Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hollowing Out of Higher Education

This piece in the Washington Post describes the decline of state dollars flowing to so-called "public ivies."  This connects to an issue that was brought up on last Sunday's Meet the Press.  Put simply, states aren't investing in higher education anymore.

From my own experience I saw tuition climb 24% from the freshmen year of college to my senior year at a state school in Illinois.  I also saw the graphs that charted how in the early 1980s for every $1 dollar of tuition paid by a student, the state of Illinois paid $9.  Now that ratio is close to or less than 1 to 1.

What this leads to is fewer kids going to college or those that do go amassing large amounts of debt that necessitates a high-paying job to service that burden, which are becoming harder to come by as well.  This was a major element of the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Now I know not everyone needs to go to college and I do think we need to direct more kids toward technical/vocational colleges then to English 101 then we currently do, but it's not like this money is being shifted.  It's just going away.  Surely it's in the national interest to have centers of learning to equip students with the knowledge and the critical thinking skills needed to drive innovation.  And yet, this is a topic that pops up and fizzles out.

When I think about this issue and those that would suggest I think everyone should get a college degree for free, (not a half bad idea) I am always reminded of this clip from The West Wing.  It's supposed to be hard, but surely the government has an interest in making it easier.  Surely those that want an education should be able to do so without racking up massive amounts of debt.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chart of the Day

From the Washington Post, the Toil Index:

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Short List - December 16, 2011

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Domestic

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

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  • The Obama Administration lifted its veto threat against the NDAA after some of the offensive provisions were altered. It's still a truly bad bill, though -- and it's about to become a bad law.
  • Mitt Romney, wealthy man, calls Newt Gingrich a wealthy man. I'm convinced that either could equally well represent the interest of the serfs working people.



The Short List - December 14, 2011

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Domestic

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stanley Fish on the Study of Law

Stanley Fish puts clear words to the reason I was initially drawn to law school--and one of my greatest laments of law school in practice. I was fortunate in this pursuit in so far as I found a way to make it as reflective as possible. Many of my compatriots were not so. Instead, there's was by happenstance or design a more practical approach. One more in line with that of Segal's critique than of Leiter's response. I think many of them are pleased with this outcome but it certainly was not my preferred route. That said, it is much easier, I think, to experience law school as a practicum--mine, at least, was prefigured in that manner. Mr. Fish:

In his response to Segal’s essay, Brian Leiter, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, rejects the question of whether what one learns in law school is of any help: “The criterion of scholarly inquiry is whether it makes a contribution to knowledge and understanding, not whether it ‘helps.’” Leiter adds that what he calls “genuine” knowledge often does help with “a host of concrete and practical problems.” But he refuses (rightly, I think) to justify the academic study of law on that basis, for, he explains, “it is the central premise of a research institution that the measure of its achievement is the quality of the scholarship, i.e. its contribution to knowledge — whether of law or biology or literature — not its practical payoff in the short-term.”

The emphasis on practical short-term payoffs has already laid waste to the traditional project of the liberal arts, which may not survive. Is the law next? The law is surely a practice but it is also a subject, and if it ceases to be a subject — ceases to be an object of analysis in classrooms and in law reviews — its practice will be diminished. When a Times editorial declares that “[l]aw is now regarded as a means rather than an end, a tool for solving problems” rather than something of interest in its own right, one wants to say more’s the pity.




The Short List - December 13, 2011

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Monday, December 12, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

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The Short List - December 12, 2011

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

International
Domestic

The Short List - December 8, 2011

International
Domestic

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

International
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Short List - December 6, 2011

International
Domestic
  • Democrats have scaled back the payroll tax extension, but still insist that a payroll tax for almost all Americans be paid by a small surtax on the small group of Americans making over $1 million dollars a year.  Republicans have balked at the trade off.  ** Editorial Note: This is the big philosophical divide playing out.  On the one hand, Democrats want to give families that are struggling a break, but they want to pay for it so their asking millionaires to pay a bit more.  Republicans feel like any tax increase is bad.**

  • Obama's deployment of the National Guard to the US-Mexico border, a drastic increase in ground forces despite GOP nominee statements, has led to the capture of over 25,000 illegal immigrants, but has cost $160 million.  That breaks out to $6,271 per each person captured and many are wondering if it's worth the price tag.

  • Gingrich is the clear front runner in Iowa, and The Fix says Romney has an Iowa problem, but that wasn't a state Romney was ever going to push to hard in.  If he falls behind in New Hampshire then he'll have problems.  In the meantime he can be comforted by the money of billionaires.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

Intergalactic
International
Domestic

The Short List - December 5, 2011

International

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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Short List - December 2, 2011

International
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

International
  • Al-Qaeda is holding hostage a U.S. aid expert; Zawahri consciously links this hostage to both drone strikes and U.S. detention policy.
  • The TFG, the fictitious Somali government that bears the imprimatur of the international community, is along with North Korea the most corrupt regime in the world. Well done, all. Other highlights: Iraq is the 8th most corrupt state in the world. See the whole list here
  • The U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights says Syria is in a civil war. From the reporting I've seen, the violence in Syria does not seem to rise to the level of armed conflict--this seems more rhetorical to me.

Domestic

The Short List - December 1, 2011

International

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

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The Taxonomy of Herman Cain’s World View

Herman Cain released his vision of U.S. foreign policy this week. The primary document containing his vision weighs in at just6.5 pages. In that brief space, Mr. Cain really simply assesses U.S. relations with a handful of states. In an even briefer brochure, Cain lays out his “pillars” of U.S. foreign policy. In the short exposition of his philosophy he notes that his is a “pragmatic and principled approach.” One might suggest the two are necessarily contradictory. If Mr. Cain has found a way to resolve the apparent contradiction between principle and pragmatism, it is certainly worth some description that his foreign policy vision currently lacks.

These pillars consist of platitudes that, unsurprisingly, don’t address any real issues or problems. For example, the pillar “Reassert U.S. Leadership” includes “reassure our friends and deter our adversaries.” Outstanding, Mr. Cain; your nuanced perspective on the world would do George Kennan proud. Let us not bother with any sort of criteria or principles to assess who is a friend and who is an ally. Let us instead skip to the chase and reassure our friends and deter our adversaries. How might we do that? Are we not currently providing assurance to our friends?

This pillar also includes, “re-examin[ing] our role in the United Nations.” Obviously, this trope is meant to be red meat to the anti-UN constituency of the GOP base. There is no indication of what this would entail—though, as a member of that base, we are supposed to infer this would mean quitting the UN—no indication of the criteria used to reassess our position, no indication of what the better position would be. Indeed, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, vested with a veto, there is no better position to have within the United Nations. Oddly, in his exposition, Cain declares he will “never relegate the U.S.A. to being just another country in the United Nations.” The U.S. is of course not “just another country”—it’s one of five possessing a veto. So far as this Editor knows, there is no move afoot to make it one.

Further, it is unclear to this Editor, at least, how quitting the UN—again, presumably the inference we are to draw, as members of the GOP base—exhibits leadership, unless we are leading the U.N. to its demise. Of course, a number of our friends—e.g., the United Kingdom, classified as “special relationship”—apparently buy into the utility of the United Nations. This Editor is not sure how leading the U.N. to its demise would reassure our friends.

Another pillar, “Restore Our Global Competitiveness,” is really focused on domestic policy and includes implementing the 9-9-9 plan, making free trade work for the United States, outgrowing our competitors, and ending our dependence on overseas oil. With the exception of implementing the 9-9-9 plan, there is no indication of how any of these would be implemented in practice. Although, improving our global competitiveness is a worthy goal, this Editor would like to see more details. Additionally, the 9-9-9 plan reportedly increases the tax burden on poor Americans, how this improves our global competitiveness is lost on this Editor.

The third and final pillar of Mr. Cain’s plan, “Counter Urgent Threats” is quite specific in its goals but, unfortunately, light on details. This pillar includes stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, fixing border security “for real,” and shielding us against “cyber and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attacks.” There is no indication as to why cyber attacks and EMP attacks are lumped together. They both deal with (vaguely) electronics, but beyond that they are totally different. It is nice to see, however, that Newt Gingrich’s reference to EMP attacks in the last debate has penetrated the public consciousness enough that Mr. Cain felt it necessary to address.

Perhaps the most controversial portion of Mr. Cain’s foreign policy vision is his taxonomy of nations. Cain has categorized select nations into the following categories “special relationship,” “friend and ally,” “friend and partner,” “friend,” “strategic partner,” “danger and opportunity,” “competitor,” “rival,” and “adversary regime.”

Classification
State
Special Relationship
United Kingdom
Friend and Ally
Canada, Israel, Japan
Friend and Partner
Mexico
Friend
Brazil
Strategic Partner
India
Danger and Opportunity
Egypt, Pakistan
Competitor
China
Rival
Russia
Adversary Regime
Iran, North Korea, Venezuela

This taxonomy of nation-states is certainly more nuanced than President Bush’s dichotomy—with us or against us—but it is hardly nuanced. What makes Mexico merely a Friend and Partner rather than a Friend and Ally? Why is Egypt, like Pakistan, a Danger and Opportunity? What does that mean for uncategorized Tunisia? But what strikes me most is that Israel is lumped in as merely a Friend and Ally with Canada and Japan. This is an odd downgrade for a candidate in a field that has been falling over itself to be the greatest friend to Israel (particularly, the right wing of Israel) imaginable. That too is worth some explanation. 

The Short List - November 30, 2011

International

Domestic

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

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Domestic


The Short List - November 29, 2011

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Domestic

Monday, November 28, 2011

What Kind Of Day Has It Been

International

Domestic