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[Apr 10, 2015] Tyler Cowen's Three-Card Monte on Inequality Beat the Press

cepr.net

Tyler Cowen used his Upshot piece this week to tell us that the real issue is not inequality, but rather mobility. We want to make sure that our children have the opportunity to enjoy better lives than we do. And for this we should focus on productivity growth which is the main determinant of wealth in the long-run.

This piece ranks high in terms of being misleading. First, even though productivity growth has been relatively slow since 1973, the key point is that most of the population has seen few of the gains of the productivity growth that we have seen over the last forty years. Had they shared equally in the productivity gains over this period, the median wage would be close to 50 percent higher than it is today. The minimum wage would be more than twice as high. If we have more rapid productivity growth over the next four decades, but we see the top 1.0 percent again getting the same share as it has since 1980, then most people will benefit little from this growth.

The next point that comes directly from this first point is that it is far from clear that inequality does not itself impede productivity growth. While it can of course be coincidence, it is striking that the period of rapid productivity growth was a period of relative equality. At the very least it is hard to make the case that we have experienced some productivity dividend from the inequality of the post-1980 period.

And many of the policies that would most obviously promote equality also promote growth. For example, a Fed policy committed to high employment, even at the risk of somewhat higher rates of inflation, would lead to stronger wage growth at the middle and bottom of the wage ladder, while also likely leading to more investment and growth.

While Cowen talks about immigration as being a question of low-paid workers who might drive down the wages of the less-educated, they are millions of bright highly educated professionals in the developing world who would be happy to train to U.S. standards and compete with our doctors, lawyers, and other highly-paid professionals, many of whom populate the one percent. This policy would also lead to both more rapid growth and greater equality. (We can repatriate a portion of the earnings of these professionals to their home countries to ensure they benefit as well.)

And, we can have a modest financial transactions tax that would eliminate waste in the financial sector while also reducing the income of many of the richest people in the country. Were it not for the political power of Wall Street, we undoubtedly would have put in place financial transactions taxes long ago. (We do still have very small taxes that are used to finance the operation of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.)

It is also important to remember that the well-being of children depends to a large extent on the well-being of their parents. If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth since 1968 (as it did between 1938 and 1968) it would be over $17 an hour today. The children of a single parent earning $34,000 a year would have much better life prospects than the children of a single parent earning $14,500 a year. In this sense there is a very direct relationship between inequality and mobility.

The long and short is that we know of many measures that can both reduce inequality and increase growth. And, if we want to make sure that everyone's children have a shot at a better standard of living in the future then we should make sure that their parents have a better standard of living today.

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Financial predators produce nothing of value
written by RandallK, April 05, 2015 10:49

The "take-over and loot" artists of Wall Street produce nothing of value and are burdensome to taxpayers - we support the agency which partly funds the stolen pensions - yet rake in more money annually than most wage earners.
What did collateralized debt products produce? Nothing, or close to nothing would be my answer.
We not only need to tax the sales of stocks and bonds, we need to bring back Glass-Steagall(sp?) and make a number of financial products illegal.
Then there's the matter of "too big to fail and too rich to jail," to correct.

Mobility for Whom, to Level What Playing Field Where - For Winners Take All
written by Last Mover, April 05, 2015 11:41

The concept of mobility helps us distinguish between "good inequality" and "bad inequality." Reductions in inequality can follow from a leveling in either direction - by elevating the poor or pushing down the wealthy. It is the plight of the poor that we most need to improve.
Somehow these discussions never get to the part where MNCs used their newfound global mobility to pit workers in different nations against each other in head to head competition and drive wages to subsistence levels in some cases.

That really gave workers a chance to perk up with new mobility opportunities to be more productive as they earned what they were worth, didn't it. After all, it wasn't like MNCs had a lock on the market and overpaid themselves with productivity gains they didn't actually earn, instead extorted with market power. LOL.

These discussions also conveniently ignore the intentional immobility of white collar professionals designed to shield them from competition, especially from abroad, like doctors and CEOs. Cowen would rather talk about reducing regulations on barbers, hairdressers and interior decorators so they can be more mobile and productive. LOL.

Upshot
written by loneract, April 05, 2015 1:14

The Upshit seems to contain outright lies 2/3 of the time. Usually when Leonardt or Cowen is writing.

Marko, April 05, 2015 4:42

Tyler Cowen is right up there with Laffer , Mankiw , et al in his diligence at defending the perks of the 1%.

The goal is to shift the focus of attention away from anything involving those elites , typically by concentrating instead on poverty or mobility. They can imagine a system of high mobility and low poverty ( as measured relative to median income ) among the 99% in which the 1% captures an even larger share of the income pie than they do currently. Think of plantation slaves as the 99% and plantation owners as the 1% and you get an idea of what their ideal "win-win solution" looks like. High relative mobility and low relative poverty among the 99% , continued concentrated income and wealth flows to the 1%. Problem solved.

Summers is right , for once. The big action in inequality is in the trillion dollars of current gdp that used to flow to the bottom 90% of income-earners that now flows to the top 1%. Similar dynamics apply for wealth.

Ignore the misdirection and focus on the big problem : big money.

watermelonpunch, April 05, 2015 8:16

I'm not sure what that Tyler is rooting for here.

Is he saying that everyone ought to start at the bottom?
For example, someone with a science aptitude born into a wealthy family, ought to be forced to put off their education to mop floors for 2 years, to "earn their chops"?

Because that's the only way I can see his argument having an internal logic at all.

Otherwise, it just sounds like he's saying that people with various disabilities or other limitations, should rightfully (in his mind) be relegated to substandard living conditions struggling for survival with limited access to the benefits our civilization affords "their betters" ... as long as if a child born into that penury has some bit of a chance to "strike it big" if they have enough smarts & ambition & luck.

I fall back to the obvious ... that we - CIVILIZATION AS A WHOLE - NEED people operating the sewage treatment plants, fixing the roads, collecting the trash, cleaning hospitals, working on the farms, packaging & transporting foods etc., and wiping butts when people get too old & infirm to do it for themselves.
Civilization as a whole should be GRATEFUL there are those people who are willing & able to do those things, and recognize that people who do these vital things in society by paying them a fair wage.

In fact, I'd argue that some of these jobs are HARDER and require more aptitude that a lot of "higher jobs" Cowen thinks pay more out of "good inequality".

I'd like to see the branch manager at my bank try to swing the trash cans on my block like my city's garbage crew. (Or live in a neighborhood where the rubbish is piled up for that matter.)

How many accounts department managers would last 2 minutes on a roofing job?

I can think of one manager I knew at a company who would leave her dirty oatmeal dishes in the little bathroom sink all day. Under NO circumstances do I think that woman should ever be trusted to work in a hospital or kitchen.

And then the story I heard from someone about a warehouse manager who would throw fits yelling & start throwing things around when he'd get stressed out. Is that the guy you want alone with you wiping your butt in your hospice room when you're 92?

Would any of us want to buy food sold in a dirty grocery store? And how much luck is a doctor going to have to save your life in a filthy operating room?

Tyler Cowen's shell game is an insult to every citizen.
And it's a injury to every citizen with limitations whether they're born with them or acquire limitations by tragic accident or simply aging.

Richard H. Serlin, April 05, 2015 10:59

High Inequality and High Mobility = Very High Risk Lives

Well, Cowen is always happy to mislead for the libertarian/plutocratic cause, and he has to, as the truth gives no chance to his side in a democracy.

But this extreme inequality is fine of we have high mobility is so wrong, because high mobility is high chance to go up, and high chance to go down. If it's just high chance to go up, that's just growth (which is decreased when you don't invest in the 99+% to give as much as possible to the 1%, or 0.1%).

High inequality with a high probability of plunging into the abyss because of high mobility? That's just a terribly risky life for you and your family, and risk decreases utility and welfare. Who wants to live in a world made that dangerous. And certainly the high mobility that the rich will allow is among the 99%, not among the 0.1%.

bakho, April 06, 2015 5:33

If Cowen is truly concerned about mobility, he would promote policy to encourage mobility.
Improve childhood nutrition
Universal PreK
Health Coach Programs
Programs that would give teens facing double digit unemployment, their first job and on the job training.
Programs that would improve the skill set of youth who are not college bound.
Free Community college, etc.
Raising the MinWage
Less inequality in distribution of resources among communities

I have yet to see him promote any of these measures.

A little parity perhaps?
written by Kat, April 06, 2015 8:34

I just read an AP story about the plight of some poor, poor Americans that had property confiscated under the Castro regime. Congress is on the case-- after all the descendents of these "victims" are so poor they cannot even afford to repair their concrete steps. I did not see skills training mentioned as a fix for their plight.
I think if you thought really, really hard you might be able to come up with a few examples of the US government using its force to confiscate property or support the confiscation of the value of labor from a person. In these cases training is the key to redistributive justice.
And I have yet to see skills training as an answer to all the job creators who simply cannot make a go of it without subsidies and tax breaks.

written by Bloix, April 06, 2015 9:57

"We want to make sure that our children have the opportunity to enjoy better lives than we do."

I have never met an upper middle class parent who wants his kid to have "the opportunity" to have a better life. These parents do not say, "I want my child judged fairly on his merits, and if he winds up as a barista that's fine with me."

written by urban legend, April 06, 2015 2:19

All wage workers need to be organized. The elite forces have spent 200 or so years trying to give the public ill thoughts about labor unions, with but a very brief reprieve roughly between roughly 1934 and 1947 -- with Taft-Hartley "right-to-work" reinforced by the anti-union propaganda film, "On the Waterfront," signalling a return to corporate and corporate media-bashing of all collective bargaining activities. Those toxic forces are really feeling their oats right now, having even compromised the Democratic Party with fundamentally anti-worker people like Rahm Emanuel and Arne Duncan. Only the unions themselves, a few stalwart Democratic office-holders and some bloggers are offering resistance.

There have been embers of recognition that the engineered weakness of labor has coincided with -- and almost surely played a huge causative role in -- the disconnection between productivity and labor compensation. It is going to be a long and continuous, never-ending slog to start the country in the other direction. It's a simple story to make: labor union weakness = low wages = poor demand = weak economy for almost everyone, including small businesses. Hillary Clinton could campaign on that equation, even without attacking Wall Street (other than the dishonest players, whom she must make clear she will not defend), and present herself as the true champion of business because she, unlike the Republican candidates who pretend to be pro-business but actually are the opposite, will follow policies that will promote the growth of demand for their goods and services.

FDR proved you could talk common sense economics like this to the American people. Obama looked like he was campaigning on the equation, but it turned out he was only a little for it and was even actually against it in some respects. He made virtually no push-back against the negative propaganda about unions that has prevailed for three generations. Let's hope this time can be different. But it won't be different unless the people who understand the equation put heavy pressure on all Democratic candidates to think and talk that way.

written by Bob Hertz, April 06, 2015 7:45

I fully support all the posts that call for greater bargaining power for workers.

However, I do wish to point out that many many workers with tiny or nonexistent productivity gains have seen very nice increases in their incomes in the past two decades.

College professors and senior nurses and federal statisticians do very valuable work.
But most of them work fewer hours than they did 20 years ago and have fewer students or patients than 20 years ago.......yet this "EdMed" complex has had very nice wage gains, to say nothing of benefits that private sectors workers can only dream of.

If you rented a meeting hall and had a gathering where the only attendees would be those whose incomes had gone up faster than inflation, I do NOT think that the hall would be filled with persons who increased their productivity. I think it would be filled with persons who had credentials and connections.

accelerating inflation
written by Dishwasher, April 07, 2015 2:01

And many of the policies that would most obviously promote equality also promote growth. For example, a Fed policy committed to high employment, even at the risk of somewhat higher rates of inflation, would lead to stronger wage growth at the middle and bottom of the wage ladder, while also likely leading to more investment and growth.
I agree with you on doctors, lawyers, and other highly-paid professionals.

On minimum wage, to me a minimum wage is a second best solution, a wage subsidy or a basic income guarantee better distributes the burden of helping low income workers.


written by Dishwasher, April 07, 2015 2:23

Above I should have said isn't it accelerating inflation that helps debtors and wage earners and not just inflation? And it cannot continue to be accelerated without very bad consequences.

How-to guide Hardly Working in College joins Cliff's Notes, crib sheets in the slacker pantheon By Joe Katz

June 3, 2005 in Voices
As the U of C increasingly tries to shed its image as the place "Where Fun Goes To Die," the admissions pool consists more and more of students who can be counted on to get out of the library and into frat parties. As such, there are a growing number of first-years who, for lack of a better word, can be called slackers. These students are taking a bit of a risk in giving Chicago a shot. They may know how to get the party started, but they've got to get past the Core to make sure they're still around to keep it going.

Chris Morran, comic, author, and self-proclaimed "noted ne'er-do-work," tries to show them the way with his new work Hardly Working at College: The Overachieving Underperformer's Guide to Graduating Without Cracking a Book. His satirical guide to higher education offers practical advice on how to get as little out of school as you can while still managing to stay in.

Morran splits the student body into three types of scholars: overachievers, underperformers, and the overachieving underperformers. While his discussions of the foibles of the dropout-bound underperformer and the idealized overachieving underperformers will provide some smiles, it's the image of the overachiever that provides the book with its heart. His description is a dead-on portrait of That Guy, down to the suit and tie on the illustration. Morran goes on to ruthlessly mock these blazered study nerds for the next 160 pages. This joyfully condescending attitude towards the suckers who actually show up to class having done the reading, as contrasted with their craftier, party-hardy brethren, is how the book gets you interested. The author brings substantial insight to the table, hoping that putting these unspoken truths of student life in print will earn him some surprised laughs.

His hopes are realized, as page after page calls up fond memories of extensions finagled and papers recycled. Morran knows the drill on how to survive an elite college education and avoid the psych ward in the process, and it shines through brightly in Hardly Working. Mike Pisiak's illustrations provide a major boost to the book in this respect, tying the text together with familiar images of the sudden jump in attendance that all-or-nothing final exams classes receive during the final study session.

The same insight that earns snickers with its solemn recounting of the pros and cons of sleeping through early-morning classes also earns the book a spot on the required reading list for incoming first-years. Why? Because Hardly Working actually contains some useful tips on how to succeed in academia without really trying. Dedicated slackers will find themselves nodding sagely as they read Morran's advice on lecture hall seating (close enough to be visible, but not so close that the prof can tell you're not taking notes so much as checking your Facebook account) and escaping the consequences of tardiness (straightforward humility, or the more daring good-natured ribbing). His tips on how best to get a great recommendation are legitimately worth a review the next time you have an internship or grad school application coming up. Time and time again, readers of Hardly Working will find themselves either saying "Hey, that's me!" or "I'm totally trying that during finals!"

Some chapters are not quite up to that standard. At times, the readers will find themselves moved to send the author suggestions of their own to replace some of his more nonsensical instructions. In particular, Morran's tactics for borrowing someone's notes and ducking out from under the burden of doing lab work stray from the realism that gives Hardly Working its bite. His discussion of how to explain an absence from class is more recognizable, but will likely leave Chicago readers with the firm impression that the University of Virginia, Morran's alma mater, is a far different place from the home of the Maroons. The book also loses steam towards the end, as the final section on post-graduate options lacks the "trust me, I've been there" charm of earlier chapters.

Despite these flaws, this one is worth a long, hard look. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Morran has crafted a chuckle-worthy addition to the library of "how-to" guidebooks college students find foisted upon them by parents and high school counselors. Unlike some of the others, this one might actually come down off the shelf once or twice a quarter. Whether it's just used to relieve stress or to mindlessly survive the Life of the Mind is up to the reader.

Higher Education in America a Crisis of Confidence - Surveys of the Public and Presidents

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The squeeze is real. College costs have been on the rise, increasing 50 percent over the last decade, Mr. Shi said. By contrast, family incomes actually fell between 2000 and 2009. Ask young adults why they're not enrolled in college or don't have a bachelor's degree, and the overwhelming response in the Pew survey: money.

"The affordability of a college degree-whether it is affordable-is becoming a third rail in the national conversation about higher education," said Jamie P. Merisotis, president of the Lumina Foundation for Education.

The belief that college has become prohibitively expensive is shared across class and race lines, among Americans of all income levels, by those who went to college and those who didn't-by everyone, it seems, except college presidents.

Forty-two percent of university leaders, in fact, say most Americans are able to pay for a college degree, according to the Pew Research Center/Chronicle survey.

Why is there such a divergence of opinion between presidents and the public? For one, there's a certain amount of variance among college leaders, with those who typically serve low-income students more concerned about sticker shock. Nearly two-thirds of community-college presidents, for instance, called tuition unmanageable.

Some educators blame the gap on the failure of college officials to make the case about the whys of higher-education pricing. Students and parents, they argue, have a poor understanding of such practices as tuition discounting and don't fully appreciate the costs that go into a college degree, expenses that include faculty salaries and health insurance, remedial-writing labs, even climbing walls. "If they want to buy a Mercedes-Benz," said Stephen J. Trachtenberg, a former president of George Washington University, "we need to say why it costs more than a cheaper vehicle."

Others say that, despite their complaints about the price tag, the public gets it. In the Pew survey, 84 percent of two- and four-year college graduates deemed their degree a good investment; nearly everyone said they expected their child to get a college education. Meanwhile, enrollments in higher education are at record levels.

"People keep voting with their feet and their wallets to attend college," said Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond.

Real-World Relevancy

The question that remains, of course, is will they continue to do so?

Among the warning signs, a quarter of college graduates who earn less than $50,000 a year now say their degree was a bad bargain. A number of presidents say they have begun to see a trend of "trading down," of price-sensitive students and parents opting for more affordable institutions, such as community colleges or local public universities. They worry: Could some of those students opt out of higher education altogether?

One key factor, especially as the country remains in an economic hangover, is whether the public sees real-world benefit in a college degree, said Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability & Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University. "The piece of paper has to have more than just symbolic value," he says.

But whether ponying up for a degree leads to a fat paycheck seems to be a little unclear, at least to the average American. While a plurality of those surveyed maintained that the main purpose of college is to learn specific skills and knowledge for the workplace, a third of college graduates said their current job doesn't require a degree. Asked what it takes to succeed in the work world, respondents ranked a college education below a good work ethic, getting along with others, and skills acquired on the job.

[Sep 21, 2012] Corruption and Privileges

But the point is, the injustices that privilege (and its handmaiden, corruption) creates means that that those advantages are not "earned" and that the playing field is not level and the game is rigged in the favor of those already rich (use whatever sports cliche you want). Writes Sawicky, "Of course, it is predatory power and privilege that are the real sources of redistribution, against merit and without regard to social justice. The secret of corruption is the talent for credibly accusing your victims of your crimes."

Prestige factories

As economist Max Sawicky writes today in this post,

"We are not living under meritocracy. Merit is substantially compromised by privilege. Privilege derives from wealth, race, and gender. It biases decisions in college admissions, employment, housing, political appointments, and credit allocation. It reduces economic efficiency and growth because a biased decision entails waste of real resources."

Nowhere is elitism in America more firmly entrenched than in its prestigious colleges, which exist by and large to facilitate the networks between the children of the wealthy and powerful. This is the whole point of legacy admissions at Ivy League schools and their counterparts, and of the shadowy admission process that factors in such subjective criteria as "character" and "fitness." These were codes for keeping undesirable Jews out for much of the 20th century and they are alleged to exist to cap the number of ambitious Asians in various pseudo-meritocratic institutions-you know America, the land of equal opportunity. (It would even more scandalous if things were generally more fair elsewhere, I suppose. Like they say about capitalism, the worst economic system except for all the others.)

BusinessWeek recently profiled new Amherst College president Tony Marx, who's mission it is to try to reverse the concentration of elite higher education at the top of the income-bracket hierarchy. He has the usual proposals-set-asides for the poor with corresponding lowering of standards to make up for the deificent education the poor have already received by the time they are going to apply to colleges. Herein lies his main problem-the differences in the habitus of rich and poor has already become entrenched by age 18, and the intelligent poor kids need to be retrained, in some ways, in their entire approach to life.

Professors, those left-wing cabalists, actually resent the kind of affirmative action that brings more lower-class kids to their classrooms because it means more work for them with no corresponding increase in pay (i.e. it exposes themselves as class enemies of the proletariet, despite whatever fantasies they may have about being fellow travelers). From the article:

"Professors fear that since many low-income students, however smart, come from inferior high schools, they will require a lot of help to get up to speed in writing, math, and science. 'Because most professors are not fully equipped to handle this, there will be a big debate about how far to go,'

predicts veteran English professor Barry O'Connell, an ardent Marx supporter.

" In this way professors, far from the liberals they may think they are, are actually acting in the interests of those deeply conservative forces that seek to keep social capital and intellectual capital, concentrated in the upper classes. They couch their indignation in arguments over objective standards and maintaining the "intellectual quality" of their college, but in the end, this is less about educational standards than it is about effort (not wanting to help ill-equipped kids), comfort (not wanting to deal with class tensions on campus) and prestige (the ego boost of seeing students proceed to positions of power already prepared for them, more or less from birth; the pleasure of teaching at one of U.S. News and World Report's top schools). In my sojourn in academia, I was kind of shocked by the pettiness, the egotism, the misplaced priorities, the bad faith. Again, I suppose if it weren't that way in all professions, it would be more of scandal in secondary education.

Since the problem begins with the formation of habitus in chilhood which stigmatizes lower-class kids for their entire lives, simply re-educating a few of them and branding them with the elite-college name won't really alter the problem. The segregation begins so early that college presidents can't really do anything to fix it. Proponents of busing poor kids to rich schools and vice versa would do much more to address the problem, but this is overwhelmingly unpopular with the people whose votes actually get counted.

And even if you could admit enough poor people into elite schools to make a difference in the overall proportions, one would only find the game had shifted, and presitge and opportunity was being minted elsewhere. Because education itself is not what elite schools are about primarily-they are about being a "positional good," being something with manufactured scarcity that makes possessing it seem distinguishing, valuable. If everyone could go to Amherst, then no one would want to go there, and no one would care if you did. It would give you no credit with potential employers or lenders or anyone else. Social capital is a matter of access, not merit, and universities dole out social capital before all else, distributing prestige while artificially limiting its supply. People like Marx want to increase the supply, but that would be bad fiscal policy. Accrued prestige would become less valuable, and individuals would have to earn a lot more of it to be taken seriously.

Ideally college presidents could shift the prestige game to some other institution other than education, and perhaps remove some of the disguise of meritocracy the university system cloaks our present social-class system in-separating the education process from the reproduction of the existing class structure could yield more knowledge in the long run-but perhaps not, as it would remove the incentives (illusory or otherwise) that drives individuals to achieve within educational systems. They produce knowledge not for its own sake but for their own personal reputation, in the hope of improving their status or preserving it. These incentives they inherit from the economic system at large. And it's unlikely that will be changing anytime soon.

-Rob Horning 1:02 pm || Comments (1)

February 24, 2006

Copyranter

This blog is proof that 1) some of the most creative people in our society are writing copy for ads and 2) this is extremely corrosive to their souls. What a tremendous waste of a culture's talent to have them thinking up ways to sell cold remedies and floor cleaner.

Most of the ad critiques to be found here are directed at ads' stupidity and ineffectiveness (and not at the noxiousness of ads in the abstract-perhaps that is self-evident), but they are probably the funniest thing I've read in a year.

[Aug 27, 2012] The Rise and Demise of Neo-Liberal University The Collapsing Business Plan of American Higher Education

The corporate business model functioned as education Ponzi scheme. Higher education paid for programs by raked in dollars from rapidly expanding professional programs and selling degrees on the promise that the high tuition costs would be worth it to students. But as all Ponzi schemes go, they soon collapse and that is what higher education is now experiencing.
Logos

The Collapse of the Corporate University

The corporate business model worked-until 2008-when it died along with the Neo-Liberal economic policies that had nourished it since the late 1970s. The global economic collapse produced even more pressures on the government to shrink educational expenditures. But the high and persistent unemployment also yielded something not previously seen-the decline of students seeking more education. The decline came for two major reasons. First, Baby Boomer were aging out into retirement, no longer needing educational training. With that, the Baby Boomlet had run its peak, with the American pool of potential students rapidly decreasingly. In effect, the demand for education had dropped.

Second, traditionally MBA and other professional degrees flourished in tough economic times as individuals used their unemployment as the opportunity to get retrained. But since 2008 that has not happened, in part because of the persistent high unemployment and rise of consumer debt.

Unlike previous post World War II recessions, the most recent one has dramatically wipe out the wealth of consumers-some $13 trillion in wealth was lost-and consumer debt has skyrocketed. Student loan debt has also ballooned and is now greater than personal consumer debt-$829 billion compared to $826 billion as of early 2012, with estimates that it will soon top $1 trillion. The average student loan debt for a graduate of the class of 2010 exceeds $25,000. In effect, potential students are tapped out -- they have no money to finance further education, they see that companies are not hiring, and overall, find little incentive to debt finance for jobs that may not exist. The result? A crash in applications to graduate professional programs including MBA and law schools. From 2009 to 2010, MBA and law school applications declined by 10% for full time programs.

The corporate business model has crashed. Even such mainstream publications as the Economist in its August 4, 2012 issue noted the collapse of this old model. It was a bubble that burst much like the real estate one that burst in 2008. But in actually, it was a model waiting to burst. The corporate business model functioned as education Ponzi scheme. Higher education paid for programs by raked in dollars from rapidly expanding professional programs and selling degrees on the promise that the high tuition costs would be worth it to students. But as all Ponzi schemes go, they soon collapse and that is what higher education is now experiencing.

[Jun 25, 2012] Predatory Scholarly Publishing by Moshe Y. Vardi

July 1, 2012 | Communications of the ACM

Scholarly publishing is a very unique business. In a typical business, you have two parties: sellers and buyers. In scholarly publishing you also have sellers and buyers, these are the publishers and the research libraries. However, you have two additional parties. On one side, you have authors, who freely and eagerly provide content ("publish or perish"). On the other side, there are editors and reviewers, who act as gatekeepers. They do so for a variety of reasons: sometimes for financial remuneration, but mostly out of civic duty and to gain scholarly prestige.

For scholarly publishing to be successful as a business, publishers must convince libraries to subscribe to their publications. Because budgets have become tighter over the last few years, librarians are quite resistant to increase their subscription inventory. The trend, in fact, is to prune, prune, and prune. Librarians, therefore, must be convinced of a journal's high quality before adding it to their subscription inventory. This resistance by libraries has been an important force for maintaining quality in scholarly publishing.

Recent trends have upset this delicate balance between publishers, libraries, authors, and editors, by freeing publishers from the need to get libraries to subscribe. Here is an example:

I regularly receive email solicitations such as: "Dear Author, as a general chair of GESTS, I am happy to invite you for the acceptance of your paper [sic] to be published in the GESTS International Transactions." (GESTS stands for Global Engineering, Science, and Technology Society.) The offer even provides volume and issue numbers. One has to read further down the invitation to find the coy reference to "registration fees." Again, this may seem like a scam, but a quick Web search finds many bibliographies that include publications in the GESTS International Transactions. Apparently, the publish-or-perish pressure creates a market, and enterprising publishers are keen to meet the demand. By shifting the costs to authors, GESTS is freed from dealing with librarians.

Here is another tantalizing offer: "Dear Professor Vardi, we would like to invite you as keynote speaker for one of the next WSEAS Conferences." This may seem as a genuine invitation to a bona fide scientific meeting, until one encounters a sentence such as "So, our plenary speakers can publish a minimum of one paper, maximum of three papers, without registration fees" and "New prospective plenary speakers must send their CV to ..." You can find a vigorous online debate on the precise nature of the WSEAS conferences, with allegations that the organizer is an enterprising academic, providing a forum where needy scholars can publish without battling hypercritical reviewers.

So what has upset the traditional scholarly publishing marketplace? On one hand, digital publishing has gained legitimacy. In fact, there are many high-quality publications that are published purely digitally. On the other hand, the growing popularity of open-access publishing popularized the author-pays model, in which publishers obtain revenues from author fees rather than from subscription fees. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the author-pays model, the removal of libraries from the equation created an unbalanced system: both publishers and authors want to publish, while libraries have little say. Editors and reviewers may try to uphold quality, but their power is diminished when publishers and authors are so eager to publish. (I resigned a few years ago from the editorial board of a prominent proceedings series, foregoing an annual honorarium of euro.gif6,000, when I realized quality was declining as publishing decisions were made by the publisher rather than by the editorial board.) This new imbalance in scholarly publishing has given rise to "predatory" publishing, whose main goal is to generate profits rather than promote scholarship. An informal directory of predatory publishers and journals has over 50 entries (see http://scholarlyoa.com/).

As I have written previously, I believe the partnership that once existed between the scholarly community and commercial publishers is fundamentally broken. Frankly, I do not understand why Elsevier is practically the sole target for the recent wrath directed at scholarly publisher. Elsevier is no worse than most other commercial publishers, just bigger, I believe. While not all commercial publishers are predatory publishers, they are all primarily driven by profits, which creates a conflict of interest between publishers and authors. The future of scholarly publishing belongs to association publishing, where the members are the publishers, authors, editors, and reviewers, sharing commitment to scholarship.

Moshe Y. Vardi, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


©2012 ACM 0001-0782/12/0700 $10.00

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Comments

Anonymous

June 23, 2012 03:31

Dear Moshe,

Many share your thoughts, but we also need a coordinated and well thought-out plan.
Indeed, we must try to mitigate side-effects of our actions; for instance, vanity publishing (that always existed) has been encouraged by the well-intentioned support of academics for open publishing.

Some agencies reacted by requiring A-rated publication, but this just killed most regional or specialized conferences, leading to an impoverished support to innovation and in-depth scientific discussion, and of course maneuvers to get this precious rating.

What is the next step? What will be its side-effects?

Andrew Adams

June 23, 2012 04:08

While I agree with most of this article, I find it odd that there is a huge missing elephant in this room. There is no mention here of the role of the reader. Readers are mostly (though not entirely) the same people as authors, but their modality is different when acting as readers than when acting as authors. What readers need, first and foremost, is access to the existing literature in the journals whose quality standards have no dropped too far. The provision of this is entirely within the hands of authors and their institutions through the mechanism of institutional repositories (which unfortunately but clearly require institutions to mandate deposit, but for which it is clear that such deposit mandates work).

What readers then need is good filtering mechanisms. These filtering mechanisms have been hijacked by promotion, tenure and recruitment systems in academica to act as proxies for proper quality evaluation and this tension needs consideration, since it is primarily within academia itself that these pressures are borne and used (the UK's REF is a large scale variant of this effect).

[Jun 16, 2012] We Don't Need No Education by Paul Krugman

June 14, 2012 | NY Times

Hope springs eternal. For a few hours I was ready to applaud Mitt Romney for speaking honestly about what his calls for smaller government actually mean.

Never mind. Soon the candidate was being his normal self, denying having said what he: In the remarks Mr. Romney ... derided President Obama: "He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers." Then he declared, "It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people." ...

For once, he actually admitted what he and his allies mean when they talk about shrinking government. Conservatives love to pretend that there are vast armies of government bureaucrats doing who knows what; in reality, a majority of government workers are employed providing either education (teachers) or public protection (police officers and firefighters). ...

But the more relevant question for the moment is whether the public job cuts Mr. Romney applauds are good or bad for the economy. And we now have a lot of evidence ... that austerity in the face of a depressed economy is a terrible mistake to be avoided if possible.

Ted Morgan, Baton Rouge:

I live in a state predicted by a large percentage of probability to vote for Governor Romney. Patrice Aynne responded well to this piece. I am glad that though I scored in the top one percentile on the National Teacher Examination, I had the good sense to avoid a career in elementary education. We have not respect of public school teachers or for public education at any level. The war on education and the middle class is now more than 40 years old. The opponents of public education have won.

Boo, East Lansing Michigan

... A commentor wrote "Benefits like paid retiree health insurance, uncapped pension plans, and retirement credit for unused sick leave disappeared from most of the private sector long ago."

I have news for you. They are gone from state government also. I do not belong to a union, I have a 401k, not a pension, and I pay for health care. Will not get credit for unused sick days when I retire. I also have had to take unpaid furlough days to balance the state budget not once, but twice. Why do Republicans insist that firing public employees creates jobs? I pay taxes, city, state and federal. I support my community, church and local economy. I can't do that if I am unemployed. Painting all public employees as public enemies is not helpful, GOP.

Laurence B., Portland, Or

Who will stand up for the U.S. worker? Union power is nonexistent and industry would make one worker do the work of two with half the pay and benefits. What remains for public employees, including teachers, will soon be gone as government falls increasingly into the hands of right wing Republicans. Police and firefighters will follow.

The money that once was going to the middle is being redistributed upward to a smaller and smaller wealthy class. All this is happening, right in plain sight, and as those who lived in a more equitable time pass, fewer and fewer will know the difference.

Ken, San Diego

..Wealthy people like Mitt Romney don't care about publicly funded education, god forbid any other their children get a publicly funded education. It reminds me of the phrase "The people are saying they have no bread to eat? Then let them eat cake"

Jim, Long Island

..Firefighters, police officers and teachers are the responsibility of local and state governments. NOT the FEDERAL government. Romney is running for President, a federal position. Local and state firefighters, police officers and teachers are not a federal responsibility and the feds should not be funding them. That's how the federal governement will get smaller, by sticking to it's own responsibilities and not overstepping its bounds.

[May 22, 2012] The Commencement Aaddress That Won't be Given

Economist's View

Robert Reich has inspiring words for new graduates:

The commencement address that won't be given, by Robert Reich: As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you're picking up today.

You're f*cked.

Well, not exactly. But you won't have it easy.

First, you're going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. ... But even when you get a job, it's likely to pay peanuts. ... Presumably ... when we come out of the gravitational pull of the recession your wages will improve. But there's a longer-term trend that should concern you.

The decline in the earnings of college grads really began more than a decade ago. ... Don't get me wrong. A four-year college degree is still valuable. Over your lifetimes, you'll earn about 70 percent more than people who don't have the pieces of parchment you're picking up today.

But this parchment isn't as valuable as it once was. So much of what was once considered "knowledge work" ... can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet.

For many of you, your immediate problem is that pile of debt on your shoulders. In a few moments, when you march out of here, those of you who have taken out college loans will owe more than $25,000 on average. Last year, ten percent of college grads with loans owed more than $54,000. ... Loans to parents for the college educations of their children have soared 75 percent since the academic year 2005-2006.

Outstanding student debt now totals over $1 trillion. That's more than the nation's total credit-card debt. ... At some point in the not-too-distant future..., College is no longer a good investment. That's a problem for you and for those who will follow you into these hallowed halls, but it's also a problem for America as a whole.

You see, a college education isn't just a private investment. It's also a public good. This nation can't be competitive globally, nor can we have a vibrant and responsible democracy, without a large number of well-educated people.

So it's not just you who are burdened by these trends. If they continue, we're all f*cked.

Lafayette:

Educational attainment, US, 2011: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BxDaVjkRehhSRFJGVjdYWlJUZlE

Not as bad as I thought - that is, more than half the population (of those over 25) have attained a tertiary education.

anne -> Lafayette...

http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/college/data.htm

September, 2010

College or university degree attainment of the adult population,
selected countries, 2007

Percent with college or university degree *

Italy ( 13)
Portugal ( 14)
Mexico ( 15)
Austria ( 18)
Germany ( 24)

France ( 27)
Spain ( 29)
Sweden ( 31)
Netherlands ( 31)
United Kingdom ( 32)

Ireland ( 32)
Denmark ( 32)
Norway ( 34)
Australia ( 34)
Korea ( 35)

United States ( 40)
New Zealand ( 41)
Japan ( 41)
Canada ( 48)

* Adult population is defined as persons ages 25 to 64.

Lafayette -> anne...

I'm surprised at the low score for France, where a university education costs just the subscription fee of about 900€ per annum (plus room and board).

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 06:03 PM

anne -> Lafayette...

I do not well understand the data, but thought this could be helpful anyway. Why France should not be higher is a puzzle for which I have no explanation if we can take the data as such. I wish I knew lots more on this matter, in any event the cost of university schooling in France is wonderfully low. We need better data on university education for the European Union in general.

ldilocksisableachblonde -> anne...

This graph gives a better feel for how countries have evolved over time :

http://botc.tcf.org/2012/04/graph-of-the-day-has-the-us-fallen-behind-in-higher-education.html

The percentage of 25-34 yr-olds with a degree in France now exceeds that of the U.S.

anne -> Goldilocksisableachblonde...

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/we-dont-need-no-education/

March 30, 2012

We Don't Need No Education
By Paul Krugman

Jared Bernstein has a heartfelt lament * about the priorities of the American right, and in particular the way it's determined to slash taxes for the wealthy while slashing student aid. And he gives us this chart: **

[Chart]

The squares show the percentage of older people with college education, the triangles the percentage of younger people; what we see is that almost every other nation is becoming more educated, but we're not - and, of course, slipping rapidly down the rankings.

And yes, affordability is surely the biggest single reason for our slide. So of course, the GOP wants to make the affordability problem worse.

It's hard not to see this development as tied to the growing conservative distrust of science *** (and presumably non-faith-based inquiry in general):

[Chart]

But hey, I'm a pointy-headed intellectual, so you can't trust anything I say.

* http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/what-are-we-doing/

** http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/47/48630299.pdf

*** http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/03/chart-day-conservatives-dont-trust-science

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 06:32 PM

Lafayette -> anne...

{Question this data, till we understand the matter far better}

I suggest the challenge in the numbers is a matter of "definition", that is, just what does Postsecondary (Tertiary) Education mean.

It seems obvious that it is any diploma from a recognized educational institution beyond Secondary Schooling. The definition of "recognized" can differ from country to country.

The second problem is the fact that the Census Data is, well, from direct household polling. I suspect in France that the stats come from valid data from the authorized educational institutions - mostly public and some private. (The French "statisticify" everything.)

It would be good that the OECD did some work in the area, given that they have an on-going PISA program.

PISA stands for Program for International Student Assessment. Why not make that Program for International Study Attainment. Meaning that they have the means already in the (26) countries concerned to analyze statistically the matter.

Sorry, but census data in the matter of Educational Attainment just doesn't pass muster - IMHO. Why should individuals lie about their diplomas? Why shouldn't they? (What is happening to the present CEO of Yahoo! is a case in point.)

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 02:50 AM

Lafayette -> Lafayette...

Maybe if a postsecondary education was considered a birthright - like Homeland Security - then it could be made free to all? And more people would have Job Security in a world where advanced skills are necessary to succeed?

And students would not have a trillion dollar debt to pay. Which is effing nonsense in an economy as rich as ours.

Nah, we can't have that - it's too much like "socialism" - the Devil's Workshop ..

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 05:59 PM

Fred C. Dobbs -> Lafayette...

Paradoxically, we are very much into
'self-defeating politics'.

That guv'mint is best which governs
least, y'know. Because it would take
a dose of 'socialism' to fix what ails
us is exactly why we won't do it. Tell
me that doesn't make any sense.

We stopped making sense decades ago.

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM

Lafayette -> Fred C. Dobbs...

A PROCESS GONE RADICALLY WRONG

{We stopped making sense decades ago.}

What is meant by "we"?

A republican democracy is constituted of representatives that we elect to substitute for ourselves to city, state and national legislatures and leadership positions. We adopted this system at the origins of the democratic process because - whether in France or the US - great expanses of land required such a "republican" method.

(Republic = a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.)

This "problem" of physical distance is no longer as important. We have means today for authenticating on-line voting. So, why is our process not more participative? Why are there not more referendums - as the Swiss do? And we know the answer.

GAMING THE POLITICAL SYSTEM

The present "republican" (small-r) system consolidates political power in two parties and that status quo is maintained by a Power Elite that ensures its continuation. Ordinarily, a two-party system is better because it gives political stability to a nation. But, when both elements begin to "game the system" in order to remain in power, then the process has gone radically wrong.

And I think that this is the key to reforming our system. We have warped the democratic process beyond recognition - it has been so "gamed". That gaming, let's remember, started in 1812 with gerrymandering. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering_%28film%29)

1812! "Political Gaming" the democratic selection process goes that far back! New embellishments to the art of Political Gaming have been recently added that seriously impair how the vote is obtained.

The worst part of gaming is the money involved that has corrupted in depth our political system. And the question remains, "How can a people be so naïve as to let money corrupt their ability to distinguish the political standpoints of candidates - and thus win elections. Why is it that culturally we are not able to elect people who represent us and not any personal advantage? What has happened to the fundamental concept of Civic Duty or Civic Responsibility? Where has it gone?

MY POINT?

How is it that we as a nation have become so ambivalent to political corruption or ineptitude that we do not honor our Civic Duty to vote (even a blank ballot tells wonders about voter sentiment)?

So, when people comment about politics using the words "we" and "they", my instinct is to respond: If seeking the real culprit have a look in the mirror! It's we, the sheeple.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice and I want your ass on a platter.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 03:24 AM

Fred C. Dobbs -> Lafayette...

'We' = (US) body politic.

The chosen form of government, a Republic,
was (ironically) chosen for us, by wiser
heads, obviously. Implicitly, men of
property were to govern us, representatively,
because most of them would be off earning money
and gaining wealth. THAT has actually worked
out pretty well, apparently, at least for them.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 06:26 AM

anne -> Lafayette...

Turning the order around to be consistent:

http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/college/data.htm

September, 2010

College or university degree attainment of the adult population,
selected countries, 2007

Percent with college or university degree *

Canada ( 48)
Japan ( 41)
New Zealand ( 41)
United States ( 40)
Korea ( 35)

Australia ( 34)
Norway ( 34)
Denmark ( 32)
Ireland ( 32)
United Kingdom ( 32)

Netherlands ( 31)
Sweden ( 31)
Spain ( 29)
France ( 27)
Germany ( 24)

Austria ( 18)
Mexico ( 15)
Portugal ( 14)
Italy ( 13)

* Adult population is defined as persons ages 25 to 64.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 07:27 AM

anne -> Lafayette...

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/47/48630299.pdf

August, 2011

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Education Data

College or university degree attainment by age group, 2009

(Percent of population 25-34 and 55-64)

OECD average ( 36.99) ( 22.35)

Korea ( 63.10) ( 13.25)
Canada ( 56.10) ( 40.68)
Japan ( 55.67) ( 27.41)
Ireland ( 47.56) ( 20.22)
Norway ( 46.83) ( 27.18)

New Zealand ( 46.74) ( 33.68)
Luxembourg ( 45.08) ( 25.03)
United Kingdom ( 44.86) ( 28.66)
Australia ( 44.78) ( 29.30)
Denmark ( 44.75) ( 25.85)

France ( 43.17) ( 18.00)
Israel ( 42.92) ( 45.02)
Belgium ( 42.48) ( 23.36)
Sweden ( 42.32) ( 26.92)
United States ( 41.06) ( 40.84)

Netherlands ( 40.12) ( 27.41)
Switzerland ( 39.98) ( 28.29)
Finland ( 39.39) ( 28.96)
Spain ( 38.22) ( 16.55)
Iceland ( 35.84) ( 22.77)

Poland ( 35.45) ( 12.63)
Chile ( 34.94) ( 16.64)
Greece ( 29.40) ( 14.97)
Germany ( 25.66) ( 25.28)
Hungary ( 25.07) ( 16.28)

Portugal ( 23.34) ( 7.43)
Austria ( 21.06) ( 15.94)
Slovak Republic ( 20.59) ( 12.14)
Czech Republic ( 20.24) ( 10.82)
Mexico ( 20.17) ( 9.76)

Italy ( 20.16) ( 10.27)
Turkey ( 16.64) ( 9.93)
Brazil ( 11.58) ( 8.92)

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 07:28 AM

Main Street Muse:

I don't understand the high cost of college - I don't understand the fact that debt is the only pillar of our economy standing strong these days.

I taught for the first time this year at a state university and just said good-bye to some wonderful and talented seniors. Sorry to hear they are f***ed, as per Reich.

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 06:14 PM

Fred C. Dobbs -> Main Street Muse...

I know of a college that just graduated
an entire class of engineers, most of whom
have jobs immediately, at amazingly high
salaries, and most of the rest are going
on to grad school. Some arrangements are
still working very well, thanks.

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 09:08 PM

lostnfound:

Second Best: save it your full of shit

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM

Mark A. Sadowski:

Unemployment among recent graduates has soared, as has has part-time work, presumably reflecting the inability of graduates to find full-time jobs. And earnings have fallen even among those graduates working full time, a sign that many have been forced to take jobs that make no use of their education. But, most importantly, this is not a structural problem, but a cyclical one:

Recent College Graduates and the Labor Market
By Bart Hobijn, Colin Gardiner, and Theodore Wiles

"In the recent recession and recovery, the unemployment rates, part-time employment trends, and earnings growth of recent college graduates have closely mirrored the patterns they displayed during the cyclical recession of 2001 and the subsequent jobless recovery. Recent college graduates are typically not subject to structural frictions that can contribute to weak labor markets, such as mismatches between the skills of job seekers and the needs of employers. Similarities in the labor market experiences of recent college graduates in the two recessions and recoveries suggest that the current high unemployment rate is primarily cyclical."

http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2011/el2011-09.html

So, today's college graduates, then, are getting f*cked thanks purely due to a weak economy. And the research tells us that the price of this isn't temporary. Students who graduate during a bad economy never recover. Instead, their earnings are depressed for life:

The Long-Term Labor Market Consequences of Graduating
from College in a Bad Economy - Lisa B. Kahn

Abstract:
"This paper studies the labor market experiences of white male college graduates as a function of economic conditions at time of college graduation. I use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth whose respondents graduated from college between 1979 and 1989. I estimate the effects of both national and state economic conditions at time of college graduation on labor market outcomes for the fi?rst two decades of a career. Because timing and location of college graduation could potentially be affected by economic conditions, I also instrument for the college unemployment rate using year of birth (state of residence at an early age for the state analysis). I fi?nd large, negative wage e¤ects to graduating in a worse economy which persist for the entire period studied. I also ?nd that cohorts who graduate in worse national economies are in lower level occupations, have slightly higher tenure and higher educational attainment,while labor supply is una¤ected. Taken as a whole, the results suggest that the labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy are large, negative and persistent."

http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/pdf/kahn_longtermlabor.pdf

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Needlessly wasting the lives of a whole generation is even more terrible. Let's not do it.

Reply Monday, May 21, 2012 at 09:35 PM

Larry:

OK. We know that higher education is in the final stages of its bubble. Alternatives such as MITX are exploding and will change everything. But forget that for now. The more important question is where we're going to get jobs for the next generation, college or no.

We haven't created significant net jobs since the tech bubble popped. A huge frac of the gross jobs were in ed and health care, not exactly primary production. Keynesian stimulus isn't going to fix that. Unions aren't going to fix that (as if). Green jobs aren't going to fix that. Lower tax rates (gulp) aren't going to fix that-they certainly didn't when we cut rates below the perfectly acceptable Clinton rates. We need some out-of-the-box thinking, which I'm certainly not hearing in the campaign.

We can and should dump job killers, such as the occupational licensing stuff that Matt has been grinding on. We should fix our tax system. We should eliminate all tariffs and quotas. We should dump the corporate income tax (and preferential treatment for investment income). We should dump a bunch of the regs that came in Sarbox and D/F, which has contributed to the collapse of IPOs. I just wish I thought that these moves would fix it.

Reich is such a loser, offering no hope and no direction. Just the thing for new grads with infinite energy and promise!

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:11 AM

Neildsmith:

Reich makes the essence of the structural unemployment argument and no one notices.

"So much of what was once considered "knowledge work" ... can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet."

He doesn't even pretend that manufacturing is a part of the American growth story. He knows it passed into oblivion 10 - 15 years ago.

Times have changed. I don't much like it, but then I don't shop online at Amazon and spend most of my free time immersed in Facebook.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 04:07 AM

Arthur Dent:

"So much of what was once considered "knowledge work" ... can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet."

That's funny. I'm an systems engineer specializing in large software development projects, especially Unix and Linux based systems. I recently completed a project for a large consulting project. Almost everyone was from South Asia and by and large most were bad to incompetent. A few handful on non South Asians and American born South Asians pretty much shouldered the entire project. It was still doomed to failure and became such an enormous money loser, on top of a lawsuit from the client, that all the top leaders from the project were fired or left quietly and this seems to be modus operandi for these kinds of projects.

Don't get me wrong, some of the best engineers and developers I know are ethnically South Asian, but there all educated here or in Europe and all make the US or the UK their home.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 06:36 AM

Comment below or sign in with TypePad Facebook Twitter and more...

"The Commencement Aaddress That Won't be Given"

Robert Reich has inspiring words for new graduates:

The commencement address that won't be given, by Robert Reich: As a former secretary of labor and current professor, I feel I owe it to you to tell you the truth about the pieces of parchment you're picking up today.

You're f*cked.

Well, not exactly. But you won't have it easy.

First, you're going to have a hell of a hard time finding a job. ... But even when you get a job, it's likely to pay peanuts. ... Presumably ... when we come out of the gravitational pull of the recession your wages will improve. But there's a longer-term trend that should concern you.

The decline in the earnings of college grads really began more than a decade ago. ... Don't get me wrong. A four-year college degree is still valuable. Over your lifetimes, you'll earn about 70 percent more than people who don't have the pieces of parchment you're picking up today.

But this parchment isn't as valuable as it once was. So much of what was once considered "knowledge work" ... can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet.

For many of you, your immediate problem is that pile of debt on your shoulders. In a few moments, when you march out of here, those of you who have taken out college loans will owe more than $25,000 on average. Last year, ten percent of college grads with loans owed more than $54,000. ... Loans to parents for the college educations of their children have soared 75 percent since the academic year 2005-2006.

Outstanding student debt now totals over $1 trillion. That's more than the nation's total credit-card debt. ... At some point in the not-too-distant future..., College is no longer a good investment. That's a problem for you and for those who will follow you into these hallowed halls, but it's also a problem for America as a whole.

You see, a college education isn't just a private investment. It's also a public good. This nation can't be competitive globally, nor can we have a vibrant and responsible democracy, without a large number of well-educated people.

So it's not just you who are burdened by these trends. If they continue, we're all f*cked.

Lafayette -> Fred C. Dobbs...

A PROCESS GONE RADICALLY WRONG

{We stopped making sense decades ago.}

What is meant by "we"?

A republican democracy is constituted of representatives that we elect to substitute for ourselves to city, state and national legislatures and leadership positions. We adopted this system at the origins of the democratic process because - whether in France or the US - great expanses of land required such a "republican" method.

(Republic = a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.)

This "problem" of physical distance is no longer as important. We have means today for authenticating on-line voting. So, why is our process not more participative? Why are there not more referendums - as the Swiss do? And we know the answer.

GAMING THE POLITICAL SYSTEM

The present "republican" (small-r) system consolidates political power in two parties and that status quo is maintained by a Power Elite that ensures its continuation. Ordinarily, a two-party system is better because it gives political stability to a nation. But, when both elements begin to "game the system" in order to remain in power, then the process has gone radically wrong.

And I think that this is the key to reforming our system. We have warped the democratic process beyond recognition - it has been so "gamed". That gaming, let's remember, started in 1812 with gerrymandering. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering_%28film%29)

1812! "Political Gaming" the democratic selection process goes that far back! New embellishments to the art of Political Gaming have been recently added that seriously impair how the vote is obtained.

The worst part of gaming is the money involved that has corrupted in depth our political system. And the question remains, "How can a people be so naïve as to let money corrupt their ability to distinguish the political standpoints of candidates - and thus win elections. Why is it that culturally we are not able to elect people who represent us and not any personal advantage? What has happened to the fundamental concept of Civic Duty or Civic Responsibility? Where has it gone?

MY POINT?

How is it that we as a nation have become so ambivalent to political corruption or ineptitude that we do not honor our Civic Duty to vote (even a blank ballot tells wonders about voter sentiment)?

So, when people comment about politics using the words "we" and "they", my instinct is to respond: If seeking the real culprit have a look in the mirror! It's we, the sheeple.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice and I want your ass on a platter.

anne -> Lafayette...

Turning the order around to be consistent:

http://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2010/college/data.htm

September, 2010

College or university degree attainment of the adult population,
selected countries, 2007

Percent with college or university degree *

Canada ( 48)
Japan ( 41)
New Zealand ( 41)
United States ( 40)
Korea ( 35)

Australia ( 34)
Norway ( 34)
Denmark ( 32)
Ireland ( 32)
United Kingdom ( 32)

Netherlands ( 31)
Sweden ( 31)
Spain ( 29)
France ( 27)
Germany ( 24)

Austria ( 18)
Mexico ( 15)
Portugal ( 14)
Italy ( 13)

* Adult population is defined as persons ages 25 to 64.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 07:27 AM

anne -> Lafayette...

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/47/48630299.pdf

August, 2011

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Education Data

College or university degree attainment by age group, 2009

(Percent of population 25-34 and 55-64)

OECD average ( 36.99) ( 22.35)

Korea ( 63.10) ( 13.25)
Canada ( 56.10) ( 40.68)
Japan ( 55.67) ( 27.41)
Ireland ( 47.56) ( 20.22)
Norway ( 46.83) ( 27.18)

New Zealand ( 46.74) ( 33.68)
Luxembourg ( 45.08) ( 25.03)
United Kingdom ( 44.86) ( 28.66)
Australia ( 44.78) ( 29.30)
Denmark ( 44.75) ( 25.85)

France ( 43.17) ( 18.00)
Israel ( 42.92) ( 45.02)
Belgium ( 42.48) ( 23.36)
Sweden ( 42.32) ( 26.92)
United States ( 41.06) ( 40.84)

Netherlands ( 40.12) ( 27.41)
Switzerland ( 39.98) ( 28.29)
Finland ( 39.39) ( 28.96)
Spain ( 38.22) ( 16.55)
Iceland ( 35.84) ( 22.77)

Poland ( 35.45) ( 12.63)
Chile ( 34.94) ( 16.64)
Greece ( 29.40) ( 14.97)
Germany ( 25.66) ( 25.28)
Hungary ( 25.07) ( 16.28)

Portugal ( 23.34) ( 7.43)
Austria ( 21.06) ( 15.94)
Slovak Republic ( 20.59) ( 12.14)
Czech Republic ( 20.24) ( 10.82)
Mexico ( 20.17) ( 9.76)

Italy ( 20.16) ( 10.27)
Turkey ( 16.64) ( 9.93)
Brazil ( 11.58) ( 8.92)

Mark A. Sadowski:

Unemployment among recent graduates has soared, as has has part-time work, presumably reflecting the inability of graduates to find full-time jobs. And earnings have fallen even among those graduates working full time, a sign that many have been forced to take jobs that make no use of their education. But, most importantly, this is not a structural problem, but a cyclical one:

Recent College Graduates and the Labor Market
By Bart Hobijn, Colin Gardiner, and Theodore Wiles

"In the recent recession and recovery, the unemployment rates, part-time employment trends, and earnings growth of recent college graduates have closely mirrored the patterns they displayed during the cyclical recession of 2001 and the subsequent jobless recovery. Recent college graduates are typically not subject to structural frictions that can contribute to weak labor markets, such as mismatches between the skills of job seekers and the needs of employers. Similarities in the labor market experiences of recent college graduates in the two recessions and recoveries suggest that the current high unemployment rate is primarily cyclical."

http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2011/el2011-09.html

So, today's college graduates, then, are getting f*cked thanks purely due to a weak economy. And the research tells us that the price of this isn't temporary. Students who graduate during a bad economy never recover. Instead, their earnings are depressed for life:

The Long-Term Labor Market Consequences of Graduating
from College in a Bad Economy - Lisa B. Kahn

Abstract:
"This paper studies the labor market experiences of white male college graduates as a function of economic conditions at time of college graduation. I use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth whose respondents graduated from college between 1979 and 1989. I estimate the effects of both national and state economic conditions at time of college graduation on labor market outcomes for the fi?rst two decades of a career. Because timing and location of college graduation could potentially be affected by economic conditions, I also instrument for the college unemployment rate using year of birth (state of residence at an early age for the state analysis). I fi?nd large, negative wage e¤ects to graduating in a worse economy which persist for the entire period studied. I also ?nd that cohorts who graduate in worse national economies are in lower level occupations, have slightly higher tenure and higher educational attainment,while labor supply is una¤ected. Taken as a whole, the results suggest that the labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy are large, negative and persistent."

http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/pdf/kahn_longtermlabor.pdf

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Needlessly wasting the lives of a whole generation is even more terrible. Let's not do it.

Larry:

OK. We know that higher education is in the final stages of its bubble. Alternatives such as MITX are exploding and will change everything. But forget that for now. The more important question is where we're going to get jobs for the next generation, college or no.

We haven't created significant net jobs since the tech bubble popped. A huge frac of the gross jobs were in ed and health care, not exactly primary production. Keynesian stimulus isn't going to fix that. Unions aren't going to fix that (as if). Green jobs aren't going to fix that. Lower tax rates (gulp) aren't going to fix that-they certainly didn't when we cut rates below the perfectly acceptable Clinton rates. We need some out-of-the-box thinking, which I'm certainly not hearing in the campaign.

We can and should dump job killers, such as the occupational licensing stuff that Matt has been grinding on. We should fix our tax system. We should eliminate all tariffs and quotas. We should dump the corporate income tax (and preferential treatment for investment income). We should dump a bunch of the regs that came in Sarbox and D/F, which has contributed to the collapse of IPOs. I just wish I thought that these moves would fix it.

Reich is such a loser, offering no hope and no direction. Just the thing for new grads with infinite energy and promise!

Neildsmith:

Reich makes the essence of the structural unemployment argument and no one notices.

"So much of what was once considered "knowledge work" ... can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet."

He doesn't even pretend that manufacturing is a part of the American growth story. He knows it passed into oblivion 10 - 15 years ago.

Times have changed. I don't much like it, but then I don't shop online at Amazon and spend most of my free time immersed in Facebook.

Reply Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 04:07 AM

Arthur Dent:

"So much of what was once considered "knowledge work" ... can now be done more cheaply by software. Or by workers with college degrees in India or East Asia, linked up by Internet."

That's funny. I'm an systems engineer specializing in large software development projects, especially Unix and Linux based systems. I recently completed a project for a large consulting project. Almost everyone was from South Asia and by and large most were bad to incompetent. A few handful on non South Asians and American born South Asians pretty much shouldered the entire project. It was still doomed to failure and became such an enormous money loser, on top of a lawsuit from the client, that all the top leaders from the project were fired or left quietly and this seems to be modus operandi for these kinds of projects.

Don't get me wrong, some of the best engineers and developers I know are ethnically South Asian, but there all educated here or in Europe and all make the US or the UK their home

[May 21, 2012] Scalable Game Design wiki - Gamewiki

The goal of this project is to get computer science back to middle schools. Our strategy is to reform middle school IT education at a systemic level exploring the notion of scalable game design as an approach to carefully balance educational and motivational aspects of IT fluency. The original iDREAMS project (Integrative Design-based Reform-oriented Educational Approach for Motivating Students) was designed to spark an interest in IT through students' natural attraction to game design. The second phase of the project, called CT4TC (Computational Thinking for Teaching Computing) continues the original project by looking deeper into how game design helps students learn STEM concepts through collection and analysis of performance data. These data will be used to improve the curriculum and also to increase the effectiveness of teacher training.

By game design we mean the active process of students collaboratively engaging in problem solving, creativity, modeling and communication. Game design develops a rich set of skills consistent with STEM and IT competency frameworks such as the National Academy of Sciences Fluency with IT and the International Society for Technology in Education NETS Standards.

By scalable game design we refer to a low threshold, high ceiling curriculum. This gentle learning slope curriculum allows students and teachers to quickly start with game design activities producing simple classic games but then continue to sophisticated games exhibiting artificial intelligence.

The systemic aspect of this project continues to explores an IT training ecology integrating four regions of decreasing affluence.

The partners working on this project, CU Computer Science Department, School of Education, Science Discovery outreach program, and AgentSheets Inc, have already established collaborations in all four regions:

  1. Technology-hub: Boulder, CO featuring a high density of IT companies and education opportunities.Our AgentSheets tool has already been introduced to all middle schools in the district because of its potential to address IT fluency and standards, equity, and motivation.
  2. Inner-city: Aurora, CO where we ran an IT education pilot study exploring issues of universal accessibility regarding gender and ethnicity.
  3. Rural: Pueblo CO, southwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services, a 10000 square mile integration of school districts.
  4. Remote/Tribal: Ignacio, CO, and Oglala, SD, Native American reservations: Southern Ute, and Oglala Sioux. An existing mobile science lab will enable us to reach these areas.

Our immediate objective is to provide teacher and student training in the four regions. Our long-term objective is to create educational ecologies that integrate these regions. We will employ existing programs including the CU Upward Bound, Women in Engineering, and the High School Honors Institute to bring students to the technology-hub region and will work with community and tribal colleges to train local teachers

This NPR story highlights an early and unplanned foray into bringing game-design based computer science education even to elementary schools."

[May 13, 2012] Colleges as Merchants of Debt "

naked capitalism

Student loan debt slavery is even worse than you probably thought. The Grey Lady tonight has a long, informative story, "A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College", that early on presents the stunning tidbit that 94% of the recipients of bachelor's degrees borrowed in order to pay for it. The Times doesn't report what average debt levels are in this cohort, but the average across all borrowers, per the New York Fed, is $23,000. Remember, this total includes graduates who have have been paying down debt, meaning they've amortized principal and almost certainly had borrowed less on average to complete school.

Contrast this "certain to be higher on average than $23,000″ for new graduates with their earning power, or more accurately, lack thereof. The Times article also mentions a Rutgers survey which seems to have some sample bias or underreporting of borrowing (of 2006-2011 graduates, only 55% of the respondents said they had borrowed to help fund college, and the median reported debt level was $20,000). The 2009-2011 graduates' income averaged $27,000. In addition, only half said that their job required a college degree.

This juxtaposition confirms that colleges, like the financial services industry, have become increasingly extractive: whatever financial benefits accrue to getting an undergraduate education, they are more and more captured by the schools, though their ability to persuade students to go into hock to get a degree. And like late housing bubble borrowers, more are defaulting early on, meaning the loans were badly underwritten (ie, many should probably have never been made because it the odds of default were high):

Nearly one in 10 borrowers who started repayment in 2009 defaulted within two years, the latest data available - about double the rate in 2005.

The Times focuses on colleges in Ohio, in many ways the ground zero of the student debt bubble because tuitions and borrowing levels are high relative to other states. One factor is arguably not the schools' fault: Ohio started earlier and has gone farther in cutting support for higher education. But even so, the story, in its understated way, depicts clear predatory behavior: students told by colleges not to worry about the costs, to see education as an investment (with nary a thought as to whether the kid wants to major in something that has a snowball's chance in hell of leading to a decent paying job). Even worse, not only do schools deliberately avoid telling students what debt service costs will be, they even avoid language that reminds the college candidate that he is taking on a potential millstone:

College marketing firms encourage school officials to focus on the value of the education rather than the cost. For example, an article on the cover of Enrollment Management, a newsletter aimed at college admissions officials, urged writers of admissions materials to "avoid bad words like 'cost,' 'pay' (try 'and you get all this for…'), 'contract' and 'buy' in your piece and avoid the conflicting feelings they generate."…

The financial aid award letters to newly admitted students can also be a minefield for students and parents sorting through the true costs of a school. Some are written in a manner that suggests the student is getting a great deal, by blurring the line between grants and loans or not making clear how much the student may have to pay or borrow.

The story includes the usual cast of recent graduates up to their eyeballs in debt, describing their own particular version of naiveté and over-optimism that got them in that mess. It does not get into the thorny terrain of why costs have escalated and whether any of these increases have improved the quality of education. It does highlight the exploitative practices of for-profit colleges, but makes clear that the not-for-profits have nothing to be proud of.

Now of course, there are well endowed, elite schools who do give some students sizable scholarships. But for the students who aren't from affluent families and are shrewd enough to be wary of big debt loads, it puts more of a premium on making the cut. Other accounts have discussed how nightmarishly competitive high school has become. It isn't hard to imagine that kids who don't use Adderall are at a serious disadvantage. Saying "let them get scholarships" is hardly an adequate answer to a bigger social problem, that of underinvestment in education (both faltering secondary school education and out-of-control college bills). Remember, the US is the only advanced economy to show falling levels of educational attainment.

One of the distressing threads in the article was elected officials and even students arguing that it was completely reasonable to expect students to carry most of the freight of their education. I wonder if any of the ones over, say, 35 giving that view would be anywhere near as comfortable as they are now if that had been required of them. You can see the open, casual rendering of one of the obligations of society, that of educating the young.

I've never understood when (once in a while) someone (clearly young) shows up in comments and rails against Social Security and Medicare because of the burden it imposes on him. Now I get it. The student debt issue is deepening social fractures. If young people are asked to stand on their own, and given only unpalatable choices (forego a college degree, the entrance ticket to middle class life, or accept debt slavery at a tender age), no wonder they adopt a "devil take the hindmost" attitude. I hope some of these people who so cavalierly argue for loading up the next generation with debt realize that the young may not want to take care of them either, and they are far more at risk. The outcome of cutting social safety nets to the elderly ultimately means that old people will die faster.

billwilson:

The higher education system is broken.

Kids now pay more for a degree that is worth less. It used to be that a degree could set you up for a lifetime of employment. Now, with rapid change the degree has a much shorter shelf life – and therefore should cost actually less. TVs used to be expensive, but lasted for 20 years. Now they are cheaper and last for maybe 3 or 4 until the next version comes out and makes yours obsolete. The same thing is happening in education (obsolete faster) … except the costs for some reason keep going up.

Add in that the quality of the programs is questionable (with large classes and an emphasis on quantity over quality – heck my son passed two of his classes last term only because of Khan Academy – a free version of how education may come to be) and you have to ask why exactly does any rational person go to college for most programs.

The range of possible solutions is wide.

  1. Have students work for at least 1 year before college – to make them better prepared and to have a bit of money to start with.
  2. Make co-op programs more widespread (work 4 months/work 4 months). Yes the degree takes a bit longer but the debt load is reduced.
  3. Only allow schools to charge students for the education component of their costs (about 1/3 of total costs). Funding for research, sports etc. should not be paid for by students)
  4. Cut loan access (by limiting the maximum that can be borrowed). Only be reducing the number of students will schools maybe start to compete on price.
  5. Encourage the development of public distance education (kind of the Khan Academy approach but expanded to duplicate complete programs). The costs of development are relatively low compared to the costs of funding higher education as it is now.

Kaplan Liberty University:

Ben S:

Yes Yves, you rock. Keep pummeling the schools. Get the law schools too. They destroy the live of almost half of grads. Get them all. Let no swindler go unexposed.

[May 08, 2012] Universities Hold Transcripts Hostage Over Loans by Soulskill

May 07, 2012 | Slashdot

Hugh Pickens writes "Dave Lindorff writes in the LA Times that growing numbers of students are discovering their old school is actively blocking them from getting a job or going on to a higher degree by refusing to issue an official transcript. The schools won't send the transcripts to potential employers or graduate admissions office if students are in default on student loans, or in many cases, even if they just fall one or two months behind. It's no accident that they're doing this. It turns out the federal government 'encourages' them to use this draconian tactic, saying that the policy 'has resulted in numerous loan repayments.' It is a strange position for colleges to take, writes Lindorff, since the schools themselves are not owed any money - student loan funds come from private banks or the federal government, and in the case of so-called Stafford loans, schools are not on the hook in any way. They are simply acting as collection agencies, and in fact may get paid for their efforts at collection. 'It's worse than indentured servitude,' says NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who helped organize the Occupy Student Debt movement last fall. 'With indentured servitude, you had to pay in order to work, but then at least you got to work. When universities withhold these transcripts, students who have been indentured by loans are being denied even the ability to work or to finish their education so they can repay their indenture.'"

scourningparading: Re:The problem is the people, not the education

The American education system itself isn't that bad. It's not the best, but it's not the worst, either.

One huge problem is that the schooling (schooling, not education) centers around rote memorization and teaching to the test. How things work, why they work, how to apply them... those kinds of questions are nonexistent in most cases.

PopeRatzo: Re: The problem is the people, not the education.

One huge problem is that the schooling (schooling, not education) centers around rote memorization and teaching to the test.

Which grad school did you go to, that was centered around "rote memorization"?

When students from all over the world stop lining up to come to our grad schools, we can talk.

This article was about college loans, and the corporatization of higher education. Of course we're going to be paying more and getting less, as long as our universities continue to follow a corporate model. That's the way corporations work. Profits come from giving a customer less than he paid for.

In the 80's, when I started my academic career (well before I got tenure) I noticed a distinct transformation in university administration. More academic bigwigs read the latest business management self-help guide than read St Augustine or Plato. Endowments were treated like corporate war-chests. Three-piece suits replaced tweed jackets with suede elbow-patches.

And it went downhill from there. Universities decided that they didn't really have any responsibility to society, they only had a responsibility to the "market". And having a relative monopoly on credentials, they began to raise their prices to whatever the market would bear. I started noticing a lot more "Associate Deans" in departments that were not academics at all, but transplanted corporate middle management. C-level executive jobs started going to corporate stars, not educators. And the salaries and bonuses and golden parachutes followed right behind. Any of you who've worked in academic know what I'm talking about. One day I noticed that the CIO of my institution was a former Sun exec who got an unbelievable compensation package from the school. A few years later, when Sun crashed, it was easy to see why he had been so happy to take the university's offer. And he was a fuckwit. I think he later became the CIO of a big Ivy school after our IT had been thoroughly trashed. Like many corporate execs, he failed his way to the top. He likes to be on corporate boards, I have heard, naturally.

A belief started in the early '80s, that universities needed to be "run like businesses", as if there was something salutary about the corporate culture of Wall Street. And as you might expect, running a university "like a business" has turned it to very expensive shit, where a graduate leaves the institution with more in the debit column than the credit column. And it got worse and worse and though I tried to insulate myself from it I eventually just walked away and retired on my 50th birthday. Fuck it. If I wanted to work in corporate culture, I'd have gone for the money in the first place.

Oh, by the way, the same people who had the bright idea that universities should be "run like businesses" also brought us the notion that government should be "run like a business". That if we just put some business douchebag in charge of the shooting match, everything will be just fine. The only problem is, almost none of the people that those institutions are supposed to serve happen to be shareholders. As universities, and governments start to be run like corporations, we are finding that students and citizens are seen as consumables, not consumers. And certainly not shareholders. The expendibles.

darthdavid: Re:The problem is the people, not the education.

This is because, for a lot of people, the 'free market' is basically a religion. It lets them be as greedy as they want to be and classify that behavior as good and moral so they refuse to acknowledge that there's any situation where 'running things like a business' isn't the correct solution.

Simple answers are always easier to sell people on than complex ones, even if they're not right, especially if it lets people do what they want to do anyway and feel good about doing it. It doesn't help that we spent most of the 20th Century blasting every with propaganda extolling the virtues of the free market and the evils of socialism.

AlphaWolf_HK: Re:Extortion?

Considering almost no one pays for college without loans today, any college whose students could not get loans would be dead in the water. That gives a lot of leverage for banks to "ask" colleges to play along.

The idea that people can't go to school without loans is complete bullshit. I am going to graduate next year, and I paid for my entire education out of my own picket. I've never had a job that paid more than $10 an hour. I served in the military for one year (discharged due to problems with eyesight) so I only had a few months worth of GI bill, which didn't pay much at all. Beyond that, I paid for everything myself. Books, tuition, transportation, everything. I paid for it. Not my parents, not my relatives. All me.

And this isn't hard to do either, all you have to do is save up money and not spend it on stupid shit, e.g. your new ipad every time apple releases one, and your regular visits to starbucks (people don't need $4 cups of coffee twice a day to survive.) I've probably spent about $25,000 on college so far, and I still have about $14,000 saved up. I really don't understand how some people can spend $80,000 on college to get something as worthless as a liberal arts degree, and then wonder why they can't get a job. To me, getting a degree that there is no market for is stupid, you may as well just save the money and get no degree at all. Taking out a student loan is even more stupid.

One big mistake I notice a lot, is that a lot of people seem to go straight to university. This is the dumb, because universities are always overpriced for what you get. Community colleges (especially in places like California) are DIRT CHEAP. I pay upwards of $2,000 per year, that includes summer school, and includes books. Imagine that, a month and a half of pay for an entire year. Plus, community colleges by far tend to have a much better student to teacher ratio (which means if you have a learning disability like I do, your chances of succeeding are much greater,) the learning environment is also therefore more personal so the teachers tend to care more about the students than their status, and in addition to that they tend to offer free tutoring, and it's very good tutoring too.

Another thing is books. I don't know why, but so many students buy their books from the in school book store. This is stupid, they charge a lot more than Amazon, and better yet if you look on ebay, you can buy the international editions which are essentially the same thing, only they are made of cheaper paper, but cost a hell of a lot less.

Also if you don't dedicate yourself to college properly, you won't get shit. And dedication is all it takes. I don't consider myself to be that smart, yet I have a 3.9 GPA. People who say you have to be smart to do that don't know what they're talking about. When I was in high school I was just like the average person I see in college: I didn't give a shit and just did the minimum I needed to get D's because that's all that was required to pass. In college you're required to get C's to pass, so that's the grade I see the most people get. TV gives this impression that college is the time to smoke weed and drink beer at dorm parties, and I'm telling you right now that it's not. College is when you're supposed to work the hardest.

My dedication has paid off already by the way. I just got hired for an internship at a fortune 500 company that pays a lot more money than I've ever earned (think: how often do internships pay anything at all?) I didn't even need to interview, they just asked for my resume and then hired me because of the reputation I've earned at school.

I don't want to hear any crying from people who can't pay off their student loans, that's their own problem that they created from their own stupidity, and they better damn sure fulfill their obligations. The occupy movement sits around doing nothing while demanding jobs, meanwhile I've been working my ass off to earn a job. The occupy movement can eat my ass, I am not part of their 99%.

GodInHell: Re:Extortion? (Score:5, Insightful)

My parents paid cash for me (and then I paid them back once I had a job). ~$80,000 really isn't that much money if you learn to SACRIFICE and save you money instead of throwing it away on Comcast cable, Verizon cellservice, and other shit that you really (to be brutally honest) do not need.

So, you're saying everyone should just have parents who SACRIFICED their whole life (and had a good job) so kiddo can get a degree interest free?

Interesting. I'm certain your experience is that of the everyman. No doubt.

Naturally, out society should be based on the premise that one's success in life should be based on how much effort your parents put into paying your way up the ladder.

slew: Re:Didn't the banks pay?

AFAIK, although there are no federal laws that require a university to withhold transcripts of students that are in default of their student loans, it is apparently highly encouraged by the department of education to withhold the transcript if a Title IV loan is in default.

However, some states have actual laws that require institutions to withhold transcripts. For instance, California Section 66022 of the California Education Code provides that...

The governing board of every community college district, the Trustees of the California State University, the Regents of the University of California, and the Board of Directors of the Hastings College of the Law shall adopt regulations providing for the withholding of institutional services from students or former students who have been notified in writing at the student's or former student's last known address that he or she is in default on a loan or loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program. The regulations shall specify the services to be withheld from the student and may include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) The provision of grades. (2) The provision of transcripts. (3) The provision of diplomas.

Also, many states (incl CA), penalize institutions that have high default rates (for instance by not making them eligible for state student loan programs like Cal Grants), so even private institutions have an incentive to help get the default rates down so they can continue to offer those loan sources to future students even if they aren't required by law to do so.

Missing.Matter: Blame on both sides

From the article, empthasis mine:

She concedes it's a difficult issue but says that "it's the only tool we have to make them pay."


A music major ... was making payments on his $62,000 student debt after graduation while working as an adjunct professor for Temple.

So we have institutions lending $62,000 to majors that have terrible job prospects, then when they can't get jobs they don't know how to get the money back... okay. How about don't lend that much money to someone who you can be pretty sure won't pay the money back? I know higher education should be accessible to all and this and that, but perhaps 62 grand for a degree in music should give us pause to reconsider a) why does a degree in music cost 62 grand and b) why does someone want to spend 62 grand for a degree in music.

I can partiall answer b). I was at a advisory board meeting for my university's CSE department recently, and some undergrads were asked the question: "So what is tuition now?" No one could answer. They don't even KNOW that they are paying $40k+ a year in tuition. This is because they don't even look at their bill. They fill out the fafsa, press a button, sign some papers, and get free money that gives another year of partying. The reality only hits them AFTER they graduate and look back at their full bill. This attitude on the student's side has got to stop

There's also the attitude on the institution side, that they can loan someone $60k for a degree in basket weaving and reasonably expect to get it back. This has to stop as well, but I don't know how to fix it.

Anonymous Coward: Defaulting is Hard

They will give you an enormous amount of patience and latitude. All you have to do is call and tell them that you can't pay them. They will ask you a few questions, then take your word in regards to your income, employment status, and expenses without asking for so much a a shred of proof, and most likely grant you a deferment of forbearance.

When I couldn't find a job about 5 years ago, at first I got by on deferment for about 6 months, after which a had to bite the bullet and take a job way beneath my education level. When I called to tell them that I was now able to pay about 50% of my payment every month, they offered to keep the deferment in place so my partial payments would go entirely to principal. Yes, that's correct - they had even stopped the interest for the entire deferment period. They stopped time itself to help me. Once I had gotten on my feet I started full repayment. When I lost that job before I'd had a chance to save and build an unemployment hedge, they did it for me again.

They withhold transcripts in cases where students have dodged them, avoided them, and failed to acknowledge the debt.

gelfling: I put 3 kids through the UNC system no debt

I put all three kids though the UNC system, Chapel-Hill, NC State and Greensboro + grad school with no debt to me or to them. Maybe NYU and the Ivies and Columbia and all the rest need to re examine the efficacy of charging ridiculous sums of money especially in this economy.

And increasing rates at 2x the rate of inflation year over year over year every year for the last 30 years.

Maybe students need to re examine the efficacy of getting an MFA in post modern Marxist-Anarchist-Lesbian critical literary theory when literally the only job they can get is teaching that to the next crop of like minded students.

Maybe parents need to stop enabling their kids to do whatever they like wherever they like for whatever it costs when it doesn't cost the students anything or they've convinced themselves that going a hundred thousand dollars in the hole is no big thing because they're a special snowflake and somebody somewhere will swoop in to bail them out. I got news for you. Anyone who MARRIES someone with huge student debt is an enormous idiot. So all the snowflakes should all work that crap out before they move on to the next phase of their lives, which no doubt will be moving in with their parents for Adolescence II, The New Beginning.

I have zero sympathy for anyone involved in this, just like the janitors who took out liar loans on half million dollar houses and now cry to Mother Government to bail them out because the banks went broke selling smoke and bullshit to EACH OTHER. Jesus Christ in a shopping cart does ANYONE bother with due diligence anymore?

JosephTX: Re:does it surprise you?

What exactly is our $600+ billion military budget protecting us (or other countries) from? No other governments want to attack us because their countries are too busy selling stuff to us. A few terrorists (which will ALWAYS be around, ESPECIALLY when you spend $600 billion annually on new explosives to destroy their communities and take their resources) don't qualify as a threat to an entire country's national security. Even if they did (and there would need to be A LOT of sporadic attacks to argue that), how exactly do gigantic fleets of warships, nuclear submarines, fighter jets, rocket launchers, tanks, and all other sorts of things (which have together ended a grand total of 0 extremist ideologies) "secure" us?

And anyway, it's fairly obvious that I meant "free" in the same way that a pre-college education is free. And substantially cheaper per capita than private alternatives. It's astounding how much public services can provide when they're actually made to service the public instead of a few rich people.

Beardo the Bearded: Re:does it surprise you?

As a Canadian, where the government is heavily involved in both providing student loans and subsidizing education, I have to say that you're totally wrong.

I graduated in 2004 with an Electrical Engineering degree. The total I had in student loans was $0. (zero) Co-op paid for most of my expenses. Courses were about $400, six per term, a total of $2400 per semester. (I know, holy shit, right?) Books were the typical ass-rape, but in the non-lubed Canadian version. (A couple of books were $120, lots at $80, I eventually just gave 'em all away.) I was not living with my parents, and rent was about $500 a month.

It's dirty socialism, right? Nope, it's long-term thinking. I pay more in taxes now than I did before I got my degree since I'm earning 2.5x what I got when I started school. I'll be paying 2.5x more taxes (more actually, since we have progressive taxes up here) for the rest of my career.

[May 02, 2012] Fall Out, and Secure For Sea; The 2012 Sino-Russian Naval Exercises The Kremlin Stooge

kirill

I remember all the cold war propaganda before the break up of the USSR. It was all chest thumping BS about western intellectual superiority over evil Russians. Funny that at the time and more so today, the educational standards in Canada and the USA were shit. I went through the Canadian school system and was lucky to still see a half decent curriculum, which was eliminated shortly afterward at both the high school and university levels.

In spite of all the decline Russia still outclasses the chest thumpers. For Russia it is really is just a matter of spending the money, as they have the skilled people and it is clear that they have maintained naval know-how and don't need to start from scratch.

So the western media can keep on snickering and writing its BS analysis from retarded analysts. This only makes it easier for Russia to recover. Then the west will be all in shock around 2020 like it was in 1957 with Sputnik. In spite of both the US and USSR getting their hands on the same German rocket technology, in 1957 Russia's rockets were vastly superior to what the US had. The key difference this time around is that the sort of personality conflicts that sabotaged the N1 program will not occur since the era of Red Directors is over.

Alex:

I know none of the great scientific discoveries which were made because someone paid for them. Real science and engineering is an art… it needs appreciative and supporting spectators.. the nation , not just qualified colleagues,… In terms of German rocket technology, USSR got essentially leftovers from USA/British tables. Still they beat US (not to mention the Britts), because there was that collective belief, an atmosphere which prevailed despite Stalinism.

Then US beat the Soviets – but IMHO – only because Kennedy managed to inspire the nation and not until Soviets started to loose faith in the local version of Communism. I am worried about modern Russia in this respect – even though it is behind the US in this too – and that is why they have a chance to be better. But I can see no signs of a clear national idea which may inspire and support the talent there. Just a desire to be richer than others is not enough – it won't create the necessary "atmosphere". Simply because to have more money than others, one does not need virtues but rather needs to be free of any.

Fortunately, the US discredited the idea of democracy so much, that I doubt they have much of the national idea left either. (of course, all of the above is IMHO )

marknesop:

Well, we don't want to get unrealistically dismissive of everything western. Although I love visiting Russia, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say I would never want to live there, given the choice I would not want to live anywhere but in Canada unless I were fabulously wealthy and did not have to work. In that case, I could live anywhere.

The North American education system provides the same opportunities to excel for those students who are fortunate enough to be born brilliant, and indeed it produces at least as many brilliant graduates as does Russia or Eastern Europe as a whole. Its weakness is in the way it coddles the less-brilliant and the outright lazy, and discourages competition. However, I'd argue that is more a function of an affluent society than anything else – surely you can think of examples of Russian contemporaries who flew through university and got great grades because their parents were wealthy, not because they were particularly gifted.

Personally, I agree the educational system in Russia – especially for the lower grades – is superior by a wide margin. I wish we would send educators there to learn and to mimic the best qualities of that process, and deplore the (general) western dismissal of the value of music programs especially as creative outlets and early indication of gifted students.

I also agree the Russian navy could be first-rate if some money were spent on it, and that the body of experience ammassed in the cold war remains relevant, since the west has not changed much but for the advance of technology. But an all-volunteer force would make the best use of motivation and professionalism, and better pay would provide a higher incentive to make a career of it. I sense the Russian leadership is on my side in this and would like to transition to a volunteer force, but it's a huge step and not one they may want to take simultaneously with beginning a quality military buildup.

You don't want to fall into the trap of assuming all western analysis is bullshit, because it's not, and you want to keep the distance that allows you to recognize honest criticism so you can address what is in your power to change. This is my biggest complaint regarding relations with Russia – too much criticism is automatic and based on Russianness rather than any real fault. It is based on the enjoyment of ridicule rather than any interest in pointing out a genuine problem and suggesting a better way. But that exchange has evolved also to produce Russian criticism of the west that is self-pitying in nature and not in any way constructive. That also hurts the country of its origin in the end.

kirill:

I am most certainly not engaged in binary logic on the issue of Russian and western scientific and technological potential. But the discussion is framed by the drivel that I read in the western media. The same media that manages to cite Daniel Yergin as their main expert on oil production and not say Collin Campbell. So there is likely to be serious analysis in the west, but I fail to see it propagated in the media.

I would disagree completely on the idea that Canadian and US education systems are no worse than other ones in the world. MIT is staffed by research associates from abroad and not home grown talent. At my university I am not surrounded by Canadians but by Europeans and east Asians. And the dumbing down of the system in Canada is real and not just my hyperbole. For example, in Ontario when they got rid of grade 13 they managed to get rid of rudimentary calculus (simple stuff like integration and differentiation). At the same time they jacked up university tuition by a factor of four in the last 20 years. So, in Canada, you have to go to university and pay to get a basic math education.

Now they are talking (as per a CBC radio program that I listened two a while ago) of having primary school students choose their topic of study in grade one. What the hell is that? Primary school is not graduate school. You need a broad spectrum of ideas introduced and not specialization. I can see it now: students learning about fire trucks and ponies for eight years.

marknesop:

I would agree with the suggestion that the media is far more guilty of slanting analysis than the agencies that develop it. And you are apparently much closer to education than I, so I defer to you there. And indeed the level of student input to the curriculum is getting crazy if students so young are being allowed to make life-changing decisions before the soft patch in the top of their skull is properly hardened up.

A side effect of dropping Grade 13 you may not have known was that the children of military members were once entitled to their first year of university or college free (tuition and books). My daughter was able to benefit from that program, years ago. However, it was recently dropped. When I asked why, I learned that it had always been an offset for Grade 13, since it was considered college preparatory and other provinces did not have it. Therefore, they were placed at a disadvantage someone convinced the government they should make up. So in the end dropping Grade 13 might have been more a cost-saving measure than anything else.

Alex:

No, I don't fall into dismissing "western" science outright. IMHO – it is (was) more balanced. The Soviet science was over-focused on the high creative end and largely neglected the "base" i.e. properly qualified "ordinary" scientific workers & "support" staff – those who do not create new ideas themselves diectly but implement somebody's .(in fact, a similar problem was in the Soviet army with its neglect of noncom-equivalent level staff).

I am not sure what is worse in science – the Soviet cultural contempt of "grey"/"average" – or to have everyone without exception "gray" – without any creative streak – as in the current Australian (including imported British and US ) science? (actually, I am sure )

What I do know though, is that "western" educated "scientists" I met, consistently lacked the skills to understand and especially, use even basic math, not to mention physics (in "natural" sciences) and that at best they tended to know facts ( when they actually did), rather then being able to generate new. Well, if their – usually family – scientific "business" generated income with minimum input, why not to maximize net profit margin by minimizing expenses? Only logical to do so. (although the amounts of provincial snobbery I observed would be hard to justify even with a real talent).
I admit, that my opinion might be, excessively biased – perhaps, I happened to observe a particularly unfortunate (but large) statistical sample.

kievite

Personally, I agree the educational system in Russia – especially for the lower grades – is superior by a wide margin. I wish we would send educators there to learn and to mimic the best qualities of that process, and deplore the (general) western dismissal of the value of music programs especially as creative outlets and early indication of gifted students.

I strongly disagree. My feeling is that Soviet educational system was almost completely destroyed during Brezhnev years and the level of scientific establishment degradation was simply staggering. What can be admitted is that motivation to get education was pretty high and the family pressure to get into university was tremendous. Especially for boys as otherwise they would be recruited into Soviet Army. That was an excellent motivator.

Another powerful motivator was that talented people have nowhere to go but into science and engineering. Few wanted to join KGB or party machinery. This unique situation disappeared with the dissolution of the USSR and can't be reproduced. Look how many PhD became the sharks of business in no time. They were business sharks from the beginning and just have nowhere to apply their skills . Berezovsky is good example here.

Berezovsky was born in 1946 in Moscow to Abram Markovich Berezovsky, a Jewish civil engineer in construction works, and his wife Anna Gelman.[24] He studied forestry and then applied mathematics, receiving his doctorate in 1983.[25][26] After graduating from the Moscow Forestry Engineering Institute in 1968, Berezovsky worked as an engineer, from 1969 till 1987 serving as assistant research officer, research officer and finally the head of a department in the Institute of Management Problems of the USSR Academy of Sciences.[27] Berezovsky conducted research on optimization and control theory, publishing 16 books and articles between 1975 and 1989; his Erdős number is 4.[26]

IMHO the level of university education was also pretty dismal but the exam system in which you need to have tete-a-tete discussion with the examiner was is some respects better that standardized tests typical for the US universities.

Another problem was that the level of university teachers became really low and number of hours they were assigned were neck-breaking on low levels in 70th. So the last decade before 1991, Soviet educational system was in the same deep crisis as the society in general if not worse.

marknesop:

Well, there may be something to that – the suggestion that the choice for talented people is restricted to science and engineering – but I am talking about the lower grades, and surely children at that point in their education are not being pressured to choose between science and engineering? And what about the Moscow School of Higher Economics? Maybe that's a science (is it?), but although it churns out more idiots per square mile than almost any other institution in Russia, it still seems a very prestigious school.

Again, my experience is limited to what I saw while I was there and that of my own family. But I found the respect for a good education undiminished in today's Russia, the children expected to adhere to a better standard of public behavior and the rewards and encouragement for academic excellence to be better by far. It is my impression that the western school system – and again, I'm only talking about the lower grades, I did not go to university or college and have no experience of them myself – discourages competition in favour of making the student feel he is part of a team and that students must work together and pace themselves to the slowest student, so that nobody's feelings are hurt by not being able to keep up. This rewards the unruly, the dull and stupid and the disruptive with a disproportionate amount of attention as the system tries to induce them to play along with the team. Incidents of teachers being investigated because of alleged humiliation of students or being too heavy-handed with the discipline are way up in Canada at least, as it begins to dawn on students that there is no penalty for making false accusations and the ensuing investigation will likely result at least in the teacher being reassigned elsewhere: sometimes they leave the educational system altogether.

My mother-in-law, wife and sister-in-law were all in education – my mother-in-law is retired while the other two remain in education – and I'm sure they would back me up that the attention to a proper education rather than social engineering remains the priority in Russia, especially in the younger grades. I would stipulate this might be less so or perhaps not at all at the state schools, where it seems few want to teach. My wife taught at a private school, which seem ridiculously easy to set up in Russia, and companies often set up schools for the children of workers while the country remained the Soviet Union. I imagine this is less common now. I would stipulate also that teachers are poorly paid, and I believe that was one of the problem areas addressed in Mr. Putin's campaign speeches. I don't mean to suggest the educational system in Russia is problem-free, certainly it is not, but the net beneficiaries at the lower-grade end seem to be the students rather than the system, owing to a significantly better grasp of priorities. It's not so much that the Russian system is so superb as it is that ours is so bad.

kievite

May 4, 2012 Mark,
I greatly appreciate your comment about Moscow School of Higher Economics :-) . That's very true, unfortunately. Still I suspect you view educational system in Russia a little bit via rose glasses. Yes there were (and are) compensating positive factors. For example Alex mentioned one that I missed:

The main difference between Soviet and what I saw in "western" so-to-speak "science" was the atmosphere. The people were not there to make a buck – they were there to understand how things worked.

But the key was that all other channels of self-realization (and first of all business and finance which sucks disproportionate amount of talent here in the West) were closed and gifted students were pushed into science and technology. Again this situation now is history and is irreproducible.

As for your observation:

But I found the respect for a good education undiminished in today's Russia, the children expected to adhere to a better standard of public behavior and the rewards and encouragement for academic excellence to be better by far.

I really would like that it turns out to be true, but I am skeptical. I remember my middle and high schools years pretty well and even at this pretty distant point interest switched considerably toward "general popularity" instead of scholastic achievements. Degradation was also visible in textbooks: old textbooks were replaced with new, IMHO largely inferior (for example, great textbooks "Geometry" by Kiselov and Algebra (don't remember the author) was replaced by something written by Kochetkov&Kochetkova, greatly inferior from all points of view. Junk that simply reflected the current (for the time) math fashion. I would agree that most teachers were great.

Level of education at universities was generally pretty dismal but, paradoxically, university system produced considerable number of world class graduates. I suspect that those who managed to became good engineers and scientists were by and large self-thought and own this to their talent, unique level of interest in chosen specialty and "drive to study" no matter what, not so much to teachers and textbooks. With few exception (mainly math and physics) "native" textbooks were weak. But actually most of Western best textbooks were available in translations from Mir Publishing house.

There was a pretty good song by Alla Pushover (A Half -Taught Wizard ) that depicted the typical situation with university graduates:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjRsxMkGyE0&feature=related

In 80th Soviet Science was was already "cooked" and a lot (I would say most) of university professors were real pseudo-scientists - some were Lysenkoists advancing ther absurd, harmful theories, some were simply shrewd administrators who used scientific degree as a milking cow and has zero interest in science whatsoever. Both those types poisoned the system to the extent that almost nothing good can grow. Now I understand that Western Universities are far from paradize too and it might be that if you can't get used to heat get out of the kitchen. Actually many things in Western science remind me Brezhvev years - academic gangs recruted by nationality (Indian, Jewish, etc). Empires created by "scientific school leaders" who now mostly are interested in protecting and milking thier franchases and control publications the way academic mandarines did it in the USSR. And so on and so forth. It might well be that real science always exists "not due" to favorable conditions but "against all odds"… But at least Western universities provide much better visibility for young talent.

Returning to the USSR situation, another sign of degradation was that most of PHD thesis ("dissertations") were junk even in Moscow, to say nothing about Asian republics ;-) . And the whole academic institutes were "zero producing" fictions with no real return on investment - kind of "sinecura" for inhabitants - collection of working moms, completely corrupted "chiefstans" and 1% of accidentally preserved "real scientists" that were exploited and humiliated.

Boris and Arkady Strugatsky famous novell "Monday Begins on Saturday" is a pretty telling testimony of the general academic environment in Brezhnev's USSR

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monday_Begins_on_Saturday

But I would completely agree with the part where you talk about discouraging competition in Western schools:

It is my impression that the western school system – and again, I'm only talking about the lower grades, I did not go to university or college and have no experience of them myself – discourages competition in favour of making the student feel he is part of a team and that students must work together and pace themselves to the slowest student, so that nobody's feelings are hurt by not being able to keep up. This rewards the unruly, the dull and stupid and the disruptive with a disproportionate amount of attention as the system tries to induce them to play along with the team. Incidents of teachers being investigated because of alleged humiliation of students or being too heavy-handed with the discipline are way up in Canada at least, as it begins to dawn on students that there is no penalty for making false accusations and the ensuing investigation will likely result at least in the teacher being reassigned elsewhere: sometimes they leave the educational system altogether.

I was also always surposed at dismal results achieved despite very good textbooks and excellent, extremly rich facilities. There is one funny nuance here. Sometimes law system is used to secure specific place or as a kind of "achivement lift" ( http://reason.com/archives/2003/05/08/dont-mess-with-the-best )

The school painted Hornstine's father as the villain. According to the Times article, "They say that the student's father, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Louis Hornstine, told [Superintendent Paul J.] Kadri during a meeting that he would 'use any advantage of the laws and regulations' to give his daughter 'the best opportunity to be valedictorian.'"
That kind of obsession with the vaunted valedictorian title seems absurd, especially when it comes from the father, not the student herself. But I wonder if the school might be just as confounded if Daddy had said he'd look for loopholes that would allow his daughter to receive the very best education possible. To me, that's being a smart parent. If your tax dollars are paying for a massively bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all public school, you may as well make the best of it.

Alex
@cartman
Your assessment is as extreme as mine, which usually means that the truth is somewhere in between (I don;t believe it is in the middle, though) :)

In the Soviet Republics .. the were two lines of academic career (and Soviet high education in general) – "National" (whatever the main nationality in the Republic happened to be) and "Russian" (which included all other nationalities – mostly the Russians and Jews). These two lines never crossed each other – one lived and communicated within his cohort. The main difference between the streams was that, if one did not happen to belong to the "national kadre" stream, the only available option was to be able to do something real..

What Mark said about "averaging" in the "western" schools I also observed first hand. In Australia, at primary schools at least some teachers take sometimes drastic measures to show to the kids that to be "more clever" is not a virtue. They do it somewhat less in what is called "high" school (from year 6 on). (but by this time there is no need anyway). The result was mostly good, sociable human material – which being employed anywhere – especially in scientific research , would not offend any manager with the excessive talents.

[May 01, 2012] ISM Manufacturing index indicates faster expansion in April

lama:

Yeah, you have to be careful about catching trends or missing trends when starting out in a discipline. My brother has an undergrad in Nuclear Engineering from 1978. Never used it due to political stuff. He worked in our family business until '83, then had to take the degree off his resume to get a job as a tech. He got a MS in EE later and ended up redesigning many medical instruments and air quality equipment to be electronic in nature as opposed to pneumatic or otherwise mechanical. Not exactly related to Nuclear.

My nephew just graduated from a top school with BS in Environmental Engineering and I'm concerned about him having the same fate.

[Apr 30, 2012] Paul Krugman: Wasting Our Minds

Economist's View

College graduates are struggling, and the "war on the young" is "doing immense harm, not just to the young, but to the nation's future":

Wasting Our Minds, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: In Spain, the unemployment rate among workers under 25 is more than 50 percent. In Ireland almost a third of the young are unemployed. Here in America, youth unemployment is "only" 16.5 percent, which is still terrible - but things could be worse.

And sure enough, many politicians are doing all they can to guarantee that things will, in fact, get worse. ... Let's start with some advice Mitt Romney gave to college students..., "Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business."

The first thing you notice .. is ... the distinctive lack of empathy for those who ... can't rely on the Bank of Mom and Dad to finance their ambitions. ... I mean, "get the education"? And pay for it how? Tuition ... has soared... Mr. Romney ... would drastically cut federal student aid, causing roughly a million students to lose their Pell grants. ...

There is, however, a larger issue: even if students do manage, somehow, to "get the education," which they do all too often by incurring a lot of debt, they'll be graduating into an economy that doesn't seem to want them. ... And research tells us that the price isn't temporary..., their earnings are depressed for life.

What the young need most of all, then, is a better job market. People like Mr. Romney claim that they have the recipe for job creation: slash taxes on corporations and the rich, slash spending on public services and the poor. But we now have plenty of evidence on how these policies actually work in a depressed economy - and they clearly destroy jobs rather than create them. ...

What should we do to help America's young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want. We should be expanding student aid, not slashing it. And we should reverse the de facto austerity policies that are holding back the U.S. economy - the unprecedented cutbacks at the state and local level, which have been hitting education especially hard.

Yes, such a policy reversal would cost money. But refusing to spend that money is foolish and shortsighted even in purely fiscal terms. Remember, the young aren't just America's future; they're the future of the tax base, too.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste; wasting the minds of a whole generation is even more terrible. Let's stop doing it.

bakho:

This goes both ways. Government pays less percentage, but colleges have bloated upper administrations and State Universities try to copy elite and pricey private schools. That is probably a bad model.

At the same time, residential college costs are in part driven by the high cost of room and board which can easily be more than tuition at an in State University.

The model of giving Grants to students who use them at private and public schools alike is not a good one. The money should be given as direct subsidy to keep college costs affordable for everyone. Not all the amenities should be delivered to everyone.

LA:

The CPI college tuition index is growing at 7.5% annually, compared to health care's 5.7%. Both are already heavily subsidized by taxpayers. The growth in tuition rates dwarfs that of home prices during the bubble. And the suggestion is to inflate the bubble further?

paine :

Excellent basis from witch to approach this crisis. The twin price monsters health and education
in particular tertiary education need a drastic emergency price freeze

That said i agree with pumping in bigger grants now for new courses instead of a debt jubilee.

Incentive at the margin and all

however student debt relief is a glamour notion among the occupy types so i won't swim against the tide

uncle could buy up the trillion in lans and dole out some reduction formula rebates

Ellis:

In the end, college is about class. What Krugman bemoans is the lack of opportunity for the middle class. But what about the working class and poor, who can't go to college? Young black men have more of a chance to go to prison than to college.

Morticum:

I was skimming an article about the unemployed youth in the EU (28% in Italy between 16 and 24). "Italy's new prime minister, Mario Monti, has vowed to help the younger generation, promising among other things to help them start businesses..."

How about this instead? Starting a business can be challenging to say the least. You have to have a marketable idea and room for competition in the market place, not to mention money. What if instead you factor in the large aging population and "help the younger generation" by establishing lines of succession?

I'd bet there are family owned businesses all over the EU, as anywhere, and some of those restaurants, shops, etc. are not in a position to be passed on to the next familial generation. A generation of young adults went through the 90s and noughts getting college educations so they didn't have to be stuck at Dad's paint store or Mom's deli the rest of their lives. But even if it wasn't the right fit for Vito Jr. maybe the kid down the block would love nothing more to be a butcher the rest of his life.

"So buy out the business!" you might say. With what money? With what experience? Serving what customer base? The people that shopped at Vito's for 40 years because they liked the guy? Are they going to patronize the new guy?

There's some merit to the idea of jobs placement with an understanding the work, dedication, saving, investment will lead to ownership once Vito retires. On-the-job training specific to the business (not a liberal arts education), the market and customers. Hell, it might encourage him to retire early instead of working until the moment he dies face-down in the saccicia.

Darryl FKA Ron -> BillTuckerUS...

"America's problem is its continued obeisance to the "Free Trade" mantra. The eventual result of this will be that U.S. wages and benefits are reduced to the levels found in China and India."

You are not alone, but nearly alone. There are a few on this blog that are with you. Among the pundocracy only a few at the far margins will make these points. Here are links and references to a couple of odd ball activists:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/12/08/the-real-reason-why-unemployment-will-remain-high/

"The main reason for the persistently high jobless rate in the U.S. is due to poorly structured trade policies which have reduced the incentives for domestic job creation. This has reduced demand during the current recession. However, real demand has been in decline for over two decades. Most consumers are unaware of this trend because it was masked by the rapid growth of the consumer credit industry and misguided monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Only after the implosion of the credit and real estate bubbles have Americans begun to see the real face of the U.S. economy."


http://www.michaelparenti.org/the_face_of_imperialism.html

"A searing indictment of the ruthless nature of imperial capitalism. Eloquent, deeply researched, and beautifully argued, The Face of Imperialism is a truly wonderful book that is essential for understanding the world we live in. Parenti's compassionate voice is a much-needed corrective to the lies we are routinely fed." -Gregory Elich, author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit

"Michael Parenti's study of imperialism provides a timely and incisive framework for understanding the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. His analysis of the links between autocrats and Washington is essential to comprehend the powerful tide of hostility that informs the popular revolutions." -James Petras, Bartle Professor Emeritus, Binghamton University

"Parenti's new book, The Face of Imperialism, is by far the best and boldest of all his formidable work. It meticulously exposes the disastrous consequences of the greed of multinational (mostly U.S.) corporations, and it documents how and why they control our government, which claims to foster democracy but systematically supports the dictatorships that cater to the profit motives of those corporations." -John Gerassi, Queens College and the Graduate Center of CUNY and author of Great Fear in Latin America and Talking with Sartre: Conversations and Debates

In the last half-century we have witnessed a dramatic expansion of American corporate power into every corner of the world, accompanied by an equally awesome growth in U.S. military power. These phenomena are often treated as independent developments. Here, Michael Parenti brings them together in a sharp critique aimed as much at errant liberals and certain Marxists as at the dominant political actors who have perpetrated the imperial lie.

Parenti adds shocking new evidence to the litany of injustices visited upon victims of U.S. imperialism: expropriation of their communal wealth and natural resources, complete privatization and deregulation of their economies, loss of local markets, deterioration of their living standards, a growing debt burden, and the bloodstained suppression of their democratic movements.

Just as compelling is Parenti's convincing case that the empire feeds off the republic. He shows how the richly financed corporate-military complex is matched at home by increasing poverty, the defunding of state and local governments, drastic cutbacks in human services, decaying infrastructure, and impending ecological disaster.

In this brilliant new book, Michael Parenti redefines empire and imperialism to connect the current crisis in America to its own bad behavior worldwide.

The Face of Imperialism makes clear that:

■The purpose of the U.S. global empire is not the pursuit of power for power's sake but power to fashion the world into a corporate dominated global free-market. There is a politico-economic content behind the pursuit of imperial power.
■U.S. foreign policy is neither inept nor misguided. Rather, it is largely successful in serving the interests of transnational corporate America. This process of global expropriation by the superrich -often involving the use of force and violence- is what is known as imperialism.
■Third World poverty is not a product of "underdevelopment" but of overexploitation and maldevelopment.
■The drastic development of climate change is not a thing of the next generation or end of the century. Catastrophic changes are happening now. For us to survive we must roll back the empire, develop sustainable energy, and rid ourselves of the profit pathology.

... ... ...

Lafayette:

{Romney: "Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business."}

Right ... his father was CEO of American Motors, so Mitt was born with a silver-spoon in his mouth.

Yes, he made hundreds of millions of dollar and, supposedly, therefore, he is "presidential timber". If being a multi-millionaire is a sine qua non condition for the White House, then heaven help America.

Because its political class is riven with millionaires - who, thinking that they "made it", then don't know what in hell to do with their time. So they become politicians.

Do they know what the trials and tribulations of grassroots America? Sure, they've heard of them. From afar.

Do they care? If they cared, grassroots America would not be in the predicament it presently finds itself.

The One Percenters should not be running America from LaLaLand on the Potomac. That's where the 99-Percenters belong.

So, let's put 'em there ...

[Apr 23, 2012] What is Higher Education For

April 19, 2012 | Economist's View

Michael Perelman responds to recent comments:

What is Higher Education for?, Unsettling Economics: On Mark Thoma's blog, Economist's View, there is an active debate about my post on the Demise of Higher Education.

The comments divided relatively predictable ways, according to whether the commentor were inclined toward Republican or Democratic policies, but relatively little energy was given to the question of the value of higher education. Most people can appreciate the beneficial technologies will that depend upon the scientific training and research that goes on in universities, although not everybody recognizes the debt that society owes to higher education in such developments.

Higher education can mean more than learning about science or classical literature. My own first learning experience in higher education had little to do with a classroom. I found myself in contact with a much wider variety of people that I had ever previously encountered. That in itself broadened my perspective on life. Classes in history, as well as classical music and literature, helped to give me a sense of the life and culture of other parts of the world. My greatest benefit from higher education was a curiosity about the world that I had lacked before.

Let me turn for a moment to an observation about my field, economics. Many of the economists who other economists recognize for making the greatest contributions to their field are people who benefited from exposure to different fields. The winner of the not-really Nobel Prize, Kenneth Arrow, was trained as a meteorologist during the Second World War. Similarly, Nobelist Paul Samuelson worked with mathematicians, engineers, and physicists developing radar during the war. Phil Mirowski's Machine Dreams is filled with such examples. Of course, scientists have gotten inspiration from similar experiences.

In short, education in general is not something that can be easily measured in objective terms. Ideas, which initially seemed kooky, often later turn out to be crucial for future development.

The me finish by saying that my complaints are not the product of some disgruntled academic, upset over low pay, mistreatment, or any other personal problems. I enjoy what I do. In fact, if I were willing to retire, I could teach half-time for a few years while collecting my pension. If I did, my income would increase but I can only do so [keep teaching] for five years. Consequently, I pay to keep teaching. I have good relationships with my chairman, my dean, and president of the University.

My anger is directed toward the forces that are working to destroy a world, which I love.

[Apr 19, 2012] The Demise of Higher Education in the United States

Unsettling Economics

The United States has experienced two major growth spurts in higher education. In 1862, the Morrill Act changed the face of higher education will by granting each state 30,000 acres of public land for each senator and representative. Sale of the land was intended to create an endowment fund for the support of colleges in each of the states. Prior to the creation of the land-grant colleges, higher education was predominantly intended for wealthy students and those intending to serve as clergy. The land-grant colleges expanded higher education to different regions and a different class of students. This expansion, however, was still incomplete.

The second episode was the G.I. Bill, which was not so much intended to promote education, but rather to prevent another Bonus March, in which angry soldiers returning from the First World War demanded early payment of their promised bonuses to help cushion the hardships of the Great Depression. Offering education was expected to channel potential discontent.

The G.I. Bill paid a different kind of bonus. The doors of colleges and universities opened to people for whom higher education would have been out of reach. Their skills proved invaluable during the postwar economic boom. A second unintended bonus flowed from the G.I. Bill. To accommodate the massive inflow of students, colleges and universities built infrastructure to expand their capacity to handle so many students. After the wave of veteran enrollments dissipated, colleges and universities had to choose between letting this infrastructure sit idle or enrolling more students.

Judging from my experience teaching during the Vietnam War, returning these veterans must have made an important contribution to the teaching environment. Although many soldiers were unable to put their lives together after the trauma of war, some came back, totally focused on making something of themselves. Some of their maturity and dedication rubbed off onto the younger cohort of students.

A less dramatic burst of government spending into education came from the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which was a response to the USSR's launch of Sputnik, the previous year. This time, much of the money was narrowly focused on improving the quality of science and language education.

I have personally experienced the rise and fall of higher education in the United States. I enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1957, a few months before Sputnik was launched then, in 1965, I enrolled in graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. This was a time of great optimism about the future. I did not realize that very hard times for higher education were about to begin.

As the student population swelled during the 1960′s, the youth culture developed as a result of demographic changes, the Vietnam War and skepticism about consumptionism clashed with a different kind of pressure: a sagging rate of profit, following decades of unparalleled prosperity.

Under these conditions, the goal became to reverse the gains from the G.I. Bill. Rather than including people in education, who might otherwise threaten the status quo, reining in the University system seemed urgent. In the fall of 1970, Governor Reagan's aide Roger Freeman, who later served as President Nixon's educational policy advisor, while he was working at the time for California Governor Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign, commented on Reagan's education policy: "We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That's dynamite! We have to be selective about who we allow to through higher education. If not, we will have a large number of highly trained and unemployed people."

In 1971, just before he was nominated for the Supreme Court, Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer wrote a now-famous memo, "Attack of American Free Enterprise System" for the Chamber of Commerce. Higher education appeared to be at the heart of this attack on free enterprise. He described how the Chamber could gain more control over the educational system.

Although the memo was superficial at best, it sparked great interest among the elites, influencing or inspiring the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. ...

Tax reduction ... also had an important effect on education. Growing budget deficits would ramp up pressure to privatize what had been previously public responsibilities. By largely defunding education, universities became increasingly dependent on corporate money. Administrators became cautious about allowing expression of ideas that might seem upsetting to business. These factors took an enormous toll on higher education.

Tuition began a rapid ascent. Student debt accumulated. University funds were concentrated on programs that cater to business needs, such as biotechnology and engineering, and, naturally, business schools. Visiting Berkeley, I am always struck by the lavish libraries for biotechnology and business, while the other disciplinary libraries were unchanged. The one exception that stood out was public health, which was torn down to make way for a new biotech building and then moved to the basement of an old administrative building.

The educational assembly-line that Mario Savio described during the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley has changed, but not for the better. At the same time, leaders in business and politics insist that education is an essential element to a successful economy. Nonetheless, education becomes increasingly unaffordable, at the same time that the quality [is declining]...

[Mar 30, 2012] The Myth of the "Knowledge Economy by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Only 25 Per Cent of All Americans Go to College and Only 16 Per Cent of These Actually Try to Learn Anything. Welcome a Nation of Helots.
Counterpunch

"In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a first-class education," President Obama famously declared in his 2010 State of the Union Address, just as millions of high schoolers across the nation were embarking on the annual ritual of picking their preferred colleges and preparing the grand tour of the prospects, with parents in tow, gazing ashen faced at the prospective fees.

The image is of the toiling students springing from lecture room to well-paying jobs demanding advanced skills in all the arts that can make America great again – outthinking, outknowing the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, South Koreans and Germans in the cutting edge, cut-throat high tech economies of tomorrow.

Start with the raw material in this epic knowledge battle. As a dose of cold water over all this high-minded talk it's worth looking at Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum's recently published "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses." The two profs followed more than 2,300 undergraduates at 29 universities, selected to represent the range of America's 2000-plus four-year college institutions. As resumed by Steven Kent in Daily Finance:

Among the authors' findings: 32 per cent of the students whom they followed in an average semester did not take any courses that assigned more than 40 pages of reading per week. Half did not take any courses in which more than 20 pages of writing were assigned throughout the entire term. Furthermore, 35 per cent of the students sampled spent five hours or less a week studying alone.

Typical students spent about 16 per cent of their time on academic pursuits, and were "academically engaged," write the authors, less than 30 hours a week. After two years in college, 45 per cent of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36 per cent showed little change. And the students who did show improvement only logged very modest gains. Students spent 50 per cent less time studying compared with students a few decades ago.

Students who majored in traditional liberal arts fields like philosophy, history and English showed 'significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study.'" But of course these are the courses and instructors being ruthlessly pruned back.

One of the study's authors , Richard Arum, says college governing boards, shoveling out colossal sums to their presidents, athletic coaches and senior administrative staff, demand that the focus be "student retention," also known as trying very hard not to kick anyone out for not doing any measurable work. As Arun put it to Money College, "Students are much more likely to drop out of school when they are not socially engaged, and colleges and universities increasingly view students as consumers and clients. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all students want to be exposed to a rigorous academic program."

Rick Santorum briefly struck out at ingrained snobbery about going to college: "President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob." Amid howls from Republican governors, this was a piece of derision it didn't take him long to retract. Actually, it turns out only about 30 per cent of Americans over the age of 25 have bachelor's degrees. Jack Metzgar, emeritus professor of humanities at Roosevelt University in Chicago, had a very useful piece in Working Class Perspectives, the blog of the Center for Working Class Studies Site, with this and other useful facts and reflections.

The US government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2010 only 20 per cent of jobs required a bachelor's degree, whereas 26 per cent of jobs did not even require a high school diploma, and another 43 per cent required only a high school diploma or equivalent.

Please note that the latter 69 per cent were therefore free of the one debt in America that's even more certain than taxes – a students loan. At least, if you're provably broke the IRS will countenance an "offer in compromise." In fact they recently made the process slightly easier. No such luck with student loans. The banks are in your pocket till the last dime of loan plus interest has been extorted.

Now for the next dose of cold water. The BLS reckons that by 2020 the overwhelming majority of jobs will still require only a high school diploma or less and that nearly 3/4ths of "job openings due to growth and replacement needs" over the next 10 years will pay a median wage of less than $35,000 a year, with nearly 30 per cent paying a median of about $20,000 a year (in 2010 dollars

As Metzgar correctly remarks, "Put these two sets of numbers together, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Americans are over educated for the jobs that we have and are going to have. It's hard to imagine why anybody would call us 'a knowledge economy.'" In other words millions of Americans are over-educated, servicing endless debt to the banks and boosting the bottom lines of Red Bull and the breweries.

The snobbery, as Metzgar points out, stems from the fact that America's endless, mostly arid debates about education are conducted by the roughly one third who are college-educated and have okay jobs and a decent income.

The "knowledge economy" in the U.S., now needs more than 6 million people with master's or doctoral degrees now, with another 1.3 million needed by 2020. But this will still be less than 5 per cent of the overall economy.

Even if we expand the definition to include jobs requiring any education beyond high school, the "knowledge economy" – now and a decade from now -will still represent less than one-third of all available jobs.

This is a lot of jobs, about 44 million now, and if you work and live in this one-third, especially in its upper reaches, more education can seem like the answer to everything.

Indeed, according to the BLS, having a bachelor's degree should yield a person nearly $30,000 a year more in wages than a high school graduate. But most of the American economy is not like this.

The BLS's three largest occupational categories by themselves accounted for more than one-third of the workforce in 2010 (49 million jobs), and they will make an outsized contribution to the new jobs projected for 2020.They are: Office and administrative support occupations (median wage of $30,710);- Sales and related occupations ($24,370); Food preparation and serving occupations($18,770). Other occupations projected to provide the largest number of new jobs in the next decade include child care workers ($19,300), personal care aides ($19,640), home health aides ($20,560), janitors and cleaners ($22,210), teacher assistants ($23,220), non-construction laborers ($23,460), security guards ($23,920), and construction laborers ($29,280).

As Metzgar writes, "As an individual, get a bachelor's Degree or you are doomed to work hard for a wage that will not provide a decent standard of living for a family. You may not get such a wage even with a bachelor's degree, but without it your chances are slim and getting slimmer." Here's his kicker: But as a society, "the best anti-poverty program around" cannot possibly be "a first-class education" when more than 2/3rds of our jobs require nothing like that…we need to stop fostering illusions that good educations can ever substitute for the organized collective action - in politics, in the workplace, and in the streets – that will be required to reverse the increasingly miserable future."

So what is the best anti-poverty program? Higher wages for the jobs that are out there, currently yielding impossibly low annual incomes. The current American minimum wage ranges between $7.25 and $8.67 per hour. From time to time senior executives of Wal-Mart call for a rise in the minimum wage since, in the words of one former CEO, Lee Scott, "our customers simply don't have the money to buy basic necessities between pay checks." The minimum wage in Ontario, Canada, is currently well over $10 per hour, while in France it now stands at nearly $13. Australia recently raised its minimum wage to over $16 per hour, and nonetheless has an unemployment rate of just 5 percent.

Any Republican candidate seriously pledging to raise the minimum wage to $12 would gallop into the White House, unless – a solid chance – he wasn't shot dead by the Commentariat, or maybe by a Delta team acting on Obama's determination relayed to him by the bankers, that this constituted a terrorist assault on America. As Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative – who favors a big hike in the minimum wage, recently wrote:

"The minimum wage represents one of those political issues whose vast appeal to ordinary voters is matched by little if any interest among establishment political elites. As an example, in 1996, following years of unsuccessful attempts to attract the support of California politicians, disgruntled union activists led by State Sen. Hilda Solis, now serving as President Obama's secretary of labor, scraped together the funds to place a huge 35 percent minimum wage increase on the state ballot. Once Republican pollsters began testing the issue, they discovered voter support was so immensely broad and deep that the ballot initiative could not possibly be defeated, and they advised their business clients to avoid any attempt to do so, thus allowing the measure to pass in a landslide against almost no organized opposition. Afterward, the free-market naysayers who had predicted economic disaster were proven entirely wrong, and instead the state economy boomed."

[Feb 13, 2012] The Daily Bruin Two UCLA computer science professors teach classes without pay

One academic department at UCLA has found an unusual luxury to help it weather budget cuts: professors teaching for free.

For the past two years, Carey Nachenberg and Giovanni Pau of the computer science department have been teaching one class a year without salary.

The two arrived at UCLA under very different circumstances. Nachenberg, an Angelino from birth, attended UCLA from 1989 to 1995. During this time, he excelled as a student and became very active in his department, participating in engineering competitions and even setting up some of his own. He became a department scholar, which allowed him to receive both his undergraduate and master's degree concurrently.

During his first year, Nachenberg landed an internship with Peter Norton Computing, which later became the computer security company Symantec. He maintained his internship throughout his college career and began to work for the company after graduating from UCLA.

In 2001 he began teaching undergraduate classes at UCLA as an outside lecturer, while continuing his work at Symantec. He has patented 49 inventions, most of them involving computer security, software updating and e-mail security.

Pau followed a different path to the university. He first came to the campus as an exchange student while doing his doctorate work with the University of Bologna in Italy. But the research he worked on interested him so much that he turned down a faculty position in Italy to work at UCLA as a research scientist in 2003.

"My job is a research career. The main thing I work on is research, but I like teaching because I get to meet bright young men and women," Pau said.

In 2004, Pau began teaching a class with colleague Mario Gerla, one of the senior professors in the department, and has been teaching on and off since then as much as his research allows.

Two years ago, budget cuts forced the computer science department to readjust its finances by cutting some outside lecturers, such as Nachenberg.

When David Smallberg, who teaches Computer Science 32 with Nachenberg, told him there was no money available for him that quarter, Nachenberg decided to teach for free.

Nachenberg, who had already risen to the prestigious position of vice president fellow at Symantec, earned enough money that he had already been donating most of his UCLA paycheck to charities and to scholarships for UCLA students.

"I love teaching – it's great to interact with students and teach them computer science," Nachenberg said. "I have a real passion for this, and I like passing on my knowledge to my students."

For both Pau and Nachenberg, teaching is a rewarding experience.

"For me, teaching is like breathing new air," Pau said. "As a researcher, you become so focused in your work that you become isolated from the world, but as a teacher, you learn from students and reconnect."

Although Pau is not an outside lecturer, he also agreed to teach free of salary and is entirely dependent on his own grant for funding.

"I decided to do it because it helps out the department, and (the department) appreciates that, but also because I learn different things from my students, from human behavior to different technical things that apply to my work, which is very rewarding," Pau said.

For Nachenberg, one of the rewards of the job is that some of his former students end up working with him at Symantec through internships that he offers to his class.

Richard Muntz, professor of computer science and undergraduate vice chair for the department, said Pau's class, as an elective, is especially helpful to keep the diversity of the department intact because it offers students a different type of class that lets students build their own programs.

Nachenberg's introduction to computer science class, which is a requirement, allows more people to take that course with a good student-to-teacher ratio, Smallberg said.

"Right now, we teach three lectures of that class. If he didn't teach, we'd have to move to only two sections with a larger number of people, which would affect the quality of the teacher-to-student ratio," Smallberg said.

Moreover, Pau and Nachenberg are among the most popular professors in the department, Muntz said.

Nachenberg's antics – giving out candy as a reward for answering questions, including jokes in his lectures and blasting sleeping students with an air cannon – are all part of a plan to keep students interested in his class.

At the end of the year, he also revamps the most difficult lectures of the year and writes completely new lectures from scratch in an attempt to make the material easier to understand.

"He's very easygoing and entertaining," Smallberg said. "Computer Science 32 is a difficult subject, and students usually rank professors harder on difficult classes, but he keeps people focused and his lectures are very entertaining."

Pau's class, in which groups of students develop computer programs from scratch, is also among the most popular electives, Muntz said.

Pau tries to keep the class interesting by allowing students to develop new programs for mobile platforms like the Motorola Droid and the Apple iPhone. Pau also uses new technologies, like Skype, to make himself more accessible to his students.

"Just because these guys teach for free, people shouldn't think that they're not qualified," Muntz said. "They are some of the best teachers in the department."

[Nov 24, 2011] National Testing Push Yielded Few Learning Advances Report (VIDEO)

NEW YORK -- Education policies pushing more tests haven't necessarily led to more learning, according to a new National Research Council report.

"We went ahead, implementing this incredibly expensive and elaborate strategy for changing the education system without creating enough ways to test whether what we are doing is useful or not," said Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and member of the committee that produced the report.

Heavily testing students and relying on their scores in order to hold schools -- and in some cases teachers -- accountable has become the norm in education policy. The No Child Left Behind Act, the largest piece of education legislation on the federal level, for example, uses performance on math and reading exams to gauge whether schools are failing or succeeding -- and which schools are closed or phased out.

"Incentives are powerful, which means they don't always do what they want them to do," said Kevin Lang, a committee member who also chairs Boston University's economics department. "As applied so far, they have not registered the type of improvements that everyone has hoped for despite the fact that it's been a major thrust of education reform for the last 40 years."

The tests educators rely on are often too narrow to measure student progress, according to the study. The testing system also failed to adequately safeguard itself, the study added, providing ways for teachers and students to produce results that seemed to reflect performance without actually teaching much.

"We're relying on some primitive intuition about how to structure the education system without thinking deeply about it," Ariely said.

Increasing test scores do not always correlate to more learning or achievement, the study authors said. For example, Lang mentioned that high school exit test scores have been found to rise while high school graduation rates stagnate.

"None of the studies that we looked at found large effects on learning, anything approaching the rhetoric of being at the top of the international scale," Lang said. He added that the most successful effects the report calculated showed that NCLB programs moved student performance by eight hundredths of the standard deviation, or from the 50th to the 53rd percentile.

The report, released Thursday and sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, recommends more rigorous testing of reforms before their implementation. "Before we did welfare reform, we did a lot of experiments at the state level," Lang said.

"We tried different ways of doing it and we learned a lot, instead of deciding that on the basis of rather casual theorizing that one set of reforms was obviously the way to go," Lang added. "There has not at this point been as much experimentation at the state level in education."

The 17-member committee responsible for the study, according to Education Week, is a "veritable who's who of national experts in education law, economics and sciences." The National Academies -- a group of four institutions chartered by Congress to consult on various issues -- launched the committee in 2002, and since then, it has tracked the effects of 15 programs that use tests as teaching incentives.

The report comes as congress works to reauthorize and overhaul No Child Left Behind, and as states countrywide pass laws that link the hiring and firing of teachers to their students' performance on standardized tests.

"It raises a red flag for education," Ariely said. "These policies are treating humans like rats in a maze. We keep thinking about how to reorganize the cheese to get the rats to do what we want. People do so much more than that."

This reductive thinking, Ariely said, is also responsible for spreading the notion that teachers are in the profession for the money. "That's one of the worst ideas out there," he said. "In the process of creating No Child Left Behind, as people thought about these strategies and rewards, they actually undermined teachers' motivations. They got teachers to care less, rather than more," he added, because "they took away a sense of personal achievement and autonomy."

The report's findings have implications for developing teacher evaluations, said Henry Braun, a committee member who teaches education and public policy at Boston College. When "we're thinking about using test-based accountability for teachers, the particular tests we're using are important," he said. "But just as important is the way it's embedded into the broader framework. The system as a whole, as it plays out, determines whether we end up with better teachers."

WATCH: Daniel Koretz, a professor at Harvard's school of education who sat on the committee that produced the report, discusses skills needed in the 21st century.

[Nov 24, 2011] Stanford Economist Rebuts Much-Cited Report That Debunks Test-Based Education

The 112-page-long NRC study came at a critical point during the NCLB discussion -- and it read as a manifesto against the use of testing as a tool to promote learning, Hanushek claims. The report found NCLB to be the most effective test-based policy, but even then, it found that the law's programs moved student performance by eight hundredths of the standard deviation, or from the 50th to the 53rd percentile. Other more low-stakes tests were found to show "effectively zero" effects on achievement. According to the NRC report:

Test-based incentive programs, as designed and implemented in the programs that have been carefully studied, have not increased student achievement enough to bring the United States close to the levels of the highest achieving countries.

"This is an extraordinarily serious and contentious policy issue," Hanushek told The Huffington Post Monday. "I am quite taken aback by people who read the report and said that testing policies don't produce learning. The evidence that they provide indicates that accountability has provided significant positive impacts."

In response to the report, Hanushek titled his article, "Grinding the Antitesting Ax: More bias than evidence behind the NRC panel's conclusions," and jazzed up its first page with a man in overalls, well, grinding an ax. Hanushek concludes:

The NRC has an unmistakable opinion: its report concludes that current test-based incentive programs that hold schools and students accountable should be abandoned. The report committee then offers three recommendations: more research, more research, and more research. But if one looks at the evidence and science behind the NRC conclusions, it becomes clear that the nation would be ill advised to give credence to the implications for either NCLB or high-school exit exams that are highlighted in the press release issued along with this report.

The committee that produced the NRC report formed about a decade ago, in the wake of the implementation of NCLB, the strongest federal test-based accountability law ever passed. The National Academies -- a group of four institutions chartered by Congress to consult on various issues -- launched the committee in 2002, and since then, it tracked the effects of 15 programs that use tests as teaching incentives. According to the report, its members were chosen to represent a balanced mix of view points due, in part, to the "tension between the economics and educational measurement literatures about the potential of test-based accountability to improve student achievement."

Its 17 members included economists such as Duke's Dan Ariely and Boston University's Kevin Lang, educational experts like Harvard's Dan Koretz and Stanford's Susanna Loeb, in addition to a former superintendent, a psychologist, a sociologist and a political scientist. The committee also saw presentations from various experts, including Hanushek himself.

According to Hanushek's analysis, the panel's thorough examination of multiple studies is not evident in its conclusions.

"Instead of weighing the full evidence before it in the neutral manner expected of an NRC committee, the panel selectively uses available evidence and then twists it into bizarre, one might say biased, conclusions," Hanushek wrote.

The anti-testing bias, he says, comes from the fact that "nobody in the schools wants people looking over their shoulders."

Hanushek, an economist, claims that the .08 standard deviation increase in student learning is not as insignificant as the report makes it sound. According to his calculations, the benefits of such gains outweigh the costs: that amount of learning, he claims, translates to a value of $14 trillion. He notes that if testing is expanded at the expense of $100 per student, the rate of return on that investment is 9,189 percent. Hanushek criticized the report for not giving enough attention to the benefits NCLB provided disadvantaged students.

The report, Hanushek said, hid that evidence.

"They had that in their report, but it's buried behind a line of discussion that's led everybody who's ever read it to conclude that test-based accountability is a bad idea," he said. Hanushek reacted strongly, he said, because of the "complacency of many policymakers" who say education should be improved but that there are no effective options.

But Lang, a member of the committee who produced the report, said Hanushek's critique is misguided. "His objection is that he feels that we said stop test-based accountability," he said. "We very clearly did not say that."

Rather, Lang said, the report showed that test-based policies don't produce the effects claimed by their proponents. "What we said was test-based accountability is not having the kind of effect that the rhetoric suggests," Lang continued. "The rhetoric behind test-based accountability is the major force for education reform."

But Paul Hill, a research professor and director of the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education who also sat in the NRC committee, saw merit in Hanushek's critique. "The conclusions were more negative about the contributions of test-based accountability than his review of the evidence would suggest," Hill said. "That's well worth considering."

Hill said he was slightly concerned with the report itself, and that its tone was a product of a committee comprised of experts with mixed views on testing. "It said that test-based accountability alone won't raise achievement," he said. "I believe that. Test-based accountability, though, with reasonable supplementary policies … is a good idea."

The apparent anti-testing bias, Hill said, came from those on the committee with backgrounds in education.

"This is not a group of wackos," Hill said. "Inside the education profession, there's a lot of resentment against the use of tests."

[Nov 23, 2011] Stanford's Free Computer Science Courses

November 23 | Slashdot

"Stanford University is offering the online world more of its undergraduate level CS courses. These free courses consist of You Tube videos with computer-marked quizzes and programming assignments. The ball had been started rolling by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig's free online version of their Stanford AI class, for which they hoped to reach an audience in the order of a hundred thousand, a target which they seem to have achieved. As well as the previously announced Machine learning course you can now sign up to any of: Computer Science 101, Software as a Service, Human-Computer Interaction, Natural Language Processing, Game Theory, Probabilistic Graphical Models, Cryptography and Design and Analysis of Algorithms.

Almost a complete computer science course and they are adding more. Introductory videos and details are available from each courses website."

hedwards:

$100k? You're doing it wrong if you're going $100k into debt. It hasn't been that long since I graduated and I was only looking at a fraction of that. Most recently I spent a year at grad school for under $5k for all school related expenses.

mrchaotica (681592)

I'm taking all three courses being offered right now: AI, machine learning, and intro to databases. The AI class uses its own unique software platform, while the other two share one (which will presumably be used for most or all of next quarter's classes).

I like the other two much better than the AI class for several reasons: first, because they make those mid-lecture quizzes optional and also allow the lectures to be downloaded instead of streamed. Second, I like how, unlike the AI class, the other two have actual programming exercises. Third, I like how the homework questions for the other two are presented in a normal web form format (whereas the AI class "homeworks" require you to watch a video of the instructor reading the questions) and also allow multiple submissions.

hellkyng (1920978)

This is the way education should be, available to anyone with an interest. MIT has a similar program with content freely available I believe: http://ocw.mit.edu/ [mit.edu] .

IMHO this is what libraries will eventually evolve into. This type of knowledge sharing is the root of a libraries books are about, and getting that content from the expert source in the field is hard to beat. Definitely cool stuff.

angry tapir (1463043)

MIT has videos of lectures online [mit.edu]. But unlike Stanford it's more a "work at your own pace" style thing instead of actually signing up for a course.

mrchaotica (681592)

The difference between these classes and MIT's OpenCourseware is that these classes have a schedule with assignments and grades.

For many people, such as procrastinators and those motivated by competing with the other students (since participants get a class ranking at the end), that makes a huge difference.

University Education Skeptic, 2016 University Education Skeptic, 2015 University Education Skeptic, 2014 University Education Skeptic, 2013 University Education Skeptic, 2012 University Education Skeptic, 2011 University Education Skeptic, 2010 University Education Skeptic, 2009



Etc

Society

Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy

Quotes

War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least


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Last modified: December, 27, 2017