politician is lying. By the humanities, they know a politician is lying because their lips are moving. lol
Joe Applegate , 20 Nov 2017 09:23
Every click we make, we are being gamed. We know it. And so we are partly to blame.
Art Glick -> griz326 , 20 Nov 2017 09:11
Head transplants? What news have you been watching?
fortysomethingpa , 20 Nov 2017 09:07
Said this before in a reply: Isn't there some responsibility on the part of the Humanities to give a more accurate portrayal of history and society? For example, shouldn't we all be well aware that the success of these tech giants is built on state-funded innovation? Shouldn't we all be less blind to how markets work? A stronger left might provide a clearer vision of how power works, but we have been silencing that hard left for years.
fortysomethingpa -> HardWater , 20 Nov 2017 09:03
Agree. But how about the fact that many educated people do not know that much of the technology and innovation behind this wealth was state-funded and not "sexy" Isn't it the job of the liberal arts - history, sociology, government classes to address the role of the state in innovation? We are blinded by a worshipful attitude toward the market. Without a strong left it seems we have lost sight of reality. Isn't this partially the fault of Humanities departments?
LibertineUSA , 20 Nov 2017 09:03
Normally I don't single out greedy business leaders to take the blame for society's woes. It is the fault of our political leaders for allowing them to damage society in their chase for the almighty dollar (or billions of them)...Libertarians, conservatives and centrist Dems to be exact.

But in this case I think the criticism is spot on since these tech nerds keep on claiming their products will make the country and world a better place. Time to kill the meme that capitalists and business people are bested suited morally to lead the world in the 21st Century.

Joy Dot -> JumpingSpider , 20 Nov 2017 09:02
as men have ignored their own unpleasant prejudice for EVER i have no doubt it'll be easy for you to ignore mine

both are a factor. main obstacle here and now being the appalling behaviour of the low-road lesser half

JayThomas , 20 Nov 2017 08:59

"It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters." That was supposed to be reserved for exclusive use of the Democratic Party.

fortysomethingpa -> Gwyndaf , 20 Nov 2017 08:56
One of the changes (still happening) in literature, psychology, sociology, and philosophy departments is a focus on privilege, "the other", subjugation, the power of elites . . . So studying the humanities may involve a critique - at least a consciousness - of one's privilege. Not familiar with Snow but there is plenty of lit crit and theory to dismantle or at least challenge the canon.
threesheds -> Uncle_Paulie , 20 Nov 2017 08:52
I guess the problem being referred to in this article that there are negative implications for all of us because many people's opinions are shaped by what they read on social media. What all of us read is biased in ways that it is difficult to trace the source of that bias. In "the good old days" at least most people tended to know the biases of the newspapers and TV news that you consumed, but now you can be biased by what your friends share with you on social media, or what google choses to show you in search results but there is no way of knowing the source of those biases. The problem therefore goes far beyond the risks of sharing personal data.
maricaangela -> SardinesForDinner , 20 Nov 2017 08:45
Yes, I agree and I wasn't disparaging the STEM subjects at all or equating them in some way with capitalist interests. Both can have that criticism applied to them - for instance, historians can definitely twist facts and more or less propagandise events. Both are necessary, but I was thinking that both need to have at least a grasp of the influence and range of the other and be better educated to do that.
Alex Newman , 20 Nov 2017 08:44
Ditto bankers, doctors, lawyers and journalists.... The world (and particularly the US) is full of specialists. The author's assertions are naive and half-educated.
griz326 , 20 Nov 2017 08:41
Nonsense! You were just filling your word count with provocative poo.

Every technology has a good side and a bad one - including and especially the medical arts. Consider the recent news regarding successful head transplants and face transplants; where will that takes us when humanitarian uses fail to pay the bills???

Edna Lora -> mollypicon , 20 Nov 2017 08:34
One book does not make the man. The point is many private and public schools focus on STEM to the detriment of humanities. A "liberal arts" education is now a selling point in some schools.
toomuch9 -> gordonashworth , 20 Nov 2017 08:21
Totally understand your point. As a non-tech individual who has been hostile to this massive organization of information and its consequent requirements to alter human thought and social patterns to use systems, it is certainly expected that designers would demand compliance from all parties for their own purposes. Even in the SF Chronicle, i often read quips about programmers disguising coding for their own private use. In SF some loose canon but brilliant guy was asked to redesign the city's computer systems. He had total mental breakdown and was jailed for some sort of bizarre infraction that had something to do with unauthorized personal use. I can't quite remember details. The Chron offered to the public that the City may never know what this guy designed into the systems. Bottom line was the city employees were totally delighted about their new programs and the programmer wouldn't talk. If i remember correctly he was this eccentric, well liked gay guy.
mollypicon , 20 Nov 2017 08:16
Horseshit! I read De Toqueville in high school. There are required humanities courses at good universities. And anyone can read a book on one's own time.
harshlight , 20 Nov 2017 08:16
I agree with your overall assessment of the tech owners. However, blaming their academic discipline is short sighted. I suggest you get to know some math and computer science majors. Many are well versed in the humanities. Not everyone needs a degree in liberal arts to understand the human race.

Perhaps you are referring to the culture of technology that bred a lack of insight into human behavior.

There are also people with degrees in the liberal arts who go into technological fields. I agree with your views on the naïveté of the tech leaders, but blaming a college degree strikes me as looking for a parallel that doesn't exist.

chingpingmei , 20 Nov 2017 08:02
The writer clearly does not know much about the US higher education system where engineers and scientists cannot get away without taking humanities courses, unlike the UK.
Joseph_Ryan , 20 Nov 2017 08:02
I would say that a deep study of the humanities can impart the kind of pessimism about human nature that animated Madison, Jefferson and the other Framers of the Constitution. Their pessimism, unlike the unrestrained optimism of their counterparts in France, is what enabled this country to be one of the few to survive a revolution without descending into mass murder and tyranny. But given their fundamental pessimism, the founders of this country would probably be surprised that the governmental structure they designed had endured this long.
Uncle_Paulie , 20 Nov 2017 08:00
Many of today's 'tech-elite' are sons of rich, establishment types who only have one interest: making more money. By the time reports leek this appear, they already have a private island and a few billion in the bank. If you have an issue with tech giants messing around with your personal data, don't give them your personal data.
gitsumomma , 20 Nov 2017 07:55
I would like to congratulate the vast majority of the people posting here on producing possibly the most thoughtful and considered set of comments I have read on a Guardian Article.

I will give the Article credit for stimulating the debate but I do think the discussion BTL has been far more interesting than the original.

richardmuu -> Alison Cartwright , 20 Nov 2017 07:48
Alison I agree, but because the number of arts and sciences students is declining, arts and sciences faculty try to isolate integrated studies (often called general studies or, at my university, the core curriculum) from professional studies. They do this to try to save their jobs so it's understandable. The end results are sporadic, half-hearted attempts at integration that don't exactly foster aha moments. Rather they cultivate thinking such as we see in this article.
Mujokan -> worried , 20 Nov 2017 07:46
The original backers of the "wired" world (such as Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly who founded Wired, but one could list dozens of tech legends) were utopian thinkers who were very well versed in history and philosophy. Unfortunately but probably inevitably, the whole thing was corrupted by corporations as it became part of mainstream consumer society.

[Nov 22, 2017] Philadelphia Fed Study Debunks Main Argument for Student Debt Slavery

Financial ignorance of students is a big problem. Big fiancne in the USA is predatory and hunts for weaklings and incompetent to exploit them. In a very sophisticated ways. So a reasonable assumption would be that the US students is a prey hunted by large financial predators including neoliberal universities themselves.
Notable quotes:
"... They are financially ignorant; mere babes, being unmercifully exploited by the sophisticated (emphasis on Sophist) financialization culture extant across the western world; especially the U.S.. ..."
Nov 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

I am late to write up a research paper that has not gotten the attention it warrants.

As most readers know, the 2005 bankruptcy law reform included provisions that made it virtually impossible to discharge student debt in bankruptcy. Yet borrowers who miss payments wind up paying penalty interest rates, with the result that they will carry their student debt with them to the grave.

But why do student borrowers get such harsh treatment? The justification for the bankruptcy law change was that student borrowers were prone to abusing the bankruptcy code even though they had the ability to make good on their loans. I've never bought the "strategic default" meme, which is almost entirely creditor urban legend to justify squeezing more blood from the stone of broke borrowers. Bankruptcy is a painful process that leaves your credit record damaged for years. And why should anyone think that student loans were more prone to abuse? If someone declared a Chapter 7 bankruptcy pre-2005, the court would take all the assets it could lay its hands on, allocate the proceeds among the various debts, and wipe out the rest. It's not as if student loans were treated worse than any other non-collateralized loans.

Nevertheless, the argument was that student borrowers were defaulting opportunistically. If true, that higher default level would lead lenders to charge higher interest rates to cover for the cost of abusive defaults.

The prototypical strategic defaulter would be someone with few assets but high actual or expected income.

In a new Philadelphia Fed working paper, Rajeev Darolia and Dubravka Ritter constructed a database of private student loan (PSL) borrowers to see if their behavior changed as a result of the bankruptcy law reforms. We've embedded their article at the end of the post. Their conclusion:

Our findings contribute to this debate by providing evidence on bankruptcy filing and default behavior using a unique sample of anonymized credit bureau records. Although the 2005 bankruptcy reform reduced rates of Chapter 7 bankruptcy overall, the provisions making PSL debt nondischargeable do not appear to have reduced the bankruptcy filing or default behavior of PSL borrowers relative to other types of student loan borrowers at meaningful levels. Therefore, our analysis does not reveal debtor responses to the 2005 bankruptcy reform that would indicate widespread opportunistic behavior by PSL borrowers before the policy change. We interpret these findings as a lack of evidence that the moral hazard associated with PSL dischargeability pre-BAPCPA appreciably affected the behavior of student loan borrowers.

So why are default levels now so high? Lenders relaxed their standards and handed out more credit as a result of the 2005 bankruptcy reforms. And rising higher education costs means students are borrowing more than ever.

Anti-Schmoo , November 22, 2017 at 6:32 am

Having been a debt slave; I can understand what the children (they are children, not adults) are going through. They are financially ignorant; mere babes, being unmercifully exploited by the sophisticated (emphasis on Sophist) financialization culture extant across the western world; especially the U.S..

No loan should be allowed (for children) without a course in basic finance, debt, credit, and income realities. Now retired, debt free, and solvent; I know of what I speak. Critical thinking skills are at an all time low in the U.S.; a very serious societal problem; not soon solved

Arizona Slim , November 22, 2017 at 6:47 am

What about the time-worn argument in favor of all the extra money you're going to make because you went to (genuflects) college? A lot of people have gone deeply into debt because they've heard this one. And it's a lie.

[Nov 10, 2017] annbeaker

Nov 10, 2017 | annbeaker.livejournal.com
http://bitecharge.com/play/advgram#q26 Congratulations, you are a grammar master! You have a superb understanding of even the trickiest grammar rules. Not only do you know the difference between affect and effect, but you also never confuse your tenses. You must be an English scholar because only 4% of Americans can get a perfect score on this test.

[Nov 05, 2017] Matt Taibbi Exposes The Great College Loan Swindle

Nov 05, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole...

On a wind-swept, frigid night in February 2009, a 37-year-old schoolteacher named Scott Nailor parked his rusted '92 Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Fireside Inn in Auburn, Maine. He picked this spot to have a final reckoning with himself. He was going to end his life.

Beaten down after more than a decade of struggle with student debt, after years of taking false doors and slipping into various puddles of bureaucratic quicksand, he was giving up the fight. "This is it, I'm done," he remembers thinking. "I sat there and just sort of felt like I'm going to take my life. I'm going to find a way to park this car in the garage, with it running or whatever."

Nailor's problems began at 19 years old, when he borrowed for tuition so that he could pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Maine. He graduated summa cum laude four years later and immediately got a job in his field, as an English teacher.

Bu t he graduated with $35,000 in debt, a big hill to climb on a part-time teacher's $18,000 salary. He struggled with payments, and he and his wife then consolidated their student debt, which soon totaled more than $50,000. They declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans. From there he found himself in a loan "rehabilitation" program that added to his overall balance. "That's when the noose began to tighten," he says.

The collectors called day and night, at work and at home. "In the middle of class too, while I was teaching," he says. He ended up in another rehabilitation program that put him on a road toward an essentially endless cycle of rising payments. Today, he pays $471 a month toward "rehabilitation," and, like countless other borrowers, he pays nothing at all toward his real debt, which he now calculates would cost more than $100,000 to extinguish. "Not one dollar of it goes to principal," says Nailor. "I will never be able to pay it off. My only hope to escape from this crushing debt is to die."

After repeated phone calls with lending agencies about his ever-rising interest payments, Nailor now believes things will only get worse with time. "At this rate, I may easily break $1 million in debt before I retire from teaching," he says.

Nailor had more than once reached the stage in his thoughts where he was thinking about how to physically pull off his suicide. "I'd been there before, that just was the worst of it," he says. "It scared me, bad."

He had a young son and a younger daughter, but Nailor had been so broken by the experience of financial failure that he managed to convince himself they would be better off without him. What saved him is that he called his wife to say goodbye. "I don't know why I called my wife. I'm glad I did," he says. "I just wanted her or someone to tell me to pick it up, keep fighting, it's going to be all right. And she did."

From that moment, Nailor managed to focus on his family. Still, the core problem – the spiraling debt that has taken over his life, as it has for millions of other Americans – remains.

Horror stories about student debt are nothing new. But this school year marks a considerable worsening of a tale that ought to have been a national emergency years ago. The government in charge of regulating this mess is now filled with predatory monsters who have extensive ties to the exploitative for-profit education industry – from Donald Trump himself to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who sets much of the federal loan policy, to Julian Schmoke, onetime dean of the infamous DeVry University, whom Trump appointed to police fraud in education.

Americans don't understand the student-loan crisis because they've been trained to view the issue in terms of a series of separate, unrelated problems.

They will read in one place that as of the summer of 2017, a record 8.5 million Americans are in default on their student debt, with about $1.3 trillion in loans still outstanding.

In another place, voters will read that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, soaring in a seemingly market-defying arc that for nearly a decade now has run almost double the rate of inflation. Tuition for a halfway decent school now frequently surpasses $50,000 a year. How, the average newsreader wonders, can any child not born in a yacht afford to go to school these days?

In a third place, that same reader will see some heartless monster, usually a Republican, threatening to cut federal student lending. The current bogeyman is Trump, who is threatening to slash the Pell Grant program by $3.9 billion, which would seem to put higher education even further out of reach for poor and middle-income families. This too seems appalling, and triggers a different kind of response, encouraging progressive voters to lobby for increased availability for educational lending.

But the separateness of these stories clouds the unifying issue underneath: The education industry as a whole is a con. In fact, since the mortgage business blew up in 2008, education and student debt is probably our reigning unexposed nation-wide scam.

It's a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a "big store scheme," like in the movie The Sting : a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie – sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate – have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams – that's the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He's the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements.

It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don't. "A bachelor's degree is worth $2.8 million on average over a lifetime" is how Georgetown University put it. The Census Bureau tells us similarly that a master's degree is worth on average about $1.3 million more than a high school diploma.

But these stats say more about the increasing uselessness of a high school degree than they do about the value of a college diploma. Moreover, since virtually everyone at the very highest strata of society has a college degree, the stats are skewed by a handful of financial titans. A college degree has become a minimal status marker as much as anything else. "I'm sure people who take polo lessons or sailing lessons earn a lot more on average too," says Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice, which advocates for debt forgiveness and other reforms. "Does that mean you should send your kids to sailing school?"

But the pitch works on everyone these days, especially since good jobs for Trump's beloved "poorly educated" are scarce to nonexistent. Going to college doesn't guarantee a good job, far from it, but the data show that not going dooms most young people to an increasingly shallow pool of the very crappiest, lowest-paying jobs. There's a lot of stick, but not much carrot, in the education game.

It's a vicious cycle. Since everyone feels obligated to go to college, most everyone who can go, does, creating a glut of graduates. And as that glut of degree recipients grows, the squeeze on the un-degreed grows tighter, increasing further that original negative incentive: Don't go to college, and you'll be standing on soup lines by age 25.

With that inducement in place, colleges can charge almost any amount, and kids will pay – so long as they can get the money. And here we run into problem number two: It's too easy to find that money.

Parents, not wanting their kids to fall behind, will pay every dollar they have. But if they don't have the cash, there is a virtually unlimited amount of credit available to young people. Proposed cuts to Pell Grants aside, the landscape is filled with public and private lending, and students gobble it up. Kids who walk into financial-aid offices are often not told what signing their names on the various aid forms will mean down the line. A lot of kids don't even understand the concept of interest or amortization tables – they think if they're borrowing $8,000, they're paying back $8,000.

Nailor certainly was unaware of what he was getting into when he was 19. "I had no idea [about interest]," he says. "I just remember thinking, 'I don't have to worry about it right now. I want to go to school.' " He pauses in disgust. "It's unsettling to remember how it was like, 'Here, just sign this and you're all set.' I wish I could take the time machine back and slap myself in the face."

The average amount of debt for a student leaving school is skyrocketing even faster than the rate of tuition increase.

In 2016, for instance, the average amount of debt for an exiting college graduate was a staggering $37,172. That's a rise of six percent over just the previous year. With the average undergraduate interest rate at about 3.7 percent, the interest alone costs around $115 per month, meaning anyone who can't afford to pay into the principal faces the prospect of $69,000 in payments over 50 years.

So here's the con so far.

You must go to college because you're screwed if you don't.

Costs are outrageously high, but you pay them because you have to, and because the system makes it easy to borrow massive amounts of money

The third part of the con is the worst: You can't get out of the debt.

Since government lenders in particular have virtually unlimited power to collect on student debt – preying on everything from salary to income-tax returns – even running is not an option. And since most young people find themselves unable to make their full payments early on, they often find themselves perpetually paying down interest only, never touching the principal. Our billionaire president can declare bankruptcy four times, but students are the one class of citizen that may not do it even once.

October 2017 was supposed to represent the first glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, one of the few avenues for wiping out student debt. The idea, launched by George W. Bush, was pretty simple: Students could pledge to work 10 years for the government or a nonprofit and have their debt forgiven. In order to qualify, borrowers had to make payments for 10 years using a complex formula. This month, then, was to start the first mass wipeouts of debt in the history of American student lending. But more than half of the 700,000 enrollees have already been expunged from the program for, among other things, failing to certify their incomes on time, one of many bureaucratic tricks employed to limit forgiveness eligibility. To date, fewer than 500 participants are scheduled to receive loan forgiveness in this first round.

Moreover, Trump has called for the program's elimination by 2018, meaning that any relief that begins this month is likely only temporary. The only thing that is guaranteed to remain real for the immediate future are the massive profits being generated on the backs of young people, who before long become old people who, all too often, remain ensnared until their last days in one of the country's most brilliant and devious moneymaking schemes.

Everybody wins in this madness, except students. Even though many of the loans are originated by the state, most of them are serviced by private or quasi-private companies like Navient – which until 2014 was the student-loan arm of Sallie Mae – or Nelnet, companies that reported a combined profit of around $1 billion last year (the U.S. government made a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016!). Debt-collector companies like Performant (which generated $141.4 million in revenues; the family of Betsy DeVos is a major investor), and most particularly the colleges and universities, get to prey on the desperation and terror of parents and young people, and in the process rake in vast sums virtually without fear of market consequence.

About that: Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago.

In that incident, UW raised tuition by 5.5 percent six years in a row after 2007. The school blamed stresses from the financial crisis and decreased state aid. But when pressed during a state committee hearing in 2013 about the university's finances, UW system president Kevin Reilly admitted they held $648 million in reserve, including $414 million in tuition payments. This was excess hidey-hole cash the school was sitting on, separate and distinct from, say, an endowment fund.

After the university was showered with criticism for hoarding cash at a time when it was gouging students with huge price increases every year, the school responded by saying, essentially, it only did what all the other kids were doing. UW released data showing that other major state-school systems across the country were similarly stashing huge amounts of cash. While Wisconsin's surplus was only 25 percent of its operating budget, for instance, Minnesota's was 29 percent, and Illinois maintained a whopping 34 percent reserve.

When Collinge, of Student Loan Justice, looked into it, he found that the phenomenon wasn't confined to state schools. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees. "They're all doing it," he says.

While universities sit on their stockpiles of cash and the loan industry generates record profits, the pain of living in debilitating debt for many lasts into retirement. Take Veronica Martish. She's a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. She's also a grandmother who's never been in trouble and consid?ers herself a patriot. "The thing is, I tried to do everything right in my life," she says. "But this ruined my life."

This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Five years later, after deaths in her family, she fell behind on her payments and entered a loan-rehabilitation program. "That's when my nightmare began," she says.

In rehabilitation, Martish's $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since. She says she's paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. "By the time I die," she says, "I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000 loan." She pauses. "It's a scam, you see. Nothing ever comes off the loan. It's all interest and fees. And they chase you until you're old, like me. They never stop. Ever."

And that's the other thing about lending to students: It's the safest grift around.

There's probably no better symbol of the bankruptcy of the education industry than Trump University. The half-literate president's effort at higher learning drew in suckers with pathetic promises of great real-estate insights (for instance, that Trump "hand-picked" the instructors) and then charged them truckfuls of cash for get-rich-quick tutorials that students and faculty later described as "almost completely worthless" and a "total lie." That Trump got to settle a lawsuit on this matter for $25 million and still managed to be elected president is, ironically, a remarkable testament to the failure of our education system. About the only example that might be worse is DeVry University, which told students that 90 percent of graduates seeking jobs found them in their fields within six months of graduation. The FTC found those claims "false and unsubstantiated," and ordered $100 million in refunds and debt relief, but that was in 2016 – before Trump put DeVry chief Schmoke, of all people, in charge of rooting out education fraud. Like a lot of things connected to politics lately, it would be funny if it weren't somehow actually happening.?"Yeah, it's the fox guarding the henhouse," says Collinge. "You could probably find a worse analogy."

But the real problem with the student-loan story is that it's so poorly understood by people not living the nightmare. There's so much propaganda that blames the borrowers for taking on the debt in the first place that there's often little sympathy for people in hopeless situations. To make matters worse, band-aid programs that supposedly offer help hypnotize the public into thinking there are ways out, when the "help" is usually just another trick to add to the balance.

"That's part of the problem with the narrative," says Nailor, the schoolteacher. "People think that there's help, so what are you complaining about? All you got to do is apply for help."

But the help, he says, coming from a for-profit predatory system, often just makes things worse. "It did for me," he says. "It does for a lot of people."

[Nov 05, 2017] Explaining the Spread of White Anger by Robert Weissberg

Please buy Robert Weissberg book Bad Students, Not Bad Schools
Affirmative action in education also applies to children of the elite. This is the way to limit vertical mobility and entrench the existing elite structures making the elite status inheritable, like under feudalism.
Notable quotes:
"... As the barriers between the overpopulated third world and the United States continue to be swept away, it may soon be the children of liberal upper-middle class white Americans who are clamoring for affirmative action – or at least, for less reliance on standardized test scores. ..."
"... That law should have had a sunset built into it, though. To keep it "forever" invites abuse that grows over time. ..."
"... As always, identifiers of the main murderous, narcissitic, psychopaths making this anti-merit based agenda happen is necessary. They've used the old divide and conquer strategy of group blame for millennia, "It's them whites, or it's them blacks, or Jews, or etc.etc etc. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.unz.com

Whether this anger is somehow justified is, of course, a question of immense complexity but let me offer three observations that explain its scope regardless of its justification. My point is that affirmative action and other egalitarian social engineering nostrums inescapably spreads antagonisms beyond those immediately affected by the policies. And the anger will only grow as government keeps pushing the egalitarian fantasy.

First, violating the merit principle, whether in college admissions or hiring police officers guarantees disgruntled white males far in excess of its true victims. Consider hiring five firefighters strictly according to civil service exam scores. Let's assume that a hundred men apply for the position and can be ranked by test scores. The top four are white and are hired. Now, thanks to a Department of Justice consent decree, the fire department must hire at least one African American from the list and if the highest ranking black scores at 20 in the array he will be hired despite his middling score.

How many white males have actually lost their job to a black? The correct answer is exactly one, the fifth ranking applicant. But how many whites will mistakenly believe that they lost out to an affirmative action candidate? The answer is 14 since this is the number of rejected white candidates between 6 and 19 and, to be honest, all can make a legitimate claim of being passed over to satisfy the diversity bean counters. Further fueling this anger is that each of those fourteen "unfairly" rejected applicants may complain to family and friends and thus tales of the alleged injustice multiply though, in fact, only a single white applicant lost out to a less qualified black.

Affirmative action is thus a white grievance multiplier if this information is public (as is often the case in university admissions and in reverse discrimination litigation). No doubt, every Spring when colleges and professional schools such as law and medicine mail out their acceptance/rejection letters, millions of white males can honestly complain that they would have been admitted to their first choice if they had only been black or Hispanic and judged exclusively by test scores. Of course, if the university admitted all those whites who exceeded the scores of the least qualified black, the university would have to dramatically increase the freshman class, a policy that possibly tantamount to admitting nearly every white applicant.

Second, the greater the pressure to increase "diversity" via adding additional under-qualified blacks and Hispanics and not expanding enrollment, the greater the visible gap between affirmative action admittees and all others. Again, everything is purely statistical. For example, in the pre-affirmative action era only a few blacks attended college, nearly all of whom got there on merit. Whites (and Asians) would likely view them as equals, no small benefit in a society obsessed with expunging "racist stereotypes" regarding black intellectual ability.

Now imagine that due to government pressure the number of blacks admitted substantially grew and, unless overall enrollment correspondently expanded, fewer academically borderline whites would be admitted so college life became an experience where smart whites encountered lots of intellectually challenged blacks.

Ironically, as per claims that campus racial diversity provides wonderful learning experiences, what might a white student with, say, a total SAT reading/math score of 1350 learn from his black dorm mate who scored 1150? (This is the average white/black SAT gap.) I'd guess that the white student would learn that it's good to be a favored minority in terms of obtaining full-ride scholarships, internship programs, and job offers from top firms. Try to imagine a better way of teaching about white privilege.

Third, as the political pressure for yet more diversity increases, coercion will correspondingly become more draconian and thus more odious since it takes extra effort to force employers or universities to dig deeper into a thinner and thinner talent pool. A parallel is a parent faced with a child reluctant to eat vegetables. The pressure may begin softly -- enticing junior to eat a few French fries but it will grow stronger as Mom adds disliked turnips, lima beans and cauliflower. At some point, promoting "good nutrition" may require force feeding.

I have personally observed this escalating pressure to diversify college faculty, pressure that even liberal faculty find objectionable. During the 1970s the emphasis was on relatively painless voluntary measures: recruitment committees would append "applicants from previously under-represented groups are encouraged to apply" on job postings, tweaking teaching responsibilities to attract minority candidates, or Deans providing extra funds for the job slot if a black or Hispanic could be hired. Gradually, however, as these benign tactics failed to make the numbers, the apparatchiki tightened the screws -- Provosts would independently scour the market for minority job candidates or appoint a non-departmental "political commissar" to monitor faculty recruitment committee deliberations to insure that no promising minority candidate was overlooked.

Hiring discussions were soon filled with euphemisms such as "targets" or "goals" since quotas were illegal under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Increasingly, the push for faculty diversity has come to resemble Chinese political indoctrination where even the term "affirmative action" is verboten since it implies unequal ability. At the University of California -- Riverside, for example, all candidates for faculty jobs (including the sciences) must submit a statement describing how they've worked to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in previous positions as graduate students or professors and how they planned to continue to do so once on campus. And guess what? Those who give superior answers to these questions surprisingly turn out to be from historically under-represented groups! Cynthia Larive, Riverside's interim provost, said that avoiding numerical targets "gets people out of thinking about a quota system. We want to hire outstanding faculty members who can help the institution continue to be successful and, most importantly, who can mentor students."

Needless to say, the diversity apparatchiki assume that all liberal white faculty, even those in the hard sciences, are debilitated by implicit bias so they have to be pushed to overcome their doubts about possibly hiring a black physicist from a third-tier school. At Boston College faculty receive special training through the Office of Institutional Diversity to develop strategies to promote diversity and are thus instructed, for example, to avoid "narrow professional networks" (i.e., contacting colleagues at other schools) in seeking out top job candidates. After all, why assume that the next Richard Feynman will have been trained at a MIT or Princeton?

What makes this coerced diversity so hard to swallow is that its purpose rests on a plain-to-see but impossible to express fraud -- the alleged benefits of diversity. Indeed, the elite's obsessive proclamations of this lie far more closely resemble propaganda than celebrating a cliché-like truth. Simply put, if diversity is so wonderful, and in the self-interest of universities and businesses, why must it be imposed forcefully? Surely if it was as beneficial as advertised, there would be no need for disparate impact lawsuits, training to overcome implicit bias and similar measures that resemble mothers punishing junior for not eating his lima beans. Does government and the social justice camp followers really believe that diversity is akin to chocolate or red wine whose consumption hardly needs coercion?

Now for what really fuels the anger over coerced diversity: it is one thing to demand sacrifices

geokat62 , November 5, 2017 at 4:59 am GMT

What makes this coerced diversity so hard to swallow is that its purpose rests on a plain-to-see but impossible to express fraud -- the alleged benefits of diversity. Indeed, the elite's obsessive proclamations of this lie far more closely resemble propaganda than celebrating a cliché-like truth and it is hard to imagine a bigger lie than "Diversity is Our Strength."

Why the use of the nebulous term "elites"? Why not call a spade a spade and admit that "Diversity is Our Strength" is a tagline of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)?

Why not tell your readers that, after working away at it for 100 years, it was the domestic wing of The Lobby that was responsible for getting the non-restrictionist immigration act passed in 1965, which is the biggest reason the US has become such a multicultural society?

This information would have been a useful backdrop to this article.

mr.wiffle , November 5, 2017 at 9:24 am GMT
The real problem with AA isn't the occasional less competitive white applicant losing out to an even lower scoring minority. It's the subjective aspects of AA that cause constant inconvenience, conflict and even ridiculous manipulations to level the playing field. The most recent and ridiculous example being the expansion of gender categories along with custom pronouns.
Stephen Paul Foster , Website November 5, 2017 at 10:58 am GMT
"Racism" is he lynch-pin of this massive shake-down. Proposal: make an operational definition of "racism" and punish anyone who misuses it. Suddenly, the accusations would stop.

See: http://fosterspeak.blogspot.com/2017/07/against-anti-racism-and-hemeneutics-of.html

TonyVodvarka , November 5, 2017 at 12:28 pm GMT
When I became a New York City firefighter in 1962, the entrance exam was a multiple choice test on civics and science. The physical exam was a rigorous challenge that most people would have to train for months before, for instance, to get the top score, one had to lift ninety pounds with one arm and seventy pounds with the other. Both tests were graded and the average of the two determined your place on the list. Nowadays, because of a court order to diversify, the written exam tests are largely questions supposedly probing the psychological makeup of the applicant that one would have to be an idiot not to recognize the response wanted. The physical has been largely degraded so that more women can pass it and it is not graded, one simply has to do the minimum to pass. Recently, a black recruit failed probationary school three times and was given a fourth chance. Make of it what you will.
OilcanFloyd , November 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm GMT
You are making a huge mistake if you limit the effects of affirmative action to elite college hiring and admissions. Affirmative action cuts through every level of society, and I argue that it's far more of an issue at the lower and middle rungs of society, where most Americans work and live. In many companies, this is the level where you will find their black employees, supervisors, and managers. It's not exactly pleasant to be white in such a situation, and your chances of working your way up from the bottom are slim, no matter how competent or willing to work you are. You could also examine how whites are treated in minority majority cities. Reverse discrimination is just the tip of the iceberg.

To gloss over the full scope and scale of affirmative action is to mock the situation of many of the victims of affirmative action. If you really wish to be honest about "white anger," you would look at the racial violence and rapes directed at whites, and ignored or justified, by the elites and media, as well as the completely unwarranted, unwanted, and undemocratic cultural and demographic changes forced upon the nation/whites over the last 50 years.

JackOH , November 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm GMT

@jacques sheete

Good points, js. You put a good brake on some of the arguments made here, including my own. Reality is that an unknown percentage of people who are hired by irregular means, such as crony and patronage practices, including ethnic affinity and family relations, do okay, grow into their jobs, and earn the reasonable respect of their peers, superiors, and subordinates. Likewise, the determination of quality of applicant by ordinary standards of merit and seniority can be a bear.

TG , November 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm GMT
Indeed – but be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

India has a terrible educational system – about half the country is illiterate. But the other half is still bigger than the entire United States, they are desperately poor, and there are tens if not hundreds of millions of children who have been trained from birth only to excel at standardized tests for just the slim change of escaping that overpopulated land. And unlike the much more prosperous Chinese, they speak English and there is no language barrier! All by themselves, Indian nationals could soon fill every academic position in the United States with people who have perfect test scores.

As the barriers between the overpopulated third world and the United States continue to be swept away, it may soon be the children of liberal upper-middle class white Americans who are clamoring for affirmative action – or at least, for less reliance on standardized test scores.

vera , November 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm GMT
@animalogic

I was once one of those women who were hired into and trained for a job that had been reserved for males. I was so proud, and so happy the system was changing. My male colleagues were a mix -- some supported me, some less so. But I think all accepted that changes needed to be made.

That law should have had a sunset built into it, though. To keep it "forever" invites abuse that grows over time.

Joe Hide , November 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm GMT
As always, identifiers of the main murderous, narcissitic, psychopaths making this anti-merit based agenda happen is necessary. They've used the old divide and conquer strategy of group blame for millennia, "It's them whites, or it's them blacks, or Jews, or etc.etc etc.

Cell phone aps which identify these creeps with retinal scanning, pulse rate changes, facial and body language indicators is an easy & cheap development given today's level of technological advancement. Guess who will oppose its inevitable adoption the most?

macilrae , November 5, 2017 at 2:07 pm GMT
@Nepemnr

Two others I can think of are the other firemen who must now suffer him, and the community who feels less secure (I personally avoid black doctors, sorry).

Just so – reminds my of how my mom, presenting at emergency with a partially paralyzed left arm and leg, was told "I don't think this is a stroke" by the African resident – and left to wait it out until the CT confirmation the following day.

It would be instructive to see how some of the hardened advocates of affirmative action would behave if given the black-or-white choice on a critical medical issue.

[Oct 18, 2017] Why adjuncts should quit complaining and just quit (essay) by Claire B. Potter

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The other problem is systemic. This is the vicious, capitalist devaluation of academic labor. Anyone who holds some asinine fantasy about the "logic" of the market solving the adjunctification of the academy needs to shut up. ..."
"... Whether "meant" to be a career or not, adjuncting is a career for many--and our institutions have made it that way by refusing to hire enough full-time professors to cover the courses offered. Adjuncts are being exploited by institutions across the country. THAT is what we need to focus on, not individual career choices. ..."
"... I don't know if neoliberal professors are increasing in numbers or if they just have greater access to publish. I imagine it's the latter. The take on the situation from those off the tenure track is quite the opposite, obviously. This is what we need to reiterate: "Adjuncts are being exploited by institutions across the country. THAT is what we need to focus on" ..."
"... I'm a career advisor and every once and a while an adjunct faculty person will come visit career services for assistance. They are generally completely absent of career management skills. They tend to be people who were very good at college, so they went to grad school sort of assuming they'd be able to get a job that way. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | www.insidehighered.com
Angry About Adjuncting? The radical move might be to quit, writes Claire B. Potter. 150 Comments

Recently I stumbled across an article in The New York Times about my favorite topic: online academic rage -- and whether it spikes among those frustrated by the struggle to find a tenure-stream job. "Is there something about adjunct faculty members that makes them prone to outrageous political outbursts?" Colby College sociologist Neil Gross asked.

Citing recent examples in which the most vulnerable among us have been fired for an impolitic tweet or Facebook post, Gross argues that full-time faculty members are not the "tenured radicals" that American conservatives have feared since the 1990s. Instead, he proposes, the vast majority of full-timers are "tamed" by the prospects, or long-term comforts, of tenure. Research accounts, regular raises, the orderliness of being able to plan our lives and the satisfaction of promises kept inevitably sutures most of us to civility in all its forms.

But what incentives do workers who are already vulnerable in so many ways have to be polite? Although many people with humanities Ph.D.s do other jobs, this stubborn belief that they have trained for one thing, and one thing only, keeps many adjuncts on the hamster wheel long past a time when frustration and sorrow have turned to rage. Aside from the stress of trying to piece together a career one course at a time, the adjunct army -- permanently contingent, underemployed, overworked and underpaid faculty members -- has every reason to demand radical change.

But do these conditions produce a truly political radicalism, or are they simply radical utterances that get contingent faculty into trouble and leave a system that relies on a reserve army of labor unchanged? And since people with doctorates aren't tied to a particular factory or industry, would the radical solution be to stop teaching as a per-course adjunct?

... ... ...

Academic Ranter , October 16, 2017 10:57 AM

There are two types of problems here. One concerns the individual misfortunes that plague adjuncts. Adjuncts' problems are lamentable, even if solvable, and it would be nice to see people in our society have some compassion rather than excuse their own apathy with callous blaming of people in unfortunate circumstances.

The other problem is systemic. This is the vicious, capitalist devaluation of academic labor. Anyone who holds some asinine fantasy about the "logic" of the market solving the adjunctification of the academy needs to shut up. You do terrible damage to our society. The simplest and most obvious solution to a lack of PhDs to work as adjuncts is to hire MAs.

Universities are already hiring undergrads to do some of the academic work. You are off your gourd if you think the people who want to siphon profits to the top will not try to further degrade academic labor, or, haven't you been paying attention to the hoopla around MOOCs? The only solution to the precariate is unionization and a demand for all academic labor to provide middle-class standards of living.

That means that the cowardly and lazy tenured faculty will finally have to do their jobs and guard the academy.

DudewithtwoBAsMAMFAandPhD -> Academic Ranter , October 16, 2017 7:37 PM

I agree with most of what you say, except that my experience says that administrations would rather hire MAs than PhDs because PhDs demand the salaries that align with their higher education; and, because PhDs are generally more experienced in academe, they are less agreeable than MAs to accepting administrative initiatives that are tangential to faculty teaching and research.

RBatty024 -> Academic Ranter , October 16, 2017 12:50 PM

"The simplest and most obvious solution to a lack of PhDs to work as adjuncts is to hire MAs."

This is already occurring, even outside of the humanities. I know some great instructors without their doctorate, but hiring a large number of instructors without a terminal degree does seem to go against the ideal that a professor teaches undergraduates, keeps up with the latest in his or her field, and produces knowledge in that field.

While in a master's program at a large research institute, I was given my own classes, even though I only had a bachelor's degree. I was happy to get the experience, but with my background, I probably should not have been teaching those students

CuriousHamster -> RBatty024 , October 16, 2017 7:14 PM

Actually, if you look at 50-60 year old faculty lists a fair number of faculty had masters. Masters were originally meant to be a teaching qualification, PhDs were a research qualification. The masters as a teaching qualification got squeezed out because of too many PhDs between 2 and 3 generations back.

hrhdhd -> CuriousHamster , October 16, 2017 9:48 PM

Not at community colleges.

TheJonesest , October 16, 2017 8:13 AM

Adjuncting is not now, and was never meant to be, a career. We can complain about working conditions, lack of benefits/stability, and the stress of cobbling together enough courses to pay the rent all we want (and we do) but the bottom line is this: If you haven't landed a FT teaching gig within three years of earning your Ph.D., bail out and choose another career. The person who can't eat after 20 years of adjunct work has no one to blame but themselves. Keep fighting, but take care of yourself, too.

Aaron Barlow -> TheJonesest , October 16, 2017 11:50 AM

Whether "meant" to be a career or not, adjuncting is a career for many--and our institutions have made it that way by refusing to hire enough full-time professors to cover the courses offered. Adjuncts are being exploited by institutions across the country. THAT is what we need to focus on, not individual career choices.

AdjunctNYC -> Aaron Barlow , October 16, 2017 1:59 PM

I agree. Blaming adjuncts for being adjuncts, wishing they would not have enrolled in PhD programs, and encouraging them to take jobs in fields for which they did not study (alt-ac), is a very ugly game.

This is compounded by the fact that people of color and women are far less likely to be on the tenure line. None of this seems to bother the rising tide of neoliberal academics, who almost without exception have never worked off the tenure track, and maintain pushing people toward careers they do not want to do, are not educated to do, and could do with out a PhD, is a way to solve the problem.

I don't know if neoliberal professors are increasing in numbers or if they just have greater access to publish. I imagine it's the latter. The take on the situation from those off the tenure track is quite the opposite, obviously. This is what we need to reiterate: "Adjuncts are being exploited by institutions across the country. THAT is what we need to focus on"

Michael Dixon -> TheJonesest , October 17, 2017 6:12 PM

There is no reason the job has to be set up the way it is. Most colleges & universities use far more adjuncts than fluctuation in enrollment and funding would account for.

The "too many Ph.D's" argument falls apart when you think about how easy it is to get an adjunct job. Two of the four districts I've worked in didn't even do a formal interview. I just met with the department chair to discuss when I was available. I work more than the equivalent of full time at two different districts every semester, so theoretically, one full time job could exist for me.

My wife is a K-12 public school teacher, and her first year teaching, she made as much as I did after ten years as an adjunct with a master's (except she didn't have to work summers and did get health insurance for our whole family).

We could probably fix it in a cost neutral way if administrative positions and salaries weren't growing faster than the number of full time teaching positions.

As an academic you should know that the way things are wasn't handed down by god, and isn't an immutable law of nature. Someone made it this way and it can be unmade too.

Frankly, I feel sorry for you as I do for the administrators and full time faculty who look down on their adjunct colleagues. You have been a subject in a real life Milgram or Stanford Prison experiment and took the bait

RedinHigherEd , October 16, 2017 9:39 AM

Fair warning, what I'm about to say is completely anecdotal. I'm a career advisor and every once and a while an adjunct faculty person will come visit career services for assistance. They are generally completely absent of career management skills. They tend to be people who were very good at college, so they went to grad school sort of assuming they'd be able to get a job that way.

They continued to do no meaningful career planning while in grad school, and after completing were able to use their familiarity with college systems to piece together some adjunct work. When asked simple questions such as "what types of careers outside of academia have you explored?" they are unable to answer.

They lack the ability to identify and describe their transferable skills, have only shallow understanding of what career paths are available, and struggle to engage in even simple job search tasks. These are extremely intelligent people with a huge gap in their career competencies.

I think a major reason we don't see more adjuncts quit and move to other industries or even other roles on campus is because they simply do not know how.

rob -> RedinHigherEd , October 16, 2017 12:43 PM

On the flip side of this though is the fact that those with a lot of applied (in terms of non academic aspects) work in their field often do not fair as well in FT searches. Those from working class backgrounds or who worked throughout grad school are often seen as less desirable in searches even though they are the ones who are most likely to know how to advise students on realistic career paths. I finished my PhD with 10 years of industry experience in the non profit, consulting, and governmental sectors but even at undergraduate serving institutions this often had less cache then the handful of publications I had produced.

RedinHigherEd -> rob , October 17, 2017 11:48 AM

Yeah it's a catch 22 for grad students. If they take the time to get industry experience, that will help them volumes in alt ac careers, but ding them in academic ones.

Yiddishist -> RedinHigherEd , October 16, 2017 7:14 PM

All that your comment shows is that adjuncts are easy targets, even for career advisors. The fact that you recognize your comment as anecdotal does not exempt you from giving information about how many cases your negative generalizations were made from, at what type of higher education institution you encountered them, and so on. I have not noted any defects of the type you claim in career skills, and I have known scores of adjuncts, but I would be far more cautious than you are about generalizing either way. I would go so far as to say that the ones I have known compare favorably to law students and the many job applicants I worked with as a job-placement specialist at an employment agency in Manhattan some years ago. I worked as an adjunct myself for some time, and found few jobs that so hone one's survival skills, in the employment market and elsewhere.

[Oct 18, 2017] Spy Schools How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities by Nick Roll

Notable quotes:
"... Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ..."
"... The Boston Globe ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Price of Admission ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... Inside Higher Ed ..."
"... look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers. ..."
"... It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc. ..."
"... When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies." ..."
"... Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious. ..."
"... For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially. ..."
"... Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery. ..."
"... Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath. ..."
www.chronicle.com
October 3, 2017

The CIA Within Academe 21 Comments

Book documents how foreign and domestic intelligence agencies use -- and perhaps exploit -- higher education and academe for spy operations.
Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it's not happening in the lab or classroom as well.

In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America's Universities ( Henry Holt and Company ), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores the fraught -- and sometimes exploitative -- relationship between higher education and intelligence services, both foreign and domestic. Chapters explore various case studies of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation using the open and collaborative nature of higher education to their advantage, as well as foreign governments infiltrating the U.S. via education.

"It's pretty widespread, and I'd say it's most prevalent at research universities," Golden, an editor at ProPublica and an alumnus of The Boston Globe 's "Spotlight" team, told Inside Higher Ed . "The foreign intelligence services have the interest and the opportunity to learn cutting-edge, Pentagon-funded or government-funded research."

Golden, who has also covered higher education for The Wall Street Journal , previously wrote about the intersection of wealth and admissions in his 2006 book The Price of Admission .

Each of the case studies in Spy Schools , which goes on sale Oct. 10, is critical. One could read the chapters on the Chinese government's interest in U.S. research universities as hawkish, but then turn to the next chapter on Harvard's relationship with the CIA and read it as critical of the American intelligence establishment as well.

"People of one political persuasion might focus on [the chapters regarding] foreign espionage; people of another political persuasion might focus on domestic espionage," Golden said. "I try to follow where the facts lead."

Perhaps the most prestigious institution Golden examines is Harvard University, probing its cozy relationship with the CIA. (While Harvard has recently come under scrutiny for its relationship with the agency after it withdrew an invitation for Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow -- after the agency objected to her appointment -- this book was written before the Manning incident, which occurred in September.) The university, which has had varying degrees of closeness and coldness with the CIA over the years, currently allows the agency to send officers to the midcareer program at the Kennedy School of Government while continuing to act undercover, with the school's knowledge. When the officers apply -- often with fudged credentials that are part of their CIA cover -- the university doesn't know they're CIA agents, but once they're in, Golden writes, Harvard allows them to tell the university that they're undercover. Their fellow students, however -- often high-profile or soon-to-be-high-profile actors in the world of international diplomacy -- are kept in the dark.

"Kenneth Moskow is one of a long line of CIA officers who have enrolled undercover at the Kennedy School, generally with Harvard's knowledge and approval, gaining access to up-and-comers worldwide," Golden writes. "For four decades the CIA and Harvard have concealed this practice, which raises larger questions about academic boundaries, the integrity of class discussions and student interactions, and whether an American university has a responsibility to accommodate U.S. intelligence."

But the CIA isn't the only intelligence group operating at Harvard. Golden notes Russian spies have enrolled at the Kennedy School, although without Harvard's knowledge or cooperation.

When contacted by Inside Higher Ed , Harvard officials didn't deny Golden's telling, but defended the university's practices while emphasizing the agreement between the university and the CIA -- which Golden also writes about -- on not using Harvard to conduct CIA fieldwork.

"Harvard Kennedy School does not knowingly provide false information or 'cover' for any member of our community from an intelligence agency, nor do we allow members of our community to carry out intelligence operations at Harvard Kennedy School," Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said in a statement.

While Golden said the CIA's involvement on campus raises existential questions about the purpose and integrity of higher education, Harvard maintained that the Kennedy School was living up to its mission.

"Our community consists of people from different spheres of public service. We are proud to train people from the U.S. government and the intelligence community, as well as peace activists and those who favor more open government," Rosenbach said in his statement. "We train students from a wide range of foreign countries and foreign governments, including -- among others -- Israel, U.K., Russia and China. That is consistent with our mission and we are proud to have that reach."

On the other hand, other countries are interested in exploiting U.S. higher education. Golden documents the case of Ruopeng Liu, a graduate student at Duke University who siphoned off U.S.-government-funded research to Chinese researchers. Liu eventually returned to China and has used some of the research for his Chinese-government-funded start-up ventures.

Golden is comprehensive, interviewing Duke researchers who worked with Liu, as well as dispatching a freelance journalist in China to interview Liu (he denied wrongdoing, saying his actions were taken as part of higher education's collaborative norms regarding research projects). Despite questions that arose while Liu was a student, he received his doctorate in 2009 without any formal questions or pushback from the university. A week before Liu defended his dissertation, Golden notes that Duke officials voted to move forward in negotiations with the Chinese government regarding opening a Duke campus in China -- raising questions about whether Duke was cautious about punishing a Chinese student lest there were negative business implications for Duke. ( The building of the campus proved to be a controversial move in its own right. )

The Duke professor Liu worked under told Golden it would be hard to prove Liu acted with intentional malice rather than out of genuine cultural and translational obstacles, or ethical slips made by a novice researcher. Duke officials told Inside Higher Ed that there weren't any connections between Liu and the vote.

"The awarding of Ruopeng Liu's degree had absolutely no connection to the deliberations over the proposal for Duke to participate in the founding of a new university in Kunshan, China," a spokesman said in an email.

These are just two chapters of Golden's book, which also goes on to document the foreign exchange relationship between Marietta College, in Ohio, and the controversial Chinese-intelligence-aligned University of International Relations. Agreements between Marietta and UIR, which is widely regarded a recruiting ground for Chinese intelligence services, include exchanging professors and sending Chinese students to Marietta. Conversely, Golden writes, as American professors teach UIR students who could end up spying on the U.S., American students at Marietta are advised against studying abroad at UIR if they have an interest in working for the government -- studying at UIR carries a risk for students hoping to get certain security clearances. Another highlight is the chapter documenting the CIA's efforts to stage phony international academic conferences, put on to lure Iranian nuclear scientists as attendees and get them out of their country -- and in a position to defect to the U.S. According to Golden's sources, the operations, combined with other efforts, have been successful enough "to hinder Iran's nuclear weapons program."

But Golden's book doesn't just shed light on previously untold stories. It also highlights the existential questions facing higher education, not only when dealing with infiltration from foreign governments, but also those brought on by cozy relationships between the U.S. intelligence and academe.

"One issue is American national security," Golden said. "Universities do a lot of research that's important to our government and our military, and they don't take very strong precautions against it being stolen," he said. "So the domestic espionage side -- I'm kind of a traditionalist and I believe in the ideal of universities as places where the brightest minds of all countries come together to learn, teach each other, study and do research. Espionage from both sides taints that that's kind of disturbing."

After diving deep into the complex web that ties higher education and espionage together, however, Golden remains optimistic about the future.

"It wouldn't be that hard to tighten up the intellectual property rules and have written collaboration agreements and have more courses about intellectual safeguards," he said. "In the 1970s, Harvard adopted guidelines against U.S. intelligence trying to recruit foreign students in an undercover way they didn't become standard practice [across academe, but], I still think those guidelines are pertinent and colleges would do well to take a second look at them."

"In the idealistic dreamer mode, it would be wonderful if the U.N. or some other organization would take a look at this issue, and say, 'Can we declare universities off-limits to espionage?'"

Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 8:18 AM

Equating the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses with that of foreign intelligence is pretty obtuse moral relativism. US academia and US intelligence alike benefit from cooperation, and the American people are the winners overall. By the way, is it really necessary to twice describe this relationship as "cozy"? What does that mean, other to suggest there's something illicit about it?

Grace Alcock -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 4, 2017 1:30 AM

It'd be nice if American intelligence was paying a bit more attention to what goes on in academic research--as far as I can tell, the country keeps making policies that don't seem particularly well-informed by the research in relevant areas. Can we get them to infiltrate more labs of scientists working on climate change or something?

Maybe stick around, engage in some participant observation and figure that research out? It's not clear they have any acquaintance with the literature on the causes of war. Really, pick a place to start, and pay attention.

alsotps -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 5:20 PM

If you cannot see how a gov't intelligence agency, prohibited from working in the USA by statute and who is eye-deep in AMERICAN education is wrong, then I am worried. Read history. Look back to the 1970's to start and to the 1950's with FBI and the military agents in classrooms; then read about HUAC.

Now, look back to Stalin, Hitler, Franco, Mao, Mussolini et.al with THIER use of domestic agencies to impose lock-step thinking and to ferret out free-thinkers.

Get it? it is 'illicit!"

Nicholas Dujmovic -> alsotps , October 4, 2017 12:38 PM

Actually, I read quite a bit of history. I also know that US intelligence agencies are not "prohibited from working in the USA." If they have relationships in academia that remind you of Stalin, Hitler, etc., how have US agencies "imposed lock-step thinking and ferreted out free-thinkers?" Hasn't seemed to work, has it? Your concern is overwrought.

Former Community College Prof -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 12:12 PM

"Cozy" might refer to the mutual gains afforded by allowing the federal government to break many rules (and laws) while conducting their "intelligence operations" in academe. I do not know if I felt Homeland Security should have had permission to bring to this country, under false premises supported by ICE and accrediting agencies, thousands of foreign nationals and employed them at companies like Facebook, Apple, Morgan Stanley and the U.S. Army. While Homeland Security collected 16K tuition from each of them (and the companies that hired these F-1s didn't have to pay FICA) all our nation got was arrests of 20 mid level visa brokers.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Personally, I think cozy was quite complimentary as I would have chosen other words. Just imagine if there are additional "undercover students" with false credentials in numbers significant enough to throw off data or stopping universities and colleges from enforcing rules and regulations. If you set up and accredit a "fake university" and keep the proceeds, it strikes me as illicit.

alsotps -> Former Community College Prof , October 3, 2017 5:21 PM

Hey...don't imagine it. Read about Cointelpro and military 'intelligence' agents in classes in the early 1970's....

Trevor Ronson -> Nicholas Dujmovic , October 3, 2017 2:36 PM

And behaving as if the "the presence and activities of US intelligence on campuses" is something to accept without question is also "obtuse moral relativism". We are talking about an arrangement wherein a / the most prestigious institutions of higher learning has an established relationship with the CIA along with some accepted protocol to ongoing participation.

Whether it is right, wrong, or in between is another matter but please don't pretend that it's just business as usual and not worthy of deeper investigation.

alsotps -> Trevor Ronson , October 3, 2017 5:16 PM

Unfortunately for many people, it IS business as usual.

George Avery , October 3, 2017 9:46 AM

It is amazing how many biochemists and microbiologists from the People's Republic of China would e-mail me asking if I had a position in my "lab," touting their bench skills, every time I published a paper on the federal bioterrorism program, medical civic action programs, etc.

Never mind that I primarily do health policy and economics work, and have not been near a lab bench since I returned to school for my doctorate.....anything with a defense or security application drew a flurry of interest in getting involved.

As a result, I tended to be very discerning in who I took on as an advisee, if only to protect my security clearance.

alsotps -> George Avery , October 3, 2017 5:22 PM

PAr for the course for both UG and grad students from China who have not paid a head hunter. ANY school or program offering money to international students was flooded by such inquiries. Get over yourself.

John Lobell , October 3, 2017 6:25 AM

When I started teaching 48 years ago, the president of my college was James Dovonan, Bill Donovan's (founder of the OSS) brother, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie, "Bridge of Spies."

We had a program in "Tropical Architecture" which enrolled students form "third world" countries. Rumor was -- --

jloewen , October 3, 2017 10:38 AM

When I got my Ph.D. from Harvard in 1968, the Shah of Iran got an honorary doctorate at the same commencement. The next year, by pure coincidence!, he endowed three chairs of Near Eastern Studies at H.U.

alsotps -> jloewen , October 3, 2017 5:24 PM

Absolutely a coincidence! You don't think honoraria have anything whatsoever to do with the Development Office do you? (Snark)

Kevin Van Elswyk , October 3, 2017 9:31 AM

And we are surpised?

Robert4787 , October 4, 2017 6:28 PM

So glad to see they're on campus. Many young people now occupy the CIA; the old "cowboys" of the Cold War past are gone. U may find this interesting>> http://osintdaily.blogspot....

TinkerTailor1620 , October 3, 2017 5:29 PM

Hundreds of government civil servants attend courses at the Kennedy School every year. That a few of them come from the CIA should be no surprise. It and all the other intelligence agencies are nothing more than departments within the federal government, just like Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, the FDA, Energy, and so on. Nothing sneaky or suspicious about any of it. Why anyone with cover credentials would tell the Kennedy School admin that is beyond me. When I was in cover status, I was in cover status everywhere; to not be was to blow your cover, period, and was extremely dangerous.

Beyond NIH funded grant-based research, Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, and the Intelligence Community agencies have long histories of relationships with American academia. This could be funded research, collaborative research, shared personnel relationships, or all other manner of cooperation. Sometimes it's fairly well known and sometimes it's kept quiet, and sometimes it's even classified. But it is much more extensive and expansive than what Golden describes, and much less "cozy" or suspicious.

Phred , October 3, 2017 1:49 PM

For years I have said that it is foolish to look to universities for moral guidance, and this story is one more instance. In this case, the moral ground is swampy at best, and the universities do not appear to have spent a lot of time worrying about possible problems as long as the situation works to their advantage financially.

alsotps -> Phred , October 3, 2017 5:25 PM

The key, here, is financially. The bean counters and those whose research is funded don't look hard at the source of the funding. Just so it keeps coming.

Jason , October 4, 2017 6:34 PM

Academic treason.

Sanford Gray Thatcher , October 4, 2017 6:13 PM

Does Golden discuss at all the way in which the CIA and other intelligence services funnel money into academic research without the source of the funding ever being revealed? This was common practice in the 1960s and 1970s, and colleges like MIT were among those involved in this chicanery.

Remember also how intelligence agency money was behind the journal Encounter? Lots of propaganda got distributed under the guise of objective social science research.

donald scott , October 3, 2017 6:05 PM

Where has IHE been for the past several decades? Read Rosenfeld's book, Subversives..... about the FBI's illegal acts at Berkeley. Or read this, a summary of his book: https://alumni.berkeley.edu... Or read George R. Stewart, The Year of the Oath.

In the research for my biography of Stewart I found significant information about CIA presence on the UC Berkeley campus, in the mid-twentieth century, which reached in to the highest levels of the administration and led to a network of "professors" recruited by that unAmerican spy agency.

The oaths, the current gender wars and the conviction by accusation of harassment are all later attempts to politicize education and turn fiat lux into fiat nox. IHE should be writing more about that and about the current conviction by sexual accusation, and the effect of such on free thought and free inquiry.

[Oct 17, 2017] The CIA's Favorite College President by Daniel Golden

Oct 10, 2017 | www.chronicle.com
Spies on Campus

How the CIA secretly exploits higher education

Premium content for subscribers. Subscribe Today

Graham Spanier rolled out the red carpet for the intelligence services to conduct covert operations involving colleges.

[Oct 16, 2017] C Wright Mills called the US state a plutocracy all fifty years ago

Notable quotes:
"... Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes. ..."
"... The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds. ..."
"... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US. ..."
"... They learned their lessons well after the 60's, the last time the people really raised up against the machine, so they have given us all the; junk food at a low cost, all the TV and mindless sexually charged entertainment, all the "debt wealth", a simple minded, unread, semi-literate, beer swilling fool could ever ask for. And we all gladly gobble it up and follow the crowd, for who wants to be on the outside looking in... ..."
"... There is always a ruling elite because power is the wellspring of all human actions. There is also a certain moral consciousness that many people argue is innate in human nature, and that consciousness is fairness. The fairness instinct survives where ordinary human sympathy may fail. Based upon this basic morality of fairness those of us who are willing to take risks in the interest of fairness need to prune and tend the ruling elites as soon as possible. We proles need to act together. ..."
"... Waiting for the oligarchy to rot from within isn't what i would call a viable plan. Not when there is a far better and far more sure way to get the job done. Start with capping wealth accumulation. ..."
"... With all the upheaval in today's politics, it's hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations. ..."
"... Dominance of oligarchic political power, through neoliberalism, over the last four decades has effectively put such policies out of bounds. ..."
"... The last one I recall was an article by Kenan Malik on identity politics . For what exists in this country, the UK, I have previously used the term "oligarchy by profession" ... meaning a pool of the usually upper half of the middle class, or a group in whom that group is disproportionally represented, who not only likely have a select education but who go on to become part of certain professions - accountants, lawyers, journalists, bankers, doctors etc. ... and of course, politicians tend to be drawn from these. ..."
"... Apparently we're so distracted that we're also all genuinely shocked that Hollywood is rife with pedophilia and extreme sexual harassment as though it's some revelation that we didn't know already, but that's another conversation. ..."
"... If we're all so distracted then it's not difficult for our political 'representatives' -- I use that word very tentatively because they barely ever do -- to subject themselves to the oligarchs for a few scraps more than we have ourselves. ..."
"... Limiting govt still leaves economic power and the tendency towards monopoly untouched. ..."
"... Culture is the key, much more than any genetic impulse, which is practically meaningless and so explains nothing. ..."
"... As wealth defense is so important to oligarchs, there is a constant pressure to cheat and break the law. One solution therefore is to apply the law but also to construct legislation with specific principles in mind. If the point of tax legislation is to contribute your share towards the general good then those who avoid and evade tax would be guilty of a technical breach but also a breach of the principle. ..."
"... However our laws are skewed to allowing the wealthy to defend their wealth and so a party of the people is always needed. Always. ..."
Oct 16, 2017 | discussion.theguardian.com

cognitivedissonance1 , 15 Oct 2017 13:25

Nothing new here, C Wright Mills, the US state as a plutocracy , government by the few , said it all fifty years ago , especially the economic oligarchs

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/theory/mills_critique.html

http://plutocratsandplutocracy.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-power-elite.html

imipak -> NoBets , 15 Oct 2017 13:21
I would again point to Plato. Those whose affluence exceeds the critical threshold stagnate. They have no need to work, no need to hold anything as valuable, they contribute nothing and take everything.

What is the point in being so rich? There's nothing you can gain from it, other than bank account pinball.

The purpose of being rich is to enable you. It is the only purpose. Once you are fully enabled, money has no value.

Those who are poor can't afford the tools to work well, the education/training needed, anything by which they could better themselves and be upwardly mobile.

There are some who are poor by choice. Voluntary hermits are common enough. They're not included in here because they're self-sufficient and have the tools they need so fall out of scope.

The middle band, where prone work the best, function the best, are mentally and physically the best, is very very big. Nothing stops you cramming society into there because they've plenty of room to stretch out.

But people always want to improve. No big. Make tax follow a curve, so that you always improve but the game gets harder not easier. Would you play a computer game where level 100 was easier than level 1? No, you'd find it boring. As long as it's a single curve, nobody gets penalized.

You now get to play forever, level billion is better than level million is better than level thousand, but it's asymptotic so infinite improvement never breaks outside the bounds.

"Asymptotic" is a word that meets your objection AND my rebuttal. You do not have to have either a constant, infinity or hard ceilings. Leave straight lines to geometers and enter the world of inflection points.

Viddyvideo , 15 Oct 2017 13:19
Elites exist the world over -- East, West, North and South. Question is how do we create a world where power is shared -- Plato and his Guardians perhaps or are we doomed to be ruled by elites until the end of time?
handygranny -> R Zwarich , 15 Oct 2017 13:14
Indeed; smart, intelligent, "clever" folks in no way confers any degree of civility on their "vested" interests. Manipulation and control are suitably useful tools for their purposes.
memo10 -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 13:11

Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?

The media is not a major player in running the country, contrary to what much of the right has been brainwashed to believe. It's a tool of the elite. A hammer is also a very useful tool but it doesn't do much to determine what the carpenter builds.

RecantedYank -> mjmizera , 15 Oct 2017 13:09
Rapid is still quite right... We convinced ourselves that our form of oligarchy was somehow "better" than other forms, when in fact, the end game was always the same..concentrating the power in as few hands as possible. Denial was the name of the game here in the US.
CommanderMaxil -> Elgrecoandros , 15 Oct 2017 13:08
jessthecrip's comment was clearly not calling for JRM to be imprisoned or in any way punished for his views , but for his votes . Specifically his votes in the House of commons to support benefit cuts for disability claimants. Admittedly that a pretty extreme position from my point of view, but nonetheless you are misrepresentating what was said, whether deliberately or because you genuinely have not understood only you can know
Spudnik2 -> Gunsarecivilrights , 15 Oct 2017 13:05
More people should simply look up from time to time and quit living in fantasy books. The whole and real truth is not written in a book its all around you if you are willing to except what you see.
vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 13:04
Form a government in same way we select juries. No entrenchment of the same old guard, no lobbyists,no elite, no vested interests.Just people like you,and you.People like your children.People like your parents.People like your neighbors
mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 13:03
The industrial-military complex of the 50-70s didn't just disappear, but morphed into today's structures.
mjmizera -> voogdy , 15 Oct 2017 13:00
Not anymore, as conspiracy nuts are now serving their new masters, the altRight. They joined the enemy.
theseligsussex -> Sailor25 , 15 Oct 2017 12:59
Not really driven by the oligarch, more looted. And there's normally 1 greedy bugger, Sulla or Pompey, who has to have it all and upsets the apple cart, and then you get Augustus.
mjmizera -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:58
There is never the right far enough that one can't be to the left of.
mjmizera -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:55
All the good/bad labels lose their meaning without a qualifier - for whom.
winemaster2 , 15 Oct 2017 12:54
The US and it being a democracy, the word that is no where mentioned in the Constitution is one big hoax and the perpetuation of the same, where the missed people in this country are further conned by the elite and the rich. Then on top of it all we f or sure not practice what we preach. To that end our political system with two senators from each of 50 states m irrespective to the population is lot to be desired in terms of any real democratic process, let alone equality in representation. To add insult to injury, the US House of Representatives where Congressional Districts are gerrymandered just about every two years, is even worst. Just as the US Congress in which over 90% of the people have no confidence.
sejong -> ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:50
Yet most of the media is resolutely "liberal" or leftist How do you explain that?

Liberal MSM has been emasculated. It doesn't know it's dead. It doesn't move any needles. It just brays on in ineffective anti-Trump outrage and one identity politics issue after another.

Rightwing media is king in USA.

makingalist , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
One way they get away with it is by having their own separate education system. It's high time private schools were closed down.
handygranny -> ID3924525 , 15 Oct 2017 12:47
Who was it again who said he loves the undereducated and uninformed during the campaign season of 2016?
laerteg -> ValuedCustomer , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Yes- the demonization of liberalism on the right and the turning away from liberalism on the left *has* paved the way for oligarchy.

Divide and conquer, as usual, is working.

Shrimpandgrits -> imperium3 , 15 Oct 2017 12:44
Slavery -- chattel slavery -- was an element.

Socialist, mass slavery was not.

Leon Sphinx , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
The House of Lords in the U.K. and the Senate in the US were originally there to prevent poor people - always the majority - from voting to take away wealth and lands from the rich. Basically, if such a vote was cast, the HoL and Senate - filled with the elites of society - had the power to block it.
ashleyhk , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
This is a fascinating dissection of how the "leftist/liberal" media was completely disrupted by Trump. It is a long read and quite difficult (so not likely to appeal to most of the knee-jerk commentators) but, whatever your politics it is well worth a look
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/10/what-facebook-did/542502 /
Laurence Bury , 15 Oct 2017 12:41
The human (and probably animal) world is made up of oligarchies that deal with each other. History has shown that only lone soldiers can upset established orders: Alexander, Napoleon, Lenin, Castro and Bin Laden come to mind.
laerteg -> Hibernica , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
I agree with the article's premise. We have allowed the oligarchs to consolidate power.

Why? Because Americans revere wealth and power. We have bought into the capitalist model hook, line, and sinker. We willingly elect candidates and sign on to policies that allow oligarchs to consolidate their power, increase their wealth and income inequality, pomote greed and selfishness, and undermine democracy - the power of the people.

We have been busy electing agents of oligarchy to Congress since 1980. Buying ino the "small government" con, the "taxes are theft" con, "the business is overregulated" con, the "corporations are the job creators" con and its twin the "government never created jobs" con, the anti-union con, etc, etc, etc.

Our political system would be a lot more representative of the people if the people would get off their butts and start participating in it. Our electoral ststem is open to anyone who wants to participate.

But who and how many participate any more?

When the people create a vacuum with their apathy and cynicism, the oligarchs fill it with their greed.

Oligarchs will always be attracted to power, no matter what system is in place. What's needed to minimize their ability to entrench themselves is vigilance in defending our institutions against corruption.

And vigilance is something that the American people seem to have less and less of every day.

Matt Quinn , 15 Oct 2017 12:40
Maximise aggregate happiness as John Nash suggested. Cooperation beats competition in almost every sphere. Uniting the 99% will happen after the 1% have brought civilisation to a standstill and a billion people starve.
vinny59er , 15 Oct 2017 12:38
The biggest impediment to true and real democracy is the existence of political parties.
RapidSloth -> RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:27
Denial is a powerful mental mechanism, that and also people tend to associate oligarchy with brutal, straight forwards autocratic rule.
US has a very sophisticated socio-political system that has isolated the elite and the common man through many filters rather than one solid brick wall - so people dont see it. This paired with large enough populations who are cretinous enough to actually vote for somebody like Trump or give a second term to the likes of G.W Bush makes fooling extremely easy.

There is also the tendency of treating laws like dogma and the constitution like the bible. A stark example of it is how they boast about freedom of speech. Everybody is keen to point out that one can publicly criticize politicians without fear of prosecution but nobody seems to notice how useless that speech is and how effectively the political elite shelters itself from negative opinion and is able to proceed against the public will. I find it quite fascinating.

RecantedYank , 15 Oct 2017 12:20
ALL oligarchies are bad...they just function from a different starting point.
In the US, we have an oligarchy based on wealth,who then uses their money to buy the political animals.
In Communist countries, you had a political oligarchy, who used their political powers to corner the wealth.
And in religious oligarchies you have a few selected "high p