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Posts Tagged ‘Increase’

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?


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

Trouble in the Legal Industry

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 18, 2014

The Boston Globe writer Jeff Jacoby has published some telling statistics concerning the legal industry. According to Jacoby, 35 years ago when then Chief Justice Warren Burger said that America was turning into “a society overrun by hordes of lawyers, hungry as locusts“, there were 450,000 attorneys in the United States with law schools graduating 34,000 per year. By 2011 these numbers increased to over 1.2 million lawyers with graduation rates at approximately 44,000 per year. Thus, the population of lawyers tripled during this time period when the overall population of the United States grew by only 40%.

lady-justiceHowever, significant changes are occurring in the field of law. According to Jacoby, in 2011 only 50% of graduating lawyers obtain jobs with law firms with only 65% finding positions requiring passage of a bar exam. Given these upside-down results and the efficiencies offered by the Internet and technology, the number of law school students has dropped significantly in more recent years. Even the law industry is not spared invisible hand of the market.

While market forces are in the process of rebalancing supply demand for lawyers, there are larger issues involved. According to Jacoby, the United States has the largest number of lawyers of any country and even a greater number as a percentage of the population. Why has this occurred? Has the increased number of lawyers improved overall society? Answers to these important questions can go a long way to explaining the decline of the United States in recent decades.

It is not coincidental that the explosion in the population of lawyers has occurred at the same time as the skyrocketing growth of big government, its bureaucrats, and regulations. An inordinate number of our politicians come from the legal community. It is not surprising therefore that they create laws requiring intervention of the legal industry to interpret and litigate.

In addition, litigation often benefits the legal industry more than litigants. This result is not surprising given not only the increase in the number of lawyers requiring income, but the fact that responsibility for overseeing litigation is given to judges who come from the legal industry.

Society often rejects the reliability of self-regulation due to inherent conflicts. When it comes in the medical community, the legal industry is often given the task of controlling malpractice. Police are typically overseen by civilian boards. The airline industry has the FAA. Companies that pollute have the DEP. The examples are nearly endless. It is therefore curious that two significant parts of American society are allowed to self-regulate, politicians and the legal industry. It is more curious than Americans accept this obvious inequity.

Posted in Law | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Global Cooling: the Next Threat?

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 10, 2013

Progressives love to create a crisis that they can then save the ordinary citizens from.  After World War II the Right portion of the political aisle took the lead on this tactic crying wolf concerning international communism and the related Red scare.  This led to McCarthyism during the 1950s and in the latter portion of the Eisenhower administration the missile gap promoted by John Kennedy.  These scares led to the Domino Theory that propagated the view that should one country fall to communism in a region others would follow.  This logic took Country into the Vietnam War debacle, as well as significant wasted funds spent on the arms race.  The Domino Theory proved false and incompatible with the nationalism found in many countries.  In addition, the Soviet Union was never close to parity with the United States.

The fall of the Soviet Empire did not stop Progressives’ penchant for creating still more crisis.  Examples include the Bird Flu, SARs, Y2K, among others.  While significant funds and effort were spent on unnecessary remedial actions, none of these crises actually developed.

The darling of all proclaimed crises of modern time is Global Warming.  The Left jumped on this supposed scourge with religious zealotry proclaiming Al Gore its chief priest. Society has been bombarded with warnings of dire consequences to humanity that will result from man-made global warming, i.e. emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Any who suggest skepticism are excommunicated from the debate.

Proponents of the man-made global warming crisis state unequivocally that the science is closed. There compelling evidence was a warming trend that has occurred since the early 1980s.  This proof, however, was no better than those who watched the sun orbit the earth and proclaimed the our planet the center of the universe.

The motivations behind those who promote the theory of man-made global warming vary.  Some have the best of intentions and use their own observation and flawed models to conclude the worst.  Others promote the theory to gain power and wealth.  Still others use the fear of man-made global warming to further their Leftist agenda to redistribute wealth between countries. This wealth redistribution agenda has existed on the Left since long before any readers of this Blog came into existence.

Global Warming has been placed on the back burner in recent months.  Other issues have taken priority including the turmoil in the Middle East and the long drawn out worldwide economic malaise.  At the same time there is growing evidence that the data and models used to back up the claims that man’s use of hydrocarbon-based energy is responsible for the global warming are flawed.

The first visible cracks in the man-made global warming evidence occurred in recent years when the Earth’s warming trend stopped and did not follow the trend predicted in the models used to prove the theory. More recently there has been growth in the Arctic ice cap, as reported by the dailymail who recently published the following information:

  • The Arctic ice has grown by approximately a million more square miles since 2012, an increase of 60% during the year. (See satellite photographs below.)
  • Some scientists believe the world is entering a cooling period for the next few decades..
  • Professor Judith Curry, a US climate expert, has stated that she believes the most significant factor affecting the global climate are temperature cycles in the oceans.  She in fact believes that the world is now entering a cooling cycle similar to that which occurred between 1965 and 1975.
  • University of Wisconsin Professor Anastasios Tsonis also believes that ocean cycles significantly affect global temperatures stating: “We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least.  There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped.

BBC - Ice Free PollAn example of the zealotry of the true believers can be found in a 2007 BBC report titled Arctic Summers Ice Free by 2013 that is still posted on their website that incredibly claimed the Arctic would be ice free by this summer.  To true believers, however, their incorrect information is but a hip-hop.  To them, we are merely in a pause on the way to Armageddon.  How convenient.

The information above does not prove that the theory of man-made Global Warming is false.  It, however, raises enough questions to indicate that the science behind the argument is not complete.

Globa Cooling

Posted in Global Warming | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Increased Use of Food Stamps Belies Recovery

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 3, 2013

The Wall Street Journal reported on a significant increase in Americans use of food stamps. This brings in the question either the government’s reports/claims of the economies overall improvement or abuse of the food stamp benefit program.

According to the government’s figures, the recession officially ended four years ago.  If economic reality matched this claim it is reasonable to expect that the use of food stamps in America should be decreasing.  The opposite is occurring.

The food stamp program is officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The Journal published the following figures relating to the Program:

  • In the past four years the amount of food stamps given out has grown by 70% to nearly 48 million Americans.
  • Unemployment reached its zenith of 10% in late 2009.  Today it supposedly stands at 7.7%.
  • For 2012, approximately $75 billion was spent on food stamp benefits.  This is up from $30 billion in 2007.
  • In 1975, only 8% of Americans received food stamps.  During the next 25 years that level remained relatively constant, never exceeding 11% until 2009 when it spiked to 15%.

While the economic meltdown that began in 2007 played a role in the initial increase usage of food stamps, they have been other issues affecting this growth.  The welfare overhaul law of 1996 allowed states to ease asset and income tests for food stamp recipients.  The Obama administration pushed further on the easement allowing higher income levels as well as recipient savings to occur.  In addition, Obama’s 2009 Stimulus Package extended time eligibility for food stamp benefits.

It is not surprising that as the restrictions on eligibility decreased that the use of food stamps would increase.. The fact that this increase is continuing even during a period of supposed economic improvement indicates that either the economy is not improving as reported or users are taking advantage of the system.  This is but one result of Progressive meddling in society and the economy.  Add to this the abuse occurring in hundreds of other governmental programs and it is no wonder that our federal deficit is out-of-control.

Posted in Government Handouts | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »