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Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Education and Student Debt

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 26, 2016

Marshall McLuhan“The reason universities are so full of knowledge is that the students come in with so much and leave with so little.”  Marshall McLuhan

 

Republicans and Democrats attempt to differentiate themselves via their views of the government’s role in the economy.  With close examination, it is hard to find real differences between them.

Those on the Right promote the benefits of “true” capitalism that allows markets to set prices via supply and demand.  Those on the Left share the view that capitalism is too harsh and that the government needs to step in and smooth out inequities created by markets.  At the extreme Left, socialism is promoted, irrespective of its history of failure.

At the macro-economic level there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats.  Crony capitalism is rampant within both parties.  Republicans typically support large industries and those in the military industrial complex.  Democrats promote social programs that benefit industries including education, social services, medical services, and trial lawyers.  The result of crony capitalism has been a significant increase in governmental spending and a surging United States’ debt over the past 50 years.  This debt is in part responsible for the economic malaise that has been inflicted on the country over the past decade.

An example of crony capitalism and the damage it has done is the educational industry.  Through the US Department of Education, as well as at the state and municipal levels, the funds spent on primary education have been skyrocketing as indicated by the charts below.

Total Educational Spending

Spending Per StudentSat Scores

 

 

 

 

However, the increased spending has not resulted in improved education.  The chart shows how poorly our students are doing in basic reading comprehension.

Student DebtThe problem is more significant at the college level.  The educational industry, with support of the US government and its loan programs, has created the false narrative that all Americans require and deserve a college education, irrespective of whether or not it improves their economic well-being.  As a result, the amount of student debt now exceeds $1 trillion and a significant portion of college graduates cannot make an income level that would allow them to pay off the debt in a reasonable period of time.  Many have been forced to move back into their parents’ houses.

While a market-based economy can be a cruel arbitrator of scarce resources, crony capitalism has proven to be catastrophic to those who have been cajoled into inappropriate economic decisions based on government programs.  It is a major cause of the growing wealth disparity between the ultra-rich and average Americans.

Yes, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have prospered under crony capitalism.  The same cannot be said for most Americans.

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Student Debt Strangling Younger Americans

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 21, 2014

Reason.com published some incredible and scary figures relating to student debt including:

  • In-state tuition has increased in some states from about $3k annually in 1991 to over $10k last year.
  • Private college tuition in 1983 cost about $18.5K, but by 2013 climbed to about $41K annually.
  • Between 2008 and 2013 the average tuition/fees at public four-year colleges/universities increased by 19% above the rate of inflation during that five-year period. During the same period, private colleges/universities increased by 14%, which was larger than the 9% increase for the previous five years.

The trend is unsustainable and has led to significant damage to younger Americans.  For example, between 2004 and 2013 there is been a 400% increase in student loan debts to $1 trillion. During this same period the New York Times reports that there has been an 8% decrease in home ownership among 25-34-year-olds.

The $1 trillion educational debt saddled on younger Americans will be a drain on overall economic growth for years to come. This demographic is generally a significant consumer, but will need to pay off debt rather than spend on other goods and services.

Debt BombThe educational debt bomb is a direct result of governmental intervention in higher education. The government subsidized and guaranteed student loans irrespective of ability or willingness of individuals to repay them. In addition, the easy loan policies removed incentive to students to study fields that would result in better paying jobs.

As for the educational industry, it has reaped significant benefit from governmental largess. In addition, this industry’s access to an ever increasing student base that was created by the governmental loan programs allowed the industry to become bloated and inefficient and has been a direct cause of the cost of education increasing more significantly than the inflation rate.

Irrespective of past policy failures, President Obama recommends doubling down on these programs. The President’s proposals include capping student debt repayment at 10% of their monthly income, yet another disincentive to earn more. Not only will this further increase borrowing by this demographic and result in still higher education costs, but it will also cost US taxpayers approximately $11 billion according to Politico. What a perfect calamity. When will they ever learn?

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America’s Education Conundrum

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 8, 2014

Many Americans are concerned with the dumbing-down and poor results from our education system.  America’s ranking in educating its youth has been slipping compared to other countries.  We have gone from a system that focused on rewarding achievement to one is more concerned with making every student feel good and the enrichment of the education industry. 

Some on the Left suggest that the solution to America’s education problem is to throw more money at the education industry.  That response assumes a simple solution to a complex problem and is designed to cut off reasonable debate of alternatives. 

One reader sent in a humorous poke at America’s deficient education system with the “funny” below.  Trouble is it isn’t so funny! 

Evolution in Teaching Math Since the 1950s 

1. Teaching Math in the 1950s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of the price.  What is his profit? 

2. Teaching Math in the 1960s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80.  What is his profit? 

3. Teaching Math in the 1970s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is $80.  Did he make a profit? 

4. Teaching Math in the 1980s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100.  His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20.  Your assignment: Underline the number 20. 

5. Teaching Math in the 1990s

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands.  He does this so he can make a profit of $20.  What do you think of this way of making a living?  Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes?  (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it’s ok.) 

6. Teaching Math in the 2009

Un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100.  El costo de la producciones es $80.  Cuanto dinero ha hecho? 

7. Teaching Math in the 2014

Who cares, just steal the lumber from your rich neighbor’s property.  The President says it’s OK anyway cuz it’s redistributing the wealth.

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MSNBC’s Harris-Perry Claims Children do not Belong to Parents

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 10, 2013

The Left is fully coming out of the closet.  There radical belief in collectivism, which is the hallmark of the Progressive movement, was once hidden in camouflage.  The bad news is they recently feel emboldened enough to take their view public.  The good news about this bravado is that they can no longer obtain their way politically through trickery.  This places the decision in the hands of the electorate to determine if the Left’s radical agenda is the direction middle America wants to travel.

There is no better representation of the Left’s belief in collectivism than an MSNBC promotional video put out with anchor Melissa Harris-Perry who remarkably says in the video posted below that the country must get over the old-fashioned view “… that kids belong to their parents …”:

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children.  Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.  We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.  So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

It would be tragic enough if the views expressed by Harris-Perry were done so because of stupidity and lack of logic.  However, there are insidious goals behind the philosophy of moving child-rearing responsibilities to the state.  First, it allows the state and those that run it to brainwash children into belief systems that are not only different from the parents, but also help perpetuate the power of the political elite.  In addition, removing parental responsibility from child-rearing fits the narrative promoted by Progressives that marriage and committed relationships are not important in child-rearing.

The road proposed by Melissa Harris-Perry to fundamentally change America is in keeping with that promised by Barack Obama six days before being elected to his first term as president.  For those Americans who like the direction that in America is heading get ready to give up your parental and other rights to the state.  For those that disagree with the direction being traveled, the Country is at a tipping point.  Only with a game changing politician of the stature of Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher and a concerted effort by middle-of-the-road Americans can individual rights once again become a part of the American culture.

Posted in Education, Progressives | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Barack Obama’s Education Folly

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 10, 2011

During his run for the presidency, Barack Obama seemed to have all the answers.  He entered office with a mandate and with his party controlling both houses of Congress.  In a rather manic fashion, he pushed through significant legislation including the $800 billion Stimulus Package.  With great conviction, Obama promised that this Package would significantly increase economic activity and keep unemployment from exceeding 8%.  He also promised that significant Stimulus funds would go to “shovel ready” projects, but later admitted that they were not ready.  History shows his economic policies to have failed.

Three years into his presidency, Obama is attempting to change the narrative since he cannot run on his economic record.  Earlier this week, the President made one of his campaign style speeches in Osawatomie, Kansas.  It included Obama’s typical class warfare rhetoric and a call for raising taxes on wealthier Americans.  While higher taxes is not only likely, but also necessary to pay down the debt, Obama has no intention of using the revenue for deficit reduction.  Instead, he would do what politicians always do with increased taxes; spend more and increase the government’s control over its crony capitalism.

Earlier this week, former Congressman Dick Amery published an op-ed (posted below) that reviewed another flawed policy that Obama promoted in Osawatomie.  Obama indicated the desire to use some of the new revenue for “investing” in higher education stating: “We shouldn’t be expecting less of our schools – we should be demanding more.  We shouldn’t be making it harder to afford college – we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go and doesn’t rack up $100,000 of debt just because they went.”

Typical of progressives, Obama promotes spending more on higher education when in fact it was previous government interventions (spending) that damaged the system.  The cost of a higher education has been one of the fastest-growing expenses in the United States over recent decades.  The major cause for this increase has been the government’s support for student loan programs.  Schools were able to charge so much more because students were willing to pay for it.  Had government not made the student loans so accessible were inexpensive, the market would have forced colleges and universities to temper cost increases.  In addition, moving the cost of higher education from the family to government supported loans lowered the pressure on students to be concerned with loan payback.  As a result, many college graduates do not have the skills that the employers need.

Obama overemphasizes the importance of higher education and a successful economy.  The middle-class of previous decades was mainly created by high-paying manufacturing jobs.  As the bubble years developed, the manufacturing jobs was replaced by bankers, paper pushers of all types and government workers.  With the popping of the bubble, the market is taking corrective actions and eliminating inefficient or unnecessary jobs.  Increased education will not change this reality.

As Amery says in his op-ed; Many of our current devices today were created by men and women with little academic background.  Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, dropped out of Harvard University to start his own software company.  The company successfully became one of the leading software providers and Gates ranks consistently among the world’s wealthiest people.”  Another good example is the recently deceased Steve Jobs who also dropped that the college. Successful businesses are created by highly motivated and talented individuals.  This trait is not taught in colleges and is not created by government spending.

Good Education Is Important, But Not as Vital as a Job

Dick Armey. December 9, 2011

President Barack Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kan., called for higher taxes on the rich and an increase of investment – not for businesses – but in national education.

“It starts by making education a national mission – a national mission.  Government and businesses, parents and citizens.  In this economy, a higher education is the surest route to the middle class.  The unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree or more is about half the national average.  And their incomes are twice as high as those who don’t have a high school diploma.  Which means we shouldn’t be laying off good teachers right now – we should be hiring them.

“We shouldn’t be expecting less of our schools – we should be demanding more.  We shouldn’t be making it harder to afford college – we should be a country where everyone has a chance to go and doesn’t rack up $100,000 of debt just because they went.”

This should be a concern for young people who feel obligated to achieve a higher education, but are not finding jobs available.  President Obama’s solution for investing in a national education is not going to cut it – we need serious economic reform.

The fact of the matter is that youth unemployment is the highest in the nation of any major demographic – resting at 17.4 percent.  It is now expected for young people to achieve a higher education in order to have a chance of gaining a job.

Jobs are not being created.  The unemployment rate for the country is around 8.6 percent and the workforce is continuing to shrink.  A main reason why young people are struggling to find jobs is because older, unemployed people with more experience are willing to take lesser-paid jobs – the jobs usually taken by the youth.

Thanks to this poor job market, Time magazine reports that 85 percent of last year’s college graduates had to move back in with their parents.  Not only are they stuck at home, they’re stuck with no way to pay their massive student loans.

Younger people have been taken by the hand of big government and ushered into high education with government-provided loans at artificially low interest rates.  This type of fiscally unsound economic policy is exactly what led to the housing bubble.

Accumulated student debt is over $1 trillion dollars and the average debt held by each student is $26,300.  The future for young people is uncertain and rightfully so – to pay off these massive debts, young people need income.  With no jobs and student loans left unpaid, young people will be indebted to big government.

President Obama is convinced: Investing in national education will create a well-educated workforce that will magically solve America’s economic woes on its own.  This is faulty rhetoric and unprecedented logic – education does not create jobs singlehandedly.  Education is important, but entrepreneurship, innovation, and sound free-market policies give businesses more freedom and outlets to create jobs.

For example, the 1920s serve as a decade of excellence that Washington should reflect on.  Rather than investing solely in education, big government economic policies were replaced with market-friendly conditions that created jobs and lead to a booming economy.

I want to highlight a key fact about this decade – when free-market policies were implemented, America experienced an incredible inflection of patent grants.  Innovators were in abundance and the amount of new product markets skyrocketed.  New ideas flourished and jobs followed – the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 3.2 percent.

Our economy demands innovation, not just education.  So President Obama is wrong – education alone certainly is not what makes an economy flourish.  Freedom, innovation, and acting-upon ideas are what move the economy and cause it to grow.  This is not happening under the current policies.

Many of our current devices today were created by men and women with little academic background.  Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, dropped out of Harvard University to start his own software company.  The company successfully became one of the leading software providers and Gates ranks consistently among the world’s wealthiest people.

We face an economy where it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a successful innovator.  Young people are being whipped-up in a whirl of confusion and uncertainty – they want answers and they are looking for a leader to provide them.  President Obama’s rhetorical claims and failed economic policies are leading young people down an unsustainable road.

Education is a great thing, but right now the education being subsidized by the Obama administration is only leading to endless debt, not employment.

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Generational Wealth Gap Hits Record

Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 9, 2011

While historically it is typical for older Americans to have more wealth than younger ones, the gap has significantly increased over recent decades and is now at historic levels.  Here are some facts published by CNN Money:

  • Older Americans currently have 47 times the wealth, as compared to America’s youngest generation of workers.
  • Households of 65 years and older in 2009 had median net worth of about $170,500, compared to about $3,700 for households headed by adults 35 years and younger.
  • In the last generation, the older group had a 10-to-1 wealth ratio over the younger generation.  It has since spread to 47-to-1.
  • Since 1984, the same age group comparisons show that the younger generation’s wealth has declined by 68% while the older group increased by 42%.

The age wealth-gap has significantly widened for a variety of reasons including the housing meltdown and increased cost of higher education.  Most elderly people bought homes at pre-bubble valuations and therefore were not hurt as much by their more recent drop in value.  With the significant increase in the cost of a college education, the younger generation took on much higher school debt.

Both of the above issues were exasperated by governmental meddling in markets.  In the case of the housing market, the low interest policies promoted by the government and Federal Reserve led to the housing bubble.  Similarly, easy government money in the form of educational loans allowed colleges to increase prices faster than inflation.

It is ironic that the two largest portions of America’s debt are the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare.  Both mainly benefit older Americans, the group that has fared the best economically in recent decades.  Should the Occupy Wall Street protesters actually consider the real challenges facing them, they might come to conclusions that could lead to problem resolution; i.e. cutting entitlement programs.  In addition, we Baby Boomers will be on the receiving end of the Occupiers.

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Union Thugs Still at it in Wisconsin

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 28, 2011

Newsradio 620 WTMJ out of Wisconsin reported on the ongoing despicable behavior by public employee unions in the state.  Last Friday, Wisconsin’s Governor Walker visited a local school in order to read students.  He was not only met by protesters, but also the Vandals.  It seems some of the disgruntled unionists superglued locks on school doors in an effort to disrupt the visit.

The local school’s president said the disruptions: “People ought to start acting like adults.  You’ve got little kids who have no clue what you’re even talking about, and you make something political when it isn’t, that’s just flat-out wrong.”

The aggressiveness and greed of unions typically blocks reason.

Throughout history manufacturing unions used disruptive and sometimes violent acts to promote goals of increased wages and benefits.  Society often turned a blind eye towards these tactics in the mistaken belief that the unions were representing David against Goliath.  While in the short run the unions’ tactics helped them obtain increased wages and benefits for members, they also led to the destruction of heavy manufacturing in the United States and the loss of millions of union jobs.

After unions helped destroy major manufacturing in the United States, they turned their focus towards other sources of dues paying members.  Without member dues, union bosses could not continue getting paid.  Their focus was on the public employees including teachers.

Union strategies for increasing wages and benefits for their public employee members changed little from their earlier manufacturing roots. The threat of strikes and other intimidation forced states and municipalities to acquiesce in demands that were unsustainable in the long run.  With local governments now in dire financial conditions, politicians like Governor Walker are forced to say “no more”. This has led to even more aggressive and sometimes desperate union tactics in their attempt to avoid the inevitable.

In the battle between unions and major manufacturers in the United States, management was not without fault.  They acquiesced to economically unsound union demands because of shortsightedness.  In addition, they did not recognize that manufacturing was moving towards worldwide competition.  Those manufacturers that have not since been bailed out, no longer produce goods United States.  While a sad resolution, as a way free markets operate.

Public-sector businesses, such as schools, cannot close down like the manufacturers who preceded them.  Politicians and bureaucrats, like their short sighted counterparts in heavy manufacturing decades previously, too often acquiesced to unsustainable union demands.  Now states and municipalities are running deficits and are forced address the challenges.  The required actions will be more painful and difficult than had they been reasonably addressed in real-time.

Certainly the challenges that face America’s educational systems are complex and involve much more than teachers.  However, the greed and inappropriate behavior exhibited by some teachers unions do not set appropriate role models for the educational environment.

Posted in Public Employees, Unions | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Progressive thought Interferes with Ohio History Lessen

Posted by Steve Markowitz on March 6, 2011

The Associate Press reported on a story out of Ohio that helps explain the sad state of education in the United States.  For a fifth-grade history lesson on slavery, the teacher randomly divided the class into two equal sections, one depicting slaves and the other their masters.  The class included two black students; one picked for the slaves and the other for the masters group.  The mother of the black student picked to be a slave complained to the school district about the teacher’s lack of sensitivity.

The history of slavery in America is the most tragic part of this Country’s development.  It needs to be studied, taught and accurately remembered to insure its appropriate place in history and so that it is never forgotten or excused.  To do so requires an accurate portrayal of that history, which is sometimes painful.

If the educational process is allowed to be stymied by every course receiving a sensitivity test for constituencies that may be hurt by the lesson, education will suffer and so will greater society.  Sensitivity testing, as well the political correctness that has permeated our schools, has made a mockery of the freedom of speech granted in our Constitution and have taken this Country closer to fascist beliefs.

 

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Education and the American Family

Posted by Steve Markowitz on January 26, 2011

During his State-of-the-Union speech, President Obama used the word “education” often, rightfully connecting the Country’s overall education level with its ultimate success in the world economy.  With typical Progressive logic, the President looks to the government to fix America’s sagging education level stating: If we take these steps – if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal that I set two years ago:  By the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

If only it were so straight-forward.  The government has repeatedly proven that its interventions into social working ultimately lead to a worsening of the problem it attempts to address.  There is no better example than the War on Poverty and other Great Society programs started under President Johnson in the 1960’s that promised to eradicate poverty and other social ills.  After spending trillions, these programs accomplished none of the stated goals.  There is no logical reason to believe that a government program to fix America’s education system will end any better.

America’s educational problems begin with the breakdown of the family and a society that is often more focused on self-indulgent behavior than the next generation’s needs.  As the bonds and strengths of a strong family structure have waned over the decades, society has looked to others including teachers to take on the complex responsibilities of raising societies children and fixing problems that have resulted from dysfunctional families.  Ms. Clinton, the “village” has failed!

A few weeks before the President’s State-of-the-Union speech, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey published some disturbing statistics about the family structures within an earshot of the Capital building.  Over half of family households with dependents in the District of Columbia and nearby Prince George’s County are run by single parents.  Similar figures are found in many inner cities.  As long as parents are unwilling to take on the responsibilities for real parenthood, the educational figures will not improve no matter how much money is thrown at it by the government.

Had the Great Society grand experiment met with success, it might be justifiable even though the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to implement such programs.  However, the programs have been miserable failures.  It would have been nice to hear the President call the social work industry for this failure in a similar tone that he used to chastise other industries that have failed the Country.  Unfortunately, it is likely that the President will suggest still more government programs and expect different results.

 

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