Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

News Neoliberalism and rising inequality Recommended Links Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Electronic book libraries The value of education
Groupthink Obscurantism Multiple Choice Test Taking Strategies Cheating as a reaction to college application stress Toxic managers and coworkers Health Issues
Unemployment after graduation Problems of CS Education Science, Pseudoscience and Society Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy Lysenkoism Numbers racket and "Potemkin numbers"
SAT Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Diploma Mills Certification Information Technology Wonderland How to Solve It by George Polya
Education Quotes Benjamin Franklin Quotes Einstein Quotes John Kenneth Galbraith Quotes Social Problems of Education Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia
Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Softpanorama Bookshelf Classic Books Softpanorama Bookshelf / Algorithms Best Old TCP/IP Books
Best Red Hat Books for Preparation to Certification Compiler Construction Best C language textbooks Softpanorama bookshelf / C++ books Best Pascal Programming Books Best Perl Books for System Administrators
Information overload Mental Overload Sleep Deprivation Drinking from a firehose Education Humor Etc


Introduction

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

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

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

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

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and persistent tales of graduates working as bartenders) to pay inflated tuition fees. Foreigners somewhat compensates for this , but with current high prices Canada, UK and Europe are more attractive for all but the most rich parents.   That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit after  dot-com boom, when the number of students who want to be programmers decines several times.   Expensive private colleges start hunting for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces).  The elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners fared better but were also hit. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

University bureaucracy and presidents became way too greedy

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

Job market situation and hidden financial rip offs

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the job market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change your specialization late in the education cycle. But too early choice entails typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump, as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008.

That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: large debt after graduation put you in situation like "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in the chosen specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet , you became a debt slave for considerable period of your life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

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

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

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

kievite -> EC...

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

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

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

mrrunangun:

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

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

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

The really cruel world of a neoliberal university

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Textbook racket is a part of neoliberal transformation of university education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Taylor on why textbooks cost so much:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JohnH:

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

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

djb:

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

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

meaning, of course, they are wrong

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

The Raven:

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

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

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

pgl -> to The Raven...

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

The Raven -> to pgl...

Thanks.

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

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

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

T.J.:

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

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

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

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

pgl -> to T.J....

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

cm -> to T.J....

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

Bill Ellis:

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

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

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

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

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

John Cummings:

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

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

Fred C. Dobbs:

(Evidently, 'It’s Economics 101'.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A bunch of experts discuss the matter.)

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

(Including a couple of economists!)

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

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

(By renting e-books, donchaknow.)

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

(Hardcover rental is $70, however.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Peterson:

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

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

Jim Harrison:

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

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

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

cm -> to Jim Harrison...

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

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

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

Leading Edge Boomer:

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

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

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

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

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

Jim Harrison:

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

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

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

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

reason:

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

reason:

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

Jay:

No mention of the cost for this textbook...

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

grizzled:

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

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

I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Bloix:

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

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

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

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

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

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

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberal schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

FionaMcW , 11 Apr 2019 06:36

Schools are teaching to the test. As someone who recently retrained as a secondary science teacher - after nearly 30 years as a journalist - I know this to be true.
Olympia1881 -> Centrecourt , 11 Apr 2019 05:46
Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. It worked well when labour was pumping billions into it and they invested in early intervention schemes such as sure start and nursery expansion. Unfortunately under the tories we have had those progressive policies scaled right back. Children with SEND and/or in care are commodities bought and sold by local authorities. I've been working in a PRU which is a private company and it does good things, but I can't help but think if that was in the public sector that it would be in a purpose built building rather than some scruffy office with no playground.

The facilities aren't what you would expect in this day in age. If we had a proper functioning government with a plan then what happens with vulnerable children would be properly organised rather than a reactive shit show.

DrMidnite , 10 Apr 2019 17:04
"Schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education."
Boy do they. I work in Business/IT training and as the years have rolled on I and every colleague I can think of have noticed more and more people coming to courses that they are unfit for. Not because they are stupid, but because they have been taught to be stupid. So used to being taught to the test that they are afraid to ask questions. Increasingly I get asked "what's the right way to do...", usually referring to situation in which there is no right way, just a right way for your business, at a specific point in time.
I had the great pleasure of watching our new MD describe his first customer-facing project, which was a disaster, but they "learned" from it. I had to point out to him that I teach the two disciplines involved - businesss analysis and project management - and if he or his team had attended any of the courses - all of which are free to them - they would have learned about the issues they would face, because (astonishingly) they are well-known.
I fear that these incurious adult children are at the bottom of Brexit, Trump and many of the other ills that afflict us. Learning how to do things is difficult and sometimes boring. Much better to wander in with zero idea of what has already been done and repeat the mistakes of the past. I see the future as a treadmill where the same mistakes are made repetitively and greeted with as much surprise as if they had never happened before. We have always been at war with Eastasia...

[Jun 21, 2019] A Slow Death The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic

Highly recommended!
The term Casializatin was repced by more correct term "neoliberalization" for clarity.
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalization, a word that says much in, and of, itself, is seen as analogue of broader outsourcing initiatives. Militaries do it, governments do it, and the university does it. Services long held to be the domain of the state, itself an animation of the social contract, the spirit of the people, have now become the incentive of the corporate mind, and, it follows, its associated vices. The entire scope of what has come to be known as outsourcing is itself a creature of propaganda, cheered on as an opportunity drawing benefits rather than an ill encouraging a brutish, tenuous life. ..."
"... Practitioners and policy makers within the education industry have become devotees of the amoral dictates of supply and demand, underpinned by an insatiable management class. Central to their program of university mismanagement is the neoliberal academic, a creature both embraced and maligned in the tertiary sectors of the globe. ..."
"... The neoliberal academic is meant to be an underpaid miracle worker, whose divining acts rescue often lax academics from discharging their duties. (These duties are outlined in that deceptive and unreliable document known as a "workplan", as tedious as it is fictional.) The neoliberal academic grades papers, lectures, tutors and coordinates subjects. The neoliberal provides cover, a shield, and an excuse for a certain class of academic manager who prefers the calling of pretence to the realities of work. ..."
"... Often, these neoliberal academics are students undertaking a postgraduate degree and subject to inordinate degrees of stress in an environment of perennial uncertainty. ..."
"... A representative sample of PhD students studying in Flanders, Belgium found that one in two experienced psychological distress, with one in three at risk of a common psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems tended to be higher in PhD students "than in the highly educated general population, highly education employees and higher education students." ..."
"... Neoliberalization can be seen alongside a host of other ills. If the instructor is disposable and vulnerable, then so are the manifestations of learning. Libraries and research collections, for instance, are being regarded as deadening, inanimate burdens on the modern, vibrant university environment. Some institutions make a regular habit of culling their supply of texts and references: we are all e-people now, bound to prefer screens to paper, the bleary-eyed session of online engagement to the tactile session with a book. ..."
Jun 21, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

A Slow Death: The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic

by Binoy Kampmark / June 20th, 2019

Any sentient being should be offended. Eventually, the Neoliberalization of the academic workforce was bound to find lazy enthusiasts who neither teach, nor understand the value of a tenured position dedicated to that musty, soon-to-be-forgotten vocation of the pedagogue. It shows in the designs of certain universities who confuse frothy trendiness with tangible depth: the pedagogue banished from the podium, with rooms lacking a centre, or a focal point for the instructor. Not chic, not cool, we are told, often by learning and teaching committees that perform neither task. Keep it modern; do not sound too bright and hide the learning: we are all equal in the classroom, inspiringly even and scrubbed of knowledge. The result is what was always to be expected: profound laziness on the part of instructors and students, dedicated mediocrity, and a rejection of all things intellectually taxing.

Neoliberalization, a word that says much in, and of, itself, is seen as analogue of broader outsourcing initiatives. Militaries do it, governments do it, and the university does it. Services long held to be the domain of the state, itself an animation of the social contract, the spirit of the people, have now become the incentive of the corporate mind, and, it follows, its associated vices. The entire scope of what has come to be known as outsourcing is itself a creature of propaganda, cheered on as an opportunity drawing benefits rather than an ill encouraging a brutish, tenuous life.

One such text is Douglas Brown and Scott Wilson's The Black Book of Outsourcing . Plaudits for it resemble worshippers at a shrine planning kisses upon icons and holy relics. "Brown & Wilson deliver on the best, most innovative, new practices all aimed at helping one and all survive, manage and lead in this new economy," praises Joann Martin, Vice President of Pitney Bowes Management Services. Brown and Wilson take aim at a fundamental "myth": that "Outsourcing is bad for America." They cite work sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America (of course) that "the practice of outsourcing is good for the US economy and its workers."

Practitioners and policy makers within the education industry have become devotees of the amoral dictates of supply and demand, underpinned by an insatiable management class. Central to their program of university mismanagement is the neoliberal academic, a creature both embraced and maligned in the tertiary sectors of the globe.

The neoliberal academic is meant to be an underpaid miracle worker, whose divining acts rescue often lax academics from discharging their duties. (These duties are outlined in that deceptive and unreliable document known as a "workplan", as tedious as it is fictional.) The neoliberal academic grades papers, lectures, tutors and coordinates subjects. The neoliberal provides cover, a shield, and an excuse for a certain class of academic manager who prefers the calling of pretence to the realities of work.

Often, these neoliberal academics are students undertaking a postgraduate degree and subject to inordinate degrees of stress in an environment of perennial uncertainty. The stresses associated with such students are documented in the Guardian's Academics Anonymous series and have also been the subject of research in the journal Research Policy . A representative sample of PhD students studying in Flanders, Belgium found that one in two experienced psychological distress, with one in three at risk of a common psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems tended to be higher in PhD students "than in the highly educated general population, highly education employees and higher education students."

This is hardly helped by the prospects faced by those PhDs for future permanent employment, given what the authors of the Research Policy article describe as the "unfavourable shift in the labour-supply demand balance, a growing popularity of short-term contracts, budget cuts and increased competition for research sources".

There have been a few pompom holders encouraging the Neoliberalization mania, suggesting that it is good for the academic sector. The explanations are never more than structural: a neoliberal workforce, for instance, copes with fluctuating enrolments and reduces labour costs. "Using neoliberal academics brings benefits and challenges," we find Dorothy Wardale, Julia Richardson and Yuliani Suseno telling us in The Conversation . This, in truth, is much like suggesting that syphilis and irritable bowel syndrome is necessary to keep you on your toes, sharp and streamlined. The mindset of the academic-administrator is to assume that such things are such (Neoliberalization, the authors insist, is not going way, so embrace) and adopt a prostrate position in the face of funding cuts from the public purse.

Neoliberalization can be seen alongside a host of other ills. If the instructor is disposable and vulnerable, then so are the manifestations of learning. Libraries and research collections, for instance, are being regarded as deadening, inanimate burdens on the modern, vibrant university environment. Some institutions make a regular habit of culling their supply of texts and references: we are all e-people now, bound to prefer screens to paper, the bleary-eyed session of online engagement to the tactile session with a book.

The neoliberal, sessional academic also has, for company, the "hot-desk", a spot for temporary, and all too fleeting occupation. The hot-desk has replaced the work desk; the partitions of the office are giving way to the intrusions of the open plan. The hot-desker, like coitus, is temporary and brief. The neoliberal academic epitomises that unstable reality; there is little need to give such workers more than temporary, precarious space. As a result, confidentiality is impaired, and privacy all but negated. Despite extensive research showing the negative costs of "hot-desking" and open plan settings, university management remains crusade bound to implement such daft ideas in the name of efficiency.

Neoliberalization also compounds fraudulence in the academy. It supplies the bejewelled short cut route, the bypass, the evasion of the rigorous things in learning. Academics may reek like piddling middle class spongers avoiding the issues while pretending to deal with them, but the good ones at least make some effort to teach their brood decently and marshal their thoughts in a way that resembles, at the very least, a sound whiff of knowledge. This ancient code, tested and tried, is worth keeping, but it is something that modern management types, along with their parasitic cognates, ignore. In Australia, this is particularly problematic, given suggestions that up to 80 percent of undergraduate courses in certain higher learning institutions are taught by neoliberal academics.

The union between the spread sheet manager and the uninterested academic who sees promotion through the management channel rather than scholarship, throws up a terrible hybrid, one vicious enough to degrade all in its pathway. This sort of hybrid hack resorts to skiving and getting neoliberals to do the work he or she ought to be doing. Such people co-ordinate courses but make sure they get the wallahs and helpers desperate for cash to do it. Manipulation is guaranteed, exploitation is assured.

The economy of desperation is cashed in like a reliable blue-chip stock: the skiver with an ongoing position knows that a neoliberal academic desperate to earn some cash cannot dissent, will do little to rock the misdirected boat, and will have to go along with utterly dotty notions. There are no additional benefits from work, no ongoing income, no insurance, and, importantly, inflated hours that rarely take into account the amount of preparation required for the task.

The ultimate nature of the Neoliberalization catastrophe is its diminution of the entire academic sector. Neoliberals suffer, but so do students. The result is not mere sloth but misrepresentation of the worst kind: the university keen to advertise a particular service it cannot provide sufficiently. This, in time, is normalised: what would students, who in many instances may not even know the grader of their paper, expect? The remunerated, secure academic-manager, being in the castle, can raise the drawbridge and throw the neoliberals to the vengeful crowd, an employment environment made safe for hypocrisy.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com . Read other articles by Binoy .

This article was posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019 at 9:00pm and is filed under Neoliberalization , Education , Universities .

[Jun 21, 2019] Men need not apply: university set to open jobs just to women

Since when female sex is the guarantee of the academic achievement ? And why we want party between sexes in academic jobs ?
Jun 18, 2019 | www.sciencemag.org

A Dutch engineering university is taking radical action to increase its share of female academics by opening job vacancies to women only. Starting on 1 July, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) in the Netherlands will not allow men to apply for permanent academic jobs for the first 6 months of the recruitment process under a new fellowship program. If no suitable applicant has been found within that time, men can then apply, but the selection committee will still have to nominate at least one candidate of each gender. The [insane] plan was announced today and is already attracting controversy.

[Jun 21, 2019] The War on Normal People The Truth About America s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future Andrew Yang

Looks like this guys somewhat understands the problems with neoliberalism, but still is captured by neoliberal ideology.
Notable quotes:
"... That all seems awfully quaint today. Pensions disappeared for private-sector employees years ago. Most community banks were gobbled up by one of the mega-banks in the 1990s -- today five banks control 50 percent of the commercial banking industry, which itself mushroomed to the point where finance enjoys about 25 percent of all corporate profits. Union membership fell by 50 percent. ..."
"... Ninety-four percent of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were temp or contractor jobs without benefits; people working multiple gigs to make ends meet is increasingly the norm. Real wages have been flat or even declining. The chances that an American born in 1990 will earn more than their parents are down to 50 percent; for Americans born in 1940 the same figure was 92 percent. ..."
"... Thanks to Milton Friedman, Jack Welch, and other corporate titans, the goals of large companies began to change in the 1970s and early 1980s. The notion they espoused -- that a company exists only to maximize its share price -- became gospel in business schools and boardrooms around the country. Companies were pushed to adopt shareholder value as their sole measuring stick. ..."
"... Simultaneously, the major banks grew and evolved as Depression-era regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished. Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan in 1980 and culminated in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 under Bill Clinton that really set the banks loose. The securities industry grew 500 percent as a share of GDP between 1980 and the 2000s while ordinary bank deposits shrank from 70 percent to 50 percent. Financial products multiplied as even Main Street companies were driven to pursue financial engineering to manage their affairs. GE, my dad's old company and once a beacon of manufacturing, became the fifth biggest financial institution in the country by 2007. ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The logic of the meritocracy is leading us to ruin, because we arc collectively primed to ignore the voices of the millions getting pushed into economic distress by the grinding wheels of automation and innovation. We figure they're complaining or suffering because they're losers.

We need to break free of this logic of the marketplace before it's too late.

[Neoliberalism] had decimated the economies and cultures of these regions and were set to do the same to many others.

In response, American lives and families are falling apart. Ram- pant financial stress is the new normal. We are in the third or fourth inning of the greatest economic shift in the history of mankind, and no one seems to be talking about it or doing anything in response.

The Great Displacement didn't arrive overnight. It has been building for decades as the economy and labor market changed in response to improving technology, financialization, changing corporate norms, and globalization. In the 1970s, when my parents worked at GE and Blue Cross Blue Shield in upstate New York, their companies provided generous pensions and expected them to stay for decades. Community banks were boring businesses that lent money to local companies for a modest return. Over 20 percent of workers were unionized. Some economic problems existed -- growth was uneven and infla- tion periodically high. But income inequality was low, jobs provided benefits, and Main Street businesses were the drivers of the economy. There were only three television networks, and in my house we watched them on a TV with an antenna that we fiddled with to make the picture clearer.

That all seems awfully quaint today. Pensions disappeared for private-sector employees years ago. Most community banks were gobbled up by one of the mega-banks in the 1990s -- today five banks control 50 percent of the commercial banking industry, which itself mushroomed to the point where finance enjoys about 25 percent of all corporate profits. Union membership fell by 50 percent.

Ninety-four percent of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were temp or contractor jobs without benefits; people working multiple gigs to make ends meet is increasingly the norm. Real wages have been flat or even declining. The chances that an American born in 1990 will earn more than their parents are down to 50 percent; for Americans born in 1940 the same figure was 92 percent.

Thanks to Milton Friedman, Jack Welch, and other corporate titans, the goals of large companies began to change in the 1970s and early 1980s. The notion they espoused -- that a company exists only to maximize its share price -- became gospel in business schools and boardrooms around the country. Companies were pushed to adopt shareholder value as their sole measuring stick.

Hostile takeovers, shareholder lawsuits, and later activist hedge funds served as prompts to ensure that managers were committed to profitability at all costs. On the flip side, CF.Os were granted stock options for the first time that wedded their individual gain to the company's share price. The ratio of CF.O to worker pay rose from 20 to 1 in 1965 to 271 to 1 in 2016. Benefits were streamlined and reduced and the relationship between company and employee weakened to become more transactional.

Simultaneously, the major banks grew and evolved as Depression-era regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished. Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan in 1980 and culminated in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 under Bill Clinton that really set the banks loose. The securities industry grew 500 percent as a share of GDP between 1980 and the 2000s while ordinary bank deposits shrank from 70 percent to 50 percent. Financial products multiplied as even Main Street companies were driven to pursue financial engineering to manage their affairs. GE, my dad's old company and once a beacon of manufacturing, became the fifth biggest financial institution in the country by 2007.

Nolia Nessa , April 5, 2018

profound and urgent work of social criticism

It's hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of "oh crap"

I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader, writes showing with inarguable data that when companies automate work and use new software, communities die, drug use increases, suicide increases, and crime skyrockets. The new jobs created go to big cities, the surviving talent leaves, and the remaining people lose hope and descend into madness. (as a student of psychology, this is not surprising)

He starts by painting the picture of the average American and how fragile they are economically. He deconstructs the labor predictions and how technology is going to ravage it. He discusses the future of work. He explains what has happened in technology and why it's suddenly a huge threat. He shows what this means: economic inequality rises, the people have less power, the voice of democracy is diminished, no one owns stocks, people get poorer etc. He shows that talent is leaving small towns, money is concentrating to big cities faster. He shows what happens when those other cities die (bad things), and then how the people react when they have no income (really bad things). He shows how retraining doesn't work and college is failing us. We don't invest in vocational skills, and our youth is underemployed pushed into freelance work making minimal pay. He shows how no one trusts the institutions anymore.

Then he discusses solutions with a focus on Universal Basic Income. I was a skeptic of the idea until I read this book. You literally walk away with this burning desire to prevent a Mad Max esque civil war, and its hard to argue with him. We don't have much time and our bloated micromanaged welfare programs cannot sustain.

[Jun 20, 2019] The Omnipresent Surveillance State by John W. Whitehead

Jun 19, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

"You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

-- George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state .

It's been 70 years since Orwell -- dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm -- depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984 .

Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, "He loved Big Brother," we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.

"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone -- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink -- greetings!"

-- George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or "Party," is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: "Big Brother is watching you."

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

―George Orwell

Much like Orwell's Big Brother in 1984 , the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley's A Brave New World , we are churning out a society of watchers who "have their liberties taken away from them, but rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing." Much like Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale , the populace is now taught to "know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away ."

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick's darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state -- which became the basis for Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller Minority Report -- we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike -- facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on -- are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality .

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes , facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness -- a philosophy that discourages diversity -- has become a guiding principle of modern society.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the "security/industrial complex" -- a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance -- has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."

― George Orwell

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes -- a.k.a. police states -- where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 , reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley's Brave New World , serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in Orwell's 1984 , Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish "thoughtcrimes." In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three -- Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell -- had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell's Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984 :

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts .

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is "safe" and "accepted" by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

"Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."

-- George Orwell

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights . In fact, the addiction to screen devices -- especially cell phones -- has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one's every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, "Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity ."

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry -- mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all -- we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us -- the proverbial "needle in a haystack," as one official termed it -- the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.

"Big Brother is Watching You."

―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any "threatening" words are detected -- no matter how inane or silly -- the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

"Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull."

― George Orwell

Here's what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it's not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We've already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called "hateful" thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police .

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it's not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, "citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability."

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

-- Orwell

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won't be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government's roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We're running out of options.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , we'll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited : "Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it."

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People .

[Jun 20, 2019] Meritocracy is a Lie by Gary Olson

Notable quotes:
"... Sherman found that her interviewees, all in the top 1-2 percent of income or wealth or both, had thoroughly imbibed the narrative of meritocracy to rationalize their affluence and immense privileges. That is, they believed they deserved all their money because of hard work and individual effort. Most identified themselves as socially and political liberal and took pains to distinguish themselves from "bad" rich people who flaunt their wealth. ..."
"... Finally, meritocracy is the classic American foundation myth and provides the basis for an entire array of other fairy tales. Foremost, this illusion serves to justify policies that foster economic inequality and hinder the development of social movements. After so many decades of neoliberal ideology, this lie is now firmly lodged in the public's collective consciousness but I'm convinced that with effort and relying on the evidence, it can be expunged. ..."
May 02, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
In 2017, Sociology Professor Rachel Sherman wrote Uneasy Street: The Anxiety of Affluence , a book which drew upon 50 in-depth interviews with Uber-wealthy New Yorkers in order to obtain a picture of just how they perceived their status.

Sherman found that her interviewees, all in the top 1-2 percent of income or wealth or both, had thoroughly imbibed the narrative of meritocracy to rationalize their affluence and immense privileges. That is, they believed they deserved all their money because of hard work and individual effort. Most identified themselves as socially and political liberal and took pains to distinguish themselves from "bad" rich people who flaunt their wealth. Although one unselfconsciously acknowledged "I used to say I was going to be a revolutionary but then I had my first massage."

One striking characteristic was that these folks never talk about money and obsess over the "stigma of privilege." One typical respondent whose wealth exceeded $50 million told Sherman, "There's nobody who knows how much money we spend. You're the only person I've ever said the numbers to out-loud." Another couple who had inherited $50 million and lived in a penthouse had the post office change their mailing address to the floor number because PH sounded "elite and snobby." Another common trait was removing the price tags from items entering the house so the housekeeper and and staff didn't see them. As if the nanny didn't know

Her subjects (who remained anonymous) readily acknowledged being extremely advantaged but remained "good people, normal people," who work hard, are careful about ostentatious consumption, and above all, "give back." They spend considerable time trying to legitimate inequality and Sherman concludes they've largely succeeded in feeling "morally worthy."

As a follow-up to this study, Prof. Sherman has been conducting similar in-depth interviews with young people whose parents or ancestors accumulated sizable fortunes, wealth they now have or will soon inherit. Sherman's recent piece, "The Rich Kid Revolution," ( The New York Times , 4/28/19) reveals a stark contrast in self-perception from her earlier findings.

First, her interviewees totally "get" the lie of meritocracy as they ruefully skewer family myths about individual effort, scrimping and saving and the origins of wealth. One young woman who's in line to inherit a considerable fortune told Sherman, "My dad has always been a CEO, and it was clear to me that he spent a lot of time at work, but it has never been clear to me that he worked a lot harder than a domestic worker, for example. I will never believe that."

Sherman discovered that whether the immense fortunes came from "the direct dispossession of indigenous people, enslavement of African-Americans, production of fossil fuels or obvious exploitation of workers, they often express especially acute guilt." One response has been that some wealthy people under age 35 have formed organizations to fund social justice initiatives.

Second, many of her respondents have read about racialized capitalism and harbor no illusions about their own success. From access to the "right" schools and acquiring cultural capital to social networking and good, high paying jobs, they readily acknowledged that it's all derived from their class (and race) privilege. Third, they are convinced the economic system is "immoral," equality of opportunity does not exist and their wealth and privileges are absolutely "unearned." Finally, they grasp, often from personal observation, that traditional philanthropy is primarily about keeping those at the top in place, obtaining generous tax breaks and treating symptoms while ignoring the causes rooted in the very social structures from which they benefit.

Beyond the article's hyperbolic title and a certain vagueness about where this new consciousness may lead, the piece -- whether intentionally or not -- does raise issues that demand much wider public discussion.

First, a note about philanthro-capitalism or as Peter Buffet (Warren Buffet's son) terms it, "conscience laundering." In Chris Rock's pithy phrase, "Behind every fortune is a great crime" and given what we know about the sources of great wealth -- the collectivity -- these monies should be supporting public needs that are democratically determined not the cherry-picked, pet projects of billionaires. And this reveals another motive behind private charity: the desire to stifle any enthusiasm for an activist government responsible to the public will.

I should add that whenever I hear a philanthropist piously proclaim, "I just wanted to give something back," my first impulse is to shout "Why not give it all back?" That is, I've always been partial to the moral injunction, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required" (Luke 12:48). And although I won't attempt to improve on scripture, I might suggest "From whom much is taken, much is owed."

Second, one might ask about the case where a person of modest means succeeds at something and accumulates a fortune? We've all heard or read ad infinitum, someone exclaim, "Damn it! Nobody even handed me anything. I did it all on my own. I'm entirely self-made." Isn't that evidence of individual merit? No. For starters, as Chuck Collins, heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune, once put it, "Where would wealthy entrepreneurs be without taxpayer investments in the Internet, transportation, public education, the legal system, the human genome project and so on?" Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, has calculated the societal contribution at ninety percent of what people earn in Northwest Europe and the United States.

In addition to the sources mentioned above, just off the top of my head I can list many other factors that belie this powerfully seductive but wholly fictional narrative, one that's also touted to and embraced by many members of the working class: Child labor, Chinese and Irish immigrant labor (railroads), eminent domain, massacres of striking workers, state repression of unions, Immigration Act of 1864, public land grabs, corporate welfare, installing foreign dictators to guarantee cheap labor and resources, inheritance laws, public schools and universities, public expense mail systems, property and contract laws, government tax breaks incentives to business, Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure trust in the stock market, the U.S. military, and a police state to keep the rabble from picking up pitchforks. Another factor that almost merits its own paragraphs is pure luck. By any objective criteria, we can conclude that absent this arrangement there would be no accumulation of private wealth.

Finally, meritocracy is the classic American foundation myth and provides the basis for an entire array of other fairy tales. Foremost, this illusion serves to justify policies that foster economic inequality and hinder the development of social movements. After so many decades of neoliberal ideology, this lie is now firmly lodged in the public's collective consciousness but I'm convinced that with effort and relying on the evidence, it can be expunged.

Gary Olson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. He can be reached at: olsong@moravian.edu . Read other articles by Gary .

This article was posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 at 2:22pm and is filed under Economic Inequality , Meritocracy , Opinion .

[Jun 19, 2019] People, Power, and Profits Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent Joseph E. Stiglitz 9781324004219 Amazon.com Boo

Jun 19, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Deja vu: Voodoo economics

Supply-side economics did not work for Reagan and it won't work for Trump. Republicans tell themselves and the American people that the Trump tax cut will energize the economy, so much so that the tax losses will be less than the skeptics claim. That's the supply-side argument, and we ought to know' by now that it does not work.

Reagan's tax cut in 1981 opened up an era of enormous fiscal deficits, slower growth, and greater inequality.

Trump, in his 2017 tax bill, is giving us an even bigger dose of policies grounded not in science but in self-serving superstition than that provided by Reagan. President George H. W. Bush himself called Reagan's supply-side economics voodoo economics. Trump's is voodoo economics on steroids.

[Jun 18, 2019] The Looting Machine Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The trade in oil, gas, gems, metals and rare earth minerals wreaks havoc in Africa. During the years when Brazil, India, China and the other "emerging markets" have transformed their economies, Africa's resource states remained tethered to the bottom of the industrial supply chain. While Africa accounts for about 30 per cent of the world's reserves of hydrocarbons and minerals and 14 per cent of the world's population, its share of global manufacturing stood in 2011 exactly where it stood in 2000: at 1 percent.

[Jun 18, 2019] Poisoned Wells The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson

Jun 10, 2007 | www.amazon.com

LVT06 , December 29, 2007

An Expert Falls Short

Shaxson's introduction and preliminary chapters immediately prove that he is a bona fide Africa expert. Having extensively lived and worked there, getting closely acquainted with the politicians, industrialists and average joes, he knows his topic better than any ivory tower academic or think tank regional "expert." His anecdotes and insights are accurate, concise and reasonably centrist. His writing is excellent. And yet he failed to earn 5 stars because the book itself delves too far into specific biographies of pivotal politicos and activists. Shaxson is sharp and experienced enough to produce a country-by-country analytical handbook documenting oil's impact on 21st Century Africa but instead he chose to take the conversational, journalistic feature-article format. For professionals and novices seeking accurate and timely information on Africa, this is a good start. Lutz Kleveman's "New Great Game" was equally readable and informal but a far more informative example for Shaxson to follow in his next book.

Denno , September 7, 2012
Poisoned Wells: the Dirty Politics of African Oil

The book is very well written.It documents the authors expereinces with various African countries in relation to the oil business and provides an insightful analysis of the impacts of the sleazy dealings within the oil industry on the continent. An excellent read!! Read more

R. Utne , June 10, 2007
Poisoned Wells

Of the current crop of "what is wrong with Africa" books including "The Shackled Continent", "The White Man's Burden" and "The Trouble with Africa", Nicholas Shaxson's analysis and prescriptions for change are the most radical and on-the-money. Shaxson's book should be widely read and discussed. Unfortunately, too much invested in the status quo by all concerned to see much likelihood of change within the next few decades.

OHYN , December 26, 2009
Book Fails Credibility Test

Every responsible reader and serious seeker of "enlightenment" usually applies a "credibility check" to new information.
When author Nicholas Shaxson, in the opening chapter of his book, "Poisoned Wells," badly mischaracterized the Biafra-Nigeria War of 1967-1970, I could not read any further.
In trying to support his assertion that Oil is the root cause (or at least, a major cause) of post-colonial Africa's problems, he force-fits that terrible war into "Oil" context. How do I know? Well, I was there: was old enough to live in Nigeria up to the War, live through that War fighting in it on the Biafran side, and live after the war in Nigeria, until decided that I am truly Biafran, not Nigerian.
This book has failed a critical credibility test.
Please send my comments to this author.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.
Nwa Biafra
A Biafran Citizen.

William Podmore , May 9, 2011
Fine study of the curse of (foreign-owned) oil

In this informative book, journalist Nicholas Shaxson looks at some African countries that have suffered the curse of foreign-owned oil - Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon, the Congo Republic and São Tomé e Principe. In 1970, before the oil boom, 19 million Nigerians were poor; after $400 billion of oil earnings, 90 million (of a 130 million population) were poor.

Each week sub-Saharan Africa's oil fields produce more than $1 billions' worth of oil. But the oil money promotes not investment and development but capital flight and poverty. Greedy foreign oil corporations ally with corrupt rulers.

The struggle of rival imperialisms for oil strips Africa bare. In 2005 the USA imported more oil from Africa than from the Middle East, and it is intervening in Africa to control its supplies, as now with its illegal attack on Libya. Oil comprises 87 per cent of US imports from Africa. Angola is China's biggest source of imported oil.

France too is scheming and warmongering to keep its hold on Africa. France's former colonies have to keep two-thirds of their reserves in France's treasury. Their central banks' HQs are in Paris. Much EU `aid' funds French companies in Africa.

Shaxson also looks at the curse of tax havens. More than half of world trade passes through tax havens. Over half of all banking assets and a third of foreign direct investment by giant corporations are routed offshore. Terrorists and drug smugglers use the same offshore system that corporations use.

Offshore finance is centred on Britain, the EU and the USA. The City of London runs half the world's tax havens and holds more than $3.2 trillion in offshore bank deposits, half the world total. When the Labour government signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2000, it exempted all the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

The West's banks, mainly from the USA and Britain, take their cut too. They force countries further into debt by making them take out new loans to pay off old ones, at ever higher rates. The bankers make private gains out of public losses.

Sunday Todili Aremu , October 14, 2014
Well, this is a book that has all the ...

Well, this is a book that has all the attributes of a well researched book. It is informative, entertaining but didn't dwell well enough on the historical perspectives that gave rise to Africa's debilitating circumstances. The author's privileged upbringing may not have accorded him the opportunities of seeing things with the eyes of the ordinary dispossessed, repressed and oppressed African whose life is badly structured within the bogus and fraudulent concept of Nation State. A concept that has robbed him of his due place and left him stranded in cyclical malady of frightening dimensions! On the whole, the book is worth reading!!

[Jun 18, 2019] The End of Oil On the Edge of a Perilous New World by Paul Roberts

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Christopher R , July 10, 2008

Makes analysis of the contemporary energy order accessible.

When I decided to read this book, I did so with the expectation of learning something only after wading through a great degree of partisan political rhetoric. It did not take me long to realize that Mr. Roberts' book is not what I had expected.

He makes this complex issue accessible to the layman looking to familiarize himself with not only oil, but the energy economy. Rather choose a side and engage in partisan sniping, he tells the good, the bad, and the ugly of the policies advocated by every party involved in the energy debate. Not only does he analyze our present situation, but he also studies our several possible ways forward into a new energy economy.

If I were pressed to make a complaint, it would be that I read the original hardcover edition of the book. A lot of the speculation regarding "worst case" scenarios involve $50 a barrel oil. Now that we are nearly $100 past that worst case, the educated speculation portrayed in the book should be coming to pass in the market. I would like to see either a completely updated 2008 edition or at least one with an updated preface.

John A. Leraas , September 26, 2015
Most informative, well written

A prequel to "The End of Food", this is a most informative book that discusses our dependence on oil; its history, its politics and its economics. After reading this piece there is much that is more easily understood. Much of international politics and economics is more clear. The development of new energy sources and their tardiness, and the dependence of many sectors of the economy on oil is more transparent.

Roberts' sequel, "The End of Food" is highly recommended after you read this book as the interdependence of these two great industries is amazing.

Larry B. Woodroof , January 19, 2006
An outstanding review of the current situation

Paul Roberts does an excellent job in not only telling about the coming troubles with oil, but doing so with an, at times, humorous style.

He makes no assumptions about the reader's knowledge, and spends the first part of the book explaining how the world got to be in this mess we are in, by deliniating the different energy eras throughout human history.

Common themes arise, in each era, and they combine to help the reader gain a perspective upon why things are they way they are.

Mr. Roberts did his research well, with an extensive foot note and bibliography section, yet in the course of this research he did more than just peruse reports and other books on the matter. He managed to gain access to the indutry leaders, talking and touring the facilties of the Russians and the Saudis.

If there is any fault, it is that the last chapeters of the book, wherein he extrapolates from his knowledge and research what he forsees occuring, seems a little less well developed than the earlier chapters. True, they are based upon fact and not prgnostication, but the writing seems at times rushed, and not up to the level of some of the earlier chapters.

Regardless, this is a book that I highly recommend reading, and is one that I have bought extra copies of for insertion into my "lending library" of books I share and recommend to friends.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Dalton C. Rocha , March 26, 2009
Good, but fails about Brazil, biofuels and nuclear power

I read this good book, here in Brazil.This book has many excellent parts.To example, about Hirohito, on page 39, this tells the true:Hirohito was Japan's Hitler and ordered the attack to Pearl Harbor, China and rest of Asia.
On page 176, this book tell that more than 90% of new power plants in the USA burn gas.About american culture, the page 263 has writen:"By contrast, although car manufactures offer more than thirty car models with with fuel economy of thirty miles for gallon or better, the ten most fuel-efficient models sold in the United States make up just 2 percent of the sales."
Americans love the SUVs, but to combat the blood of islamic terrorism, the petro-dollars, has no place in american hearts.
About the corrupt and also supporter of terrorism Saudi Arabia, this book is correct.

**************************************************************
This book is weak, when forgets Brazil, that only on page 56 is remebered only one time, without no detail at all.I don't agree, with this failure only because I'm a brazilian, but also because Brazil is among the world's leaders in oil reserves.See to example, the site [...] to read about this fact.
About nuclear energy, this book is very weak.On part III, there's talks about replacement of coal and gas for electric energy,but there's nothing about the fact that France, more than 20 years ago, closed all its coal and gas power plants an replaced all of them for nuclear power plants.
About ethanol, there's almost nothing.Only on page 340, ethanol is remebered, without any detail.I'm an agronomist and I think that biofuels are the answer for oil , at least on transportation.My family uses ethanol cars for more than 25 years, without no problem.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Roger Brown , September 23, 2007
Fair minded and objective overview of big energy

Very readable....Roberts does an excellent job of presenting opinions fairly and from many pro/contra angles. He has fully immersed himself in his topic and the book is chocked-full of fascinating energy facts.

What to do about our energy future has become as politically polarized as abortion - Conservatives favor fossil fuels and the Moderate - Liberal folks want to go Renewable.

Roberts is bare-knuckled about what he feels the agendas are behind the current debate, which leads him to a (slightly) reserved pessimism about our chances of making it out of the mess we've made, by putting all our energy eggs in one basket. He does not hide his contempt for later-day politicians who can't see the forest for the trees and won't take action to avert the coming energy drought.

[Jun 18, 2019] Washington s Dark Secret The Real Truth about Terrorism and Islamic Extremism by John Maszka

Notable quotes:
"... "A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225). ..."
Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Anna Faktorovich , December 17, 2018

The War for Oil and the New Holocaust

The premise of this book is to say what most of the world's public has probably been thinking since the War on Terror began, or that it is a "war for natural resources -- and that terrorism has little to do with it. Once the military became mechanized, oil quickly became the most sought-after commodity on the planet, and the race for energy was eventually framed as a matter of national security."

John Maszka argues that the "oil conglomerates" are the real "threats to national security". Demonizing "an entire religion" is a repercussion of this policy. My own research in Rebellion as Genre a few years ago also attempted to point out the misuse of the term terrorism in its current application, or as a weapon against one's enemies rather than as a reference to a type of attacks intended to terrorize. Governments that accuse others of terrorism while legitimizing their own "acts of violence" as "retributive" are clearly breaking human rights agreements and their stated commitments to freedom.

Maszka's perspective is of particular interest because he teaches this subject at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, and has published widely his criticisms of the War on Terror, including Terrorism and the Bush Doctrine.

Many of the books I have read on terrorism from American supporters of this pro-War on Terror doctrine are troubling in their references to spreading Christianity and other similarly questionable ideologies, so it is refreshing to hear from somebody with a fresh perspective that is more likely to bring about world peace. The preface acknowledges that this book contrasts with the bulk of other books in this field. It also explains that it focuses primarily on two "Islamic militant organizations -- al-Qaeda and the Islamic State".

He explains that perception has a lot to do with who a country is willing to commit violence against, giving the example of Nazis being able to commit violence on Jews in the Holocaust because of this blindness. Thus, violence against Muslims by the West in the past two decade is shown as possibly a new Holocaust where the militaries are carrying out orders because Muslims have been demonized.

Terrorism has historically been the work of a few extremists, or terms like "war" or "revolution" is employed to describe large groups of such fighters; so it is strange that the West has entered the War on Terror with entire Muslim-majority countries, killing so many civilians that it is not a stretch to call these Holocaust-like.

The Islamic State targets Muslims as well, also showing dehumanized traits that are even harder to explain (x-xi). The preface also acknowledges that the author will be using "contractions and anecdotal digressions" as "intentional literary devices", shooing the standard scholarly style (this is troubling for me personally, as I'm allergic to digressions, but at least he tells readers what to expect).

As promised, Chapter One begins with a poet's story about the Tree of Life, then discusses the Boston Marathon bombings from the perspective of the author as he worked in Kyrgyzstan, and goes off on other tangents before reaching this conclusion -- the marathon's bombers were not terrorists: "They had no political aspirations. They weren't attempting to obtain concessions from the government or provoke a reaction. They simply believed that they were 'wave sheaves' -- first fruits of God -- and that they would be instrumental in ushering in the apocalypse" (5).

This conclusion explains the relationship between all of the digressions across this section, so these digressions were necessary to prove this point, and thus are suitable for a scholarly book. And this is exactly the type of logical reasoning that is missing in most of the oratory on terrorism. The entire book similarly uses specific acts of supposed terrorism to explain what really happened and working to understand th motivations of the actors.

Since the author's digressions into his own life are typically very relevant to the subject, they are definitely helpful: "I was stationed in Riyadh at an American military base that was attacked by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber" (135).

It would actually be unethical if Maszka did not explain that he has been personally affected by al-Qaeda in this context; and since he has seen this War as a civilian living in the affected countries and as a member of the military that is attaching these "terrorists", his opinions should be trustworthy for both sides. Given how emotional writing this book with detachment and carefully crafted research must have been for somebody who has been bombed, it is only fitting that the final chapter is called, "The Definition of Insanity."

And here is the final chapter:

"A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225).

Very powerful words that are justly supported. I would strongly recommend that everybody in the West's militaries who is responsible for making decisions in the War on Terror read this book before they make their next decision. Who are they shooting at? Why? Who is benefiting? Who is dying? Are they committing war crimes as serious as the Nazis? If there is any chance these allegations are true what kind of a military leader can proceed without understanding the explanations that Maszka offers here? This would probably also work well in an advanced graduate class, despite its digressions, it will probably help students write better dissertations on related topics.

Pennsylvania Literary Journal: Fall 2018

[Jun 18, 2019] The Party s Over Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

In The Party's Over , Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the twentieth century and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the twenty-first century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the United States -- the world's foremost oil consumer -- is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a "managed collapse" that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

More readable than other accounts of this issue, with fuller discussion of the context, social implications and recommendations for personal, community, national and global action, Heinberg's updated book is a riveting wake-up call for human-kind as the oil era winds down, and a critical tool for understanding and influencing current US foreign policy.

Richard Heinberg , from Santa Rosa, California, has been writing about energy resources issues and the dynamics of cultural change for many years. A member of the core faculty at New College of California, he is an award-winning author of three previous books. His Museletter was nominated for the Best Alternative Newsletter award by Utne in 1993.


Laura Lea Evans , April 20, 2013

love and hate

Well, how to describe something that is so drastic in predictions as to make one quiver? Heinberg spells out a future for humans that is not very optimistic but sadly, is more accurate than any of us would like. The information and research done by the author is first rate and irrefutable, which is as it should be. The news: dire. This is my first in a series of his work and indeed, it's a love/hate experience since there is a lot of hopelessness in the outcome of our current path. Be that as it may, this is a book to cherish and an author to admire.

Scott Forbes , May 31, 2005
This book will make you think differently about energy

Surprizingly its not about the rising cost of the energy that you personally use. Its about the whole economy that has been built on using a non-replenishable energy supply. You know how those economists always count on the 3% growth in the GDP. Well the book argues that this long term growth is fundamentally driven by our long term growth in energy usage, which everyone knows will have to turn around at some point.

The other surprizing fact is that the turning point is long before you run out of oil. Heinberg shows data that indicates that half of the oil is still left in the ground when the returns start to diminish. And it appears that that we are within a few years of reaching that point.

So we've used up about half the "available" ( i.e. feasible to extract from an energy perspective ) oil. Now oil production starts to decrease. What happens next is anyone's guess, but Heinburg presents some detailed discussions on the possiblities. Don't assume that a coal, nuclear, or "hydrogen" economy are going to be as easy and profitable as the petroleum economy we are leaving behind.

I've read lots of books about energy and the environment, and this is definitely one of the best.

B. King , November 22, 2003
An Industrial Strength Critique of Energy Usage

Part history and part prophesy, this book is an outstanding summary of many major issues facing Western industrial society. Author Richard Heinberg provides a scholarly critique of modern industrialism, focusing on its current use of energy, and a sobering forecast based on predictable trends.

The key point of the book is that the Earth's crust can provide mankind with an essentially finite amount of fossil fuel energy, with primary reference to oil. Drawing on the relatively unknown, and oft-misunderstood, concept of "peak oil," the book addresses the imminent shortfall of petroleum that will not be available on world markets. That day of reckoning is far closer than most people think. "Peak oil" is a global application of Geologist M. King Hubbert's (1903-1989) studies of oil production in "mature" exploration districts. That is, exploration for oil in sedimentary basins at first yields substantial discoveries, which are then produced. Additional exploration yields less and less "new" oil discovered, and that level of discovery coming at greater and greater effort. Eventually, absent additional significant discovery, production "peaks" and then commences an irreversible decline.

This has already occurred in the U.S. in the 1970's, and is in the process of occurring in oil-producing nations such as Mexico, Britain, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia. Ominously, "peak" production can be forecast in the next few years in such significant producing nations as Saudi Arabia and Iraq (in addition to all of the other problems in those unfortunate nations.)

Much of the rise of industrial society was tied to increasing availability of high energy-density fuel, particularly oil. Western society, and its imitators in non-Western lands, is based upon access to large amounts of energy-dense fuel, and that fuel is oil. With respect to the U.S., the domestic decline in oil production has been made up, over the past thirty years, by increasing imports from other locales, with concomitant political risk. When the world production "peaks" in the next few years, the competition for energy sources will become more fierce than it already is. This book addresses issues related to what are commonly thought of as "substitutes" for oil, such as coal, natural gas and natural gas liquids, and shatters many myths. The author also delves deeply into energy sources such as "tar sand," "oil shale," nuclear and renewable sources. And thankfully, the author offers a number of proposals to address the looming problem (although these proposals are probably not what an awful lot of people want to hear.)

A book like this one could easily descend into a tawdry level of "chicken-little" squawks and utter tendentiousness. But thankfully it does not do so. This is a mature, well-reasoned and carefully footnoted effort. I could take issue with some of the author's points about "big business" and how decisions are made at high political levels, but not in this review. Instead I will simply congratulate Mr. Heinberg for writing an important contribution to social discourse. I hope that a lot of people read this book and start to look at and think about the world differently.

This Hippy Gorilla , July 19, 2006
Cogent, timely, largely ignored

Maybe the most important book since Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species". This volume represents THE wakeup call for a world society quite literally addicted to crude oil for its continuation, and, in most cases, it's very survival.

Heinberg has done his homework, and this volume should be required reading for anyone in an industrialized nation, or one just getting started down that road. It is a proven scientific fact that within a few years, we will begin to run out of oil, and it will be pretty much gone within 5 or 6 decades. Considering that we have built our entire society around an oil economy, the implications are dire - far, far beyond not being able to drive through the coffee shop with the kids in your SUV on the way home from the mall. Alternative energy sources? Dream on - read on.

The book is thoroughly researched, well-thought and organized and presents the often dissenting views at every side of this hugely important issue. It is also delightfully written and composed, and is fun and quick to read.

I highly recommend this book, and I hope at least one person reads what I'm writing and buys this book. And I hope they tell someone, too.

[Jun 18, 2019] Caught in Their Fun House by Paul Haeder

Notable quotes:
"... America just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. ..."
"... And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths ..."
"... What is more compelling than the average person captured in a truthful narrative, as counterpoint to a society that delves into the celebrity, the spectacle, the idiocy as Jason puts forth in his piece, "The Idiot." ..."
"... Yet, my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced, hits the nail on the head by providing his own retort to example after example of the cruelty of capitalism and the US of I -- United States of Idiots? ..."
"... What in the fuck is wrong with this country? The republicans enact cruel legislation to protect criminal enterprises, slash taxes for the obscenely rich, while removing any social or environmental protections for the population, (the Flint Michigan water system for example). ..."
"... The democrats response to Trump is to promote Joe Biden, a compilation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Strom Thurman and just about every other corporate whore they could steal parts off of to make their democratic very own version of Donald Trump. ..."
"... As if there were no real journalists working on all the pre-September 11 illegalities of the republican party and then the post-September 11 evisceration of the few rights the people of the world and USA had before full spectrum war on our planet. ..."
"... As if journalists hadn't cracked open the Koch brothers, the fake think tanks, all the pre-Truman/post-Truman lies of empire, from Roy Cohen, through to the rigged systems of oppression. Way before any trivial Hollywood wannabe open her eyes. ..."
"... Entertainment and a few laughs at the expense of millions of bombed-dead people, millions more suffering-a-lingering-death daily because of Hollywood and USA policies and the evangelicals and the Crypto-Christo-Zionists bombing "the other" back to the stone age. The movie, Vice. ..."
"... What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies , the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy . ..."
"... As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984 , Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World , they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. ..."
"... The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. ..."
"... Huxley was right -- " Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Brave New World , "Chapter 4" ..."
Jun 05, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

America just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

-- Hunter S. Thompson

Now I think poetry will save nothing from oblivion, but I keep writing about the ordinary because for me it's the home of the extraordinary, the only home.

-- Phillip Levine

I'm digging the DV piece, " The Idiot " by Jason Holland, since in a critical mass sort of black hole kind of way, his main thesis is reflective of the experiences many of us in the bloody trenches of dying capitalism see/feel/believe minute by minute.

And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths the idiot facade tries so desperately to avoid; the inner torments of being afraid of not being good enough, not measuring up to our peers, not meeting arbitrary expectations we either accept from others or set for ourselves, or quite simply feeling like we are not worthy of love. So we play these pointless high stakes games which have a rewards as meaningless and worthless as a plastic trophy just to prove our worth. The idiot is a temporal state of being, although many are finer long term examples of displaying the behaviors of the idiot; however none of us are the perfect idiot. To avoid the affectations of being in an idiotic state it takes conscious effort to live our lives moment to moment with authenticity, to be in a state of awareness of our actions, to always be willing to suffer for something worthwhile and to be consistently well reasoned examiners of what constitutes something worthwhile.

That authenticity, moment to moment existence -- and it should be a reveling of life -- is good, but there is a bifurcating of sorts when many of us are still subject to the masters of Big Brother and Big Business. We are suffering the dualism of the Century, and the more we know, the more we seek and the more we grapple, well, the more emancipated we are, but in that freedom comes some pretty harsh treatment by the masters and their sub-masters and all the Little Eichmann's that keep the Capitalist's trains moving like clockwork toward the global demise set in their plastic worlds!

And some of us think Dachau and Auschwitz were bad! We have already seen a hundred of them since 1945.

For me, I have the benefit of being a writer, and at this time, I have this new gig I created myself to bring to the Oregon Coast a sense of the people who are here living or who come here to set down their own stories . . . people who do things to make this world better and themselves better. Something in the draw that brings my subjects for my pieces here to the coast of Oregon. These are people, and they are not perfections or cut-outs or pulverized remnants of humanity that Capitalism mostly demands in it shark tank of inane media manipulation and marketing.

I crack open humanity and get people's contexts -- entire stories upon stories laid down, strata by strata, and cover their own formula for the art of living in harmony in a world of disharmony. Reading my stuff, I hope, will allow readers of this rag, Oregon Coast Today , and its on-line version a better sense of authenticity via people they may or may not even run across in their own lives of being the consummate busy tourist and consumer.

A few of the pieces will be worthy of DV display, and I hope that my attempt at drilling down and "getting people" for who they are and how they got here will better the world, in some small shape. Really small, but small wonders sometimes are the ionic glue of a bettering world.

What is more compelling than the average person captured in a truthful narrative, as counterpoint to a society that delves into the celebrity, the spectacle, the idiocy as Jason puts forth in his piece, "The Idiot."

In many ways, talking to people who have lived authentic (albeit struggle-prone) lives, or who are just embarking on a nascent stage of multiple iterations of living, I get my sense of grounding in a very flummoxed world of inanity and crass disassociation, as in the disease of pushing away humanity and pushing away the natural world to hitch oneself to the perversions of the billionaire class.

Time and time again, daily, my friends who are still in struggle -- still trying to make sense of the perverted world of idiots controlling the message, the economy, the environment, the culture, and the mental-physical-spiritual health of the world, as if this is it, Trump 2.0 -- give me news feed after news feed of the quickening of not only idiocy that capitalism and consumerism and war engender in our species, but also examples of the inhumanity driving the agendas of the Fortune 500 Class, the Davos crowd, the Aspen Institute gatherings, et al .

Yet, my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced, hits the nail on the head by providing his own retort to example after example of the cruelty of capitalism and the US of I -- United States of Idiots?

If this doesn't slap the Hell out of you and rub your nose into the proverbial dog shit of what a criminally insane, inhumane, cruel and thuggish enterprise our government has become, then there is absolutely no hope for your soul. The truth tellers like Manning, Assange, Snowden and others, the brave young guys like Tim DeChristopher that monkey wrenched the sale of oil leases to public lands to try and protect the environment, this fellow that is showing his human side by providing water and aid for those dying in the desert sun, are all facing prison terms or maybe even the death penalty. Their crime? Being a compassionate human being.

What in the fuck is wrong with this country? The republicans enact cruel legislation to protect criminal enterprises, slash taxes for the obscenely rich, while removing any social or environmental protections for the population, (the Flint Michigan water system for example).

The republicans are ruthlessly attacking the environment and endangered species, turning their backs on infrastructure that is endangering peoples lives, while the spineless democrats sit idly by, wringing their hands. The democrats won't take action against the most openly corrupt president we have ever had, that is daily destroying everything in this country as well as the rest of the world with his insane military budgets, trade wars and climate policies. The democrats response to Trump is to promote Joe Biden, a compilation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Strom Thurman and just about every other corporate whore they could steal parts off of to make their democratic very own version of Donald Trump.

Both the republicans and the democrats promote austerity for the working people and the poor, while stuffing the oligarchs pockets with gold. Both political Parties support endless war and war profiteers but slash budgets for schools, infrastructure, health care and the elderly. Both political Parties shower money on the police state and a corrupt system of justice and private prisons. Both political Parties are turning their heads to what the oil industry is doing to our water and air with fracking and are in fact have promoted legislation to let the oil industry off the hook when it causes unbelievable environmental damage. Both political Parties are doing nothing to check the nuclear industry that is a environmental time bomb waiting to go off and have promoted legislation to limit the industries liability when it does.

What is wrong with the American people that they sit on their collective asses and do nothing while all this is happening? Are they that fucking stupid? Are they that lacking in human decency? Are they that politically dumbed-down that they won't even fight for their own interests?

The fact that this government corruption has been allowed to go on for years evidently proves that Americans are that stupid and lacking of compassion and politically dumbed-down. Thank God for guys like Dr. Warren the others that are trying to slap some sense into the American public to show us what courage and being humane is all about. Dr. Warren and company shouldn't be put in jail but our so called leaders sure as Hell should be for their crimes against humanity.

He's talking about a desert saint of sorts, Scott Warren, who has the power of his call to duty to give water in milk cartons to anyone crossing the Arizona desert. Now that is a hero, yet, he is facing decades in prison. America!

The charges against Warren "are an unjust criminalization of direct humanitarian assistance" and "appear to constitute a politically motivated violation of his protected rights as a Human Rights Defender," states Amnesty International's Americas regional director Erika Guevara-Rosas .

"Providing humanitarian aid is never a crime," Guevara-Rosas added in a statement last week. "If Dr. Warren were convicted and imprisoned on these absurd charges, he would be a prisoner of conscience, detained for his volunteer activities motivated by humanitarian principles and his religious beliefs."

Yet how many humans in this crime country even give a rat's ass about one man who is doing the good that all men and women should be doing?

Read the great piece about these water bearers on the border at the Intercept by Ryan Devereaux .

So, here, whatever will come of my new column, "Deep Dive: Go Below the Surface with Paul Haeder," starting June 7, well, I hope people reading this rag -- 18,000 and counting and as they are compelled to hit each longer version of each of my profiles on line, Oregon Coast Today -- will understand that life is the sum total of one's search for meaning and worthy work and community involvement.

Maybe this compulsion toward narrative has always been inside me during my early root setting living in Canada, Maryland, Paris, Edinburgh, Arizona . . . then on that walkabout throughout Latin America, Europe, Vietnam, USA, Central America!

When times get tough, the storyteller gets writing. Ha. Believe you me, the stories we all have collected in this Marquis de Sade world of capital and artery-clogging entertainment and constant death spiral the elites have banked as their Appian Way to Complete Dominance, they make for so much more validation of humanity than anything Hollywood could make.

Point of fact -- I attempted to watch the film, Vice, about Dick Cheney, his perverse family, the perversity of neocons fornicating with neoliberalism. It was one of Hollywood's "cutting edge" dramas. Written and directed by a Saturday Night Live writer. All the usual suspects with Hollywood multi-millions stuffed in their jowls -- Christian Bale, Amy Adams, et al .

It wasn't that good, but I sensed that the filmmakers were all about trying to make something that was "different." I didn't nod off during the viewing. But, I unfortunately had the DVD so I went to the extras section, and then, the behind-the-scenes of the making of Vice . This is when things went south real quickly with neoliberal, Democrat-leaning Hollywood creeps. We get every goofy platitude about each and every department's genius in making this film. Every actor fawns the other actor for his or her amazing performance.

Then the Limey, Christian Bale, yammers on and on about he was all about making Dick Cheney human, going into his good side, being cognizant of Cheney, the human. Rubbish and this is the quality of men, adults, in our society -- multimillionaires with gobs of limelight and credit and awards and houses and yachts thrown at them, and they can't even begin to attack the cause -- capitalism, rampant competitiveness, droll I-got-mine-too-bad-you-can't-get-yours thinking. Hollywood is the anti-culture, the flagging bumbling money changers, the money makers, the money grubbers, and well, everything is about the pockets and the suits and the "executive producers," i.e. Bankers.

Oh god, what a trip going into these Hollywood people's hot yoga, macrobiotic diet, four-hour-a-day workout minds. The director, McKay, actually thinks this drama -- make-believe -- has given the world new stuff, new insights, new news about the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush-Reagan-Bush world of prostitute politics.

As if there were no real journalists working on all the pre-September 11 illegalities of the republican party and then the post-September 11 evisceration of the few rights the people of the world and USA had before full spectrum war on our planet.

As if journalists hadn't cracked open the Koch brothers, the fake think tanks, all the pre-Truman/post-Truman lies of empire, from Roy Cohen, through to the rigged systems of oppression. Way before any trivial Hollywood wannabe open her eyes.

Entertainment and a few laughs at the expense of millions of bombed-dead people, millions more suffering-a-lingering-death daily because of Hollywood and USA policies and the evangelicals and the Crypto-Christo-Zionists bombing "the other" back to the stone age. The movie, Vice.

Racists, misogynists, misanthropes, one and all. Yet, we gotta love these democrat-leaning guys and gals making films, having millions stuffed up every possible orifice until their brains gel.

Insight into the flippancy that is Hollywood the Power Broker! Watching people like Amy Adams and Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell play this soft-shoe goofball show, and then in the little "Making of the Movie Vice" documentary (sic-infomercial) blathering on and on about the greatness of the script and every cog of the machine that churns out this pabulum, well, it steels me to continue my small-time, no-fame, big-effing-deal gig writing people profiles to bring some sense to a world captured by capital . . . idiocy!

Oh, how we fall in line. Over at Counterpunch , that cloistered world of writers has the countdown for 2018 -- Best Films of the Year, as in the most conscious, socially (give me a effing break!) that is. Nothing in American society once it floats on the offal barrel is sacred, socialist, communist.

Peak TV is creating more opportunities for independent film directors, and for new stories to be told. More films from around the world are released on streaming every day, and Netflix spent an estimated 13 billion dollars on content just this year. More cash available can sometimes mean more stories by and about communities of color, women, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and other communities Hollywood has long ignored. But the movie industry is still primarily about making profit, and it's main business is reinforcing the status quo, including churning out films that glorify capitalism, war, and policing.

Below are 2018's top ten conscious films that made it through these barriers, plus twenty more released this year that you may want to check out.

[ ]

Hollywood doesn't have a great record in covering presidential politics (remember Kevin Costner in Swing Vote ?). Vice , comedy director Adam McKay's follow up to The Big Short , explores the Bush/Cheney presidency, attempting to make history and polemic accessible to a wide audience. It's not as effective as his previous film, but it's a good history, especially for those less familiar with the ins and outs of the early 2000s corporate power grab.

Lighten up already , many a friend and acquaintance tell me. "You are going to burn out like one of the bulbs you use underwater to do your night dives. Way too much shining the hoary light onto the more hoary caverns of American society. Let things go."

Ha, well, how can we? We are entertained to death, as Neil Postman states:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies , the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy .

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984 , Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World , they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book [ Amusing Ourselves to Death ] is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

And so it goes, as I trail the acrid dust devil of injustice -- my own and the veterans' and families' I helped just months ago in Portland as a social worker for, drum roll, homeless veterans (and some came with families, including babies and service dogs).

I've written about it here and elsewhere -- the Starvation Army. The deceitful, unethical, possibly murderous Starvation Army. You see, where I worked, I had these insane Nurse Ratched's lording over grown men and women treating them like criminals, and infantiles, and the constant berating and recriminations. It was anything but social work 101. Anything but trauma-informed care. Anything but caring people, enlightened helpers; instead, think mean, warped people who within their own broken self's, do all the wrong things for veterans.

I decided to jump ship, and, alas, a few lawyers advised me I couldn't get far with a hostile workplace complaint until I went through the state of Oregon's, Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) quasi-judicial pathway.

There was great harm put upon the veterans, great harm put upon the staff, because a director was all into herself and her self-described Jesus Saves bullshit, yammering on about her former cocaine addiction and booze abuse and 350 pounds of flesh, as well as her own failings as a mother. This place has 100 people living in it temporarily, while Starvation Army receives taxpayer money, all part of the poverty pimping Starvation/Salvation Army's SOP.

In the end, relying on idiots in any state bureaucracy to carry forth an investigation was not my idea of justice. I did my due diligence and filed grievances, first with the Starvation Army, and, then with BOLI. I contacted VA officials, state politicians, and the media. To no avail. They too are accomplices!

To make a long and stupid Byzantine story short, my prediction of zero assistance and zero admonishing from the state to the executive director and the higher ups of the Starvation Army played out. BOLI is a toothless and empty-hearted agency, staffed by soulless Little Eichmann's counting their paychecks and amassing points to their state sourced pension fund.

I have moved on, as usual, and the injustice perpetrated upon me is minor in the scheme of things. The veterans, however, already foisted with trauma, PTSD, administrative rape, etc., are still vulnerable to the Nurse Ratched's of the inhumane social services that serves (sic) non-profits and religious crime syndicates like the Starvation Army.

Here , "How the Salvation Army Lives Off (and thrives with) a Special Brand of Poverty Pimping"

Here , "Alcohol, Atheism, Anarchy: The Triple A Threat to the Pro-Capitalist Salvation Army"

Here , "Insanity of Social Work as Human Control"

I have since my departure been in contact with a few veterans, and talked a few off the proverbial ledge -- several that wanted to off themselves because of the Nurse Ratched's they encounter at the Starvation Army, in the VA, and in non-profits. This is the reality, and it's sick, in real perverted American time -- "Hundreds witness veteran shoot and kill himself in VA waiting room"

In December, Marine Col. Jim Turner, 55, put his service uniform on, drove to the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs, and shot himself outside the medical center, leaving a note next to his body. "I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90 percent," it read.

This is Trump, this is Biden, this is Clinton, this is the lot of them, callous and broken capitalists, who have sold their souls to the devil and brains to Jeff Bezos, et al . And it ain't going to get fixed until we cut away the cancer. Really cut away, daily, in small acts of defiance, great collective acts of beating the system. Not sure what that great director Ava Duvernay says about more and more movies like her 13th or this new Netflix mini-series on the Central Park Five , When They See Us will do to eventually get enough Americans (70 percent are racist to the core) to demand change in the criminal injustice system of private prisons, Incarceration Complex, Profitable Prosecutions. That all those cops, dailies, elites, deplorables, Trumpies, and Trump said terrible terrible things about these 5 juveniles, calling them animals, or super predators like the Clinton Klan, well, imagine, an insane 2016 runner for the highest crime lord position of the land, POTUS, Donald Trump, after these five men were released after all the evidence found them innocent, sputtering with his big fat billionaire's fourth grader's words that the Central Park Five are guilty, guilty, guilty.

The press coverage was biased. There was a study done by Natalie Byfield, one of the journalists at the time for the New York papers who later wrote a book about covering the case, and it saw that a little more than 89 percent of the press coverage at the time didn't use the word "alleged," that we had irresponsibility in the press corps at the time not to ask second questions and literally take police and prosecutor talking points and turn those into articles that people read as fact, and proceeded to shape their opinions about this case that essentially spoils the jury pool, so that these boys were never given a chance.

Trump's comments in his ads that he took out in 1989 were taken out just two weeks after the crime was announced -- they hadn't even gone to trial, so it was impossible for them to have an impartial jury pool. The printing of their names in the papers for minors, and where they lived, was a jaw-dropper. All of this was done by "reputable" papers in New York that we still read, so I'm curious how these papers take responsibility for their part in this, and also possibly use this to review the part they play in other cases that may not be as famous as this.

Thus, she makes my case -- the callous and racist and sexist and xenophobic US Press, and here we are today, 2019, enter Amusing Ourselves to Death and a Brave New World .

The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.

-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World , "Preface"

Alas, though, we have to keep those words coming, even sent to the great gray hearts and souls populating those state agencies whose workers are supposed to investigate the workplace safety concerns of workers, and are supposed to prevent workplace harassment.

I write to break through the fog, and to envelop a new way of seeing my world, for me and for the few readers that dabble in even attempting to start, let alone finish, these missives.

Huxley was right -- " Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Brave New World , "Chapter 4"

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. He organized Part-time faulty in Washington State. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice . Read his autobiography, weekly or bi-weekly musings and hard hitting work in chapter installments, at LA Progressive . He blogs from Otis, Oregon. Read other articles by Paul , or visit Paul's website .

[Jun 17, 2019] Matt Taibbi Exposes The Great College Loan Swindle

Notable quotes:
"... If you want to take the risk of going into debt to attend college, you better come out with skills that are in high demand. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole...

On a wind-swept, frigid night in February 2009, a 37-year-old schoolteacher named Scott Nailor parked his rusted '92 Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Fireside Inn in Auburn, Maine. He picked this spot to have a final reckoning with himself. He was going to end his life.

Beaten down after more than a decade of struggle with student debt, after years of taking false doors and slipping into various puddles of bureaucratic quicksand, he was giving up the fight. "This is it, I'm done," he remembers thinking. "I sat there and just sort of felt like I'm going to take my life. I'm going to find a way to park this car in the garage, with it running or whatever."

Nailor's problems began at 19 years old, when he borrowed for tuition so that he could pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Maine. He graduated summa cum laude four years later and immediately got a job in his field, as an English teacher.

Bu t he graduated with $35,000 in debt, a big hill to climb on a part-time teacher's $18,000 salary. He struggled with payments, and he and his wife then consolidated their student debt, which soon totaled more than $50,000. They declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans. From there he found himself in a loan "rehabilitation" program that added to his overall balance. "That's when the noose began to tighten," he says.

The collectors called day and night, at work and at home. "In the middle of class too, while I was teaching," he says. He ended up in another rehabilitation program that put him on a road toward an essentially endless cycle of rising payments. Today, he pays $471 a month toward "rehabilitation," and, like countless other borrowers, he pays nothing at all toward his real debt, which he now calculates would cost more than $100,000 to extinguish. "Not one dollar of it goes to principal," says Nailor. "I will never be able to pay it off. My only hope to escape from this crushing debt is to die."

After repeated phone calls with lending agencies about his ever-rising interest payments, Nailor now believes things will only get worse with time. "At this rate, I may easily break $1 million in debt before I retire from teaching," he says.

Nailor had more than once reached the stage in his thoughts where he was thinking about how to physically pull off his suicide. "I'd been there before, that just was the worst of it," he says. "It scared me, bad."

He had a young son and a younger daughter, but Nailor had been so broken by the experience of financial failure that he managed to convince himself they would be better off without him. What saved him is that he called his wife to say goodbye. "I don't know why I called my wife. I'm glad I did," he says. "I just wanted her or someone to tell me to pick it up, keep fighting, it's going to be all right. And she did."

From that moment, Nailor managed to focus on his family. Still, the core problem – the spiraling debt that has taken over his life, as it has for millions of other Americans – remains.

Horror stories about student debt are nothing new. But this school year marks a considerable worsening of a tale that ought to have been a national emergency years ago. The government in charge of regulating this mess is now filled with predatory monsters who have extensive ties to the exploitative for-profit education industry – from Donald Trump himself to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who sets much of the federal loan policy, to Julian Schmoke, onetime dean of the infamous DeVry University, whom Trump appointed to police fraud in education.

Americans don't understand the student-loan crisis because they've been trained to view the issue in terms of a series of separate, unrelated problems.

They will read in one place that as of the summer of 2017, a record 8.5 million Americans are in default on their student debt, with about $1.3 trillion in loans still outstanding.

In another place, voters will read that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, soaring in a seemingly market-defying arc that for nearly a decade now has run almost double the rate of inflation. Tuition for a halfway decent school now frequently surpasses $50,000 a year. How, the average newsreader wonders, can any child not born in a yacht afford to go to school these days?

In a third place, that same reader will see some heartless monster, usually a Republican, threatening to cut federal student lending. The current bogeyman is Trump, who is threatening to slash the Pell Grant program by $3.9 billion, which would seem to put higher education even further out of reach for poor and middle-income families. This too seems appalling, and triggers a different kind of response, encouraging progressive voters to lobby for increased availability for educational lending.

But the separateness of these stories clouds the unifying issue underneath: The education industry as a whole is a con. In fact, since the mortgage business blew up in 2008, education and student debt is probably our reigning unexposed nation-wide scam.

It's a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a "big store scheme," like in the movie The Sting : a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie – sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate – have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams – that's the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He's the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements.

It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don't. "A bachelor's degree is worth $2.8 million on average over a lifetime" is how Georgetown University put it. The Census Bureau tells us similarly that a master's degree is worth on average about $1.3 million more than a high school diploma.

But these stats say more about the increasing uselessness of a high school degree than they do about the value of a college diploma. Moreover, since virtually everyone at the very highest strata of society has a college degree, the stats are skewed by a handful of financial titans. A college degree has become a minimal status marker as much as anything else. "I'm sure people who take polo lessons or sailing lessons earn a lot more on average too," says Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice, which advocates for debt forgiveness and other reforms. "Does that mean you should send your kids to sailing school?"

But the pitch works on everyone these days, especially since good jobs for Trump's beloved "poorly educated" are scarce to nonexistent. Going to college doesn't guarantee a good job, far from it, but the data show that not going dooms most young people to an increasingly shallow pool of the very crappiest, lowest-paying jobs. There's a lot of stick, but not much carrot, in the education game.

It's a vicious cycle. Since everyone feels obligated to go to college, most everyone who can go, does, creating a glut of graduates. And as that glut of degree recipients grows, the squeeze on the un-degreed grows tighter, increasing further that original negative incentive: Don't go to college, and you'll be standing on soup lines by age 25.

With that inducement in place, colleges can charge almost any amount, and kids will pay – so long as they can get the money. And here we run into problem number two: It's too easy to find that money.

Parents, not wanting their kids to fall behind, will pay every dollar they have. But if they don't have the cash, there is a virtually unlimited amount of credit available to young people. Proposed cuts to Pell Grants aside, the landscape is filled with public and private lending, and students gobble it up. Kids who walk into financial-aid offices are often not told what signing their names on the various aid forms will mean down the line. A lot of kids don't even understand the concept of interest or amortization tables – they think if they're borrowing $8,000, they're paying back $8,000.

Nailor certainly was unaware of what he was getting into when he was 19. "I had no idea [about interest]," he says. "I just remember thinking, 'I don't have to worry about it right now. I want to go to school.' " He pauses in disgust. "It's unsettling to remember how it was like, 'Here, just sign this and you're all set.' I wish I could take the time machine back and slap myself in the face."

The average amount of debt for a student leaving school is skyrocketing even faster than the rate of tuition increase.

In 2016, for instance, the average amount of debt for an exiting college graduate was a staggering $37,172. That's a rise of six percent over just the previous year. With the average undergraduate interest rate at about 3.7 percent, the interest alone costs around $115 per month, meaning anyone who can't afford to pay into the principal faces the prospect of $69,000 in payments over 50 years.

So here's the con so far.

You must go to college because you're screwed if you don't.

Costs are outrageously high, but you pay them because you have to, and because the system makes it easy to borrow massive amounts of money

The third part of the con is the worst: You can't get out of the debt.

Since government lenders in particular have virtually unlimited power to collect on student debt – preying on everything from salary to income-tax returns – even running is not an option. And since most young people find themselves unable to make their full payments early on, they often find themselves perpetually paying down interest only, never touching the principal. Our billionaire president can declare bankruptcy four times, but students are the one class of citizen that may not do it even once.

October 2017 was supposed to represent the first glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, one of the few avenues for wiping out student debt. The idea, launched by George W. Bush, was pretty simple: Students could pledge to work 10 years for the government or a nonprofit and have their debt forgiven. In order to qualify, borrowers had to make payments for 10 years using a complex formula. This month, then, was to start the first mass wipeouts of debt in the history of American student lending. But more than half of the 700,000 enrollees have already been expunged from the program for, among other things, failing to certify their incomes on time, one of many bureaucratic tricks employed to limit forgiveness eligibility. To date, fewer than 500 participants are scheduled to receive loan forgiveness in this first round.

Moreover, Trump has called for the program's elimination by 2018, meaning that any relief that begins this month is likely only temporary. The only thing that is guaranteed to remain real for the immediate future are the massive profits being generated on the backs of young people, who before long become old people who, all too often, remain ensnared until their last days in one of the country's most brilliant and devious moneymaking schemes.

Everybody wins in this madness, except students. Even though many of the loans are originated by the state, most of them are serviced by private or quasi-private companies like Navient – which until 2014 was the student-loan arm of Sallie Mae – or Nelnet, companies that reported a combined profit of around $1 billion last year (the U.S. government made a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016!). Debt-collector companies like Performant (which generated $141.4 million in revenues; the family of Betsy DeVos is a major investor), and most particularly the colleges and universities, get to prey on the desperation and terror of parents and young people, and in the process rake in vast sums virtually without fear of market consequence.

About that: Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago.

In that incident, UW raised tuition by 5.5 percent six years in a row after 2007. The school blamed stresses from the financial crisis and decreased state aid. But when pressed during a state committee hearing in 2013 about the university's finances, UW system president Kevin Reilly admitted they held $648 million in reserve, including $414 million in tuition payments. This was excess hidey-hole cash the school was sitting on, separate and distinct from, say, an endowment fund.

After the university was showered with criticism for hoarding cash at a time when it was gouging students with huge price increases every year, the school responded by saying, essentially, it only did what all the other kids were doing. UW released data showing that other major state-school systems across the country were similarly stashing huge amounts of cash. While Wisconsin's surplus was only 25 percent of its operating budget, for instance, Minnesota's was 29 percent, and Illinois maintained a whopping 34 percent reserve.

When Collinge, of Student Loan Justice, looked into it, he found that the phenomenon wasn't confined to state schools. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees. "They're all doing it," he says.

While universities sit on their stockpiles of cash and the loan industry generates record profits, the pain of living in debilitating debt for many lasts into retirement. Take Veronica Martish. She's a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. She's also a grandmother who's never been in trouble and consid?ers herself a patriot. "The thing is, I tried to do everything right in my life," she says. "But this ruined my life."

This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Five years later, after deaths in her family, she fell behind on her payments and entered a loan-rehabilitation program. "That's when my nightmare began," she says.

In rehabilitation, Martish's $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since. She says she's paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. "By the time I die," she says, "I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000 loan." She pauses. "It's a scam, you see. Nothing ever comes off the loan. It's all interest and fees. And they chase you until you're old, like me. They never stop. Ever."

And that's the other thing about lending to students: It's the safest grift around.

There's probably no better symbol of the bankruptcy of the education industry than Trump University. The half-literate president's effort at higher learning drew in suckers with pathetic promises of great real-estate insights (for instance, that Trump "hand-picked" the instructors) and then charged them truckfuls of cash for get-rich-quick tutorials that students and faculty later described as "almost completely worthless" and a "total lie." That Trump got to settle a lawsuit on this matter for $25 million and still managed to be elected president is, ironically, a remarkable testament to the failure of our education system. About the only example that might be worse is DeVry University, which told students that 90 percent of graduates seeking jobs found them in their fields within six months of graduation. The FTC found those claims "false and unsubstantiated," and ordered $100 million in refunds and debt relief, but that was in 2016 – before Trump put DeVry chief Schmoke, of all people, in charge of rooting out education fraud. Like a lot of things connected to politics lately, it would be funny if it weren't somehow actually happening.?"Yeah, it's the fox guarding the henhouse," says Collinge. "You could probably find a worse analogy."

But the real problem with the student-loan story is that it's so poorly understood by people not living the nightmare. There's so much propaganda that blames the borrowers for taking on the debt in the first place that there's often little sympathy for people in hopeless situations. To make matters worse, band-aid programs that supposedly offer help hypnotize the public into thinking there are ways out, when the "help" is usually just another trick to add to the balance.

"That's part of the problem with the narrative," says Nailor, the schoolteacher. "People think that there's help, so what are you complaining about? All you got to do is apply for help."

But the help, he says, coming from a for-profit predatory system, often just makes things worse. "It did for me," he says. "It does for a lot of people."

jcaz -> ThirdWorldNut , Nov 5, 2017 7:36 PM

So..... This guy is working ONE job, part-time.... How does he fill the rest of his day?

Take away his student loan, he's still living on $18K/yr- you're still broke...

Moe Hamhead -> Escrava Isaura , Nov 5, 2017 8:05 PM

The real flaw is associating "higher" education with value. Get a job. Earn an income. Find an interest for your free time. Raise a family. Spare the four years of wasted time and money.

NoPension -> Grimaldus , Nov 5, 2017 9:10 PM

Colleges.....those bastions of conservatism.

WhackoWarner -> CunnyFunt , Nov 5, 2017 7:10 PM

Yeah there is a predatory lending story here...

Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:08 PM

If you want to take the risk of going into debt to attend college, you better come out with skills that are in high demand. Otherwise you are much better off going into the military, or going to trade school. BTW, thank the Clintons for making it impossible to get out of student debt through bankruptcy.

Krungle -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:14 PM

If you want to give out loans to kids then you should accept the risk that they might default on that debt and leave you with the tab. Let's stop the coddling the banker bullshit. They lobbied to make this loans extremely difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. They wanted all the profit and none of the risk. Let them assume risk and they'll stop handing out loans to unqualified borrowers.

Boxed Merlot -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:16 PM

Amen! If the money for an "education" is more difficult to obtain, that ought to be a clue as to the value of the information / training one is purchasing. The fact it's so easy to get is all one needs to know about the worth of what's being spewed by those dispensing their so-called knowledge / truth.

Allow the lawful discharge through bankruptcy and punish every single financial institution, (and especially their individual persons who oversaw the process), that has profited off of ballooning "principle" amounts that even come close to doubling an original amount with ties to any government official that voted to place these kind of loans in such a category.

This is madness! "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,..." Isaiah 10:1

jmo

t0mmyBerg -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:50 PM

Finally at least one person gets it. The inability to discharge student loan debt through the taint of bankruptcy is one of the greatest financial crimes of the last century. Entirely unAmerican. America used to be all about fresh starts. That is one reason our business life is more vibrant than say many places in Europe with less benign laws. Same goes for individuals. If you go through the pain of bankruptcy there is no reason you shouldnt get that debt discharged. Whomever voted for that law, whether Clintons or others should be beaten to death.

CunnyFunt -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:25 PM

Hobart's 38-week combo welder program costs $16,625. A trained kid willing to travel and work in the field would make more than an engineering graduate who paid a quarter-million for his degree.

ElwinCthulhu -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:35 PM

No mention made of the rats nest Social Justice program$ infesting college and university campuses across the country, at untold cost, worthless sullshit.

PrefabSprout -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:54 PM

But if you go into the military, you get poisoned and dehabilitated by bazillion vaccines, which you can't refuse.

Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 7:11 PM

Not that the student loan thing isn't another banker scam, but the lead story doesn't make sense.

Firstly, educators get loan forgiveness after a decade or two of public service. And there are income contingent repayment plans. And lawyers have, in fact, been able to get these things discharged. None of this changes the scam that is giving out high interest loans to kids to pursue an education. But you might want to start with a sob story that makes more sense. How about a pediatrician with 400k in loans and making 100k a year living in a coastal city? Or how about the art history majors at private liberal arts schools with 200k in debt making $10/hour as a barista? But teachers are one of the few groups that has an actual federal out.

JohnG -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:06 PM

Maybe. My wife is a teacher in a Title I, low income school, and had been for 13 years..... She also has about 13K remaining in student loans, originally federal direct and Perkins loans. With her over 10 years in title I schools, she should be able to get them forgiven, except that she consolidated these loans before I met her, and now they are "serviced" by AES, a private lender, and they are no longer eligible for discharge. This I call the "Consolidation Scam."

bluskyes , Nov 5, 2017 7:15 PM

Should have taken a math course first.

uhland62 -> bluskyes , Nov 5, 2017 7:27 PM

Pay off debt before you have children. There is no law that you must have children, if the debt makes it impossible. I would have liked a lot of tings but could not afford them.

dwboston , Nov 5, 2017 7:19 PM

Taibbi has some gall to blame Trump, DeVos and others for the student debt explosion, but not one word about Obama or the government's takeover of the student loan market as part of Obamacare? The student loan market was folded into the ACA as part of the fake accounting to make the ACA numbers "work". Every market the govenrment insinuates itself into - housing, health care, college tuition, etc. - gets distorted and costs explode. Taibbi's yet another dishonest liberal.

TheLastTrump -> dwboston , Nov 5, 2017 7:31 PM

Yikes- is this factual? If so fuck him. All name, no cattle.

Obama began his turn as destroyer in chief at the height of the Great Recession, everyone & their brother was running into the safety of college & student loans to pay the bills. I recall watching the local parking lots swell. :) So there's that.

But numbers are off the charts every year because younger millennials expect the govt to forgive all those loans at some point. That's how many thought 20 years ago & it's worse today.

dwboston -> TheLastTrump , Nov 5, 2017 9:11 PM

It is:

"The nexus between the student loan program and ObamaCare is purely opportunistic. As the Affordable Care Act was passing through Congress, its wheels greased by the wholly fraudulent assertion that it didn't need 60 votes to pass the Senate, the administration decided to put in a provision eliminating the private student loan industry, fully federalizing the program. What was not widely understood at the time was that it hoped to raid the funds paid by students to provide money for the bottomless pit known as ObamaCare"

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/dick-morris/302247-loans-subsidize...

allgoodmen , Nov 5, 2017 7:22 PM

Good article from Matt Taibbi, but you can count on this bolshevik to leave out Clinton complicity in the for-profit student loan scandals:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/09/06/bill_clinton_earned_milli...

TheLastTrump , Nov 5, 2017 7:26 PM

American college farm. Biggest swindle there is. Your education is an afterthought.

kenny500c , Nov 5, 2017 7:30 PM

No reason student debt should be treated differently from other debts, allow it to be written off in BK court.

[Jun 17, 2019] Student Loan Debt Is the Enemy of Meritocracy

In 1980, the states subsidized 70% of the cost per student. Today it is less than 30% and the amount of grants and scholarships has likewise declined. Tax cuts for rich people and conservative hatred for education are the biggest problem.
Notable quotes:
"... "easy" student loans are a subsidy to colleges, ..."
"... 1965 median family income was $6900, more than 200% of the cost of a year at NU. Current median family income is about 75% of a year at NU. ..."
"... Allowing young adults to avoid challenging and uncomfortable and difficult subjects under the guise of compassion is the enemy of meritocracy. Financial illiteracy is the enemy of meritocracy. ..."
"... The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget. ..."
"... JUST HAD AN IDEA THAT MIGHT LIMIT THE DAMAGE OF THESE PHONEY ONLINE COLLEGES (pardon shouting, but I think it's justified): ..."
"... of-paying) IF a built for that purpose government agency APPROVES said loan. What do you think? ..."
"... Kaplan Ed is among the worst of the worst of internet federal loan and grant sucking diploma mills. ..."
"... Because every event in today's economy is the wish of the wealthy. Do you see why they suddenly wish to deeply educate the proles? ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Thomas Piketty on a theme I've been hammering lately, student debt is too damn high!:
Student Loan Debt Is the Enemy of Meritocracy in the US: ...the amount of household debt and even more recently of student debt in the U.S. is something that is really troublesome and it reflects the very large rise in tuition in the U.S. a very large inequality in access to education. I think if we really want to promote more equal opportunity and redistribute chances in access to education we should do something about student debt. And it's not possible to have such a large group of the population entering the labor force with such a big debt behind them. This exemplifies a particular problem with inequality in the United States, which is very high inequality and access to higher education. So in other countries in the developed world you don't have such massive student debt because you have more public support to higher education. I think the plan that was proposed earlier this year in 2015 by President Obama to increase public funding to public universities and community college is exactly justified.
This is really the key for higher growth in the future and also for a more equitable growth..., you have the official discourse about meritocracy, equal opportunity and mobility, and then you have the reality. And the gap between the two can be quite troublesome. So this is like you have a problem like this and there's a lot of hypocrisy about meritocracy in every country, not only in the U.S., but there is evidence suggesting that this has become particularly extreme in the United States. ... So this is a situation that is very troublesome and should rank very highly in the policy agenda in the future in the U.S.

DrDick -> Jeff R Carter:

"college is heavily subsidized"

Bwahahahahahahaha! *gasp*

In 1980, the states subsidized 70% of the cost per student. Today it is less than 30% and the amount of grants and scholarships has likewise declined. Tax cuts for rich people and conservative hatred for education are the biggest problem.

cm -> to DrDick...

I don't know what Jeff meant, but "easy" student loans are a subsidy to colleges, don't you think? Subsidies don't have to be paid directly to the recipient. The people who are getting the student loans don't get to keep the money (but they do get to keep the debt).

DrDick -> to cm...

No I do not agree. If anything, they are a subsidy to the finance industry (since you cannot default on them). More basically, they do not make college more affordable or accessible (his point).

cm -> to DrDick...

Well, what is a subsidy? Most economic entities don't get to keep the money they receive, but it ends up with somebody else or circulates. If I run a business and somebody sends people with money my way (or pays me by customer served), that looks like a subsidy to me - even though I don't get to keep the money, much of it paid for operational expenses not to forget salaries and other perks.

Just because it is not prearranged and no-strings (?) funding doesn't mean it cannot be a subsidy.

The financial system is involved, and benefits, whenever money is sloshing around.

Pinkybum -> to cm...

I think DrDick has this the right way around. Surely one should think of subsidies as to who the payment is directly helping. Subsidies to students would lower the barrier of entry into college. Subsidies to colleges help colleges hire better professors, offer more classes, reduce the cost of classes etc. Student loans are no subsidy at all except to the finance industry because they cannot be defaulted on and even then some may never be paid back because of bankruptcies.

However, that is always the risk of doing business as a loan provider. It might be interesting to assess the return on student loans compared to other loan instruments.

mrrunangun -> to Jeff R Carter...

The cost of higher education has risen relative to the earning power of the student and/or the student's family unless that family is in the top 10-20% wealth or income groups.

50 years ago it was possible for a lower middle class student to pay all expenses for Northwestern University with his/her own earnings. Tuition was $1500 and room + board c $1000/year. The State of Illinois had a scholarship grant program and all you needed was a 28 or 29 on the ACT to qualify for a grant that paid 80% of that tuition. A male student could make $2000 in a summer construction job, such as were plentiful during those booming 60s. That plus a low wage job waiting tables, night security, work-study etc could cover the remaining tuition and expense burden.

The annual nut now is in excess of $40,000 at NU and not much outside the $40,000-50,000 range at other second tier or elite schools.

The state schools used to produce the bedrock educated upper middle class of business and professional people in most states west of the seaboard. Tuition there 50 years ago was about $1200/year and room and board about $600-800 here in the midwest. Again you could put yourself through college waiting tables part-time. It wasn't easy but it was possible.

No way a kid who doesn't already possess an education can make the tuition and expenses of a private school today. I don't know what the median annual family income was in 1965 but I feel confident that it was well above the annual nut for a private college. Now it's about equal to it.

mrrunangun -> to mrrunangun...

1965 median family income was $6900, more than 200% of the cost of a year at NU. Current median family income is about 75% of a year at NU.

anne -> to 400 ppm CO2...

Linking for:

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Presentation-National-Debt.png

Click on "Share" under the graph that is initially constructed and copy the "Link" that appears:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=13Ew

March 22, 2015

Federal debt, 1966-2014

This allows a reader to understand how the graph was constructed and to work with the graph.

ilsm:

The US spends half the money the entire world spends on war, that is success!

Massive student debt, huge doses poverty, scores of thousands [of annual neglect related] deaths from the wretched health care system etc are not failure!

tew:

Poor education is the enemy of meritocracy. Costly, bloated administrations full of non-educators there to pamper and pander to every possible complaint and special interest - that is the enemy of meritocracy.

Convincing kids to simple "follow their dreams" regardless of education cost and career potential is the enemy of meritocracy. Allowing young adults to avoid challenging and uncomfortable and difficult subjects under the guise of compassion is the enemy of meritocracy. Financial illiteracy is the enemy of meritocracy.

Manageable student debt is no great enemy of meritocracy.

cm -> to tew...

This misses the point, aside frm the victim blaming. Few people embark on college degrees to "follow their dream", unless the dream is getting admission to the middle class job market.

When I was in elementary/middle school, the admonitions were of the sort "if you are not good in school you will end up sweeping streets" - from a generation who still saw street cleaning as manual labor, in my days it was already mechanized.

I estimate that about 15% or so of every cohort went to high school and then college, most went to a combined vocational/high school track, and some of those then later also went college, often from work.

This was before the big automation and globalization waves, when there were still enough jobs for everybody, and there was no pretense that you needed a fancy title to do standard issue work or as a social signal of some sort.

Richard H. Serlin:

Student loans and college get the bulk of the education inequality attention, and it's not nearly enough attention, but it's so much more. The early years are so crucial, as Nobel economist James Heckman has shown so well. Some children get no schooling or educational/developmental day care until almost age 6, when it should start in the first year, with preschool starting at 3. Others get high quality Montessori, and have had 3 years of it by the time they enter kindergarten, when others have had zero of any kind of education when they enter kindergarten.

Some children spend summers in high quality summer school and educational programs; others spend three months digressing and learning nothing. Some children get SAT prep programs costing thousands, and high end educational afterschool programs; others get nothing after school.

All these things should be available in high quality to any child; it's not 1810 anymore Republicans, the good old days of life expectancy in the 30s and dirt poverty for the vast majority. We need just a little more education in the modern world. But this also makes for hugely unequal opportunity.

Observer -> to Observer...

Data on degree by year ...

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

Observer -> to Syaloch...

One needs to differentiate between costs (total dollars spent per student credit hour or degree, or whatever the appropriate metric is) and price (what fraction of the cost is allocated to the the end-user student).

Note that the level of state funding impacts price, not cost; that discussion is usually about cost shifting, not cost reduction.

I'd say that the rate of increase in costs is, more or less, independent of the percent of costs borne by the state. You can indeed see this in the increase in private schools, the state funding is small/nil (particularly in schools without material endowments, where actual annual fees (prices) must closely actual match annual costs). Price discounts and federal funding may both complicate this analysis.

I think much more effort should be spent on understanding and controlling costs. As with health care, just saying "spend more money" is probably not the wise or even sustainable path in the long term.

Costs were discussed at some length here a year(?) or so ago. There is at least one fairly comprehensive published analysis of higher education costs drivers. IIRC, their conclusion was that there were a number of drivers - its not just food courts or more administrators. Sorry, don't recall the link.

Syaloch -> to cm...

Actually for my first job out of college at BLS, I basically was hired for my "rounded personality" combined with a general understanding of economic principles, not for any specific job-related skills. I had no prior experience working with Laspeyres price indexes, those skills were acquired through on-the-job training. Similarly in software development there is no degree that can make you a qualified professional developer; the best a degree can do is to show you are somewhat literate in X development language and that you have a good understanding of general software development principles. Most of the specific skills you'll need to be effective will be learned on the job.

The problem is that employers increasingly want to avoid any responsibility for training and mentoring, and to shift this burden onto schools. These institutions respond by jettisoning courses in areas deemed unnecessary for short-term vocational purposes, even though what you learn in many of these courses is probably more valuable and durable in the long run than the skills obtained through job-specific training, which often have a remarkably short shelf-life. (How valuable to you now is all that COBOL training you had back in the day?)

I guess the question then is, is the sole purpose of higher education to provide people with entry-level job skills for some narrowly-defined job description which may not even exist in a decade? A lot of people these days seem to feel that way. But I believe that in the long run it's a recipe for disaster at both the individual and the societal level.

Richard H. Serlin -> to Observer...

"Observer"

The research is just not on you side, as Heckman has shown very well. Early education and development makes a huge difference, and at age 5-7 (kindergarten) children are much better off with more schooling than morning to noon. This is why educated parents who can afford it pay a lot of money for a full day -- with afterschool and weekened programs on top.

Yes, we're more educated than 1810, but I use 1810 because that's the kind of small government, little spending on education (you want your children educated you pay for it.) that the Republican Party would love to return us to if they thought they could get away with it. And we've become little more educated in the last 50 years even though the world has become much more technologically advanced.

anne:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=14T9

January 30, 2015

Student Loans Outstanding as a share of Gross Domestic Product, 2007-2014


http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=14Ta

January 30, 2015

Student Loans Outstanding, 2007-2014

(Percent change)

anne:

As to increasing college costs, would there be an analogy to healthcare costs?

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/

July 25, 2009

Why Markets Can't Cure Healthcare
By Paul Krugman

Judging both from comments on this blog and from some of my mail, a significant number of Americans believe that the answer to our health care problems - indeed, the only answer - is to rely on the free market. Quite a few seem to believe that this view reflects the lessons of economic theory.

Not so. One of the most influential economic papers of the postwar era was Kenneth Arrow's "Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Health Care," * which demonstrated - decisively, I and many others believe - that health care can't be marketed like bread or TVs. Let me offer my own version of Arrow's argument.

There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don't know when or whether you'll need care - but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor's office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.

This tells you right away that health care can't be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can't just trust insurance companies either - they're not in business for their health, or yours.

This problem is made worse by the fact that actually paying for your health care is a loss from an insurers' point of view - they actually refer to it as "medical costs." This means both that insurers try to deny as many claims as possible, and that they try to avoid covering people who are actually likely to need care. Both of these strategies use a lot of resources, which is why private insurance has much higher administrative costs than single-payer systems. And since there's a widespread sense that our fellow citizens should get the care we need - not everyone agrees, but most do - this means that private insurance basically spends a lot of money on socially destructive activities.

The second thing about health care is that it's complicated, and you can't rely on experience or comparison shopping. ("I hear they've got a real deal on stents over at St. Mary's!") That's why doctors are supposed to follow an ethical code, why we expect more from them than from bakers or grocery store owners.

You could rely on a health maintenance organization to make the hard choices and do the cost management, and to some extent we do. But HMOs have been highly limited in their ability to achieve cost-effectiveness because people don't trust them - they're profit-making institutions, and your treatment is their cost.

Between those two factors, health care just doesn't work as a standard market story.

All of this doesn't necessarily mean that socialized medicine, or even single-payer, is the only way to go. There are a number of successful healthcare systems, at least as measured by pretty good care much cheaper than here, and they are quite different from each other. There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn't work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.

* http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/82/2/PHCBP.pdf

anne -> to anne...

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUUR0000SEEB01?output_view=pct_12mths

January 30, 2015

College tuition and fees, 1980–2015

(Percentage change)

1980 ( 9.4)
1981 ( 12.4) Reagan
1982 ( 13.4)
1983 ( 10.4)
1984 ( 10.2)

1985 ( 9.1)
1986 ( 8.1)
1987 ( 7.6)
1988 ( 7.6) Bush
1989 ( 7.9)

1990 ( 8.1)
1991 ( 10.2)
1992 ( 10.7) Clinton
1993 ( 9.4)
1994 ( 7.0)

1995 ( 6.0)
1996 ( 5.7)
1997 ( 5.1)
1998 ( 4.2)
1999 ( 4.0)

2000 ( 4.1)
2001 ( 5.1) Bush
2002 ( 6.8)
2003 ( 8.4)
2004 ( 9.5)

2005 ( 7.5)
2006 ( 6.7)
2007 ( 6.2)
2008 ( 6.2)
2009 ( 6.0) Obama

2010 ( 5.2)
2011 ( 5.0)
2012 ( 4.8)
2013 ( 4.2)
2014 ( 3.7)

January

2015 ( 3.6)


Syaloch -> to anne...

I believe so, as I noted above. The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget.

Another interesting feature of both health care and college education is that there are many proffered explanations as to why their cost is rising so much relative to other areas, but a surprising lack of a really authoritative explanation based on solid evidence.

anne -> to Syaloch...

Another interesting feature of both health care and college education is that there are many proffered explanations as to why their cost is rising so much relative to other areas, but a surprising lack of a really authoritative explanation based on solid evidence.

[ Look to the paper by Kenneth Arrow, which I cannot copy, for what is to me a convincing explanation as to the market defeating factors of healthcare. However, I have no proper explanation about education costs and am only speculating or looking for an analogy. ]

anne -> to Syaloch...

The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget.

[ Nicely expressed. ]

Peter K. -> to anne...

"As to increasing college costs, would there be an analogy to healthcare costs?"

Yes, exactly. They aren't normal markets. There should be heavy government regulation.

Denis Drew:

JUST HAD AN IDEA THAT MIGHT LIMIT THE DAMAGE OF THESE PHONEY ONLINE COLLEGES (pardon shouting, but I think it's justified):

Only allow government guaranteed loans (and the accompanying you-can-never-get-out-of-paying) IF a built for that purpose government agency APPROVES said loan. What do you think?

Denis Drew -> to cm...

A big reason we had the real estate bubble was actually the mad Republican relaxation of loan requirements -- relying on the "free market." So, thanks for coming up with a good comparison.

By definition, for the most part, people taking out student loans are shall we say new to the world and more vulnerable to the pirates.
* * * * * * * * * *
[cut and paste from my comment on AB]
Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post.

According to an article in the Huffington Post At Kaplan University, 'Guerrilla Registration' Leaves Students Deep In Debt, Kaplan Ed is among the worst of the worst of internet federal loan and grant sucking diploma mills. Going so far as to falsely pad bills $5000 or so dollars at diploma time - pay up immediately or you will never get your sheepskin; you wasted your time. No gov agency will act.

According to a lovely graph which I wish I could patch in here the Post may actually be currently be kept afloat only by purloined cash from Kaplan:

earnings before corporate overhead

2002 - Kaplan ed, $10 mil; Kaplan test prep, $45 mil: WaPo, $100 mil
2005 - Kaplan ed, $55 mil; Kaplan test prep, $100 mil; WaPo, $105 mil
2009 - Kaplan ed, $255 mil; Kaplan test prep, $5 mil; WaPo negative $175 mil

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/22/kaplan-university-guerilla-registration_n_799741.html

Wonder if billionaire Bezos will reach out to make Kaplan Ed victims whole. Will he really continue to use Kaplan's pirated money to keep WaPo whole -- if that is what is going on?

Johannes Y O Highness:

"theme I've been hammering lately, student debt is too damn high!: "

Too damn high
but why?

Because! Because every event in today's economy is the wish of the wealthy. Do you see why they suddenly wish to deeply educate the proles?

Opportunity cost! The burden of the intelligentsia, the brain work can by carried by robots or humans. Choice of the wealthy? Humans, hands down. Can you see the historical background?

Railroad was the first robot. According to Devon's Paradox, it was overused because of its increment of efficiency. Later, excessive roadbeds were disassembled. Rails were sold as scrap.

The new robots are not heavy lifters. New robots are there to do the work of the brain trust. As first robots replaced lower caste jokers, so shall new robots replace upper caste jokers. Do you see the fear developing inside the huddle of high rollers? Rollers now calling the play?

High rollers plan to educate small time hoods to do the work of the new robots, then kill the new robots before the newbie 'bot discovers how to kill the wealthy, to kill, to replace them forever.

Terrifying fear
strikes

Observer:

Good bit of data on education costs here

http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/

This chart shows state spending per student and tuition ...

" overall perhaps the best description of the data is something along the lines of "sometimes state appropriations go up and sometimes they go down, but tuition always goes up." "

http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/2012/12/04/chart-of-the-week-state-appropriations-and-public-tuitions/

[Jun 17, 2019] The debt trap how the student loan industry betrays young Americans Money by Daniel Rivero

Sep 06, 2017 | www.theguardian.com The Guardian

Navient, spun off from Sallie Mae, has thrived as student loan debt spirals across the US. Its story reveals how, instead of fighting inequality, the education industry is reinforcing it

Nathan Hornes: 'Navient hasn't done a thing to help me. They just want their money. And they want it now.' Photograph: Fusion

A mong the 44 million Americans who have amassed our nation's whopping $1.4tn in student loan debt, a call from Navient can produce shivers of dread.

Navient is the primary point of contact, or the "servicer", for more student loans in the United States than any other company, handling 12 million borrowers and $300bn in debt. The company flourished as student loan debt exploded under the Obama administration, and its stock rose sharply after the election of Donald Trump.

But Navient also has more complaints per borrower than any other servicer, according to a Fusion analysis of data. And these mounting complaints repeatedly allege that the company has failed to live up to the terms of its federal contracts, and that it illegally harasses consumers . Navient says most of the ire stems from structural issues surrounding college finance – like the terms of the loans, which the federal government and private banks are responsible for – not about Navient customer service.

Navient has positioned itself to dominate the lucrative student loan industry in the midst of this crisis, flexing its muscles in Washington and increasingly across the states. The story of Navient's emerging power is also the story of how an industry built around the idea that education can break down inequities is reinforcing them.The tension at the center of the current controversy around student loans is simple: should borrowers be treated like any other consumers, or do they merit special service because education is considered a public good?

Often, the most vulnerable borrowers are not those with the largest debt, but low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color – especially those who may attend less prestigious schools and are less likely to quickly earn enough to repay their loans, if they graduate at all.

Last year, Navient received 23 complaints per 100,000 borrowers, more than twice that of the nearest competitor, according to Fusion's analysis. And from January 2014 to December 2016, Navient was named as a defendant in 530 federal lawsuits. The vast majority were aimed at the company's student loans servicing operations. (Nelnet and Great Lakes, the two other biggest companies in the student loans market, were sued 32 and 14 times over the same period, respectively.)

Many of the complaints and lawsuits aimed at the company relate to its standard practice of auto-dialing borrowers to solicit payments.

Shelby Hubbard says she has long been on the receiving end of these calls as she has struggled to pay down her debt. Hubbard racked up over $60,000 in public and private student loans by the time she graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a basic healthcare-related degree.

"It consumes my every day," Hubbard said of the constant calls. "Every day, every hour, starting at 8 o'clock in the morning." Unlike mortgages, and most other debt, student loans can't be wiped away with bankruptcy.

These days, Hubbard, 26, works in Ohio as a logistics coordinator for traveling nurses. She's made some loan payments, but her take-home pay is about $850 every two weeks. With her monthly student loan bill at about $700, roughly half her income would go to paying the loans back, forcing her to lean more heavily on her fiancé. "He pays for all of our utilities, all of our bills. Because at the end of the day, I don't have anything else to give him," she said. The shadow of her debt hangs over every discussion about their wedding, mortgage payments, and becoming parents.

The power and reach of the student loan industry stacks the odds against borrowers. Navient doesn't just service federal loans, it has a hand in nearly every aspect of the student loan system. It has bought up private student loans, both servicing them and earning interest off of them. And it has purchased billions of dollars worth of the older taxpayer-backed loans, again earning interest, as well as servicing that debt. The company also owns controversial subsidiary companies such as Pioneer Credit Recovery that stand to profit from collecting the debt of loans that go into default.

label="How the Trump administration is undermining students of color | Mark Huelsman and Vijay Das" href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/15/trump-administration-students-color-debt">

And just as banks have done with mortgages, Navient packages many of the private and pre-2010 federal loans and sells them on Wall Street as asset-backed securities. Meanwhile, it's in the running to oversee the Department of Education's entire student debt web portal, which would open even more avenues for the company to profit from – and expand its influence over – Americans' access to higher education.

The federal government is the biggest lender of American student loans, meaning that taxpayers are currently on the hook for more than $1tn . For years, much of this money was managed by private banks and loan companies like Sallie Mae. Then in 2010, Congress cut out the middlemen and their lending fees, and Sallie Mae spun off its servicing arm into the publicly traded company Navient.

Led by former Sallie Mae executives, Navient describes itself as "a leading provider of asset management and business processing solutions for education, healthcare, and government clients." But it is best known for being among a handful of companies that have won coveted federal contracts to make sure students repay their loans. And critics say that in pursuit of getting that money back, the Department of Education has allowed these companies to all but run free at the expense of borrowers.

"The problem is that these servicers are too big to fail," said Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project. "We have no place to put the millions of borrowers whom they are servicing, even if they are not doing the servicing job that we want them to do."

In its last years, the Obama administration tried to rein in the student loan industry and promoted more options for reduced repayment plans for federal loans. Since then, Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos , has reversed or put on hold changes the former education secretary John B King's office proposed and appears bent on further loosening the reins on the student loan industry , leaving individual students little recourse amid bad service.

In late August, DeVos's office announced that it would stop sharing information about student loan servicer oversight with the federal consumer watchdog agency known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.

Earlier this year, as complaints grew, the CFPB sued Navient for allegedly misleading borrowers about the repayment options it is legally obligated to provide.

A central allegation is that Navient, rather than offering income-based repayment plans, pushed some people into a temporary payment freeze called forbearance. Getting placed into forbearance is a good Band-Aid but can be a terrible longer-term plan. When an account gets placed in forbearance, its interest keeps accumulating, and that interest can be added to the principal, meaning the loans only grow.

Lynn Sabulski, who worked in Navient's Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, call center for five months starting in 2012, said she experienced first-hand the pressure to drive borrowers into forbearance.

"Performing well meant keeping calls to seven minutes or under," said Sabulski. "If you only have seven minutes, the easiest option to put a borrower in, first and foremost, is a forbearance." Sabulski said if she didn't keep the call times short, she could be written up or lose her job.

Navient denies the allegations, and a spokeswoman told Fusion via email seven and a half minutes was the average call time, not a target. The company maintains "caller satisfaction and customer experience" are a significant part of call center representatives' ratings.

But in a 24 March motion it filed in federal court for the CFPB's lawsuit, the company also said: "There is no expectation that the servicer will act in the interest of the consumer." Rather, it argued, Navient's job was to look out for the interest of the federal government and taxpayers.

Navient does get more per account when the servicer is up to date on payments, but getting borrowers into a repayment plan also has a cost because of the time required to go over the complex options.

The same day the CFPB filed its lawsuit, Illinois and Washington filed suits in state courts. The offices of attorneys general in nine other states confirmed to Fusion that they are investigating the company.

At a recent hearing in the Washington state case, the company defended its service: "The State's claim is not, you didn't help at all, which is what you said you would do. It's that, you could've helped them more." Navient insists it has forcefully advocated in Washington to streamline the federal loan system and make the repayment process easier to navigate for borrowers.

And it's true, Navient, and the broader industry, have stepped up efforts in recent years to influence decision makers. Since 2014, Navient executives have given nearly $75,000 to the company's political action committee, which has pumped money mostly into Republican campaigns, but also some Democratic ones. Over the same timespan, the company has spent more than $10.1m lobbying Congress, with $4.2m of that spending coming since 2016. About $400,000 of it targeted the CFPB, which many Republican lawmakers want to do away with.

Among the 22 former federal officials who lobby for Navient is the former US representative Denny Rehberg, a Republican, who once criticized federal aid for students as the welfare of the 21st century. His fellow lobbyist and former GOP representative Vin Weber sits on a board that has aired attack ads against the CFPB, as well as on the board of the for-profit college ITT Tech , which shuttered its campuses in 2016 after Barack Obama's Department of Education accused it of predatory recruitment and lending.

In response to what they see as a lack of federal oversight, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia recently required student loan servicers to get licenses in their states. Not surprisingly, Fusion found a sharp increase in Navient's spending in states considering such regulations, with the majority of the $300,000 in Navient state lobbying allocated since 2016.

In Maine and Illinois, the legislatures were flooded with Navient and other industry lobbyists earlier this year, after lawmakers proposed their own versions of the license bills. The Maine proposal failed after Navient argued the issue should be left to the federal government. The Illinois bill passed the legislature, but the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed it in August following lobbying from an industry trade group . Rauner said the bill encroached on the federal government's authority.

Researchers argue more data would help them understand how to improve the student loan process and prevent more people from being overwhelmed by debt. In 2008, Congress made it illegal for the Department of Education to make the data public, arguing that it was a risk for student privacy. Private colleges and universities lobbied to restrict the data. So, too, did Navient's predecessor, Sallie Mae, and other student loan servicing companies.

Today, companies like Navient have compiled mountains of data about graduations, debt and financial outcomes – which they consider proprietary information. The lack of school-specific data about student outcomes can be life-altering, leading students to pick schools they never would have picked. Nathan Hornes, a 27-year-old Missouri native, racked up $70,000 in student loans going to Everest College, an unaccredited school, before he graduated.

"Navient hasn't done a thing to help me," Hornes told Fusion. "They just want their money. And they want it now."

label="The US cities luring millennials with promises to pay off their student debts" href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/10/the-us-cities-luring-millennials-with-promises-to-pay-off-their-student-debts">

Hornes' loans were recently forgiven following state investigations into Everest's parent company Corinthian. But many other borrowers still await relief.

Better educating teens about financial literacy before they apply to college will help reduce their dependence on student loans, but that doesn't change how the deck is stacked for those who need them. A few states have made community colleges free , reducing the need for student loan servicers.

But until the Department of Education holds industry leaders like Navient more accountable, individual states can fix only so much, insists Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the industry's most outspoken critics on Capitol Hill.

"Navient's view is, hey, I'm just going to take this money from the Department of Education and maximize Navient's profits, rather than serving the students," Warren said. "I hold Navient responsible for that. But I also hold the Department of Education responsible for that. They act as our agent, the agent of the US taxpayers, the agent of the people of the United States. And they should demand that Navient does better."

Laura Juncadella, a production assistant for The Naked Truth also contributed to this article

The Naked Truth: Debt Trap airs on Fusion TV 10 September at 9pm ET. Find out where to watch here

[Jun 17, 2019] Student Debt Bondage Becoming More Widespread

Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A fresh story at Bloomberg, which includes new analysis, shows the ugly student debt picture is getting uglier. The driver is that higher education costs keep rising, often in excess of the likely wages for graduates. The article's grim conclusion: "The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay."

Student debt is now the second biggest type of consumer debt in the US. At $1.5 trillion, is is second only to the mortgage market, and is also bigger than the subprime market before the crisis, which was generally pegged at $1.3 trillion. 1 Bloomberg also points out that unlike other categories of personal debt, student debt balances has shown consistent, or one might say persistent, growth since the crisis.

From the article:

Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education . But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs , while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying . (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

The last sentence is alarming. As graduates of the class of 2009 like UserFriendly can attest, the job market was desperate. And for the next few years, the unemployment rate of new college graduates was higher than that of recent high school graduates. One of the corollaries of that is that more college graduates than before were taking work that didn't require a college degree; this is still a significant trend today. And on top of that, studies have found that early career earnings have a significant impact on lifetime earnings. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, pay levels key off one's earlier compensation, so starting out at a lower income level is likely to crimp future compensation.

And on top of that, interest costs are rising. The rate for direct undergraduate loans is 5% and for graduate and professional schools, 6.6%. So student debt costs will also go up even before factoring in inflating school costs. So the ugly picture of delinquencies and defaults is destined to get worse.

Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.

Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. "Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn't ultimately obtain a degree," she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.

Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who've incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace -- such as post-graduate law or medical degrees -- usually see a good return on their investment.

I'm a little leery of cheerful generalizations like "big ticket borrowers for professional degrees do better." "Better" may still not be that good. Recall that law school and in the last year, business school enrollments have fallen because candidates question whether the hard costs and loss of income while in school will pay off. And there are some degrees, like veterinary medicine, that are so pricey it's hard to see how they could possibly make economic sense.

What is distressing about this ugly picture is the lack of effective activism by the victims. I am sure some are trying, but in addition to the burden of being so overwhelmed by the debt burden as to lack the time and energy to do anything beyond cope, is the fact that being in debt is stigmatized in our society, and borrowers may not want to deal with condescension and criticism. Another obstacle to organizing is that most of the victims are lower income and/or from minority groups, which means Team Dem can ignore them on the usual assumption that they have nowhere else to go. It is also harder to create an effective coalition across disparate economic, geographic, and age groups

But the experience of the post-Civil War South says things could get a lot worse. From Matt Stoller in 2010:

A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.

It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.

They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.

Sanders has made an issue of student debt, but politicians who want big bucks from financiers and members of the higher education complex pointedly ignore this issue. As we've pointed out, top bankruptcy scholar Elizabeth Warren won't even endorse a basic reform, that of making student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. So it may take student debtors becoming a bigger percentage of voters for this issue to get the political traction it warrants.

______

1 Higher estimates typically included near subprime mortgages then called "Alt A".

Geo , October 18, 2018 at 5:02 am

There are many, many passages in this obscure old book called The Bible speaking of usury as a grave sin. So many it is actually one of the most clear and condemned sins in the entire book. Maybe we could see if any of our Congress persons have ever heard of it? They could learn something from it regarding this topic.
That said, it's passages on gender equality and family structures are pretty outdated and abhorrent so I wouldn't want them to get any bad ideas from this book on those subjects.

https://www.openbible.info/topics/usury

Neujack , October 18, 2018 at 5:56 am

Indeed, all of the old "Iron Age religions" (Judaism, Early Christianity, and Islam) explicitly denounce usury.

The great irony of the Deep South in te USA is that they've been frequently banning Sharia law, even when Sharia law is one of the few types of law in the world which explicitly bans charging interest.

L , October 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

It is always intriguing how many politicians are so eager to endorse a literalist fealty to the social structures of the bible but ignore, or even vehemently rail against, the more balanced social restrictions on things like usury or the old idea of a debt jubilee. But then Jesus himself railed (physically) against embedding money in religion and now we have "entrepreneurial churches" who preach a "doctrine of prosperity" so I guess times have changed.

xformbykr , October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

Michael Hudson wrote about the history of 'debt jubilees' and debt cancellation today.

https://michael-hudson.com/2018/01/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

Pete , October 18, 2018 at 5:46 am

I graduated 10 years ago and the most frustrating part was everyone telling me it would be alright and ignoring thw whole you never recover thing. I am still unable to find worthwhile employment and probably never will be able to.

kurtismayfield , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

You really can't listen to many of us over 40.. we really lived in complete my different conditions. When I got out of college in the 90's they were basically hiring everyone with a pulse in tech. From what I have seen from recent graduates it's getting easier, as I am seeing a lot more intershops turn into job offers. But for the generation that you are part of, it's an economic hole that may never be recovered from simply because you were born at the wrong time.

Looking at that graph, notice how the only debt that is backstopped completely by the federal government is growing the fastest. The no default on student loans rules have to be rescinded.

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

I graduated in the 1990s, and if you were not in tech, the job market was just as lousy as it is now.

The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 6:13 am

Extrapolating from these trends, then in a few years the only young people that would be able to afford higher education in the United States would the the children of the ten per cent – plus a smattering of scholarships to talented individuals found worthy of supporting. It follows then that as these educated people entered the workforce, that over time that the people that would be running the country would be children of the elite in a sort of inbred system. It sounds a lot like 19th century class-based Britain that if you ask me.
As for the country itself it would be disastrous. Going by present population levels, it would mean that instead of recruiting the leaders and thinkers of the country from the present population of 325 million, that at most you would be recruiting them from a base level of about 30-40 million. It is to be hoped that these people are not from the shallow end of the gene pool. You can forget about any idea of an even-handed meritocracy and America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out.

Brooklin Bridge , October 18, 2018 at 6:46 am

You could put that whole paragraph in the present tense quite nicely.

Eclair , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am

"I wonder how that might work out." Ummm . the Monty Pythons had an idea in the 1970's.

The "Upper Class Twit of the Year" competition. Gotta love the "Kick a Beggar" event.

Henry Moon Pie , October 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm

"America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out"

Would the performance of U. S. men in international soccer competition be a similar situation?

eg , October 18, 2018 at 6:40 am

Why is America so determined to reconstruct an aristocracy its founders abhorred?

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 8:41 am

They only abhorred the British aristocracy, they framed to Constitution to create a home grown one; and, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.

Matthew , October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

Because they think it will help them stay rich?

Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

an aristocracy its founders abhorred

Alexander Hamilton liked the idea very much. It's why the musical is SO popular among the neoliberal set.

KYrocky , October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am

The concept of student debt as it exists today would be repulsive to our Founders. Not just for the larger issue of our country being on the trajectory of becoming an economic aristocracy, but specifically because the Federal government is profiting tremendously from this crushing usury being applied to majority and the least among us.
Our Founders had no problem with the conquest and seizure of Native Americans land, and they fully respected the rights and claims of other European countries to do the same. One of their strongest repudiations of the aristocracy was the expansion of private property rights beyond what was known under any monarchy on the planet to that point in history. In the pre-industrial world the vast majority of people lived in an agrarian society and economy. Owning land secured you with your livelihood, your living, and much of your resources; it fully supported most families.

For its founding and for generation after generation the United States government gave land to countless men for military service, government service, homesteds, etc. Expansions by the Louisiana Purchase and war and treaties with other European nations, quickly resulting in making these lands available for settlement to our citizens and to immigrants.

The point is that for well over 100 years the government provided to its citizens a huge amount of what our citizens needed to live their lifetimes through these grants of land. These land grants were then passed from generation to generation and formed the economic foundations for millions of people, their children and their next generations.

Our Government did this.

The United States ceased to be a predominantly agrarian country in the mid 20th century. But they did not stop aiding our people and their economic needs. Our government (Federal and states) did continue to provide to our population through public education (very affordable college), the GI Bill that served millions with income, housing and educational benefits, Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Since our country's very founding our government has recognized the benefit and need to facilitate the support of its citizens. The American economy became the greatest on earth because of our land conquest heritage and our collective investments as a nation. No one did it all on their own, and no one pretended they did.

Reagan killed this legacy. Reagan claimed that our nations success and our heritage was built on our history of rugged individualism and that our government was the obstacle to returning to these roots. It was a lie; nothing could have been further from the truth.

Student debt, as it exists to day, is crippling the economic futures of the millions who have accrued this debt and the millions to come, year after year, who will do the same. The student is debt is robbing our nation of the economic activity that historically matriculated out from those passing from college to the world. That has come almost to an end. Worse yet, our government has positioned itself to also profit off this debt, and to prevent the indebted from escaping this type of debt through the legal means available for virtually all other forms of debt.

Our student debt is un-American. It is a cancer on our economy. It exists for the vast short term profit of the few at the expense of our nations future.

Avalon Sparks , October 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Amazing essay, thank you!

zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Admirable and well thought-out post.

I hope people keep in mind it was the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, who made student debt even more crippling and heartless by changing the bankruptcy laws so that creditors can garnish your Social Security benefits (assuming Mitch McConnell doesn't gut them first).

Republicans are open about what they hope to accomplish, you have to clear the verbal BS that clouds what Democrats are after, but at the end of the day they are both about enslavement and debt bondage over unwashed masses.

Mobee , October 18, 2018 at 7:32 am

I'm sure it's often the parents that end up paying the debt, as my sister is doing. Parents have deep pockets and are desperate to help their loved ones get a good start in life.

In my sister's case, they sent their girls to private high school, where they spent the money that could have paid for college. Not a smart decision. But they love their children and really wanted to do give them the best.

Now the girls are struggling to make a living and my sister cannot afford to retire.

Musicismath , October 18, 2018 at 8:18 am

There are so many feedback loops, multipliers, and perverse incentives driving forward this bubble (and its calamitous social and cultural effects) that it's hard to know where to begin.

As Goldman Sachs have pointed out , student-loan-based securities are increasingly "attractive" investments for speculators:

Although the "bubble" is getting bigger, it's not a risk to overall financial stability, Goldman's Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui said in a recent note. In fact, there's one segment of the market that's emerging as an attractive investment.

It's the $190 billion of outstanding [student] loans that are held within asset-backed securities (ABS) refinanced by private lenders such as SoFi.

With these securities, lenders pool loans that have similar risk profiles and sell them as instruments in the public markets. Investors profit as graduates pay back their principal and interest.

So the more student debt there is, and the higher the interest rates are, the better, from that perspective.

It's undeniable, too, that high student loan burdens mean graduates are slower to form households and will probably have fewer children than they would otherwise. Their diminished spending power, meanwhile, adds to the ongoing erosion of the "real economy," in favour of the financial one. Student loans therefore disrupt the basic means of social reproduction. The resulting declines in fertility then demand high rates of immigration to compensate. A fact cheered on, inevitably, by the open borders crowd (a substantial number of whom, oddly or not, seem to work in or for universities).

So we see yet another instance in which "right" neoliberalism and "left" identitarianism go hand in hand–forming, indeed, two heads of the same beast. Student loans have enabled the enormous inflation in tuition costs that have plagued the Anglosphere over the last couple of decades. This fees income feeds the academic beast (or at least its administrators and senior managers), while driving the one economic and social crisis (mass migration and the resulting populist backlash) that "left neoliberals," centrists, and Clinton/Progress types appear to care about. It's a self-licking ice cream of catastrophic size and reach.

Petunia , October 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

One specific example: hospital chaplains are facing a big retirement crisis. And yet the job requires (to be hoard certified): an undergraduate degree & then a Master's of Divinity degree, plus a year-long residency. For a job that pays around $60,000 to $70,000. At least one school, Princeton, funds almost all of their divinity students. But I don't think it's the norm. And then you throw in the fact that such person ideally would be emotionally & spiritually mature, with enough life experience to meet with a wide range of people, who are often facing financial hardship due to being sick (as well as existential concerns). I don't even know how to begin reframing the job or the qualifications or the salary to fit America in 2020. There are a lot of other angles, such as: what about well-qualified people who can't afford seminary? I know there needs to be a way to screen-out and screen-in the best people (who won't proselytize), but is a Master's degree the right hurdle? But, I must say, the need for access to interfaith Spiritual Care is only increasing, as times get tougher & other hospital staff (RNs) don't have time to sit and listen. People are in pain, not only in their bodies. One thought leader in the field has speculated that the job will just go away due to lack of advocacy & inability to evolve into a profit center.

redleg , October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am

It would be interesting to see that student loan debt chart superimposed over %adjuncts and number of administrators. Its pretty easy to guess what that would look like, but seeing that would be decisive.

Fiddler Hill , October 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I think a little delineation is in order. I've been an adjunct professor and believe the increasing use of adjuncts at universities has been very beneficial overall -- in terms of the quality of education students are getting. Unfortunately, as we know, that's not why universities are hiring so many more adjuncts; they're being hired because schools can get away with paying them abysmally.

The situation is so embarrassing that, at the university where I was teaching five years ago, the full-time faculty passed a resolution asking the administration to give the entire projected increase in teaching salaries entirely to the adjuncts, an amazing act of selflessness.

The relevance to our discussion here, of course, is the insupportable increase in the annual cost of attending college even as the schools radically reduce their overall expenditures on faculty salaries.

Di Modica's Dumb Steer , October 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

So how long before this leads to a mass "We Won't Pay" movement? I'm stuck on the dumb treadmill myself, but I wouldn't begrudge an entire generation for just saying no. Sure, they can garnish wages and the like, but if 30 million people simultaneously say 'eff this', it's more than just a wrench in the works it's drastic enough to force action.

DolleyMadison , October 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

Why DO they keep paying? The debts are always bought by debt collectors who don't even have COPIES promissory notes. Let them sue you and show up for the hearing and demand proof. They can still ruin your "credit" but if student loans haven't taught you to eschew credit nothing will. If EVERYONE "walked away" what could they do?

Tangled up in Texas , October 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

Unfortunately that is never going to happen. This society has been trained to worship at the altar of the FICO score, and most job seekers cannot afford to have a low score. Said score will be examined and potentially held against you when pursuing employment.

Also, employers frown upon employees who do not pay their bills and then have their wages garnished – at least the smaller emlpoyers do. This creates extra work for the employer and makes the employee suspect, as in irresponsible.

This problem was created by the political class and is going to require a political solution, i.e. legislation to assist the student loan borrower or a debt jubilee. Unfortunately, there's too much money being made off the student borrower – even if the practice is killing the host. And the "I got mine" crowd will not allow a jubilee even if it is for the greater good of society. Lastly, student loan borrowers coming from a different era (who have paid off their loans) will begrudge the forgiving of the loans and consider them undeserved. In this case, perhaps the best resolution is to give everyone money toward their student loans – whether they are currently paid or unpaid.

I cannot jeopardize my employment by joining in a "eff this" movement as much as I would like to. Instead, I will continue on this treadmill called life, pay my bills and hope to escape as unscathed as possible.

Harrison Bergeron , October 18, 2018 at 1:42 pm

I work for a company that contracts with department of Ed to get student loan borrowers out if default and back into the hands of loan servicers. The amount of money sloshing around is stunning. I'm sure they've got well paid lobbyists telling legislators that people will be unemployed if student loans are reformed. I owe well over six figures so the irony is not lost on me. Hiring one half of the working class to debt collect from the other.

Tomonthebeach , October 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Who pays for diploma-mill educations, and why? I have always assumed that people attended cash-n-carry schools because they did not qualify aptitude/grade-wise for entrance to a state school, OR a 3rd party like DOD or VA was footing the tab. Both assumptions appear to be supported by data. Given the far-above-average drop/flunkout rate of diploma mills. I know from my military career that enlisted members sign up for courses (local or online) at diploma mills to get extra points toward promotions – at Navy expense. Personally, I would not pay to send my dog to such institutions to learn how to sit up and beg.

One thing is certain, collich kidz do not appear to spend nearly as much time researching where they go to $chool as they do buying the car they drive.

Democrita , October 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Jumping into the conversation a little late, but my alma mater recently embarked on a major rethink of the college business model, and cut tuition from around 50k to around 30k. We even got a writeup from Frank Bruni for it .

College officials (I'm relatively active as a fundraiser for my class) describe it as a shift to a "philanthropy model" of funding. Which worries me for lots of reasons. But at least it's a conversation-starter.

It's also very much a school that is not for people looking to buy a future income flow, but rather an education.

[Jun 17, 2019] I'm a 29-Year-Old With $235k in Student Debt. I'll Never Pay It Back

The person was definitely taken for a ride. He does not write how he obtained such a huge debt. It is difficult to do attending state college.
Also when you are young you often stupid, and when you became wiser, it's too late.
Notable quotes:
"... The price of a college education has quadrupled since the 1980s while wages haven't budged and rents went up by 50 percent. No wonder nearly 5 million American are in default on their student loans. At this rate, 40 percent of borrowers are expected to be in default by 2023. ..."
"... College was supposed to be about getting ahead in life. But it's become a driver of inequality . It does not have to be this way. ..."
"... Got to call BS on the 120k debt from a "state school". ..."
"... I do not understand how you got $120k of debt attending a state school for undergraduate. Either your stayed there 6 or more years or you basically earned no money during any summer or school year of your entire undergraduate and went to a really expensive school. ..."
Jun 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

I have $235,000 of student debt. The first $120,000 came with a bachelor's degree from my state school. Another $70,000 or so came with my master's degree. The remainder is accrued interest.

The suggested minimum monthly payment on my private debt alone is approximately $1,200. For reference: that's nearly rent for the 600-square-foot apartment where I live with my partner in New Jersey.

Without income driven repayment, the minimum payment amount for my federal student debt would be around $1,000.

I would have to begin devoting half of my income to debt payment if I cared to pay it off by 2042. I can't do that because I make just under $4,000 per month. And that income is a fairly new development in my life. Why would I choose to pay down my debt if it meant I wouldn't be able to afford basic living expenses?

Short of winning the lottery, there's no way I could ever afford to pay off my debt. And though I have a higher debt burden than most, I'm certainly not alone.

One in four American adults has student debt . And that amount will grow over the coming years. Seven in 10 college graduates are now graduating with student debt , with the greatest burden falling on people of color , low-income borrowers , and women .

Meanwhile more and more people can't make their minimum payments.

The price of a college education has quadrupled since the 1980s while wages haven't budged and rents went up by 50 percent. No wonder nearly 5 million American are in default on their student loans. At this rate, 40 percent of borrowers are expected to be in default by 2023.

I'm privileged to have made it through the first few years of repayment. With a financial hardship agreement with Sallie Mae, my parents – cosigners on my private loans – pay $600 per month to keep default at bay from our family and allow me to live a decent life. And through an income driven repayment plan (IDR) with Navient, I've been paying less than $50 per month on my public loans, though that could change as my income changes.

My parents cosigned my loans because we're first-generation immigrants. Moving to the U.S. was about giving me a chance to live my best life. College was a critical component and we couldn't afford it any other way. The only reason they can afford those $600 monthly payments now is because they paid off their 30-year mortgage just a few years ago.

My parents are in their 60s and 70s and will live the rest of their lives with my student debt. Likely so will I. Again – we won't be alone.

Three million Americans over the age of 60 are paying off student debt . Approximately 40,000 of them are having Social Security or other government payments garnished .

College was supposed to be about getting ahead in life. But it's become a driver of inequality . It does not have to be this way.

Some economists say that forgiving student debt would boost GDP by $100 billion per year for ten years and add several million jobs to the economy. It would unlock the capacity of 44 million Americans to buy homes , launch small businesses , and retire with dignity.

Congress could pay for it by repealing the $1.5 trillion tax cut it passed in 2017. Primarily benefiting the wealthy and corporations, even Goldman Sachs says that whatever economic boost the tax cut brought with it has passed.

And to keep future generations from suffering under the burden of student debt, Congress could make public colleges, universities, and trade schools in the United States free.

The federal government already spends $80 billion per year on grants and tax breaks for students pursuing higher education. It spends another $100 billion every year issuing new student loans.

That's $180 billion the U.S. could stop spending on a broken system if it decided to invest it in a new one. Coincidently, that amount is more than enough to cover the cost of that new system.

Tuition at public institutions of higher education totals $63 billion . Add cost of living and that number reaches $127 billion . With the remaining $53 billion, the U.S. can invest in expanding access to higher education with job training and small business accelerators.

Until then, I'm focused on keeping the cost of servicing my debt low while I do other things a 29-year-old should be doing, like saving for an emergency fund or a down payment on a house.

I'm spending my money in a way that invests in my future. Can the country do the same?


J Jive Turkey 7 hours ago

$235k for a job that pays less than $48k/year. I'm sure there was no cheaper way to go about this, like, say, taking general education credits at a community college before transferring over to the 'State School'. Millennials are awesome.

W WillyWonga 7 hours ago

I had around $3K in student loan debt when I graduated. That's because I received some grants (partly based on my grades) and I WORKED...and WORKED SOME MORE...while I was studying. Two P/T jobs that were the equivalent of a full-time job, maybe more on certain weeks, whenever I could get the extra work.

My parents didn't co-sign anything for me. My dad passed long before I graduated high school, and my family home went into foreclosure so my mom had a horrible credit rating and didn't have two dimes to rub together.

Your story is an example of why we should NOT forgive student loan debt. No one forced you to take the loans out, and given your somewhat cavalier attitude towards it there's a good chance you'll ring up debt someplace else and expect others to pay for that too.

J James 6 hours ago

I'm playing my tiny little violin for you. I worked night shifts to pay my way through college. Then for my second degree in engineering, I co-oped and graduated with money in the bank. Seven years of 60 hour weeks, but it was worth it. I retired in my mid-50s.

j jim 7 hours ago

so a state school plus masters and you are making $4k a month? And "Some economists say that forgiving student debt would boost GDP by $100 billion per year for ten years and add several million jobs to the economy" Sure in the Bernie Sanders way of how things work.

R R 5 hours ago

Got to call BS on the 120k debt from a "state school". This is a problem with the younger generations. They do not want to work while going to college so they take out a ton of loans and then complain when they get out and have a life long debt barring some windfall. I say the issue is the government and companies giving these loans without making sure they pay them back. That is an investment for them so they should have programs to help them stay on track and make sure they get well paying jobs. I retired from a company after 32 years at 50. They paid for my education and I moved up the ladder pretty fast. I was over their clinical labs when I retired and I started in the warehouse.

T Theo the Cat 7 hours ago

I do not understand how you got $120k of debt attending a state school for undergraduate. Either your stayed there 6 or more years or you basically earned no money during any summer or school year of your entire undergraduate and went to a really expensive school.

R Really 7 hours ago

Maybe your partner ought to be helping you pay off your debt. I helped my partner. That's how "partner" is defined. Also, the notion that if we all absorb your debt will allow you to buy a house, I say, BS. I don't want to take any risk financing your house buy (through any government support -- FHA, VA, FDIC insurance on banks covering your mortgage, etc.) since you were not good for your student loan debt. No way.

P Paul 7 hours ago

My kids are in their 20s and they are in community school to get associate degrees. They wanted to go to a university and get bachelor's but we can't afford it. So we lived within our means and our kids deprived themselves of that "college experience". And now thru our taxes, we will have to pay for someone else's student loans? How is that fair?

D Dustin 6 hours ago

Typical millennial....doesn't want to have to pay for anything. My wife and I are in our 40's and we made the last payment on her student debt this year. I didn't complain about it for the last 15 years, I just paid it off.

P Pete 7 hours ago

The parents busted their hump to pay off their mortgage then get saddled with a $600 per month payment because of the kid's degree that lead to nowhere?

[Jun 14, 2019] Total control of narrative means total control of population

Notable quotes:
"... I agree with the premise, that the NARRATIVE is the means by which oligarchy rules the masses. ..."
"... As Mencken stated (approx) "the common man avoids the truth [because] it is dangerous, no good can come of it, and it doesn't pay." ..."
"... Americans are propagandized from childhood, and it's very hard for most to break free, even if they want to. In my case, a rather abusive childhood made me disinclined to accept conventional wisdom. ..."
"... The proverbial man in the street is well aware that capitalism/politics is a racket and openly say so. ..."
"... The falling numbers in the 'democracies' who now bother to vote is an indication of this, as is the growing political unrest in the heartlands of the Anglo-Zionist empire. It is not possible to 'fool all of the people all of the time'. Whether they do anything about it is another matter. ..."
"... These are dangerous times, but that is the usual condition when the structure of any social and political order is beginning to crumble. Ultimately, the Anglo-Zionist empire is, to use Lenin's description 'A colossus with feet of clay.' No empire lasts forever, and the US is not exceptional in this respect. The real problem is that the demise of the US hegemonic project will taken down the rest of the planet with it. ..."
Jun 14, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

AnneR , June 14, 2019 at 09:35

Thank you Caitlin for this piece. Depressing but not unexpectedly so. And if my late husband's FB friends (as I've mentioned on here before) are anything to go by, the overwhelmingly bourgeois crowd will continue to be *willingly* propagandized with the Russophobic, Sinophobic and Iranophobic lies of commission and omission that regale them via MSDNC, NPR, PBS, BBC and the so-called "progressive" press (e.g. The guardian, Jacobin, the NYT).

These friends post pro-Demrat, pro-Russiagate, consider the choice to be between Warren and Klobuchar (?), and concentrate their minds on *progressive* ideations: sexual preference/"gender" identity/racial/ethnic identity and now and then a little on climate change (especially via the "green ND" – saving capitalism being all consuming or ignored). Never a word about income inequality, about the ongoing slaughter in Yemen, of the ongoing, never-ending nightmare of Palestinian life, of what we have done to Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan or are doing to Syria. Not a word about the immorality, illegality of our economic sanctions against NK, VZ, Iran nooo. Nary a peep about what we (US-UK-AU) are doing to Assange .

These really existing realities as lived by "others" whether the poor within these borders or the darker hued folks far from these shores do *not* matter one iota, certainly not by comparison with being able to vacation in this or that place, buy a bigger house, more clothes, demonstrate one's *Progressiveness.*

Lee Anderson , June 14, 2019 at 09:30

I agree with the premise, that the NARRATIVE is the means by which oligarchy rules the masses.

For example, we are now being inundated with the NARRATIVE that Iran is attacking Japanese oil tankers. Pure nonsense, but the media is an adjunct of the bankster/military/oil industrial complex.

Politicians are merely puppets doing the bidding of their pay masters.

Sam F , June 14, 2019 at 05:46

Yes, money control of mass media is the problem. Such articles may help some with doubts to formulate an awareness that leads to admission of the problem. The major factor in admissions is the rare direct experience, which may include a story close to home, a personal loss due to narrative control. Of course the majority seek the mass media narrative because it directs them to safety and profit in their social and economic dependent relationships. Our unregulated market economy encourages the selfishness that enslaves the people to money power. As Mencken stated (approx) "the common man avoids the truth [because] it is dangerous, no good can come of it, and it doesn't pay."

I hope to set up a college of policy debate CPD constituted to protect all points of view, and to conduct moderated text-only debate among experts of several disciplines, of the status and possibilities of each world region, and the policy options. Debate summaries commented by all sides are to be made available for public study and comment. The CPD would bring the knowledge of society into public debate, educate the electorate, discourage propaganda, and expose the wrongs of society and the corruption of government that desperately needs reform.

The debates will require a higher standard of argument in foreign and domestic policy on both right and left, ensure that all points of view are heard, and require all challenges to be answered. This would have much reduced the group-think that led to our mad wars since WWII. Extreme and naïve politicians will be easier to expose, and media commentators will have a starting point and a standard for investigation and analysis.

Zhu , June 14, 2019 at 04:14

Americans are propagandized from childhood, and it's very hard for most to break free, even if they want to. In my case, a rather abusive childhood made me disinclined to accept conventional wisdom.

Donald Duck , June 14, 2019 at 03:18

"The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation." I have forgotten who actually said this but it seems appropriate for our age. I think the mass of people are very well aware of what is going on. The proverbial man in the street is well aware that capitalism/politics is a racket and openly say so.

The falling numbers in the 'democracies' who now bother to vote is an indication of this, as is the growing political unrest in the heartlands of the Anglo-Zionist empire. It is not possible to 'fool all of the people all of the time'. Whether they do anything about it is another matter.

If note is taken of the David Icke phenomenon it is possible to identify a growing awareness of the of ordinary people to the crimes of the rich and powerful.

These are dangerous times, but that is the usual condition when the structure of any social and political order is beginning to crumble. Ultimately, the Anglo-Zionist empire is, to use Lenin's description 'A colossus with feet of clay.' No empire lasts forever, and the US is not exceptional in this respect. The real problem is that the demise of the US hegemonic project will taken down the rest of the planet with it.

Zhu , June 14, 2019 at 04:21

"Quiet desperation" is ftom Thoreau. The colossus with the feet of clay is the Biblical book of Daniel, the dream of Nebuchadnezzar.

Neither Reptilans nor Zionists make us Americans commit the crimes and follies we do. We oirselves are responsible.

T.J , June 14, 2019 at 02:43

Caitlin Johnstone has concisely and precisely, in this article, provided a compendium of ideas and sources to explain how the powerful through it's control of propaganda corrupts democracy to the core. Laziness, ignorance and acceptance of the status quo prevents the vast majority from acknowledging this to be the case. As Caitlin states it takes courage to reject the "narrative control matrix " of the powerful and that can only be achieved by changing our relationship with that narrative. This, of course, takes time and effort but is liberating nonetheless.

[Jun 11, 2019] The Omnipresent Surveillance State: Orwell s 1984 Is No Longer Fiction by John W. Whitehead

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness -- a philosophy that discourages diversity -- has become a guiding principle of modern society. ..."
"... We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state. ..."
"... What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach. ..."
"... In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future. ..."
"... Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, "citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability." ..."
Jun 11, 2019 | www.theburningplatform.com

"You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." -- George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state .

It's been 70 years since Orwell -- dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm -- depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984 .

Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, "He loved Big Brother," we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.

"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone -- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink -- greetings!" -- George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes.

The government, or "Party," is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: "Big Brother is watching you."

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."―George Orwell

Much like Orwell's Big Brother in 1984 , the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley's A Brave New World , we are churning out a society of watchers who "have their liberties taken away from them, but rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing." Much like Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale , the populace is now taught to "know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away ."

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick's darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state -- which became the basis for Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller Minority Report -- we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike -- facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on -- are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality .

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes , facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness -- a philosophy that discourages diversity -- has become a guiding principle of modern society.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the "security/industrial complex" -- a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance -- has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." ― George Orwell

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes -- a.k.a. police states -- where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 , reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley's Brave New World , serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in Orwell's 1984 , Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish "thoughtcrimes." In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three -- Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell -- had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell's Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984 :

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts .

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is "safe" and "accepted" by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

"Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious." -- George Orwell

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights . In fact, the addiction to screen devices -- especially cell phones -- has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one's every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, "Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity ."

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry -- mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all -- we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us -- the proverbial "needle in a haystack," as one official termed it -- the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.

"Big Brother is Watching You."―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any "threatening" words are detected -- no matter how inane or silly -- the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

"Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull." ― George Orwell

Here's what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it's not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We've already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called "hateful" thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police .

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it's not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, "citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability."

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever." -- Orwell

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won't be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government's roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We're running out of options

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , we'll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited : "Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it."

-----------------------------------------------------
The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation. [Jim Quinn - PO Box 1520

Every hour taxpayers in the United States are paying $32,077,626 for Total Cost of Wars Since 2001.

$4,827,476,776,986

See more counters at https://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/ national debt Older Articles Favorite Websites

BB

I'm going through a Department of Defense background check right now and it's not so bad. The thing is they already know everything damn there is to know about me. How do I know this ? Because I can pull up on their computers what they already know. It's to help guys like me pass or at least that's what they say.
They got us by the balls now . How can you fight something like this Unless you take down the whole electric grid. Only God knows the horror that would bring.

grace country pastor

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." – Orwell

Galatians 4:16 KJB "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" – Paul

Boat Guy

It is serious concern the move from a free republic to a corporate state with armed government badge wearing just doing my job minions existing in comfort thanks to the confiscatory tax and asset forfeiture programs in play by the circle jerk of Wall Street to K-Street to Capitol Street .
Sadly the people of honor and integrity that could initiate a Nuremberg style justice system upon those in power and control will quickly be stricken down by minions unaccountable thanks to nonsense like the patriot act and FISA courts . So much for the bill of Rights that is supposed to be the impenetrable shield protecting Americans from government . Our alleged honor and oath bound representatives have been able to turn it into Swiss cheese !
Refuse & Resist , Forget Me Not !

Hollywood Rob

Yes, and they do this using the tactics described in plain sight. You can download their bible if you like. It's free.

https://monoskop.org/images/4/4d/Alinsky_Saul_D_Rules_for_Radicals_A_Practical_Primer_for_Realistic_Radicals.pdf

KaD

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/surveillance-tool-coming-u-skies-080010177.html

[Jun 06, 2019] Student Debt in America: Lend With a Smile, Collect With a Fist

Notable quotes:
"... Still this is a clear and provable case of racket. Academic racket but still a racket. ..."
"... But even minor prosecution of those academic rentiers is impossible under neoliberalism as regulators are captured and corrupted. ..."
"... And students mostly are too badly informed and too naïve to shop around and find a better price. Which is still possible. For example using community college for the first two years and then transferring credits to a state university. And if student is talented enough he always can get masters at Ivy League school later and it will cost less. ..."
"... 8% insurance policy, ..."
"... The explosion in administrative employment and the resulting bureaucratic bloat and costs is ridiculous and unsustainable, including the promised pension and benefit payouts in the years to come. ..."
"... Young people borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to attend private, for-profit colleges (???) or to study the humanities, social sciences, or business is a waste of time and money for the vast majority. ..."
"... Most urban/suburban high schools have evolved into what might be described as college preparatory girls schools where a large majority of males are marginalized as necessary nuisances and the vast majority of kids learn little that is practical to participating as gainfully employed and self-supporting adults. ..."
"... But that is not an accident, of course. Feminization and infantilization of the society and economy has been underway coincident with deindustrialization and financialization since the 1970s-80s. ..."
"... The cost containment of colleges is the same as what is needed for healthcare. The government should intervene since it is the principal financier in more ways than one. ..."
"... To my knowledge and experience with Federal Direct Loans, students can go into forbearance at any time. There is also a 3 year window of no interest accumulation. After the 3 years, interest accumulates. ..."
Nov 27, 2015 | economistsview.typepad.com
On student loans: Student Debt in America: Lend With a Smile, Collect With a Fist : ... Borrowing is risky, financial decisions are not always rational, and people often do a poor job of properly weighing the interests of their present and future selves.

The private enterprise system is built to limit overborrowing by sharing risk between lenders and borrowers. ... They charge more interest when they take on more risk. Because most loans can be discharged in bankruptcy, lenders share the cost of default. ...

But the federal student loan program doesn't work that way. Those ads that run on bus stop signs and on late-night television - "No Cash? No Credit? No Problem!" - are essentially the Department of Education's official policy on student loans.

On the front end, the department is the world's nicest, most accommodating lender. Interest rates ... are lower than banks charge... Borrowing for college is essentially an entitlement...

When the loan bill finally comes due, the federal government transforms into a heartless loan collector. You don't need burly men with brass knuckles to enforce debts when you have the Internal Revenue Service..., which can and will follow you as long as you live.

The government acts this way because the federal student loan program has been removed from the norms and values of prudent lending. Because the Department of Education doesn't consider risk, it takes no responsibility. If life, luck and bad choices leave you ... in the hole, it's all on you. ...

Most college students ... pay back their loans and enjoy the fruits of their degrees. But most pack-a-day smokers don't die of lung cancer. And most people who bought cars with Takata airbags from 2002 to 2008 weren't killed by shrapnel from explosions. Nevertheless, we still regard small risks of catastrophic outcomes as problems to be solved. ...

Just one quick comment. We need to solve the student loan problem for existing loans, but I wish talk about how to address this problem going forward was more about how to provide adequate funding for colleges so that large loans aren't needed in the first place rather than focusing on how to change the loan program itself.

Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:28 AM in Economics , Education , Universities | Permalink Comments (10)

likbez

=== quote ===

@run75441 -> Sanjait...

The cost containment of colleges is the same as what is needed for healthcare. The government should intervene since it is the principal financier in more ways than one.

=== end of quote ===

Very true. May be even the idea of the net of eligible providers (in network vs out of network) can be borrowed form healthcare.

As this is a public good, it should be severe punishment including jail terms for inflating the cost of education. For example I think Mankiw should be at investigated using RICO act for the cost of his textbook. But I think that students who enroll into Mankiw class are already second rate students because at this point they should do some research about who Mankiw really is and avoid his classes like a plague.

Still this is a clear and provable case of racket. Academic racket but still a racket.

But even minor prosecution of those academic rentiers is impossible under neoliberalism as regulators are captured and corrupted.

And students mostly are too badly informed and too naïve to shop around and find a better price. Which is still possible. For example using community college for the first two years and then transferring credits to a state university. And if student is talented enough he always can get masters at Ivy League school later and it will cost less.

Please note that quality of university education is already very problematic. Switching to preparing "ready for jobmarket" graduates backfired. I would say that quality now is dismal as student lacks fundamentals. They are now kind of "bug of tricks" degree holders.

So the idea of cost control of college education can't be refuted with the hypothesis that it will lower the quality of education. Essentially what Ivy league college degree buys is the first place in a heap of resumes to major companies (some companies simply discard resumes from applicant who do not have Ivy League education).

Now about subsidies. Neoliberal colleges are for profit business with academic sharks no different that sharks in chemical or pharmaceutical companies. They do not care about education, only about lining this own pockets. As simple as that.

That means that in a current environment any "broad" subsidies will result in raising of the cost of education. I would make subsidies more focused, subject to means test as well as passing a qualifying exam similar to GED. After all at this point the society invests some money into student.

djb

so is he saying that we shouldn't give student loans unless a bank would loan the money

that's means many people who can now afford college wont be able to

and this:

"Most college students don't end up like Ms. Kelley. They pay back their loans and enjoy the fruits of their degrees. But most pack-a-day smokers don't die of lung cancer. And most people who bought cars with Takata airbags from 2002 to 2008 weren't killed by shrapnel from explosions. Nevertheless, we still regard small risks of catastrophic outcomes as problems to be solved."

is he kidding me??? My student loans required an 8% insurance policy, money I didn't even get to use, came out before I could pay tuition room and board, but I still owed it. The fact that most people pay their student loans means the government doesn't lose anything from student loans

Dan Berg

Rather than "provide adequate (more) funding (taxes)for colleges" - how about ways to reduce cost? Beginning with the absurd costs of textbooks; administrative bloat; disparities between tenured and part-time teachers; etc


Lilly -> Dan Berg...

...and I will add sports in here. A good analysis was published by HP: How College Students Are Bankrolling The Athletics Arms Race
http://projects.huffingtonpost.com/ncaa/sports-at-any-cost

pgl -> Dan Berg...

"Beginning with the absurd costs of textbooks"

Here is where Greg Mankiw will tell you he needs to charge $300 a book for his text because he wants his kids to be rich.

A Thomas

And how does anyone propose to remedy monies being deducted from Social Security for delinquent student loans when the person (victim) cannot make timely payments because of AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT. While illegal, it is practiced by a majority of employers. Often the Soc Sec recipient is reduced to living at poverty level - even though they want to work and would if they could find paying employment.

Or does anyone want to remedy this? Just let the "old folks" starve and become homeless!!!!!!

RGC

"As a senator from Delaware -- a corporate tax haven where the financial industry is one of the state's largest employers -- Biden was one of the key proponents of the 2005 legislation that is now bearing down on students like Ryan. That bill effectively prevents the $150 billion worth of private student debt from being discharged, rescheduled or renegotiated as other debt can be in bankruptcy court.

Biden's efforts in 2005 were no anomaly. Though the vice president has long portrayed himself as a champion of the struggling middle class -- a man who famously commutes on Amtrak and mixes enthusiastically with blue-collar workers -- the Delaware lawmaker has played a consistent and pivotal role in the financial industry's four-decade campaign to make it harder for students to shield themselves and their families from creditors, according to an IBT review of bankruptcy legislation going back to the 1970s."

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/32426-joe-biden-backed-bills-to-make-it-harder-for-americans-to-reduce-their-student-debt

BC

80-85% of jobs today and in the future will not require post-secondary training or a university credential. If accelerating automation and elimination of service employment (retail, health care, education, gov't, legal, etc.) continues apace as anticipated, including middle- and upper-income employment, there will be still fewer jobs requiring post-secondary "education" that pay what was once perceived as breadwinner compensation.

Universities all over the US have since the 1970s-80s become costly public jobs programs primarily for females at low or no productivity and increasing cost to the private sector (as in the case of "health" care). The explosion in administrative employment and the resulting bureaucratic bloat and costs is ridiculous and unsustainable, including the promised pension and benefit payouts in the years to come.

Young people borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to attend private, for-profit colleges (???) or to study the humanities, social sciences, or business is a waste of time and money for the vast majority.

Most urban/suburban high schools have evolved into what might be described as college preparatory girls schools where a large majority of males are marginalized as necessary nuisances and the vast majority of kids learn little that is practical to participating as gainfully employed and self-supporting adults.

But that is not an accident, of course. Feminization and infantilization of the society and economy has been underway coincident with deindustrialization and financialization since the 1970s-80s.

Sanjait said.. . November 27, 2015 at 11:39 PM

there should be a subsidy for college, because otherwise people tend to underinvest in education. Individuals are often liquidity constrained or just short sighted.

But IMO we are doing the subsidies all wrong. We are offering subsidized loans and tax deductions. We should instead be using plain old grants more often. That's how you ensure access to people who would otherwise lack it.

But the grants should be relatively small. They should just be sufficient to coverage get of a public university education, without a little t of extra amenities. The critics of higher ed who say that subsidies are driving up the costs are half right. It's really consumer preferences, for the most part. But that doesn't mean government should contribute to that problem, of that taxpayers should pay limitless amounts. Some price pressure should still be left to exist.

run75441 -> Sanjait... November 28, 2015 at 05:51 AM

The cost containment of colleges is the same as what is needed for healthcare. The government should intervene since it is the principal financier in more ways than one.

run75441

Mark:

I am not sure of what you know; but, this might be a good place to start. http://www.deltacostproject.org/ "The Delta Cost Project" http://www.deltacostproject.org/

There is a movement afoot from the Jason Delisles, Matt Chingos, and the Beth Akers of both the New America Foundation and Brookings who advocate interest rates do not matter, higher interest rates make sense for advanced degrees, and student loans should be risk sensitive using Fair Market Valuation techniques.

Getting a student loan is like checking into a Roach Motel. You can sign in via your signature; but, you can never check out without paying it off. If you default, it gets worst for you as stated in the story. So the risk to the Federal Gov and taxpayers is minimal. Indeed some would tell you, the Gov makes more money in default than in payoff. I also think there is more to the story than being revealed.

Fix interest rates and keep them low at http://angrybearblog.com/2015/11/for-profit-college-student-loan-default-and-the-economic-impact-of-student-loans.html . Indeed households without student loans are buying at a higher rate than those households with student loans. In some cases, it is worsening.

The highest default rate is with those who have student loans of < $10,000 [~39% of them have loans of less than $10,000 (NY Fed)] and are the result of Community Colleges. Potentially these are people attempting to improve their status in life. Student loan borrowers with $100,000 of debt had a default rate of 18% and are also the higher earners after graduation.

To my knowledge and experience with Federal Direct Loans, students can go into forbearance at any time. There is also a 3 year window of no interest accumulation. After the 3 years, interest accumulates. The 3 year window of no interest accumulation needs to be expanded to cover what we experienced since 2008 and perhaps go as long as 10 years. The 20-25 life time of IBR should be shortened to 10 - 15 years. This is not like students ordered up a 2008 recession, they were penalized unknowingly and were encouraged to seek a college education of sorts. The same holds true for those returning to college to better themselves.

Not only does student debt hurt the student, it is also playing out in the overall economy as I reported using NY Fed information at AB. Households with Student Loan Debt are a higher risk than those without Student Loan Debt. They are buying fewer homes and autos than households without Student Loan debt.

State financing has decreased. In Michigan it has gone from ~60% to ~30% with families picking up the load through various sources. Perhaps expanding the public service to erase college debt after 10 years would make more sense than doing so with strings attached.

Colleges do not appear to be cost sensitive to what the market may bear. There has always been a need for them and like healthcare colleges are allowed to increase as needed in cost without question. If you can not pay it upfront, you can always borrow it seems to rule. The new programs was supposed to hold colleges accountable for default rates. From the get-go, the administration let some of them off the hook.

My $.02

[Jun 06, 2019] Debt Slaves: 7 Out Of 10 Americans Believe That Debt Is A Necessity In Their Lives

Notable quotes:
"... And I haven't even discussed one of the most insidious forms of debt yet. ..."
"... Most of us will spend our entire lives paying off debt. ..."
"... That is why we are called debt slaves – our hard work makes others extremely wealthy. ..."
Jul 30, 2015 | zerohedge.com
Could you live without debt? Most Americans say that they cannot.

According to a brand new Pew survey, approximately 7 out of every 10 Americans believe that "debt is a necessity in their lives", and approximately 8 out of every 10 Americans actually have debt right now. Most of us like to think that "someday" we will get out of the hole and quit being debt slaves, but very few of us ever actually accomplish this.

That is because the entire system is designed to trap us in debt before we even get out into the "real world" and keep us in debt until we die. Sadly, most Americans don't even realize what is being done to them.

In America today, debt is considered to be just part of normal life. We go into debt to go to college, we go into debt to buy a vehicle, we go into debt to buy a home, and we are constantly using our credit cards to buy the things that we think we need.

As a result, this generation of Americans is absolutely swimming in debt. The following are some of the findings of the Pew survey that I mentioned above

*"8 in 10 Americans have debt, with mortgages the most common liability."

*"Although younger generations of Americans are the most likely to have debt (89 percent of Gen Xers and 86 percent of millennials do), older generations are increasingly carrying debt into retirement."

*"7 in 10 Americans said debt is a necessity in their lives, even though they prefer not to have it."

Most of us wish that we didn't have any debt, but we have bought into the lie that it is a necessary part of life in America in the 21st century.

It has been estimated that 43 percent of all American households spend more money than they make each month, and U.S. households are more than 11 trillion dollars in debt at this point.

When it comes to government debt, that is easy for us to blame on someone else, but all of this household debt is undoubtedly something that we have done to ourselves.

It all starts at a very early age for most of us. When we are still in high school, we are endlessly told about how important a college education is. All of the authority figures in our lives insist that we should just try to get into the best school that we possibly can and to not even worry about how much it will cost.

So many of us go into staggering amounts of debt before we even get out into the working world. We had faith that the "good jobs" that were being promised to us would be there when we graduated.

Unfortunately, in this day and age those "good jobs" end up being a mirage more often than not.

But whether or not we can find a good job, we still have to pay off all that debt.

According to new data that was recently released, the total amount of student loan debt in the United States has risen to a grand total 1.2 trillion dollars. If you can believe it, that total has more than doubled over the past decade.

Right now, there are approximately 40 million Americans that are paying off student loan debt. For many of them, they will keep making payments on this debt until they are senior citizens.

Another way that they get you while you are still in school is with credit card debt.

I got my first credit card while I was in college, and nobody ever taught me about the potential dangers.

Today, the average U.S. household that has at least one credit card has approximately $15,950 in credit card debt.

So let's say that you have that much credit card debt and you are paying an annual interest rate of 17 percent. If you only pay the minimum payment each month, it will take you 229 months to pay your credit card off, and during that time you will have paid $13,505.82 in interest charges.

In other words, you will almost have paid twice as much for everything that you originally bought with your credit card by the time it is all said and done.

This is why banks love to give you credit cards. If they can get back nearly twice as much money as they originally give you, they get rich and you get poor.

Most of us get loaded down with even more debt when we go to buy a vehicle. Instead of saving up and getting what we can afford, many of us end up getting the largest loans that we can qualify for.

In a previous article, I discussed the fact that the average auto loan at signing in America today is approximately $27,000. In order to get the monthly payments down to a level where we can afford them, many of these auto loans are now being stretched out for six or seven years. In fact, the number of auto loans that exceed 72 months has hit at an all-time high of 29.5 percent.

It is the same thing with home loans.

In the old days, it was extremely rare for a mortgage to be stretched over 30 years, but today that is pretty much the standard.

Sadly, most people don't understand how much money this is costing them.

If you take out a $300,000 mortgage at 3.92 percent and stretch it over 30 years, you will end up paying back a grand total of $510,640.

In other words, you will pay for two houses by the time you are done.

Yes, we all need somewhere to live, and there are definitely negatives to renting as well. But it is very important that we all understand what is being done to us.

And I haven't even discussed one of the most insidious forms of debt yet.

Have you noticed that most doctors and most hospitals will never tell you how much something is going to cost in advance?

They get us when we are at our most vulnerable. When there is something wrong with us physically, we are often desperate to get help. So we don't ask too many questions and we just go along with whatever they say.

But then later we get the bill and we are often completely shocked by what they have charged us.

If you are completely unethical, it is a great business model. People that are extremely desperate and needy come to you and you don't even have to tell them how much your services are going to cost. And then once they leave, you send them an absolutely outrageous bill for whatever you feel like charging.

Frankly, I don't know how a lot of people working in the medical field live with themselves. In their extreme greed, they are ruining the lives of millions of ordinary American families.

One very disturbing study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either currently have medical bill problems or are paying off medical debt. And collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from about 30 million of us each and every year.

Most of us will spend our entire lives paying off debt.

That is why we are called debt slaves – our hard work makes others extremely wealthy.

ebworthen

All by design. The great lie is that you should "work hard and be responsible".

Yeah? Why? Because it feeds the beast in Wall Street and Washington? The bailouts and free money for the banks/corporations/insurers wiped that idea off the slate.

Give me sound money and start producing again while offering me interest on my savings and we can start talking about responsibility. The example set by Wall Street and Washington is that debt is good, so what the fuck do they expect regular folks to do, keep carrying their bags?

Fuck you assholes, to Hell and back on a bed of nails.

European American

I must confess. I declared bankruptcy back in the late 80's. Not proud of that time in my life but it was legal and it literally saved me. Since then, "If I can't buy that product/service with the cash in my wallet, then I wasn't suppose to have it." has been my philosophy for the last 25 years, and even though the State stills owns my real estate, more or less (various taxes), I'm basically free. Debt is a killer of ones mental, physical and emotional immune system. I highly recommend avoiding IT at all costs. Debit card is the only plastic money in my wallet, along with some fiat currency. My bank is the color of Gold and SIlver.

Ignorance is bliss

In General People are stupid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0he0cqHH20

yogibear

And people wonder how Hitler took over in Germany.

People in the US are now more gullible than the Germans in the 20's.

Tough to keep liberty.

All the US needs is a full-fledged tyrant.

Hugh G Rection

Speaking of gullible, take a look in the mirror.

http://thegreateststorynevertold.tv/

chrsn

Step one: stop tying in the quantity of your possessions with your self-worth. That shift in mindset alone will keep a lot of debt out of your life.

toady

This is one of the few topics around here that actually makes me feel good. 100% debt free for last ten years.

Paying off everything off ahead of time, cutting down the interest, was my primary goal for years.

Them damn bankers won't squeeze another penny out of me!

NoDebt

Welcome to the club. Been a member for about that long myself.

I knew I'd like the financial freedom. I knew I'd like how much money it saved me.

What it took a few years debt-free to understand was that in a world measured in debt, I would become invisible. I can not be viewed using their technology any more. I'm a steath bomber with glider wings and a zero coefficient of drag.

LightSpender

If the 100th monkey effect applies here, we will be part of an awakened populace that watches the ctrl+alt+del of USD and the resultant house of cards.

Korea98

As we know debt is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is worth becoming an indentured servent for a payout later.

We take out a loan, or at least most of us, for a house. This helps us build up equity instead of wasting it all on rent every month. By retirement people should own their home outright and not have to pay rent during their retirement. Most smart people are even able to downsize and stick some money in their savings.

A large percentage of people take out a loan for school. We have all read articled of idiots getting a 4 year degree in women's studies at a fancy private school, having a loan of $120,000, and never being able to pay it off. But the smart people who go to school maybe a state school, for a degree that is marketable do better than those without a degree.

A reliable car can help us save time, thus money, getting to and from work and other places. The key buying something basic and reliable and not a brand new sports car.

I'm glad we have the ability to borrow money. It has helped me immensily in my own personal life. And I would say, I would be worse off without it.

Treason Season
NoDebt

Ugh. You all know my screen name, what it stands for and my opinions on debt. Posting up on this subject borders on the tedious for me, but for those who haven't heard it yet, here it is....

If you have a valid financial reason for going into debt, that is to say you have a well-considered goal for your debt exposure, debt is not necessarily bad. For instance, if you are going to be a professional photographer you might need to buy some cameras and photography equipment that will be necessary for you to exist in that world. You are INVESTING in yourself. Nothing wrong with using debt for that if you can't pay as you go straight out of pocket.

Further down the totem pole is something like buying a house. A collateralized obligation. One you have the USE of the asset while you pay it off. I'm less enthusiastic about this sort of stuff but if it's a necessity (like having a place to live) I can't fault you for doing it. BUT IT WILL NEVER MAKE YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE OR INCREASE YOUR EARNING POWER. You feeling me on this? The key here is to pay that bitch down as fast as possible and minimize your interest expense because it's a pure dead-weight loss to you.

ANYTHING else, you don't need to go into debt over. So just don't. Better to do without than go into debt over anything beyond this point.

There really are very few exceptions to these simple rules (unless you are a government in which case everything is an excuse to go into debt since you're just spending other people's money).

[Jun 06, 2019] For Profit College, Student Loan Default, and the Economic Impact of Student Loans

We should object to the neoliberal complete "instumentalization" of education: education became just a mean to get nicely paid job. And even this hope is mostly an illusion for all but the top 5% of students...
And while students share their own part of responsibility for accumulating the debt the predatory behaviour of neoliberal universities is an important factor that should not be discounted and perpetrators should be held responsible. Especially dirty tricks of ballooning its size and pushing students into "hopeless" specialties, which would be fine, if they were sons or daughters of well to do and parent still support then financially.
Actually neoliberalism justifies predatory behaviour and as such is a doomed social system as without solidarity some members of financial oligarchy that rules the country sooner or later might hand from the lampposts.
Notable quotes:
"... It also never ceases to amaze me the number of anti-educational opinions which flare up when the discussion of student loan default arises. There are always those who will prophesize there is no need to attain a higher level of education as anyone could be something else and be successful and not require a higher level of education. Or they come forth with the explanation on how young 18 year-olds and those already struggling should be able to ascertain the risk of higher debt when the cards are already stacked against them legally. ..."
"... There does not appear to be much movement on the part of Congress to reconcile the issues in favor of students as opposed to the non-profit and for profit institutes. ..."
"... It's easy to explain, really. According to the Department of Education ( https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans ) you're going to be paying off that loan at minimum payments for 25 years. Assuming your average bachelor's degree is about $30k if you go all-loans ( http://collegecost.ed.gov/catc/ ) and the average student loan interest rate is a generous 5% ( http://www.direct.ed.gov/calc.html ), you're going to be paying $175 a month for a sizable chunk of your adult life. ..."
"... Majoring in IT or Computer Science would have a been a great move in the late 1990's; however, if you graduated around 2000, you likely would have found yourself facing a tough job market.. Likewise, majoring in petroleum engineering or petroleum geology would have seemed like a good move a couple of years ago; however, now that oil prices are crashing, it's presumably a much tougher job market. ..."
"... To confuse going to college with vocational education is to commit a major category error. I think bright, ambitious high school graduates– who are looking for upward social mobility– would be far better served by a plumbing or carpentry apprenticeship program. A good plumber can earn enough money to send his or her children to Yale to study Dante, Boccaccio, and Chaucer. ..."
"... A bright working class kid who goes off to New Haven, to study medieval lit, will need tremendous luck to overcome the enormous class prejudice she will face in trying to establish herself as a tenure-track academic. If she really loves medieval literature for its own sake, then to study it deeply will be "worth it" even if she finds herself working as a barista or store-clerk. ..."
"... As a middle-aged doctoral student in the humanities you should not even be thinking much about your loans. Write the most brilliant thesis that you can, get a book or some decent articles published from it– and swim carefully in the shark-infested waters of academia until you reach the beautiful island of tenured full-professorship. If that island turns out to be an ever-receding mirage, sell your soul to our corporate overlords and pay back your loans! Alternatively, tune in, drop out, and use your finely tuned research and rhetorical skills to help us overthrow the kleptocratic regime that oppresses us all!! ..."
"... Genuine education should provide one with profound contentment, grateful for the journey taken, and a deep appreciation of life. ..."
"... Instead many of us are left confused – confusing career training (redundant and excessive, as it turned out, unfortunate for the student, though not necessarily bad for those on the supply side, one must begrudgingly admit – oops, there goes one's serenity) with enlightenment. ..."
"... We all should be against Big Educational-Complex and its certificates-producing factory education that does not put the student's health and happiness up there with co-existing peacefully with Nature. ..."
"... Remember DINKs? Dual Income No Kids. Dual Debt Bad Job No House No Kids doesn't work well for acronyms. Better for an abbreviated hash tag? ..."
"... I graduated law school with $100k+ in debt inclusive of undergrad. I've never missed a loan payment and my credit score is 830. my income has never reached $100k. my payments started out at over $1000 a month and through aggressive payment and refinancing, I've managed to reduce the payments to $500 a month. I come from a lower middle class background and my parents offered what I call 'negative help' throughout college. ..."
"... my unfortunate situation is unique and I wouldn't wish my debt on anyone. it's basically indentured servitude. it's awful, it's affects my life and health in ways no one should have to live, I have all sorts of stress related illnesses. I'm basically 2 months away from default of everything. my savings is negligible and my net worth is still negative 10 years after graduating. ..."
"... My story is very similar to yours, although I haven't had as much success whittling down my loan balances. But yes, it's made me a socialist as well; makes me wonder how many of us, i.e. ppl radicalized by student loans, are out there. Perhaps the elites' grand plan to make us all debt slaves will eventually backfire in more ways than via the obvious economic issues? ..."
Nov 09, 2015 | naked capitalism

It also never ceases to amaze me the number of anti-educational opinions which flare up when the discussion of student loan default arises. There are always those who will prophesize there is no need to attain a higher level of education as anyone could be something else and be successful and not require a higher level of education. Or they come forth with the explanation on how young 18 year-olds and those already struggling should be able to ascertain the risk of higher debt when the cards are already stacked against them legally. In any case during a poor economy, those with more education appear to be employed at a higher rate than those with less education. The issue for those pursuing an education is the ever increasing burden and danger of student loans and associated interest rates which prevent younger people from moving into the economy successfully after graduation, the failure of the government to support higher education and protect students from for-profit fraud, the increased risk of default and becoming indentured to the government, and the increased cost of an education which has surpassed healthcare in rising costs.

There does not appear to be much movement on the part of Congress to reconcile the issues in favor of students as opposed to the non-profit and for profit institutes.

Ranger Rick, November 9, 2015 at 11:34 am

It's easy to explain, really. According to the Department of Education ( https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans ) you're going to be paying off that loan at minimum payments for 25 years. Assuming your average bachelor's degree is about $30k if you go all-loans ( http://collegecost.ed.gov/catc/ ) and the average student loan interest rate is a generous 5% ( http://www.direct.ed.gov/calc.html ), you're going to be paying $175 a month for a sizable chunk of your adult life.

If you're merely hitting the median income of a bachelor's degree after graduation, $55k (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77 ), and good luck with that in this economy, you're still paying ~31.5% of that in taxes (http://www.oecd.org/ctp/tax-policy/taxing-wages-20725124.htm ) you're left with $35.5k before any other costs. Out of that, you're going to have to come up with the down payment to buy a house and a car after spending more money than you have left (http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxann13.pdf).

Louis, November 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm

The last paragraph sums it up perfectly, especially the predictable counterarguments. Accurately assessing what job in demand several years down the road is very difficult, if not impossible.

Majoring in IT or Computer Science would have a been a great move in the late 1990's; however, if you graduated around 2000, you likely would have found yourself facing a tough job market.. Likewise, majoring in petroleum engineering or petroleum geology would have seemed like a good move a couple of years ago; however, now that oil prices are crashing, it's presumably a much tougher job market.

Do we blame the computer science majors graduating in 2000 or the graduates struggling to break into the energy industry, now that oil prices have dropped, for majoring in "useless" degrees? It's much easier to create a strawman about useless degrees that accept the fact that there is a element of chance in terms of what the job market will look like upon graduation.

The cost of higher education is absurd and there simply aren't enough good jobs to go around-there are people out there who majored in the "right" fields and have found themselves underemployed or unemployed-so I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of many people in my generation.

At the same time, I do believe in personal responsibility-I'm wary of creating a moral hazard if people can discharge loans in bankruptcy. I've been paying off my student loans (grad school) for a couple of years-I kept the level debt below any realistic starting salary-and will eventually have the loans paid off, though it may be a few more years.

I am really conflicted between believing in personal responsibility but also seeing how this generation has gotten screwed. I really don't know what the right answer is.

Ulysses, November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

"The cost of higher education is absurd and there simply aren't enough good jobs to go around-there are people out there who majored in the "right" fields and have found themselves underemployed or unemployed-so I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of many people in my generation."

To confuse going to college with vocational education is to commit a major category error. I think bright, ambitious high school graduates– who are looking for upward social mobility– would be far better served by a plumbing or carpentry apprenticeship program. A good plumber can earn enough money to send his or her children to Yale to study Dante, Boccaccio, and Chaucer.

A bright working class kid who goes off to New Haven, to study medieval lit, will need tremendous luck to overcome the enormous class prejudice she will face in trying to establish herself as a tenure-track academic. If she really loves medieval literature for its own sake, then to study it deeply will be "worth it" even if she finds herself working as a barista or store-clerk.

None of this, of course, excuses the outrageously high tuition charges, administrative salaries, etc. at the "top schools." They are indeed institutions that reinforce class boundaries. My point is that strictly career education is best begun at a less expensive community college. After working in the IT field, for example, a talented associate's degree-holder might well find that her employer will subsidize study at an elite school with an excellent computer science program.

My utopian dream would be a society where all sorts of studies are open to everyone– for free. Everyone would have a basic Job or Income guarantee and could study as little, or as much, as they like!

Ulysses, November 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm

As a middle-aged doctoral student in the humanities you should not even be thinking much about your loans. Write the most brilliant thesis that you can, get a book or some decent articles published from it– and swim carefully in the shark-infested waters of academia until you reach the beautiful island of tenured full-professorship.

If that island turns out to be an ever-receding mirage, sell your soul to our corporate overlords and pay back your loans! Alternatively, tune in, drop out, and use your finely tuned research and rhetorical skills to help us overthrow the kleptocratic regime that oppresses us all!!

subgenius, November 9, 2015 at 3:07 pm

except (in my experience) the corporate overlords want young meat.

I have 2 masters degrees 2 undergraduate degrees and a host of random diplomas – but at 45, I am variously too old, too qualified, or lacking sufficient recent corporate experience in the field to get hired

Trying to get enough cash to get a contractor license seems my best chance at anything other than random day work.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef, November 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Genuine education should provide one with profound contentment, grateful for the journey taken, and a deep appreciation of life.

Instead many of us are left confused – confusing career training (redundant and excessive, as it turned out, unfortunate for the student, though not necessarily bad for those on the supply side, one must begrudgingly admit – oops, there goes one's serenity) with enlightenment.

"I would spend another 12 soul-nourishing years pursuing those non-profit degrees' vs 'I can't feed my family with those paper certificates.'

jrs, November 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

I am anti-education as the solution to our economic woes. We need jobs or a guaranteed income. And we need to stop outsourcing the jobs that exist. And we need a much higher minimum wage. And maybe we need work sharing. I am also against using screwdrivers to pound in a nail. But why are you so anti screwdriver anyway?

And I see calls for more and more education used to make it seem ok to pay people without much education less than a living wage. Because they deserve it for being whatever drop outs. And it's not ok.

I don't actually have anything against the professors (except their overall political cowardice in times demanding radicalism!). Now the administrators, yea I can see the bloat and the waste there. But mostly, I have issues with more and more education being preached as the answer to a jobs and wages crisis.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef -> jrs, November 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

We all should be against Big Educational-Complex and its certificates-producing factory education that does not put the student's health and happiness up there with co-existing peacefully with Nature.

Kris Alman, November 9, 2015 at 11:11 am

Remember DINKs? Dual Income No Kids. Dual Debt Bad Job No House No Kids doesn't work well for acronyms. Better for an abbreviated hash tag?

debitor serf, November 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm

I graduated law school with $100k+ in debt inclusive of undergrad. I've never missed a loan payment and my credit score is 830. my income has never reached $100k. my payments started out at over $1000 a month and through aggressive payment and refinancing, I've managed to reduce the payments to $500 a month. I come from a lower middle class background and my parents offered what I call 'negative help' throughout college.

my unfortunate situation is unique and I wouldn't wish my debt on anyone. it's basically indentured servitude. it's awful, it's affects my life and health in ways no one should have to live, I have all sorts of stress related illnesses. I'm basically 2 months away from default of everything. my savings is negligible and my net worth is still negative 10 years after graduating.

student loans, combined with a rigged system, turned me into a closeted socialist. I am smart, hard working and resourceful. if I can't make it in this world, heck, then who can? few, because the system is rigged!

I have no problems at all taking all the wealth of the oligarchs and redistributing it. people look at me like I'm crazy. confiscate it all I say, and reset the system from scratch. let them try to make their billions in a system where things are fair and not rigged...

Ramoth, November 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm

My story is very similar to yours, although I haven't had as much success whittling down my loan balances. But yes, it's made me a socialist as well; makes me wonder how many of us, i.e. ppl radicalized by student loans, are out there. Perhaps the elites' grand plan to make us all debt slaves will eventually backfire in more ways than via the obvious economic issues?

[Jun 06, 2019] A Former For-Profit Deal Maker Takes On the Plight of Nonprofits by Goldie Blumenstyk

University of Phoenix is a typical diploma mill designed for producing debt-slaves... Private equity sharks like Mark DeFusco try to devour weaker colleges, which no longer get enough state support.
The game plan is to strips assets like land and buildings. Essentially nobody can stop them.
Notable quotes:
"... Mr. DeFusco, 51, is a veteran of the for-profit-college industry. For the past five years, he's been a deal maker with Berkery Noyes, an investment bank that handles many mergers and acquisitions of education and information companies that often don't get publicized. From 2002 to 2005, as a new wave of private-equity investors came onto the scene, he was president of Vatterott College, a privately held institution based in St. Louis. He was a top manager at the University of Phoenix for 10 years before that, at a time when it was broadening its footprint and becoming the national powerhouse it is today. ..."
"... Voluble and refreshingly unslick, Mr. DeFusco was the guy on the PBS Frontline documentary College Inc. who, with just a little coaxing, memorably discussed how "very, very well" he and his University of Phoenix colleagues made out financially as the university expanded. "I did better than I ever imagined," he said on the show. ..."
"... It wasn't a pipe dream, he says. Working with a colleague with years of experience at Catholic colleges, Jack P. Calareso, president of Anna Maria College, he had identified 25 Catholic colleges, with enrollments ranging in size from 400 to 3,000, as acquisition targets. ..."
"... Two East Coast private-equity investors, he says, "committed more resources than I could spend"-about $500-million over four years. And he says they weren't the sort of investors looking for a fast buck. (The investors asked him not to reveal their identities; Mr. Calareso, who sat in on some of the meetings with investors and colleges, confirmed the details of the venture in an interview.) ..."
"... The idea, Mr. DeFusco says, was to operate the colleges with "a portfolio view," taking advantage of their strengths and economies of scale on things like marketing and student recruiting, keeping their Catholic mission, investing in new programs and facilities where it made sense, and eventually scrapping some programs that underperformed. ..."
Aug 05, 2010 | chronicle.com

Courtesy of Frontline, (c) 1995-2010 WGBH Educational Foundation

Mark DeFusco has worked with an investment bank and was a top manager at the U. of Phoenix.

Mark DeFusco has a new gig, and it may speak volumes about the evolving higher-education landscape and the fate of financially struggling private colleges.

Until a few months ago, Mr. DeFusco was working with major investors on plans to buy and bundle up ailing regionally accredited colleges. Now, believing that the once-friendly climate for such nonprofit conversions has grown chilly, he's shifted gears. Instead of buying up troubled colleges, he's going to work with two veteran academics at the University of Southern California to form a consultancy focused on saving them.

"I've been very busy these last five years telling for-profit businesses what's valuable" about themselves, says Mr. DeFusco. The goal of the consultancy is to help nonprofits capitalize on their most valuable traits, too.

"We don't want to see potentially good assets fail," says Mr. DeFusco of the new venture, which will be run out of Southern Cal's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis and headed by Mr. DeFusco and the professors Guilbert C. Hentschke and William G. Tierney.

Considering how Mr. DeFusco has been in the thick of the education industry's most important trends for two decades, this latest move is worth watching.

Mr. DeFusco, 51, is a veteran of the for-profit-college industry. For the past five years, he's been a deal maker with Berkery Noyes, an investment bank that handles many mergers and acquisitions of education and information companies that often don't get publicized. From 2002 to 2005, as a new wave of private-equity investors came onto the scene, he was president of Vatterott College, a privately held institution based in St. Louis. He was a top manager at the University of Phoenix for 10 years before that, at a time when it was broadening its footprint and becoming the national powerhouse it is today.

Voluble and refreshingly unslick, Mr. DeFusco was the guy on the PBS Frontline documentary College Inc. who, with just a little coaxing, memorably discussed how "very, very well" he and his University of Phoenix colleagues made out financially as the university expanded. "I did better than I ever imagined," he said on the show.

Until a few months ago, he thought he might have found another gold mine of a business, one that would be not only lucrative for him and his enthusiastic investors, but also, he says, beneficial to higher education writ large.

His plan was to form an investor-backed "roll-up"-a company comprising several small nonprofit colleges that it would buy, and then continue to operate, but with a single back-office operation for administrative functions.

"You could really have efficiencies" without each college having its own bursar, its own registrar, he says, replaying a theme that many higher-education reformers before him have espoused.

It wasn't a pipe dream, he says. Working with a colleague with years of experience at Catholic colleges, Jack P. Calareso, president of Anna Maria College, he had identified 25 Catholic colleges, with enrollments ranging in size from 400 to 3,000, as acquisition targets.

"I wanted to get to them before they got onto your list," he says, referring to the list published in The Chronicle last year citing the 100-plus nonprofit colleges that had failed the Department of Education's financial-responsibility test.

On Second Thought

Two East Coast private-equity investors, he says, "committed more resources than I could spend"-about $500-million over four years. And he says they weren't the sort of investors looking for a fast buck. (The investors asked him not to reveal their identities; Mr. Calareso, who sat in on some of the meetings with investors and colleges, confirmed the details of the venture in an interview.)

The idea, Mr. DeFusco says, was to operate the colleges with "a portfolio view," taking advantage of their strengths and economies of scale on things like marketing and student recruiting, keeping their Catholic mission, investing in new programs and facilities where it made sense, and eventually scrapping some programs that underperformed.

"I really wanted to get into heaven," he says. And the moves might have helped keep some traditional colleges alive, along with the values they perpetuate. "When my kids go to college, I hope there is still tenure and there's still academic freedom."

Mr. DeFusco says he had support from two bishops and actually had in hand three letters of intent from colleges willing to be acquired. (He wouldn't name them.) Then his lawyers advised him in early spring that the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditor that had been known for allowing such conversions over the past five years, had begun to take a tougher line. Eighteen of his 25 targets were in that accreditors' region.

The Higher Learning Commission rejected the conversion of nonprofit Dana College in July and of Rochester College in February, based on new policies it adopted in June 2009 and toughened in February.

Mr. DeFusco says he got the message. Before that commission approves another conversion, he believes, "it's going to be a couple of years-guaranteed."

Sylvia Manning, president of the commission since June 2008, says the new policy does not ban nonprofit-to-for-profit conversions-in fact the continued reaccreditation of two converted institutions, Waldorf College in January and the College of Santa Fe in October, came after the policy was adopted in June.

It was under her predecessor Steven D. Crow that institutions including the American College of Education (formerly Barat College), Grand Canyon University, and Ashford University (formerly the Franciscan University of the Prairies) were acquired by companies and allowed to significantly shift their emphasis to online education while keeping their accreditation.

She allows that in general, the new policy creates a much higher bar than what existed under her predecessor.

"It's quite possible people are reading this and are saying, 'Oh my God,'" Ms. Manning says, The new standards are not intended to block purchases or keep new owners from introducing new styles of management and curricula to the institutions they're acquiring, she says. "We're not saying you can't change them," she says of the colleges. But for colleges' accreditation to transfer upon a sale, "you can't transform them."

Ms. Manning says she never spoke with Mr. DeFusco and declined to comment on his assessment of her commission's stance, or of his sense that other regional accreditors are following suit. "My guess is that he's doing his own reading of tea leaves," says Ms. Manning.

A New Deal

Mr. DeFusco says many of the forces that would have made his roll-up venture a success lead him to believe that his shift in gears toward a hands-on consulting project focused on struggling colleges will also keep him very busy, albeit probably with a smaller payday.

"A lot of schools are in trouble," says Mr. DeFusco. In the course of his research for his new venture, he and his team estimated that 15 to 45 colleges could fail each year for the next five years.

Too many colleges are discounting their tuition too heavily in pursuit of students, needlessly holding onto underutilized property that could better used to raise capital ("In this climate, those buildings are an anchor that drown you," he says), and maintaining administrative functions that could be better handled through outsourcing or collaboration.

Worse, he says, many boards of trustees are unaware of the severity of their institutions' problems. If you were on the board of a for-profit company operating like that, "you'd be sued," he says.

A tad less bluntly, Southern Cal's Mr. Tierney, a professor of higher education, echoes much of Mr. DeFusco's concern about the prospects for higher education, especially in the near term. "Some of us are getting very sober about a rebound," he says. The policy-analysis center has had a long interest in business-focused approaches and the role of markets in higher education. Mr. Tierney and Mr. Hentschke have written or co-edited two books on for-profit colleges.

So the idea of teaming up with Mr. DeFusco (who himself received a Ph.D. from Southern Cal) to work as turnaround consultants and help some colleges "stop the bleeding" was appealing, says Mr. Tierney. This month Mr. DeFusco will join the university as a senior research associate at the center.

Although there is no shortage of consultants already mining this territory-Bain, Huron, the Education Advisory Board, and advisers organized by the Association of Governing Boards, to name just a few-Mr. Tierney says the combination of Mr. DeFusco's business experience and his and Mr. Hentschke's understanding of academic culture and the role of shared governance gives their venture a niche. Also, he notes, it may be the first such higher-education consulting group to operate from within a university.

The consultants will help with short-term strategies, governance, and operational audits. They will also offer "workout" expertise; workout is the term used when companies go out of business. As a university effort, the consultancy can also call upon the expertise of other academics in the School of Education and the rest of the university. The consulting entity will pay a portion of its earnings as overhead to Southern Cal in return for administrative support.

Mr. Tierney says he hopes to begin signing up clients by Labor Day. "If nobody calls by January 1, well, then this was an interesting idea."

It all seems pretty fast-paced to Mr. Tierney. But that's been a lesson in itself for Mr. DeFusco, as he prepares to immerse himself more directly in traditional academe. "August off?" he responded incredulously when Mr. Tierney told him the schedule. August is when colleges are sweating the most over whether enough students will show up to cover the budget. "This is your most important month," he says.

For higher education, this new gig may or may not be a bellwether. For Mr. DeFusco, it will certainly require some adjusting.

[Jun 06, 2019] Neoliberal Restructuring of University Education

Notable quotes:
"... Despite somewhat different tactics, both the Republicans and the Democrats, as parties of Wall Street, aim to impose austerity on the working class in order to deal with the fiscal crisis of the state. The aim is to cut domestic programs and public services, and teacher unions are a prime target. Merit pay for teachers and union "flexibility" is a part of the Obama administration's education program. From this perspective, compliant union officials are a means to instruct teachers and other public employees to make concessions "voluntarily." This approach was articulated by a Wisconsin public official who defended teacher and other public unions' right to exist because unions have been a means to negotiate concessions in wages and benefits peacefully. But some ideologically driven Republican legislators want to go further to make deep cuts in the education budget and break teacher unions and organized labor entirely. This would eliminate the remaining organized working-class resistance against the attempt to make workers pay for the crisis, and would undermine a key support for the Democratic Party. ..."
monthlyreview.org

2011 Volume 63, Issue 03 (July-August)

Dangers and Opportunities of the Present Crisis

Education , Political Economy

Jammed into a thundering crowd of thousands of chanting people in Madison, Wisconsin, it looks like a dam has broken. The new Wisconsin Tea Party governor brazenly accelerated what has been a bipartisan agenda to undermine public education and weaken teacher and other public employee unions. His "budget repair bill"-an assault on public employee unions, schools, and low-income health care-was met with immediate, massive, determined resistance that began with a walkout by Madison public school teachers.

Over three weeks, thousands of teachers, social workers, firefighters, and public and private sector workers of every stripe have demonstrated in communities across the state and piled into busses headed to the state capital. Protesters occupied the capital building for more than two weeks. Two of the rallies were estimated at over one hundred thousand people. There were many signs, such as "Recall Walker," "If you can read this, thank a teacher," and "Stop the War on Workers," but also something more: handmade signs saying "This is Class War" and "End Corporate Greed." A young woman at the rally on March 11 after the state legislature passed the governor's union-busting bill, held up a placard proclaiming, "Teacher by Day, Freedom Fighter by Night."

As I write this, in March 2011, a sleeping giant is stirring. The broad U.S. working class has absorbed blow after blow, concessions and job losses one after the other, stagnating wages for thirty years, and two wars costing trillions of dollars. The greatest capitalist crisis since the Great Depression brought a trillion-dollar bailout of the biggest banks and investment houses, the loss of ten million homes to foreclosure by the banks, and 10 percent official unemployment. A broad process of structural adjustment is under way to make the working and middle classes pay for the crisis created by Wall Street. But recent attempts at the state level to impose austerity measures may be just too much for people to take. The attack on public workers and sell-off of public assets-from schools, to municipal utilities, to bridges and roads-may go too far. This is a watershed moment.

Despite somewhat different tactics, both the Republicans and the Democrats, as parties of Wall Street, aim to impose austerity on the working class in order to deal with the fiscal crisis of the state. The aim is to cut domestic programs and public services, and teacher unions are a prime target. Merit pay for teachers and union "flexibility" is a part of the Obama administration's education program. From this perspective, compliant union officials are a means to instruct teachers and other public employees to make concessions "voluntarily." This approach was articulated by a Wisconsin public official who defended teacher and other public unions' right to exist because unions have been a means to negotiate concessions in wages and benefits peacefully. But some ideologically driven Republican legislators want to go further to make deep cuts in the education budget and break teacher unions and organized labor entirely. This would eliminate the remaining organized working-class resistance against the attempt to make workers pay for the crisis, and would undermine a key support for the Democratic Party.

In Wisconsin, union responses to the Tea Party agenda were mixed. Despite the fact that their own data show real earnings for Wisconsin teachers declined by 2.3 percent over the last decade,1 the leadership of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and some other unions gave in to Walker's demand for financial concessions early on. They drew the line, however, at automatic union dues collection and the right to bargain collectively over working conditions such as class size, that affect children's learning. Their slogan was "It's not about the money, it's about our rights [to bargain collectively]." Other labor organizations, notably the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin and the National Nurses United, put the blame on Wall Street and called for closing corporate tax loopholes. The nurses union said, "Working people did not create the recession or the budgetary crisis facing federal, state and local governments-and there can be NO more concessions, period."2

There is a long and complex road ahead with no clear outcome. But education is the frontline in class warfare by the rich against the working class. The assault on public education, teachers, and their unions has been evolving over the past thirty years as part of the neoliberal restructuring of the global capitalist economy, but the current crisis of capitalism has accelerated this assault.3 Education has been a key sector in the neoliberalization of social policy and the neoliberal political economy of cities. The resistance to these policies has been broad at classroom and school levels and in a growing movement of education activists allied with parents and students. Education, for those in power, plays a key role in social reproduction of the labor force and in ideological legitimation of the social order. Those who, conversely, have seen education as a way to strengthen democratic participation in society and human liberation have always contested these goals. There is a rich history of people of color, women, workers, educators, and social movements fighting for democratic, inclusive, liberatory education. The crisis and the accelerated assault on teachers and public education are sharpening the contest over the right to public education and the role of education in society.

In this article, I review the neoliberal project to restructure education, particularly its relationship to neoliberal urban development, and responses to it. I discuss implications of privatization and austerity measures for public education and its function in social reproduction. I argue that this crisis is a moment of danger but also opportunity, not only to defend public education, but also to reshape it as part of the struggle for a new social order based on human liberation.

Neoliberal Restructuring of Public Education

When President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, former-CEO of Chicago Public Schools, to head the U.S. Department of Education in 2008, he signaled an intention to accelerate a neoliberal education program that has been unfolding over the past two decades. This agenda calls for expanding education markets and employing market principles across school systems. It features mayoral control of school districts, closing "failing" public schools or handing them over to corporate-style "turnaround" organizations, expanding school "choice" and privately run but publicly funded charter schools, weakening teacher unions, and enforcing top-down accountability and incentivized performance targets on schools, classrooms, and teachers (e.g., merit pay based on students' standardized test scores). To spur this agenda, the Obama administration offered cash-strapped states $4.35 billion in federal stimulus dollars to "reform" their school systems. Competition for these "Race to the Top" funds favored states that passed legislation to enable education markets.

Race to the Top, although originating in U.S. government, is actually part of a global neoliberal thrust toward the commodification of all realms of existence. In a new round of accumulation by dispossession, liberalization of trade has opened up education, along with other public sectors, to capital accumulation, and particularly to penetration of the education sectors of the periphery (e.g., Latin America, parts of Asia, Africa). Under the Global Agreement on Trade in Services, all aspects of education and education services are subject to global trade.4 The result is the global marketing of schooling from primary school through higher education. Schools, education management organizations, tutoring services, teacher training, tests, curricula online classes, and franchises of branded universities are now part of a global education market. Education markets are one facet of the neoliberal strategy to manage the structural crisis of capitalism by opening the public sector to capital accumulation. The roughly $2.5 trillion global market in education is a rich new arena for capital investment.5

In the United States, charter schools are a vehicle to commodify and marketize education. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated. They eliminate democratic governance, and, although they may be run by nonprofit community organizations or groups of teachers or parents, the market favors scaling up franchises of charter school management organizations or contracting out to for-profit education management organizations that get management fees to run schools and education programs.6 For example, EdisonLearning, a transnational for-profit management organization, claims it serves nearly one-half million students in twenty-five states in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Dubai.7

The market mechanisms and business management discourses and practices that are saturating public education in the United States are all too familiar to teachers and students worldwide. Globally, nations are restructuring their education systems for "human capital" development to prepare students for new types of work and labor relations.8 This policy agenda has been aggressively pushed by transnational organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Objectives and performance targets are the order of the day, and testing is a prominent mechanism to steer curriculum and instruction to meet these goals efficiently and effectively.

In the United States, the neoliberal restructuring of education is deeply racialized. It is centered particularly on urban African American, Latino, and other communities of color, where public schools, subject to being closed or privatized, are driven by a minimalist curriculum of preparing for standardized tests. The cultural politics of race is also central to constructing consent for this agenda. As Stephen Haymes argues, the "concepts 'public' and 'private' are racialized metaphors. Private is equated with being 'good' and 'white' and public with being 'bad' and 'Black.'"9 Disinvesting in public schools, closing them, and opening privately operated charter schools in African-American and Latino communities is facilitated by a racist discourse that pathologizes these communities and their public institutions. But "failing" schools are the product of a legacy of educational, economic, and social inequities experienced by African Americans, Latinos/as, and Native Americans.10 Schools serving these communities continue to face deeply inequitable opportunities to learn, including unequal funding, curriculum, educational resources, facilities, and teacher experience. High stakes accountability has often compounded these inequities by narrowing the curriculum to test preparation-producing an exodus of some of the strongest teachers from schools in low-income communities of color.11

Neoliberalization of public education is also an ideological project, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, to "change the soul," redefining the purpose of education and what it means to teach, learn, and participate in schooling. Tensions between democratic purposes of education and education to serve the needs of the workforce are longstanding. But in the neoliberal framework, teaching is driven by standardized tests and performance outcomes; principals are managers, and school superintendents are CEOs; and learning equals performance on the tests with teachers, students, and parents held responsible for "failure." Education, which is properly seen as a public good, is being converted into a private good, an investment one makes in one's child or oneself to "add value" in order better to compete in the labor market. It is no longer seen as part of the larger end of promoting individual and social development, but is merely the means to rise above others. Democratic participation in local schools is rearticulated to individual "empowerment" of education consumers-as parents compete for slots in an array of charter and specialty schools. In Chicago, twelve thousand parents and students attended the 2010 "High School Fair" sponsored by Chicago Public Schools, and six thousand attended the "New Schools Expo" of charter and school choice options. The political significance of this neoliberal shift stretches beyond schools to legitimize marketing the public sector, particularly in cities, and to infuse market ideologies into everyday life.

New Orleans–Feasting on Tragedy 12

Nowhere did the rollback of social welfare policies and public institutions occur with greater force than in hurricane-devastated New Orleans. In the words of George Lipsitz, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina ushered in an orgy of "legalized looting to enable corporations to profit from the misfortunes of poor people."13 Education was at the leading edge. The state at all levels, in alliance with local and national capital and neoliberal think tanks, took advantage of the chaos wreaked by Katrina and the exodus of low-income working-class African Americans from the city to dismantle their public schools. This was a strategic move to exclude low-income African Americans from the city altogether. They not only had no homes to return to, they had no schools. Before Katrina hit in August 2005, there were sixty-three thousand students in New Orleans public schools; about twenty-four thousand began classes there in the fall of 2008.14

Just weeks after the hurricane, the state of Louisiana took over one hundred public schools and began turning over millions of dollars of taxpayer money to private organizations to run them. The state dismissed all forty-five hundred public school teachers, broke the city's powerful black-led teachers' union, and dismantled the school system's administrative infrastructure.15 Right-wing foundations quickly issued reports calling for vouchers, and President Bush proposed $1.9 billion for K-12 students with $488 million targeted for vouchers to be used in schools anywhere in the country. An influential report by the Urban Institute hailed New Orleans as an opportunity for a grand experiment to decentralize and privatize the public school system through vouchers and charter schools.16 Less than a month after the hurricane devastated the city, the U.S. Department of Education gave the state of Louisiana $20.9 million to reopen existing charter schools and open new ones, and nine months later, the department gave the state an additional $23.9 million for new charter schools, most in New Orleans. Prior to Katrina, there were five charter schools in the city. After the hurricane, the state took over most of the schools and established the Recovery School District, an open arena for charter schools. Of the fifty-five schools opened in New Orleans in 2006-2007, thirty-one were public charter schools.17 In 2010, out of eighty-eight public schools in New Orleans, sixty-one were charters run by a variety of operators.18 The pro-market Fordham Foundation judged New Orleans the best city in the United States for charter school expansion.19 All this was done by government fiat guided by think tanks such as the Urban Institute, and backed by corporate foundations such as the Gates Foundation. Excluded were the working-class African American and Latino/a parents, students, teachers, and community members, many of whom had been literally excluded from the city itself by redevelopment policies that made it impossible to return.20

It would be hard to deny that New Orleans's schools were in bad shape before the hurricane. In 1997 per-pupil school funding was 16 percent lower than the average of poorly funded urban districts nationally.21 The New Orleans situation reflects a long-term pattern of disinvestment in inner-city areas, beginning with cuts in federal funding to cities in the 1980s, followed by the shift to an entrepreneurial model of urban governance that prioritizes attracting private investment, tourism, and real estate investment.22 Today charter schools in New Orleans are part of creating a "good business climate" in a "revitalized" (gentrified) whiter New Orleans.

Chicago–Disinvestment, Privatization, and Gentrification

Chicago is another exemplar of the logic of disinvestment and privatization that is playing out in urban school districts.23 Chicago's Renaissance 2010 education plan was carried out in partnership with the state and the Commercial Club of Chicago, an organization of the powerful corporate and financial interests in the city. The object was to close public schools and expand charter schools. It has become a national model enshrined in the propagandistic claim of "the Chicago Miracle." Across African-American communities, the mayoral-appointed school board has closed schools on the grounds of low achievement. Others, particularly in gentrifying Latino/a communities, have been closed for low enrollment, despite evidence to the contrary. The board has replaced neighborhood schools with charter schools or selective enrollment schools that most neighborhood children are unable to attend. School closings have resulted in increased mobility, spikes in violence, and neighborhood instability as children are transferred to schools out of their neighborhoods.24 Moreover, Renaissance 2010 has not increased educational opportunities for most students, with 80 percent of displaced students attending schools no better than the ones that were closed.25

This policy eliminates schools that are anchors in their communities, contributing to further disinvestment. In gentrifying areas, closing neighborhood schools and replacing them with schools branded for the middle class facilitates the displacement of working-class families. Chicago, like New Orleans, is an example of the intertwining of education policy and neoliberal urban development. Real estate development is a pivotal sector in urban economies, and closing neighborhood public schools in disinvested areas to open up elite, selective-enrollment public schools or prestigious charter schools is part of the neoliberal restructuring of urban space.26 This nexus of education policy and real estate development is located in the spatial logics of capital-the physical location of production facilities, the built environment of cities, and places of consumption are devalued and selectively rebuilt in order to establish a "new locational grid" for capital accumulation.27 In other disinvested, low-income neighborhoods, students attending under-resourced and struggling public schools are a ready consumer base for the proliferation of charter schools, particularly large charter school chains that target these areas.

In response, parents, teachers, and students are challenging school closings and market solutions, and are demanding democratic participation and community-driven processes to improve public schools and increase resources. In fall 2010, parents at an elementary school in a Mexican immigrant community in Chicago occupied a school field house for forty-three days to force the school board to agree to construct a school library. In 2001 parents in another working-class Mexican neighborhood were compelled to conduct a nineteen-day hunger strike to get a new high school in their community, after the school board had used funds allocated for their school to build two state-of-the-art, selective-enrollment high schools in gentrifying areas of the city. Both of these actions followed years of petitioning the mayor-appointed board of education with no results. Organized resistance to neoliberal policies has prevented some school closings and, most significantly, also spawned a progressive caucus that won the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, the third largest teachers' union local in the country.

The "Good Sense" in Neoliberal Education Policy

Yet some measures to reign in teacher unions have support on the ground, as teachers and parents have gravitated to privately run charter schools and vouchers. Certainly venture philanthropists (such as the Gates and Fordham Foundations), charter school operators, business federations (such as Chicago's Commercial Club), and politicians of both parties have deployed enormous economic, political, and symbolic resources to promote education markets and performance pay for teachers as the only alternative to struggling neighborhood public schools and "bad" teaching.28 They have raised the cap on charter school expansion, funded charter school ventures, and established policies like those in New Orleans and Chicago to expand education markets. However, neoliberal policies are not simply imposed from above. They also materialize through the actions of parents and teachers navigating a disinvested, degraded, and often racist public school system. Looked at this way, neoliberalism is a process that works its way into the discourses and practices of schools, through the actions of not only elites, but also marginalized and oppressed people acting in conditions not of their own making.

Tom Pedroni demonstrates this in his study of African-American parents' participation in the Milwaukee voucher movement.29 Pedroni interprets the participation of African-American parents in the voucher program against a background of prolonged struggles and failures to win a modicum of educational equity and respect for their children and themselves as public school parents. Pedroni argues that, for these parents, the identity of educational consumer offers greater dignity and agency than that of citizen-supplicant to an unresponsive and racist public school system that has never fully included African-American children. Like charter school parents and teachers I interviewed in Chicago, Pedroni proposes that parents see themselves as education consumers in the face of a post-welfare state that offers no real alternative.30 Drawing on Gramsci's theory of "good sense" in the ideological construction of hegemonic social alliances, this insight is an opening to reframe the struggle to defend public education by drawing on the real concerns of parents who ally themselves with education markets.

There is no point in romanticizing public schools (or other welfare state institutions). While they have provided free universal education and spaces where people can make claims for justice, and are sometimes empowering and liberating, they have historically been saturated with inequalities and exclusions.31 The benefits the white middle class has had from public schools have often been allowed it to ignore a thoroughly inequitable public school system. Critical education scholars have long criticized public schools for reproducing a stratified labor force and the dispositions and ideologies that support capitalism, racism, and gender oppression. Exclusionary, paternalistic, disrespectful, even brutal treatment of African American, Latino/a, and other people of color and women at the hands of public housing authorities, public hospitals, the police and judicial systems, public welfare agencies, elected officials, city agencies, and schools make existing public institutions deeply problematic places. And teacher union leaders have too often failed to take up progressive causes and ally themselves with working-class parents and communities of color.32

Understanding the appeal of charter schools, choice, and teacher accountability is essential to build alliances not only to defend public education in this period but to develop a program for democratic and just public schools, as well. Resisting predatory neoliberal policies requires acknowledging and grappling with the exclusions and inequities of public institutions.33 This raises the questions: What of public education do we wish to defend; what must be reconstructed, and how can it fulfill its democratic potential?34

Structural Adjustment and Education

As the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-08 hit, the Bush and Obama administrations, in league with Wall Street, moved swiftly to socialize the losses of investors through massive taxpayer funded bailouts. This was followed by furloughs (wages cuts) for public workers and worker concessions in the bailed-out private sector (e.g., auto) under the rationale that "there is no alternative" and "we all have to sacrifice."

As the crisis continues to reverberate, states and municipalities face fiscal crises of monumental proportions. The loss of tax revenues combined with government losses in the financial markets have thrown state budgets across the country into massive debt. Public worker pension funds, health insurance benefits, and funding for public services are in real trouble. At the time of this writing, California has a projected budget deficit of $28 billion over the next eighteen months.35 Instead of raising taxes on the rich and corporations, state governments are selling off public assets and imposing austerity measures on the poor, workers, and the middle class, with public-sector workers an immediate target. The state of California is instituting draconian cuts in education, health, and programs for youth and the elderly. This scenario is repeated in state legislatures and city halls across the country. In Wisconsin, Walker pushed through $100 million in tax cuts to corporations, while his bill would cut over $800 million for education alone.36 The broad working class is expected to endure repeated reductions in wages, pensions, and hard-won benefits, drastic cuts in public services, and further loss of personal assets, particularly homes, while municipal services and infrastructure such as bridges and roads are sold off to investors.

City governments are particularly hard hit by the crisis because of their reliance on real estate taxes, housing markets, and investments in financial markets. Urban school districts have already laid off thousands of teachers, increased class sizes, pushed to reduce teacher pensions, and cut out music, gym, kindergarten, bilingual programs, after-school and youth programs, and more. These austerity measures are certain to hit hardest those least able to bear them, low-income schools of color, where these are the very programs that offer some hope.37

Dangers and Opportunities of the Present Moment

Social austerity ultimately creates contradictions for capital as well. As capital continues to flow into the inflated financial sector at the expense of the productive sector, and as the state pays for the crisis with cuts in education and general social welfare, there is an unfolding crisis of social reproduction.38 Public education plays an important role in the reproduction of the labor force, political legitimation, and social stability. The problem with franchising and contracting out schools to an assortment of private operators is that the state has less control over these functions of schools. Inflated class sizes, cuts in education programs, and teachers' eroding salaries and working conditions can only degrade public education, particularly in low-income schools. This will exacerbate an already two-tiered education system. Detroit's Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb (a graduate of the Broad Foundation's Superintendent Academy) has proposed closing half the district's schools and putting up to sixty students in a classroom.39

Under Governor Walker's plan, two thousand Wisconsin teachers and school staff would lose their jobs, and the average teacher would lose $5500 to $7000 in net compensation. The average 2011 teacher salary in Wisconsin is $50,627.40 According to a new report by the OECD (Paine & Schleicher, 2011), the pay, working conditions, and qualifications of U.S. teachers are already low in comparison with those of teachers in other advanced economies.41 From the standpoint of capital, serious disinvestment in public education has consequences for the preparation of its workforce. It also has implications for social stability, with more students in affected schools dropping out. The security state is a looming presence in this scenario.

Wisconsin foreshadows the political cost of undermining the living standards and expectations of those who have come to be defined as "middle class," such as teachers. The Tea Party agenda is laying bare the capitalist offensive against the working class. A twenty-foot long banner proclaiming, "Tax the Rich" hung from the third floor of the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda throughout the people's occupation. With leaflets and treatises plastering the walls of the capitol, rallies filled with home-made placards, and hours of conversation between unlikely allies, the three-week-long Wisconsin occupation and rallies were a giant democratic political forum. And this was replicated in town squares throughout the state. For many, this was their first political protest.

The results of this politicization are yet to be seen, but the budget bills themselves are making connections for people between cuts in education and the assault on teacher unions with those of other public- and private-sector workers and farmers. Legions of firefighters and their families from towns around the state marched militantly through the capitol building, fists pumping the air as they chanted, "The workers united will never be defeated."

In addition to slashing state aid to public schools by nearly $834 million, Walker has proposed sweeping changes to Medicaid-funded programs including BadgerCare, which provides health coverage to low-income Wisconsin families, and a $96 million cut in aid to local governments, including cities, towns, and counties. At the rally of over one hundred thousand on March 12, farmers, in a show of "Farm Labor Unity," drove their tractors to Madison for a "tractorcade" around the capitol building. Roughly eleven thousand farmers receive BadgerCare. This is a compelling moment to connect attacks on education to the capitalist crisis, particularly the parasitic financialization, war spending, and tax cuts for the rich that have looted the public coffers, bankrupted states, and threaten our schools. This is, moreover, an opportunity to expose the crisis-ridden logic of capitalism itself and to engage in serious discussion about the world we wish to see.

The Potential of an Education Movement

In the past few years, a multifaceted education movement in and outside classrooms has emerged against neoliberal education restructuring and in resistance to racism, gender and heterosexist oppression, and militarization of schools. Liberatory education projects and social-justice-oriented schools have sprouted up in cracks in the public system. There are freedom schools and popular education projects outside public schools, and community-based youth activist organizations across the country. The immigrant rights movement and organized opposition to the criminalization of youth through the "school to prison pipeline" have begun to link political and educational issues. Organizations of activist teachers and community educators in a number of cities have joined together to form national networks. (The Education for Liberation Network and Teacher Activist Groups are examples.) These groups have joined parents and students in community coalitions to stop school closings and privatization, prevent mayoral takeovers of urban school districts, defend undocumented students, and challenge high-stakes testing. With the victory of a progressive caucus to lead the Chicago Teachers Union, there is also a significant progressive force in the heart of the American Federation of Teachers. Although there is some overlap, these various streams are not yet organized around a coherent program or analysis of the problem.42

The outpouring of teachers and other workers against union busting and austerity budgets has changed the terrain. Thousands of people who have never attended a protest before are in the streets and engaged politically. So far, this motion is mainly defensive, and some are willing to make concessions to help capitalism extricate itself from the crisis.43 On the one hand, there is the possibility that the protests will be subsumed by the electoral politics of the Democratic Party, much like the current focus in Wisconsin on recalling Republican legislators, or diverted to scapegoating people of color and immigrants. On the other hand, the challenge to taken-for-granted living standards opens a space to see social arrangements differently. This is a moment that can reveal the systemic connections between the bailout of Wall Street and social privations, a moment to connect attacks on workers with other social struggles-particularly to see the common threads between wars for domination, oppression of people of color, and the unfolding austerity regime.44

Buried in Governor Walker's proposed 2012-2013 budget is a measure to repeal access to in-state tuition for undocumented students and eliminate Food Share benefits (food stamps) for documented ("legal")immigrants.45 How Wisconsin's majority white teachers, union members, and farmers will respond will be important. Bridging deep divisions along lines of race, ethnicity, and immigrant status, and challenging racial oppression are central to building a counter-hegemonic alliance with the power to defeat austerity measures and move toward a proactive politics that challenges capitalism itself. Although it is only now coalescing, a movement that links education with immigrant rights and other social struggles can play an important role in teacher unions and in student community, and parent organizations.

In classrooms, critical educators are positioned to help young people understand why their schools are under attack and to "connect the dots" to the structural crisis of capitalism. Revitalized teacher unions are in a strategic position to insist that Wall Street pay for the crisis. Although the U.S. context is different, there is much to learn from social movement teacher unionism outside the United States (e.g., in Oaxaca, Honduras, and South Africa) and its central role in social struggles for democracy, against neoliberalism, and for social liberation.46 This is a moment not simply to defend the public education we have, but to advocate for a just, inclusive, democratic, humanizing education that prefigures the society we wish to have-one premised not on exploitation but on the full development of human beings in social solidarity.

Pauline Lipman (plipman [at] uic.edu) is an education activist and professor of educational policy studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. Her latest book is The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City (2011).

[Jun 06, 2019] Majority Of Recent College Grads Don't Have Jobs Lined Up, Survey Shows

Notable quotes:
"... Well, we all know thats ********. The real unemployment rate is 21.2% (shadow stats). ..."
"... Fields of occupation that do make money are saturated. You get your foot in the door via 2 ways: sheer luck or you know someone in that field. ..."
"... Most jobs offered are at minimum wage. Another big secret that is never told. The average hours worked in the US is 34.5. Part time. Also, missing here is what kind of degree students in the study are graduating with. So I assume this is bachelor degrees. Something looked upon today as increasingly like an associate's degree, meaning if you really want to risk more debt & RISK that you MIGHT find a job when you graduate, you will need a Masters or a doctorate. This increases your loan burden to 60,000 for your average masters or more. 100,000+ for a doctorate. ..."
"... Student loans and the increasing need for a Masters degree is a major scam to accrue more debt slavery. A Masters DOES NOT increase your chances Today of a job in your field of study. Ten years ago my daughter graduated with 8 friends and only 2 got jobs in their chosen fields of study, one a teacher who doesn't make much at 37,000 a year and the other went on to get a doctorate and did get a job in her chosen field of study at great pay but with nearly 200,000 in student loan debt ..."
"... Parents need to get involved in all facets of determining aptitude and major selection that can pay dividends in the job market. Too many kids just go to college as an extension of high school with the "I'll figure it out later" attitude. These are also the ones you see working as cashiers ..."
Jun 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Majority Of Recent College Grads Don't Have Jobs Lined Up, Survey Shows

by Tyler Durden Thu, 06/06/2019 - 13:21 2 SHARES Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print

American students carry an aggregate pile of student loan debt equivalent to roughly $1.5 trillion, a generational burden that has helped contribute to plunging birth rates, lower home-ownership rates among young people, and even lower rates of stock ownership, as more young people dedicate more financial resources to paying down debt.

But to gauge exactly how much a students' finances factor into their decisions about which school to attend and which majors to choose, MidAmerica Nazarene University surveyed 2,000 recent graduates from around the country to learn more about how they financed their degrees, and how much they will owe after graduation.

Given the cost of higher education in the US, the majority of students answered that post-grad job prospects influenced the major they selected (those who answered 'no' either really enjoy studying STEM, or majored in gender studies).

Recommended videos Powered by AnyClip The Best Way To Check And Boost Credit Scores Play Unmute Current Time 0:00 / Duration 0:49 Loaded : 100.00% Fullscreen Up Next

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.310.0_en.html#goog_717288371

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.310.0_en.html#goog_252979040

about:blank

NOW PLAYING

The Best Way To Check And Boost Credit Scores

What Do Public School Workers Make?

Global Stocks Rally

Lazy Man`s Guide to Money Management

Fed Sends Stocks Soaring

me title=

It might seem surprising given the financial stakes, but the survey also showed that more than 60% of recent grads didn't have jobs lined up when they received their diplomas.

For those who did choose their careers based on financial considerations, a majority said they would have picked another line of work if finances weren't a consideration (but hey, we can't all be artists).

Once upon a time, there wasn't as much of a correlation between a students' field of study and their eventual chosen career (investment bankers who studied English at Middlebury College wound up on Wall Street thanks to 'Uncle Jim's' connections). But as the world of higher education becomes increasingly costly and cut throat, situations like this are becoming increasingly rare.

One of the more telling data points in the study was the gauge of graduates' feelings about the job market. Even with unemployment at multi-decade lows, a majority of graduates had a negative outlook on the job market.

Florida Millionaire Predicts 'Cash Panic' In 2019

PhD Millionaire who called Dotcom crash, housing bust, and market's surge since '09 is now predicting a 'cash panic' in 2019. Here's how to prepare. Sponsored By Stansberry Research

me title=

The overwhelming majority of students took out loans to pay for some or all of college, with 71% taking out loans and the average amount borrowed equivalent to just over $25,000.

In addition to taking on loans, most college students receive at least some help from family members or other sources, as only one-quarter of respondents said they completely self-financed their degree.

On average, students expect to pay off their loans in 9.5 years, meaning that most of these students will be in their mid-30s when they finally reach a zero balance.

Imagine what that number would be if students had no help from their families?


CatInTheHat , 20 seconds ago link

Even with unemployment at multi-decade lows, a majority of graduates had a negative outlook on the job market."

Well, we all know thats ********. The real unemployment rate is 21.2% (shadow stats).

There is a gap here as to why these graduates don't have jobs lined up when they graduate, which is not mentioned in the article.

1. Fields of occupation that do make money are saturated. You get your foot in the door via 2 ways: sheer luck or you know someone in that field.

2. Most jobs offered are at minimum wage. Another big secret that is never told. The average hours worked in the US is 34.5. Part time. Also, missing here is what kind of degree students in the study are graduating with. So I assume this is bachelor degrees. Something looked upon today as increasingly like an associate's degree, meaning if you really want to risk more debt & RISK that you MIGHT find a job when you graduate, you will need a Masters or a doctorate. This increases your loan burden to 60,000 for your average masters or more. 100,000+ for a doctorate.

3. Student loans and the increasing need for a Masters degree is a major scam to accrue more debt slavery. A Masters DOES NOT increase your chances Today of a job in your field of study. Ten years ago my daughter graduated with 8 friends and only 2 got jobs in their chosen fields of study, one a teacher who doesn't make much at 37,000 a year and the other went on to get a doctorate and did get a job in her chosen field of study at great pay but with nearly 200,000 in student loan debt.

Before offshoring Americans not cut out for college went to work at the local plants like their parents did. The propaganda ever since has been you're a nobody and has been, only to attend college accruing tens of thousands of debt, to wind up in some **** minimum wage job because you can't find one in YOUR field of study or you can and learn that starting pay is minimum wage but you take whatever is offered because if you don't you're in trouble when loans come due 6 months later.

And that right there turns promising young people into debt slaves. Just as is planned by *** oligarchs at the FED RESERVE.

Gophamet , 6 minutes ago link

Parents need to get involved in all facets of determining aptitude and major selection that can pay dividends in the job market. Too many kids just go to college as an extension of high school with the "I'll figure it out later" attitude. These are also the ones you see working as cashiers who damn near have a **** hemorrhage when they have to make change without the help of the register. Do your kids a solid and work with them in their career quests and by all means, get involved with their education and most important, read to them when they're young. It is ******* criminal to charge tremendous tuition and graduate students ill prepared for the challenges of life. Then again if you got the cash, you can probably buy a degree from some Cuck in the Dean's office!

delta0ne , 8 minutes ago link

when I graduated College (Cumlaude btw) nobody lined up to hand me decent job with nice salary. AND we didn't have Lyft or Uber back then. so what's changed besides the fact that we have Uber and Lyft?

EcoJoker , 9 minutes ago link

Here in shitinois, there is harper college, which is free if you pay your real estate taxes and maintain good grades. Why the **** would anyone pay for a university to bend you over.

Dutch1206 , 16 minutes ago link

Because the economy never recovered from 2008-2009. The only thing that came out of that crisis is cheaper and easier debt. People bash millennials but then neglect to acknowledge the generation that raised them. This **** storm started with the Baby Boomers and has only gotten worse.

Here's things most millennials weren't doing in 2008/2009:

1.) Buying more house than they could afford with those great teaser rates

2.) Selling mortgages for houses people couldn't afford.

3.) Running TBTF banks.

4.) Using derivatives to hedge derivatives to hedge derivatives.

5.) Working in Washington, voting to bail out said TBTF banks, even though we operate in a "capitalist" country.

I'm not making up excuses for my situation because I'm not saddled with loan debt, have a good job, and am self-supporting. But let's lay the blame where it should be. On the Boomers. The generation that had it the easiest out of all of them and basically contributed nothing positive to society other than piling up debt.

AOC , 39 seconds ago link

you are blaming the victim, and if you don't realize that you should go learn how the world works before spreading your ignorance

SummerSausage , 21 minutes ago link

Trigglypuff isn't fielding multiple VP offers? WUT?

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8gTPc-KE8EA/hqdefault.jpg

ToSoft4Truth , 24 minutes ago link

There's always an opening at Escort Alligator.

brokebackbuck , 24 minutes ago link

if they want to hire me, I expect to be compensated for the ******** economy they created after bailing out too big to fail in 2008

Richard III , 24 minutes ago link

If they can fog a mirror, the Army will take them.

SummerSausage , 20 minutes ago link

But they want someone else to fog the mirror for them.

sticky_pickles , 26 minutes ago link

"why join the prols when you can just control the means?"

SummerSausage , 26 minutes ago link

Not much demand for soy boys with degrees in wymyn's rage poetry in the 4th century.

DSCH , 17 minutes ago link

Not much demand for Americans majoring in STEM either jackoff.

Teamtc321 , 31 minutes ago link

What should be pointed out imo, is that a major amounts of Graduates have just went thru 4-6 years of a Liberal Borg.

They are un-hire-able, brain washed, worthless air breathing parasites.

Those who have interned or worked at firms within their chosen profession, built relationship's, showed ability to perform and contribute, will be hired if not already.

Those Libtard Borg stooges will have to go back to Mom's Basement for further instruction..............

sillycat , 21 minutes ago link

very wrong. american engineers and computer science graduates stay jobless while corps hire from india and china. look at youtube vids of google staff meetings...

SummerSausage , 19 minutes ago link

Very few graduates meet that classification.

Teamtc321 , 17 minutes ago link

Not wrong at all, I have worked with freshly graduated Mechanical and Electrical Engineers. For years they were actually put with me once per month for a full 5 days. 3 at a time usually for training.

Everything I stated above is 100 % spot on, Fact. They usually are complete idiots. Not worth having around, at all.

Solosides , 14 minutes ago link

At my last Solidworks job I was able to run circles around the company's college trained "mechanical engineer". He eventually quit.

Snout the First , 7 minutes ago link

There is nothing more useless than a newly graduated engineer. I was useless when I graduated with my BSCHE 40+ years ago. It takes around five to ten years before an engineer is really contributing.

Teamtc321 , 1 minute ago link

I actually had a few but each and everyone of them grew up within family trades, or worked at a trade so they had great hands on experience way prior to going to College. Most put their way through school or contributed at similar trades to sharpen their skills.

I was very similar and was lucky to have some guide me in the correct direction at that age imo. It did help, a lot...........

We_The_People , 31 minutes ago link

So social justice gender studies doesn't have a real job? Well No ****!!!!

These universities aren't teaching these kids ANYTHING of any use for the real world and employers know that! Within the next few years, a liberal degree in whatever will be completely useless. Enjoying payback your loans dumbasses

The next generation better be taking notes and looking at a trade for high school!

enfield0916 , 32 minutes ago link

I have a a job for a fresh college grad. If you are cute, haven't slept with all the college athletes, have a non-land-whale decent body and can cook a meal that doesn't taste like crap.

Reply to my comment here and I have an opening for a sugar bay - aka sexy college girl wifey ;)

In return I will provide you with a free place to live, feed you, take care of you and this will be a temporary arrangement until you can prove that you won't leave me with 50% of my life savings by going to court.

Roomate prenup shall be signed electronically before you move in with me.

???ö? , 32 minutes ago link

Their future on Skid Row .

RafterManFMJ , 33 minutes ago link

But but "muh economy!"

its bestus economy ever!

SummerSausage , 23 minutes ago link

If you don't major in trigger warnings and require safe zones.

roy565658 , 36 minutes ago link

𝐆­𝐨­𝐨­𝐠­𝐥­𝐞 𝐢­𝐬 𝐩­𝐚­𝐲­𝐢­𝐧­𝐠 𝟗­𝟕­$ 𝐩­𝐞­𝐫 𝐡­𝐨­𝐮­𝐫,𝐰­𝐢­𝐭­𝐡 𝐰­𝐞­𝐞­𝐤­𝐥­𝐲 𝐩­𝐚­𝐲­𝐨­𝐮­𝐭­𝐬.𝐘­𝐨­𝐮 𝐜­𝐚­𝐧 𝐚­𝐥­𝐬­𝐨 𝐚­𝐯­𝐚­𝐢­𝐥 𝐭­𝐡­𝐢­𝐬.𝐎­𝐧 𝐭­𝐮­𝐞­𝐬­𝐝­𝐚­𝐲 𝐈 𝐠­𝐨­𝐭 𝐚 𝐛­𝐫­𝐚­𝐧­𝐝 𝐧­𝐞­𝐰 𝐋­𝐚­𝐧­𝐝 𝐑­𝐨­𝐯­𝐞­𝐫 𝐑­𝐚­𝐧­𝐠­𝐞 𝐑­𝐨­𝐯­𝐞­𝐫 𝐟­𝐫­𝐨­𝐦 𝐡­𝐚­𝐯­𝐢­𝐧­𝐠 𝐞­𝐚­𝐫­𝐧­𝐞­𝐝 $­𝟏­𝟏­𝟕­𝟓­𝟐 𝐭­𝐡­𝐢­𝐬 𝐥­𝐚­𝐬­𝐭 𝐟­𝐨­𝐮­𝐫 𝐰­𝐞­𝐞­𝐤­𝐬..𝐰­𝐢­𝐭­𝐡-𝐨­𝐮­𝐭 𝐚­𝐧­𝐲 𝐝­𝐨­𝐮­𝐛­𝐭 𝐢­𝐭'𝐬 𝐭­𝐡­𝐞 𝐦­𝐨­𝐬­𝐭-𝐜𝐨­𝐦­𝐟­𝐨­𝐫­𝐭­𝐚­𝐛­𝐥­𝐞 𝐣­𝐨­𝐛 𝐈 𝐡­𝐚­𝐯­𝐞 𝐞­𝐯­𝐞­𝐫 𝐝­𝐨­𝐧­𝐞 .. 𝐈­𝐭 𝐒­𝐨­𝐮­𝐧­𝐝­𝐬 𝐮­𝐧­𝐛­𝐞­𝐥­𝐢­𝐞­𝐯­𝐚­𝐛­𝐥­𝐞 𝐛­𝐮­𝐭 𝐲­𝐨­𝐮 𝐰­𝐨­𝐧­𝐭 𝐟­𝐨­𝐫­𝐠­𝐢­𝐯­𝐞 𝐲­𝐨­𝐮­𝐫­𝐬­𝐞­𝐥­𝐟 𝐢­𝐟 𝐲­𝐨­𝐮 𝐝­𝐨­𝐧'𝐭 𝐜­𝐡­𝐞­𝐜­𝐤 𝐢­𝐭.

click this link════►►► http://www.worktoday33.com

I am Groot , 36 minutes ago link

They don't have jobs lined up because the want ads aren't hiring 300lb, green and purple haired, nose ring wearing, transgendered justice warrior promoting, half-vegan, pedo, ***, basket weavers for their company.

NoDebt , 34 minutes ago link

Wanted: Professional college protester. Low pay, but you're still on campus where it's safe.

NoDebt , 37 minutes ago link

I didn't either. Took the whole summer off to party. Sometime around September I started looking for a job. Not one God damned job offered for an economist (that was my major). What a rip, I thought. So I ended up where everyone else ends up- sales. It was at that job I actually got an education.

Lt. Frank Drebin , 37 minutes ago link

Most college grads had no buisness going to college in the first place.

Some of the dumbest people got into these colleges. Then they took out loans so they could get a job to pay off their student loan debt. Congratulations, you played yourselves.

I am Groot , 35 minutes ago link

Most of the fucktards in college are to stupid to dig ditches.

foodstampbarry , 22 minutes ago link

Too not to. Agree with your comment though. ;)

Solosides , 17 minutes ago link

Out of high school they would have had the ability to dig ditches. But after 4 years of liberal arts and feminism training, they aren't even capable of stringing together a coherent sentence.

gilhgvc , 39 minutes ago link

How about showing WHICH majors these idiots went for and then correlate that to the jobs and salaries that are ACTUALLY available for those majors......a major in Art History WON"T FIND A JOB... .a Engineering major is ALREADY GETTING OFFERS, their junior year. QUIT WASTING MONEY ON WORTHLESS DEGREES. That alone solves EVERY problem in this article

[Jun 06, 2019] Resisting the Neoliberalization of Higher Education A Challenge to Commonsensical Understandings of Commodities and Consumptio

Jun 06, 2019 | journals.sagepub.com

In this article, we explore commodities and consumption , two concepts that are central to critiques of the neoliberal university. By engaging with these concepts, we explore the limits of neoliberal logic. We ground this conceptual entanglement in Marxist and post-Marxist traditions given our understanding of neoliberalism both as an extension of and as a meaningfully different form of capitalism. As colleges and universities enact neoliberal economic assumptions by focusing on revenue generation, understanding students as customers, and construing their faculty as temporary service providers, the terms commodity and consumption have become commonplace in critical higher education literature. When critiques concerning the commodification and consumption of higher education are connected with these theoretical and conceptual foundations, they not only become more effective but also provide a more meaningful guide upon which current and future scholars can build.

[Jun 06, 2019] Neoliberalism and Higher Education by Stanley Fish

Notable quotes:
"... The solution is the privatization of everything (hence the slogan "let's get governments off our backs"), which would include social security, health care, K-12 education, the ownership and maintenance of toll–roads, railways, airlines, energy production, communication systems and the flow of money. (This list, far from exhaustive, should alert us to the extent to which the neoliberal agenda has already succeeded.) ..."
"... The assumption is that if free enterprise is allowed to make its way into every corner of human existence, the results will be better overall for everyone, even for those who are temporarily disadvantaged, let's say by being deprived of their fish. ..."
"... the passage from a state in which actions are guided by an overarching notion of the public good to a state in which individual entrepreneurs "freely" pursue their private goods, values like morality, justice, fairness, empathy, nobility and love are either abandoned or redefined in market terms. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, David Harvey explains, delivers a "world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core." ("A Brief History of Neoliberalism.") ..."
"... Harvey and the other critics of neoliberalism explain that once neoliberal goals and priorities become embedded in a culture's way of thinking, institutions that don't regard themselves as neoliberal will nevertheless engage in practices that mime and extend neoliberal principles -- privatization, untrammeled competition, the retreat from social engineering, the proliferation of markets. These are exactly the principles and practices these critics find in the 21st century university, where (according to Henry Giroux) the "historical legacy" of the university conceived "as a crucial public sphere" has given way to a university "that now narrates itself in terms that are more instrumental, commercial and practical." ("Academic Unfreedom in America," in Works and Days.) ..."
"... This new narrative has been produced (and necessitated) by the withdrawal of the state from the funding of its so-called public universities. If the percentage of a state's contribution to a college's operating expenses falls from 80 to 10 and less (this has been the relentless trajectory of the past 40 years) and if, at the same time, demand for the "product" of higher education rises and the cost of delivering that product (the cost of supplies, personnel, information systems, maintenance, construction, insurance, security) skyrockets, a huge gap opens up that will have to be filled somehow. ..."
"... Faced with this situation universities have responded by (1) raising tuition, in effect passing the burden of costs to the students who now become consumers and debt-holders rather than beneficiaries of enlightenment (2) entering into research partnerships with industry and thus courting the danger of turning the pursuit of truth into the pursuit of profits and (3) hiring a larger and larger number of short-term, part-time adjuncts who as members of a transient and disposable workforce are in no position to challenge the university's practices or agitate for an academy more committed to the realization of democratic rather than monetary goals. In short , universities have embraced neoliberalism. ..."
Mar 08, 2009 | blogs.nytimes.com

Here is an often cited definition by Paul Treanor: "Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any previous relationship with the production of goods and services . . . and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs." ("Neoliberalism: Origins, Theory, Definition.")

In a neoliberal world, for example, tort questions -- questions of negligence law -- are thought of not as ethical questions of blame and restitution (who did the injury and how can the injured party be made whole?), but as economic questions about the value to someone of an injury-producing action relative to the cost to someone else adversely affected by that same action. It may be the case that run-off from my factory kills the fish in your stream; but rather than asking the government to stop my polluting activity (which would involve the loss of jobs and the diminishing of the number of market transactions), why don't you and I sit down and figure out if more wealth is created by my factory's operations than is lost as a consequence of their effects?

As Ronald Coase put it in his classic article, "The Problem of Social Cost" (Journal of Law and Economics, 1960): "The question to be decided is: is the value of the fish lost greater or less than the value of the product which the contamination of the stream makes possible?" If the answer is more value would be lost if my factory were closed, then the principle of the maximization of wealth and efficiency directs us to a negotiated solution: you allow my factory to continue to pollute your stream and I will compensate you or underwrite the costs of your moving the stream elsewhere on your property, provided of course that the price I pay for the right to pollute is not greater than the value produced by my being permitted to continue.

Notice that "value" in this example (which is an extremely simplified stand-in for infinitely more complex transactions) is an economic, not an ethical word, or, rather, that in the neoliberal universe, ethics reduces to calculations of wealth and productivity. Notice too that if you and I proceed (as market ethics dictate) to work things out between us -- to come to a private agreement -- there will be no need for action by either the government or the courts, each of which is likely to muddy the waters (in which the fish will still be dying) by introducing distracting moral or philosophical concerns, sometimes referred to as "market distortions."

Whereas in other theories, the achieving of a better life for all requires a measure of state intervention, in the polemics of neoliberalism (elaborated by Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek and put into practice by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher), state interventions -- governmental policies of social engineering -- are "presented as the problem rather than the solution" (Chris Harman, "Theorising Neoliberalism," International Socialism Journal, December 2007).

The solution is the privatization of everything (hence the slogan "let's get governments off our backs"), which would include social security, health care, K-12 education, the ownership and maintenance of toll–roads, railways, airlines, energy production, communication systems and the flow of money. (This list, far from exhaustive, should alert us to the extent to which the neoliberal agenda has already succeeded.)

The assumption is that if free enterprise is allowed to make its way into every corner of human existence, the results will be better overall for everyone, even for those who are temporarily disadvantaged, let's say by being deprived of their fish.

The objection (which I am reporting, not making) is that in the passage from a state in which actions are guided by an overarching notion of the public good to a state in which individual entrepreneurs "freely" pursue their private goods, values like morality, justice, fairness, empathy, nobility and love are either abandoned or redefined in market terms.

Short-term transactions-for-profit replace long-term planning designed to produce a more just and equitable society. Everyone is always running around doing and acquiring things, but the things done and acquired provide only momentary and empty pleasures (shopping, trophy houses, designer clothing and jewelry), which in the end amount to nothing. Neoliberalism, David Harvey explains, delivers a "world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core." ("A Brief History of Neoliberalism.")

Harvey and the other critics of neoliberalism explain that once neoliberal goals and priorities become embedded in a culture's way of thinking, institutions that don't regard themselves as neoliberal will nevertheless engage in practices that mime and extend neoliberal principles -- privatization, untrammeled competition, the retreat from social engineering, the proliferation of markets. These are exactly the principles and practices these critics find in the 21st century university, where (according to Henry Giroux) the "historical legacy" of the university conceived "as a crucial public sphere" has given way to a university "that now narrates itself in terms that are more instrumental, commercial and practical." ("Academic Unfreedom in America," in Works and Days.)

This new narrative has been produced (and necessitated) by the withdrawal of the state from the funding of its so-called public universities. If the percentage of a state's contribution to a college's operating expenses falls from 80 to 10 and less (this has been the relentless trajectory of the past 40 years) and if, at the same time, demand for the "product" of higher education rises and the cost of delivering that product (the cost of supplies, personnel, information systems, maintenance, construction, insurance, security) skyrockets, a huge gap opens up that will have to be filled somehow.

Faced with this situation universities have responded by (1) raising tuition, in effect passing the burden of costs to the students who now become consumers and debt-holders rather than beneficiaries of enlightenment (2) entering into research partnerships with industry and thus courting the danger of turning the pursuit of truth into the pursuit of profits and (3) hiring a larger and larger number of short-term, part-time adjuncts who as members of a transient and disposable workforce are in no position to challenge the university's practices or agitate for an academy more committed to the realization of democratic rather than monetary goals. In short , universities have embraced neoliberalism.

Meanwhile, even those few faculty members with security of employment do their bit for neoliberalism when they retire to their professional enclaves and churn out reams of scholarship (their equivalent of capital) that is increasingly specialized and without a clear connection to the public interest: "[F]aculty have progressively . . . favored professionalism over social responsibility and have . . . refused to take positions on controversial issues"; as a result they have "become disconnected from political agency and thereby incapable of taking a political stand" (McClennen, Works and Days).

... ... ...

Stanley Fish is a professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, in Miami. In the Fall of 2012, he will be Floersheimer Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Duke University and the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is the author of 15 books, most recently “Versions of Antihumanism: Milton and Others”; “How to Write a Sentence”; “Save the World On Your Own Time”; and “The Fugitive in Flight,” a study of the 1960s TV drama. “Versions of Academic Freedom: From Professionalism to Revolution” will be published in 2014.

[May 23, 2019] Approximately half of residents of Detroit are functionally illiterate

May 23, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Gold Banit , 28 minutes ago link

Half of the DemoRat voters can't read...Sad

DETROIT (WWJ) – According to a new report, 47 percent of Detroiters are "functionally illiterate." The alarming new statistics were released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund on Wednesday.

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with the Fund's Director, Karen Tyler-Ruiz, who explained exactly what this means.

"Not able to fill out basic forms, for getting a job -- those types of basic everyday (things). Reading a prescription; what's on the bottle, how many you should take just your basic everyday tasks," she said.

"I don't really know how they get by, but they do. Are they getting by well? Well, that's another question," Tyler-Ruiz said.

Some of the Detroit suburbs also have high numbers of functionally illiterate: 34 percent in Pontiac and 24 percent in Southfield.

"For other major urban areas, we are a little bit on the high side We compare, slightly higher, to Washington D.C.'s urban population, in certain *** codes in Washington D.C. and in Cleveland," she said.

Tyler-Ruiz said only 10 percent of those who can't read have gotten any help to resolve it.

The report will be used to provide better training for local workers.

Note: Illiteracy rates are from the National Institute for Literacy , as reported in a new study by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund .

[May 14, 2019] 1984 Turns 70-Years-Old In A World That Looks A Lot Like The Book

Notable quotes:
"... In the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four , there is an all-encompassing surveillance state that keeps a watchful eye on everyone, in search of possible rebels and points of resistance. ..."
"... Censorship is the norm in this world, and is so extreme that individuals can become "unpersons" who are essentially deleted from society because their ideas were considered dangerous by the establishment. This is an idea that is very familiar to activists and independent journalists who are being removed from the public conversation for speaking out about government and corporate corruption on social media. ..."
"... Orwell is famous for coining the term "double-speak," which is a way to describe the euphemistic language that government uses to whitewash their most dirty deeds. For example, in Orwell's story, the ministry of propaganda was called the Ministry of Truth, just as today the government agency that was once known as "The Department of War," is now called the "Department of Defense." ..."
"... "Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he's covering up. He's had his fun and he's guilty. And men do love sin, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells." ..."
"... Unfortunately, just like in Orwell's book, people in the modern world are so distracted by entertainment and the divided by politics that they have no idea they are living in a tyrannical police state. ..."
"... "We are not at war with Eurasia. You are being made into obedient, stupid slaves of the Party." -Emmanuel Goldstein ..."
May 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

1984 Turns 70-Years-Old In A World That Looks A Lot Like The Book

by Tyler Durden Tue, 05/14/2019 - 16:25 0 SHARES Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print Authored by John Vibes via ActivistPost.com,

This month, George Orwell's legendary novel Nineteen Eighty-Four turns 70 years old, and the warnings contained within the story are now more relevant than ever. Orwell's predictions were so spot on that it almost seems like it was used as some type of accidental instruction manual for would-be tyrants.

In the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four , there is an all-encompassing surveillance state that keeps a watchful eye on everyone, in search of possible rebels and points of resistance.

Censorship is the norm in this world, and is so extreme that individuals can become "unpersons" who are essentially deleted from society because their ideas were considered dangerous by the establishment. This is an idea that is very familiar to activists and independent journalists who are being removed from the public conversation for speaking out about government and corporate corruption on social media.

Orwell is famous for coining the term "double-speak," which is a way to describe the euphemistic language that government uses to whitewash their most dirty deeds. For example, in Orwell's story, the ministry of propaganda was called the Ministry of Truth, just as today the government agency that was once known as "The Department of War," is now called the "Department of Defense."

There was also never-ending war in Orwell's story, the conditions of which would change on a regular basis, keeping the general population confused about conflicts so they give up on trying to understand what is actually going on. Some of these predictions were merely recognitions of patterns in human history, since the idea of "unpersons" and war propaganda is nothing new. However, Orwell had an incredible understanding of how technology was going to progress over the 20th century, and he was able to envision how technology would be used by those in power to control the masses.

The technological predictions made in the book were truly uncanny, as they give a fairly accurate description of our modern world. Orwell described "telescreens," which acted as both an entertainment device and a two-way communication device. This type of technology was predicted by many futurists at the time, but Orwell's prediction was unique because he suggested that these devices would be used by the government to spy on people, through microphones and cameras built into the devices.

Unfortunately, just like in Orwell's book, people in the modern world are so distracted by entertainment and the divided by politics that they have no idea they are living in a tyrannical police state. This police state was also a strong deterrent in the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four , because although many of the citizens in the book had a positive opinion of "big brother," it was still something that they feared, and it was a force that kept them in control. Of course, this is not much different from the attitude that the average American or European has when confronted with police brutality and government corruption.

Many of the ideas about power and authority that were expressed in Orwell's classic are timeless and as old as recorded history ; but his analysis of how technology would amplify the destructive nature of power was incredibly unique, especially for his time.


wonder warthog , 2 minutes ago link

Not to stray too far, I always liked the part in Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes":

"Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he's covering up. He's had his fun and he's guilty. And men do love sin, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells."

The laugh shouter is one of those government or corporate chuckle-heads that goes along, gets along, and usually spends less than an hour a day actually doing his job. You see them on TV and in every office. Everything out of their mouths has to be punctuated with a chuckle.

sacredfire , 2 minutes ago link

Coincidentially, I am reading it now and when I first started reading it three weeks ago I was stunned at it's accurate depiction of todays America!

Teja , 6 minutes ago link

Regarding the way the world is dis-informed and manipulated by social media comments, try "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card, written in 1985.

Reaper , 7 minutes ago link

The Exceptionals find virtue in trusting their "protectors," aka police/FBI/military/CIA./courts.

wonder warthog , 12 minutes ago link

The thing I remember from the novel was the "versificator" which was a typewriter-like device that allowed historical events to be changed as needed . . . very much like the networked computer.

TahoeBilly2012 , 11 minutes ago link

Facebook recently made me an UnPerson, not joking. I had deleted my acct some years ago, re-registered to man a business page and...haha they rejected me, recent photo and all.

Deep Snorkeler , 21 minutes ago link

Donald Trump's World

He watches TV. That's his primary experience with reality.

He communes with nature solely through manicured golf courses.

A man of empty sensationalism, devoid of real experience,

uneducated, insulated and deeply shallow.

WileyCoyote , 22 minutes ago link

A group of 'servants' possessing a monopoly of force and using it to rule over others has never worked out well for the 'citizens' in the long run.

hedgeless_horseman , 28 minutes ago link

...and The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Barbarossa296 , 19 minutes ago link

A great classic by Edward Gibbons. History does indeed repeat itself.

Alananda , 28 minutes ago link

There are a few other books and booklets and letters that also seem eerily prescient. Following modern-day protocols, however, it's best not to mention them in polite company. ;-)

chumbawamba , 22 minutes ago link

To which Protocols do you refer?

-chumblez.

hedgeless_horseman , 32 minutes ago link

Unfortunately, just like in Orwell's book, people in the modern world are so distracted by entertainment and the divided by politics that they have no idea they are living in a tyrannical police state.

Exactly...

"We are not at war with Eurasia. You are being made into obedient, stupid slaves of the Party." -Emmanuel Goldstein

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-10/voting-big-brother-you-might-be-low-information-voter

chumbawamba , 28 minutes ago link

"1984", otherwise known as "Plantation Theory 101" to the bloodline elites.

-chumblez.

hedgeless_horseman , 20 minutes ago link

I plan on voting in the local elections, especially for Sheriff and the bond issues. Also, I still think that voting for the quality Libertarian candidates is a better option than not voting, but I do understand your point. But when all else fails, you better be prepared to vote from the rooftops...

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-18/political-power-grows-out-barrel-gun-mao-tse-tung

[May 14, 2019] Employers say this is the most annoying characteristic of new grads

"Excessive zeal" is really a problem with people on their first job. But at the same the companies try to pressure new hires to do more.
Notable quotes:
"... "Patience is the one word I would tell [new grads] to think about and remember," Wolfe says. "You're not going to know everything walking in the door, especially if you've just graduated college. Really be a sponge and ask tons of questions." ..."
May 14, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com

A new pack of college grads are gearing up to enter the job market -- this year, 1.9 million people will graduate with a bachelor's degree, and another 1 million will graduate with a master's or doctorate degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics .

Employers plan to hire 17% more graduates than in previous years, and with the unemployment rate at 3.6% , it's a great time to enter the job market. According to LinkedIn , Amazon , EY (Ernst and Young) , Price WaterHouse Coope r, Deloitte , and Lockheed Martin plan to hire the most new grads this year. Graduates are flocking toward professions like software engineer, registered nurse, salesperson, teacher and accountant, according to LinkedIn.

It's important to have your resume ready and your interview skills polished as you start the application process. It typically takes five months to find a job, according to a study by Ranstad Recruiting . But once you secure a position, it's important to prepare for the professional world by keeping your expectations in check, says Paul Wolfe , senior vice president at Indeed .

"Patience is the one word I would tell [new grads] to think about and remember," Wolfe says. "You're not going to know everything walking in the door, especially if you've just graduated college. Really be a sponge and ask tons of questions."

[May 11, 2019] Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the US

Access to the college is a privilege that typically is granted to children with high IQ. In europlpe that is doene via entrance exams. If you pass you are in, if not, so be it. So the very notion of college is discriminative in this sense, as it should be. All this posturing about neighborhoods with bad schools does not change the fact that individual with high IQ can prosper and pass entrance earn to the college even graduating from "bad schools", so mostly marginal individual are affected.
But if you need to pay for the college that poor kids with high IQ are cut out. Forever. and that's grossly unfair (as many things under neoliberalism)
Notable quotes:
"... As a matter of principle, an egalitarian society of the future that I'd want to help building would in fact contain free or inexpensive access to any level of education, at a high base standard of quality. Like, every school is a good school, there is a mechanism for tackling exceptions, and everyone can access whatever level of basic education or fundamental vocational training without having to pay for it in major financial hardship. (There are of course many ways to implement such a system.) ..."
"... I'm surprised at the number of people on this thread who seem to think the purpose of free university education is to help lift people out of poverty. How many times do you have to be shown that this upward mobility thing is a Ponzi scheme? The goal of free education is to ensure that poor people can get access to the same things rich people can, so that everyone is able to live a fulfilling life. ..."
"... Harry @82 -- my understanding is that while the NHS has improved health outcomes for everyone, it has also (counter-intuitively) increased health inequality. More affluent people are better able to take advantage of healthcare. The interventions which tend to reduce health inequality are things like clean water and closing the sewers, not universal access to care. ..."
"... (*) Under German law, students can sue their parents if they have the means but refuse to fund an adequate education. But of course you would rather not sue your parents. ..."
"... Poor children should be able to go to university. That's a simple statement of what is right. Warrens offering a fix for ONE of the two big barriers to doing that. Her fix also helps middle class kids. Lucky them! Why should a poor kid care? ..."
"... I think focusing on high income parents is a bit misleading. Yes the very poorest don't go to college, but plenty of kids from median income, and sub-median income, households do. And plenty of kids are graduating from college and getting jobs that don't pay particularly well, and probably will never pay brilliantly. ..."
"... Also once again: we target income inequality, not variation. We don't oppose a program because 30% of the population won't use it. If you're going to make that your yardstick for public investment then you should at least try to address the consequences for public funding of women's health, childcare, and indeed universal health coverage! ..."
May 11, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

nastywoman 05.07.19 at 6:30 am ( 52 )

@Christina.H
"Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the U.S".

"Having grown up in the US, Italy and Germany and gone to university in Germany -(for FREE) I very well understand -- that there are tuition supporters on the so called political left in the U.S. -- as firstly -- if you ever have grown up in a family where most of the members have such a emotional -(and funny) attachment to "their schools" -(and universities) -- as "them Anglo-Saxons" you very well understand that:

2. -- how far the so called "left" in the U.S. is -- concerning "being progressive" -- so "many moons" behind the European Left -- which get's illustrated by this what did Nia Psaka write: "one of those supposedly-left-but-actually-right arguments that I get so tired of."

Ben 2 05.07.19 at 2:56 pm ( 65 )
"Opportunity cost" is bearing a huge load in the argument, and it can't take the weight

Is there an opportunity cost in the sense that the US can't afford to do Warren's plan and also spend the same amount on prek-12 ? No.

Is there an opportunity cost politically? Also no. An administration that can create a new wealth tax ex nihilio to free wage slaves from debt bondage -- for this what this is -- is also an administration that can spend huge sums on prek-12 at the same time

We're left with an opportunity cost for airing policy ideas during a campaign. Here there *are* actual trade offs involved; attention / time is limited etc.

But, uh, a quarter of that wealth tax which pays the college plan goes toward establishing universal pre-k.

What we're left with is an argument that "Warren's proposal for universal prek and writing down college debt / cheap state college is crowding out talk during the campaign for increased k-12 spending"

Which rests on the assumptions 1) "a campaign which talks about universal prek / fixing college debt won't increase k-12 spending on the same scale once in power unless it's talked about during the campaign"

and

2) "the best way to get k-12 spending talked about during the campaign is to denigrate the fixing college debt proposal"

Neither of which, at least to me, is obvious or that coherent.

Contrast this with a shrewd political calculation for *not* mentioning massive k-12 funding increases during the campaign. It's a charged issue which cuts across usual infra-coalition groups, so the effect of bringing it up is complex and the positives are mitigated more than prek / college. And, as explored above, an admin which can do prek / college can also do k-12. (The Arne Duncan example cuts both ways; the 08 campaign wasn't caught over massive changes in fed education policy, but it still happened.)

Lastly, prek/fixing college debt are *overwhelmingly popular*. It's *tremendous political terrain to occupy*. It gets people used to spending huge sums of money on education, and it does so in a way that even non-brain-worked Republicans have to nod in agreement makes good fiscal sense.

Muddying those waters based on the dubious assumptions above, and ignoring the other political dynamics, seems unwise.

steven t johnson 05.07.19 at 3:46 pm ( 69 )
Somehow I thought the main topic of the OP was how Warren's plan would increase inequality, which still strikes me as highly dubious, especially as argued in the link. Apparently the real topic is supposed to be how funding public college tuition for all students increases inequality by diverting funds from primary education (and maybe secondary?)

I'm not convinced the implicit premise that a poor education is the main generator of inequality. I rather think lack of high-paying jobs, unemployment, inordinate rewards to owners of property, a multitude of secondary forms of exploitation such as higher prices for necessities in poor neighborhoods and so on, endlessly, have much more to do with that. Improvements to primary and secondary education like Warren's improvements to tertiary education, are a reform, of minor effect in the end as regards to reducing inequality.

Insofar as some colleges and universities graduate credentials more acceptable to the bosses, credentialism is not to be reformed by increasing funding to preK12 schooling. The fact that you can't say "a degree from a comprehensive regional university is worth as much as a degree from a public flagship" also reduces all benefit of education to simple monetary returns. Further, it abstracts from the benefits to social mobility in the lower ranks of society. Personally I think economic anxiety fuels status anxiety, that the prospect of no change or even descent goads people into seeking scapegoats who will be the historical ones.

In short, I tend to think the primary inequality in other words is in property.

Further the massive funding increases imagined as the alternative excluded by Warren will still have their effects undercut but a multitude of structural deficits. The lesser revenues from the poor districts are bad enough. Any reform that could help that would be desirable. But in the long run the suburbs need to be reintegrated into urban life, the elite need to be reintegrated into common life and those areas where social decay has rotted the fabric of society need to be rebuilt. And by the way, those rotted areas also include rural ones and deindustrialized ones as well as inner cities.

Matt 05.07.19 at 8:49 pm ( 74 )
The break in the pipeline comes well before college. Poor neighborhoods have bad schools and rich neighborhoods have good schools, because they're locally funded. This is not to say that the cost of education from a state college is not a problem, but rather that there is a bigger problem which might be easily solved with a lot of money.

I think it's even harder than equalizing funding. According to Ballotpedia's analysis of spending in America's largest school districts , the Baltimore City Public School System actually spends more per student than the Palo Alto Unified School District. But it has a lower graduation rate and I suspect that their graduates would not fare well against the Palo Alto graduates on measures of academic skills. Comparisons like this are a right-wing favorite for showing that the "real" problem is not insufficient spending on students but actually unions, or bureaucracy, or big city corruption

I think that the problem is that some school districts have much harder jobs than others, because some students live desperate lives outside of school. Desperation among students is not uniformly distributed across school districts.

Some students start the school year prepared to acquire and apply academic knowledge from day 1. Some students start with a raft of unmet basic needs. Like food, shelter, and safety.

You can deliver more education-per-dollar if the schools just focus on education and medical services/psychological counseling/basic nutrition/law enforcement are well-handled elsewhere. That seems to me the greatest advantage of affluent school districts, charter schools, and schools in other developed nations: they don't have to compensate as often for overwhelming problems in their students' lives that come from outside the campus. Affluent districts also having newer books, more electives, and less crowded classrooms is just the icing on the cake.

steven t johnson 05.07.19 at 9:12 pm ( 75 )
Ben2@72 writes of "tools to resist " This would be one of the nonmonetary benefits to Warren's college reform excluded from Baum and Turner's presentation. It's one reason why I think the benefit of the college education to the lower income families isn't measured by the extra $7 700 higher (not highest, though,) income families would receive. But even solely in money terms, I still fancy that most under $35 000 families will find $2 300 makes a bigger difference in meeting necessities than the over $120 000 families will get from $11 000.

To quote from the link, again:
""'Free tuition' is the opposite of progressive policymaking
It's presented as leveling the playing field. It would worsen economic inequality."

Baum and Turner's essential criticism is about the money payments, discussed in a misleading way. Two working parents, both with an income about $60 000, would get maybe, at most, $11 000 in a year. IN US politics this is supposed to be middle class, but I think real middle class people own property (not a mortgage.) No, I don't think we're talking about Warren making the world more unequal.

Most of the other thrown in criticisms, like the different monetary values of credentials from regional comprehensive vs. public flagship, do indeed implicitly assume that educational inequality is a prime cause, if not the cause, of inequality. I still haven't followed the logic of how Warren's college reform makes this worse.

Warren's plan is a school voucher plan for that part of the school system that isn't free. Extra subsidies to some parents when there is a publicly provided alternative, as in primary and secondary education, does actually have the regressive effects wrongly claimed by Baum and Turner. Doing away with this bug in Warren's proposed college system could be resolved by price controls to equalize college tuitions, which requires public provision of schools in the long run to keep the system from collapsing, which to be effective would probably require in the long run some sort of industrial policy giving a better idea of labor needs. And that might end up giving students stipends to go into areas where anticipated needs are highest. Etc. Etc.

Chris (merian) W. 05.08.19 at 1:51 am ( 79 )
I think one of the reasons this policy proposal isn't discussed in these terms, and comes across as progressive, is that it is being framed not as higher education funding, but as debt relief.

And I think that the levels of debt that people get themselves into just for wanting an education in line with their interests and talents (even leaving aside the whole aspects of preparing for certain types of jobs) is, to me, a problem. As a first generation higher education graduate (from Europe, now living in the US) with no family money this sort of situation would have put me into even more of a state of permanent anxiety. College graduates of not even very long ago talk of times where you could finance a year of tuition at a solid state school by working through the summer. This time is very far from the realities of today, even in places where in-state tuition is considered "affordable" (as in the institution I consider my home).

As a matter of principle, an egalitarian society of the future that I'd want to help building would in fact contain free or inexpensive access to any level of education, at a high base standard of quality. Like, every school is a good school, there is a mechanism for tackling exceptions, and everyone can access whatever level of basic education or fundamental vocational training without having to pay for it in major financial hardship. (There are of course many ways to implement such a system.)

I'm not really fundamentally feeling much in conflict with Harry's argument, though, because OF COURSE PreK-12 has the bigger impact for fighting inequality. So we'd disagree about priorities, mostly. (I hope, because I hope that inexpensive access to tertiary and non-tertiary post-secondary education is also something Harry subscribes to.)

A twist, though, is that I'm not sure it's only money that K-12 is missing. Sure, there are means-starved districts that first and foremost need MONEY. But others have, at least on an international scale, a lot of funding, but it doesn't lead to good educational outcomes. The reasons for this are myriad: For good outcome, you also need high-quality curricula, teaching being a valued profession, and students who are psychologically and physically in a position to focus on learning. Schools alone can't heal traumatized communities. So much as I will always join the cries for more funds for education, it would be a mistake to think you can just throw money at the problem, at least not through the channels that money has been used traditionally.

faustusnotes 05.08.19 at 5:09 am ( 81 )
I'm surprised at the number of people on this thread who seem to think the purpose of free university education is to help lift people out of poverty. How many times do you have to be shown that this upward mobility thing is a Ponzi scheme? The goal of free education is to ensure that poor people can get access to the same things rich people can, so that everyone is able to live a fulfilling life.

Also I'm surprised at the number of people who, after the last 30 years of vicious anti-poor rhetoric from the right and from "centrists" (i.e. crypto-rightists), still think it's a good idea to propose programs that target only the very poor through tight means testing. Yes, they are ultimately more "progressive" since they definitely help the poor more than those on middle incomes. They are also extremely vulnerable to political attack because the majority of the population doesn't benefit from them.

I mean, does anyone on here seriously think that if the UK National Health Service (NHS) were designed only to benefit people on welfare, it would still be around now after Thatcher? The only thing that stopped her from completely killing it was the fact that her own constituency depended on it.

Also, imagine someone in the Labour left in 1944, talking like Harry (and others) about the NHS: saying that this universal health coverage thing is not progressive because middle class people would also benefit. They would be laughed out of the party room. It's madness to talk this way. If something -- education, healthcare, transportation, environmental protection -- is a public good you fund it publicly so everyone can afford it and access it, and then no matter how much the rich and their centrist shills may hate it, they'll never be able to cancel it.

Mrmister 05.08.19 at 1:32 pm ( 84 )
Harry @82 -- my understanding is that while the NHS has improved health outcomes for everyone, it has also (counter-intuitively) increased health inequality. More affluent people are better able to take advantage of healthcare. The interventions which tend to reduce health inequality are things like clean water and closing the sewers, not universal access to care.

This is also part of why I think an absolute prioritarian/progressivism is misguided. Beyond the working poor who were helped by the NHS, just less than the middle and upper classes were, the genuinely worst off people are another group entirely: the mentally ill, homeless, addicted, those trapped in domestic violence and sex trafficking, etc. They will often fail to benefit from even generally downward distribution programs because the problems with reaching and helping them are technical and complex. But we should not wait on the problems resolution or, worse yet, political resolution before pursuing other moderate forms of downward distribution aimed at helping eg the working poor.

With respect to Warren's proposal, it is not maximally progressive but is more progressive than the status quo and additionally strikes me as an excellent way to convince lower middle through upper class people that they, too, are part of the Great Society, which is important given that their political influence is considerable. People still wax nostalgic about the days that a tradesman's kid could go to a flagship state school on summer job money and enter into the professional world -- despite the fact that a tradesman's kid, and presumably bright, is far from the worst off, that still seems worth bringing back.

TM 05.08.19 at 1:45 pm ( 85 )
Isn't it true that the wealthy can get substantial tax reductions by deducting educational expenses, and those deductions are higher the wealthier the parents and the more expenses their education? If I understand correctly, those tax savings need to be counted against the benefits that would accrue to the wealthy.

I studied at University in Germany on a means tested benefit (for living expenses -- remember there was and is no tuition) which unfortunately was converted to a repayable grant in the 1980s and later to 50% repayable. Wealthy parents of students could actually get higher benefits from tax deductions than the poor students could get from this program. I wouldn't have begrudged the affluent kids the same benefit that I enjoyed -- in fact I felt it was unfair that they had to depend on their parents while I was entitled to my own money (*). But I think it exceedingly unfair that their parents could get those tax deductions. Best would be to raise the taxes and fund a living wage for all.

(*) Under German law, students can sue their parents if they have the means but refuse to fund an adequate education. But of course you would rather not sue your parents.

Faustusnotes 05.08.19 at 2:21 pm ( 87 )
Mrmister is wrong, the NHS helped all people in Britain including the very poor.

Harry, I don't get your response. Are you trying to say that free education only helps the most educated? This is true in the trivial sense that it only helps people who can qualify for university. Similarly free cancer care only helps those with cancer! What of it? Unless you think anyone who wants to go to university should be allowed in, this is irrelevant. Perhaps you're trying to imply that warrens proposal only helps the wealthy because only the wealthy get good high school? Well yes, and the nhs gave better health outcomes to wealthier people and non-smokers, so what? That's not an argument against making it universal, it's an argument for banning smoking. You shouldn't conflate the problems in high school funding with university funding, because the upshot of that is that the few poor kids (of whom I am one) who manage to fight free of our shit high school education have done it for nothing because we can't get into uni because it's too expensive. Yes it's better to do both! But as people above have observed it's hard for the federal govt to fix secondary education (fuck, they can't even stop school shootings!) So fix what you can and come back to the next stages later. America has sooooo many problems that it's madness to oppose fixing the ones you can because some people who are benefiting from an inequality the federal govt can't fix will benefit a little more from its efforts to fix the ones it can fix.

Poor children should be able to go to university. That's a simple statement of what is right. Warrens offering a fix for ONE of the two big barriers to doing that. Her fix also helps middle class kids. Lucky them! Why should a poor kid care?

Cian 05.08.19 at 3:27 pm ( 90 )
I think focusing on high income parents is a bit misleading. Yes the very poorest don't go to college, but plenty of kids from median income, and sub-median income, households do. And plenty of kids are graduating from college and getting jobs that don't pay particularly well, and probably will never pay brilliantly.

Secondly there is the way that college has increased very rapidly in the past 10 years, mostly at the state level. There are a range of reasons for this, but a generation of students have been forced to pay more money than previous generations for higher education, during a period when college education is becoming necessary for a wider range of jobs.

Thirdly there is the debt element. Not only is student debt becoming a more and more significant problem (affecting career choices and the economy), but the way that students are unable to escape it even into bankruptcy is an outrage.

I don't particularly care if wealthier parents also benefit from this. The solution would seem to be to tax them more. And one could also craft this in ways which would be less helpful to them (for example focus solely on state colleges and remove tax savings for education).

I also think we should spend more on K-12 schooling, preschool and a range of other things. I don't see these two things as particularly incompatible. The advantage of this policy is (like healthcare) is that it is good politics as it would have a quick and measurable impact, which would build political credibility (which could then be used for tougher fights, like increased taxation for education, infrastructure, transport, etc). There was an interesting interview with one of Corbyn's ex-advisors recently, who pointed out that you can't just raise taxes immediately. Instead you have to build people's trust that taxes will be used in ways that benefit them, and that will then change the way people think about taxes. This is one way to change that conversation.

You also need to be careful interpreting recent studies like those by Dixon et al (I used to work with Anna and I know the context of her studies). The NHS has gone backward since the end of the Labour government, and a lot of studies published in the last 10 years are actually showing the consequence of Tory attacks on the system, not the long-term outcomes of the NHS as a whole. Also the NHS was massively underfunded relative to European systems during the Thatcher era, and that has long-term implications for the structure of the system and its effects on inequality, which New Labour was not in power long enough to reverse.

Harry I think this is important:

Warren or any other President in the near future is going to do more than one big thing altogether, let alone in education, and I want people to take seriously the opportunity cost of this being the one big thing in education.

But I think you're underestimating how transformative the end of student debt will be for a lot of poor people. And given that a lot of the other strategies you identify are not feasible for the federal government (due to the states), I think you overstate this issue in this case.

David J. Littleboy 05.10.19 at 6:38 am ( 111 )
The problem with "vouchers" in a K-12 context is that they are used to steal funding from public schools and give it to private and/or religious schools. They're a scam. If you are doing vouchers for public college, they don't have that problem. (Leo Casey has this right.)

Also, on means testing. I think that means testing is largely a bad idea. If you are funding things from a progressive income tax, then the very rich are getting much less back than they are putting in, and that's fine. Also, it's easy for means testing to be made demeaning to recipients of the aid. If everyone gets and has to use vouchers*, that can't happen. Also, implementing means testing isn't free, and a lot of the time, it'll cost as much as it saves. And finally, if you can force rich folks to declare the benefit as income, you can tame much of it back in taxes (this works great for the sort of childbearing encouragement programs the Japanese ought to be implementing, i.e. direct, generous, flat rate (same amount for any child) child support payments to everyone who has a child.)

*: In my fantasy world here, the vouchers are more of payments to the schools for educating people than benefits to the students. Sort of like how Obamacare only pays insurers if they actually pay for medical care. (Obamacare is way more wonderful than you think.)

TM 05.10.19 at 9:52 am ( 113 )
TJ 93: "There are some tax breaks available, but these income out for a couple at earned income of around $230,000"

Can you tell us how much in annual college cost an affluent family could at the most deduct? And is it restricted to tuition? Until what age do the parents get a dependent deduction for a child in college and how much does it save them in taxes?

I don't know the details of the plan discussed here but if it is true that the parents can save taxes by having a child in college/uni (as is the case in Germany) then it would seem fair to me to publicly fund the college expenses for everybody while at the same time denying affluent parents the deduction (as is not the case in Germany).

Collin Street 05.11.19 at 12:04 am ( 117 )
Also, on means testing. I think that means testing is largely a bad idea.

Means testing for education specifically is a problem because basically nobody has "means" when they're twenty. [and absolutely nobody has means when they're fifteen]. Practically when people say means-testing here they mean -- although they may not recognise it or admit it -- parental means testing, and

Remember: the core of opposition to welfare is that it weakens dependence on rich relatives and other patronage networks, and thus reduces the ability of abusers to find people willing to subject themselves to abuse. Because education and student means-testing effectively means parental means-testing, a means-testing framework basically eliminates the children-of-the-rich -- a-fortiori the children-of-rich-abusers -- from protection. Of course the abusers are OK with means-tested welfare here, it leaves their targets unprotected. [see slavery: more expensive and lower productivity than free labour, but you can rape people and beat them to death, which some find more attractive than money, enough to fight a war over.]

[which is to say: if you make a model of right-wing thinking that supposes the sole motivation of right-wingers is to emotionally and physically abuse people and to create spaces and situations where that can happen, you get something that's like 90% accurate to what the actual right actually propose and implement. I mean, slavery! Free workers are more productive and cost about the same or less [lower overheads through savings in chains] but you can't rape them or beat them to death and that was worth fighting a war over.]

[I did once consider an education voucher that was structured with a taper like some welfare payments: for every extra dollar put in by the parents/holder, the voucher goes down fifty cents ]

[vouchers rely on individual selection, of course, and there are well-known problems with quality guarantees here with education, given the long timeframes and &c]

[the thought just struck me that the education and professional-development elements of employment -- which have to be hugely important if we're not doing lifetime jobs -- are also underserved by market self-regulation ]

Faustusnotes 05.11.19 at 1:32 am ( 118 )
Harry, what is this? You say it's means tested and you also say it doesn't help the poor. Are you saying warrens plan is means tested to ensure it only goes to the wealthy? Because that doesn't seem likely to me.

Also once again: we target income inequality, not variation. We don't oppose a program because 30% of the population won't use it. If you're going to make that your yardstick for public investment then you should at least try to address the consequences for public funding of women's health, childcare, and indeed universal health coverage!

nastywoman 05.11.19 at 3:06 pm ( 122 )
@
"I want the most talented kids taking the course they're most suited for."

Me too -- and as "Free Public Education" in "Civilised Western Democracies" wants exactly the same thing -- there is no reason -- for anybody -- to support any kind of educational system which depends on "privatized" -- aka "privately financed" education" -- as it allows "Rich kids --
even if they are NOT the most talented --
to become doctors and vets".

So "the most talented kids" should become doctors and vets -- Right? -- And they only can become doctors and vets -- if they don't have to buy themselves into becoming doctors and vets.

Right?

As buying yourself -(without talent) into "better education" -- (of whatever level) -- is only possible in a society where school kids and students have to pay for their education.

Right?

It's like currently trying to get a Green Card for my homeland -(or a permit to reside in the UK) You can buy it with absolutely NO talent.

Or in other words: That's why (civilised and social) countries like France -(or Germany) never will go back to any type of education where -- YOUR -(or your families) dough matters MORE -- than your talent.

One of the major ("policies"?) in fighting inequality!

And could this comment please be posted?

[May 11, 2019] Is Warren's college plan progressive -- Crooked Timber

Notable quotes:
"... It's not obvious to me that universal access to college education is a progressive goal. ..."
"... I think it is extremely important to understand where Warren is coming from on this. Warren initially became active in politics because she recognized the pernicious nature of debt and the impact it had on well-being. I ..."
"... Warren's emphasis in this particular initiative, it seems to me, is to alleviate debt so that individuals can pursue more advanced functionings/capabilities. ..."
"... The more a college degree is the norm, the worse things are for people without one. Making it easier to get a college degree increases the degree to which its the norm, and will almost inevitably have the same impact on the value of a college degree as the growth in high-school attendance (noted by Sam Tobin-Hochstadt above) had on the value of a high school degree. ..."
"... The debate on this subject strikes me as misguided because it says nothing about what students learn. A good high school education should be enough to prepare young people for most kinds of work. In most jobs, even those allegedly requiring college degrees, the way people learn most of what they need to know is through on the job training. Many high school graduates have not received a good education, though, and go to college as, in effect, remedial high school. ..."
May 11, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

Is Warren's college plan progressive?

by Harry on May 6, 2019 Ganesh Sitaraman argues in the Garun that, contrary to appearances, and contrary to the criticism that it has earned, Elizabeth Warren's college plan really is progressive, because it is funded by taxation that comes exclusively from a wealth tax on those with more than $50 million in assets. Its progressive, he says, because it redistributes down. In some technical sense perhaps he's right.

But this, quite odd, argument caught my eye:

But the critics at times also suggest that if any significant amount of benefits go to middle-class or upper-middle class people, then the plan is also not progressive. This is where things get confusing. The critics can't mean this in a specific sense because the plan is, as I have said, extremely progressive in the distribution of costs. They must mean that for any policy to be progressive that it must benefit the poor and working class more than it benefits the middle and upper classes. T his is a bizarre and, I think, fundamentally incorrect use of the term progressive .

The logic of the critics' position is that public investments in programs that help everyone, including middle- and upper-class people, aren't progressive. This means that the critics would have to oppose public parks and public K-12 education, public swimming pools and public basketball courts, even public libraries. These are all public options that offer universal access at a low (or free) price to everyone.

But the problem isn't that the wealthy get to benefit from tuition free college. I don't think anyone objects to that. Rather, the more affluent someone is, on average, the more they benefit from the plan. This is a general feature of tuition-free college plans and it is built into the design. Sandy Baum and Sarah Turner explain:

But in general, the plans make up the difference between financial aid -- such as the Pell Grant and need-based aid provided by states -- and the published price of public colleges. This means the largest rewards go to students who do not qualify for financial aid. In plans that include four-year colleges, the largest benefits go to students at the most expensive four-year institutions. Such schools enroll a greater proportion of well-heeled students, who have had better opportunities at the K-12 level than their peers at either two-year colleges or less-selective four-year schools. (Flagship institutions have more resources per student, too.) .

For a clearer picture of how regressive these policies are, consider how net tuition -- again, that's what most free-tuition plans cover -- varies among students at different income levels at four-year institutions. For those with incomes less than $35,000, average net tuition was $2,300 in 2015-16; for students from families with incomes between $35,000 and $70,000, it was $4,800; for those between $70,000 and $120,000, it was $8,100; and finally, for families with incomes higher than $120,000, it was more than $11,000. (These figures don't include living expenses.)

Many low-income students receive enough aid from sources like the Pell Grant to cover their tuition and fees. At community colleges nationally, for example, among students from families with incomes less than $35,000, 81 percent already pay no net tuition after accounting for federal, state and institutional grant aid, according to survey data for 2015-16. At four-year publics, almost 60 percent of these low-income students pay nothing.

... ...

.


Mike Huben 05.06.19 at 1:16 pm ( 1 )

If you take progressivism to mean "improvement of society by reform", Warren's plan is clearly progressive. It reduces the pie going to the rich, greatly improves the lot of students who are less than rich, and doesn't harm the poor.

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

nastywoman 05.06.19 at 1:37 pm ( 2 )
@
"Is Warren's college plan progressive"?

Who cares – as long as this plan -(and hopefully an even more extended plan) puts an end to a big part of the insanity of the (stupid and greedy) US education system?

In other words – let's call it "conservative" that might help to have it passed!

Trader Joe 05.06.19 at 1:49 pm ( 3 )
The difficulty with the plan as proposed is not whether it is progressive or not but that it targets the wrong behavior – borrowing for education. If the goal is to make education more accessible – subsidize the university directly to either facilitate point of admission grants in the first place or simply bring down tuition cost to all attendees.

Under this proposal (assuming one thinks Warren would win and it could get passed) the maximizing strategy is to borrow as much as one possibly can with the hope/expectation that it would ultimately be forgiven. If that's the "right" strategy, then it would benefit those with the greatest borrowing capacity which most certainly is not students from low income families but is in fact families which could probably pay most of the cost themselves but would choose not to in order to capture a benefit they couldn't access directly by virtue of being 'too rich' for grants or other direct aid.

L2P 05.06.19 at 1:50 pm ( 4 )
"Rather, the more affluent someone is, on average, the more they benefit from the plan. "

This doesn't seem like a fair description of what's going on. If Starbucks gives a free muffin to everyone who buys a latte, it's theoretically helping the rich more than the poor under this way of looking at things. The rich can afford the muffin; the poor can't. So the rich will get more free muffins. But the rich don't give a crap. They can easily just buy the damn muffin in the first place. They're not really being helped, because the whole damn system helps them already. They're just about as well off with or without the free muffin.

Same here. My kid's going to Stanford. I'm effin rich and I don't give a crap about financial aid. If it was free I'd have an extra 75k a year, but how many Tesla's do I need really? How many houses in Hawaii do I need? But when I was a kid I was lower middle class. I didn't even apply to Stanford because it was just too much. Yeah, I could have gone rotc or gotten aid, but my parents just couldn't bust out their contribution. Stanford just wasn't in the cards. And Stanford's a terrible example, it had needs blind admissions and can afford to just give money away if it wants.

This sort of analysis is one step above bullshit.

bianca steele 05.06.19 at 2:02 pm ( 5 )
I don't understand the fear, in certain areas of what's apparently the left, of giving benefits to people in the middle of the income/wealth curve.

The expansion of the term "middle class" doesn't help with this, nor does the expansion of education. These debates often sound as if some of the participants think of "middle class" as the children of physicians and attorneys, who moreover are compensated the way they were in the 1950s.

The ability to switch between "it's reasonable to have 100% college attendance within 5 years from now" and "of course college is only for the elite classes" is not reassuring to the average more or less educated observer (who may or may not be satisfied, depending on temperament and so on, with the answer that of course such matters are above her head).

Ben 05.06.19 at 2:12 pm ( 7 )
The actual plan is for free tuition at public colleges. So not "the most expensive four-year institutions" that Baum and Turner discuss. [HB: they're referring to the most expensive 4-year public institutions]

There's also expanded support for non-tuition expenses, means-tested debt cancellation, and a fund for historically black universities, all of which make the plan more progressive. And beyond that, I could argue that, for lower-income students on the margin of being able to attend and complete school, we should count not only the direct financial aid granted, but also the lifetime benefits of the education the aid enables. But suffice it to say, I think you're attacking a caricature.

Dave 05.06.19 at 2:17 pm ( 9 )
the college plan does not actually offer 'universal access'

Given that something like one third of Americans gets a college degree, Warren's plan seems good enough. It's not obvious to me that universal access to college education is a progressive goal.

Michael Glassman 05.06.19 at 3:46 pm ( 16 )
I think it is extremely important to understand where Warren is coming from on this. Warren initially became active in politics because she recognized the pernicious nature of debt and the impact it had on well-being. If you are trying to get out from under the burden of debt your capabilities for flourishing are severely restricted, and these restrictions can easily become generational. One of the more difficult debts that people are facing are student debts. This was made especially difficult by the 2005 bankruptcy bill which made it close to impossible for individuals to get out from under student debt by entering in to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Warren's emphasis in this particular initiative, it seems to me, is to alleviate debt so that individuals can pursue more advanced functionings/capabilities. So if you think that the definition of progressive is creating situations where more individuals in a society are given greater opportunities for flourishing then the plan does strike me as progressive (an Aristotelian interpretation of Dewey such as promoted by Nussbaum might fall in this direction). There is another issue however that might be closer to the idea of helping those from lowest social strata, something that is not being discussed near enough. Internet technologies helped to promote online for profit universities which has (and I suppose continues to) prey and those most desperate to escape poverty with limited resources. The largest part of their organizations are administrators who help students to secure loans with promises of high paying jobs once they complete their degrees. These places really do prey on the most vulnerable (homeless youth for instance) and they bait individuals with hope in to incurring extremely high debt. The loan companies are fine with this I am guess because of the bankruptcy act (they can follow them for life). This is also not regulated (I think you can thank Kaplan/Washington Post for that). Warren's initiative would help them get out from under debt immediately and kick start their life.

I agree k-12 is more important, but it is also far more complicated. This plan is like a shot of adrenaline into the social blood stream and it might not even be necessary in a few years. I think it dangerous to make the good the enemy or the perfect, or the perfect the critic of the good.

nastywoman 05.06.19 at 5:28 pm ( 22 )
– and how cynical does one have to be – to redefine a plan canceling the vast majority of outstanding student loan debt – as some kind of ("NON-progressive") present for "the rich"?
Sam Tobin-Hochstadt 05.06.19 at 5:59 pm ( 25 )
I think this work by Susan Dynarski and others really makes the case that reducing price will change access and populations significantly: https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-U-of-Michigan-Appealed-to/245294

But even apart from that, the argument of the post seems like it would suggest that many things that we currently fund publicly are not progressive in a problematic way. Everything from arts to national parks to math research "benefits" the rich more than the poor. There's possibly a case that public provision of these goods is problematic when we as a society could spend that money on those who are more disadvantaged. But that's a very strong claim and implicates far more than free college.

Finally, it's worth comparing the previous major expansion of education in the US. The point at which high school attendance was as widespread as college attendance is now (about 70% of high school graduates enroll in college of some form right away) was around 1930, well after universal free high school was available. I think moving to universal free college is an important step to raise those rates, just as free high school was.

Leo Casey 05.06.19 at 7:31 pm ( 29 )
It strikes me that the argument made here against a universal program of tuition free college is not all that different than an argument made against social security -- that the benefits go disproportionately to middle class and professional class individuals. Since in the case of Social Security, one has to be in gainfully employed to participate and one's benefits are, up to a cap, based on one's contributions, middle class and professional class individuals receive greater benefits. Poor individuals, including those who have not been employed for long periods of time, receive less benefits. (There are quirks in this 10 second summary, such as disability benefits, but not so much as to alter this basic functioning.)

Every now and again, there are proposals to "means test" social security, using this functioning as the reasoning. A couple of points are worth considering.

First, it is the universality of social security that makes it a political 'third rail,' such that no matter how it would like to do away with such a 'socialist' program, the GOP never acts on proposals to privatize it, even when they have the Presidency and the majorities that would allow it to get through Congress. The universality thus provides a vital security to the benefits that poor and working people receive from the program, since it makes it politically impossible to take it away. Since social security is often the only pension that many poor and working people get (unlike middle class and professional class individuals who have other sources of retirement income), the loss of it would be far more devastating to them. There is an important way, therefore, that they are served by the current configuration of the system, even given its skewing.

Second, and following from the above, it is important to recognize that the great bulk of proposals to "means test" Social Security come from the libertarian right, not the left, and that they are designed to undercut the support for Social Security, in order to make its privatization politically viable.

Most colleges and universities "means test" financial aid for their students, which is one of the reasons why it is generally inadequate and heavily weighted toward loans as opposed to grants. I think it is a fair generalization of American social welfare experience history to say that "means tested" programs are both more vulnerable politically (think of the Reagan 'welfare queen' narrative) and more poorly funded than universal programs.

There are additional argument about the skewing of Social Security benefits, such as the fact that they go disproportionately to the elderly, while those currently living in poverty are disproportionately children. This argument mistakes the positive effects of the program -- before Social Security and Medicare the elderly were the most impoverished -- for an inegalitarian design element.

The solution to the fact that children bear the brunt of poverty in the US is not to undermine the program that has lifted the elderly out of poverty but to institute programs that address the problem of childhood poverty. Universal quality day care, for example, provides the greatest immediate economic benefits to middle class and professional class families who are now paying for such services, but it provides poor and working class kids with an education 'head start' that would otherwise go only to the children of those families that could afford to pay for it. And insofar as day care is provided, it makes it easier for poor and working class parents (often in one parent households) to obtain decent employment.

So the failings of universal programs are best addressed, I would argue, by filling in the gaps with more universal programs, not 'means testing' them.

To the extent that Warren's 'free tuition' proposal addresses only some of the financial disadvantages of poor and working people obtaining a college education, the response should not be "oh, this is not progressive," but what do we do to address the other issues, such as living expenses. It is not as if there are no models on how to do this. All we need to do is look at Nordic countries that provide post-secondary students both free tuition and living expenses.

christian h. 05.06.19 at 9:15 pm ( 31 )
Having grown up and gone to university in Germany it is simply incomprehensible to me that there is tuition supporters on the political left in the U.S. It's true that free college isn't universal in the same sense free K-12 education is. But neither are libraries (they exclude those who are functionally illiterate completely, and their services surely go mostly to upper middle class people who have opportunity and education to read regularly), for example. Neither are roads – the poor overwhelmingly live in inner cities, often take public transport – it's middle class suburbanites that mostly profit. Speaking of public transport, I assume Henry opposes rail; it is very middle class, the poor use buses. (The last argument actually has considerable traction in Los Angeles, it's not completely far fetched.)
SamChevre 05.06.19 at 11:57 pm ( 40 )
I agree that Warren's free college and debt forgiveness plans would not be very progressive, but I'd propose that I think the dynamic mechanism built in would make it worse than a static analysis shows.

(Note that most of my siblings and in-laws do not have college degrees; this perspective is based on my own observations.)

The more a college degree is the norm, the worse things are for people without one. Making it easier to get a college degree increases the degree to which its the norm, and will almost inevitably have the same impact on the value of a college degree as the growth in high-school attendance (noted by Sam Tobin-Hochstadt above) had on the value of a high school degree. (We're already seeing this: many positions that used to require a college degree now require a specific degree, or a masters degree.) This will increase age discrimination, and further worsen the position of the people for whom college is unattractive for reasons other than money.

To give a particular example of a mechanism (idiosyncratic, but one I know specifically). Until a couple decades ago, getting a KY electrician's license required 4 years experience under a licensed electrician, and passing the code test. Then the system changed; now it requires a 2-year degree and 2 years experience, OR 8 years experience. This was great for colleges. The working electricians don't think the new electricians are better prepared as they used to be, but all of a sudden people who don't find sitting in a classroom for an additional 2 years attractive are hugely disadvantaged. Another example would be nursing licenses; talk to any older LPN and you'll get an earful about how LPN's are devalued as RNs and BSNs have become the norm.

Dr. Hilarius 05.07.19 at 12:39 am ( 42 )
I suspect tuition reform will be complex, difficult and subject to gaming. Being simple minded I offer an inadequate but simple palliative. Make student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. You can max out your credit cards on cars, clothes, booze or whatever and be able to discharge these debts but not for higher education. The inability to even threaten bankruptcy gives all the power to collection companies. Students have no leverage at all. The threat of bankruptcy would allow for negotiated reductions in principal as well as payments.

Bankruptcy does carry a lot of negative consequences so it would offset the likely objections about moral hazards, blah, blah. I would also favor an additional method of discharging student debt. If your debt is to a for-profit school that can't meet some minimum standards for student employment in their field of study then total discharge without the need for bankruptcy. For-profit vocational schools intensively target low income and minority students without providing significant value for money.

John Quiggin 05.07.19 at 1:44 am ( 44 )
Progressivity looks much better if the program sticks to free community college, at least until there is universal access to 4-year schools. That's what Tennessee did (IIRC the only example that is actually operational).
Gabriel 05.07.19 at 3:03 am ( 47 )
Harry: it doesn't seem as if you responded to my comment. I'll try again.

1. A policy is progressive if it is redistributive.
2. Warren's plan is redistributive.
3. Thus, Warren's plan is progressive.

Comments about how effective the redistribution is are fine, but to claim a non-ideal distribution framework invalidates the program's claims to being progressive seems spurious. And I don't think this definition of progressive is somehow wildly ideosyncratic.

Nia Psaka 05.07.19 at 4:01 am ( 48 )
To whine that free college is somehow not progressive because not everyone will go to college is a ridiculous argument, one of those supposedly-left-but-actually-right arguments that I get so tired of. To assume that the class makeup of matriculators will be unchanged with free college is to discount knock-on effects. This is a weird, weird post. I guess I'm going back to ignoring this site.
Kurt Schuler 05.07.19 at 4:04 am ( 49 )
The debate on this subject strikes me as misguided because it says nothing about what students learn. A good high school education should be enough to prepare young people for most kinds of work. In most jobs, even those allegedly requiring college degrees, the way people learn most of what they need to know is through on the job training. Many high school graduates have not received a good education, though, and go to college as, in effect, remedial high school.

Readers who attended an average American high school, as I did long ago, will know that there are certain students, especially boys, who are itching to be done with school. It is far more productive to give them a decent high school education and have them start working than to tell them they need another two to four years of what to them is pointless rigamarole.

Rather than extending the years of education, I would reduce the high school graduation age to 17 and reduce summer vacations by four weeks, so that a 17 year old would graduate with as many weeks of schooling as an 18 year old now. (Teachers would get correspondingly higher pay, which should make them happy.)

Harry Truman never went to college. John Major became a banker and later prime minister of Britain without doing so. Neither performed noticeably worse than their college-educated peers. If a college education is not necessary to rise to the highest office in the land, why is it necessary for lesser employment except in a few specialized areas?

An experiment that I would like to see tried is to bring back the federal civil service exam, allowing applicants without college degrees who score high enough to enter U.S. government jobs currently reserved for those with college degrees.

[May 08, 2019] Elizabeth Warren Student Loan Debt Forveness propasal: critique from the conservarives

Not all specialties are created equal. It is clear that a person who take loan to became obtain a degree in communications is deeply misguided as chances to get a well paying job with this specially are close to zero. Many "humanitarian" specialties are similar -- unemployment is almost guaranteed and if a person was misled we should prosecute greedy university administrators and jail some of them. Such specialties should have a disclaimer: employment is difficult to obtain. Unemployment is almost garanteed. Take the courses at your own risk.
At the same time for STEM degrees Warren proposal makes more sense as people who enrolled into those specialties tried a more realistic approach, but probably job market turned bad or level of talent is not enough or both. while people in this specialties are needed but their chances for employment are crippled by the flow of H1B applicants so part of those costs should be subsidized by fees for large H1B employers, such as Microsoft and Google. Or something like that.
At the same time why we should forgive a person the debt if the particular person specialized in, say, dance? What is the social value of oversupply of dancers? So probably subsidies should be selective and limited to STEM specialties and selected "high social value" humanitarian specialties.
So the loan forgiveness is a crippled, somewhat unfair but still a reasonable approach.
But the key problem is not loads but greed of neoliberal educational institutions. Cost of tuition skyrocketed after 1980 and that's not accidental: this is drect result of neoliberalism corruption of higher education. The ability of government to prosecute "too greedy" colleges is important. Limits of salary of administrators and especially president and vice president and deens are critical.
Notable quotes:
"... The total cost of Warren's plan would be $1.25 trillion over 10 years, with the debt forgiveness portion consisting of a one-time cost of $640 billion. Warren plans to pay for her plan by imposing an annual tax of 2 percent on all families that have $50 million or more in wealth. ..."
"... Warren is right to focus attention on the matter of student loans. This is a major issue for young people and experts have been warning of a crisis for years. ..."
"... After all, they are victims of a scam perpetrated by the education cartel and the federal government. ..."
"... Here's how it works: the education cartel sells the lie that only those with four-year college degrees can succeed in life. Then they steer everyone with a pulse towards a university. ..."
"... The government steps in and subsidizes student loans that allow almost anyone to go to college, regardless of their ability to pay the loans back. ..."
"... College is not for everyone and there's no reason to keep promoting that idea. ..."
"... Reduce the overabundance of administrators. The number has exploded since the 1990s. ..."
"... A lot of required courses are just padding to make the experience drag on for four years. That creates unneeded expenditures of time and money. ..."
"... several nations currently do offer virtually free college educations & I don’t believe their diplomas are of less value for it. ..."
May 08, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren recently jolted the Democratic presidential primary race by tackling one of the most important issues of our time: student loans and the cost of higher education. Warren called for canceling up to $50,000 of student loan debt for every American making under $100,000 a year. In addition, she would make two- and four-year public college tuitions free for all new students.

The total cost of Warren's plan would be $1.25 trillion over 10 years, with the debt forgiveness portion consisting of a one-time cost of $640 billion. Warren plans to pay for her plan by imposing an annual tax of 2 percent on all families that have $50 million or more in wealth.

Warren is right to focus attention on the matter of student loans. This is a major issue for young people and experts have been warning of a crisis for years.

But in most cases, it isn't right to blame student loan borrowers for their predicaments. After all, they are victims of a scam perpetrated by the education cartel and the federal government.

Here's how it works: the education cartel sells the lie that only those with four-year college degrees can succeed in life. Then they steer everyone with a pulse towards a university.

The government steps in and subsidizes student loans that allow almost anyone to go to college, regardless of their ability to pay the loans back. These loans are a trap, and not just with regard to their cost. The government, which took over the student loan industry , forbids borrowers from discharging that debt in bankruptcy proceedings.

How do such cheap and easy student loans affect universities? For starters, they have caused a proliferation of degrees that offer poor returns on investment . In addition, they have led to the dilution of the value of previously marketable degrees such as those in the humanities and international relations, as more students enter those programs than could ever hope to work in their respective fields. For example, in 2013, half of all those who had graduated from college were working in jobs that did not require degrees .

But worst of all, the easy access to student loans has destroyed the price mechanism, which is so important for determining the real supply and demand of a product. Since government is the ultimate payer, tuition has been pushed sky high. The rate of tuition increase has actually outpaced inflation threefold .

Is Elizabeth Warren's plan the solution? No! It will only make things worse.

For starters, the wealth tax that she would use to fund her plan is likely unconstitutional . But even if it was upheld by the Supreme Court, it would still be bad policy. Countries that have imposed wealth taxes like France and Sweden have found that the rich simply leave and take their assets with them rather than pay more.

As for the idea of universal student loan debt forgiveness, it is a bad policy on the merits. For starters, it does not make economic sense to forgive the debts of those who will earn at least $17,500 more a year than those who don't go to college.

Also, although the student loan bubble has been inflated by the actions of both the education cartel and government, at the end of the day, loans are a contract. Those who are able to pay them down should and not be bailed out.

... ... ...

Finally, we need to promote alternatives to college. There are many well-paying jobs out there that don't require degrees . There are also apprentice programs offered by organizations like Praxis . We should encourage entrepreneurship, which is how so many in this country have lifted themselves out of poverty. College is not for everyone and there's no reason to keep promoting that idea.

Kevin Boyd is a freelance writer based in Louisiana. He is a contributor to The Hayride, a southern news and politics site. He has also been published in , The Federalist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution , and The New York Observer among other publications.


Lert345, says: May 8, 2019 at 3:14 pm

How to make college cost effective. Two major reforms

1. Reduce the overabundance of administrators. The number has exploded since the 1990s.

2. Restructure college. Most programs don’t need to be four years long. Most can be cut to 2 1/2 – 3 years. A chemistry student should be taking courses required for a chemistry degree, nothing more (unless he/she wants to). A lot of required courses are just padding to make the experience drag on for four years. That creates unneeded expenditures of time and money.

After doing the above, then maybe we can talk about “free” college.

mrscracker, says: May 8, 2019 at 4:04 pm
I personally believe that we should each pay our own way through life as much as possible, but several nations currently do offer virtually free college educations & I don’t believe their diplomas are of less value for it.

I agree with you that other avenues like trades should be encouraged. A four year degree isn’t necessary for everyone.

DavidE, says: May 8, 2019 at 5:46 pm
@workingdad. If a wealth tax is unconstitutional, do you consider a property tax also unconstitutional?

[May 06, 2019] America s $1.6 trillion student debt woe spurring suicidal thoughts: survey

Notable quotes:
"... Most student debt is held by people with balances on the lower end of the scale, with only 0.8 percent of the U.S. population owing more than $100,000, according to Deutsche Bank economists. They have labeled the issue as a "micro problem" for individuals, rather than a macro problem for the economy. ..."
"... Yet that still equates to 2.8 million people with around $495 billion in debt as of March, according to Department of Education data. Even more worrying is that it's an increase of almost $61 billion since the end of 2017. ..."
"... In the second scenario, loans are shown over a 20-year term with rates at 7 percent. Monthly payments are smaller but the overall burden is bigger, with total interest payments on $100,000 of debt rising above $86,000. ..."
May 06, 2019 | japantimes.co.jp

The $1.6 trillion in U.S. student debt may not pose a direct threat to the economy, but it's causing anguish that goes far beyond financial concerns for the people who owe it.

One in 15 borrowers has considered suicide due to their school loans, according to a survey of 829 people conducted last month by Student Loan Planner, a debt advisory group.

Most student debt is held by people with balances on the lower end of the scale, with only 0.8 percent of the U.S. population owing more than $100,000, according to Deutsche Bank economists. They have labeled the issue as a "micro problem" for individuals, rather than a macro problem for the economy.

Yet that still equates to 2.8 million people with around $495 billion in debt as of March, according to Department of Education data. Even more worrying is that it's an increase of almost $61 billion since the end of 2017.

Student loans are the second-biggest kind of debt in America behind home mortgages and often more expensive to service relative to the amount owed because interest rates are generally higher. Not to mention that unlike buying a home, an education isn't a tangible asset that can be sold.

It's also turning into a hot political issue as next year's presidential election approaches. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a plan to cancel loans for many borrowers, while former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed some of the knock-on effects for the economy in a presentation at the Milken Institute conference earlier this week.

"Of course millennials would love to buy a house," Hickenlooper said April 30 in Los Angeles. But, "they're buried in debt!"

The following scenarios show the monthly costs associated with different levels of student debt. The first envisages a 10-year loan at 6 percent. To put the figures into perspective, a 30-year mortgage of $400,000 at current interest rates would cost about $2,000 per month.

In the second scenario, loans are shown over a 20-year term with rates at 7 percent. Monthly payments are smaller but the overall burden is bigger, with total interest payments on $100,000 of debt rising above $86,000.

[May 06, 2019] Neoliberal Universities are corrupt by definition

May 06, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Hugh: , July 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Lobbying and campaign finance are two forms of legalized bribery. Citizens United legalized political corruption for corporations and showed the complete corruption of the Supreme Court which decided it. Astroturfed political organizations, the manufacture of "popular consent", are another form of corruption in politics. The hiding of contributors to these and other groups gives cover to their corruption.

The media are corrupt, even a lot of the blogosphere is. It is all propaganda all the time, just segmented and tailored to different audiences of rubes.

Universities are corrupt. They no longer fulfill an educational mission rather they are purveyors of the status quo. They are corrupt in their corporate structure, in their alliances with other corporations, and in their foisting of debt on to their students.

Academia is corrupt. There is the whole publish or perish thing that results in most of academia's research product being worthless and useless. This is even before we get to the quack sciences like economics. Academic economics is completely corrupt. The dominant politico-economic system of our times is kleptocracy. Yet almost no academic economist will acknowledge it let alone make it central to their point of view.

The judicial system and the judiciary are corrupt. How else to explain our two-tiered justice system? The great criminals of our times, the largest frauds in human history, are not only not prosecuted, they are not even investigated. And how can anyone take the Supreme Court to be anything but corrupt? This is an institution that except for a couple of decades around the Warren Court has, for more than 200 years, always been on the side of the haves against the have-nots, for the powerful, against the powerless, pro-slavery, pro-segregation, and anti-worker. How can anyone take decisions like Bush v. Gore or Citizens United to be anything other than corrupt, politics dressed up as legal thinking?

In a kleptocracy, all the institutions, at least those controlled by the rich and elites, are put into the service of the kleptocrats to loot or justify and defend looting and the looters. So corruption is endemic and systemic.

[Apr 27, 2019] Free Speech, Safety and the Triumph of Neoliberalism naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Amen. This attitude of fearing speech reflects a deeper problem which is valuing fear and cowardice as a virtue. ..."
"... The "fight" against "Hate Speech" is a cunning maneuver of Our Ivy-League overlords. They are materialists , living A Bucket List existence. Their lives are "felt" as a succession of positive and negative experiences. "God is dead. We are gods!" ..."
"... Thus if someone says for instance "migrants come to steal your job or reduce your salary" this is not purely hate as it has a persuasive intent so it can pass. Then if you "say migrants are ugly thieves" it has more hate content but still a persuasive intent so it can pass under this free speech rule. If you finally say "migrants are ugly" it is pure hate and forbidden. Did I get it? ..."
"... Slightly sideways, but another indication that neo-liberalism is just another religion: ..."
"... So when we come to considering the social environment inside a bourgeois institution like a university, we must consider it from a certain point of view, a certain framing, connected to its purposes and performance from the point of view of those who have relevant power. The primary purposes of most such institutions currently seem to be class filtering, indoctrination, and vocational training. ..."
"... This post makes an interesting encapsulation of Neoliberalism: "life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility". I am not convinced this formulation is sufficient to characterize Neoliberalism. How well would this formulation distinguish between Neoliberals and Epicures? ..."
"... All about the motive, eh? That is neoliberal–i.e. sure we wrecked the economy and bombed the smithereens out of some foreign countries but we meant well. ..."
"... Shutting off debate is the worst way to prepare for a society that is undergoing undying stresses and even deformations of freedoms plastered over the word democracy. ..."
"... The neoliberal preference for comparing measurable effects, scoring them as costs or benefits, is the standard MBA religion. Why if you can't measure it, it mustn't exist! ..."
"... The problem is just about anything "becomes" "hate speach" as a means of censorship. Calling out Isrial's influence on US politics becomes antisimitism. Being critical of Hillary is misogany. Hell, not liking Campain Marvel is an example of hate speach. Recently negative reviews of the movie were removed from Rotten Tomatos as an example. ..."
"... An example of how this plays out mentioned in comments is about the conflating of anti-Israel and antisemitic being the one and the same ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

ambrit , April 26, 2019 at 2:51 pm

From this jaundiced perspective, what makes the proposed "neo-liberal speech" Marketplace(TM) inauthentic is that it bases it's existence upon the realm of 'social ephemera.'

If the long run winners in the hurly burly of ideological struggle are at present unknown, then it behooves us to place no limits upon the nature of the originating "entry level" concepts, memes, etc. Such early selection is a purely serendipitous process. Then, not reason, nor "utility" determines the eventual outcome, but chance. Now there's a philosophy for you. Chaos Theory as Political determinate.

David , April 26, 2019 at 2:55 pm

´ .how bad speech can make us feel.´

Sorry, no. How we feel is up to us. We are not machines and we are not robots. We are in charge of our emotions and our reactions.
What I find astonishing about this line of argument is that it completely ignores thousands of years of wisdom literature, from ancient India through Greece and Rome to the mystics of different traditions up to today's Cognitive Behavior Therapies , all of which remind us' in different ways, that whilst we cannot control the outer world, we can control our reactions to it. If I didn't know better I would think that the current ´don't say that it makes me unhappy' movement was a Russian plot to destroy the West by promoting a epidemic of mental illness.

Chris Cosmos , April 26, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Amen. This attitude of fearing speech reflects a deeper problem which is valuing fear and cowardice as a virtue. It reminds me of the male attitude towards upper class women in Victorian times as hopelessly in need of protection from crude language and the dirt from the hoi poloi.

Sometimes I feel like being part of the alt-right because this perverse form of political correctness is way too Maoist for my taste.

clarky90 , April 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm

The "fight" against "Hate Speech" is a cunning maneuver of Our Ivy-League overlords. They are materialists , living A Bucket List existence. Their lives are "felt" as a succession of positive and negative experiences. "God is dead. We are gods!"

"The decor is fabulous. The waiters hair is unkempt. We had to wait to be seated. My fork was not polished. The soup was delicious. The crab was over salted "

The empty lives of "the feelers".

The People of the Land watch incredulously; this slow motion train wreck.

Sanxi , April 26, 2019 at 5:15 pm

'we can control our reactions to it.' – Indeed we can with training and with that on occasion it's good to listen to those that are [family blog] because it's good to know what's going on inside their heads. It also good to know where they are. Hate to say it but the founders of this country really encouraged free speech and then all loyalists were rounded out of it or made extremely miserable.

Ignacio , April 26, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Thus if someone says for instance "migrants come to steal your job or reduce your salary" this is not purely hate as it has a persuasive intent so it can pass. Then if you "say migrants are ugly thieves" it has more hate content but still a persuasive intent so it can pass under this free speech rule. If you finally say "migrants are ugly" it is pure hate and forbidden. Did I get it?

Sanxi , April 26, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Ya, but its all free speech. You'd need to say a lot more than 'ugly'. The whole notion of 'hate speech' is problematic. As it usually is associated with illegal actions, i.e., crimes it has not become a first amendment issue but it should be. Historically, one had a right to say what one wanted and historically, the people often did everything, up to and including, killing one for doing it. The question then becomes what speech is tolerated in what manner. There are no absolute answers, just absolute people.

a different chris , April 26, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Slightly sideways, but another indication that neo-liberalism is just another religion:

>what affect does salmon restoration have on your sense of preference satisfaction, on your utility or disutility?

What affect does it have on the salmon, (family blog) what *I* feel, is my reaction. And saying that, I do notice the further hogwash where "utility" which sounds all manly and right-thinking is actually all about our tender feelings.

Anarcissie , April 26, 2019 at 5:04 pm

'What affect does it have on the salmon, (family blog) what *I* feel, is my reaction. '

That's what 'utility' means: 'stuff I like', such as getting basic survival needs met, and so on up. Most people don't care about the utility of the salmon because the salmon have no power, not because they lack feelings. So generally we only consider people's feelings about the salmon.

So when we come to considering the social environment inside a bourgeois institution like a university, we must consider it from a certain point of view, a certain framing, connected to its purposes and performance from the point of view of those who have relevant power. The primary purposes of most such institutions currently seem to be class filtering, indoctrination, and vocational training.

These purposes (utilities) seem to be damaged or impeded by certain kinds of speech and other social practices, so those forms of speech and practice are likely to be restrained or forbidden on the institution's turf. I don't see how the ruling class and other elites can do otherwise if they want to preserve their system as it stands, which of course most of them do because it is the system which supports their way of life and privileges.

h2odragon , April 26, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Few are able to have their errors explained without feeling bad about being wrong. I hate being wrong, don't you? And yet I'd rather learn of, and from, my mistakes than cheerfully continue being wrong.

Therefore, in the spirit of the Golden rule, I have to say "no one should have the right to make us feel bad." is WRONG. If that means I am speaking hate, and need to be ignored and de-platformed and possibly further censured by society I've never been that social anyway. Fuck 'em.

Tom Doak , April 26, 2019 at 3:36 pm

I tend to think it would always be better if people just said what they were really thinking, instead of trying to figure out what they can say that will be politically correct.

If what they have to say is hateful, at least you know where they are really coming from, and you can treat them accordingly going forward.

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 3:50 pm

This post makes an interesting encapsulation of Neoliberalism: "life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility". I am not convinced this formulation is sufficient to characterize Neoliberalism. How well would this formulation distinguish between Neoliberals and Epicures?

"Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from "hedonism" as colloquially understood."

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism]

Is 'utility' greatly different than 'pleasure' as Epicures frame that word?

I do like the last sentence of the post: "It's the greatest power of an ideology that it can seep into the worldview of those who claim to oppose it." I think that applies to all too many of those debating about how to deal with Climate Chaos in terms of the economic costs, price per kilowatt, carbon taxes, or jobs lost or created. Economic issues are not unimportant but some of the consequences of Climate Chaos are clearly "priceless" to ape a recent credit card commercial.

vegasmike , April 26, 2019 at 4:38 pm

I think Peter Dorman is being coy. In 2017 at his college there was the "Day of Absence" Controversy. A biology professor refused to cancel his classes on the Day of Absence and became the subject of much rage. He and his wife left the college and taught else where.

I remember the Free Speech movement of the earl 60s. At some public universities, members of the communist party were banned from speaking on campus. We protested this ban. Eventually the bans were lifted. Nobody cared whose feeling were hurt.

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 4:57 pm

The topic of free speech per se free speech was excellently covered by Howard Zinn in his talk "Second Thoughts on the First Amendment". [I received a copy of the mp3 of this speech as a premium from my contribution to Pacifica Radio WBAI. The lowest price mp3 or written transcript for the speech was at https://www.alternativeradio.org/products/zinh006/ transcript for $3 or mp3 download for $5.]

Zinn's speech made it clear that free speech was no simple matter contained within the meaning of the words 'free speech'. There are questions of the intent of speech -- the effects of a speech bad feelings? inciting a riot -- capacity for speech that spreads fear spreading unwarranted panic the classic yelling "Fire" in a crowded building -- questions of the forum? There is free speech on a street corner and free speech on television, and they differ greatly in kind, and there is defamatory and slanderous speech.

I am open to allowing any speech. I heard enough unpleasant and upsetting speech from my ex-wife to last several lifetimes but my ears grew deaf to the sounds she made and remained acute to other speech, even became more acute. The equation between speech and money our 'Supremes' made is little short of the complete debasement of the Supreme Court as a forum of jurisprudence. The 'prudence' must be expunges from any characterizations of their judgments FAVORABLE or otherwise. The Supreme Court does not interpret the laws of the land. Like our Legislatures they are 'bought' and 'bot' to the whims of money.

Carolinian , April 26, 2019 at 5:13 pm

All about the motive, eh? That is neoliberal–i.e. sure we wrecked the economy and bombed the smithereens out of some foreign countries but we meant well.

My library just put a sign next to the entrance saying "This is a safe space–no racism or sexism allowed." I haven't bothered to object to what was doubtless considered boilerplate–nor will I–but that's a highly political statement and especially for a library where free speech should be paramount. For example some claim that Huckleberry Finn is racist (and it is a bit). Off the shelves? Once you start judging motives then the slope is quite slippery.

IMHO we should be worrying about the real dangers and abuses and not the imagined ones. Those college students need thicker skins.

dutch , April 26, 2019 at 5:34 pm

1) No one has a right not to feel bad.
2) Everyone has a right to speak his/her mind.
3) Everyone has the right to ignore someone.

Sanxi , April 26, 2019 at 5:38 pm

If to ignore someone, permits their death, that's ok? Thought, experiment, my friend.

Disturbed Voter , April 26, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Unfortunately death is guaranteed. It is unavoidable. We all try to avoid it. And most of us try to not be responsible for causing it (in humans). But there are systemic ills that magnify the risks of mortality (lead in water supply etc). And the limits to "paying attention" are part of those systemic ills. Deliberately ignoring someone, of course, is callous.

JCC , April 26, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Relative to free speech, that almost sounds like "moving the goalpost".

RWood , April 26, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. A translation of the famed passage by Voltaire, Essay on Tolerance

In college, an antidote to what is called "hate speech" used to be teach-ins. Setting these up could be an exercise in arguments or debates, depending on the vehemence and sanctimony of participants, and taking part in the selection of moderators and agendas, but it could be done so long as there were those dedicated to hearing, sharing and holding onto the value of information and debate.

Shutting off debate is the worst way to prepare for a society that is undergoing undying stresses and even deformations of freedoms plastered over the word democracy.

twonine , April 26, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Heard on Democracy Now this afternoon, that U Mass Amherst will be allowing an appearance/discussion re Palestine with Roger Waters and others, to go on regardless of protests against.

Adam Eran , April 26, 2019 at 7:06 pm

I'd suggest the dispute is theological. Everyone wants a "higher power" to bless their particular approach. The neoliberal preference for comparing measurable effects, scoring them as costs or benefits, is the standard MBA religion. Why if you can't measure it, it mustn't exist!

The whole approach doesn't require too much thinking, and has the imprimatur of "science" and "reason" both Excellent gods, all. Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years makes a good case for the way our confusion of monetary with ethical comparisons has managed to bamboozle humanity for literally thousands of years. You see rich people deserve their wealth. They are good , and you can tell by the amount of money they have. See!

Code Name D , April 26, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Some speech has as its primary purpose making others suffer, through insult or instigating fear, and has little or no persuasive intent. That's hate speech, and I don't see a problem with curtailing it.

The problem is just about anything "becomes" "hate speach" as a means of censorship. Calling out Isrial's influence on US politics becomes antisimitism. Being critical of Hillary is misogany. Hell, not liking Campain Marvel is an example of hate speach. Recently negative reviews of the movie were removed from Rotten Tomatos as an example.

You might imagin that a line could be drawn some where. But when ever you draw that line, it always migrates over time.

Bernalkid , April 26, 2019 at 8:39 pm

Isn't part of the question what intellectually backs up drone strikes that demonstrably cause innocent casualties along with the various physical aggressions against the enemy by the empire.

Mirror shot time with Nuremberg principles in the background for the now grizzled neo leaders one hopes.

The Rev Kev , April 26, 2019 at 9:00 pm

I can imagine a professor at Evergreen State College having firm views of freedom of speech after what has been happening to that place over the past coupla years. Last year it ranked as one of the worst colleges in the US for free speech-

https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2018/02/14/25815286/evergreen-ranks-as-one-of-the-worst-colleges-in-the-us-for-free-speech

A college tailored to the demands of these extremist students would be a very sterile place indeed for original thinking. In college, ideas are supposed to undergo savage debate and examination to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Of course at this point I will not bring up the fact that CalPERS's Marcie Frost is a graduate from here as being an example of what is being produced.

Those more recent students will find themselves in a radically new environment when they graduate. It will be called the real world. But I have no doubt that many of them will be able to junk their ideas when it comes to earning a living as those ideas would have served their purpose of giving them power while in college.

An example of how this plays out mentioned in comments is about the conflating of anti-Israel and antisemitic being the one and the same. But if you give this idea a pass, who is to say that in a generation's time that a new wave of students may define pro-Israeli as being anti-American? It could happen you know. Until a few years ago the obvious flaw of conflating two such different identities would have been taken down promptly but no longer. And why? Because it has been found to be an expedient tactic, especially by politicians. A way of shutting down critics and right-thinkers. But there will be blowback for making this part of the norm and I predict that it will be massive.

Anon , April 26, 2019 at 9:43 pm

Of course at this point I will not bring up the fact that CalPERS's Marcie Frost is a graduate from here as being an example of what is being produced.

But she's not .

The Rev Kev , April 26, 2019 at 10:10 pm

My mistake. I meant to type "is an attempted graduate" but lost track of my thread of thought. Thanks for the pointer to my mistake.

meadows , April 26, 2019 at 10:11 pm

A point to remember is that to obtain a conscientious objector status (which I had in 1971) one had to object to ALL war as a pacifist and not just the Vietnam War

Try telling that to a bunch of WW2 vets on your draft board!

[Apr 20, 2019] Neoliberal education became a tool of social control and brainwashing, not so much developing of the person and his ability of critical thinking.

Apr 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Death Of Education In America

Authored by W.J.Astore via BracingViews.com,

Trump! Mueller! Collusion!

I know: who cares about the education of our kids as the redacted Mueller Report dominates the airwaves on CNN, MSNBC, and similar cable "news" networks?

I care. I spent fifteen years as a history professor, teaching mostly undergraduates at technically-oriented colleges (the Air Force Academy ; the Pennsylvania College of Technology). What I experienced was the slow death of education in America. The decline of the ideal of fostering creative and critical thinking ; the abandonment of the notion of developing and challenging young people to participate intelligently and passionately in the American democratic experiment. Instead, education is often a form of social control , or merely a means to an end, purely instrumental rather than inspirational. Zombie education .

Nowadays, education in America is about training for a vocation, at least for some. It's about learning for the sake of earning, i.e. developing so-called marketable skills that end (one hopes) in a respectable paycheck. At Penn College, I was encouraged to meet my students "at their point of need." I was told they were my "customers" and I was their " provider ." Education, in sum, was transactional rather than transformational. Keep students in class (and paying tuition) and pray you can inspire them to see that the humanities are something more than "filler" to their schedules -- and their lives.

As a college professor, I was lucky. I taught five classes a semester (a typical teaching load at community colleges), often in two or three subjects. Class sizes averaged 25-30 students, so I got to know some of my students; I had the equivalent of tenure, with good pay and decent benefits, unlike the adjunct professors of today who suffer from low pay and few if any benefits. I liked my students and tried to challenge and inspire them to the best of my ability.

All this is a preface to Belle Chesler's stunning article at TomDispatch.com , "Making American Schools Less Great Again: A Lesson in Educational Nihilism on a Grand Scale." A high school visual arts teacher, Chesler writes from the heart about the chronic underfunding of education and how it is constricting democracy in America. Here she talks about the frustrations of classes that are simply too big to teach:

[ Class sizes grew so large ] I couldn't remember my students' names, was unable to keep up with the usual grading and assessments we're supposed to do, and was overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Worst of all, I was unable to provide the emotional support I normally try to give my students. I couldn't listen because there wasn't time.

On the drive to work, I was paralyzed by dread; on the drive home, cowed by feelings of failure. The experience of that year was demoralizing and humiliating. My love for my students, my passion for the subjects I teach, and ultimately my professional identity were all stripped from me. And what was lost for the students? Quality instruction and adult mentorship, as well as access to vital resources -- not to mention a loss of faith in one of America's supposedly bedrock institutions, the public school

The truth of the matter is that a society that refuses to adequately invest in the education of its children is refusing to invest in the future. Think of it as nihilism on a grand scale.

Nihilism, indeed. Why believe in anything? Talk about zombie education!

What America is witnessing, she writes, is nothing short of a national tragedy:

Public schools represent one of the bedrock institutions of American democracy. Yet as a society we've stood aside as the very institutions that actually made America great were gutted and undermined by short-term thinking, corporate greed, and unconscionable disrespect for our collective future.

The truth is that there is money for education, for schools, for teachers, and for students. We just don't choose to prioritize education spending and so send a loud-and-clear message to students that education doesn't truly matter. And when you essentially defund education for more than 40 years, you leave kids with ever less faith in American institutions, which is a genuine tragedy.

Please read all of her article here at TomDispatch.com . And ask yourself, Why are we shortchanging our children's future? Why are we graduating gormless zombies rather than mindful citizens?

Perhaps Trump does have some relevance to this article after all: "I love the poorly educated," sayeth Trump . Who says Trump always lies?

[Apr 19, 2019] Education as a scam: shadow of Trump university over the USA

Apr 19, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

Now if these six words "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" magically disappeared (psst and they did), what would it take for a career education program to lose its eligibility for federal student aid under DeVos? . . . a for-profit institution could not lose its financial lifeline or federal student aid no matter how poorly it performed its mission as spelled out in a statute to prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" resulting from that education as stipulated previously.

One hundred percent of students could be dropped from their career program with all of them deeply in debt, or perhaps no single graduate landing a job in their field of training, and still . . . still the federal government would keep the pipeline of guaranteed federal student loans and Pell Grants flowing in to the school.

With DeVos's reversal, the NYT surmised: "Executives in the for-profit education industry would be sleeping better, secure in the knowledge that even the worst schools and programs were no longer at risk of "magically" being thrown off the taxpayer-backed gravy train, no matter how epically they failed and robbed their students." This AB author took liberty and added words to make his point.

Under Obama, "the Job Training industry was on its heels. Under DeVos, they had been given a magical new life, a second chance by the department," said Eileen Connor, the director of litigation at Harvard Law School's Project on Predatory Student Lending.

Ms. DeVos, who invested in companies with ties to for-profit colleges before taking office, has made it an agency priority to unfetter schools offering training in professional jobs and trades by eliminating restrictions on them and also nonprofits. She also allowed a growing number of for-profit schools to magically evade those loosened rules by converting to nonprofits.

That is what the Los Angeles Pentecostal megachurch's affiliate Dream Center wanted to do in 2017 when it asked to buy the remains of Education Management Corporation . . . change it from for-profit to nonprofit and use the profits to fund its other programs. One year after taking over a chain of for-profit schools, dozens of Dream Center schools are near bankruptcy and others have been sold with a hope they can survive.

Collectively Argosy University, South University and the Art Institutes have ~26,000 students in programs resulting in associate degrees in dental hygiene and doctoral programs in law and psychology. Fourteen campuses of mostly Art Institute schools have a new owner after an arranged transfer involving private equity. Another 40 or so others are now under the control of a court-appointed receiver who has accused school officials of trying to keep the doors open by taking millions of dollars earmarked for students to pay operating expenses.

Federal funding for Argosy ceased from the Department of Education when the court-appointed receiver discovered school officials had taken about $13 million owed to students at 22 campuses and used it for payroll expenses, etc. Lauren Jackson seeking a doctorate at Argosy's Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago did not receive the $10,000 she was due in January. She was paying expenses for herself and her 6-year-old daughter with borrowed money and GoFundMe donations.

26,000 students being defrauded by schools offering programs meant to teach them a skill leading to "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" is only a start to which DeVos has failed to account for in the Department of Education. DeVos does profit by this failure due to her own dabbling in areas feeding off of these failures. There is money to be made in preying on defrauded students, so many of them, and larger than the baby boomer generation. The most tragic consequence of conservatives' abandonment of federal accountability of career programs is just that and the devastating personal toll it will take on hundreds of thousands of hopelessly indebted students" for whom there is no relief.

[Apr 05, 2019] Belief in Meritocracy under Neoliberalism Is Not Only False, It's Bad for You by Clifton Mark

All known societies were to a certain extent meritocratic and allowed people of exceptional ability to get to higher classes (often via military commander position, or sometime via administrator or scholar position). Under neoliberalism the main problem is that criteria of success are corrupted (if we are taking about money you need to go to major investment bank do do some stupid staff for several years, if not a decede)
So morality also plays a role and neoliberal society can be called 'amoral meritocracy" which rewards people with abilities who demonstrate amoral, harmful for the society behaviour, such as loan sharks, private equity sharks, debt merchants, etc. In other words neoliberal society is favorable to psychopaths.
Notable quotes:
"... It's not just a matter of "the material status and class of your parents." What about sheer luck? Or shall we believe also that luck is distributed meritocratically? ..."
"... Meritocracy is utopian. What we currently have is a 100M race with everyone starting at different distances. That's not meritocracy by any reasonable interpretation of the word, its something else, yet we have the spectacle of ideologues who pretend its reality and in effect right now. ..."
Apr 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. The fact that meritocracy is a useful illusion ties into the discussion in the Michael Hudson interview today by John Siman of how in antiquity, Stoicism's emphasis on resignation helped citizens accept iniquities that they otherwise might have opposed.

By Clifton Mark. Originally published at Aeon

'We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else ' Barack Obama, inaugural address, 2013

'We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.' Donald Trump, inaugural address, 2017

Meritocracy has become a leading social ideal. Politicians across the ideological spectrum continually return to the theme that the rewards of life – money, power, jobs, university admission – should be distributed according to skill and effort. The most common metaphor is the 'even playing field' upon which players can rise to the position that fits their merit. Conceptually and morally, meritocracy is presented as the opposite of systems such as hereditary aristocracy, in which one's social position is determined by the lottery of birth. Under meritocracy, wealth and advantage are merit's rightful compensation, not the fortuitous windfall of external events.

Most people don't just think the world should be run meritocratically, they think it is meritocratic. In the UK, 84 per cent of respondents to the 2009 British Social Attitudes survey stated that hard work is either 'essential' or 'very important' when it comes to getting ahead, and in 2016 the Brookings Institute found that 69 per cent of Americans believe that people are rewarded for intelligence and skill. Respondents in both countries believe that external factors, such as luck and coming from a wealthy family, are much less important. While these ideas are most pronounced in these two countries, they are popular across the globe .

Although widely held, the belief that merit rather than luck determines success or failure in the world is demonstrably false. This is not least because merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called ' grit ', depend a great deal on one's genetic endowments and upbringing.

This is to say nothing of the fortuitous circumstances that figure into every success story. In his book Success and Luck ( 2016), the US economist Robert Frank recounts the long-shots and coincidences that led to Bill Gates's stellar rise as Microsoft's founder, as well as to Frank's own success as an academic. Luck intervenes by granting people merit, and again by furnishing circumstances in which merit can translate into success. This is not to deny the industry and talent of successful people. However, it does demonstrate that the link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best.

According to Frank, this is especially true where the success in question is great, and where the context in which it is achieved is competitive. There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth. In competitive contexts, many have merit, but few succeed. What separates the two is luck.

In addition to being false, a growing body of research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical and even more prone to acting in discriminatory ways. Meritocracy is not only wrong; it's bad.

The 'ultimatum game' is an experiment, common in psychological labs, in which one player (the proposer) is given a sum of money and told to propose a division between him and another player (the responder), who may accept the offer or reject it. If the responder rejects the offer, neither player gets anything. The experiment has been replicated thousands of times, and usually the proposer offers a relatively even split. If the amount to be shared is $100, most offers fall between $40-$50.

One variation on this game shows that believing one is more skilled leads to more selfish behaviour. In research at Beijing Normal University, participants played a fake game of skill before making offers in the ultimatum game. Players who were (falsely) led to believe they had 'won' claimed more for themselves than those who did not play the skill game. Other studies confirm this finding. The economists Aldo Rustichini at the University of Minnesota and Alexander Vostroknutov at Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that subjects who first engaged in a game of skill were much less likely to support the redistribution of prizes than those who engaged in games of chance. Just having the idea of skill in mind makes people more tolerant of unequal outcomes. While this was found to be true of all participants, the effect was much more pronounced among the 'winners'.

By contrast, research on gratitude indicates that remembering the role of luck increases generosity. Frank cites a study in which simply asking subjects to recall the external factors (luck, help from others) that had contributed to their successes in life made them much more likely to give to charity than those who were asked to remember the internal factors (effort, skill).

Perhaps more disturbing, simply holding meritocracy as a value seems to promote discriminatory behaviour. The management scholar Emilio Castilla at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the sociologist Stephen Benard at Indiana University studied attempts to implement meritocratic practices, such as performance-based compensation in private companies. They found that, in companies that explicitly held meritocracy as a core value, managers assigned greater rewards to male employees over female employees with identical performance evaluations. This preference disappeared where meritocracy was not explicitly adopted as a value.

This is surprising because impartiality is the core of meritocracy's moral appeal. The 'even playing field' is intended to avoid unfair inequalities based on gender, race and the like. Yet Castilla and Benard found that, ironically, attempts to implement meritocracy leads to just the kinds of inequalities that it aims to eliminate. They suggest that this 'paradox of meritocracy' occurs because explicitly adopting meritocracy as a value convinces subjects of their own moral bona fides . Satisfied that they are just, they become less inclined to examine their own behaviour for signs of prejudice.

Meritocracy is a false and not very salutary belief. As with any ideology, part of its draw is that it justifies the status quo , explaining why people belong where they happen to be in the social order. It is a well-established psychological principle that people prefer to believe that the world is just.

However, in addition to legitimation, meritocracy also offers flattery. Where success is determined by merit, each win can be viewed as a reflection of one's own virtue and worth. Meritocracy is the most self-congratulatory of distribution principles. Its ideological alchemy transmutes property into praise, material inequality into personal superiority. It licenses the rich and powerful to view themselves as productive geniuses. While this effect is most spectacular among the elite, nearly any accomplishment can be viewed through meritocratic eyes. Graduating from high school, artistic success or simply having money can all be seen as evidence of talent and effort. By the same token, worldly failures becomes signs of personal defects, providing a reason why those at the bottom of the social hierarchy deserve to remain there.

This is why debates over the extent to which particular individuals are 'self-made' and over the effects of various forms of 'privilege' can get so hot-tempered. These arguments are not just about who gets to have what; it's about how much 'credit' people can take for what they have, about what their successes allow them to believe about their inner qualities. That is why, under the assumption of meritocracy, the very notion that personal success is the result of 'luck' can be insulting. To acknowledge the influence of external factors seems to downplay or deny the existence of individual merit.

Despite the moral assurance and personal flattery that meritocracy offers to the successful, it ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal. It's false, and believing in it encourages selfishness, discrimination and indifference to the plight of the unfortunate.


JCC , April 5, 2019 at 10:20 am

The correct link for the Aeon source article:

https://aeon.co/ideas/a-belief-in-meritocracy-is-not-only-false-its-bad-for-you

jrs , April 5, 2019 at 11:21 am

I always though the title was off, the point being made is meritocracy is bad for society and people's moral behavior, but I still think people adapt meritocracy because they think it is good for them individually, to a degree.

I think we need to differentiate between purely individual beliefs and larger social beliefs, the purely individual beliefs are way less important but are sometimes used by people a means to cope.

There's the extreme in believing that luck has no role in life, and another extreme of believing nothing one can do personally (except you know join the revolution) can have an effect on their life. And as for being psychologically harmful to the individual, they both can be.

The person just out of luck, who say can't seem to find a job, who endlessly blames themselves falls into despair. Blaming themselves less would help a little bit, however this can not be changed so easily by a change of personal beliefs, as one's feelings are a product of their society, beliefs themselves to the extent they affect feelings are NOT entirely individual. So in this case the social belief in meritocracy becomes harmful to the individual, but the individual belief frankly just doesn't matter as much.

OTOH if there is something an individual has some chance of changing then believing they can't obviously isn't helpful – so in this case some personal belief in agency may be helpful.

But is meritocracy even the right term? When we are actually talking about belief in individual agency, they may be related to a degree, but are they really the same thing? Belief in agency is more like "I may be able to have some influence on my fate", whereas meritocracy seems to posit some perfectly just world that we all know we don't live in! But yes sometimes belief in individual agency is helpful and sometimes it's not.

Adam Eran , April 5, 2019 at 1:35 pm

This is actually an ancient conversation. In those times meritocracy was called "salvation by works." That is what Jesus condemned the pharisees for promoting. Orthodox Christianity (really, of any denomination) promotes "salvation by grace " so your position is the result of a gift, not your merit. So meritocracy is heretical.

This is a consistent theme throughout the New Testament. For example, the "Prodigal Son" gets the celebration with the fatted calf, while the good son does not.

Even worse, the idea that meritocracy motivates people turns out to be false. Sticks and carrots are not effective motivators. See this TED talk for more about that.

Sol , April 5, 2019 at 2:18 pm

Synchronicity! *throws confetti*

I suspect Nietszche understood why "salvation through good works" was rejected by the Bible in favor of salvation by faith alone. The glue that would hold salvation-by-works together lies in the hands of those privileged to define good. For when "good people" get to define what they do to, or at, others as "good works", humans can tend to become blissfully self-satisfied monsters.

djrichard , April 5, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Yes, but Jesus didn't make it very far in the church hierarchy did he. Hence the take-away lesson: if you want to move up the church hierarchy, you have to demonstrate your merit to those in authority.

Amfortas the hippie , April 5, 2019 at 4:45 pm

lol.

Like reagan being chased out of the tea party as a commie. I'm not sure that the orthodoxy/orthopraxis argument is a good fit, here although i will venture that we could use a little more thought about the latter, and not just in religion.

in this as in JR's agency vs some sort of hard determinism, maybe an actual middle road (μηδὲν ἄγαν–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moderation) is something we could try.(look what they've done to my centrism, Ma )

as for meritocracy i inherited the virus from my grandad small industrial manufactor, Houston, circa mid 50's to late 90's.
good work=better pay, pride in one's work, and such. I'd still like to believe this,lol.

but i've seen little evidence to support it. system selects for psychopathy.

Summer , April 5, 2019 at 11:03 am

Like the old saying goes, "I'd rather be lucky than smart."

mle detroit , April 5, 2019 at 11:49 am

There is also the other old saying, "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

GERMO , April 5, 2019 at 12:59 pm

LOL

"The harder I work, the luckier I get."

said everyone's jerk boss, ever

djrichard , April 5, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Evolution of capitalism's redeeming value:
– if you work hard, you'll do fine
– if you work hard and save, you'll do fine
– if you work hard, save and invest, you'll do fine
– if you work hard, save and invest and are lucky (to get a job, not get laid off or to lose out on your investments), you'll do fine

Eudora Welty , April 5, 2019 at 6:03 pm

& "play by the rules"

Alex , April 5, 2019 at 11:08 am

I don't think that the facts in this post support the central premise ( that it "ought to be abandoned both as a belief about how the world works and as a general social ideal"). First of all, the dichotomy between meritocracy and aristocracy is not false. The chances of someone born in a median family in modern-day Sweden to achieve success (whatever definition you use) are much higher than of one born in Victorian England. Would you argue against the meritocracy defined as having your odds of success being independent of the material status and class of your parents?

I would suspect that the belief in meritocracy would also correlate with a bunch of positive traits like honesty, creativity and industriousness, it would be interesting to test that.

Alex , April 5, 2019 at 11:38 am

I've done a quick google scholar search and apparently no one is interested whether the meritocracy belief is associated with anything positive.

So I can't cite anything as a proof but this is what I observed myself having lived most of my life in a place where the belief that hard work is rewarded by success is not very widespread, to put it mildly. By coincidence or not, there is a lot of short-termism among both businesses and people and a lot of opportunistic behaviour – think of a prisoner game where defecting makes most sense when you don't trust others and don't expect to play with them any more.

mle detroit , April 5, 2019 at 12:00 pm

And how many of those search results used subjects who were not "college white rats"?

Sanxi , April 5, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Depends on the value any given culture at any given time places on whatever criteria minus a system based on birth. Given where we are at now, I'm looking at several, meta studies at NIH from who gets into Medical schools, choice residencies, and all that and the data shows a little aptitude, some attitude, and mostly luck goes a long way. But, surveys 20, 30, 40 years out, 90+ seem to think they did it all themselves, unfortunately, patients are less then satisfied (49% more or less). Just saying.

diptherio , April 5, 2019 at 11:51 am

It's not just a matter of "the material status and class of your parents." What about sheer luck? Or shall we believe also that luck is distributed meritocratically?

At least in non-meritocratic societies, it was clear that someone wasn't wealthier than another because they had worked harder or were somehow a better person. It's still the case now that "it's not what you know, it's who you know," but now we can lie to ourselves that our success (or someone else's) must be due to their innate worthiness, since we have a supposedly "level playing field."

Alex , April 5, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Who said luck doesn't play a role? Especially at the very top where by definition you have very few slots and lots of people with more or less similar abilities. Definitely luck has played a lot of role in my life and I'm sure that in yours as well.

Obviously luck is not distributed meritocratically, I'd be really surprised if someone believed that. Why insist that it's either 100% luck or 100% merit?

Martin Finnucane , April 5, 2019 at 11:16 am

That Obama quote is a real gem. It's ok to have the "bleakest poverty," provided that the impoverished one – that natural born 10%er – has to the chance to be, say, Neera Tanden's secretary some day. Obama is the center-left's Reagan.

Sanxi , April 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm

Never hurts to have a few billionaire friends at your disposal. As Obama did.

Alex Cox , April 5, 2019 at 11:27 am

Regarding Gates, I would suggest greed is a bigger element in his success than luck. Richard Stallman and Linux Torvalds are also great programmers. But they are less focused on the bucks.

Anon , April 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Bill Gates was NOT a skilled programmer. He, and friends, saw an opportunity to take a basic operating system developed by others (IBM?) and meld it with a graphic user interface (first developed at Stanford University) into a marginal system that was able to survive because the personal computer revolution (inspired by Apple) was beginning its incredible rise. (He was swept along by the tide.)

Gates then used the legal skills learned from his daddy (a corporate attorney) to limit competitors by using legal threats and court actions and anti-competitive methods. Remember? He LOST the antitrust case brought against him; where he played "dumb as a rock" under cross-examination. Microsoft survived because the "remedy" instituted by the court was Pablum. To this day Microsoft products are junk, but for the average user one of only two choices; Apple is the other. (Linux desktop is still not broadly accessible to most users.)

Bill Gates is the poster boy for the "meritocracy" joke.

Arizona Slim , April 5, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Yours Truly is using Linux right now. On a made-in-the-USA System76 laptop.

Works for me

human , April 5, 2019 at 2:56 pm

GNU/Linux desktop is more broadly available than either any M$ or Apple operating system if only because of cost! Granted, one may have network and printer issues with state-of-the-art hardware, but, with with anything older than about one year, it will work better out-of-the-box than either of the big 2. Once set up, most will see little difference and setting up is easier than either with a worldwide support base of users.

It's time to post this link again: He Who Controls the Bootloader

RMO , April 5, 2019 at 3:39 pm

MS-DOS was purchased as Q-DOS from Seattle Computer Products – IBM had nothing to do with developing it. Their strategy for making the PC was to outsource everything because producing in-house as they usually did would have taken far too long (the head of their PC project said that IBM's internal approval processes meant that it would have taken at least two years to ship an empty box as a product). IBM went to Microsoft looking to buy BASIC and the CPM operating system. IBM was under the impression that Microsoft owned both. Microsoft sent them to Gary Kildall's company to get CP-M but IBM didn't make a deal at first (various reasons have been given including Kildall not showing up for the meeting as he wanted to go flying and his wife and partner not being willing to sign the onerous NDA IBM required). IBM came back to Microsoft and they scrambled to find an OS as they were terrified of losing the language business. They realized that getting in at the start with IBM would be huge. Q-DOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) was, shall we say heavily influenced by CP-M and Microsoft bought it so they could offer it to IBM.

The GUI/mouse interface was derived from the Apple Mac and Gates is on record demanding "Mac on a PC." when it was being developed. The Mac interface in turn came about directly from a system that was the product of Xerox's PARC operation after Jobs visited the facility.

Gates was a skilled programmer but nowhere near the skill level of Gary Kildall or many of the people at Xerox PARC to mention just a few. His massive success certainly isn't a result of him being a code god. He sure was ambitious, well placed to take a large part of the PC market due to his family background, could see just how big PC's would be and as greedy as hell though – none of those things support the proposition that we're in a meritocracy that's for sure.

poopinator , April 5, 2019 at 12:32 pm

I completely agree. A lot of technical folk simply value the satisfaction of solving complex problems more than financial remuneration. I think the same can be said of those who work in social services, journalism and the arts as well. Unfortunately our society has always been married to the notion that financial success is equivalent to merit, and this belief is almost inextricably tied to our religion of capitalism. It's also the reason our country's best technical talents end up building gigantic ad platforms, surveillance technology, and high frequency trading systems instead of focusing on the existential issues that face humanity/nature.

Svante Arrhenius , April 5, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Effluvium floats, since it's devoid of substance?

https://foe.org/the-study/

Amfortas the hippie , April 5, 2019 at 4:59 pm

you touch on something ive thought about a lot lately defining "success".
usually while riding around in the woods and fields in a bathrobe, in a golf cart, thinking.(it's a working golf cart, with a rifle rack)
i read zarathustra when i was a kid, and ever after wanted to "live on a mountain and wear robes and be a philosopher."
am I not, therefore, a Success?
who gave "our betters" the privilege of defining such things?
and why do we continue allow it?

Carla , April 5, 2019 at 12:41 pm

I once met and got to know, in a group situation, a married couple who struck me as the stupidest people I had ever encountered. I learned that they successfully operated a highly profitable family business. It seemed to me then (and still does now) that the pure desire for money was probably the main thing required for obtaining it. OK, maybe some luck doesn't hurt, but main thing is the focus and pure desire.

Sanxi , April 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Alex Cox, greed maybe, but the massively stupid IBM sure helped. He tried ending his contracting with IBM over and over. Nope.

Marc , April 5, 2019 at 11:29 am

What exactly is the article trying to suggest? It is quite condescending to suggest that people are under the illustion that priviledge and luck doesn't exist. The surveys cited asked whether hard work, intelligence and skill contribute to success. They clearly do as reflected in the result but that doesn't exlcude also recognising that you also need luck and you can have bad luck. I'm surrounded by people who have been more lucky and less lucky than I have from a similar starting point. I'm not exactly sure what you are supposed to do with that other hope that people are self-aware enough to realise this and not be arrogant etc but humans will be humans and there are all kinds. I just tell my children, that they have had a lot of the priviledges they've had, to work as hard as they can. That won't guarantee success but at least they have made the effort and put themsleves in front of more opportunity than someone who hasn't.

Sanxi , April 5, 2019 at 1:43 pm

All my brother ever had to do was show up. And he keep falling up from there. I'm happy for him as he had no skills to speak of.

anon y'mouse , April 5, 2019 at 4:13 pm

the ability to take advantage of the luck thrown your way is a skill to exploit, but it is usually predicated on being the previous recipient of a lucky circumstance that gave you enough chances to try (and prove, or improve) your skill.

if you are never offered the chance, you cannot improve your skill. and being offered the chance is down to luck.

we are shaped so much by our experiences, that the truth is found by studies that people who are more attractive are more successful and smarter, generally, than those who are not as attractive? why? because people treated them differently from the very beginning of their lives (or their period of attractiveness started) which made them more confident and thus able to exploit these opportunities that came their way, thus more room to expand whatever skills they may have had in the first place.

this is a nature/nurture problem at the heart of it all. you want to believe that skill makes a difference, and it does. but why did that particular person develop those skills to begin with? they definitely weren't "born that way". society chooses what success means. the system determines what the grade for "failure" is. meaning it is somewhat arbitrary to begin with, and malleable (if we had a different system, with a different set of values, we would possibly choose different benchmarks).

most important of all: a mentor or some figure around you that recognizes, early on, that you are capable of learning and developing talents and invests some time and trouble into you to make sure that you do develop them. some of us were lucky enough to have parents who did this. my own parents taught me to clean beer bottles, wash dishes, do laundry, etc. that is as far as their instruction went. all of my other training i had to pick up from school, or from reading, or from observation in life. the fact that i had an employer, at one time, who alllowed me to take on a wide range of duties resulting in developing skills at her business when i knew absolutely nothing to begin with, was totally down to luck on my part at that time.

is any of that making sense? i have no idea anymore.

Temporarily Sane , April 5, 2019 at 8:44 pm

Your post makes perfect sense to me. Nobody gets to choose their parents, their personality traits, the socio-economic class they are born into etc. or the early childhood experiences that play such a major role in shaping a person's psychological core. Someone who consistently gets negative feedback from their parents or peers will be psychologically hamstrung from an early age and without a mentor figure to help guide them, or blind genetic luck gifting them with a disposition that lets them overcome negative reinforcement and land on their feet, that can really damage their future potential.

Another limiting factor is society itself. Example: A hypothetical person who spent their 20s and much of their 30s caught up in a heavy opiate addiction but manages to kick the habit before age 40. They can be smart, motivated, have a positive attitude and all that stuff, but unless that person also has resourceful family or connected friends who are willing to help them with jobs, money, references etc. and the transition into a "productive" member of society, they will likely be SOL and live on the margins for the rest of their life.

America does not do second chances. There is no structure in place to assist people who messed up their young adulthood in finding a dignified position in society. Fu*k up once and unless you're lucky and have people in your life willing and able to help, you're finished as far as sustainable employment that pays a living wage goes.

The same is true for a person who did time in jail. When they get out after serving their sentence, they have paid their debt to society and been deemed stable and rehabilitated enough to be allowed back into that society. But they will be forever stigmatized as an ex-con, a criminal, not to be trusted and, unless they have family or friends who can give them a leg up, they too are denied the opportunity to earn a dignified living and to make something of themselves.

In America and other countries with a similar social system it is blind luck that determines if a person who "made poor choices" in early adulthood or, for whatever reason, got a later start in life will have an opportunity to thrive and be accepted as a full member of their community.

People who think that luck and circumstances outside of their control have nothing to do with what they have acheived are simply wrong. It is also supremely ironic that STEM bro types who aggressively push biological determinism don't see any contradiction between that position and their waffle about the supposed fairness of meritocracy and "equality of opportunity" that is supposed to highlight their sensitive "hey I'm not a total crypto fascistic eugenicist" side. Bah. Family blog all those miserable family bloggers.

Tim , April 5, 2019 at 5:53 pm

I agree with Marc. As everybody knows on this site framing is everything in a survey, and the author takes a massive leap on the referenced surveys to reach her conclusions of how the majority of people think.

Watt4Bob , April 5, 2019 at 11:37 am

There's a subtlety to the cognitive dissonance involved in believing in the meritocracy.

That is IMO, many folks understand that 'merit' in a certain sense means being able to put up with BS, and many folks think a college diploma is actually proof of the bearers ability and willingness to swim upstream in sh*t creek.

So meritocracy means different things to different people.

Some folks even go so far as believing that a person's inability to " Go along to get along" is proof of lower intelligence, and by extension, lack of 'merit' .

So one of the wrinkles in the story, lies in two different definitions of 'merit' , one of which, though correct, is not a key to success, and believing in it is naive, and maybe a waste of time, the other though crooked and false, is actually useful to the crooked and dishonest in getting ahead under current management.

Fiery Hunt , April 5, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Ding, ding!

rd , April 5, 2019 at 2:15 pm

I think part of it is that there are different definitions of value. for some people, it is measured purely in money, for others in time, and for others in general happiness. https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/10/09/can-money-buy-happiness-a-new-way-to-measure/#309bf40a4e89

In general, it is pretty clear that money is directly correlated with happiness up to something like $70k to $135k per year in the developed world. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/02/26/does-money-equal-happiness-does-until-you-earn-much/374119002/

Beyond that, extra money does not mean extra happiness. So it is very difficult to measure meritocracy past about $100k as many people make decisions where they could make more money but choose not to for a number of reasons.

On the other hand, it is clear that many people struggle to break out of poverty no matter how hard they work, so there are systemic barriers preventing them from reaching that threshold value where money doesn't buy more happiness. I think this is where the proof of US inequality and lack of meritocracy comes to the fore.

LifelongLib , April 5, 2019 at 4:23 pm

Arguably money is like air or food, you need a certain amount or you're constantly impaired by not having enough, but once you have enough more doesn't make much difference

shinola , April 5, 2019 at 11:41 am

How does meritocracy differ from social Darwinism?

diptherio , April 5, 2019 at 11:52 am

Is that a trick question? There is no difference, right?

shinola , April 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Oh, and there's this thing called the "Peter Principle".

Svante Arrhenius , April 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

The harder YOU work, the luckier I get? Nudge, nudge!

http://www.csustan.edu/history/socialist-darwinism

Sanxi , April 5, 2019 at 1:46 pm

No, the harder you work the harder you work. That kind of Effort bears almost no relationship to outcome.

jrs , April 5, 2019 at 1:54 pm

One has to work just to avoid getting fired (not that it's the only reason people get fired of course). so there's your relationship to outcome right there.

But sure people work very hard at jobs that are poorly paid and others less hard at well remunerated jobs.

Svante Arrhenius , April 5, 2019 at 2:20 pm

I'm doubting I'd be doing anybody a favor by posting any of Mike Judge's movies or series here, in their entirety? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YwZ0ZUy7P3E of course, FOX cut the good parts! "Hard work.. bears no relationship" agreed!

WobblyTelomeres , April 5, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Sanxi has it right. The only thing I ever got from working 70 hour weeks was a sociopath asking for 80.

Temporarily Sane , April 5, 2019 at 8:52 pm

It doesn't. The meritocratic "if you want it badly enough you will find a way to get it" line that is pushed onto kids from an early age basically encourages them to be sociopaths. Herbert Spencer would wholeheartedly approve.

jake , April 5, 2019 at 11:43 am

This piece promotes its own myth of meritocracy when it notes "There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth."

Nobody actually knows how skillful a programmer Gates is, but it doesn't matter, because his programming skills have absolutely nothing to do with his wealth. Look up the history of IBM-DOS, for his pilfering of intellectual property and the colossal mistake of IBM, in allowing Microsoft, then a one-horse company, to retain rights to the operating system it didn't actually write.

Gates enjoys vast wealth thanks to incredible luck, crime and personality traits which have nothing to do with intellectual achievement.

poopinator , April 5, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Gates was a ruthless businessman. He was a monopolist. He was a bundler. He tried to rip off Paul Allen when he was stricken with cancer (Paul Allen was no sympathetic character in this either, btw). Gates was a notorious creep in the office during the early years. He would not have survived the scrutiny of a modern day internet enabled press. His philanthropy seems to serve his vanities more so than the immediate needs of the society that enabled his rise to wealth. Hell, until he was about 40 or so , he was a notorious miser when it came to charitable causes. Most of his charitable work seems to be aimed at pushing PR to rehabilitate the reputation that he so richly earned during the 80s and 90s.

Whenever I hear or read about people talking about benevolent billionaires such as him or Buffet, I immediately know that the messenger is susceptible to propaganda. When Gates announced that he was leaving MS and concentrate on giving away his mountain of money, he was worth 10-20 billion. He's now worth 100 billion, and most of that recent growth was due to rentier capitalism. Bill Gates firmly believes that he knows what society needs are better than the masses.

Arizona Slim , April 5, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Ummm, Mr. Gates, about that charitable work. Here's a local problem that could use a bit of your attention.

Here's the link to a recent documentary produced by KOMO-TV in your hometown, Seattle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpAi70WWBlw

poopinator , April 5, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Been meaning to watch that. I think that's a great example considering the topic of this thread. Society looks down on the homeless as losers in a meritocracy and deserving of their plight. Hence they are unworthy of charity from our plutocrats, despite being the product of the system they created.

Svante Arrhenius , April 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm

EWwww Marx worked FOR Greeley! AmiRIGHT, huh, huh? Who decides, what MERITS whom? Certain towns sop up slime like SpongeBob. The 1% hasn't the brains to replace their craven 9.9% churls with self-disinfecting robot whores YET? Without all these ivy league media hyenas feasting on the pyritic brains of inbred Reagan era pundits, wonks, gurus and deadeyed ofay hammerheads. What we have here is a meritocracy of mendacious moronic Munchkins? https://www.counterpunch.org/2009/06/12/elmer-fudd-nation/ https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/04/03/nine-reasons-why-you-should-support-joe-biden-for-president/

Sol , April 5, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Perhaps more disturbing, simply holding meritocracy as a value seems to promote discriminatory behaviour.

Well, sure. See, one of the things we know for sure is that we are the good guy. And once we – the good guys – are also convinced of our own merit, from there determining who is also meritorious and good is a simple matter of examining those not like us for the flaws that made them dysfunctional, and examining those like us for the traits that made them excellent.

Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.

:D

ape , April 5, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Yes, being delusional about reality leads to pathologies.

Very great pathologies.

In fact, there have been studies/simulations of pure meritocratic models versus partially random models -- eg, a redistribution of wealth between plays so that early winners don't get all the wealth. Unsurprisingly, a less "meritocratic" model is more meritocratic, because the problem isn't in the winning, which is a partial winnow, but in the leveraging.

You can see how deeply this bites even on this thread -- if you're a winner, and you think you're a winner, you're a loser.

Ape , April 5, 2019 at 1:49 pm

And allow me to self-comment: this ties in very strongly with Hudson's series.

JerryDenim , April 5, 2019 at 2:16 pm

As far as societal outcomes and world-views that squelch introspection I wonder how the Anglo concept of 'meritocracy' as a value system compares to other value systems that serve an entrenched elite at the top of a highly stratified society, like say, the Indian caste system? One system believes the gods and past deeds in previous lives determine your lot in this life, while the other system lays everything at the feet of each individual, in one lifespan, regardless of the hand they've been dealt, in effect elevating each man to god status deciding their own fates through sheer will. It could be argued the caste system is the more fatalist world view of the two, but it seems less psychologically corrosive for the losers. Not as much blame to internalize. Society-wide the outcome seems identical; Don't question your betters, everybody gets what they deserve.

Rosario , April 5, 2019 at 3:55 pm

An observation I have made over the years. There are people who work hard (in a material and metaphysical/emotional sense), are smart, contribute to society in positive ways, and all the while, they gain little material or social wealth from it because they shun those "rewards" out of principle. I know some of those people and admire them very much. They are often a bit neurotic but very thoughtful and empathetic.

Being successful in the sense that one is "helpful" to the world they live in is very different from being successful by typical cultural metrics. One is somewhat easy to quantify the other is not. Maybe the problem is, the way many people measure success is simplistic but easily quantifiable, and this half-picture approach to success, leads to "incompetence of morality", similar to poor performance on the job as a result of not seeing the whole picture (put bluntly, being a dumbass). Not that bad behavior should be absolved because of this, but that perspective at least offers a less abstract approach to conditioning better behavior in people. We could create a model of human value and success that acknowledges our experience on this planet as more complicated than money, views, likes, etc.

Tim , April 5, 2019 at 5:48 pm

I believe the following three things:
– I believe everybody should try as hard as they can to do their best for themselves and their loved ones in a moral/ethical way
-I believe every individual should strive for a meritocracy in their own actions, and retain humility through empathy for those that are not as successfully in life. Luck and the starting point are huge factors
– Even the most meritocractic of systems is not very meritocratic. Especially in the USA the ginni coefficient proves the american dream is dead.

Raulb , April 5, 2019 at 6:33 pm

Meritocracy is utopian. What we currently have is a 100M race with everyone starting at different distances. That's not meritocracy by any reasonable interpretation of the word, its something else, yet we have the spectacle of ideologues who pretend its reality and in effect right now.

Let's start every child with the exact same circumstances till 18, how many meritocrats are open to that because that's the only thing that can be called 'meritocracy'? And its at this point that the arguments starts to rapidly degenerate into things like 'parental meritocracy to pass on to children as perfectly fair' ie feudalism or odious eugenics with more value placed on puzzle solving tests that they can logically provide. So every generation is squandering time arguing in good faith with disingenuous neo-feudals and their paid ideologues who use whatever they can to perpetuate privilege and wealth.

Wealthy and able backgrounds are going to make a huge difference to children, as are connections and privilege in opportunities and perceptions. Since every society has an underclass that suffers prejudice and lack of opportunities and an upperclass that get the exact opposite meritocracy does not in fact exist.

Even more damning how exactly are you going to get a meritocracy in a capitalist system that privileges wealth and capital, and by design produces a large underclass because demand, resource shortages and resulting prices hikes will always limit access only for the top echelons. There is no way any claims of merit can be made or taken with good faith. So what we get instead is celebrating the rich and privileged and a few odd naturally gifted who can start a race with a disadvantage and still compete as examples of meritocracy when it is only be the conditions of the average and not the exception that reflects a meritocracy.

[Apr 05, 2019] "Free" Markets and the Attack on Democracy

Notable quotes:
"... Media consolidation itself has played an enormous role in driving up the cost of political campaigns. How did we get to this second Gilded Age and what lessons can we infer regarding our democratic prospects? ..."
"... Notre Dame University 's Philip Mirowski Never Let a Serious Crisis G to Waste has provided a careful and detailed analysis of this neoliberal movement in American politics. ..."
"... Adam Smith and JS Mill saw markets as non-coercive means to allocate resources and produce goods and services. Neoliberals regarded markets as perfect information processing machines that could provide optimal solutions to all social problems ..."
"... Market is miraculous and a boon to many, but paradoxically only a strong state can assure its arrival and maintenance. Sometimes it may appear that the market is yielding iniquitous or unsustainable outcomes, which my lead to premature or disastrous rejection of its wisdom ..."
"... The neoliberal deification of markets has many parents. This mindset encouraged and was encouraged by a revolt against democracy. The wealthy had always been concerned that a propertyless working class might vote to expropriate them, but neoliberalism gave them further reason to bypass democracy. Markets were seen as better indicators of truth than democratic elections, though that point was seldom expressed as directly ..."
"... Here is FA Hayek's oblique expression of this concern: "if we proceed on the assumption that only the exercises of freedom that the majority will practice are important, we would be certain to create a stagnant society with all the characteristics of unfreedom." ..."
Apr 05, 2019 | www.commondreams.org

Why "free" why not "fair". Neoliberals are as dangerious as Big brother in 1994. Actually neoliberal state is as close to Big Brother regine described in 1994. We have total surveillance, with technological capabiltiies which probably exceed anything rulers of 1984 world possessed, Russiagate as "hour of anger", permanent war for permanent people (and total victory of "democracy") , and of course "[neoliberal] freedom is [debt[ slavery..." in neoliberal MSM.

Fast forward from one Gilded Age to another. Citizens United, granting unions and corporations the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for and against political candidates, is often regarded as a singularly dangerous challenge to our democratic norms, especially with its infamous assertion that money is speech. Less attention, however, is pad to the context in which this decision occurred, including corporate consolidation in most sectors of the economy, obscene levels of economic inequality, and near religious reverence for deregulated markets.

Media consolidation itself has played an enormous role in driving up the cost of political campaigns. How did we get to this second Gilded Age and what lessons can we infer regarding our democratic prospects?

The post World War II decades saw white working class gains in income made possible by unionization, the GI bill, and a federal commitment to full employment. Positive as these gains were, they carried with them unintended consequences. Workers and employers, having less fear of depression, periodically drove wages and prices up.

Bursts of inflation and an unprecedented profit squeeze led to unemployment even in the midst of inflation, an unprecedented and unexpected circumstance. Blacks had been left out of the full benefits of the New Deal welfare state and raised demands not only for political equality but also for economic opportunity, one of Reconstruction's forgotten promises.

These events provided an opening for a group of academics who had long despised the New Deal welfare state. Notre Dame University 's Philip Mirowski Never Let a Serious Crisis G to Waste has provided a careful and detailed analysis of this neoliberal movement in American politics.

These neoliberals shared with their nineteenth- century predecessors a faith in markets, but with an important difference. Adam Smith and JS Mill saw markets as non-coercive means to allocate resources and produce goods and services. Neoliberals regarded markets as perfect information processing machines that could provide optimal solutions to all social problems. Hence a commitment not only to lift rent control on housing but also to privatize prisons, water and sewer systems, and to deregulate all aspects of personal finance and treat education and health care as commodities to be pursued on unregulated markets. An essential part of this faith in markets is the post Reagan view of corporate consolidation. Combinations are to be judged only on the basis of cheap products to the consumer.

Older antitrust concerns about worker welfare or threat to democracy itself are put aside. Corporate mergers and the emergence of monopoly are seen as reflections of the omniscient market. In practice, however as we shall see, such a tolerant attitude is not applied to worker associations.

Neoliberals differ from their classical predecessors in a second important way. Market is miraculous and a boon to many, but paradoxically only a strong state can assure its arrival and maintenance. Sometimes it may appear that the market is yielding iniquitous or unsustainable outcomes, which my lead to premature or disastrous rejection of its wisdom. The answer to this anger is more markets, but that requires a strong state staffed by neoliberals. They would have the capacity and authority to enact and impose these markets and distract the electorate and divert them into more harmless pursuits. Recognition of the need for a powerful state stands in partial contradiction to the neoliberal's professed deification of pure markets and was seldom presented to public gatherings. As Mirowski put it, neoliberals operated on the basis of a dual truth, an esoteric truth for its top scholars and theorists and an exoteric version for then public. Celebration of the spontaneous market was good enough for Fox News, whereas top neoliberal scholars discussed how to reengineer government in order to recast society.

The signs of neoliberalism are all around us. Worried about student debt? There is a widely advertised financial institution that will refinance your loan. Trapped in prison with no money for bail. There are corporations and products that will take care of that. Cancer cures, money for funerals and burial expenses can all be obtained via the market. Any problem the market creates the market can solve. The implications of this view have been ominous for democracy and social justice.

The neoliberal deification of markets has many parents. This mindset encouraged and was encouraged by a revolt against democracy. The wealthy had always been concerned that a propertyless working class might vote to expropriate them, but neoliberalism gave them further reason to bypass democracy. Markets were seen as better indicators of truth than democratic elections, though that point was seldom expressed as directly.

Here is FA Hayek's oblique expression of this concern: "if we proceed on the assumption that only the exercises of freedom that the majority will practice are important, we would be certain to create a stagnant society with all the characteristics of unfreedom."

The revolt against democracy has occurred on several different levels of the political process. The question of who can vote is just as contested as during Reconstruction, and not just in the South. As during Reconstruction, it does not take the form of explicit racial appeals. The strategy includes further limiting the time polls are open, reduction in the number of polling places, voter identification cards that take time and money to obtain. Who can vote is also a function of the racist legacy of our history, with prohibitions on voting by felons serving to exclude large numbers of potential voters, disproportionately minorities. It should be mentioned more than it is that these techniques also work to the disadvantage of poor whites. Political scientists Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson point out: "In Georgia in 1942, for example, turnout topped out at 3.4 percent (that's right, 3.4 percent; no misprint). Why is no mystery: the Jim Crow system pushed virtually all African-Americans out of the system, while the network of poll taxes, registration requirements, literacy tests and other obstacles that was part of that locked out most poor whites from voting, too. Since the civil rights revolution, turnouts in the South have risen fitfully to national levels, amid much pushback, such as the raft of new voter ID requirements (though these are not limited to the South)."

Minorities, poor, and even substantial segments of the working class are further disadvantaged by efforts to defund the labor opposition. Unions have been the one big money source that Democrats had available, but as the party from Bill Clinton on increasingly became a kind of neoliberalism light, embracing corporate trade agreements with a little bit of job training assistance thrown in, unions lost members, many corporations forced decertification elections. Democrats lost not only financial resources but also the ground troops that had mobilized their voters.

One result of and partial driving force behind these changes is that both parties become big money parties. Burnham and Ferguson-( December 2014)- The President and the Democratic Party are almost as dependent on big money – defined, for example, in terms of the percentage of contributions (over $500 or $1000) from the 1 percent as the Republicans. To expect top down money-driven political parties to make strong economic appeals to voters is idle. Instead the Golden Rule dominates: Money-driven parties emphasize appeals to particular interest groups instead of the broad interests of working Americans that would lead their donors to shut their wallets.

As David Stockman, President Reagan's Budget Director once all but confessed,

"in the modern era the party has never really pretended to have much of a mass constituency. It wins elections by rolling up huge percentages of votes in the most affluent classes while seeking to divide middle and working class voters with various special appeals and striving to hold down voting by minorities and the poor."

Challenging this bipartisan money driven establishment becomes even more difficult as state level ballot access laws are notoriously hostile to third parties. Add to this the private, deceptively named Presidential Debate Commission, which specializes in depriving even candidates about whom large segment s of the population are curious access to the widely watched debates. Unfortunately the celebrated voting reform proposal, HR1, though containing some democratic initiatives such as early voting and automatic voter registration, makes it own contribution to economic and political consolidation.

Bruce Dixon, editor of Black Agenda Report, maintains that only two provisions of this bill are likely to become law and both are destructive: "by raising the qualifying amount from its current level of $5,000 in each of 20 states to $25,000 in 20 states. HR 1 would cut funding for a Green presidential candidate in half, and by making ballot access for a Green presidential candidate impossible in several states it would also guarantee loss of the party's ability to run for local offices." Dixon also predicts that some Democrats "will cheerfully cross the aisle to institutionalize the Pentagon, spies and cops to produce an annual report on the threat to electoral security.

Dixon maintains:

"Democrats are a capitalist party, they are a government party, and this is how they govern. HR 1 reaches back a hundred years into the Democrat playbook politicians created a foreign menace to herd the population into World War 1, which ended in the Red Scare and a couple of red summers, waves of official and unofficial violence and deportations against US leftists and against black people. The Red Scare led to the founding of the FBI, the core of the nation's permanent political police . Fifty years ago these were the same civil servants who gave us the assassinations, the disinformation and illegality of COINTELPRO, and much, much more before that and since then. HR 1 says let's go to the Pentagon and the cops, let's order them to discover threats to the electoral system posed by Americans working to save themselves and the planet."

Dixon is surely right that both parties are capitalist parties, but capitalism itself has taken different forms. New Deal and neoliberal capitalism had far different implications for working class Americans. The New Deal itself was heavily influenced by Norman Thomas and the socialist tradition. In this regard, if what Paul Wellstone used to call the democratic wing of the Democratic Party wishes to see its ideals translated into practice, it must resist efforts to exclude third parties or to deny primary opponents an even playing field.

I am not claiming that there has been a carefully coordinated conspiracy among the individuals and groups that supported these policies, but leaders did act out of a general animus toward popular movements that further reinforced their reverence for corporate markets, and the faith in markets drove the worries about popular movements.

One positive conclusion to be drawn is that if this attack on democracy exists on several levels, activism might be fruitful in many domains and may have a spillover effect. Unions are still not dead, and there is a fight now for the soul of the Democratic Party and that fight might stimulate voter access and eligibility reforms. These in turn could reshape the party's orientation and ideology. Even at the Federal level Dark money is worrisome to many voters and could be an incentive to mobilize for better disclosure laws. There are ample fronts on which to fight and good reason to keep up the struggle.

Video:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1CxOpAcViPQ

[Apr 02, 2019] From Haven To Conquest" by Walid Khalidi and The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black

Apr 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Mar 31, 2019 9:55:06 PM | link

@ mourning dove #25

You're welcome. Two other titles I was going to recommend you watching for at your library are these:

"From Haven To Conquest" by Walid Khalidi and The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black

The former is a 900 page source book which includes 80 short pieces, one of which is from Jeffries "Palestine: The Reality". The second is about the agreement Hitler made with the Zionists to evade a world-wide Jewish boycott of Germany at a time when this would have hurt . Neither book is inexpensive, so I was surprised to see both of them at the Internet Archive available for downloading.

Tel Aviv City of the Jews 1939

This is just a short magazine article from 1939 describing life in a Jewish town in Palestine. The last two pages give a hint of the way the Zionists used violence and even terror against their fellow Jews to keep them in line.

Destiny Southern States

Another topic altogether, but this 1854 newspaper essay gives a taste of what the South planned for Central and South America. The Northern victory in the Civil War turned out to be badly flawed, but a Southern one would have brought on evils beyond imagining.

[Mar 31, 2019] The Conservation of Controversy Outraged students, helpless teachers, and the President's executive order by Joshua Blair

Notable quotes:
"... Professor Weinstein is an avowed liberal with a long history of progressive thinking. As a young man, he was the center of another controversy when he blew the whistle regarding the exploitation of black strippers by a college fraternity. Regardless, his refusal to participate in what can be described as a "no-white-people-day" ironically earned him the brand "racist" by the student body. He was essentially removed from the campus on the threat of physical harm. ..."
"... Bret Weinstein is on the left, politically, but the leftist students and administration attacked him for not being left enough . Imagine now, how the college may have treated a person who leaned right. As it turns out, there are quite a few examples. ..."
"... Dr. Peterson is a psychology professor, clinician, and best-selling author. He is also, perhaps, today's most controversial academic. He burst into the public consciousness after he opposed bill C-16 in Canada. The bill added gender expression and gender identity to the various protections covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act. ..."
"... One example comes from Queens University. While Dr. Peterson gave a lecture, student protestors broke windows, tried to drown him out with noisemakers and drums, and one protestor told others to burn down the building with Dr. Peterson and the attendees locked inside. ..."
Mar 23, 2019 | blog.usejournal.com

In March 2017, young people armed with baseball bats prowled the parking lots of Evergreen State College. They hoped to find Bret Weinstein, a biology professor, and presumably bash his brains in. Bret had caught the ire of the student body after he refused to participate in an unofficial "Day of Absence," in which white students and faculty were told to stay home, away from the campus, while teachers and students of color attended as they normally would. In prior years, people of color voluntarily absented themselves to highlight their presence and importance on campus. In 2017, the event's organizers decided to flip the event, and white people were pressured to stay away from the school.

In a letter to the school's administration, Bret explained why he opposed the idea:

There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away. The first is a forceful call to consciousness which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself
On a college campus, one's right to speak  --  or to be  --  must never be based on skin color.

When word of Professor Weinstein's objection got out, enraged student activists began a hostile takeover of the school, and the college president ordered the campus police force not to intervene. Professor Weinstein was told, in essence, that nobody would protect him from young people with baseball bats. The police warned Professor Weinstein that their hands were tied and that he should stay off campus for his own safety.

Professor Weinstein is an avowed liberal with a long history of progressive thinking. As a young man, he was the center of another controversy when he blew the whistle regarding the exploitation of black strippers by a college fraternity. Regardless, his refusal to participate in what can be described as a "no-white-people-day" ironically earned him the brand "racist" by the student body. He was essentially removed from the campus on the threat of physical harm.

And its core, the story of Bret Weinstein and Evergreen State College is about a college's descent into total chaos after someone presented mild resistance to a political demonstration.

Bret Weinstein is on the left, politically, but the leftist students and administration attacked him for not being left enough . Imagine now, how the college may have treated a person who leaned right. As it turns out, there are quite a few examples.


Before discussing what the Wilfrid Laurier University did to a woman named Lindsay Shepherd, it's important to know about Jordan Peterson.


Dr. Peterson is a psychology professor, clinician, and best-selling author. He is also, perhaps, today's most controversial academic. He burst into the public consciousness after he opposed bill C-16 in Canada. The bill added gender expression and gender identity to the various protections covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Dr. Peterson objected to the bill because it set a new precedent  --  requiring citizens to use certain pronouns to address people with non-traditional gender identities. Dr. Peterson calls transexual people by whatever gender they project , as long as he feels like they're asking him to do so in good faith, but he's wary of people playing power games with him, and he saw something dangerous about the government mandating which words he must use. He believed that under C-16, misgendering a person could be classified as hate speech, even it was just an accident.

Having spent much of his life considering the dangers that exist at the furthest ends of the political spectrum  --  Nazi Germany on the far right, the Soviet Union on the far left  --  Dr. Peterson has developed a tendency to see things in apocalyptic terms. In bill C-16, he saw what he considered the seeds of a serious threat to the freedom of expression  --  a list of government-approved words  --  and decided it was a hill worth dying on.

He's controversial, verbose, discursive, sometimes grouchy, and almost incapable of speaking the language of television sound-bites. He makes it easy for critics to attack and misrepresent him  --  and ever since he took a stance against C-16, he's been subjected to student protests and journalistic hit-pieces.

One example comes from Queens University. While Dr. Peterson gave a lecture, student protestors broke windows, tried to drown him out with noisemakers and drums, and one protestor told others to burn down the building with Dr. Peterson and the attendees locked inside.

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with his opinions, Dr. Peterson should have the right to express them without other people suggesting that he be murdered with fire. Furthermore, people should be able to talk about what he says.

Enter the case of Lindsay Shepherd.


While working as a teacher's aid at Wilfrid Laurier University, Lindsay Shepherd showed students two clips from public access television featuring Jordan Peterson debating someone over bill C-16. After showing the clips, she asked her students to share their thoughts.

Days later, the school called her into a meeting with a panel of three superiors. They said that they had gotten a number of complaints from students. Lindsay asked how many complaints they had received, and was told that the number was confidential.

The panel claimed that she had created a toxic environment by showing the clips and facilitating a discussion without taking a side against Dr. Peterson's view. They said it was as if she had been completely neutral while showing one of Hitler's speeches. The panel thought the clip probably violated the Human Rights Code, and they demanded Shepherd to submit all of her future lesson plans ahead of time so that they could be vetted.

Although one student expressed some concern about the class, the number of formal complaints that the administrators had received was actually zero.

During their discussion, Lindsay said:

The thing is, can you shield people from those ideas? Am I supposed to comfort them and make sure that they are insulated away from this? Is that what the point of this is? Because to me that is against what a university is about.

Lindsay found herself at the mercy of school administrators whose brittle spirits couldn't bear to present students with opinions that they might have found offensive. She had believed that universities were places where people could explore ideas. On that day, the panel showed her just how wrong she'd been.

And she caught it all on tape.

Over the past few years, the news has become littered with stories of schools overrun by children while hand-wringing professors and administrators do everything possible to placate them. Recently, a group called "The Diaspora Coalition" staged a sit-in at Sarah Lawrence. Their demands included, among other things, that they get free fabric-softener. The origin of their grievance was an op-ed published in the New York Times about the imbalance between left-leaning and right-leaning school administrators.

Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, sums the phenomenon up tidily :

You get kids who are much more anxious and fragile, much more depressed, coming onto campus at a time of much greater political activism  --  and now these grievance studies ideas about, 'America's a matrix of oppression,' and, 'look at the world in terms of good versus evil.' it's much more appealing to them, and it's that minority of students, they're the ones who are initiating a lot of the movements

Every day, or at least every week, I get an email from a professor saying, 'you know, I used a metaphor in class and somebody reported me.' and once this happens to you, you pull back. You change your teaching style

What we're seeing on campus is a spectacular collapse of trust between students and professors. And once we can't trust each other, we can't do our job.

We can't risk being provocative, raising uncomfortable ideas. We have to play it safe, and then everybody suffers.

To understate it, President Donald Trump is a deeply troubling human being. However, he may have done a good thing on Thursday, March 21st, when he signed an executive order that requires public schools to "foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate."

Schools that don't comply may lose government-funded research grants.

In theory, the order will compel colleges to prevent scenes like those at Evergreen State and Sarah Lawrence. Schools will have serious financial incentives to protect their professors from mobs of unruly children. If all goes well, students will learn to engage with controversial opinions without resorting to baseball bats or demanding Snuggle Plus fabric softener.

One would be remiss if they didn't consider the hidden or unintended consequences of the new policy, though. The executive order is vague, and it gives no criteria for judging whether an institution complies with its requirements. Instead, the specific implementation is left for structures lower on the hierarchy to decide. Hopefully, nobody decides that Young Earth theories must be taught alongside evolution.

The policy could very well become a tool by which the dominant political party punishes schools that lean in the opposite direction. Since there is a 12-to-1 imbalance between liberals and conservative college administrators right now, it would be a Republican administration punishing liberal colleges.

This is hardly a perfect solution  --  but at least it's an effort to address the problem. The stability of our society depends on an endless balancing act between the left and the right. The political landscape of academia has tilted too far left, and it's clearly becoming insular and unstable. Now it's necessary to push things back toward the center.

Hopefully, this recent executive order does more good than harm.

Postscript

After the events at Evergreen State College, the school was forced to settle with Bret Weinstein and his wife, who was also a professor there. The college paid the couple $500,000. Enrollment at the college is said to have dropped "catastrophically."

After the events at Wilfrid Laurier University, the school released several letters of apology. It is being sued for millions of dollars by Lindsay Shepherd and Jordan Peterson.

Forty professors endorsed the demands made by the Diaspora Coalition at Sarah Lawrence, and several others endorsed challenging Samuel Abrams's tenure  --  Abrams being the person who wrote the op-ed that appeared in the New York Times.

[Mar 28, 2019] Was MAGA is con job ?

Notable quotes:
"... Until the Crash of the Great Recession, after which we entered a "Punitive" stage, blaming "Those Others" for buying into faulty housing deals, for wanting a safety net of health care insurance, for resurgent terrorism beyond our borders, and, as the article