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Member since: Mon Mar 22, 2004, 01:26 PM
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Bloomberg says college costs aren't really increasing

The inflation-adjusted net price of college has risen only modestly over the last two decades, according to data from the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges. ... At four-year public universities, the average sticker price for tuition and fees has risen 127 percent in real terms, from $3,810 in 1992 to $8,660 in this academic year. But only $990 of this $4,850 increase in sticker price, or 20 percent, is due to increases in net cost. The remaining 80 percent is price discrimination. ... In other words, the cost burden of college has become significantly more progressive since the 1990s. Students from wealthier families not only now pay more for their own educations but also have come to heavily subsidize the costs of the less fortunate.

From: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-27/misconceptions-101-why-college-costs-aren-t-soaring.html

If real inflation-adjusted net tuitions and fees aren't increasing, or increasing only modestly, and the same is true for room and board, then why is student debt load so high?
Posted by salvorhardin | Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:38 PM (3 replies)

The Monster of Monticello

The battle of the Jeffersons -- no, not George and Weezie -- continues on the oped pages of the NY Times.

We are endlessly fascinated with Jefferson, in part because we seem unable to reconcile the rhetoric of liberty in his writing with the reality of his slave owning and his lifetime support for slavery. Time and again, we play down the latter in favor of the former, or write off the paradox as somehow indicative of his complex depths.

Neither Mr. Meacham, who mostly ignores Jefferson’s slave ownership, nor Mr. Wiencek, who sees him as a sort of fallen angel who comes to slavery only after discovering how profitable it could be, seem willing to confront the ugly truth: the third president was a creepy, brutal hypocrite.

Contrary to Mr. Wiencek’s depiction, Jefferson was always deeply committed to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were shaped not only by money and status but also by his deeply racist views, which he tried to justify through pseudoscience.

There is, it is true, a compelling paradox about Jefferson: when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, announcing the “self-evident” truth that all men are “created equal,” he owned some 175 slaves. Too often, scholars and readers use those facts as a crutch, to write off Jefferson’s inconvenient views as products of the time and the complexities of the human condition.

Linkage: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/opinion/the-real-thomas-jefferson.html

Save Your Kisses For Me

Another fantastic mixed-media essay from Adam Curtis. It's really long (~7,500 words), and involved, so I'll just share a couple of excerpts, but the story Curtis is telling is essentially that of utopianism gone wrong all over. Full essay on Adam Curtis' blog at the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2012/11/save_your_kisses_for_me.html

How the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Israeli right became co-dependents in an abusive relationship.

Last week there was yet another cycle of horrific violence in the Gaza strip. ... Liberals in the west look on baffled and horrified. What they thought was a glorious revolution in the Arab world is morphing into something they don't understand. ... All this is comprehensible though - but only if you look at it in a wider context. A context that western liberals really don't like to think about because it makes them very depressed.

In contrast, the Zionists who were moving into Haifa and the rest of Palestine in the 1930s believed deeply in the power of science, technology and politics to change the world for the better. Many of them had read a novel written by Theodor Herzl in 1902 called Altneuland - Old New Land.

The novel is a utopian vision of a future perfect society set up in Palestine with the city of Haifa at it's heart - Herzl calls it "The City of the Future." Herzl's Zionism was part of a socialist vision of utopia that went back to writers like Fourier and Saint Simon, and he described a society where the land was under common ownership and people lived in co-operatives and communes. There was also a model welfare system, no social classes and exploitation - yet individuals could pursue their own ends and profit by them.

It was a glorious vision, but it was also firmly rooted in the European tradition of empire. In the novel the characters listen to a phonograph roll that describes the achievements of The New Society for the Colonisation of Palestine. It describes how the benevolent technocracy that runs this new society has brought the benefits of European progress to a backward and sparsely populated land.

That's not quite how Sheikh Qassam and his Black Hand Gang saw the Jewish settlers.

The Mujamma did what the Muslim Brotherhood were doing in Egypt. They set up a complex system of welfare in Gaza, including kindergartens, free food and clothing. It also set up clinics offering free healthcare and medicines. They also began to take over many of the professional associations - like the Medical Association, the Engineering Association and the Bar Association.

And the Israeli authorities not only allowed them to do this - but encouraged it. They did this because they saw the conservative ideas of the Islamists as a potent force that could undermine and damage the secular Palestinian revolutionary movement.

There is a really good book about the rise of Hamas by Beverley Milton-Edwards and Stephen Farrell. In it they got a number of very senior Israelis to admit the tacit support they gave to Yassin and the Mujamma. One director military intelligence says:

"At the beginning some elements within the Israeli government - not the government, some elements within the government - were thinking that by strengthening Mujamma they could put some more pressure on Fatah in the Gaza Strip, back in the mid eighties.

I think it was a mistake, yes."

When Congress Busted Milton Friedman (and Libertarianism Was Created By Big Business Lobbyists)

“Libertarianism” was a project of the corporate lobby world, launched as a big business “ideology” in 1946 by The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The FEE’s board included the future founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch; the most powerful figure in the Mormon church at that time, J Reuben Clark, a frothing racist and anti-Semite after whom BYU named its law school; and United Fruit director Herb Cornuelle.

The purpose of the FEE — and libertarianism, as it was originally created — was to supplement big business lobbying with a pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-economics rationale to back up its policy and legislative attacks on labor and government regulations.

This background is important in the Milton Friedman story because Friedman is a founder of libertarianism, and because the corrupt lobbying deal he was busted playing a part in was arranged through the Foundation for Economic Education.

False, whitewashed history is as much a part of the Milton Friedman mythology as it is the libertarian movement’s own airbrushed history about its origins; the 1950 Buchanan Committee hearings expose both as creations of big business lobby groups whose purpose is to deceive and defraud the public and legislators in order to advance the cause of corporate America.

Full essay: http://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/milton-friedman

Thomas Frank: Why Occupy failed and how it's more like the Tea Party than anyone wants to admit

Excellent review from Thomas Frank, author of What's The Matter With Kansas and other books. It's a long one, and closely reasoned, so I'll just post a paragraph and let everyone read the rest.

The reason Occupy and the Tea Party were such uncanny replicas of one another is because they both drew on the lazy, reflexive libertarianism that suffuses our idea of protest these days, all the way from Disney Channel teens longing to be themselves to punk rock teens vandalizing a Starbucks. From Chris Hedges to Paul Ryan, every dissenter imagines that they are rising up against “the state.” It’s in the cultural DNA of our times, it seems; our rock ‘n’ roll rebels, our Hollywood heroes, even our FBI agents. They all hate the state—protesters in Zuccotti Park as well as the Zegna-wearing traders those protesters think they’re frightening. But here’s the rub: only the Right manages to profit from it.


This could have been subtitled "How narcissism has destroyed the American left."

Getting psephological

OK, I'm ready to make my prediction on the election for President, and mind you, I've been right every single election since 1976...

Come January, there will be a neoliberal sitting in the White House.
Posted by salvorhardin | Sun Nov 4, 2012, 10:28 AM (2 replies)

Revisionist memory: White evangelicals have always been at war with abortion

Ah, so it was Nixon (big surprise) who first attempted to use abortion as politics, except he was trying to woo Catholics away from Democrats. That didn't work, but Paul Weyrich and Richard Viguerie took note, and then used it on evangelicals in Iowa in 1978. Prior to then, evangelicals didn't care about abortion much either way and the biggest anti-abortion proponent was Edward Kennedy (Catholic). Falwell then ran with it when he founded the Moral Majority in 1979, and the rest is history. Now nobody remembers a time when evangelicals weren't anti-choice, or when prominent Republicans were pro-choice.

Excellent post from Fred Clark. Some of the comments there are good too.

People like Lewis Smedes and Carl F.H. Henry remain revered figures in evangelical history, but if they were saying publicly today what they said publicly about abortion in their lifetimes, they would be excommunicated and shunned as heretics.

The speed and totality of evangelicals’ sea-change on abortion is remarkable. But what’s really astonishing is that such a huge theological, political and cultural change occurred within evangelical Protestantism and no one talks about it. No one acknowledges that this huge change was, in fact, a huge change.


And here is Randall Balmer with “A Pastor’s Son Notes When Politics Came to the Pulpit“:

When I lived in Iowa in the 1970s, my father was pastor of one of the largest evangelical congregations in the state. Although he remained a Republican to his death, my father was resolutely apolitical in the pulpit. Things began to change for Iowa evangelicals — and for politically conservative evangelicals elsewhere — in the late 1970s.

Iowa, in fact, served as the proving ground for abortion as a political issue. Until 1978, evangelicals in Iowa were overwhelmingly indifferent about abortion as a political matter. Even after the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, most evangelicals considered abortion a “Catholic issue.” The Iowa race for U.S. Senate in 1978 pitted Dick Clark, the incumbent Democrat, against a Republican challenger, Roger Jepsen. All of the polling and the pundits viewed the election an easy win for Clark, who had walked across the state six years earlier in his successful effort to unseat Republican Jack Miller. In the final weekend of the 1978 campaign, however, pro-lifers (predominantly Catholic) leafleted church parking lots all over the state. Two days later, in an election with a very low turnout, Jepsen narrowly defeated Clark, thereby persuading Paul Weyrich and other architects of the Religious Right that abortion would work for them as a political issue.

Full post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/29/revisionist-memory-white-evangelicals-have-always-been-at-war-with-abortion
Posted by salvorhardin | Sat Nov 3, 2012, 07:39 PM (3 replies)

What are you favorite political and economic myths?

I'm trying to collect a list of common myths that drive our political and economic discussions. A myth is a proposition that is commonly believed to be true, but either has no basis in fact, or is a gross oversimplification of a complex topic. If you have a myth you'd like to share, please use the form at the link, and feel free to share far and wide.

Examples: "Our schools are failing," or "Social security is going broke."


Bloomberg digs up more on Romney’s tax avoidance

Drucker used the Freedom of Information Act to get records about another Romney trust, which uses the Mormon church’s tax-exempt status to save him from paying taxes, parking money there to defer tax bills while keeping almost all of the proceeds himself.

Effectively, the Romneys put up a trust that pays them 8 percent of its assets a year until they die, at which point the Mormon church gets what’s left in the account. Congress restricted this tactic, the so-called charitable remainder trust, a year later after being abused by rich tax avoiders, but Romney’s was grandfathered in.

When Romney’s lawyers and accountants created it, the church was supposed to end up with just 8 percent of its assets, while Romney got 92 percent. But the investments haven’t been doing well, so Romney’s withdrawals, at 8 percent a year, have been steadily reducing the money in the trust, and Bloomberg quotes an expert saying the church will eventually get “probably close to nothing.”

Full post: http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/bloomberg_digs_up_more_on_romn.php?page=all

Paying Taxes to Your Boss: Another Step Toward 21st Century Feudalism

I had no idea this shit was going on. I suppose we can be thankful they haven't given companies the right to pay in company script redeemable only at the company store -- yet. Boliding mine.

Though a lot of Americans really (really, really) hate paying taxes, most of us can at least justify it as our contribution to some greater good, whether it’s the broad range of social programs favored by progressives or a libertarian night watchman state. But what if the government instead told us, “We don’t want your money, but we would like to make friends with some rich guys, so just give it to them and let them have fun with it”? That could soon be the law of the land in Pennsylvania, where the state legislature has passed a bill that would, as Philadelphia City Paper blogger Daniel Denvir describes it, “allow companies that hire at least 250 new workers in the state to keep 95-percent of the workers' withheld income tax.” These workers will essentially be paying their employers for the privilege of having a job. Some have called this “corporate socialism,” but it also calls to mind an even older economic model that was once popular in Europe – except back then, the bosses were called lords. It’s a more modern innovation in the U.S., but combined with increased political pressure from employers and a crackdown on workers’ rights, it all adds up to feudalism, American-style.

The Pennsylvania bill is just the most recent example of state income taxes being turned into employer subsidies. It’s already the law of the land in one form or another in 19 states, and according to Good Jobs First, it’s taking $684 million a year out of the public coffers. The theory is that this will boost job creation. But the authors of the Good Jobs First report note, “payments often go to firms that simply move existing jobs from one state to another, or to ones that threaten to move unless they get paid to stay put.” In other words, it’s more like extortion than stimulus. With state governments facing a projected $4 trillion budget shortfall and continuing to cut social services and public sector jobs, they can hardly afford to be wasting money on companies that already have plenty and have no intention of putting it to good use. And the more governments turn over their privileges to businesses, the more the distinction between the two becomes blurred.

But if corporations have state governments over a barrel, they have their employees stuffed inside the barrel and ready to plunge down the waterfall. As I’ve noted before, some conservatives view all taxation as theft, but there’s surely no better term for what happens when employers promise their workers a certain wage or salary and then pocket some of the money for themselves. When you pay taxes to the government, you get something in return, whether it’s a school for your kids or a road to drive on or a firefighter to rescue you from a burning building. When you pay taxes to your boss, you… well, you give your boss your money. Your only reward is that you get to continue to “work the land,” so to speak. The lords didn’t consult with the peasants on which tapestries they should buy with the money they collected from them.

Did I forget to mention that these employers aren’t even required to tell their workers that this is how their “income taxes” are being used? Journalist David Cay Johnston, who covers this issue in his new book, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind, writes that this bait-and-switch is “stealthy by design.” Of course it is; if these workers were important enough to know where their money is going, it wouldn’t be legal to steal it.
Full post: http://www.nextnewdeal.net/paying-taxes-your-boss-another-step-toward-21st-century-feudalism
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