The Burbank Tribune (Grandpa White's newspaper in the 1920's)

April 27th, 1961 JFK Speech. How we have changed.

January 18, 2013
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How things have changed since then. How we as a people, and as a people group, in the Republic and nation of America have changed since then. How our “press” has changed. How our ‘leaders’ have changed. How our once great nation has changed since then, since his assassination, some for the better but much more for the questionable with the very controversial 1960’s…

File:Jfk happy birthday 1.jpg

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate very much your generous invitation to be here tonight.

You bear heavy responsibilities these days and an article I read some time ago reminded me of how particularly heavily the burdens of present day events bear upon your profession.

You may remember that in 1851 the New York Herald Tribune under the sponsorship and publishing of Horace Greeley, employed as its London correspondent an obscure journalist by the name of Karl Marx.

We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone broke, and with a family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed to Greeley and managing editor Charles Dana for an increase in his munificent salary of $5 per installment, a salary which he and Engels ungratefully labeled as the “lousiest petty bourgeois cheating.”

But when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for other means of livelihood and fame, eventually terminating his relationship with the Tribune and devoting his talents full time to the cause that would bequeath the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, revolution and the cold war.

If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly; if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different. And I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind the next time they receive a poverty-stricken appeal for a small increase in the expense account from an obscure newspaper man.

I have selected as the title of my remarks tonight “The President and the Press.” Some may suggest that this would be more naturally worded “The President Versus the Press.” But those are not my sentiments tonight.

It is true, however, that when a well-known diplomat from another country demanded recently that our State Department repudiate certain newspaper attacks on his colleague it was unnecessary for us to reply that this Administration was not responsible for the press, for the press had already made it clear that it was not responsible for this Administration.

Nevertheless, my purpose here tonight is not to deliver the usual assault on the so-called one party press. On the contrary, in recent months I have rarely heard any complaints about political bias in the press except from a few Republicans. Nor is it my purpose tonight to discuss or defend the televising of Presidential press conferences. I think it is highly beneficial to have some 20,000,000 Americans regularly sit in on these conferences to observe, if I may say so, the incisive, the intelligent and the courteous qualities displayed by your Washington correspondents.

Nor, finally, are these remarks intended to examine the proper degree of privacy which the press should allow to any President and his family.

If in the last few months your White House reporters and photographers have been attending church services with regularity, that has surely done them no harm.

On the other hand, I realize that your staff and wire service photographers may be complaining that they do not enjoy the same green privileges at the local golf courses that they once did.

It is true that my predecessor did not object as I do to pictures of one’s golfing skill in action. But neither on the other hand did he ever been a Secret Service man.

My topic tonight is a more sober one of concern to publishers as well as editors.

I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future–for reducing this threat or living with it–there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security–a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.

This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President–two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.

The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country’s peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of “clear and present danger,” the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public’s need for national security.

Today no war has been declared–and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.

If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.

It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions–by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.

Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security–and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

For the facts of the matter are that this nation’s foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation’s covert preparations to counter the enemy’s covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least in one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.

The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.

The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to the nation, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration.

On many earlier occasions, I have said–and your newspapers have constantly said–that these are times that appeal to every citizen’s sense of sacrifice and self-discipline. They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.

I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I am not suggesting any new forms of censorship or any new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.

Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: “Is it news?” All I suggest is that you add the question: “Is it in the interest of the national security?” And I hope that every group in America–unions and businessmen and public officials at every level– will ask the same question of their endeavors, and subject their actions to the same exacting tests.

And should the press of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific new steps or machinery, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations.

Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war. In times of peace, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of peace and peril which knows no precedent in history.

It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation–an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people–to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well–the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

This means greater coverage and analysis of international news–for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security–and we intend to do it.

It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world’s efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.

And so it is to the printing press–to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news–that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

**Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban,[1][a] Kt., KC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Although his political career ended in disgrace, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method during the scientific revolution.

Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism.[2] His works established and popularised inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today.

**Solon (pron.: /ˈslɒn/ or /ˈslən/; Ancient Greek: Σόλων, c. 638 BC – 558 BC) was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker, and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic, and moral decline in archaic Athens. His reforms failed in the short term, yet he is often credited with having laid the foundations for Athenian democracy.

 

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Grandpa White’s radio station in the 1920’s, KELW

January 13, 2013
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    This is an article from the “Radio Heritage Foundation” about my Grandfather’s (Earl Loy White) radio station KELW in Burbank in the 1920’s… I once sat at my uncle Loy Whites house after church and he told us things that went on in his life when he was younger. He said that he was around 15 (around 1924) years old when he was asked to DJ the radio station on the lunch hour, to relieve the regular broadcaster. He mentioned that during the depression the only job that was around was digging graves at the local mortuary and grave yard, which he did. The radio station interviewed people who came through Burbank as Lockheed plant and runway was there, people like Amelia Erhardt, Charles Lindburgh and the famous Will Rogers. In fact our father, Perk White was the last person to take the chalks out of ‘Pilot’ Willey Posts airplane when it took off to Alaska carrying Will Rogers on their ‘fatal’ flight.

    Behind his desk, Grandpa White had a lot of placards hanging up and licenses. During his life, he wore a lot of hats, he owned and operated a dairy, citrus orchard, become a developer in Magnolia Park and Burbank, real estate saleman and broker, donator to the YMCA, where a camp is named for him and Grandma White still today in Tehachapi, Ca. (Earl Anna Camp). I loved going to YMCA summer camps when I was a kid. One story my uncle Loy told was of Encino Presbyterian church, where the White’s had attended. Supposedly one of the comic actors, either Hans Conried or Edward Everett Horton started a church in their barn in Encino and from there it became Encino Presbyterian. In the 1990’s, I attended Encino Presbyterian with my son Dustin and Loy and Virginia White.

    Grandpa White was always a business man up until his death in the early 70’s. He was driving his old 58 Cadillac to Orange County from the San Fernando Valley and he had a stroke and ran the car into a wall. Grandma White lived about a year longer.  At one time, Grandpa White was worth more than $17,000,000.00 before the great stock market crash and depression of 1929. One thing I remember them saying to me when I went over to visit them in their small apartment in Sherman Oaks before he died was, “The Lord Takes Good Care of Us”.. and it still stays with me!

 

by Jim Hilliker and David Ricquish

Early Tejano Music heard in New Zealand

Beautiful Downtown Burbank

image of KELW logo
KELW logo.
© Eric Shackle Collection

You’re probably familiar with the expression ‘Beautiful Downtown Burbank’ which was applied wryly to that part of The Valley in the greater Los Angeles conurbation known as the City of Burbank. Home of TV and movie studios now, but 75 years ago it was no more than a peaceful rural area on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. They canned peaches there, and the peaches were grown locally.

In 1934, New Zealand radio listener Eric Shackle regularly tuned to the early morning show from short lived Burbank radio station KELW on 780 kc. At this time of the day, KELW broadcast a two hour Spanish language program hosted by Pedro Gonzalez, one of the earliest Tejano music performers.

There’s another New Zealand connection with Burbank. The Lockheed Electra planes which flew the Tasman Sea in the colors of TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Limited) in the 1950’s and early 1960’s were built at the giant Lockheed facility in Burbank.

KELW owned by Earl L White

KELW was a radio station on air for only ten years from Burbank, roughly between February 1927 and 1937. It was started by Burbank real estate developer Earl L White, who gave his initials to the new radio station.

The first night of broadcast, on Saturday, February 12, 1927, saw many local and civic dignitaries join Earl White at the KELW studios. White was soon proud that KELW could be heard as far to the east as New York City, and was heard well throughout the western states.

During this time of ‘chaos’ in American radio, when stations could choose their own frequency and transmitter power, KELW used the wide coverage frequency of 560 kc and an initial power of 250 watts.

By mid-1927, the new Federal Radio Commission forced ‘wavejumper’ KELW to move to 1310 kc. Here it could still operate almost fulltime, as KPPC in Pasadena, which shared the frequency, only broadcast for a few hours on Sundays and Wednesdays. By 1928, KELW had increased power to 500 watts and famous personalities lined up to be heard, including evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson and humorist Will Rogers.

Unfortunately, about 15 months later, The White Spot of the Fernando Valley as KELW called itself, was compelled to move yet again, to a new frequency of 780 kc. Worse, it had to share time on the frequency with KTM Santa Monica, which meant that advertising and sponsorship income fell from November 11,1928.

When the Great Depression hit in late 1929 and 1930, White was wiped out financially, and couldn’t afford to keep KELW running. It was then taken over by a group licensed as Magnolia Park Limited.

White had developed the Magnolia Park section of Burbank with tract homes, a shopping center, a movie theater, his own newspaper The Tribune and his radio station KELW at 3702 Magnolia Boulevard. So, with White out of the picture, KELW remained in the studios on Magnolia.

image of KELW Studios
KELW Studios and one of the twin antennas on Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA
© Burbank Historical Society

KELW now promoted itself as Official Broadcasting Station for the Federated Church Brotherhoods of California (authorized by W P Willimott, General Secretary on June 19, 1934) as well as the American Legion Post 150 with ‘news and programs of Legion activities broadcast daily’.

At this time, the KELW schedule was 4am-6am, 10am-1pm and 5pm-8pm daily, or just eight hours a day. Although located in Burbank, the station also maintained a sales office in Los Angeles to increase advertising income. The rest of the broadcasting day on 780 kc was given over to KTM which used a more powerful transmitter.

Hearst Radio Inc buys out KELW

By 1935, KTM had become KEHE, named after the Los Angeles Evening Herald Newspaper and was the Los Angeles station for Hearst Radio Inc, part of the Hearst media empire. At the same time, KEHE bought KELW and ran both stations, sharing the same frequency of 780 kc. This effectively gave Hearst Radio a fulltime signal on 780 kc although via two separate FCC licences, two callsigns, and even two transmitters.

In 1937, KEHE was authorized by the FCC to increase power from 1000 to 5000 watts daytime and from 500 to 1000 watts nighttime, and to merge operations with KELW. At this time, KELW had been operating with 1000 watts daytime and 500 watts nighttime as well.

The KELW licence was deleted in 1937 and KEHE went on to eventually become KABC on 790 kc. With 5000 watts, KABC has always been heard well in New Zealand. And the studios at 3702 Magnolia? They were demolished around 1995-1996. Whilst living in Los Angeles in 1988-1992, like many others, I must have driven past the old KELW building more than once without knowing it was there.

Mexican Program

 

image of Pedro Gonzalez
Pedro Gonzalez.
© espinosa productions, Scottsdale, AZ.

In a 1934 letter from KELW to its New Zealand listener, the Program Director wrote: We broadcast a Mexican program every morning from 4am to 6am PST. What you heard was an imitation prize fight. They put it on just for the fun of it right in the studio. I think the programs from 4am to 6am are rather interesting as they are always putting on something a bit different. Have you heard their duck? He performs over the mike quite often.

As well as this duck, a former telegraph operator from Chihuahua in Mexico, one Pedro Gonzalez, also performed over the KELW mike in the mornings.

Listeners in Burbank, all over southern California, and as far away as New Zealand, were actually listening to the birth of tejano music, the music style which has now become a multi-million dollar industry reflecting the culture of the borderlands between northern Mexico and southern California.

Pedro was a refugee of the Mexican Revolution. Originally condemned to death by firing squad by Pancho Villa, his life was saved when local schoolchildren placed themselves between him and the firing squad. He was later to marry one of the schoolgirls, but in the meantime, he was given a choice, join Pancho Villa or die. He stayed with the army of Villa until 1917 when it fell out of favor in Mexico.

During the 1920’s and early 1930’s, Pedro Gonzalez became immersed in the emerging Chicano culture of Los Angeles, and eventually became one of the most popular radio announcers, writers and singers in the southwest during a period which witnessed an explosion of Spanish language broadcasting and recordings.

Los Madrugadores

Pedro’s show, commercially sponsored by Folger’s coffee was first broadcast on KMPC in Los Angeles, and later, KELW in Burbank.

Although these stations both normally broadcast in English, this early Spanish language program was possible because of the sponsorship income. Pedro broadcast live from the heart of the Chicano community from 4am to 6am every morning. Throughout the southwest, thousands of Mexicans, up at the crack of dawn to go to work in the canneries, factories and fields, tuned in to hear their favorite announcer and recording star.

Pedro’s show was to provide a vehicle for many young singers and musicians, who got their first breaks with him. Out of this confluence of talent emerged a unique style of music associated with Los Angeles. However, no group was as popular as Pedro’s own.

The group called themselves, aptly for the broadcast time, Los Madrugadores (The Early Risers) and they recorded over 100 songs on Columbia, OKEM, Victor and other labels. Pedro himself wrote many famous songs in this time including Sonora Querida and Lavaplatos.

Ballad of an Unsung Hero

 

image of  Los Madrugadores
Los Madrugadores © Arhoolie Records

The story of Pedro Gonzalez was eventually told in the Emmy Award winning 1983 TV documentary Ballad of an Unsung Hero on San Diego PBS outlet KPBS-TV and later broadcast nationwide over the PBS network.

More recently, Arhoolie Records of El Cerrito, CA released a collection of original recordings by Los Madrugadores, including a 28 page booklet with more information about Pedro and his program over KELW.

Dr David Burbank

The City of Burbank has an interesting local history. It was founded by David Burbank, a real estate developer who saw business opportunities in this then rural area, particularly when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through his lands and built a railway station there.

 

Jim Hilliker is a radio historian and former broadcaster.

He has written a number of articles on the history of broadcasting in Los Angeles.

He currently lives in Monterey, California.

Sample all 24 tracks from the album ‘Los Madrugadores’ including the famous Sonora Querido and Suenos De Oro and buy the album right here.

 


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Renowned French economist to join Obama’s team / The head of a French food aid charity has called on the public for help in coping with the steep rise in the number of people needing food handouts, raising concerns that the economic crisis is biting hard among the poor in France.

January 6, 2013
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Obama names French economist, France’s Esther Duflo to help shape US global policy, how are her policies working in France? He should have named someone like Rand Paul, or Gearld Celente, George Leong, or some other ‘real’ American economist?
While Duflo’s nomination will likely be viewed with a sense of pride in France, it comes as Obama’s leadership continues to be dogged by unflattering comparisons in the media to European-style socialism. Just Friday, the cover of financial news magazine The Economist depicted Obama wearing a beret, red neckerchief and a striped mariner shirt, under a headline that read “America turns European”. The article criticised the country’s recent fiscal-cliff deal as “lousy”, saying its mismanagement bore striking similarities to the “mess in the euro zone”.

French food aid NGO reports ‘explosion’ in demand

French food aid NGO reports ‘explosion’ in demand

The head of a French food aid charity has called on the public for help in coping with the steep rise in the number of people needing food handouts, raising concerns that the economic crisis is biting hard among the poor in France.

 

Latest update: 06/01/2013

Barack ObamadevelopmenteconomyFranceUSA

Renowned French economist to join Obama’s team

Renowned French economist to join Obama’s team

France’s Esther Duflo, a star economist who was once named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to help shape US global development policy.

By Aude MAZOUE (text)
France’s Esther Duflo, a world renowned economist, has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to join a government body dedicated to advising the administration on global development policy.
Called the Global Development Council, the group was founded by Obama in 2010 to help shape US development efforts abroad.
While Duflo’s nomination will likely be viewed with a sense of pride in France, it comes as Obama’s leadership continues to be dogged by unflattering comparisons in the media to European-style socialism. Just Friday, the cover of financial news magazine The Economist depicted Obama wearing a beret, red neckerchief and a striped mariner shirt, under a headline that read “America turns European”. The article criticised the country’s recent fiscal-cliff deal as “lousy”, saying its mismanagement bore striking similarities to the “mess in the euro zone”.
A rising star
Esther Duflo’s CV
Esther Duflo earned a master’s degree from DELTA (now called the Paris School of Economics) in 1995 before heading to the United States to begin a PhD in Economics at the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Upon completing her degree in 1999, Duflo continued on at MIT as an assistant professor of economics. She took leave from the school in 2001 to work at Princeton University for one year, before returning to MIT where she was granted tenure at the age of 29. After more than a decade in the US, Duflot was granted US citizenship in 2012.
Duflo, who was raised in a “left-leaning Protestant” family, said she became aware of economic divides and social injustice at a very early age.
“I was always conscientious of the gap between my existence and that of the world’s poor,” she told weekly French magazine l’Express in a January, 2011 article. “As a child, I was extremely troubled by the complete randomness of chance that I was born in Paris to an intellectual, middle class family, when I could have just as easily been born in Chad. It’s a question of luck. It inspired in me a sense of responsibility.”
While Duflo may feel that her privilege in life is the result of chance, President Obama’s intention to appoint her to his Global Development Council is not. Ever since completing her undergraduate studies at Paris’s prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1994, Duflo has led a distinguished career, collecting numerous academic honours and awards along the way.
One of the world’s 100 most influential people
It is by no means an exaggeration to call the now 40 year-old Duflo one of the world’s star economists. French daily Le Monde once awarded her its “Best French Young Economist Prize”, and in 2009, she was granted a MacArthur Fellowship (which has also been dubbed ‘the genius grant’). Duflo’s work also earned her the John Bates Clark medal in 2010, which is considered second only to the Nobel.
The following year, Time magazine named Duflo one of 100 most influential people in the world. The magazine applauded her for relentlessly “questioning conventional wisdom”.
“She has broken out of the ivory tower to do something economists rarely do: gather real data to see what really works in alleviating poverty,” Time wrote.
A closer look at poverty
Duflo’s research has largely focused on microeconomic issues in developing countries and looks at areas such as education, access to finance as well as health and policy evaluation. As co-founder and director of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Duflo has singled herself out by championing the idea that it is impossible to successfully tackle the issue of poverty without a thorough understanding of the population at hand. In other words, the devil is in the detail.
While Duflo’s work has already helped contribute to changing the way governments and organisations deal with global poverty, her potential new role as a member of the Global Development Council will allow her to have a direct impact on how the US handles such issues.
Latest update: 29/12/2012

Francepoverty

French food aid NGO reports ‘explosion’ in demand

French food aid NGO reports ‘explosion’ in demand

The head of a French food aid charity has called on the public for help in coping with the steep rise in the number of people needing food handouts, raising concerns that the economic crisis is biting hard among the poor in France.

By Ben MCPARTLAND (text)
A plea for help by the head of a French charity, struggling to cope with an “explosion” in demand, has raised further concerns about the increase in poverty in France.
Olivier Berthe, president of Restos du Cœur (Restaurants with Heart), which hands out food parcels and hot dinners to those most in need, has implored donors and the government to come to its aid and help them cope with a massive rise in demand.
Just one month after launching its annual winter campaign, the charity has reported a 12 percent rise in the number of people coming through its doors, which, according to Berthe, represents an extra 100,000 compared to this time last year.
“It’s not a rise, it’s an explosion,” Berthe told French radio RTL this week. “These are figures that we are not used to seeing.”
Berthe has called on the public to help them deal with a crisis that he predicts is only going to deepen.
“We know that the situation we are in is going to deteriorate and we will have to take measures to manage it. If our donors do not react then we will not be able to cope,” Berthe said.
In the winter of 2011/2012 the charity distributed 115 million meals compared to just 8.5 million in 1985, the year it was launched by the French comic actor Coluche.
EU funding vital to help feed the poor
Restos du Coeur is backed by figures from French showbiz who regularly help in fundraising through taking part in TV shows and pop concerts.
But Berthe believes the French government now has the most vital role to play in helping the charity provide for the growing number of hungry beneficiaries, who can no longer afford to feed themselves.
He has urged lawmakers to fight hard to make sure the European Union does not cut funding for its food aid program, which pays for around one quarter of all the meals handed out by Restos du Coeur. Private donors, public grants and fundrasing initiatives account for the remainder.
But the €500 million budget for EU food aid could soon be slashed by member states. Restos du Coeur are just one of several food aid charities in France calling for European leaders to back down.
“It seems that the government is trying to compromise with Germany or England,” he said. “It must demand the food aid program is extended.”
Berthe’s appeal comes at a time when the French government is under pressure to act to deal with the growing problem of poverty.
A recent public opinion survey revealed one in two French people saw themselves as being poor or at risk of becoming poor in the future.
Earlier in December Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced the government would stump up €2.5 billion over five years with the money to be spent on a range of measures including welfare benefits, housing aid and youth employment schemes.

 


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Matthew 24: 7 Nationality against Nationality, ethnic group against ethnic group…

January 3, 2013
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Matthew 24: 4-8

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (or Nationality against Nationality and Ethnic group against ethnic group). There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Do you suppose these problems in Greece could happen in America too because of jobs, could people born in America clamoring for jobs, blame immigrants for taking those jobs? Recently I was in San Francisco where I was doing security at nursing strikes. I spoke with someone I met on the street, they complained that our nursing schools were being over run by people coming from other countries, and also taking the jobs of people that were born here. My daughter, who was born in California, who has been an RN for years, said there are not many jobs for RN’s now in her area of San Francisco, yet they continue to school more young girls. Can all Americans unite and pull together in ‘hard times’? What would the ‘uniting’ factor be?

Greece has not faced up to the ghosts of its past

As Angela Merkel makes a futile attempt to prop up Greece’s political class, the country is on the brink of self-destruction
Demonstration against Merkel visit in Athens

Protesters hold anti-German banners during protest against Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens. Photograph: Aristidis Vafeiadakis/Zuma Press/Corbis
Angela Merkel and her new act – Deutsch-Griechische Freundschaft – played a gig in downtown Athens this week. Billed as the launch of Merkel’s new album “Ich bin eine Athenerin”, critics already insist that much of the material is recycled from previous works. They point to the painfully monotonous riffs which set the teeth on edge to suggest that Merkel may well get sadistic kicks out of taunting its listeners. Merkel touched down for six hours. She gave a solid, no frills, no nonsense set. She came, she saw, she played. It didn’t set the house on fire – but then again, we Greeks are quite capable of doing that ourselves.
One of the forseeable blowbacks of the wildfire that swept through Greece in 2009 has been the corrosive rise of xenophobia and racism, directed both inwards towards immigrants and outwards towards Europe, especially Germany. The latter was expressed at its most vulgar at this week’s anti-Merkel protests in Athens, where images of a Fourth Reich enslaving the country, belittling its people, ripping off its (as yet undiscovered) oil reserves and annexing western Thrace to hand back to the Ottomans played heavily to the collective imagination.
These days, sordid conspiracy theories abound in Greece. Sane considerate folk espouse bizarre political narratives. Old middle-class sureties have given way to gloom, idiocy and self-mutilation. Those already on the edge have tipped over into self-destruction and turned against the vulnerable.
The problem is that, as a society, Greece never made peace with itself. Nor did it engage in a truthful dialogue about the ghosts of its past. It has never enforced self-evident codes and norms of behaviour. The fundamentals of a liberal order were never fully in place. So when the financial tsunami hit, it fell apart.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the country’s metropolitan heart. Greek residents stranded in the wasteland of central Athens are turning on “immigrants” who have been in the country for 20 years. Second-generation Albanian kids are venting their jobless fury on Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Afghans their own age. The faultlines of the old civil war are reappearing. Militias of far-right thugs do battle with immigrants and gangs of leftist youths.
Earlier this week it emerged that anti-fascists were imprisoned illegally for days at the Attica General Police Directorate (Gada), the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard, where they were tortured by officers who, to all intents and purposes, were card-carrying members of Golden Dawn. A slate of attacks on gays in the street may hint at what is yet to come. Yet the minister of public order talks of “zero tolerance”, to the accolades of the respectable bourgeois press.
The death of the old political order is all too apparent. Scandals come to light every day and the sums involved, if true, are staggering. This only excites the febrile minds of a ruined petit bourgeoisie, which is turning furiously against the old authorities. Justice proceeds at a snail’s pace and the mob bays for blood and everyone is guilty till proven innocent.
The hardline Stalinist CP, for years the bulwark against the rise of fascism in plebeian neighbourhoods, is now openly taunted in parliament by far-right MPs about its terminal decline.
The Syriza left is now a mass electoral movement attracting the old socialist clientele who jumped ship, discredited union bureaucrats and radicalised youth. It promises to roll back the neoliberal onslaught personified to them by Frau Merkel, to halt austerity measures, but also to stay in the euro and the EU. It generally promises to create a brave new world, even if it is a bit coy in spelling out what exactly that world may look like.
The imminent danger for the country is social implosion. Some talk of a postmodern Weimar. Others of a black hole like Kosovo. The purpose of Merkel’s visit, on a symbolic level, was to bring the country back into the mainstream European fold and prop up a mercurial and discredited political class. Yet can the people so centrally implicated in the country’s fall take on the role of its saviour?
If the European and domestic elites do not quickly change their plan to “manage” this crisis, then the centre will not hold. Then the political economy of pain will truly come into its own.

 

 


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Fear and the Fiscal Cliff

January 1, 2013
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W.C. Fields was an expert at juggling, however, I don’t think our legislatures ever took any lessons and even care to?
Seriously, maybe this is a large “Ponzi Scheme”?
The “Total” US debt as shown on the U.S. National Debt Clock is somewhere in the vicinity of 58 Billion.. And I have heard as high as 94 Billion Dollars.. Keep that in mind as our legislature persons, worry about less than a 16 Billion and continue to try and spend more, 330 Billion..
Question… Shouldn’t we at this point take the credit card away from them? Or possibly we no longer have control or power?
http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Debt Held by the Public – Foreign governments and investors hold 48% of the nation’s public debt. The next largest part (21%) is held by other governmental entities, like the Federal Reserve and state and local governments. Fifteen percent is held by mutual funds, private pension funds, savings bonds or individual Treasury notes. The rest (16%) is held by businesses, like banks, and insurance companies and a mish-mash of trusts, businesses and investors. Here’s the breakout:
  • Foreign – $5.135 trillion
  • Federal Reserve – $1.6 trillion
  • State and Local Government, including their pension funds – $624 billion
  • Mutual Funds – $854 billion
  • Private Pension Funds – $595.9 billion
  • Banks – $307.2 billion
  • Insurance Companies – $254.1 billion
  • U.S. Savings Bonds – $184.8 billion
  • Other (individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate and non-corporate businesses, and other investors) – $1.23 trillion. (As of December 2011. Source: Treasury Bulletin, Ownership of Federal Securities, Table OFS-2)

This debt is not only Treasury bills, notes, and bonds but also TIPS, Savings Bonds, and State and Local Government Series securities.

As you can see, if you add up debt held by Social Security, and all the retirement and pension funds, a large part of the U.S. Treasury debt (30%) is held in trust for people’s retirements. If theoretically the U.S. were to default, foreign investors would be angry, but the greatest harm would befall the average U.S. citizen.
http://useconomy.about.com/od/monetarypolicy/f/Who-Owns-US-National-Debt.htm

Deficit ‘fiscal cliff’ bill actually spends $330 billion more

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2013/jan/1/deficit-fiscal-cliff-bill-actually-spends-330-bill/

Fiscal cliff fears

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET
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Are you worried about what might happen if Congress and the president can’t avoid the fiscal cliff? You are not alone.
Most Americans, 62 percent, fear that the automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect in January will have a major effect on the U.S. economy than on their own finances, according to a recent survey by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post.
Almost as many of those surveyed (60 percent) the week after the presidential election also worry that fiscal cliff implications would negatively affect their own personal financial situations.
And most think the financial damage is imminent.
About half of those questioned — 51 percent — don’t think that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans will reach an agreement by the end of the year to avoid going off the fiscal cliff.
If that happens, look out, Republicans. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say that in that case they would blame congressional Republicans more than President Obama for the failure.
Even though Democrats might get more political mileage out of a fiscal cliff failure, people who are members of that party are more optimistic than Republicans that a deal will be struck.
Right now, it looks like the positive thinkers have the edge.
Republicans, apparently a bit chastened by their Nov. 6 losses, are talking as tough about taxes as in previous financial standoffs.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who almost negotiated a grand financial bargain involving tax cuts during the 2011 debt ceiling debate, has said he is open to revenue raisers.
This isn’t exactly caving to Obama’s demand for higher income tax rates for top earners; Boehner means his party is willing to look at eliminating some tax deductions in order to get more money for the U.S. Treasury.
It’s a small step, but given Congress’ tendency to deadlock, any movement is welcome.
The next task is for Representatives and Senators to change those steps into a steady run so they can complete a fiscal cliff resolution by the end of the year.
Do you think lawmakers will find a way to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff? Who do think will get the better deal, Democrats or Republicans?
Want the latest news on taxes, tax reform prospects, state taxes, filing deadlines, Internal Revenue Service alerts and tax-saving tips? Subscribe to Bankrate’s free Weekly Tax Tip newsletter.

Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/financing/taxes/fiscal-cliff-fears/#ixzz2GlWETD78
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Retirement hangs on fiscal cliff

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Monday, November 12, 2012
Posted: 1 pm ET
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If we fall off the fiscal cliff, retirees could face a 17 percent increase in their 2013 income taxes, predicts CFP professional Leon LaBrecque, a lawyer and certified public accountant.
LaBrecque weighed the impact of eight unpleasant financial problems he believes retirees — and those on the brink of retirement — are most likely to encounter as a result of the nation sliding over the cliff. He estimates the dollar impact and predicts the likelihood of Congress passing a solution.
He says that for retirees and those doing retirement planning, “The most dangerous one of all is the expiration of the Bush tax cuts because it changes everything.”
Here’s his list:
  1. Expiration of the Bush income and estate taxes ($246 billion impact). This will hit everyone who pays income taxes and anyone whose estate is over $1 million. The fix: Extend all or some tax brackets and extend the current estate tax limits. Probability of Congress taking this step: very high.
  2. Alternative minimum tax, or AMT, patch ($50 billion impact). This law was designed to extract money from millionaires who wiggled out of paying taxes. The AMT isn’t indexed for inflation, so now it is hitting some people who make as little as $40,000. The fix: another patch. Probability of it passing Congress: very high.
  3. Sequestration ($109 billion impact). These federal spending cuts were mandated by Congress last year as part of a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Social Security and Medicaid aren’t affected, but Medicare Part D could get a 2 percent haircut, pushing up what Medicare recipients pay. The fix: new budget cuts. Probability of these passing: slightly above zero.
  4. Expiration of the payroll tax holiday ($115 billion impact). President Barack Obama cut payroll taxes by 2 percentage points to stimulate the economy. The fix: Extend the cuts. Probability of passage: slight.
  5. Unearned income Medicare contribution tax ($24 billion impact). This affects singles with incomes greater than $200,000 and couples with incomes greater than $250,000. The fix: Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Probability: subzero.
  6. Expiration of the debt ceiling ($300 billion impact). The whole world would feel the pain if the U.S. couldn’t borrow. The fix: Raise the debt ceiling. Probability of passage: good.
  7. Doc fix ($15 billion to $22 billion impact). Physicians who treat Medicare patients will take a sharp pay cut. The fix: Adjust Medicare pay guidelines. Probability of passage: maybe. (Docs can afford good lobbyists.)
  8. Small-business and stimulus tax breaks ($27 billion impact). This involves a host of small tax breaks, including the individual retirement account charitable rollover, which allows people older than 70½ to make mandatory IRA withdrawals by sending the money directly to a charity. These donations aren’t tax-deductible, but neither do they count as income, which could result in higher taxes on Social Security or higher Medicare premiums. The law expired last year, but some are still hoping it will be extended retroactively. Likelihood of passage: 50-50.

‘Fiscal cliff’ to sock CDs?

By Claes Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET
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One of the big issues facing the country these days is whether Congress and President Barack Obama can strike a deal to avoid the sudden expiration of the Bush tax cuts coupled with a sharp decrease in federal spending — what’s known as the “fiscal cliff.”
If the two sides don’t reach a deal, there could be a surprising casualty: savings rates.
An analysis by Market Rates Insight finds that the growth of consumer deposits was nearly twice as fast in the nine years following the Bush tax cuts as it was in the nine years preceding.
The analysis examined two time periods, pre- and post-tax cuts. The first time period was from June 1992 to June 2001, prior to the enactment of the initial tax cuts measure, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act  of 2001 (EGTRRA). During this nine-year period, total deposits in FDIC-insured institutions increased by $1.5 trillion, or 42 percent. However, during the nine years after the tax cuts took effect, total deposits increased by $4.1 trillion, or 82 percent, which is nearly double the rate of growth compared to the first period.
Dan Geller, executive vice president at Market Rates Insight, says skinnier bank accounts are a predictable result of higher taxes.
“People will have less money because the average household will pay an extra $2,500 a year in federal income tax,” he says.
I asked Geller if that slowing growth might actually benefit savers by forcing banks to offer higher CD rates to attract new deposits.
“There are a few scenarios to declining deposits,” Geller says. “If demand for loans increases and deposit level decreases, interest rates on deposits will go up as well as loan rates. If demand for loans remains the same, and deposits levels decrease, banks that need to increase liquidity will pay higher interest rates on deposits, but will be at higher risk due to the additional expense.”
What do you think? Would you save less if tax rates went back to Clinton-era levels?

Fiscal cliff’s costly prospects

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Posted: 3 pm ET
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Congress doesn’t plan to be back in Washington, D.C., for votes on any legislation until Nov. 13. That gives lawmakers six and a half weeks to find a way to keep the country from falling off the fiscal cliff.
Good luck with that.
Not to sound too pessimistic, but I am pessimistic. This current batch of senators and representatives deserves its horrid reputation as the do-nothing Congress. I’m not convinced they’ll overcome that perception after the election.
Sure, a small group of some senators is meeting unofficially to come up with alternatives to sequestration, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts facing federal programs in January 2013 if legislators can’t come up with another plan to which all of Washington, D.C., will agree.
I repeat, good luck with that.
If Mitt Romney wins and the Republicans control or at least have decent numbers in both the House and Senate, the GOP won’t do anything in the lame duck session. They’ll just wait until the new president takes the oath of office in January and then push through at least some of the tax and spending changes they’ve been wanting to enact for years.
If President Barack Obama keeps his job, don’t be surprised to see the partisanship on Capitol Hill continue. This will be especially evident if Republicans make gains in both legislative chambers. With no election to worry about, the president can hold firm to his principles as he looks to shape his administration’s legacy in its last four years. And the GOP lawmakers could see short-term voter pain, even if it threatens their electability, as an eventual longer-term win for the party and its fiscal goals.
So what happens to all of us outside the D.C. beltway if no agreement is reached? On the spending side, defense and domestic budgets will be slashed, meaning fewer services.
As for taxes, the Bush tax cuts expire and the payroll tax reduction disappears, meaning less pay with the year’s very first check. The estate tax will affect many more families. Education tax breaks will end or be reduced.
And tax extenders that already ended Dec. 31, 2011, won’t be renewed. Among many other things, this means the popular $1,000 child tax credit will be halved, more married couples will again face the marriage tax penalty, and the deduction for state and local sales taxes can no longer be claimed.
It’s not a pretty picture.
The Tax Policy Center, a progressive tax think tank in the nation’s capital, has put a cold hard cash face on the fiscal cliff prospect. As noted in just the few examples I cited, almost every taxpayer would see a spike in his or her tax bill.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans would pay more tax in 2013, according to the Center’s report Toppling off the Fiscal Cliff: Whose Taxes Rise and How Much?
Overall, taxes would increase by more than $500 billion that year alone.
While the exact financial effect depends, of course, on a person’s income, the Tax Policy Center says the tax increase would average out to almost $3,500 per household.
Breaking out the effects further, the Center says a typical middle-income family making $40,000 to $64,000 a year could see its taxes go up by $2,000 next year.
And low-income households would pay more due to expiration of tax credits in the 2009 stimulus.
High-income households also would be hit hard by higher tax rates on ordinary income, capital gains and dividends and by new health reform taxes that kick in next year.
As for the country as a whole, the rising marginal tax rates would potentially affect every economic decision.
Is the Tax Policy Center being a Chicken Little or a Cassandra that we ignore at our own risk?
Not to give the tax policy group too much credit or blame, but I vote for it being a visionary prophet more than just a frantic doomsayer.
Let’s hope Congress is listening and has given itself enough time to act accordingly.
Want the latest tax news, deadlines, alerts and tax-saving tips? Subscribe to Bankrate’s free Weekly Tax Tip newsletter.

And we thought “The Exorcist” was scary?


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THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO SOCIALISM

January 1, 2013
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what ever happened to Americanism? And the word, Ameri-can from the 1950’s?.. Do we really want to be known as European Socialists.. ?
http://www.amazon.com/Politically-Incorrect-Guide-Socialism-Guides/dp/1596986492
Author Kevin D. Williamson

The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Socialism
Stalin’s gulag, impoverished North Korea, collapsing Cuba…it’s hard to name a dogma that has failed as spectacularly as socialism. And yet leaders around the world continue to subject millions of people to this dysfunctional, violence-prone ideology.
In The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to Socialism, Kevin Williamson reveals the fatal flaw of socialism—that efficient, complex economies simply can’t be centrally planned. But even in America, that hasn’t stopped politicians and bureaucrats from planning, to various extents, the most vital sectors of our economy: public education, energy, and the most arrogant central–planning effort of them all, Obama’s healthcare plan.
In this provocative book, Williamson unfolds the grim history of socialism, showing how the ideology has spawned crushing poverty, devastating famines, and horrific wars. Lumbering from one crisis to the next, leaving a trail of economic devastation and environmental catastrophe, socialism has wreaked more havoc, caused more deaths, and impoverished more people than any other ideology in history—especially when you include the victims of fascism, which Williamson notes is simply a variant of socialism.

Williamson further demonstrates:

Why, contrary to popular belief, socialism in theory is no better than socialism in practice
Why socialism can’t exist without capitalism
How the energy powerhouse of Venezuela, under socialism, has become an economic basket case subject to rationing and blackouts
How socialism, not British colonialism, plunged the bountiful economy of India into stagnation and dysfunction—and how capitalism is rescuing it
Why socialism is inextricably linked to communism

If you thought socialism went into the dustbin of history with the collapse of the Soviet Union, think again. Socialism is alive and kicking, and it’s already spread further than you know.


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THE EDUCATION BUBBLE…..

January 1, 2013
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Interesting concept…
Too many educated people, not enough jobs and won’t be! Getting a college education and expecting a job could now be like betting on a long shot at Santa Anita. Then there will be a change in the way people are educated, it will be a lot less expensive and basically not require a campus…. With high education costs, again necessity will be the mother of invention..
THE EDUCATION BUBBLE…..
January 2013
Higher ed: an obituary
On the future of higher education in the Internet age.
Burke
was right!

Support The
New Criterion

The fate of American higher education has been a central concern of The New Criterion from its very first issue in September 1982. About academia, as about other cultural institutions—the art museums, orchestras, media and entertainment industries, as well as the law and those social institutions through which the past perpetuates itself into the present—The New Criterion has cast a wary eye, celebrating the vital, where it can be found, but also criticizing the many signs of decadence and irresponsibility wherever they have been on display, which, alas, has been almost everywhere. When it came to the academic world, our chief complaints have revolved around the anti-Western politicization of intellectual life. We focused on the way ideology subjugated the life of the mind to the hermetic lucubrations of deconstruction, post-structuralism, and all the other increasingly quaint-sounding efforts to dismiss or subvert the main currents of what Matthew Arnold famously extolled as “the best that has been thought and said in the world.”
There has never been any shortage of material. Since the onslaughts of the 1960s, anyway, the world of academia has presented critical observers concerned with upholding that Arnoldian ideal with a pullulating embarrassment of, well, not riches, exactly: let’s just call it one large, dissectible embarrassment and leave it at that.
None of what we have anatomized these thirty-odd years has gone away. If anything, the politicization of the university is worse now than it was when The New Criterion first appeared on the scene. If “the closing of the American mind” or the careers of “tenured radicals” grab fewer headlines today, it is because the realities they name have lost the luster of novelty. They are now the common, institutionalized status quo that defines university life for most of twenty million plus souls who are now matriculated in what we still describe (and with a straight face) as “higher education.”
It is not surprising that many observers despair of achieving fundamental, recuperative change in the institutions of higher education. Decades of withering criticism haven’t done much to move the needle, not least because parents still look to the credential of a BA, especially a BA from a prestigious venue, as a card of entry to the good life of the American dream.
That assumption, we believe, is about to change—is already changing. There are several sources of pressure. One has to do with the changing nature of the American dream itself: Can our society, debt-ridden as it is, continue to offer widespread material rewards to millions of college graduates?
Two related but separate issues revolve around the inner metabolism of higher education, in particular its astronomical and still escalating costs and—an even bigger reality—the wave of technological innovation that is poised to break over the entire institution of higher education like a tsunami.
Elsewhere in this issue, James Bowman ruminates on the economist Herb Stein’s observation that whatever can’t go on forever, won’t, and he explores this idea’s applicability to politics. Mr. Bowman denominates that seeming tautology as “Stein’s Law.” It is said that tautologies, being necessary truths, can have no contingent, i.e., real-life consequences. “It is what it is,” “Que sera, sera”: such clichés add nothing to our stock of knowledge because their predicate is merely a repetition of their subject. But such statements can often seem earthshaking because we sometimes have failed to take on board the reality named in the first proposition. We do not quite believe, for example, that the escalating cost of higher education cannot go on as it has because, well, because it has gone on just fine until now.
It was the law professor (and prominent internet commentator) Glenn Reynolds who first popularized the phrase “higher education bubble.” Drawing on Stein’s Law, Reynolds argued that the market for higher education, like the housing market before it, is on an unsustainable, inflationary path. “Bubbles form when too many people expect values to go up forever,” he observes. “Bubbles burst when there are no longer enough excessively optimistic and ignorant folks to fuel them. And there are signs that this is beginning to happen already where education is concerned.”
Everywhere one turns, it seems, there are illustrations of Reynolds’s point. Item: last month The Wall Street Journal ran a piece under the title “Who Can Still Afford State U?” It used to be that state institutions were relative economic bargains, especially for in-state students. That’s increasingly not the case. The story begins by contrasting the cost of the University of Colorado Boulder in the 1980s—$4,000, $8,500 in today’s dollars—with the tab today: $30,000, a typical case. What’s happened, the story continues, is that state legislatures have trimmed their investment in higher education as other fiscal demands—notably, various welfare commitments, prisons, and public pension obligations—have won out in the competition for scarce dollars.
There is also the familiar story of administrative bloat and gold-plated amenities. A number of factors have helped to fuel the soaring cost of public colleges. Administrative costs have soared nationwide, and many administrators have secured big pay increases—including some at CU-Boulder, in 2011. Teaching loads have declined for tenured faculty at many schools, adding to costs. Between 2001 and 2011, according to the Department of Education, the number of managers at U.S. colleges and universities grew 50 percent faster than the number of instructors. What’s more, schools have spent liberally on fancier dorms, dining halls, and gyms to compete for students.
A similar situation prevails at private universities, only the numbers are even more dramatic. The total ticket per annum at many top-tier institutions now starts with a six, as in $60,000-plus. What can’t go on forever, won’t. The average student leaves college with $27,000 in debt. For many, the figure is $100,000 or more. That can’t go on. Ergo, it won’t go on. Wildly escalating costs (well above the cost-of-living index) in an age of stagnant growth and diminishing resources is simply unsustainable.
But the financial reality of higher education is merely the tip (albeit a painfully sharp tip) of the proverbial iceberg. An even larger engine of change is that extraordinary but common-as-dirt reality that we see all around us but whose power we underestimate because it has become part of the taken-for-granted furniture of our lives. We mean the Internet. Glenn Reynolds is right: the future of higher education belongs overwhelmingly not to dreaming spires and ivied halls but to online emporia and streaming, interactive video. Writing in the current issue of The American Interest, Nathan Harden puts it dramatically but not hyperbolically: “The End of the University As We Know It.” In the space of a few decades, Harden writes, “half of the roughly 4,500 colleges and universities now operating in the United States will have ceased to exist.”

The technology driving this change is already at work, and nothing can stop it. The future looks like this: Access to college-level education will be free for everyone; the residential college campus will become largely obsolete; tens of thousands of professors will lose their jobs; the bachelor’s degree will become increasingly irrelevant; and ten years from now Harvard will enroll ten million students. . . . The live lecture will be replaced by streaming video. The administration of exams and exchange of coursework over the Internet will become the norm. The push and pull of academic exchange will take place mainly in interactive online spaces, occupied by a new generation of tablet-toting, hyper-connected youth who already spend much of their lives online. Universities will extend their reach to students around the world, unbounded by geography or even by time zones. All of this will be on offer, too, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional college education.

Bold prognostications. What makes Nathan Harden think he is right? This basic economic reality: “If a faster, cheaper way of sharing information emerges, history shows us that it will quickly supplant what came before. People will not continue to pay tens of thousands of dollars for what technology allows them to get for free.”
Mr. Harden acknowledges that a liberal arts education is not simply a matter of imbibing information. Information is not synonymous with knowledge, let alone wisdom, which is the ultimate end of the Arnoldian view of education. Granted that important point, we nonetheless suspect that Nathan Harden is correct: The economic realities heralded by the technological revolution fueled by the Internet are irresistible.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? We do not profess to know. Time will tell. We suspect that the answer to both parts of the question will be “yes”—that is, there will be both gains and losses. But for now the chief reality to acknowledge is the fundamental change that is nigh. “The most important part of the college bubble story,” Harden argues, “concerns the impending financial collapse of numerous private colleges and universities and the likely shrinkage of many public ones. And when that bubble bursts, it will end a system of higher education that, for all of its history, has been steeped in a culture of exclusivity. Then we’ll see the birth of something entirely new as we accept one central and unavoidable fact: The college classroom is about to go virtual.”
In recent years, both Harvard and MIT have invested heavily in a free, on-line initiative dubbed “edX” which offers “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) to anyone with an Internet connection and the requisite curiosity. Such novelties are sprouting up everywhere, and Harden is probably correct that they are “are poised to forever change the way students learn and universities teach.”
There will be winners as well as losers when these changes take hold. Among the winners will be those colleges and universities that have effectively embraced the new technologies. Among the losers will be thousands of Harvard wannabes with boundless pretensions, heavy investment in the residential college experience, and a sweet tooth for all the latest “transgressive” politicized nonsense that has made so many college campuses contemptible intellectual and moral swamps.
Perhaps the biggest impediment to the changes on the horizon is the entrenched nature of the educational establishment: the college presidents with their $1 million plus salaries and bloated administrative staffs, the whole system of tenure which has turned out to be as much a recipe for intellectual conformity as it is a fiscal nightmare. Those who have diagnosed a “bubble” in higher education are right. Change is coming, coming fast, and it is not going to be easy for those indentured to this outmoded, unsustainable model. Doubtless there will be important losses. There is something deeply entrancing, if also financially extravagant, about the ideal residential college experience, even if the reality seldom lives up to the advertisement. Still, Harden has a point: “if our goal is educating as many students as possible, as well as possible, as affordably as possible, then the end of the university as we know it is nothing to fear. Indeed, it’s something to celebrate.”

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