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Slightly Skeptical View on Neoliberal Transformation of University Education

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Introduction

Previously education was mostly about "finding yourself" -- developing understanding of the world and yourself, as well as developing those set of abilities that you was gifted most. And deciding what you want to do in the future, within contins of job market and your abilities.  Neoliberalism has changed that dramatically. Education now is just in "investment" into your "entrepreneurial self" to increase your value as "human capital" holder and this your value in the "labout market." (Symptomatic Redness -Philip Mirowski - YouTube).  That's bullsh*t, but people already brainwashed by neoliberals from the middle school buy it uncritically.

Today we live in a world of predatory bankers, predatory educators, predatory health care providers, all of them out for themselves…. Neoliberalism  is the philosophy of the Silicon Valley chieftains, the big university systems, and the Wall Street titans who gave so much to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign…. They are pretend to belong to so called "creative vlass", but in reality are self-interested, parasitical, and predatory. Common people are not admissible to this new aristocracy even if they have two university educations.

In the current circumstances education is no longer the answer to rising inequality. Instead of serving as a social lift it, it designed to propagate the current status of parents and at least in some cases, became more of a social trap converting poorer or more reckless (as in specializing in areas were job market is not existent) graduates into debt slaves without chances to repay the loans. All this is connected with neoliberal transformation of education. With the collapse of post-war public funded educational model and privatization of the University education students face a pretty cruel world. World in which they are cows to milk.

Now universities became institutions very similar to McDonalds ( or, in less politically correct terms, Bordellos of Higher Learning). Like McDonalds they need to price their services so that to receive nice profit and they to make themselves more attractive to industry they intentionally feed students with overspecialized curriculum instead of concentrating on fundamentals and the developing the ability to understand the world. Which was the hallmark of university education of the past.

Since 1970th Neo-Liberal University model replaced public funded university model (Dewey model). It is now collapsing as there are not that many students, who are able (and now with lower job prospects and persistent tales of graduates working as bartenders) to pay inflated tuition fees. Foreigners somewhat compensates for this , but with current high prices Canada, UK and Europe are more attractive for all but the most rich parents.   That means that higher education again by-and-large became privilege of the rich and upper middle class.

Lower student enrollment first hit after  dot-com boom, when the number of students who want to be programmers decines several times.   Expensive private colleges start hunting for people with government support (such a former members of Arm forces).  The elite universities, which traditionally serve the top 1% and rich foreigners fared better but were also hit. As David Schultz wrote in his article (Logos, 2012):

Yet the Dewey model began to collapse in middle of the 1970s. Perhaps it was the retrenchment of the SUNY and CUNY systems in New York under Governor Hugh Carey in 1976 that began the end of the democratic university. What caused its retrenchment was the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

The fiscal crisis of the 1970s was born of numerous problems. Inflationary pressures caused by Vietnam and the energy embargoes of the 1970s, and recessionary forces from relative declines in American economic productivity produced significant economic shocks, including to the public sector where many state and local governments edged toward bankruptcy.

Efforts to relieve declining corporate profits and productivity initiated efforts to restructure the economy, including cutting back on government services. The response, first in England under Margaret Thatcher and then in the United States under Ronald Reagan, was an effort to retrench the state by a package that included decreases in government expenditures for social welfare programs, cutbacks on business regulations, resistance to labor rights, and tax cuts. Collectively these proposals are referred to as Neo-liberalism and their aim was to restore profitability and autonomy to free markets with the belief that unfettered by the government that would restore productivity.

Neo-liberalism had a major impact on higher education. First beginning under President Carter and then more so under Ronald Reagan, the federal and state governments cut taxes and public expenditures. The combination of the two meant a halt to the Dewey business model as support for public institutions decreased and federal money dried up.

From a high in the 1960s and early 70s when states and the federal government provided generous funding to expand their public systems to educate the Baby Boomers, state universities now receive only a small percentage of their money from the government. As I pointed out in my 2005 Logos “The Corporate University in American Society” article in 1991, 74% of the funding for public universities came from states, in 2004; it was down to 64%, with state systems in Illinois, Michigan and Virginia down to 25%, 18%, and 8% respectively. Since then, the percentages have shrunk even more, rendering state universities public institutions more in name than in funding.

Higher education under Neo-liberalism needed a new business model and it found it in the corporate university. The corporate university is one where colleges increasingly use corporate structures and management styles to run the university. This includes abandoning the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shared governance model where faculty had an equal voice in the running of the school, including over curriculum, selection of department chairs, deans, and presidents, and determination of many of the other policies affecting the academy. The corporate university replaced the shared governance model with one more typical of a business corporation.

For the corporate university, many decisions, including increasingly those affecting curriculum, are determined by a top-down pyramid style of authority. University administration often composed not of typical academics but those with business or corporate backgrounds had pre-empted many of the decisions faculty used to make. Under a corporate model, the trustees, increasingly composed of more business leaders than before, select, often with minimal input from the faculty, the president who, in turn, again with minimal or no faculty voice, select the deans, department heads, and other administrative personnel.

University bureaucracy and presidents became way too greedy

Neoliberalism professes the idea the personal greed can serve positive society goals, which is reflected in famous neoliberal slogan "greed is good". And university presidents listen. Now presidents of neoliberal universities do not want to get $100K per year salary, they want one, or better several, million dollars -- the salary of the CEO of major corporation (Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds - NYTimes.com)

At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012, according to a new study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning Washington research group.

The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.

The co-authors, Andrew Erwin and Marjorie Wood, found that administrative expenditures at the highest-paying universities outpaced spending on scholarships by more than two to one. And while adjunct faculty members became more numerous at the 25 universities, the share of permanent faculty declined drastically.

“The high executive pay obviously isn’t the direct cause of higher student debt, or cuts in labor spending,” Ms. Wood said. “But if you think about it in terms of the allocation of resources, it does seem to be the tip of a very large iceberg, with universities that have top-heavy executive spending also having more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending.”

... ... ...

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual survey of public university presidents’ compensation, also released Sunday, found that nine chief executives earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2012-13, up from four the previous year, and three in 2010-11. The median total compensation of the 256 presidents in the survey was $478,896, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

... ... ...

As in several past years, the highest-compensated president, at $6,057,615 in this period, was E. Gordon Gee, who resigned from Ohio State last summer amid trustee complaints about frequent gaffes. He has since become the president of West Virginia University.

This trick requires dramatic raising of tuition costs. University bureaucracy also got taste for better salaries and all those deans, etc want to be remunerated like vice presidents. So raising the tuition costs became the key existential idea of neoliberal university. Not quality of education, but tuition costs now are the key criteria of success. And if you can charge students $40K per semester it is very, very good. If does not matter that most population get less then $20 an hour.

The same is true for professors, who proved to be no less corruptible. And some of them, such as economic departments, simply serve as prostitutes for financial oligarchy. So they were corrupted even before that rat race for profit. Of course there are exceptions. But they only prove the rule.

As the result university tuition inflation outpaced inflation by leaps and bounds. At some point amount that you pay (and the level of debt after graduation) becomes an important factor in choosing the university. So children of "have" and "have nots" get into different educational institutions and do not meet each other. In a way aristocracy returned via back door.

Job market situation and hidden financial rip offs

Neoliberal university professes "deep specialization" to create "ready for the job market" graduates. And that creates another problem: education became more like stock market game and that makes more difficult for you to change your specialization late in the education cycle. But too early choice entails typical stock market problem: you might miss the peak of the market or worse get into prolonged slump, as graduates in finance learned all too well in 2008.

That's why it is important not to accumulate too much debt: large debt after graduation put you in situation like "all in" play in poker. You essentially bet that in the chosen specialty there will be open positions with high salary, when you graduate. If you lose this bet , you became a debt slave for considerable period of your life.

As a result of this "reaction to the market trends" by neoliberal universities, when universities became appendixes of HR of large corporations students need to be more aware of real university machinery, then students in 50th or 60th of the last century. And first student should not assume that the university is functioning for  their benefits.

One problem for a student is that there are now way too many variables that you do not control. Among them:

On the deep level neoliberal university is not interested to help you to find specialization and place in life where can unleash your talents. You are just a paying customers much like in McDonalds, and university interests are such they might try to push you in wrong direction or load you with too much debt.

If there is deep mismatch as was with computer science graduates after crash of dot-com boom, or simply bad job market due to economy stagnation and you can't find the job for your new specialty (or if you got "junk" specialty with inherent high level of unemployment among professionals) and you have substantial education debt, then waiting tables or having some other MacJob is a real disaster for you. As with such salaries you simply can't pay it back. So controlling the level of debt is very important and in this sense parents financial help is now necessary. In other words education became more and more "rich kids game".

That does not mean that university education should be avoided for those from families with modest means. On the contrary it provides unique experience and help a person to mature in multiple ways difficult to achieve without it. It is still one of the best ways to get vertical mobility. But unless parents can support you need to try to find the most economical way to obtain it without acquiring too much debt. This is you first university exam. And if you fail it you are in trouble.

For example, computer science education is a great way to learn quite a few things necessary for a modern life. But the price does matter and prestige of the university institution that you attend is just one of the factors you should consider in your evaluation. It should not be the major factor ("vanity fair") unless your parents are rich and can support you. If you are good you can get later a master degree in a prestigious university after graduation from a regular college. Or even Ph.D.

County colleges are greatly underappreciated and generally provide pretty high standard of education, giving ability to students to save money for the first two years before transferring to a four year college. They also smooth the transition as finding yourself among people who are only equal or superior then you (and have access to financial resource that you don't have) is a huge stress. The proverb say that it is better to be first in the village then last in the town has some truth in it. Prestigious universities might provide a career boost (high fly companies usually accept resumes only from Ivy League members), but they cost so much that you need to be a son or daughter of well-to-do parents to feel comfortably in them. Or extremely talented. Also amount of career boost that elite universities provide depends on whom your parents are and what connections they have. It does not depend solely on you and the university. Again, I would like to stress that you should resist "vanity fair" approach to your education: a much better way is to try to obtain BS in a regular university and them try to obtain MS and then, if you are good, PHD, in a prestigious university. Here is a fragment of an interesting discussion that covers this topic (Low Mobility Is Not a Social Tragedy?, Feb 13, 2013 ; I recommend you to read the whole discussion ):

kievite:

I would like to defend Greg Clack.

I think that Greg Clack point is that the number of gifted children is limited and that exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies (story of Alexander Hamilton was really fascinating for me, the story of Mikhail Lomonosov http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Lomonosov was another one -- he went from the very bottom to the top of Russian aristocracy just on the strength of his abilities as a scientist). In no way the ability to "hold its own" (typical for rich families kids) against which many here expressed some resentment represents social mobility. But the number of kids who went down is low -- that's actually proves Greg Clack point:

(1) Studies of social mobility using surnames suggest two things. Social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated. And social mobility rates estimated in this way vary little across societies and time periods. Sweden is no more mobile than contemporary England and the USA, or even than medieval England. Social mobility rates seem to be independent of social institutions (see the other studies on China, India, Japan and the USA now linked here).

Francisco Ferreira rejects this interpretation, and restates the idea that there is a strong link between social mobility rates and inequality in his interesting post.

What is wrong with the data Ferreira cites? Conventional estimates of social mobility, which look at just single aspects of social status such as income, are contaminated by noise. If we measure mobility on one aspect of status such as income, it will seem rapid.

But this is because income is a very noisy measure of the underlying status of families. The status of families is a combination of their education, occupation, income, wealth, health, and residence. They will often trade off income for some other aspect of status such as occupation. A child can be as socially successful as a low paid philosophy professor as a high paid car salesman. Thus if we measure just one aspect of status such as income we are going to confuse the random fluctuations of income across generations, influenced by such things as career choices between business and philosophy, with true generalised social mobility.

If these estimates of social mobility were anywhere near correct as indicating true underlying rates of social mobility, then we would not find that the aristocrats of 1700 in Sweden are still overrepresented in all elite occupations of Sweden. Further, the more equal is income in a society, the less signal will income give of the true social status of families. In a society such as Sweden, where the difference in income between bus drivers and philosophy professors is modest, income tells us little about the social status of families. It is contaminated much more by random noise. Thus it will appear if we measure social status just by income that mobility is much greater in Sweden than in the USA, because in the USA income is a much better indicator of the true overall status of families.

The last two paragraphs of Greg Clark article cited by Mark Thoma are badly written and actually are somewhat disconnected with his line of thinking as I understand it as well as with the general line of argumentation of the paper.

Again, I would like to stress that a low intergenerational mobility includes the ability of kids with silver spoon in their mouth to keep a status close to their parent. The fact that they a have different starting point then kids from lower strata of society does not change that.

I think that the key argument that needs testing is that the number of challengers from lower strata of the society is always pretty low and is to a large extent accommodated by the societies we know (of course some societies are better then others).

Actually it would be interesting to look at the social mobility data of the USSR from this point of view.

But in no way, say, Mark Thoma was a regular kid, although circumstances for vertical mobility at this time were definitely better then now. He did possessed some qualities which made possible his upward move although his choice of economics was probably a mistake ;-).

Whether those qualities were enough in more restrictive environments we simply don't know, but circumstances for him were difficult enough as they were.

EC -> kievite...

"the number of gifted children is limited"

I stopped reading after that. I teach at a high school in a town with a real mix of highly elite families, working class families, and poor families, and I can tell you that the children of affluent parents are not obviously more gifted than the children of poor families. They do, however, have a lot more social capital, and they have vastly more success. But the limitations on being "gifted" are irrelevant.

According to an extensive study (Turkheimer et al., 2003) of 50,000 pregnant women and the children they went on to have (including enough sets of twins to be able to study the role of innate genetic differences), variation in IQ among the affluent seems to be largely genetic.

Among the poor, however, IQ has very little to do with genes -- probably because the genetic differences are swamped and suppressed by the environmental differences, as few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances.

kievite -> EC...

All you said is true. I completely agree that "...few poor kids are able to develop as fully as they would in less constrained circumstances." So there are losses here and we should openly talk about them.

Also it goes without saying that social capital is extremely important for a child. That's why downward mobility of children from upper classes is suppressed, despite the fact that some of them are plain vanilla stupid.

But how this disproves the point made that "exceptionally gifted children have some chance for upper move in almost all, even the most hierarchical societies"? I think you just jumped the gun...

mrrunangun:

The early boomers benefitted from the happy confluence of the postwar boom, LBJ's Great Society efforts toward financial assistance for those seeking to advance their educations, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act which opened opportunities for marginalized social groups in institutions largely closed to them under the prewar social customs in the US.

The US Supreme Court is made up of only Jews and Catholics as of this writing, a circumstance inconceivable in the prewar America. Catholics were largely relegated to separate and unequal institutions. Jews' opportunities were limited by quotas and had a separate set of institutions of their own where their numbers could support such. Where their numbers were not sufficient, they were often relegated to second rate institutions.

Jewish doctors frequently became the leading men in the Catholic hospitals in Midwestern industrial towns where they were unwelcome in the towns' main hospitals. Schools, clubs, hospitals, professional and commercial organizations often had quota or exclusionary policies. Meritocracy has its drawbacks, but we've seen worse in living memory.

The really cruel world of a neoliberal university

Of course bad things that happened to you during your university years are soon forgotten and nostalgia colors everything in role tones, but the truth is that the modern university is a very cruel world. Now more then ever. Here are some random observations of the subject (See also my Diploma Mills page about high education sharks for which sucking you dry financially is the main goal ):

Lysenkoism and petty, greedy pseudo-scientific scum as professors and teachers

Most teachers and Professors in the university are good, honest people who are trying to make some contribution to science and teach students (difficult things to mix). But not all. One of the most dangerous feature of neoliberal university are influx of people who represent a toxic mix of teacher, snake oil seller, careerist and cult follower. They are not teachers but brainwashers, hired guns -- propagandists masquerading as University professors. That is why we have witnessed such a corruption and politicization of science and rising proportion of research and theories taught at the universities that are fraudulent.

Previously teacher was a person somewhat similar to a monk. A person who consciously traded the ability to work in science to the possibility of acquiring material wealth, at least excessive material wealth. As Ernest Rutherford once reminded Pyotr Kapitsa "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

But in neoliberal university way too many teachers/researchers took Faustian bargain when one trades the academic independence for above average personal wealth, influence, for the power grab. And despite popular image of scientists and university professors they proved to be as corruptible by money as Wall Street traders ;-). This is because the sponsors of their research such as big business, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government vie to publish reports and results that put the sponsors in the best light. Good example is relations of pharmaceutical industry and academia

“The answer to that question is at once both predictable and shocking: For the past two decades, medical research has been quietly corrupted by cash from private industry. Most doctors and academic researchers aren't corrupt in the sense of intending to defraud the public or harm patients, but rather, more insidiously, guilty of allowing the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to manipulate medical science through financial relationships, in effect tainting the system that is supposed to further the understanding of disease and protect patients from ineffective or dangerous drugs. More than 60 percent of clinical studies--those involving human subjects--are now funded not by the federal government, but by the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. That means that the studies published in scientific journals like Nature and The New England Journal of Medicine--those critical reference points for thousands of clinicians deciding what drugs to prescribe patients, as well as for individuals trying to educate themselves about conditions and science reporters from the popular media who will publicize the findings--are increasingly likely to be designed, controlled, and sometimes even ghost-written by marketing departments, rather than academic scientists. Companies routinely delay or prevent the publication of data that show their drugs are ineffective.

...

“ Novartis, stepped in and provided additional funding for development. In 1984, private companies contributed a mere $26 million to university research budgets. By 2000, they were ponying up $2.3 billion, an increase of 9000 percent that provided much needed funds to universities at a time when the cost of doing medical research was skyrocketing.”

Historically the scientific community is held together through its joint acceptance of the same fundamental principles of conducting research (and teaching those results) and ethics. Scientific research is best practiced in a voluntary, honest and free atmosphere. But this idyllic arrangement as well as scientific ethics now belongs to the past ( The Corruption of Science )

“It’s a long-standing and crucial question that, as yet, remains unanswered: just how common is scientific misconduct? In the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, Daniele Fanelli of the University of Edinburgh reports the first meta-analysis of surveys questioning scientists about their misbehaviours. The results suggest that altering or making up data is more frequent than previously estimated and might be particularly high in medical research.

...There is immense pressure on scientists to produce results, to publish, to seek glory, or just to get tenure. Scientists are human beings, after all, and sometimes they approach their field with preconceptions or biases. Politics certainly comes into play; consider eugenics in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, or eugenics in Nazi Germany.

Now we can talk only about the level of political and economical pressure and corresponding level of corruption on professors and scientists, not so much about presence or absence of corruption in science and education. What really matters for students is that when they feel that a professor is a scum, they nevertheless try to imitate. See for example Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the economic rape of Russia.

Historically the situation started to change even before neoliberal university became a dominant educational institution. Previously, despite the fact that money for science were in short supply, scientists maintained a self-discipline. That changed after WWII. Prior to World War II there was little government financial support for science. A graduate student working on a Ph.D. degree was expected to make a new discovery to earn that degree. And if somebody else came first he needed to find a new theme and to restart his work.

But with the advent of NSF scientists started to "propose" directions of research to get funding. And be sure this instill atmosphere of sycophantism and political correctness. This process accelerated dramatically since 1980th with the ascendance of neoliberalism as a dominant USA ideology, when greed became playing significant role in US universities. It should be understood that now the university professor is no longer is a teacher and a scientist, but predominantly "grants provider" for the university and that means that he/she is in the first place a political agent, a manipulator on a mission from the external agent (typically the state via NSF or other agency, see The Corruption of Science in America -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net)

For the unwashed masses University professor career still represents the ultimate carrier of truth for a given discipline, so his opinion have a distinct political weight. And the architects of our neoliberal world fully use this "superstition". Like we can see with neoclassical economics, economists have turned into an instrument of cognitive manipulation, when under the guise of science financial oligarchy promote beneficial to itself but false and simplistic picture of the world, using University professors to brainwash the masses into "correct" thinking.

Professors literally became a religious figures, and cult members or even cult leaders. The first sign of this dangerous disease of the modern university was probably Lysenkoism in the USSR. In this sense one can say that Lysenkoism represented a natural side effect of shrinking of freedom of the scientific community and growing influence of political power on science. As by Frederick Seitz noted in his The Present Danger To Science and Society

Everyone knows that the scientific community faces financial problems at the present time. If that were its only problem, some form of restructuring and allocation of funds, perhaps along lines well tested in Europe and modified in characteristic American ways, might provide solutions that would lead to stability and balance well into the next century. Unfortunately, the situation is more complex, made so by the fact that the scientific establishment has become the object of controversy from both outside and inside its special domain. The most important aspects of the controversy are of a new kind and direct attention away from matters that are sufficiently urgent to be the focus of a great deal of the community's attention.

The assaults on science from the outside arise from such movements as the ugly form of "political correctness" that has taken root in important portions of our academic community. There are to be found, in addition, certain tendencies toward a home-grown variant of the anti-intellectual Lysenkoism that afflicted science in the Stalinist Soviet Union. So-called fraud cases are being dealt with in new, bureaucratic ways that cut across the traditional methods of arriving at truth in science. From inside the scientific community, meanwhile, there are challenges that go far beyond those that arise from the intense competition for the limited funds that are available to nourish the country's scientific endeavor.

The critical issue of arriving at a balanced approach to funding for science is being subordinated to issues made to seem urgent by unhealthy alliances of scientists and bureaucrats. Science and the integrity of its practitioners are under attack and, increasingly, legislators and bureaucrats shape the decisions that determine which paths scientific research should take. There is, in addition, a sinister tendency, especially in environmental affairs, toward considering the undertaking of expensive projects that are proposed by some scientists to remedy worst-case formulations of problems before the radical and expensive remedies are proven to be needed. They are viewed seriously though they are based on the advice of opportunistic alarmists in science who leap ahead of what is learned from solid research to encourage support for the expensive remedies they perceive to be necessary. The potential for very great damage to science and society is real.

Textbook racket is a part of neoliberal transformation of university education

Unfortunately a large part of the textbook market in the USA has all signs of corrupted monopoly infested with cronyism and incompetence to the extent that Standard Oil practices looks pretty benign in comparison. As the site MakeTextbooksAffordable.com states on its font page:

The report found that even though students already pay $900 year for textbooks, textbook publishers artificially inflate the price of textbooks by adding bells and whistles to the current texts, and forcing cheaper used books off the market by producing expensive new editions of textbooks that are barely different from the previous edition.

And some university professors are part of these scheme. Congressmen David Wu sites the opinion of the publisher in his letter "If a student is paying hundreds of dollars for a book, it's because the professor has ordered the Cadillac edition". But that might be true only for CS where any professor can easily find a cheaper high quality substitute from publishers like O'Reilly (and students can do this too, see Softpanorama Bookshelf actually about finding the best CS book (and some other) at reasonable prices. In other disciplines like mathematics situation is a real racket: The cost of a common calculus textbook is over $100 in the USA. This is a blatant, open rip-off. Economics is probably even worse with some useless junk selling for almost $300 per book.

In the meantime, enterprising students have many ways to cut the cost of buying textbooks.

But here one needs to see a bigger picture: low quality of recommended textbooks and, especially, the quality of university instruction makes it necessary buying additional textbooks. Also the ownership of best textbooks often makes the difference between success and failure in the particular course. In this sense additional $100 spending for books for each course makes economic sense as the common alternative is to drop the course, which often means $1K of more loss.

There are several ways to save on additional textbooks that hopefully can somewhat compensate for the low quality of tuition in a typical university. With some effort a student can often save approximately 50% of the cover price. Again my Links2bookstores page contains more information.

At the same time if the instructor is weak, or, worse, belongs to "fundamentalists", a category of instructors that does not distinguish between important and unimportant things and overloads the course with "useless overcomplexity" additional books are one of few countermeasures against this typical university-style rip-off. Dropping the course is a difficult maneuver that requires perfect timing and problems with instructor and the course content usually do not surface during the first month of the study when you can still do it for free or with minimal damage.

College textbook publishing became a racket with the growth of neoliberalism. And it is pretty dirty racket with willing accomplishes in form of so called professors like Greg Mankiw. For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200. An interesting discussion of this problem can be found at Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks'

Tim Taylor on why textbooks cost so much:

Thoughts on High-Priced Textbooks: High textbook prices are a pebble in the shoe of many college students. Sure, it's not the biggest financial issue they face, But it's a real and nagging annoyance that for hinders performance for many students. ...
David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein at National Public Radio took up this question recently on one of their "Planet Money" podcasts. ... For economists, a highlight is that they converse with Greg Mankiw, author of what is currently the best-selling introductory economics textbook, which as they point out is selling for $286 on Amazon. Maybe this is a good place to point out that I am not a neutral observer in this argument: The third edition of my own Principles of Economics textbook is available through Textbook Media. The pricing varies from $25 for online access to the book, up through $60 for both a paper copy (soft-cover, black and white) and online access.

Several explanations for high textbook prices are on offer. The standard arguments are that textbook companies are marketing selling to professors, not to students, and professors are not necessarily very sensitive to textbook prices. (Indeed, one can argue that before the rapid rise in textbook prices in the last couple of decades, it made sense for professors not to focus too much on textbook prices.) Competition in the textbook market is limited, and the big publishers load up their books with features that might appeal to professors: multi-colored hardcover books, with DVDs and online access, together with test banks that allow professors to give quizzes and tests that can be machine-graded. At many colleges and universities, the intro econ class is taught in a large lecture format, which can include hundreds or even several thousand students, as well as a flock of teaching assistants, so some form of computerized grading and feedback is almost a necessity. Some of the marketing by textbook companies involves paying professors for reviewing chapters--of course in the hope that such reviewers will adopt the book.

The NPR show casts much of this dynamic as a "principal-agent problem," the name for a situation in which one person (the "principal") wants another person (the "agent") to act on their behalf, but lacks the ability to observe or evaluate the actions of the agent in a complete way. Principal-agent analysis is often used, for example, to think about the problem of a manager motivating employees. But it can also be used to consider the issue of students (the "principals") wanting the professor (the "agent") to choose the book that will best suit the needs of the students, with all factors of price and quality duly taken into account. The NPR reporters quote one expert saying that the profit margin for high school textbooks is 5-10%, because those books decisions are made by school districts and states that negotiate hard. However, profit margins on college textbooks--where the textbook choice is often made by a professor who may not even know the price that students will pay--are more like 20%.

The NPR report suggests this principal-agent framework to Greg Mankiw, author of the top-selling $286 economic textbook. Mankiw points out that principal-agent problems are in no way nefarious, but come up in many contexts. For example, when you get an operation, you rely on the doctor to make choices that involve costs; when you get your car fixed, you rely on a mechanic to make choices that involve costs; when you are having home repairs done, you rely on a repair person or a contractor to make choices that involve costs. Mankiw argues that professors, acting as the agents of students, have legitimate reason to be concerned about tradeoffs of time and money. As he notes, a high quality book is more important "than saving them a few dollars"--and he suggests that saving $30 isn't worth it for a low-quality book.

But of course, in the real world there are more choices than a high-quality $286 book and a low-quality $256 book. The PIRG student surveys suggest that up to two-thirds of students are avoiding buying textbooks at all, even though they fear it will hurt their grade, or are shifting to other classes with lower textbook costs. If a student is working 10 hours a week at a part-time job, making $8/hour after taxes, then the difference between $286 book and a $60 book is 28.25 hours--nearly three weeks of part-time work. I am unaware of any evidence in which students were randomly assigned different textbooks but otherwise taught and evaluated in the same way, and kept time diaries, which would show that higher-priced books save time or improve academic performance. It is by no means obvious that a lower-cost book (yes, like my own) works less well for students than a higher-cost book from a big publisher. Some would put that point more strongly.

A final dynamic that may be contributing to higher-prices textbooks is a sort of vicious circle related to the textbook resale market. The NPR report says that when selling a textbook over a three-year edition, a typical pattern was that sales fell by half after the first year and again by half after the second year, as students who had bought the first edition resold the book to later students. Of course, this dynamic also means that many students who bought the book new are not really paying full-price, but instead paying the original price minus the resale price. The argument is that as textbooks have increased in price, the resale market has become ever-more active, so that sales of a textbook in later years have dwindled much more quickly. Textbook companies react to this process by charging more for the new textbook, which of course only spurs more activity in the resale market.

A big question for the future of textbooks is how and in what ways they migrate to electronic forms. On one side, the hope is that electronic textbooks will offer expanded functionality, as well as being cheaper. But this future is not foreordained. At least at present, my sense is that the functionality of reading and taking notes in online textbooks hasn't yet caught up to the ease of reading on paper. Technology and better screens may well shift this balance over time. But even setting aside questions of reading for long periods of time on screen, or taking notes on screen, at present it remains harder to skip around in a computerized text between what you are currently reading and the earlier text that you need to be checking, as well as skipping to various graphs, tables, and definitions. To say it more simply, in a number of subjects it may still be harder to study an on-line text than to study a paper text.

Moreover, as textbook manufacturers shift to an on-line world, they will bring with them their full bag of tricks for getting paid. The Senack report notes:

Today’s marketplace offers more digital textbook options to the student consumer than ever. “Etextbooks” are digitized texts that students read on a laptop or tablet. Similar to PDF documents, e-textbooks enable students to annotate, highlight and search. The cost may be 40-50 percent of the print retail price, and access expires after 180 days. Publishers have introduced e-textbooks for nearly all their traditional textbook offerings. In addition, the emergence of the ereader like the Kindle and iPad, as well as the emergence of many e-textbook rental programs, all seemed to indicate that the e-textbook will alter the college textbook landscape for the better.

However, despite this shift, users of e-textbooks are subject to expiration dates, on-line codes that only work once, page printing limits, and other tactics that only serve to restrict use and increase cost.

Unfortunately for students, the publishing companies’ venture into e-textbooks is a continuation of the practices they use to monopolize the print market.

JohnH:

My understanding is that there are cases where the professor requires the textbook he wrote and for which he receives royalties...

In such cases, the publisher and the professor's interests align against the student, who pays through the teeth.

djb:

good article but i have a real problem with introductory texts on economics

they are completely biased, mostly towards supply side of the debate

meaning, of course, they are wrong

if they just contained that which is undeniably true then ok, or if they presented it as this school of thought says this and that school of thought says the other, ok,

The Raven:

A general rule of thumb: half the selling price of a book is spent before the first impression is made on paper. Speaking as a very small publisher, I think the main problem is that the texts are expensive to produce.

They take a lot of editorial and design effort, so the fixed costs of textbook production are high, the production costs are often high, and textbook bestsellers are not common, so they don't usually make it up on volume.

Now, one could, for standard freshman and sophomore texts, aim at lower costs and higher volumes, but that's not academic publishing, and nothing is going to help with upper-level texts; the market is just not that big.

pgl -> to The Raven...

Excellent! With a high elasticity of demand, the increase in quantity beats the drop in price. Unless the marginal cost of printing books is higher than I suspect it is, Mankiw's publisher is not a profit maximizing monopolist. I'm telling you the best economics is right here and we don't charge $286!

The Raven -> to pgl...

Thanks.

You'd have to market a book *hard* to get that increase in demand, though. It's not a student-by-student sale decision; the professors have to be marketed. The other thing about publishing economics that people outside the industry don't realize: most books don't make much money, so publishers rely on the good-sellers and the best-sellers for much of their profits. If you've got something you're pretty sure is going to be in demand, *you mark it up,* because in William Golding's immortal phrase, "Nobody knows anything."

Over the past 25 or so years, the consolidation of publishing has put the money types more and more in control of the business. And the money types always want to only market best sellers. This is sort of like Germany saying that everyone should make money exporting. "That trick never works."

Now, if anyone wanted to bring the price of an Econ 101 book down, one could do a no-frills book, small, soft-covered, and strictly monochrome, or perhaps an ebook. (But watch out—only some ebook readers support mathematics well.) It might cost $50 or so (I'm guessing—I'm not a textbook publisher.) It would not look impressive, and this might make a problem for marketing, but students could still learn from it. And—who knows?—it might even sell.

T.J.:

The issue is that textbook publishers release new editions every couple of years. For many subjects, including economics, this is absurd. Sciences don't change that quickly.

For instance, you can find a used 5th edition Mankiw introductory to Microeconomics for under $4.00, while a new 7th edition costs over $200.

Has principles of microeconomics changed that much over the course of 6 years? No, but textbook companies make a few changes on the margin and charge you hundreds of dollars for a new edition. Many times, professors require online access codes to supplement their lecture. Therefore, the student is forced into the newer edition, in which often there is no substantial differences or major improvements in presenting the material.

When you have that sort of market power, it is easy to achieve economic rents.

pgl -> to T.J....

"Sciences don't change that quickly". One would hope those freshwater books changed after their utter failures to predict the most recent recession. But they likely haven't.

cm -> to T.J....

There are errata, and some content that the author has in mind doesn't make it into the first edition, or not at the intended quality/depth. Most people who have never published something substantial have no idea how much work it is to get non-fiction scientific/technical stuff publication ready. Not only on the author's part but also editing and proofreading/giving feedback at a collegial level. (Not meaning to knock down fiction, that's a different set of challenges.)

Bill Ellis:

Two Ideas I would like to see combined. A period of Universal public service that earns a free higher and or tech education. Something like the GI bill for all.

I think making universal public service a right of passage could help us be a more unified society. If we have kids from inner city Detroit, rural West Virginia, suburban San Francisco and the oil fields of Oklahoma working side by side it would open their eyes to each other in ways that are never experienced by most American kids who are living in communities of institutional self-segregation.

Having said that.. free education is a no brainer no matter what.
To cover everyone's tuition it would only cost us about forty billion more than the feds already spend on higher ed. That's a rounding error in terms of our total budget.

We subsidize big oil and gas to the tune of about 50 billion a year.

The maddening thing is that the national debate is not even close to taking Free Ed seriously. Instead Liz Warren is portrayed some kind of wild eyed radical for proposing a modest cut in interest rates on student loans and some narrow way to get some forgiveness of debt.

John Cummings:

It is part of the educational industrial complex (which include vouchers and government backed private school industrial complex)

Educational industrial complex
Military industrial complex
Medical industrial complex
Prison industrial complex

Fred C. Dobbs:

(Evidently, 'It’s Economics 101'.)

Higher education: Why textbooks cost so much http://econ.st/1yzDU5Z via @TheEconomist - Aug 16th 2014

Students can learn a lot about economics when they buy Greg Mankiw’s “Principles of Economics”—even if they don’t read it. Like many popular textbooks, it is horribly expensive: $292.17 on Amazon. Indeed, the nominal price of textbooks has risen more than fifteen fold since 1970, three times the rate of inflation (see chart, at link).

Like doctors prescribing drugs, professors assigning textbooks do not pay for the products themselves, so they have little incentive to pick cheap ones. Some assign books they have written themselves. The 20m post-secondary students in America often have little choice in the matter. Small wonder textbooks generate megabucks.

But hope is not lost for poor scholars. Foreign editions are easy to find online and often cheaper—sometimes by over 90%. Publishers can be litigious about this, but in 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to buy and resell copyrighted material obtained legally. Many university bookstores now let students rent books and return them. Publishers have begun to offer digital textbooks, which are cheaper but can’t be resold. And if all else fails, there is always the library.

Related: How Your Textbook Dollars Are Divvied Up http://t.usnews.com/a2B567 via @usnews - Aug 28, 2012

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(A bunch of experts discuss the matter.)

Room for Debate: The Real Cost of College Textbooks http://nyti.ms/1qEHasX - July 2010

(Including a couple of economists!)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

How to Cut Your Textbook Costs in Half -- or More-Kiplinger http://po.st/nCZsxY - August 2014

(By renting e-books, donchaknow.)

(Turns out Mankiw's Econ textbook, which
currently costs $289 in hardcover from
Amazon, can be rented in Kindle format
for a mere $173 - for 180 days.)

(Hardcover rental is $70, however.)

Fred C. Dobbs -> to Fred C. Dobbs...

(Wait a second. The Federales fixed
this problem back in 2008...)

Advocates say a new set of federal provisions, aimed at driving down the cost of college textbooks, should help students this fall. On July 1, (2010) these rules took effect:

Publishers must give professors detailed information about textbook prices, revision histories and a list of alternate formats.

Publishers have to sell materials typically bundled with textbooks -- such as CDs, DVDs and workbooks -- separately so students don't have to buy them.

Colleges have to include in-course schedules with required textbooks for each class, including the book's price and International Standard Book Number, an identifying tool.

The protections, included in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, are an attempt to lessen student debt, said U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday.

"The cost of education is of concern not only to students and families but to the nation," Durbin said, explaining why the government got involved in textbook prices. "Students are emerging with more and more debt."

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/22/97931_new-federal-rules-take-aim-at.html?rh=1

Charles Peterson:

A $289 econ text is only marked up 20% ???

I'm not sure how to account for this, but I believe a full account of markup should include royalties if they have become outrageous economic rent.

Jim Harrison:

Textbooks have been outrageously expensive for a long time, though some of the prices quoted in this article were astonishing to me and I used to be in the business. Nothing much has changed. The complaints and the defenses sound very familiar. Even in the 70s and 80s, publishers groused about how the used trade hurt their sales and the suggestion was repeatedly made that one way around the trap was to produce much cheaper texts and make up the difference on volume. Unfortunately, the numbers never add up for that business plan since the major textbook publishers have huge sunk costs in the big sales forces needed to support the current model. Anyhow, good cheap books have long been available for many big undergrad courses if profs want to assign them and don't mind producing their own tests and other teaching aids. A handful of profs do just that and were already doing it thirty years ago, but they are a distinct minority.

About the revision racket: the funny thing is that old editions of textbooks are often better than more recent editions. Market research makes good books worse in much the same way that it eventually screws up software by the relentless addition of bells and whistles. I'm a technical writer these days and keep copies of several old classics at hand when I need to brush up: Feynman's lectures on physics; the first edition of Freeman, Pisani, and Purves on Statistics; the 2nd edition of Linus Pauling's Intro Chem text; Goldstein on Thermo; and a real museum piece, Sylvaner Thomas' Calculus Made Easy. Many of these books have been reprinted by Dover and are available for peanuts.

To be fair, the high price for textbooks makes more sense in some fields than in others. The three or four year revision cycle is absurd for math books since the math remains the same decade after decade, but texts in areas like molecular biology really do have to be revised frequently and substantively, a very labor-intensive task. Which is why I give a pass to the Biology editors and the folks who struggle to update the Intermediate Accounting books with the latest FASB standards.

cm -> to Jim Harrison...

Can you elaborate on the revision "paradox"? Surely not only in very new fields, the state of the art progresses, or textbook authors see a need or opportunity to include new material (I suspect somebody setting out to write a comprehensive text has more ideas what to write about than can be finished at the required quality in the required time, for the first edition).

How would the subsequent editions be worse, if the new content is driven by the author and not by external marketing considerations, unless the new material is at the expense of older material (e.g. #pages limit)?

From my very limited experience, authors who are not in it for making a profit, and who write for a small market (selling up to a few thousand copies per year is a small market) run into substantial overhead costs for editing, marketing (i.e. making the existence of the book known to the target audience), and distribution, and basically have to do the work for free. Some, and perhaps most, certainly academic, publishers have "charity" programs where they publish small editions where they at best break even or even cross-subsidize them out of "full rate" publications. Then people complain about excessive prices for the latter.

Leading Edge Boomer:

Jeebus, $286 for a textbook, from an author who is often wrong lately? I co-authored a graduate computer science text (low volume = higher cost) that retailed in the low two digits.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I will not comment on the author's merit or lack thereof, but $286 is really in "WTF" territory, for any textbook.

cm -> to Leading Edge Boomer...

I once contributed to a book, and the authors/editors decided to collectively waive their royalties to hit an affordable price (and I suspect it was still a charity deal on the part of the largely academic publisher). But I got my free copy.

Jim Harrison:

At least for big market textbooks, the motive for revisions is generally financial and that's as true for the authors as the publishers. In fact, the authors are often the ones who push for new editions as their royalty checks steadily diminish. In cases where it's the authors who are reluctant to revise for whatever reason, publishers often sweeten the deal with advances, grants, or other goodies.

I don't mean to be completely cynical. Authors and editors certainly try to produce a better product when they put out new editions, and it very often happens that the second edition is better than the first. Especially in later cycles, however, the changes are usually pretty cosmetic. The editor in charge of the project solicits advice from users and potential users and comes up with a list of "improvements" in a process not entirely different than what happens when various interests in Washington get their pet provisions put in a bill. If you think that professor X is likely to adopt the text if you go along with his ideas and plug his contributions in the acknowledgements, the idea is very likely to be irresistible.

The sales force also weighs in. They want feature they can tout; but since real improvements are hard to come by, that usually means more and more pedagogy: boxes, pictures, computer programs, and umpteen forms of emphasis. Let me assure you it takes desperate ingenuity to come up with something new to add to an Intermediate Algebra textbook. "Now with a new way to factor trinomials" isn't exactly a memorable pitch. Meanwhile, after three or four editions, the author, who presumably would be the best source of serious innovation for a new edition, is generally bored to death with the project.

As I said above, there are textbooks that really do need perpetually revision for substantive reasons; but in most fields what Freshmen and Sophomores need to learn has been known for a long time. My remarks on revisions also don't apply very well to upper level texts in smaller markets, in part because students tend to hang on to serious books in their majors so the companies have less incentive to beat the used book market with new editions.

reason:

From what I remember of my university days (in the long distant past), we didn't have text books (that was for school kids). We had lectures and lists of reading materials (that if we were lucky we could find in the library and photocopy relvant sections). I did have a copy of Samualson (relatively cheap). But the emphasis was on a reading a variety of sources. What has changed, and why?

reason:

P.S. Not have text books would have the advantage of ensuring that the students attended lectures and stayed awake during them.

Jay:

No mention of the cost for this textbook...

http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Paul-Krugman/dp/1429251638/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413545846&sr=8-2&keywords=krugman+wells

grizzled:

My own biggest peeve concerns calculus textbooks, especially introductory calculus textbooks. The material hasn't changed in at least 60 years, if not longer. If it weren't for the current ridiculously long copyright terms people could just use old ones.

The last time I took the subject our professor went to some lengths to let us use the previous edition, which was available used. The only real change in the next edition was in the problems. That is, if a student was assigned "problem 8 in section xxx" having the most recent edition was the only way to know what the problem was.

I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Bloix:

My son took an intro geology course a few years ago. The textbook price at the school bookstore was about $125. He purchased the gray market (legal) "international edition" - word for word, page for page the same, but with a different picture on the cover - over the internet for about $50.

It's my understanding that this sort of price-differential is common. Mankiw's book appears to be available in the "international edition" for $60 (soft cover).

http://www.abebooks.com/9781285165875/Principles-Economics-7th-Edition-Mankiw-128516587X/plp

Please don't tell me that publishers and authors are not making money when they sell their books for US$50 or 60 in Australia.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov


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[Sep 18, 2019] Neoliberalism in action: Another School Leadership Disaster Private Companies Work an Insider Game to Reap Lucrative Contracts

Notable quotes:
"... By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. ..."
"... One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended. ..."
"... Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts. ..."
"... In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. ..."
"... By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired. ..."
"... "Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Lambert Strether

Lambert here: More corruption in the professional class.

By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In July 2013, the education world was rocked when a breaking story by Chicago independent journalist Sarah Karp reported that district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had pushed through a no-bid $20 million contract to provide professional development to administrators with a private, for-profit company called SUPES Academy, which she had worked for a year before the deal transpired. Byrd-Bennett was also listed as a senior associate for PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm run by the same individuals who led SUPES.

By 2015, federal investigators looked into the deal and found reason to charge Byrd-Bennett for accepting bribes and kickbacks from the company that ran SUPES and PROACT. A year-and-a-half later, the story made national headlines when Byrd-Bennett was convicted and sentenced to prison for those charges. But anyone who thought this story was an anomaly would be mistaken. Similar conflicts of interest among private superintendent search firms, their associated consulting companies, and their handpicked school leaders have plagued multiple school districts across the country.

In an extensive examination, Our Schools has discovered an intricate web of businesses that reap lucrative school contracts funded by public tax dollars. These businesses are often able to place their handpicked candidates in school leadership positions who then help make the purchasing decision for the same businesses' other products and services, which often include professional development, strategic planning, computer-based services, or data analytics. The deals are often brokered in secrecy or presented to local school boards in ways that make insider schemes appear legitimate.

As in the Byrd-Bennett scandal, school officials who get caught in this web risk public humiliation, criminal investigation, and potential jail time, while the businesses that perpetuate this hidden arrangement continue to flourish and grow.

The results of these scandals are often disastrous. School policies and personnel are steered toward products that reward private companies rather than toward research-proven methods for supporting student learning and teacher performance. School governance becomes geared to the interests of well-connected individuals rather than the desires of teachers and voters. And when insider schemes become public, whole communities are thrown into chaos, sometimes for years, resulting in wasted education dollars and increased disillusionment with school systems and local governance.

While media accounts generally frame these scandals as examples of corrupt school leaders who got caught and brought to justice, reporters rarely delve into the corporate-operated enterprises that undergird the whole system.

A Potent Business Model

Months before Byrd-Bennett's conviction, another individual connected to the Chicago scandal, SUPES co-owner Gary Solomon, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges related to a scheme that diverted over $5 million in public money from the Chicago contracts into his private pocket.

Solomon, who had been forced out of a previous job as a high school administrator after he was accused of racist comments and "preying" on female students, cofounded SUPES -- along with sister companies PROACT Search and Synesi Associates -- with his former student Thomas Vranas, who also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Chicago deals.

Although Solomon and Vranas got caught and were convicted for their scheme, they nevertheless stumbled on a potent business model that combined PROACT's superintendent search services with SUPES Academy professional development programs and consulting by Synesi Associates to help districts "implement reform strategies." Combining leader recruitment with leadership training and consulting gave Solomon and Vranas three ways into a business relationship with a school district and multiple ways to upsell clients into more expensive new contracts.

New administrators PROACT helped place in leadership roles could be reliable allies for pitching professional development services to the district. School districts that had employed SUPES might be more inclined to hire PROACT for a leadership search. And Synesi would have an inside track for its consulting services. Further, any of the firm's school leader contacts who became idle between full-time jobs, which often happens in this profession, would be able to work for the firm as "associates."

School districts may have welcomed this arrangement as a form of "one-stop shopping" for their needs, but it's not hard to see how it could lead to conflicts of interest and a veil for fraud.

Chicago was not the only district that fell for the pitch. Shortly after news of the Byrd-Bennett scandal broke, school districts in DeKalb County , Illinois; Fayette County (Lexington), Kentucky; and Lancaster , Pennsylvania ended their contracts with PROACT.

In Iowa City, Iowa, a local reporter found the district had a contract with Synesi Associates to conduct an audit of the district and then hired PROACT to recruit candidates for a vacant director position. At the same time, superintendent Stephen Murley took 34 days off work to do paid consulting for those two organizations and for SUPES Academy.

In St. Louis , superintendent Kelvin Adams started consulting for SUPES shortly after the school board awarded a $125,000 contract to the firm, Sarah Karp and Melissa Sanchez reported. The district also awarded a $16,500 no-bid deal to Synesi.

But Solomon and Vranas did not invent this money-making strategy, nor did it die when they were convicted and sent to jail.

From Retail Store to Mega-Mall

In June 2016, the Chicago Sun Times reported that in the wake of the Byrd-Bennett scandal, parts of SUPES Academy were purchased by Joseph Wise and his partner David Sundstrom. Their Chicago-based firm Atlantic Research Partners (ARP) had already gotten at least $5 million in recent business from Chicago schools. (Sundstrom would later contend ARP rescinded the agreement to acquire SUPES and that the "only remaining connection between the companies" was a licensing of training material.)

Wise founded ARP with Sundstrom in 2007 after both had been ousted from their jobs in the Duval County, Florida, school district due to alleged "serious misconduct." According to the ARP website, the project's mission was to launch a "teacher-training program focused on instructional coaching and school capacity-building."

Around the same time ARP was acquiring parts of SUPES, the company also merged with Jim Huge and Associates, a firm with deep experience in school superintendent and other talent searches. Huge had also served as chief strategy officer for PROACT Search. The announced rationale of the merger was "to maximize seamless delivery of the intensive executive services to schools and school leaders."

Undoubtedly, what Wise and Sundstrom assembled was similar to the three-part business model Solomon and Vranas put together. What was different, though, was Wise and Sundstrom would expand on the model with their subsequent acquisition of Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI).

According to Louisiana school teacher and wily blogger Mercedes Schneider , Sundstrom registered an entity called ERDI Partners as a business with a Florida address in 2017.

But an entity called ERDI had been in existence since at least 2005 when an article in Education Week described the company as an intermediary organization bringing together school administrators and education vendors to help companies improve the products and services they offer school systems. Specifically, ERDI arranged get-togethers by paying superintendents consulting fees plus expenses to travel to conferences at luxury resorts where they would meet with company representatives. The companies, in turn, underwrote the conferences with substantial fees paid to ERDI.

Critics of ERDI argue that the company's model for paying school administrators for their advice on education products inevitably leads to conflict of interest issues when those administrators are presented with offers to purchase products promoted by ERDI.

Byrd-Bennett had a relationship with ERDI dating back to at least 2014 and was listed as senior advisor on the firm's website while she was employed as Chicago schools' CEO.

With the acquisition of ERDI, Wise and Sundstrom could transform their business model from a lone retail operation to a mega-mall of education vendors of all kinds.

'The Search Was Manipulated'

One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended.

Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts.

Williams found Joseph had spoken at the company's conference and he had touted the company's software products in promotional materials while he was employed in his previous job in Maryland. Williams also unearthed emails showing Joseph began contract talks with Performance Matters two weeks before he formally took office in Nashville. What also struck Williams as odd was that despite the considerable cost of the contract, district employees were not required to use the software.

In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. With Joseph's backing, Discovery Education received an $11.4 million contract to provide a new science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program even though a smaller company came in with a bid that was a fraction of what Discovery proposed.

By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired.

Frogge also came to realize that all these enterprises were connected to the firm who had been instrumental in hiring Joseph -- Jim Huge and Associates.

"The search that brought Shawn Joseph to Nashville was clearly manipulated," Frogge told Our Schools in an email, "and the school board was kept in the dark about Joseph's previous tenure in Maryland and his relationships with vendor companies."

Frogge said some of the manipulation occurred when the search firm told school board members that disputes among current board members -- over charter schools, school finances, and other issues -- indicated the district was "'too dysfunctional' to hire top-level superintendents and therefore needed to hire a less experienced candidate."

But previous investigations of school leadership search firms conducted by Our Schools have found companies like these frequently forego background checks of prospective candidates they recommend, promote favored candidates regardless of their experience or track record, and push board members to keep the entire search process, including the final candidates, confidential from public scrutiny.

"Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions.

In the Youngstown City School District in Ohio, CEO Krish Mohip became mired in questions about his role as a paid consultant for ERDI while the district had a $261,914 contract with a partner company of ERDI. Under calls for his resignation, Mohip left before his contract was up.

Beaufort County School District in South Carolina became the subject of an FBI investigation because of contracts with ERDI and 30 other companies connected to the firm while superintendent Jeff Moss worked as a paid consultant for ERDI. He resigned from the district two years before his contract was up.

In Pittsburgh, superintendent Anthony Hamlet drew scrutiny when reporters found the district spent more than $14 million on dozens of no-bid contracts to firms connected to ERDI at the same time Hamlet was serving as a paid consultant with the company.

In Baltimore County, Maryland, Shaun Dallas Dance made national headlines when he was convicted of perjury committed during his time as superintendent of the district. Dance had concealed $4,600 he'd been paid by ERDI. After Dance participated in confidential meetings with vendors at an ERDI conference, the district extended contracts from companies connected to the firm.

Obviously, school board members could avoid these conflicts by avoiding leadership search firms and consultants connected to ERDI. But that is easier said than done.

After Baltimore County's troubles with Dance, it hired the independent firm Ray and Associates to conduct a search to find an interim leader. The search resulted in six finalists, from which the board chose Verletta White. Shortly after she took the job, the board's ethics review panel found she had violated financial disclosure rules and "used the prestige of her office or public position for private gain" by accepting compensation from ERDI.

Indeed, superintendent search firms frequently fail to find conflicts of interest and other problems in the candidate background checks they conduct. And some of these firms operate side businesses that also lead to conflict of interest issues.

A Revolving Door of Business Deals Funded by Taxpayers

One of the largest superintendent search firms in the United States, Schaumburg, Illinois-based Hazard, Young, and Attea (HYA), is part of the ECRA Group , a consulting firm providing an array of services to schools.

ECRA claims to have worked with over 1,000 districts, but a close examination of how the company worked with a number of school districts in Illinois reveals how the firm uses a revolving-door business model in which its search service rotates administrators into and out of leadership positions while the company uses those leadership connections to successfully upsell districts into expensive long-term consulting contracts funded by taxpayers.

ECRA's business relationships with Oak Park Elementary District 97 in Illinois go back to at least 2010 when it was hired to help replace outgoing superintendent Constance Collins. With HYA's help , the district hired Albert Roberts. In 2013, during Roberts' tenure, school board minutes show the district considered a plan to hire ECRA to analyze the district's achievement data at a cost of $74,000 a year. The following year, the district hired ECRA to produce an analysis of the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students in the district. Board minutes from 2015 show the district continuing to work with ECRA.

When Roberts retired, District 97 used HYA again for a superintendent search that resulted in hiring Carol Kelley. Kelley currently appears in ECRA's marketing literature touting the firm's Strategic Dashboard, which District 97 apparently employs.

Former superintendent Collins was hired to lead Round Lake District 116, also in Illinois, just before HYA and ECRA acquired the district's superintendent search and strategic planning contracts. Under her tenure, Round Lake paid ECRA $75,918 for consulting services in 2016 , 2017 , and 2018 . Collins retired from Round Lake in 2018, but, according to her LinkedIn page, she became an HYA associate in 2017. She also serves on the advisory board of ECRA, according to her bio at a nonprofit for developing school leaders.

Another Illinois district, Niles Township High School District 219, placed its superintendent on administrative leave after it became known she was the daughter of the president of ECRA, which had a contract with the district worth $149,419 and $120,389 in the final two years of her tenure. (She claimed that relationship with ECRA dated to before she was made superintendent, but she decided to resign anyway.)

Huntley Community School District 158, also in Illinois, had contractual arrangements with ECRA dating to at least 2009 when John Burkey was superintendent. When Burkey resigned in 2017, District 158 hired HYA to find a new superintendent at a cost of $17,500. At the end of a hiring process in which HYA kept all finalists confidential , District 158 announced it had hired Scott Rowe. Under his leadership, District 158 spent $94,980.11 on ECRA in 2018 alone.

One more example in Illinois: Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has hired ECRA for a variety of consulting services since at least 2010 when it paid the firm $22,737.50, according to state records, to survey the district's administrators. By 2013, Evanston/Skokie considered ECRA a "long-standing partner" and hired the firm to help pick its new superintendent. Outgoing superintendent Hardy Murphy also recommended the district hire the firm for teacher appraisal work.

Based on HYA's recommendations , Evanston/Skokie hired Paul Goren in 2014, and under his tenure, checks continued to flow to ECRA's consulting business, including $129,855.92 in 2015 . However, Goren's tenure was troubled and brief, and in 2019 he resigned with a $100,000 severance package. A local reporter noticed that unmentioned in the district's settlement statement was that under his leadership "the district's own progress reports [showed] declines in test scores across all groups of students and district losing ground against its own five-year targets."

ECRA's own leadership has also been embroiled in conflict of interest issues. Current ECRA president Glenn "Max" McGee resigned from his last superintendent job, in Palo Alto, California after an outside investigation found the district had mishandled claims of sexual assault. With a payout of roughly $150,000, McGee, on his way out the door, recommended the district hire HYA to conduct the search for his replacement, just after he had accepted the offer to become leader of ECRA. The district went with McGee's recommendation.

When asked whether this relationship among McGee, ECRA, and the Palo Alto district was a possible conflict of interest, McGee told Our Schools in a phone call that he "stayed out of the search" to fill his old position. Of his replacement, Don Austin from nearby Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in California, McGee admitted being an acquaintance of "many years."

Who's to Blame?

When controversies arise over superintendents and contracts with outside services, private firms that are responsible for pushing these hiring and outsourcing decisions are quick to blame school board members who signed off on the decisions. And critics of public schools frequently use these scandals to argue that democratically elected school boards are dysfunctional and need to be scrapped for other governance structures.

These criticisms leave a lot of context out.

First, being a school board member is customarily a part-time job paying very little money. And school board members are elected to serve as representatives of parents and voters, not to be experts on school finance and administration.

"School board members, although often well intentioned, are sometimes too unqualified and uninformed to exercise effective oversight of spending, and board members are not aware of the personal relationships and personal interests that may be driving decisions by administrative leaders," Nashville board member Frogge explained.

Also, there are multiple ways superintendents can keep board members in the dark about the inner workings of contractor relationships and district operations.

"From the beginning, Joseph surrounded himself with those who promoted him, including organizations he hired to 'train' the board," Frogge explained. "Joseph also prohibited all district employees from speaking to school board members, which prevented board members from recognizing leadership problems during the early days of his tenure. When board members finally began to confront Joseph about problems, including disturbing financial irregularities and his failure to follow board policy, Joseph lied to board members, exacted retribution from those questioning him, and stirred up controversy to distract from the issues at hand."

That said, Frogge noted school boards have alternatives to using private search firms that promote tainted candidates willing to feed the search firms' side businesses.

"School board members need to become better informed and more savvy about profit motives and organizations that seek to influence their selection," she wrote. "School boards can instead opt to hire a local school boards association (for example, the Tennessee School Boards Association) or a local recruiter with a reputation for personal integrity to conduct a search. They can also choose to hire from within."

How school boards decide to avoid conflicts of interest with school leaders and outside consulting firms is "critical" according to Frogge because decisions that are driven by these insiders "can lead to catastrophic outcomes for students and staff."

Among those negative outcomes are increased community acrimony, wasted education funds, and career debacles for what could perhaps have been promising school leaders.

In the case of Joseph and Nashville, controversies with his leadership decisions strongly divided the city's black community, and taxpayers were stuck with a $261,250 bill for buying out the rest of his contract. As a result of the fallout, Joseph lost his state teaching license, and he vowed never to work in the state again.

In the meantime, HYA continues to win contracts for high-profile superintendent searches, and ERDI's conferences bringing school leaders and vendors together continue to sell out .

[Sep 18, 2019] the myopic drive to profitability and naivety to unintended consequences are pushing these tech out into the world before they are ready.

Sep 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

A.L. , Sep 18 2019 19:56 utc | 31

@30 David G

perhaps, just like proponents of AI and self driving cars. They just love the technology, financially and emotionally invested in it so much they can't see the forest from the trees.

I like technology, I studied engineering. But the myopic drive to profitability and naivety to unintended consequences are pushing these tech out into the world before they are ready.

engineering used to be a discipline with ethics and responsibilities... But now anybody who could write two lines of code can call themselves a software engineer....

[Sep 16, 2019] When Students Melt Down Over a 'B'

Sep 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

When Students Melt Down Over a 'B' Rampant grade anxiety is a reflection of deeper American social dysfunction, with our children the biggest victims. By David Masciotra September 17, 2019

By Marjan Apostolovic /Shutterstock The library on campus of a small Catholic university in Illinois was largely empty. Since the administrators had replaced most of the bookshelves with plush furniture, conference tables, and chairs, it better resembled an airport terminal just before a redeye. A handful of students were staring intensely into computer screens, while another pair talked loudly -- no more than 10 feet from the silent, visibly demoralized librarian -- about the rap song that one of them had just played moments earlier. Not one student was near a book. There wasn't a single newspaper or journal in sight. The university had canceled its subscriptions and removed the periodical section a few semesters earlier.

I was making my way toward the front door when one of the students from my Intro to Literature course stopped me, tears rolling down her cheeks, her body nearly convulsing as she attempted to suppress her sobs. Because any human contact is potentially criminal, I ignored my impulse to offer a consoling hand to the shoulder, and asked what was wrong. Expecting her to tell me about a personal tragedy -- perhaps the terminal diagnosis of a loved one -- I almost began to weep myself when she said, "You gave me a 'B' on the paper."

Her crying made the harangue that followed difficult to fully comprehend, but it seemed that she must maintain a certain GPA to remain in athletics. When I countered that a "B" is a good grade and that she would have plenty of time to aspire towards an "A" on other assignments, she began pleading with me for opportunities to "bring up the grade." I declined, and asked if some other, more personal factor was contributing to her stress over a passing grade on one paper in a course entirely unrelated to her major. She insisted that there was not. Helpless and baffled, I wished her well, offered her reassurance, and proceeded out of the library and into the parking lot.

Fielding an existential meltdown, complete with a crying jag, is not part of my professional training. Yet rarely does a semester go by without some kind of grade-related complaint, appeal for mercy, and panic attack. When a student appears as if he has just undergone a life-altering trauma because he's realized he is hanging over the edge of a "C," I think of my father, who at around the same age was in Vietnam. We all have our crosses to bear, whether surviving guerrilla warfare or dealing with a professor who will not give extra credit.

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"Grade anxiety," to use the more popular term, is not unique to my students or school of employment. Studies from Penn State and reports from Psychology Today , Boston University , and many other sources have confirmed that debilitating anxiety is now the leading mental health problem for college students. A quick Google search of "grade anxiety" reveals endless pages of advice to students apoplectic about their exam scores, the professors on the receiving end of their complaints and concerns, and the parents who cannot cope with anything other than perfection.

In all fairness, contemporary college students, contrary to Baby Boomer sanctimony, do have a tougher task than their predecessors. More of them work, often full-time, while completing their degree requirements, and must shoulder heavy financial burdens to acquire their education -- which they understand they will carry, in the form of student debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy, for the majority of their working lives.

Yet even acknowledging the peculiar injustice that exists in American higher education, there is no avoiding the conclusion that 20-year-old adults obsessing and crying over their grades is not a sign of societal health. It's a tornado siren blasting 100 yards away from a trailer park.

As tempting as it is to ridicule the students for their inability to put their lives in mature perspective, it's more instructive to recognize that they are products of American families, institutions, and culture. The overwhelming prevalence of severe grade anxiety indicts a society that is failing to strengthen children into thoughtful and resilient adults. As Gore Vidal once quipped, "I've never met a boring six-year-old in America, and I've never met an interesting 16-year-old."

Even before reaching the age of six, children are under the constant influence of their families. Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff document in their important book The Coddling of the American Mind how "helicopter parenting" has weakened us all. Paranoid about safety, aggressively committed to their children's achievement, parents aspire to protect their sons and daughters from all potential hardship, pushing them into closely monitored extracurricular activities. They treat school work as an accountant treats an actuarial table. The wealthier the parents, the more likely they are to enter their children into the vigilant competition of meritocracy. Some families even send their kids to elite preschools, believing that failure to do so will keep them off the Ivy League university trajectory.

The self-esteem movement has ensured that children will not only aspire to the materialistic measurement of the "best," but believe that they are innately worthy of it. Hearing for their entire lives that they are flawless specimens of Da Vinci-esque brilliance and creativity leaves them unprepared for even the mildest form of criticism. One of the most common rebuttals to a low grade from a student is an indignant "I think I did a great job," spoken as if the teacher should receive a pupil's opinion about his own work as a Catholic priest receives a papal encyclical.

Since the move toward standardized testing as the ultimate metric for student and school success, educational institutions in both rich and poor neighborhoods have relegated the learning experience to high stakes exam preparation, indoctrinating children to believe that they can reduce the value of their intellectual pursuits to a number on a results sheet. The testing model of education complements the American adult's inevitable entrance into a consumer culture with a hierarchy of social status and purchasing power. The earning power of the Kardashians or Waltons allows them to accrue more political influence and cultural value than the typical family in a city without a "Real Housewives" franchise.

Too many conservatives insist on demoting education to nothing more than job training, encouraging the prevalent anti-intellectualism in the United States with suspicion, or outright derision, towards the "impractical" liberal arts. Liberals don't help matters by too often transforming the humanities into conduits of leftist social theory, and before that making elementary and secondary schools too bureaucratic. Formulaic lesson plans and mechanical approaches to pedagogy prevent teachers from developing fruitful bonds with their students, or adjusting their class agendas according to student need and interest.

The Atlantic has run informative but also demoralizing reports on how elementary schools in Finland allow children plenty of free time for play, while also encouraging them to indulge their curiosities in the classroom. In the United States, organic and unrestrained learning is a privilege for children whose parents pay the high prices of a Montessori school. An American kindergartener has an average of 30 minutes of homework per night.

One of my favorite assignments as a child, at the Lutheran elementary school I attended from first through eighth grade, was the book report. Our teacher would walk us to the library and tell us to pick any book, read it, and write a page on it. Depriving children of choice robs them of any joy they might associate with learning. I now teach students in perpetual panic over their grades, and more times than not, the only questions I receive after attempting to facilitate a discussion on a masterpiece of literature is "Will this be on the test?" or "How long does the paper have to be?"

Standards of evaluation are necessary. But I often try to inculcate in my students the knowledge that, in any walk of life and in comparison with the development of passions and the need to sharpen one's ability to look at a complex world, grades are not that important.

This is a tough sell -- pun intended -- in a country that has so thoroughly degraded its public vision of life to an endless quest for wealth and power. There is now a handy measurement of everything. Are you successful? Check your bank account. Are you important? Check your social media followers. Are you attractive? Check the likes on your latest profile picture.

Grades, with the weight of an institution behind them, act as a final judgment in the minds of too many students. They equate A's not only with immediate academic success, but also the chance of having a successful life. Anything less than the optimum might lead to unhappiness.

All lives have moments of failure, pain, and agony. Real adversity is not a "B" on a paper, but your best friend in a coffin, your child's frightening medical condition, your injury that leads to a permanent disability. Education at its best can bequeath what Albert Murray called "equipment for living."

Students who panic and cry over less than perfect grades demonstrate that America has not given them equipment that is helpful and durable. America, in that respect, is worthy of an "F."

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing).

[Sep 15, 2019] Neoliberal version of oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." ..."
"... Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018 ..."
"... The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media. ..."
"... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them." ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | dailycaller.com

The role of the Clerisy

The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the "oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven."

This modern-day version of the old First Estate sets down the [neoliberal] ideological tone in the schools, the mass media, culture and the arts. There's also a Clerisy of sorts on the right, and what's left of the center, but this remains largely, except for Fox, an insignificant remnant.

Like their predecessors, today's Clerisy embraces a [neoliberal] orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview. One study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of [neo]liberals to conservatives as much as 70:1, and usually at least 8:1.

At elite [neo]liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore and Williams, the proportion reaches 120:1.

Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018, even though roughly half the population would prefer they keep their politics more to themselves. (RELATED: Here Are Reactions From Democrats, [neo]liberal Celebrities To The Mueller Testimony)

The increasing concentration of media in ever fewer centers -- London, New York, Washington, San Francisco -- and the decline of the local press has accentuated the elite Clerisy's domination. With most reporters well on the left, journalism, as a 2019 Rand report reveals, is steadily moving from a fact-based model to one that is dominated by predictable [neoliberal] opinion. This, Rand suggests has led to what they called "truth decay."

The new geography of feudalism

The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media.

Yet these cities are not the progressive, egalitarian places evoked by great urbanists like the late Jane Jacobs, but more closely resemble the "gated" cities of the Middle Ages, and their equivalents in places as diverse as China and Japan. American cities now have higher levels of inequality, notes one recent study , than Mexico. In fact, the largest gaps ( between the bottom and top quintiles of median incomes are in the heartland of progressive opinion, such as in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles. (RELATED: Got Income Inequality? Least Affordable Cities Are Also the Bluest)

... ... ...

... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them."

With the erosion of the middle class, and with it dreams of upward mobility, we already see more extreme, less liberally minded class politics. A nation of clerics, billionaires and serfs is not conducive to the democratic experiment; only by mobilizing the Third Estate can we hope that our republican institutions will survive intact even in the near future.

Mr. Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and the executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, "The Coming Of Neo-Feudalism," will be out this spring.

[Sep 14, 2019] The Man Who Could Speak Japanese

This impostor definitely demonstrated programming abilities, although at the time there was not such ter :-)
Notable quotes:
"... "We wrote it down. ..."
"... The next phrase was: ..."
"... " ' Booki fai kiz soy ?' " said Whitey. "It means 'Do you surrender?' " ..."
"... " ' Mizi pok loi ooni rak tong zin ?' 'Where are your comrades?' " ..."
"... "Tong what ?" rasped the colonel. ..."
"... "Tong zin , sir," our instructor replied, rolling chalk between his palms. He arched his eyebrows, as though inviting another question. There was one. The adjutant asked, "What's that gizmo on the end?" ..."
"... Of course, it might have been a Japanese newspaper. Whitey's claim to be a linguist was the last of his status symbols, and he clung to it desperately. Looking back, I think his improvisations on the Morton fantail must have been one of the most heroic achievements in the history of confidence men -- which, as you may have gathered by now, was Whitey's true profession. Toward the end of our tour of duty on the 'Canal he was totally discredited with us and transferred at his own request to the 81-millimeter platoon, where our disregard for him was no stigma, since the 81 millimeter musclemen regarded us as a bunch of eight balls anyway. Yet even then, even after we had become completely disillusioned with him, he remained a figure of wonder among us. We could scarcely believe that an impostor could be clever enough actually to invent a language -- phonics, calligraphy, and all. It had looked like Japanese and sounded like Japanese, and during his seventeen days of lecturing on that ship Whitey had carried it all in his head, remembering every variation, every subtlety, every syntactic construction. ..."
"... https://www.americanheritage.com/man-who-could-speak-japanese ..."
Sep 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Wukchumni , September 13, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Re: Fake list of grunge slang:

a fabulous tale of the South Pacific by William Manchester

The Man Who Could Speak Japanese

"We wrote it down.

The next phrase was:

" ' Booki fai kiz soy ?' " said Whitey. "It means 'Do you surrender?' "

Then:

" ' Mizi pok loi ooni rak tong zin ?' 'Where are your comrades?' "

"Tong what ?" rasped the colonel.

"Tong zin , sir," our instructor replied, rolling chalk between his palms. He arched his eyebrows, as though inviting another question. There was one. The adjutant asked, "What's that gizmo on the end?"

Of course, it might have been a Japanese newspaper. Whitey's claim to be a linguist was the last of his status symbols, and he clung to it desperately. Looking back, I think his improvisations on the Morton fantail must have been one of the most heroic achievements in the history of confidence men -- which, as you may have gathered by now, was Whitey's true profession. Toward the end of our tour of duty on the 'Canal he was totally discredited with us and transferred at his own request to the 81-millimeter platoon, where our disregard for him was no stigma, since the 81 millimeter musclemen regarded us as a bunch of eight balls anyway. Yet even then, even after we had become completely disillusioned with him, he remained a figure of wonder among us. We could scarcely believe that an impostor could be clever enough actually to invent a language -- phonics, calligraphy, and all. It had looked like Japanese and sounded like Japanese, and during his seventeen days of lecturing on that ship Whitey had carried it all in his head, remembering every variation, every subtlety, every syntactic construction.

https://www.americanheritage.com/man-who-could-speak-japanese

[Sep 12, 2019] Amazing; I had no idea Betsy Voss advocate of for-profit charter schools (privatizing education) and The New Curriculum and Eric Prince (advocate for privatizing war) are brother and sister. Blood will tell.

Sep 12, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman September 3, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Amazing; I had no idea Betsy Voss – advocate of for-profit charter schools (privatizing education) and The New Curriculum – and Eric Prince (advocate for privatizing war) are brother and sister. Blood will tell.

Profiteering is naked and in the open now in the west, and public systems increasingly favour the wealthy – if you want better, you should be ready to pay for it. I guess that's what all those tax cuts were about – shifting a burden off of the wealthy, so that now public services are pay-as-you-go because the government can't afford to provide them for everyone. However, tax cuts also favoured the wealthy – gee, it almost makes you think the class system is coming back, dunnit?

Jen September 3, 2019 at 2:58 pm
I recall Jeremy Scahill mentioning in his book on Blackwater (before it started changing its name faster than you can change your socks) that Erik Prince was related to Betsy deVos. This was long before Scahill turned his own name and reputation into mud when he walked out of a London conference back in 2012 or 2013 because the Syrian nun Agnes Mariam de la Croix, who was known to support President Assad at the time, was a guest speaker at the conference.

[Sep 10, 2019] The Siren Song of Economic Opportunity

Notable quotes:
"... When the issues of poverty and inequality came up, a common neoliberal dodge was to invoke the Horatio Alger myth -- that in America, with hard work one can, or should be able to, raise oneself up by one' bootstraps. This switches the question from security ..."
"... As it happens, mobility has declined over the long term in the United States, but that aside, it's a two-way street. The escalator of life runs in both directions. Moreover, it's a separate issue from that of poverty or inequality. One can have more mobility and the same or worse poverty or inequality. The rising tide goes out as well as in. ..."
"... The neoliberal remedy for poverty and inequality is commonly held to be education, because workers lack the requisite skills to earn a living wage. It's kind of their fault. All that's needed is some reasonable public expenditure. No deeper structural factors are at issue. This mindset is contradicted now in two ways. ..."
Sep 10, 2019 | portside.org

Originally from: The Sunset of Neoliberalism

When the issues of poverty and inequality came up, a common neoliberal dodge was to invoke the Horatio Alger myth -- that in America, with hard work one can, or should be able to, raise oneself up by one' bootstraps. This switches the question from security made possible by the public sector to an individual responsibility for economic mobility.

As it happens, mobility has declined over the long term in the United States, but that aside, it's a two-way street. The escalator of life runs in both directions. Moreover, it's a separate issue from that of poverty or inequality. One can have more mobility and the same or worse poverty or inequality. The rising tide goes out as well as in.

The neoliberal remedy for poverty and inequality is commonly held to be education, because workers lack the requisite skills to earn a living wage. It's kind of their fault. All that's needed is some reasonable public expenditure. No deeper structural factors are at issue. This mindset is contradicted now in two ways.

First, the idea of education as an essential, missing ingredient is being supplanted by the idea that what's at issue is power , both political and economic . The wealthy control streams of income and institutions of credentialization that could be rerouted, via taxation, to finance education ("free college") that has an equalizing effect on wealth and enhances economic security.. .

[Sep 08, 2019] Academic freedom sometimes takes very perverted forms in a neoliberal university

Sep 08, 2019 | www.unz.com

Miro23 , says: September 7, 2019 at 9:28 am GMT

Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets.

And what is permissible is becoming truly weird. These are comments on an article over at http://www.thecollegefix.com "Poll: 73 percent of Republican students have withheld political views in class for fear their grades would suffer".

https://www.thecollegefix.com/poll-73-percent-of-republican-students-have-withheld-political-views-in-class-for-fear-their-grades-would-suffer/

[MORE]

Blackbeagle Mark

I'm ABD (all but dissertation) in Econometrics because my adviser was a Marxist nutcase from the London School of Economics. I couldn't fight the communists forever; not when they held all the cards.

Reply: Medina-Merino

I left my PhD program in Anthropology when on a "field trip" , my advisor and his idiotic tie-dyed moron of a wife (former student of his) crawled into my tent on the first night of a 2 week research project in black leather bondage harnesses and informed me it was time for me to join them in a "night of pure pleasure".

Fast forward I got up, got into my car, drove through the night back to campus, parked outside of the Dean's office, stormed in with wide-blood-shot-eyes when he arrived in his 700-Series turbo-charged Special Edition BMW and told him I wanted to file a complaint against Professor "Bondo" and when he (Dean Bozo) did not respond to my request in over a week, I withdrew from my program (ABD also) before the "Drop Deadline" so I could get full refund of my hard-earned TENS OF THOUSANDS of tuition dollars and used the money to secure an attorney (who I later learned was on-the-take for the University's own legal counsel office of "Equity & Fairness") until I ran out of money and then left town to take a position in Scotland on a research team studying Celtic migrations to the Northern Coast of the Iberian Peninsula, known for centuries unofficially as the "Celtic Coast". I loved my work and worked with some amazing and HONEST and RESPECTFUL colleagues.

I learned a big lesson from this EFFIN nightmare be verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry careful of whose hands you find your career in there are a lot of filthy, abusive, corrupt "faculty" and even more dishonest and disingenuous and despicable "administrators" in the contemporary academy and many have brass name-plates on their doors and hold do-nothing-but-damage-to-the-lives-of those who are often powerless against their callous and deliberate abuses.

Even today, on my sleepless nights I can still hear Mr. Chips rustling in his grave

I went on to hold positions of academic renown in Europe and Latin America and eventually returned to the US when I knew I would be able to secure adjunct positions in the US and Canada and Puerto Rico to support myself and my family, whose lives I was able to maintain in a stable trajectory throughout this horror!

Revenge is sweet however today when I receive requests from my former "institution of higher learning" I respond in the SASE
"NEVER WILL I EVER GIVE YOU ONE CENT FOR NOT HAVING PROTECTED ME FROM ABUSE AT THE HANDS OF DR. "BONDO" YEARS AGO!" Even today, he is part of campus lore and is whispered about in hushed tones.

What happened to the "prof" he died of very painful brain cancer (poetic justice) and his idiot wife went full-tilt into drugs and is sitting in a pool of her own pee in a very dismal geriatric ward. And the "Dean"? He is likewise awaiting his last days in his luxury condo in Santa Barbara, CA surrounded by like-minded Lutheran do-gooders holding prayer circles and burning incense and rubbing crystals for each of their pathetic selves

[Sep 07, 2019] As soon as you stop writing code on a regular basis you stop being a programmer. You lose you qualification very quickly. That's a typical tragedy of talented programmers who became mediocre managers or, worse, theoretical computer scientists

Programming skills are somewhat similar to the skills of people who play violin or piano. As soon a you stop playing violin or piano still start to evaporate. First slowly, then quicker. In two yours you probably will lose 80%.
Notable quotes:
"... I happened to look the other day. I wrote 35 programs in January, and 28 or 29 programs in February. These are small programs, but I have a compulsion. I love to write programs and put things into it. ..."
Sep 07, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

Dijkstra said he was proud to be a programmer. Unfortunately he changed his attitude completely, and I think he wrote his last computer program in the 1980s. At this conference I went to in 1967 about simulation language, Chris Strachey was going around asking everybody at the conference what was the last computer program you wrote. This was 1967. Some of the people said, "I've never written a computer program." Others would say, "Oh yeah, here's what I did last week." I asked Edsger this question when I visited him in Texas in the 90s and he said, "Don, I write programs now with pencil and paper, and I execute them in my head." He finds that a good enough discipline.

I think he was mistaken on that. He taught me a lot of things, but I really think that if he had continued... One of Dijkstra's greatest strengths was that he felt a strong sense of aesthetics, and he didn't want to compromise his notions of beauty. They were so intense that when he visited me in the 1960s, I had just come to Stanford. I remember the conversation we had. It was in the first apartment, our little rented house, before we had electricity in the house.

We were sitting there in the dark, and he was telling me how he had just learned about the specifications of the IBM System/360, and it made him so ill that his heart was actually starting to flutter.

He intensely disliked things that he didn't consider clean to work with. So I can see that he would have distaste for the languages that he had to work with on real computers. My reaction to that was to design my own language, and then make Pascal so that it would work well for me in those days. But his response was to do everything only intellectually.

So, programming.

I happened to look the other day. I wrote 35 programs in January, and 28 or 29 programs in February. These are small programs, but I have a compulsion. I love to write programs and put things into it. I think of a question that I want to answer, or I have part of my book where I want to present something. But I can't just present it by reading about it in a book. As I code it, it all becomes clear in my head. It's just the discipline. The fact that I have to translate my knowledge of this method into something that the machine is going to understand just forces me to make that crystal-clear in my head. Then I can explain it to somebody else infinitely better. The exposition is always better if I've implemented it, even though it's going to take me more time.

[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth about computer science and money: At that point I made the decision in my life that I wasn't going to optimize my income;

Sep 07, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

So I had a programming hat when I was outside of Cal Tech, and at Cal Tech I am a mathematician taking my grad studies. A startup company, called Green Tree Corporation because green is the color of money, came to me and said, "Don, name your price. Write compilers for us and we will take care of finding computers for you to debug them on, and assistance for you to do your work. Name your price." I said, "Oh, okay. $100,000.", assuming that this was In that era this was not quite at Bill Gate's level today, but it was sort of out there.

The guy didn't blink. He said, "Okay." I didn't really blink either. I said, "Well, I'm not going to do it. I just thought this was an impossible number."

At that point I made the decision in my life that I wasn't going to optimize my income; I was really going to do what I thought I could do for well, I don't know. If you ask me what makes me most happy, number one would be somebody saying "I learned something from you". Number two would be somebody saying "I used your software". But number infinity would be Well, no. Number infinity minus one would be "I bought your book". It's not as good as "I read your book", you know. Then there is "I bought your software"; that was not in my own personal value. So that decision came up. I kept up with the literature about compilers. The Communications of the ACM was where the action was. I also worked with people on trying to debug the ALGOL language, which had problems with it. I published a few papers, like "The Remaining Trouble Spots in ALGOL 60" was one of the papers that I worked on. I chaired a committee called "Smallgol" which was to find a subset of ALGOL that would work on small computers. I was active in programming languages.

[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth: maybe 1 in 50 people have the "computer scientist's" type of intellect

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Frana: You have made the comment several times that maybe 1 in 50 people have the "computer scientist's mind." Knuth: Yes. Frana: I am wondering if a large number of those people are trained professional librarians? [laughter] There is some strangeness there. But can you pinpoint what it is about the mind of the computer scientist that is....

Knuth: That is different?

Frana: What are the characteristics?

Knuth: Two things: one is the ability to deal with non-uniform structure, where you have case one, case two, case three, case four. Or that you have a model of something where the first component is integer, the next component is a Boolean, and the next component is a real number, or something like that, you know, non-uniform structure. To deal fluently with those kinds of entities, which is not typical in other branches of mathematics, is critical. And the other characteristic ability is to shift levels quickly, from looking at something in the large to looking at something in the small, and many levels in between, jumping from one level of abstraction to another. You know that, when you are adding one to some number, that you are actually getting closer to some overarching goal. These skills, being able to deal with nonuniform objects and to see through things from the top level to the bottom level, these are very essential to computer programming, it seems to me. But maybe I am fooling myself because I am too close to it.

Frana: It is the hardest thing to really understand that which you are existing within.

Knuth: Yes.

[Sep 07, 2019] conservancy.umn.edu

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: Well, certainly it seems the way things are going. You take any particular subject that you are interested in and you try to see if somebody with an American high school education has learned it, and you will be appalled. You know, Jesse Jackson thinks that students know nothing about political science, and I am sure the chemists think that students don't know chemistry, and so on. But somehow they get it when they have to later. But I would say certainly the students now have been getting more of a superficial idea of mathematics than they used to. We have to do remedial stuff at Stanford that we didn't have to do thirty years ago.

Frana: Gio [Wiederhold] said much the same thing to me.

Knuth: The most scandalous thing was that Stanford's course in linear algebra could not get to eigenvalues because the students didn't know about complex numbers. Now every course at Stanford that takes linear algebra as a prerequisite does so because they want the students to know about eigenvalues. But here at Stanford, with one of the highest admission standards of any university, our students don't know complex numbers. So we have to teach them that when they get to college. Yes, this is definitely a breakdown.

Frana: Was your mathematics training in high school particularly good, or was it that you spent a lot of time actually doing problems?

Knuth: No, my mathematics training in high school was not good. My teachers could not answer my questions and so I decided I'd go into physics. I mean, I had played with mathematics in high school. I did a lot of work drawing graphs and plotting points and I used pi as the radix of a number system, and explored what the world would be like if you wanted to do logarithms and you had a number system based on pi. And I had played with stuff like that. But my teachers couldn't answer questions that I had.

... ... ... Frana: Do you have an answer? Are American students different today? In one of your interviews you discuss the problem of creativity versus gross absorption of knowledge.

Knuth: Well, that is part of it. Today we have mostly a sound byte culture, this lack of attention span and trying to learn how to pass exams. Frana: Yes,

[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth: I can be a writer, who tries to organize other people's ideas into some kind of a more coherent structure so that it is easier to put things together

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: I can be a writer, who tries to organize other people's ideas into some kind of a more coherent structure so that it is easier to put things together. I can see that I could be viewed as a scholar that does his best to check out sources of material, so that people get credit where it is due. And to check facts over, not just to look at the abstract of something, but to see what the methods were that did it and to fill in holes if necessary. I look at my role as being able to understand the motivations and terminology of one group of specialists and boil it down to a certain extent so that people in other parts of the field can use it. I try to listen to the theoreticians and select what they have done that is important to the programmer on the street; to remove technical jargon when possible.

But I have never been good at any kind of a role that would be making policy, or advising people on strategies, or what to do. I have always been best at refining things that are there and bringing order out of chaos. I sometimes raise new ideas that might stimulate people, but not really in a way that would be in any way controlling the flow. The only time I have ever advocated something strongly was with literate programming; but I do this always with the caveat that it works for me, not knowing if it would work for anybody else.

When I work with a system that I have created myself, I can always change it if I don't like it. But everybody who works with my system has to work with what I give them. So I am not able to judge my own stuff impartially. So anyway, I have always felt bad about if anyone says, 'Don, please forecast the future,'...

[Sep 07, 2019] 9-11 The Road To America's Orwellian Hell by James Bovard

Those measures are nothing special. They are typical for any war or any coup d'état to install totalitarian regime in the country. Fritened people are easily manipulated. . The only question against whom the war was launched and what was real origin of 9/11. Here 1984 instantly comes to mind.
Sep 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Bovard via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Next week will be the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Politicians and bureaucrats wasted no time after that carnage to unleash the Surveillance State on average Americans, treating every person like a terrorist suspect. Since the government failed to protect the public, Americans somehow forfeited their constitutional right to privacy. Despite heroic efforts by former NSA staffer Edward Snowden and a host of activists and freedom fighters, the government continues ravaging American privacy.

Two of the largest leaps towards "1984" began in 2002. Though neither the Justice Department's Operation TIPS nor the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program was brought to completion, parcels and precedents from each program have profoundly influenced subsequent federal policies.

In July 2002, the Justice Department unveiled plans for Operation TIPS -- the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. According to the Justice Department website, TIPS would be "a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letter carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity." TIPSters would be people who, "in the daily course of their work, are in a unique position to serve as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement." The feds aimed to recruit people in jobs that "make them uniquely well positioned to understand the ordinary course of business in the area they serve, and to identify things that are out of the ordinary." Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said that observers in certain occupations "might pick up a break in the certain rhythm or pattern of a community." The feds planned to enlist as many as 10 million people to watch other people's "rhythms."

The Justice Department provided no definition of "suspicious behavior" to guide vigilantes. As the public began to focus on the program's sweep, opposition surfaced; even the U.S. Postal Service briefly balked at participating in the program. Director Ridge insisted that TIPS "is not a government intrusion." He declared, "The last thing we want is Americans spying on Americans. That's just not what the president is all about, and not what the TIPS program is all about." Apparently, as long as the Bush administration did not announce plans to compel people to testify about the peccadilloes of their neighbors and customers, TIPS was a certified freedom-friendly program.

When Attorney General John Ashcroft was cross-examined by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on TIPS at a Judiciary Committee hearing on July 25, he insisted that "the TIPS program is something requested by industry to allow them to talk about anomalies that they encounter." But, when George W. Bush first announced the program, he portrayed it as an administration initiative. Did thousands of Teamsters Union members petition 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue over "anomalies"? Senator Leahy asked whether reports to the TIPS hotline would become part of a federal database with millions of unsubstantiated allegations against American citizens. Ashcroft told Leahy, "I have recommended that there would be none, and I've been given assurance that the TIPS program would not maintain a database." But Ashcroft could not reveal which federal official had given him the assurance.

The ACLU's Laura Murphy observed, "This is a program where people's activities, statements, posters in their windows or on their walls, nationality, and religious practices will be reported by untrained individuals without any relationship to criminal activity." San Diego law professor Marjorie Cohn observed, "Operation TIPS will encourage neighbors to snitch on neighbors and won't distinguish between real and fabricated tips. Anyone with a grudge or vendetta against another can provide false information to the government, which will then enter the national database."

On August 9, the Justice Department announced it was fine-tuning TIPS, abandoning any "plan to ask thousands of mail carriers, utility workers, and others with access to private homes to report suspected terrorist activity," the Washington Post reported. People who had enlisted to be TIPSters received an email notice from Uncle Sam that "only those who work in the trucking, maritime, shipping, and mass transit industries will be eligible to participate in this information referral service." But the Justice Department continued refusing to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee who would have access to the TIPS reports.

After the proposal created a fierce backlash across the political board, Congress passed an amendment blocking its creation. House Majority Leader Richard Armey (R-Tex.) attached an amendment to homeland security legislation that declared, "Any and all activities of the federal government to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS are hereby prohibited." But the Bush administration and later the Obama administration pursued the same information roundup with federally funded fusion centers that encouraged people to file "suspicious activity reports" for a wide array of innocuous behavior -- reports that are dumped into secret federal databases that can vex innocent citizens in perpetuity.

Operation TIPS illustrated how the momentum of intrusion spurred government to propose programs that it never would have attempted before 9/11. If Bush had proposed in August 2001 to recruit 10 million Americans to report any of their neighbors they suspected of acting unusual or being potential troublemakers, the public might have concluded the president had gone berserk.

Total Information Awareness: 300 million dossiers

The USA PATRIOT Act created a new Information Office in the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In January 2002, the White House chose retired admiral John Poindexter to head the new office. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer explained, "Admiral Poindexter is somebody who this administration thinks is an outstanding American, an outstanding citizen, who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country, serving the military." Cynics kvetched about Poindexter's five felony convictions for false testimony to Congress and destruction of evidence during the investigation of the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages exchange. Poindexter's convictions were overturned by a federal appeals court, which cited the immunity Congress granted his testimony.

Poindexter committed the new Pentagon office to achieving Total Information Awareness (TIA). TIA's mission is "to detect, classify and identify foreign terrorists -- and decipher their plans -- and thereby enable the U.S. to take timely action to successfully preempt and defeat terrorist acts," according to DARPA. According to Undersecretary of Defense Pete Aldridge, TIA would seek to discover "connections between transactions -- such as passports; visas; work permits; driver's licenses; credit cards; airline tickets; rental cars; gun purchases; chemical purchases -- and events -- such as arrests or suspicious activities and so forth." Aldridge agreed that every phone call a person made or received could be entered into the database. With "voice recognition" software, the actual text of the call could also go onto a permanent record.

TIA would also strive to achieve "Human Identification at a Distance" (HumanID), including "Face Recognition," "Iris Recognition," and "Gait Recognition." The Pentagon issued a request for proposals to develop an "odor recognition" surveillance system that would help the feds identify people by their sweat or urine -- potentially creating a wealth of new job opportunities for deviants.

TIA's goal was to stockpile as much information as possible about everyone on Earth -- thereby allowing government to protect everyone from everything. New York Times columnist William Safire captured the sweep of the new surveillance system: "Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book, and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as 'a virtual, centralized grand database.'" Columnist Ted Rall noted that the feds would even scan "veterinary records. The TIA believes that knowing if and when Fluffy got spayed -- and whether your son stopped torturing Fluffy after you put him on Ritalin -- will help the military stop terrorists before they strike."

Phil Kent, president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta-based public-interest law firm, warned that TIA was "the most sweeping threat to civil liberties since the Japanese-American internment." The ACLU's Jay Stanley labeled TIA "the mother of all privacy invasions. It would amount to a picture of your life so complete, it's equivalent to somebody following you around all day with a video camera." A coalition of civil-liberties groups protested to Senate leaders, "There are no systems of oversight or accountability contemplated in the TIA project. DARPA itself has resisted lawful requests for information about the Program pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act."

Bush administration officials were outraged by such criticisms. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared, "The hype and alarm approach is a disservice to the public . I would recommend people take a nice deep breath. Nothing terrible is going to happen." Poindexter promised that TIA would be designed so as to "preserve rights and protect people's privacy while helping to make us all safer." (Poindexter was not under oath at the time of his statement.) The TIA was defended on the basis that "nobody has been searched" until the feds decide to have him arrested on the basis of data the feds snared. Undersecretary Aldridge declared, "It is absurd to think that DARPA is somehow trying to become another police agency. DARPA's purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology. If it proves useful, TIA will then be turned over to the intelligence, counterintelligence, and law-enforcement communities as a tool to help them in their battle against domestic terrorism." In January 2003, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) learned that the FBI was working on a memorandum of understanding with the Pentagon "for possible experimentation" with TIA. Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Security Paul McHale confirmed, in March 2003 testimony to Congress, that the Pentagon would turn TIA over to law-enforcement agencies once the system was ready to roll.

DARPA responded to the surge of criticism by removing the Information Awareness Office logo from the website. The logo showed a giant green eye atop a pyramid, covering half the globe with a peculiar yellow haze, accompanied by the motto "Scientia est Potentia" (Knowledge is Power).

Shortly after DARPA completed a key research benchmark for TIA, Lt. Col. Doug Dyer, a DARPA program manager, publicly announced in April 2003 that Americans are obliged to sacrifice some privacy in the name of security: "When you consider the potential effect of a terrorist attack against the privacy of an entire population, there has to be some trade-off." But nothing in the U.S. Constitution entitles the Defense Department to decide how much privacy or liberty American citizens deserve.

In September 2003, Congress passed an amendment abolishing the Pentagon's Information Office and ending TIA funding. But by that point, DARPA had already awarded 26 contracts for dozens of private research projects to develop components for TIA. Salon.com reported, "According to people with knowledge of the program, TIA has now advanced to the point where it's much more than a mere 'research project.' There is a working prototype of the system, and federal agencies outside the Defense Department have expressed interest in it." The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is already using facial recognition systems at 20 airports and the Transportation Security Administration is expected to quickly follow suit.

Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo sent a secret memo to the White House declaring that the Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches was null and void: "If the government's heightened interest in self-defense justifies the use of deadly force, then it also certainly would justify warrantless searches." That memo helped set federal policy until it was publicly revealed after Barack Obama took office in 2009. Unfortunately, that anti-Constitution, anti-privacy mindset unleashed many federal intrusions that continue to this day, from the TSA to the National Security Agency to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

[Sep 06, 2019] Knuth: No, I stopped going to conferences. It was too discouraging. Computer programming keeps getting harder because more stuff is discovered

Sep 06, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: No, I stopped going to conferences. It was too discouraging. Computer programming keeps getting harder because more stuff is discovered. I can cope with learning about one new technique per day, but I can't take ten in a day all at once. So conferences are depressing; it means I have so much more work to do. If I hide myself from the truth I am much happier.

[Sep 06, 2019] How TAOCP was hatched

Notable quotes:
"... Also, Addison-Wesley was the people who were asking me to do this book; my favorite textbooks had been published by Addison Wesley. They had done the books that I loved the most as a student. For them to come to me and say, "Would you write a book for us?", and here I am just a secondyear gradate student -- this was a thrill. ..."
"... But in those days, The Art of Computer Programming was very important because I'm thinking of the aesthetical: the whole question of writing programs as something that has artistic aspects in all senses of the word. The one idea is "art" which means artificial, and the other "art" means fine art. All these are long stories, but I've got to cover it fairly quickly. ..."
Sep 06, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

Knuth: This is, of course, really the story of my life, because I hope to live long enough to finish it. But I may not, because it's turned out to be such a huge project. I got married in the summer of 1961, after my first year of graduate school. My wife finished college, and I could use the money I had made -- the $5000 on the compiler -- to finance a trip to Europe for our honeymoon.

We had four months of wedded bliss in Southern California, and then a man from Addison-Wesley came to visit me and said "Don, we would like you to write a book about how to write compilers."

The more I thought about it, I decided "Oh yes, I've got this book inside of me."

I sketched out that day -- I still have the sheet of tablet paper on which I wrote -- I sketched out 12 chapters that I thought ought to be in such a book. I told Jill, my wife, "I think I'm going to write a book."

As I say, we had four months of bliss, because the rest of our marriage has all been devoted to this book. Well, we still have had happiness. But really, I wake up every morning and I still haven't finished the book. So I try to -- I have to -- organize the rest of my life around this, as one main unifying theme. The book was supposed to be about how to write a compiler. They had heard about me from one of their editorial advisors, that I knew something about how to do this. The idea appealed to me for two main reasons. One is that I did enjoy writing. In high school I had been editor of the weekly paper. In college I was editor of the science magazine, and I worked on the campus paper as copy editor. And, as I told you, I wrote the manual for that compiler that we wrote. I enjoyed writing, number one.

Also, Addison-Wesley was the people who were asking me to do this book; my favorite textbooks had been published by Addison Wesley. They had done the books that I loved the most as a student. For them to come to me and say, "Would you write a book for us?", and here I am just a secondyear gradate student -- this was a thrill.

Another very important reason at the time was that I knew that there was a great need for a book about compilers, because there were a lot of people who even in 1962 -- this was January of 1962 -- were starting to rediscover the wheel. The knowledge was out there, but it hadn't been explained. The people who had discovered it, though, were scattered all over the world and they didn't know of each other's work either, very much. I had been following it. Everybody I could think of who could write a book about compilers, as far as I could see, they would only give a piece of the fabric. They would slant it to their own view of it. There might be four people who could write about it, but they would write four different books. I could present all four of their viewpoints in what I would think was a balanced way, without any axe to grind, without slanting it towards something that I thought would be misleading to the compiler writer for the future. I considered myself as a journalist, essentially. I could be the expositor, the tech writer, that could do the job that was needed in order to take the work of these brilliant people and make it accessible to the world. That was my motivation. Now, I didn't have much time to spend on it then, I just had this page of paper with 12 chapter headings on it. That's all I could do while I'm a consultant at Burroughs and doing my graduate work. I signed a contract, but they said "We know it'll take you a while." I didn't really begin to have much time to work on it until 1963, my third year of graduate school, as I'm already finishing up on my thesis. In the summer of '62, I guess I should mention, I wrote another compiler. This was for Univac; it was a FORTRAN compiler. I spent the summer, I sold my soul to the devil, I guess you say, for three months in the summer of 1962 to write a FORTRAN compiler. I believe that the salary for that was $15,000, which was much more than an assistant professor. I think assistant professors were getting eight or nine thousand in those days.

Feigenbaum: Well, when I started in 1960 at [University of California] Berkeley, I was getting $7,600 for the nine-month year.

Knuth: Knuth: Yeah, so you see it. I got $15,000 for a summer job in 1962 writing a FORTRAN compiler. One day during that summer I was writing the part of the compiler that looks up identifiers in a hash table. The method that we used is called linear probing. Basically you take the variable name that you want to look up, you scramble it, like you square it or something like this, and that gives you a number between one and, well in those days it would have been between 1 and 1000, and then you look there. If you find it, good; if you don't find it, go to the next place and keep on going until you either get to an empty place, or you find the number you're looking for. It's called linear probing. There was a rumor that one of Professor Feller's students at Princeton had tried to figure out how fast linear probing works and was unable to succeed. This was a new thing for me. It was a case where I was doing programming, but I also had a mathematical problem that would go into my other [job]. My winter job was being a math student, my summer job was writing compilers. There was no mix. These worlds did not intersect at all in my life at that point. So I spent one day during the summer while writing the compiler looking at the mathematics of how fast does linear probing work. I got lucky, and I solved the problem. I figured out some math, and I kept two or three sheets of paper with me and I typed it up. ["Notes on 'Open' Addressing', 7/22/63] I guess that's on the internet now, because this became really the genesis of my main research work, which developed not to be working on compilers, but to be working on what they call analysis of algorithms, which is, have a computer method and find out how good is it quantitatively. I can say, if I got so many things to look up in the table, how long is linear probing going to take. It dawned on me that this was just one of many algorithms that would be important, and each one would lead to a fascinating mathematical problem. This was easily a good lifetime source of rich problems to work on. Here I am then, in the middle of 1962, writing this FORTRAN compiler, and I had one day to do the research and mathematics that changed my life for my future research trends. But now I've gotten off the topic of what your original question was.

Feigenbaum: We were talking about sort of the.. You talked about the embryo of The Art of Computing. The compiler book morphed into The Art of Computer Programming, which became a seven-volume plan.

Knuth: Exactly. Anyway, I'm working on a compiler and I'm thinking about this. But now I'm starting, after I finish this summer job, then I began to do things that were going to be relating to the book. One of the things I knew I had to have in the book was an artificial machine, because I'm writing a compiler book but machines are changing faster than I can write books. I have to have a machine that I'm totally in control of. I invented this machine called MIX, which was typical of the computers of 1962.

In 1963 I wrote a simulator for MIX so that I could write sample programs for it, and I taught a class at Caltech on how to write programs in assembly language for this hypothetical computer. Then I started writing the parts that dealt with sorting problems and searching problems, like the linear probing idea. I began to write those parts, which are part of a compiler, of the book. I had several hundred pages of notes gathering for those chapters for The Art of Computer Programming. Before I graduated, I've already done quite a bit of writing on The Art of Computer Programming.

I met George Forsythe about this time. George was the man who inspired both of us [Knuth and Feigenbaum] to come to Stanford during the '60s. George came down to Southern California for a talk, and he said, "Come up to Stanford. How about joining our faculty?" I said "Oh no, I can't do that. I just got married, and I've got to finish this book first." I said, "I think I'll finish the book next year, and then I can come up [and] start thinking about the rest of my life, but I want to get my book done before my son is born." Well, John is now 40-some years old and I'm not done with the book. Part of my lack of expertise is any good estimation procedure as to how long projects are going to take. I way underestimated how much needed to be written about in this book. Anyway, I started writing the manuscript, and I went merrily along writing pages of things that I thought really needed to be said. Of course, it didn't take long before I had started to discover a few things of my own that weren't in any of the existing literature. I did have an axe to grind. The message that I was presenting was in fact not going to be unbiased at all. It was going to be based on my own particular slant on stuff, and that original reason for why I should write the book became impossible to sustain. But the fact that I had worked on linear probing and solved the problem gave me a new unifying theme for the book. I was going to base it around this idea of analyzing algorithms, and have some quantitative ideas about how good methods were. Not just that they worked, but that they worked well: this method worked 3 times better than this method, or 3.1 times better than this method. Also, at this time I was learning mathematical techniques that I had never been taught in school. I found they were out there, but they just hadn't been emphasized openly, about how to solve problems of this kind.

So my book would also present a different kind of mathematics than was common in the curriculum at the time, that was very relevant to analysis of algorithm. I went to the publishers, I went to Addison Wesley, and said "How about changing the title of the book from 'The Art of Computer Programming' to 'The Analysis of Algorithms'." They said that will never sell; their focus group couldn't buy that one. I'm glad they stuck to the original title, although I'm also glad to see that several books have now come out called "The Analysis of Algorithms", 20 years down the line.

But in those days, The Art of Computer Programming was very important because I'm thinking of the aesthetical: the whole question of writing programs as something that has artistic aspects in all senses of the word. The one idea is "art" which means artificial, and the other "art" means fine art. All these are long stories, but I've got to cover it fairly quickly.

I've got The Art of Computer Programming started out, and I'm working on my 12 chapters. I finish a rough draft of all 12 chapters by, I think it was like 1965. I've got 3,000 pages of notes, including a very good example of what you mentioned about seeing holes in the fabric. One of the most important chapters in the book is parsing: going from somebody's algebraic formula and figuring out the structure of the formula. Just the way I had done in seventh grade finding the structure of English sentences, I had to do this with mathematical sentences.

Chapter ten is all about parsing of context-free language, [which] is what we called it at the time. I covered what people had published about context-free languages and parsing. I got to the end of the chapter and I said, well, you can combine these ideas and these ideas, and all of a sudden you get a unifying thing which goes all the way to the limit. These other ideas had sort of gone partway there. They would say "Oh, if a grammar satisfies this condition, I can do it efficiently." "If a grammar satisfies this condition, I can do it efficiently." But now, all of a sudden, I saw there was a way to say I can find the most general condition that can be done efficiently without looking ahead to the end of the sentence. That you could make a decision on the fly, reading from left to right, about the structure of the thing. That was just a natural outgrowth of seeing the different pieces of the fabric that other people had put together, and writing it into a chapter for the first time. But I felt that this general concept, well, I didn't feel that I had surrounded the concept. I knew that I had it, and I could prove it, and I could check it, but I couldn't really intuit it all in my head. I knew it was right, but it was too hard for me, really, to explain it well.

So I didn't put in The Art of Computer Programming. I thought it was beyond the scope of my book. Textbooks don't have to cover everything when you get to the harder things; then you have to go to the literature. My idea at that time [is] I'm writing this book and I'm thinking it's going to be published very soon, so any little things I discover and put in the book I didn't bother to write a paper and publish in the journal because I figure it'll be in my book pretty soon anyway. Computer science is changing so fast, my book is bound to be obsolete.

It takes a year for it to go through editing, and people drawing the illustrations, and then they have to print it and bind it and so on. I have to be a little bit ahead of the state-of-the-art if my book isn't going to be obsolete when it comes out. So I kept most of the stuff to myself that I had, these little ideas I had been coming up with. But when I got to this idea of left-to-right parsing, I said "Well here's something I don't really understand very well. I'll publish this, let other people figure out what it is, and then they can tell me what I should have said." I published that paper I believe in 1965, at the end of finishing my draft of the chapter, which didn't get as far as that story, LR(k). Well now, textbooks of computer science start with LR(k) and take off from there. But I want to give you an idea of

[Sep 06, 2019] Understanding Literacy Numeracy

Level 4/5 is the ability to read complex information and glean information from it, or in numeracy, the ability to do algebra and above. You will note that only about 1 in 10 function at this level. The vast majority function at about 6th to 8th grade competency.
Sep 06, 2019 | www.cdc.gov

this is from Understanding Literacy & Numeracy

[Sep 06, 2019] The only conceivable answer is that The New York Times is somehow complicit in these monstrous crimes

Sep 06, 2019 | www.unz.com

David Erickson , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:17 pm GMT

"The only conceivable answer is that The New York Times is somehow complicit in these monstrous crimes." – Bingo!
Robjil , says: September 5, 2019 at 6:23 pm GMT
...Soma the drug of the Brave New World gives one pleasure. Aldous Huxley died the same day as JFK, and CS Lewis....

Here are some quotes from Aldous Huxley...

http://www.globalistagenda.org/download/HuxleyTranscript.txt

In our time, we are endlessly brainwashed to love all the things that we can buy. Meanwhile, people are being bombed, terrorized, sanctioned, etc. across the world ... We can't complain since we got lots of toys to play with.

And here I think one has an enormous area in which the ultimate revolution could function very well indeed, an area in which a great deal of control could be used by not through terror, but by making life seem much more enjoyable than it normally does. Enjoyable to the point, where as I said before, Human beings come to love a state of things by which any reasonable and decent human standard they ought not to love and this I think is perfectly possible.

"Happiness" with our toys is being used to keep us quiet.

"The dictatorships of tomorrow will deprive men of their freedom, but will give them in exchange a happiness none the less real, as a subjective experience, for being chemically induced. The pursuit of happiness is one of the traditional rights of man; unfortunately, the achievement of happiness may turn out to be incompatible with another of man's rights -- namely, liberty."

...press has complete control to filter everything to look rosey for them, demonize any dissidents, and the masses fall for it. Why? They do not allow any counter arguments...

A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.

...bread and circus propaganda. They want to keep that way. Any one who dissents is a "hater".

What I may call the messages of Brave New World, but it is possible to make people contented with their servitude. I think this can be done. I think it has been done in the past. I think it could be done even more effectively now because you can provide them with bread and circuses and you can provide them with endless amounts of distractions and propaganda.

...Pleasure trick keeps one from looking at what our rulers are doing.

As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends correspondingly to increase. And the dictator will do well to encourage that freedom it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate.

...using their MSM to make massive herds of humans all over the earth to love their servitude to Zion uber alles.

The question of the next generation will not be one of how to liberate the masses, but rather, how to make them love their servitude

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/848465-the-lord-s-prayer-is-less-than-fifty-words-long-and

...rulers are using temptation to the max to rule us now.

"The Lord's Prayer is less than fifty words long, and six of those words are devoted to asking God not to lead us into temptation."

[Sep 01, 2019] On the continuing devaluation of the college degrees

Sep 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Andy Raushner , August 31, 2019 at 4:17 pm

Its just from slow growth and the Boomer deleveraging era. Its a global phenom and its impacts are global into the cultural realm. The college degree boom is a great example of this phenom. It was really based on the surge in consumer debt boom after WWII boosting these supply chains in the US to increased consumption to GDP and reduced manufacturing, which fell in real terms during the 1950-2000 period.

This created traditionally required college degree jobs into a nexus that was originally based around the Baby Boomer generation and strengthened afterwards. Once growth petered in 2007(and we developed a oversupply since 2000) we now have too many people with college degrees.

Even the rich aren't as rich as they were in 2007. Real profits are struggling this cycle and are showing up with weak job growth this year. The unemployment rates flaws are showing up this cycle as well, as total numbers mean little compared historically than the potential that is lowest unemployment can go.

Based on that, the current level of labor market saturation seems to be at a late 70's cycle level. In otherwards, if you adjust the population growth and total size this cycle is doing no better than the Carter era top in 1979 .then we see the whining.

Both the Reagan and Bush II era expansions were a bit better and probably onto a intro of a "boom".

Obviously it is noticeably the Korean, Vietnam and Tech era booms which would require unemployment to fall below 3% to reach, maybe down to 2.5%, which tells you something about potential unemployment drop peaks.

[Aug 31, 2019] Programming is about Effective Communication

Aug 31, 2019 | developers.slashdot.org

Anonymous Coward , Friday February 22, 2019 @02:42PM ( #58165060 )

Algorithms, not code ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

Sad to see these are all books about coding and coding style. Nothing at all here about algorithms, or data structures.

My vote goes for Algorithms by Sedgewick

Seven Spirals ( 4924941 ) , Friday February 22, 2019 @02:57PM ( #58165150 )
MOTIF Programming by Marshall Brain ( Score: 3 )

Amazing how little memory and CPU MOTIF applications take. Once you get over the callbacks, it's actually not bad!

Seven Spirals ( 4924941 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Interesting. Sorry you had that experience. I'm not sure what you mean by a "multi-line text widget". I can tell you that early versions of OpenMOTIF were very very buggy in my experience. You probably know this, but after OpenMOTIF was completed and revved a few times the original MOTIF code was released as open-source. Many of the bugs I'd been seeing (and some just strange visual artifacts) disappeared. I know a lot of people love QT and it's produced real apps and real results - I won't poo-poo it. How

SuperKendall ( 25149 ) writes:
Design and Evolution of C++ ( Score: 2 )

Even if you don't like C++ much, The Design and Evolution of C++ [amazon.com] is a great book for understanding why pretty much any language ends up the way it does, seeing the tradeoffs and how a language comes to grow and expand from simple roots. It's way more interesting to read than you might expect (not very dry, and more about human interaction than you would expect).

Other than that reading through back posts in a lot of coding blogs that have been around a long time is probably a really good idea.

Also a side re

shanen ( 462549 ) writes:
What about books that hadn't been written yet? ( Score: 2 )

You young whippersnappers don't 'preciate how good you have it!

Back in my day, the only book about programming was the 1401 assembly language manual!

But seriously, folks, it's pretty clear we still don't know shite about how to program properly. We have some fairly clear success criteria for improving the hardware, but the criteria for good software are clear as mud, and the criteria for ways to produce good software are much muddier than that.

Having said that, I will now peruse the thread rather carefully

shanen ( 462549 ) writes:
TMI, especially PII ( Score: 2 )

Couldn't find any mention of Guy Steele, so I'll throw in The New Hacker's Dictionary , which I once owned in dead tree form. Not sure if Version 4.4.7 http://catb.org/jargon/html/ [catb.org] is the latest online... Also remember a couple of his language manuals. Probably used the Common Lisp one the most...

Didn't find any mention of a lot of books that I consider highly relevant, but that may reflect my personal bias towards history. Not really relevant for most programmers.

TMI, but if I open up my database on all t

UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) , Friday February 22, 2019 @03:52PM ( #58165532 )
Programming is about **Effective Communication** ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

I've been programming for the past ~40 years and I'll try to summarize what I believe are the most important bits about programming (pardon the pun.) Think of this as a META: " HOWTO: Be A Great Programmer " summary. (I'll get to the books section in a bit.)

1. All code can be summarized as a trinity of 3 fundamental concepts:

* Linear ; that is, sequence: A, B, C
* Cyclic ; that is, unconditional jumps: A-B-C-goto B
* Choice ; that is, conditional jumps: if A then B

2. ~80% of programming is NOT about code; it is about Effective Communication. Whether that be:

* with your compiler / interpreter / REPL
* with other code (levels of abstraction, level of coupling, separation of concerns, etc.)
* with your boss(es) / manager(s)
* with your colleagues
* with your legal team
* with your QA dept
* with your customer(s)
* with the general public

The other ~20% is effective time management and design. A good programmer knows how to budget their time. Programming is about balancing the three conflicting goals of the Program Management Triangle [wikipedia.org]: You can have it on time, on budget, on quality. Pick two.

3. Stages of a Programmer

There are two old jokes:

In Lisp all code is data. In Haskell all data is code.

And:

Progression of a (Lisp) Programmer:

* The newbie realizes that the difference between code and data is trivial.
* The expert realizes that all code is data.
* The true master realizes that all data is code.

(Attributed to Aristotle Pagaltzis)

The point of these jokes is that as you work with systems you start to realize that a data-driven process can often greatly simplify things.

4. Know Thy Data

Fred Books once wrote

"Show me your flowcharts (source code), and conceal your tables (domain model), and I shall continue to be mystified; show me your tables (domain model) and I won't usually need your flowcharts (source code): they'll be obvious."

A more modern version would read like this:

Show me your code and I'll have to see your data,
Show me your data and I won't have to see your code.

The importance of data can't be understated:

* Optimization STARTS with understanding HOW the data is being generated and used, NOT the code as has been traditionally taught.
* Post 2000 "Big Data" has been called the new oil. We are generating upwards to millions of GB of data every second. Analyzing that data is import to spot trends and potential problems.

5. There are three levels of optimizations. From slowest to fastest run-time:

a) Bit-twiddling hacks [stanford.edu]
b) Algorithmic -- Algorithmic complexity or Analysis of algorithms [wikipedia.org] (such as Big-O notation)
c) Data-Orientated Design [dataorienteddesign.com] -- Understanding how hardware caches such as instruction and data caches matter. Optimize for the common case, NOT the single case that OOP tends to favor.

Optimizing is understanding Bang-for-the-Buck. 80% of code execution is spent in 20% of the time. Speeding up hot-spots with bit twiddling won't be as effective as using a more efficient algorithm which, in turn, won't be as efficient as understanding HOW the data is manipulated in the first place.

6. Fundamental Reading

Since the OP specifically asked about books -- there are lots of great ones. The ones that have impressed me that I would mark as "required" reading:

* The Mythical Man-Month
* Godel, Escher, Bach
* Knuth: The Art of Computer Programming
* The Pragmatic Programmer
* Zero Bugs and Program Faster
* Writing Solid Code / Code Complete by Steve McConnell
* Game Programming Patterns [gameprogra...tterns.com] (*)
* Game Engine Design
* Thinking in Java by Bruce Eckel
* Puzzles for Hackers by Ivan Sklyarov

(*) I did NOT list Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software as that leads to typical, bloated, over-engineered crap. The main problem with "Design Patterns" is that a programmer will often get locked into a mindset of seeing everything as a pattern -- even when a simple few lines of code would solve th eproblem. For example here is 1,100+ of Crap++ code such as Boost's over-engineered CRC code [boost.org] when a mere ~25 lines of SIMPLE C code would have done the trick. When was the last time you ACTUALLY needed to _modify_ a CRC function? The BIG picture is that you are probably looking for a BETTER HASHING function with less collisions. You probably would be better off using a DIFFERENT algorithm such as SHA-2, etc.

7. Do NOT copy-pasta

Roughly 80% of bugs creep in because someone blindly copied-pasted without thinking. Type out ALL code so you actually THINK about what you are writing.

8. K.I.S.S.

Over-engineering and aka technical debt, will be your Achilles' heel. Keep It Simple, Silly.

9. Use DESCRIPTIVE variable names

You spend ~80% of your time READING code, and only ~20% writing it. Use good, descriptive variable names. Far too programmers write usless comments and don't understand the difference between code and comments:

Code says HOW, Comments say WHY

A crap comment will say something like: // increment i

No, Shit Sherlock! Don't comment the obvious!

A good comment will say something like: // BUGFIX: 1234: Work-around issues caused by A, B, and C.

10. Ignoring Memory Management doesn't make it go away -- now you have two problems. (With apologies to JWZ)

TINSTAAFL.

11. Learn Multi-Paradigm programming [wikipedia.org].

If you don't understand both the pros and cons of these programming paradigms ...

* Procedural
* Object-Orientated
* Functional, and
* Data-Orientated Design

... then you will never really understand programming, nor abstraction, at a deep level, along with how and when it should and shouldn't be used.

12. Multi-disciplinary POV

ALL non-trivial code has bugs. If you aren't using static code analysis [wikipedia.org] then you are not catching as many bugs as the people who are.

Also, a good programmer looks at his code from many different angles. As a programmer you must put on many different hats to find them:

* Architect -- design the code
* Engineer / Construction Worker -- implement the code
* Tester -- test the code
* Consumer -- doesn't see the code, only sees the results. Does it even work?? Did you VERIFY it did BEFORE you checked your code into version control?

13. Learn multiple Programming Languages

Each language was designed to solve certain problems. Learning different languages, even ones you hate, will expose you to different concepts. e.g. If you don't how how to read assembly language AND your high level language then you will never be as good as the programmer who does both.

14. Respect your Colleagues' and Consumers Time, Space, and Money.

Mobile game are the WORST at respecting people's time, space and money turning "players into payers." They treat customers as whales. Don't do this. A practical example: If you are a slack channel with 50+ people do NOT use @here. YOUR fire is not their emergency!

15. Be Passionate

If you aren't passionate about programming, that is, you are only doing it for the money, it will show. Take some pride in doing a GOOD job.

16. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

If you aren't programming every day you will never be as good as someone who is. Programming is about solving interesting problems. Practice solving puzzles to develop your intuition and lateral thinking. The more you practice the better you get.

"Sorry" for the book but I felt it was important to summarize the "essentials" of programming.

--
Hey Slashdot. Fix your shitty filter so long lists can be posted.: "Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 37.0)."

raymorris ( 2726007 ) , Friday February 22, 2019 @05:39PM ( #58166230 ) Journal
Shared this with my team ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

You crammed a lot of good ideas into a short post.
I'm sending my team at work a link to your post.

You mentioned code can data. Linus Torvalds had this to say:

"I'm a huge proponent of designing your code around the data, rather than the other way around, and I think it's one of the reasons git has been fairly successful [â¦] I will, in fact, claim that the difference between a bad programmer and a good one is whether he considers his code or his data structures more important."

"Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships."

I'm inclined to agree. Once the data structure is right, the code oftem almost writes itself. It'll be easy to write and easy to read because it's obvious how one would handle data structured in that elegant way.

Writing the code necessary to transform the data from the input format into the right structure can be non-obvious, but it's normally worth it.

[Aug 31, 2019] Slashdot Asks How Did You Learn How To Code - Slashdot

Aug 31, 2019 | ask.slashdot.org

GreatDrok ( 684119 ) , Saturday June 04, 2016 @10:03PM ( #52250917 ) Journal

Programming, not coding ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

i learnt to program at school from a Ph.D computer scientist. We never even had computers in the class. We learnt to break the problem down into sections using flowcharts or pseudo-code and then we would translate that program into whatever coding language we were using. I still do this usually in my notebook where I figure out all the things I need to do and then write the skeleton of the code using a series of comments for what each section of my program and then I fill in the code for each section. It is a combination of top down and bottom up programming, writing routines that can be independently tested and validated.

[Aug 30, 2019] The Ministry of Minority-Worship Gay Rights and Goals of Globohomo by Tobias Langdon

Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

Totalitarian ideologies live by lies and contradiction. For example, the slave-state of North Korea , ruled by a hereditary dictatorship, proclaims itself a Democratic People's Republic when it is neither democratic, popular, nor a republic. In Nineteen Eighty-Four , Orwell wrote of how "the names of the four Ministries by which [the oppressed population is] governed exhibit a sort of impudence in their deliberate reversal of the facts. The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink ."

Defending the death-machine

You could, then, call GCHQ and the NSA part of the Ministry of Morality. While breaking laws against surveillance and trying to destroy freedom of expression and enquiry, they pretend that they're caring, ethical organizations who defend the oppressed and want to build a better world. In fact, of course, GCHQ and the NSA are defending the death-machine of the military-industrial complex , which has been wrecking nations and slaughtering civilians in the Middle East (and elsewhere ) for decades. They're also defending the traitorous Western governments that first import millions of Third-Worlders , then use the resultant crime, terrorism and racial conflict to justify mass surveillance and harsh laws against free speech .


OzzyBonHalen , says: August 29, 2019 at 6:54 am GMT

Quote: Orwell didn't foresee the celebration of homosexuality by totalitarians, but he did explain it.

If you read Anthony Burgess' The Wanting Seed he writes about the roles of gays in dystopia. He also talks about race, two things that Orwell and Huxley didn't. The Wanting Seed is just as important in the world of dystopia as Brave New World or 1984.

Reg Cæsar , says: August 29, 2019 at 7:49 am GMT

one way George Orwell got the future completely wrong

That assumes he was writing about the future. He was mocking the Soviet "justice" system in the recent past. The man was a satirist, after all. How did Stalin's men treat sexual deviation?

... ... ...

Walter , says: August 29, 2019 at 9:40 am GMT
NSA needs to revist their grammar studies. They may benefit from attention to the correct use of commas.

"At NSA, talented individuals of all backgrounds, contribute to something bigger than themselves: national security. #PrideMonth."

The globol-sodomy is one thing, but the torture of grammar! Ye gods!

MarkU , says: August 29, 2019 at 2:03 pm GMT
A few points.

1) The iniquities of the members of one skyfairy cult are not evidence for the virtues of another such organisation and never will be.

2) It seems likely to me that homosexuality is a feature of overpopulation and may be a natural population control mechanism. Experiments have shown that rats kept in overcrowded conditions exhibit homosexual tendencies and also become more violent towards other rats. I doubt that it is purely a coincidence that homosexuality first became notable round about the time that humans started living in cities. Other species have means of controlling their populations, rabbits for example can reabsorb their embryos if the population count is too high, seals can freeze the development of their foetuses etc. I see no rational purpose in demonising homosexuals and I am certainly not going to let the purveyors of ancient superstitious claptrap do my thinking for me. Cue howls of outrage from both skyfairy cultists and from queers (if they are happy to use the word I don't see why I shouldn't)

3) It seems to me that the Zionist bankers have essentially bankrupted the western world in an attempt to bring the rest of the world under their control, they have failed. They are now attempting to mobilise any and all sections of the population that identify as minorities as allies against the majorities in those countries, importing as many more as they can get away with. What sense does it make to reinforce their narrative that it is heterosexual whites v everyone else? because that is exactly what some people are doing. The Zionists are making their following as broad as possible while attempting to narrow ours, why play into their hands? Opposition to immigration for example does not have to be presented as a racial issue, many people here in the UK were opposed to mass immigration from eastern Europe on purely economic grounds, Poles and Lithuanians are not a different race and hardly even a different culture. Do you really think that Blacks and Latinos that have been in the US for generations are uniformly delighted about a new influx of cheap labour? Do you really believe that Muslims are the natural allies of Jews or of homosexuals? If you actually put some thought into the struggle rather than relying on superstitious claptrap and bigotry you might be able to start pushing back.

Liza , says: August 29, 2019 at 3:50 pm GMT
@Bardon Kaldian

So, Western civilization is going to collapse because of a few fairies & fag hags?

Yes, it looks as if it will collapse. Not because the fairies and fag hags are all-powerful, but because we have had it so good & easy for so long that we've gotten weaker than any determined, focused fairy or hag.

Astonished , says: August 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm GMT
@MarkU I agree.

Leftism in general, which I characterize as a mass adoption of a "mental map" (the gross oversimplification of infinite reality people use to navigate their lives) highly estranged from underlying reality, is Nature's "suicide switch" for an organism that has grossly overgrown its ecological niche.

Today people believe palpably unreal things, in incredibly large numbers, with incredibly deep fervor. The poster-child is the belief in the efficacy of magical incantations (statute legislation) to change Actual Reality. If "we" want to end racism (however we define it in the Newspeak Dictionary) then we just pass a law and "pow!" it's gone. (When that doesn't work, we pass another law, and another and another and another, always expecting a different result.)

Ditto the banking (and monetary) system. Money used to be basically a "receipt" for actually having something IN HAND to take to the market and engage in trade. This was the essence of Say's Law, "in order to consume (buy something) you must first produce."

Some clever Machiavellians figured out that if you could "complexify" and obscure the monetary system enough, you could obtain the legal right to create from thin air the ability to enter that market and buy something, which stripped to its essence is the crime of fraud.

Banking has been an open fraud for a very long time, certainly since the era of naked fiat money was introduced in the 1960's. But as long as everyone went along with the gag, and especially once Credit Bubble Funny Money started fueling a debt orgy and rationalizing an asset price mania, everyone thought "we could all get rich."

Today we have vast claims on real wealth (real wealth is productive land, productive plant & equipment and capital you can hold in your hands, so to speak.) But we have uncountable claims on each unit of real capital. The Machiavellians think that they will end up holding title to it all, when the day comes to actually make an honest accounting. I suspect that they lack the political power to pull that off, but only time will tell.

When this long, insane boom is reconciled, a lot of productive capital will turn out to be nothing but vaporware and rusting steel. Entire industries arose to cater to credit-bubble-demand, and when the bubble eventually ceases to inflate, demand in (and the capital applied to) those industries will collapse. How many hospitals do you need when no one has the money to pay for their services, and the tax base has burned to the ground?

Nature's suicide switch.

gwynedd1 , says: August 29, 2019 at 5:36 pm GMT
Simple formula. Liberalism was the defense of the individual against the group.

All one needs to do is a simple substitution. Minorities , environment , animals etc are a means by witch one can make individuals into the institutionalized oppressor. Even better is the so called intersectional mini oppressions which make nearly all victims which in turns makes all guilty. State intervention must increase .Guilty people , as all religions of the world understand, are easily dominated and controlled.

The power the individual is destroyed by its own momentum.

Ris_Eruwaedhiel , says: August 29, 2019 at 10:25 pm GMT
@Digital Samizdat The Bolsheviks first pushed "free love" – easy divorce, abortion and homosexuality. There even was serious discussion about whether or not to abolish marriage. They reversed themselves and by the time WWII broke out, the official culture of the Soviet Union was more socially conservative than that of the US. Even in the 1980s, the Commies were tough on gays, lesbians and druggies.

[Aug 27, 2019] What Is Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... Defensive programming is a method of prevention, rather than a form of cure. Compare this to debugging -- the act of removing bugs after they've bitten. Debugging is all about finding a cure. ..."
"... Defensive programming saves you literally hours of debugging and lets you do more fun stuff instead. Remember Murphy: If your code can be used incorrectly, it will be. ..."
"... Working code that runs properly, but ever-so-slightly slower, is far superior to code that works most of the time but occasionally collapses in a shower of brightly colored sparks ..."
"... Defensive programming avoids a large number of security problems -- a serious issue in modern software development. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | Amazon.com

Originally from: Code Craft The Practice of Writing Excellent Code Pete Goodliffe 0689145711905 Amazon.com Gateway

Okay, defensive programming won't remove program failures altogether. But problems will become less of a hassle and easier to fix. Defensive programmers catch falling snowflakes rather than get buried under an avalanche of errors.

Defensive programming is a method of prevention, rather than a form of cure. Compare this to debugging -- the act of removing bugs after they've bitten. Debugging is all about finding a cure.

WHAT DEFENSIVE PROGRAMMING ISN'T

There are a few common misconceptions about defensive programming . Defensive programming is not:

Error checking
If there are error conditions that might arise in your code, you should be checking for them anyway. This is not defensive code. It's just plain good practice -- a part of writing correct code.
Testing
Testing your code is not defensive . It's another normal part of our development work. Test harnesses aren't defensive ; they can prove the code is correct now, but won't prove that it will stand up to future modification. Even with the best test suite in the world, anyone can make a change and slip it past untested.
Debugging
You might add some defensive code during a spell of debugging, but debugging is something you do after your program has failed. Defensive programming is something you do to prevent your program from failing in the first place (or to detect failures early before they manifest in incomprehensible ways, demanding all-night debugging sessions).

Is defensive programming really worth the hassle? There are arguments for and against:

The case against
Defensive programming consumes resources, both yours and the computer's.
  • It eats into the efficiency of your code; even a little extra code requires a little extra execution. For a single function or class, this might not matter, but when you have a system made up of 100,000 functions, you may have more of a problem.
  • Each defensive practice requires some extra work. Why should you follow any of them? You have enough to do already, right? Just make sure people use your code correctly. If they don't, then any problems are their own fault.
The case for
The counterargument is compelling.
  • Defensive programming saves you literally hours of debugging and lets you do more fun stuff instead. Remember Murphy: If your code can be used incorrectly, it will be.
  • Working code that runs properly, but ever-so-slightly slower, is far superior to code that works most of the time but occasionally collapses in a shower of brightly colored sparks.
  • We can design some defensive code to be physically removed in release builds, circumventing the performance issue. The majority of the items we'll consider here don't have any significant overhead, anyway.
  • Defensive programming avoids a large number of security problems -- a serious issue in modern software development. More on this follows.

As the market demands software that's built faster and cheaper, we need to focus on techniques that deliver results. Don't skip the bit of extra work up front that will prevent a whole world of pain and delay later.

[Aug 26, 2019] Example of correctable error

Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Good Habits for Great Coding Improving Programming Skills with Examples in Python Michael Stueben 9781484234587 Amazon.com

There is one danger to defensive coding: It can bury errors. Consider the following code:

def drawLine(m, b, image, start = 0, stop = WIDTH):
    step = 1
    start = int(start)
    stop =  int(stop)
    if stop-start < 0:
       step = -1
       print('WARNING: drawLine parameters were reversed.')
    for x in range(start, stop, step):
        index = int(m*x + b) * WIDTH + x
        if 0 <= index < len(image):
           image[index] = 255 # Poke in a white (= 255) pixel.

This function runs from start to stop . If stop is less than start , it just steps backward and no error is reported .

Maybe we want this kind of error to be "fixed " during the run -- buried -- but I think we should at least print a warning that the range is coming in backwards. Maybe we should abort the program .

[Aug 26, 2019] Being Defensive About Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... Code installed for defensive programming is not immune to defects, and you're just as likely to find a defect in defensive-programming code as in any other code -- more likely, if you write the code casually. Think about where you need to be defensive , and set your defensive-programming priorities accordingly. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Code Complete, Second Edition II. Creating High-Quality Code

8.3. Error-Handling Techniques

Too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is just enough. -- Mark Twain

Too much defensive programming creates problems of its own. If you check data passed as parameters in every conceivable way in every conceivable place, your program will be fat and slow.

What's worse, the additional code needed for defensive programming adds complexity to the software.

Code installed for defensive programming is not immune to defects, and you're just as likely to find a defect in defensive-programming code as in any other code -- more likely, if you write the code casually. Think about where you need to be defensive , and set your defensive-programming priorities accordingly.

Defensive Programming

General

Exceptions

Security Issues

[Aug 26, 2019] Creating High-Quality Code

Assertions as special statement is questionable approach unless there is a switch to exclude them from the code. Other then that BASH exit with condition or Perl die can serve equally well.
The main question here is which assertions should be in code only for debugging and which should be in production.
Notable quotes:
"... That an input parameter's value falls within its expected range (or an output parameter's value does) ..."
"... Many languages have built-in support for assertions, including C++, Java, and Microsoft Visual Basic. If your language doesn't directly support assertion routines, they are easy to write. The standard C++ assert macro doesn't provide for text messages. Here's an example of an improved ASSERT implemented as a C++ macro: ..."
"... Use assertions to document and verify preconditions and postconditions. Preconditions and postconditions are part of an approach to program design and development known as "design by contract" (Meyer 1997). When preconditions and postconditions are used, each routine or class forms a contract with the rest of the program . ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Code Complete A Practical Handbook of Software Construction, Second Edition Steve McConnell 0790145196705 Amazon.com Books

Assertions

An assertion is code that's used during development -- usually a routine or macro -- that allows a program to check itself as it runs. When an assertion is true, that means everything is operating as expected. When it's false, that means it has detected an unexpected error in the code. For example, if the system assumes that a customerinformation file will never have more than 50,000 records, the program might contain an assertion that the number of records is less than or equal to 50,000. As long as the number of records is less than or equal to 50,000, the assertion will be silent. If it encounters more than 50,000 records, however, it will loudly "assert" that an error is in the program .

Assertions are especially useful in large, complicated programs and in high-reliability programs . They enable programmers to more quickly flush out mismatched interface assumptions, errors that creep in when code is modified, and so on.

An assertion usually takes two arguments: a boolean expression that describes the assumption that's supposed to be true, and a message to display if it isn't. Here's what a Java assertion would look like if the variable denominator were expected to be nonzero:

Example 8-1. Java Example of an Assertion

assert denominator != 0 : "denominator is unexpectedly equal to 0.";

This assertion asserts that denominator is not equal to 0 . The first argument, denominator != 0 , is a boolean expression that evaluates to true or false . The second argument is a message to print if the first argument is false -- that is, if the assertion is false.

Use assertions to document assumptions made in the code and to flush out unexpected conditions. Assertions can be used to check assumptions like these:

Of course, these are just the basics, and your own routines will contain many more specific assumptions that you can document using assertions.

Normally, you don't want users to see assertion messages in production code; assertions are primarily for use during development and maintenance. Assertions are normally compiled into the code at development time and compiled out of the code for production. During development, assertions flush out contradictory assumptions, unexpected conditions, bad values passed to routines, and so on. During production, they can be compiled out of the code so that the assertions don't degrade system performance.

Building Your Own Assertion Mechanism

Many languages have built-in support for assertions, including C++, Java, and Microsoft Visual Basic. If your language doesn't directly support assertion routines, they are easy to write. The standard C++ assert macro doesn't provide for text messages. Here's an example of an improved ASSERT implemented as a C++ macro:

Cross-Reference

Building your own assertion routine is a good example of programming "into" a language rather than just programming "in" a language. For more details on this distinction, see Program into Your Language, Not in It .

Example 8-2. C++ Example of an Assertion Macro

#define ASSERT( condition, message ) {       \
   if ( !(condition) ) {                     \
      LogError( "Assertion failed: ",        \
          #condition, message );             \
      exit( EXIT_FAILURE );                  \
   }                                         \
}

Guidelines for Using Assertions

Here are some guidelines for using assertions:

Use error-handling code for conditions you expect to occur; use assertions for conditions that should. never occur Assertions check for conditions that should never occur. Error-handling code checks for off-nominal circumstances that might not occur very often, but that have been anticipated by the programmer who wrote the code and that need to be handled by the production code. Error handling typically checks for bad input data; assertions check for bugs in the code.

If error-handling code is used to address an anomalous condition, the error handling will enable the program to respond to the error gracefully. If an assertion is fired for an anomalous condition, the corrective action is not merely to handle an error gracefully -- the corrective action is to change the program's source code, recompile, and release a new version of the software.

A good way to think of assertions is as executable documentation -- you can't rely on them to make the code work, but they can document assumptions more actively than program -language comments can.

Avoid putting executable code into assertions. Putting code into an assertion raises the possibility that the compiler will eliminate the code when you turn off the assertions. Suppose you have an assertion like this:

Example 8-3. Visual Basic Example of a Dangerous Use of an Assertion

Debug.Assert( PerformAction() ) ' Couldn't perform action

Cross-Reference

You could view this as one of many problems associated with putting multiple statements on one line. For more examples, see " Using Only One Statement Per Line " in Laying Out Individual Statements .

The problem with this code is that, if you don't compile the assertions, you don't compile the code that performs the action. Put executable statements on their own lines, assign the results to status variables, and test the status variables instead. Here's an example of a safe use of an assertion:

Example 8-4. Visual Basic Example of a Safe Use of an Assertion

actionPerformed = PerformAction()
Debug.Assert( actionPerformed ) ' Couldn't perform action

Use assertions to document and verify preconditions and postconditions. Preconditions and postconditions are part of an approach to program design and development known as "design by contract" (Meyer 1997). When preconditions and postconditions are used, each routine or class forms a contract with the rest of the program .

Further Reading

For much more on preconditions and postconditions, see Object-Oriented Software Construction (Meyer 1997).

Preconditions are the properties that the client code of a routine or class promises will be true before it calls the routine or instantiates the object. Preconditions are the client code's obligations to the code it calls.

Postconditions are the properties that the routine or class promises will be true when it concludes executing. Postconditions are the routine's or class's obligations to the code that uses it.

Assertions are a useful tool for documenting preconditions and postconditions. Comments could be used to document preconditions and postconditions, but, unlike comments, assertions can check dynamically whether the preconditions and postconditions are true.

In the following example, assertions are used to document the preconditions and postcondition of the Velocity routine.

Example 8-5. Visual Basic Example of Using Assertions to Document Preconditions and Postconditions

Private Function Velocity ( _
   ByVal latitude As Single, _
   ByVal longitude As Single, _
   ByVal elevation As Single _
   ) As Single

   ' Preconditions
   Debug.Assert ( -90 <= latitude And latitude <= 90 )
   Debug.Assert ( 0 <= longitude And longitude < 360 )
   Debug.Assert ( -500 <= elevation And elevation <= 75000 )
   ...
   ' Postconditions Debug.Assert ( 0 <= returnVelocity And returnVelocity <= 600 )

   ' return value
   Velocity = returnVelocity
End Function

If the variables latitude , longitude , and elevation were coming from an external source, invalid values should be checked and handled by error-handling code rather than by assertions. If the variables are coming from a trusted, internal source, however, and the routine's design is based on the assumption that these values will be within their valid ranges, then assertions are appropriate.

For highly robust code, assert and then handle the error anyway. For any given error condition, a routine will generally use either an assertion or error-handling code, but not both. Some experts argue that only one kind is needed (Meyer 1997).

Cross-Reference

For more on robustness, see " Robustness vs. Correctness " in Error-Handling Techniques , later in this chapter.

But real-world programs and projects tend to be too messy to rely solely on assertions. On a large, long-lasting system, different parts might be designed by different designers over a period of 5–10 years or more. The designers will be separated in time, across numerous versions. Their designs will focus on different technologies at different points in the system's development. The designers will be separated geographically, especially if parts of the system are acquired from external sources. Programmers will have worked to different coding standards at different points in the system's lifetime. On a large development team, some programmers will inevitably be more conscientious than others and some parts of the code will be reviewed more rigorously than other parts of the code. Some programmers will unit test their code more thoroughly than others. With test teams working across different geographic regions and subject to business pressures that result in test coverage that varies with each release, you can't count on comprehensive, system-level regression testing, either.

In such circumstances, both assertions and error-handling code might be used to address the same error. In the source code for Microsoft Word, for example, conditions that should always be true are asserted, but such errors are also handled by error-handling code in case the assertion fails. For extremely large, complex, long-lived applications like Word, assertions are valuable because they help to flush out as many development-time errors as possible. But the application is so complex (millions of lines of code) and has gone through so many generations of modification that it isn't realistic to assume that every conceivable error will be detected and corrected before the software ships, and so errors must be handled in the production version of the system as well.

Here's an example of how that might work in the Velocity example:

Example 8-6. Visual Basic Example of Using Assertions to Document Preconditions and Postconditions

Private Function Velocity ( _
   ByRef latitude As Single, _
   ByRef longitude As Single, _
   ByRef elevation As Single _
   ) As Single

   ' Preconditions
   Debug.Assert ( -90 <= latitude And latitude <= 90 )       <-- 1
   Debug.Assert ( 0 <= longitude And longitude < 360 )         |
   Debug.Assert ( -500 <= elevation And elevation <= 75000 )       <-- 1
   ...

   ' Sanitize input data. Values should be within the ranges asserted above,
   ' but if a value is not within its valid range, it will be changed to the
   ' closest legal value
   If ( latitude < -90 ) Then       <-- 2
      latitude = -90                  |
   ElseIf ( latitude > 90 ) Then      |
      latitude = 90                   |
   End If                             |
   If ( longitude < 0 ) Then          |
      longitude = 0                   |
   ElseIf ( longitude > 360 ) Then       <-- 2
   ...

(1) Here is assertion code.

(2) Here is the code that handles bad input data at run time.

[Aug 26, 2019] Defensive Programming in C++

Notable quotes:
"... Defensive programming means always checking whether an operation succeeded. ..."
"... Exceptional usually means out of the ordinary and unusually good, but when it comes to errors, the word has a more negative meaning. The system throws an exception when some error condition happens, and if you don't catch that exception, it will give you a dialog box that says something like "your program has caused an error -- –goodbye." ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Amazon.com C++ by Example UnderC Learning Edition (0029236726768) Steve Donovan Gateway

There are five desirable properties of good programs : They should be robust, correct, maintainable, friendly, and efficient. Obviously, these properties can be prioritized in different orders, but generally, efficiency is less important than correctness; it is nearly always possible to optimize a well-designed program , whereas badly written "lean and mean" code is often a disaster. (Donald Knuth, the algorithms guru, says that "premature optimization is the root of all evil.")

Here I am mostly talking about programs that have to be used by non-expert users. (You can forgive programs you write for your own purposes when they behave badly: For example, many scientific number-crunching programs are like bad-tempered sports cars.) Being unbreakable is important for programs to be acceptable to users, and you, therefore, need to be a little paranoid and not assume that everything is going to work according to plan. ' Defensive programming ' means writing programs that cope with all common errors. It means things like not assuming that a file exists, or not assuming that you can write to any file (think of a CD-ROM), or always checking for divide by zero.

In the next few sections I want to show you how to 'bullet-proof' programs . First, there is a silly example to illustrate the traditional approach (check everything), and then I will introduce exception handling.

Bullet-Proofing Programs

Say you have to teach a computer to wash its hair. The problem, of course, is that computers have no common sense about these matters: "Lather, rinse, repeat" would certainly lead to a house flooded with bubbles. So you divide the operation into simpler tasks, which return true or false, and check the result of each task before going on to the next one. For example, you can't begin to wash your hair if you can't get the top off the shampoo bottle.

Defensive programming means always checking whether an operation succeeded. So the following code is full of if-else statements, and if you were trying to do something more complicated than wash hair, the code would rapidly become very ugly indeed (and the code would soon scroll off the page):


Code View: Scroll / Show All
void wash_hair()
{
  string msg = "";
  if (! find_shampoo() || ! open_shampoo()) msg = "no shampoo";
  else {
    if (! wet_hair()) msg = "no water!";
    else {
      if (! apply_shampoo()) msg = "shampoo application error";
      else {
        for(int i = 0; i < 2; i++)  // repeat twice
          if (! lather() || ! rinse()) {
                msg = "no hands!";
                break;  // break out of the loop
          }
          if (! dry_hair())  msg = "no towel!";
      }
    }
  }
  if (msg != "") cerr << "Hair error: " << msg << endl;
  // clean up after washing hair
  put_away_towel();
  put_away_shampoo();
}                                        

Part of the hair-washing process is to clean up afterward (as anybody who has a roommate soon learns). This would be a problem for the following code, now assuming that wash_hair() returns a string:

string wash_hair()
{
 ...
  if (! wet_hair()) return "no water!"
  if (! Apply_shampoo()) return "application error!";
...
}

You would need another function to call this wash_hair() , write out the message (if the operation failed), and do the cleanup. This would still be an improvement over the first wash_hair() because the code doesn't have all those nested blocks.

NOTE

Some people disapprove of returning from a function from more than one place, but this is left over from the days when cleanup had to be done manually. C++ guarantees that any object is properly cleaned up, no matter from where you return (for instance, any open file objects are automatically closed). Besides, C++ exception handling works much like a return , except that it can occur from many functions deep. The following section describes this and explains why it makes error checking easier.
Catching Exceptions

An alternative to constantly checking for errors is to let the problem (for example, division by zero, access violation) occur and then use the C++ exception-handling mechanism to gracefully recover from the problem.

Exceptional usually means out of the ordinary and unusually good, but when it comes to errors, the word has a more negative meaning. The system throws an exception when some error condition happens, and if you don't catch that exception, it will give you a dialog box that says something like "your program has caused an error -- –goodbye."

You should avoid doing that to your users -- at the very least you should give them a more reassuring and polite message.

If an exception occurs in a try block, the system tries to match the exception with one (or more) catch blocks.

try {  // your code goes inside this block
  ... problem happens - system throws exception
}
catch(Exception) {  // exception caught here
  ... handle the problem
}

It is an error to have a try without a catch and vice versa. The ON ERROR clause in Visual Basic achieves a similar goal, as do signals in C; they allow you to jump out of trouble to a place where you can deal with the problem. The example is a function div() , which does integer division. Instead of checking whether the divisor is zero, this code lets the division by zero happen but catches the exception. Any code within the try block can safely do integer division, without having to worry about the problem. I've also defined a function bad_div() that does not catch the exception, which will give a system error message when called:

int div(int i, int j)
{
 int k = 0;
 try {
   k = i/j;
   cout << "successful value " << k << endl;
 }
 catch(IntDivideByZero) {
   cout << "divide by zero\n";
 }
 return k;
}
;> int bad_div(int i,int j) {  return i/j; }
;> bad_div(10,0);
integer division by zero <main> (2)
;> div(2,1);
successful value 1
(int) 1
;> div(1,0);
divide by zero
(int) 0

This example is not how you would normally organize things. A lowly function like div() should not have to decide how an error should be handled; its job is to do a straightforward calculation. Generally, it is not a good idea to directly output error information to cout or cerr because Windows graphical user interface programs typically don't do that kind of output. Fortunately, any function call, made from within a try block, that throws an exception will have that exception caught by the catch block. The following is a little program that calls the (trivial) div() function repeatedly but catches any divide-by-zero errors:

// div.cpp
#include <iostream>
#include <uc_except.h>
using namespace std;

int div(int i, int j)
{  return i/j;   }

int main() {
 int i,j,k;
 cout << "Enter 0 0 to exit\n";
 for(;;) { // loop forever
   try {
     cout << "Give two numbers: ";
     cin >> i >> j;
     if (i == 0 && j == 0) return 0; // exit program!
     int k = div(i,j);
     cout << "i/j = " << k << endl;
   }  catch(IntDivideByZero) {
     cout << "divide by zero\n";
   }
  }
  return 0;
}

Notice two crucial things about this example: First, the error-handling code appears as a separate exceptional case, and second, the program does not crash due to divide-by-zero errors (instead, it politely tells the user about the problem and keeps going).

Note the inclusion of <uc_except.h> , which is a nonstandard extension specific to UnderC. The ISO standard does not specify any hardware error exceptions, mostly because not all platforms support them, and a standard has to work everywhere. So IntDivideByZero is not available on all systems. (I have included some library code that implements these hardware exceptions for GCC and BCC32; please see the Appendix for more details.)

How do you catch more than one kind of error? There may be more than one catch block after the try block, and the runtime system looks for the best match. In some ways, a catch block is like a function definition; you supply an argument, and you can name a parameter that should be passed as a reference. For example, in the following code, whatever do_something() does, catch_all_errors() catches it -- specifically a divide-by-zero error -- and it catches any other exceptions as well:

void catch_all_errors()
{
  try {
    do_something();
  }
  catch(IntDivideByZero) {
    cerr << "divide by zero\n";
  }
  catch(HardWareException& e) {
    cerr << "runtime error: " << e.what() << endl;
  }
  catch(Exception& e) {
    cerr << "other error " << e.what() << endl;
  }
}

The standard exceptions have a what() method, which gives more information about them. Order is important here. Exception includes HardwareException , so putting Exception first would catch just about everything. When an exception is thrown, the system picks the first catch block that would match that exception. The rule is to put the catch blocks in order of increasing generality.

Throwing Exceptions

You can throw your own exceptions, which can be of any type, including C++ strings. (In Chapter 8 , "Inheritance and Virtual Methods," you will see how you can create a hierarchy of errors, but for now, strings and integers will do fine.) It is a good idea to write an error-generating function fail() , which allows you to add extra error-tracking features later. The following example returns to the hair-washing algorithm and is even more paranoid about possible problems:

void fail(string msg)
{
  throw msg;
}

void wash_hair()
{
  try {
    if (! find_shampoo()) fail("no shampoo");
    if (! open_shampoo()) fail("can't open shampoo");
    if (! wet_hair())     fail("no water!");
    if (! apply_shampoo())fail("shampoo application error");
    for(int i = 0; i < 2; i++)  // repeat twice
      if (! lather() || ! rinse()) fail("no hands!");
    if (! dry_hair())     fail("no towel!");
  }
  catch(string err) {
    cerr << "Known Hair washing failure: " << err << endl;
  }
  catch(...) {
    cerr << "Catastropic failure\n";
  }
  // clean up after washing hair
  put_away_towel();
  put_away_shampoo();
}

In this example, the general logic is clear, and the cleanup code is always run, whatever disaster happens. This example includes a catch-all catch block at the end. It is a good idea to put one of these in your program's main() function so that it can deliver a more polite message than "illegal instruction." But because you will then have no information about what caused the problem, it's a good idea to cover a number of known cases first. Such a catch-all must be the last catch block; otherwise, it will mask more specific errors.

It is also possible to use a trick that Perl programmers use: If the fail() function returns a bool , then the following expression is valid C++ and does exactly what you want:

dry_hair() || fail("no towel");
lather() && rinse() || fail("no hands!");

If dry_hair() returns true, the or expression must be true, and there's no need to evaluate the second term. Conversely, if dry_hair() returns false, the fail() function would be evaluated and the side effect would be to throw an exception. This short-circuiting of Boolean expressions applies also to && and is guaranteed by the C++ standard.

[Aug 26, 2019] The Eight Defensive Programmer Strategies

Notable quotes:
"... Never Trust Input. Never trust the data you're given and always validate it. ..."
"... Prevent Errors. If an error is possible, no matter how probable, try to prevent it. ..."
"... Document Assumptions Clearly state the pre-conditions, post-conditions, and invariants. ..."
"... Automate everything, especially testing. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Learn C the Hard Way Practical Exercises on the Computational Subjects You Keep Avoiding (Like C) by Zed Shaw

Once you've adopted this mind-set, you can then rewrite your prototype and follow a set of eight strategies to make your code as solid as possible.

While I work on the real version, I ruthlessly follow these strategies and try to remove as many errors as I can, thinking like someone who wants to break the software.

  1. Never Trust Input. Never trust the data you're given and always validate it.
  2. Prevent Errors. If an error is possible, no matter how probable, try to prevent it.
  3. Fail Early and Openly Fail early, cleanly, and openly, stating what happened, where, and how to fix it.
  4. Document Assumptions Clearly state the pre-conditions, post-conditions, and invariants.
  5. Prevention over Documentation. Don't do with documentation that which can be done with code or avoided completely.
  6. Automate Everything Automate everything, especially testing.
  7. Simplify and Clarify Always simplify the code to the smallest, cleanest form that works without sacrificing safety.
  8. Question Authority Don't blindly follow or reject rules.

These aren't the only strategies, but they're the core things I feel programmers have to focus on when trying to make good, solid code. Notice that I don't really say exactly how to do these. I'll go into each of these in more detail, and some of the exercises will actually cover them extensively.

[Aug 26, 2019] Clean Code in Python General Traits of Good Code

Notable quotes:
"... Different responsibilities should go into different components, layers, or modules of the application. Each part of the program should only be responsible for a part of the functionality (what we call its concerns) and should know nothing about the rest. ..."
"... The goal of separating concerns in software is to enhance maintainability by minimizing ripple effects. A ripple effect means the propagation of a change in the software from a starting point. This could be the case of an error or exception triggering a chain of other exceptions, causing failures that will result in a defect on a remote part of the application. It can also be that we have to change a lot of code scattered through multiple parts of the code base, as a result of a simple change in a function definition. ..."
"... Rule of thumb: Well-defined software will achieve high cohesion and low coupling. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Separation of concerns

This is a design principle that is applied at multiple levels. It is not just about the low-level design (code), but it is also relevant at a higher level of abstraction, so it will come up later when we talk about architecture.

Different responsibilities should go into different components, layers, or modules of the application. Each part of the program should only be responsible for a part of the functionality (what we call its concerns) and should know nothing about the rest.

The goal of separating concerns in software is to enhance maintainability by minimizing ripple effects. A ripple effect means the propagation of a change in the software from a starting point. This could be the case of an error or exception triggering a chain of other exceptions, causing failures that will result in a defect on a remote part of the application. It can also be that we have to change a lot of code scattered through multiple parts of the code base, as a result of a simple change in a function definition.

Clearly, we do not want these scenarios to happen. The software has to be easy to change. If we have to modify or refactor some part of the code that has to have a minimal impact on the rest of the application, the way to achieve this is through proper encapsulation.

In a similar way, we want any potential errors to be contained so that they don't cause major damage.

This concept is related to the DbC principle in the sense that each concern can be enforced by a contract. When a contract is violated, and an exception is raised as a result of such a violation, we know what part of the program has the failure, and what responsibilities failed to be met.

Despite this similarity, separation of concerns goes further. We normally think of contracts between functions, methods, or classes, and while this also applies to responsibilities that have to be separated, the idea of separation of concerns also applies to Python modules, packages, and basically any software component. Cohesion and coupling

These are important concepts for good software design.

On the one hand, cohesion means that objects should have a small and well-defined purpose, and they should do as little as possible. It follows a similar philosophy as Unix commands that do only one thing and do it well. The more cohesive our objects are, the more useful and reusable they become, making our design better.

On the other hand, coupling refers to the idea of how two or more objects depend on each other. This dependency poses a limitation. If two parts of the code (objects or methods) are too dependent on each other, they bring with them some undesired consequences:

Rule of thumb: Well-defined software will achieve high cohesion and low coupling.

[Aug 26, 2019] Software Development and Professional Practice by John Dooley

Notable quotes:
"... Did the read operation return anything? ..."
"... Did the write operation write anything? ..."
"... Check all values in function/method parameter lists. ..."
"... Are they all the correct type and size? ..."
"... You should always initialize variables and not depend on the system to do the initialization for you. ..."
"... taking the time to make your code readable and have the code layout match the logical structure of your design is essential to writing code that is understandable by humans and that works. Adhering to coding standards and conventions, keeping to a consistent style, and including good, accurate comments will help you immensely during debugging and testing. And it will help you six months from now when you come back and try to figure out what the heck you were thinking here. ..."
Jul 15, 2011 | www.amazon.com
Defensive Programming

By defensive programming we mean that your code should protect itself from bad data. The bad data can come from user input via the command line, a graphical text box or form, or a file. Bad data can also come from other routines in your program via input parameters like in the first example above.

How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following

What else should you check for? Well, here's a short list:

As an example, here's a C program that takes in a list of house prices from a file and computes the average house price from the list. The file is provided to the program from the command line.

/*
* program to compute the average selling price of a set of homes.
* Input comes from a file that is passed via the command line.

* Output is the Total and Average sale prices for
* all the homes and the number of prices in the file.
*
* jfdooley
*/
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
FILE *fp;
double totalPrice, avgPrice;
double price;
int numPrices;

/* check that the user entered the correct number of args */
if (argc < 2) {
fprintf(stderr,"Usage: %s <filename>\n", argv[0]);
exit(1);
}

/* try to open the input file */
fp = fopen(argv[1], "r");
if (fp == NULL) {
fprintf(stderr, "File Not Found: %s\n", argv[1]);
exit(1);
}
totalPrice = 0.0;
numPrices = 0;

while (!feof(fp)) {
fscanf(fp, "%10lf\n", &price);
totalPrice += price;
numPrices++;
}

avgPrice = totalPrice / numPrices;
printf("Number of houses is %d\n", numPrices);
printf("Total Price of all houses is $%10.2f\n", totalPrice);
printf("Average Price per house is $%10.2f\n", avgPrice);

return 0;
}

Assertions Can Be Your Friend

Defensive programming means that using assertions is a great idea if your language supports them. Java, C99, and C++ all support assertions. Assertions will test an expression that you give them and if the expression is false, it will throw an error and normally abort the program . You should use error handling code for errors you think might happen – erroneous user input, for example – and use assertions for errors that should never happen – off by one errors in loops, for example. Assertions are great for testing

your program , but because you should remove them before giving programs to customers (you don't want the program to abort on the user, right?) they aren't good to use to validate input data.

Exceptions and Error Handling

We've talked about using assertions to handle truly bad errors, ones that should never occur in production. But what about handling "normal" errors? Part of defensive programming is to handle errors in such a way that no damage is done to any data in the program or the files it uses, and so that the program stays running for as long as possible (making your program robust).

Let's look at exceptions first. You should take advantage of built-in exception handling in whatever programming language you're using. The exception handling mechanism will give you information about what bad thing has just happened. It's then up to you to decide what to do. Normally in an exception handling mechanism you have two choices, handle the exception yourself, or pass it along to whoever called you and let them handle it. What you do and how you do it depends on the language you're using and the capabilities it gives you. We'll talk about exception handling in Java later.

Error Handling

Just like with validation, you're most likely to encounter errors in input data, whether it's command line input, file handling, or input from a graphical user interface form. Here we're talking about errors that occur at run time. Compile time and testing errors are covered in the next chapter on debugging and testing. Other types of errors can be data that your program computes incorrectly, errors in other programs that interact with your program , the operating system for instance, race conditions, and interaction errors where your program is communicating with another and your program is at fault.

The main purpose of error handling is to have your program survive and run correctly for as long as possible. When it gets to a point where your program cannot continue, it needs to report what is wrong as best as it can and then exit gracefully. Exiting is the last resort for error handling. So what should you do? Well, once again we come to the "it depends" answer. What you should do depends on what your program's context is when the error occurs and what its purpose is. You won't handle an error in a video game the same way you handle one in a cardiac pacemaker. In every case, your first goal should be – try to recover.

Trying to recover from an error will have different meanings in different programs . Recovery means that your program needs to try to either ignore the bad data, fix it, or substitute something else that is valid for the bad data. See McConnell 8 for a further discussion of error handling. Here are a few examples of how to recover from errors,

__________

8 McConnell, 2004.

Exceptions in Java

Some programming languages have built-in error reporting systems that will tell you when an error occurs, and leave it up to you to handle it one way or another. These errors that would normally cause your program to die a horrible death are called exceptions . Exceptions get thrown by the code that encounters the error. Once something is thrown, it's usually a good idea if someone catches it. This is the same with exceptions. So there are two sides to exceptions that you need to be aware of when you're writing code:

Java has three different types of exceptions – checked exceptions, errors, and unchecked exceptions. Checked exceptions are those that you should catch and handle yourself using an exception handler; they are exceptions that you should anticipate and handle as you design and write your code. For example, if your code asks a user for a file name, you should anticipate that they will type it wrong and be prepared to catch the resulting FileNotFoundException . Checked exceptions must be caught.

Errors on the other hand are exceptions that usually are related to things happening outside your program and are things you can't do anything about except fail gracefully. You might try to catch the error exception and provide some output for the user, but you will still usually have to exit.

The third type of exception is the runtime exception . Runtime exceptions all result from problems within your program that occur as it runs and almost always indicate errors in your code. For example, a NullPointerException nearly always indicates a bug in your code and shows up as a runtime exception. Errors and runtime exceptions are collectively called unchecked exceptions (that would be because you usually don't try to catch them, so they're unchecked). In the program below we deliberately cause a runtime exception:

public class TestNull {
public static void main(String[] args) {
String str = null;
int len = str.length();
}
}

This program will compile just fine, but when you run it you'll get this as output:


Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NullPointerException

at TestNull.main(TestNull.java:4)


This is a classic runtime exception. There's no need to catch this exception because the only thing we can do is exit. If we do catch it, the program might look like:

public class TestNullCatch {
public static void main(String[] args) {
String str = null;

try {
int len = str.length();
} catch (NullPointerException e) {
System.out.println("Oops: " + e.getMessage());
System.exit(1);
}
}
}

which gives us the output


Oops: null

Note that the getMessage() method will return a String containing whatever error message Java deems appropriate – if there is one. Otherwise it returns a null . This is somewhat less helpful than the default stack trace above.

Let's rewrite the short C program above in Java and illustrate how to catch a checked exception .

import java.io.*;
import java.util.*;

public class FileTest

public static void main(String [] args)
{
File fd = new File("NotAFile.txt");
System.out.println("File exists " + fd.exists());

try {
FileReader fr = new FileReader(fd);
} catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
System.out.println(e.getMessage());
}
}
}

and the output we get when we execute FileTest is


File exists false

NotAFile.txt (No such file or directory)


By the way, if we don't use the try-catch block in the above program , then it won't compile. We get the compiler error message


FileTestWrong.java:11: unreported exception java.io.FileNotFoundException; must be caught or declared to be thrown

FileReader fr = new FileReader(fd);


^
1 error

Remember, checked exceptions must be caught. This type of error doesn't show up for unchecked exceptions. This is far from everything you should know about exceptions and exception handling in Java; start digging through the Java tutorials and the Java API!

The Last Word on Coding

Coding is the heart of software development. Code is what you produce. But coding is hard; translating even a good, detailed design into code takes a lot of thought, experience, and knowledge, even for small programs . Depending on the programming language you are using and the target system, programming can be a very time-consuming and difficult task.

That's why taking the time to make your code readable and have the code layout match the logical structure of your design is essential to writing code that is understandable by humans and that works. Adhering to coding standards and conventions, keeping to a consistent style, and including good, accurate comments will help you immensely during debugging and testing. And it will help you six months from now when you come back and try to figure out what the heck you were thinking here.

And finally,

I am rarely happier than when spending an entire day programming my computer to perform automatically a task that it would otherwise take me a good ten seconds to do by hand.

-- Douglas Adams, "Last Chance to See"

[Aug 26, 2019] Defensive Programming

Notable quotes:
"... How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following ..."
"... Check the number and type of command line arguments. ..."
Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Originally from: Software Development and Professional Practice (Expert's Voice in Software Development) John Dooley 9781430238010 Amazon.com

By defensive programming we mean that your code should protect itself from bad data. The bad data can come from user input via the command line, a graphical text box or form, or a file. Bad data can also come from other routines in your program via input parameters like in the first example above.

How do you protect your program from bad data? Validate! As tedious as it sounds, you should always check the validity of data that you receive from outside your routine. This means you should check the following

What else should you check for? Well, here's a short list:

As an example, here's a C program that takes in a list of house prices from a file and computes the average house price from the list. The file is provided to the program from the command line.

/*
* program to compute the average selling price of a set of homes.
* Input comes from a file that is passed via the command line.

* Output is the Total and Average sale prices for
* all the homes and the number of prices in the file.
*
* jfdooley
*/
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
FILE *fp;
double totalPrice, avgPrice;
double price;
int numPrices;

/* check that the user entered the correct number of args */
if (argc < 2) {
fprintf(stderr,"Usage: %s <filename>\n", argv[0]);
exit(1);
}

/* try to open the input file */
fp = fopen(argv[1], "r");
if (fp == NULL) {
fprintf(stderr, "File Not Found: %s\n", argv[1]);
exit(1);
}
totalPrice = 0.0;
numPrices = 0;

while (!feof(fp)) {
fscanf(fp, "%10lf\n", &price);
totalPrice += price;
numPrices++;
}

avgPrice = totalPrice / numPrices;
printf("Number of houses is %d\n", numPrices);
printf("Total Price of all houses is $%10.2f\n", totalPrice);
printf("Average Price per house is $%10.2f\n", avgPrice);

return 0;
}

Assertions Can Be Your Friend

Defensive programming means that using assertions is a great idea if your language supports them. Java, C99, and C++ all support assertions. Assertions will test an expression that you give them and if the expression is false, it will throw an error and normally abort the program . You should use error handling code for errors you think might happen – erroneous user input, for example – and use assertions for errors that should never happen – off by one errors in loops, for example. Assertions are great for testing

your program , but because you should remove them before giving programs to customers (you don't want the program to abort on the user, right?) they aren't good to use to validate input data.

Exceptions and Error Handling

We've talked about using assertions to handle truly bad errors, ones that should never occur in production. But what about handling "normal" errors? Part of defensive programming is to handle errors in such a way that no damage is done to any data in the program or the files it uses, and so that the program stays running for as long as possible (making your program robust).

Let's look at exceptions first. You should take advantage of built-in exception handling in whatever programming language you're using. The exception handling mechanism will give you information about what bad thing has just happened. It's then up to you to decide what to do. Normally in an exception handling mechanism you have two choices, handle the exception yourself, or pass it along to whoever called you and let them handle it. What you do and how you do it depends on the language you're using and the capabilities it gives you. We'll talk about exception handling in Java later.

Error Handling

Just like with validation, you're most likely to encounter errors in input data, whether it's command line input, file handling, or input from a graphical user interface form. Here we're talking about errors that occur at run time. Compile time and testing errors are covered in the next chapter on debugging and testing. Other types of errors can be data that your program computes incorrectly, errors in other programs that interact with your program , the operating system for instance, race conditions, and interaction errors where your program is communicating with another and your program is at fault.

The main purpose of error handling is to have your program survive and run correctly for as long as possible. When it gets to a point where your program cannot continue, it needs to report what is wrong as best as it can and then exit gracefully. Exiting is the last resort for error handling. So what should you do? Well, once again we come to the "it depends" answer. What you should do depends on what your program's context is when the error occurs and what its purpose is. You won't handle an error in a video game the same way you handle one in a cardiac pacemaker. In every case, your first goal should be – try to recover.

Trying to recover from an error will have different meanings in different programs . Recovery means that your program needs to try to either ignore the bad data, fix it, or substitute something else that is valid for the bad data. See McConnell 8 for a further discussion of error handling. Here are a few examples of how to recover from errors,

__________

8 McConnell, 2004.

[Aug 26, 2019] Beginning Perl Programming From Novice to Professional

Aug 26, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Debugger Commands The debugger has many built-in commands. The most common are as follows.

Command

Meaning

!! cmd

Runs the command (cmd) in a separate process (this is typically a shell command)

h

Interactive help

H -num

Prints last "num" commands (excludes single character commands)

l

Lists the next line of code to be executed

n

Steps through a statement (if subroutines are called, executes over the subroutine)

q

Quits the debugger

s

Steps through a statement (if subroutines are called, executes one subroutine statement at a time)

V

Displays all of the variables in package (defaults to main)

[Aug 24, 2019] BigBrotherWatch Facial Recognition Epidemic in the UK Eroding freedom of association

Notable quotes:
"... Facial recognition surveillance risks making privacy in Britain extinct. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

TruePublica

At TruePublica we have written endlessly about the continued slow strangulation of civil liberties and human rights in Britain. We have warned about the rise of a techno-Stasi-state where technology is harnessed and used against civilians without any debate or indeed any real legal framework. We have alerted the public on the illegal mass data collections by the government and subsequent loss of much it by MI5 who should not have had it all in the first place. We warned against ' digital strip searches ' – an activity of the police of the victims in rape cases, and the fact that Britain is becoming a database state . At TruePublica we have tried to press home the story that surveillance by the state on such a scale, described as the most intrusive in the Western world – is not just illegal, it's immoral and dangerous. (see our surveillance database HERE ).

Here is more evidence of just how dangerous and out of hand this creeping surveillance architecture is becoming. An investigation by Big Brother Watch has uncovered a facial recognition 'epidemic' across privately owned sites in the UK. The civil liberties campaign group has found major property developers, shopping centres, museums, conference centres and casinos using the technology in the UK.

Millions of shoppers scanned

Their investigation uncovered the use of live facial recognition in Sheffield's Meadowhall , one of the biggest shopping centres in the North of England, in secret police trials that took place last year. The trial could have scanned the faces of over 2 million visitors.

The shopping centre is owned by British Land, which owns large areas within London including parts of Paddington, Broadgate, Canada Water and Ealing Broadway. Each site's privacy policy says facial recognition may be in use, although British Land insists only Meadowhall has used the surveillance so far.

Last week, the Financial Times revealed that the privately owned Kings Cross estate in London was using facial recognition, whilst Canary Wharf is considering following suit. The expose prompted widespread concerns and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to write to the estate to express his concerns. The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has launched an investigation.

Last year, the Trafford Centre in Manchester was pressured to stop using live facial recognition surveillance following an intervention by the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. It was estimated that up to 15 million people were scanned during the operation.

" Dark irony" of China exhibition visitors scanned

Big Brother Watch's investigation has also revealed that Liverpool's World Museum scanned visitors with facial recognition surveillance during its exhibition, "China's First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors" in 2018. Director of Big Brother Watch Silkie Carlo described it as "dark irony" noting that "this authoritarian surveillance tool is rarely seen outside of China" and warning that "many of those scanned will have been school children".

The museum is part of the National Museums Liverpool group, which also includes the International Slavery Museum, the Museum of Liverpool and other museums and art galleries. The museum group said it is "currently testing the feasibility of using similar technology in the future".

" Eroding freedom of association"

Big Brother Watch's investigation also found that the Millennium Point conference centre in Birmingham uses facial recognition surveillance "at the request of law enforcement", according to its privacy policy. In recent years, the area surrounding the conference centre has been used for demonstrations by trade unionists, football fans and anti-racism campaigners. The centre refused to give further information about its past or present uses of facial recognition surveillance. Millennium Point is soon to host a 'hackathon'.

A number of casinos and betting shops also have policies that refer to their use of facial recognition technology including Ladbrokes, Coral and Hippodrome Casino London.

Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said:

There is an epidemic of facial recognition in the UK.

The collusion between police and private companies in building these surveillance nets around popular spaces is deeply disturbing. Facial recognition is the perfect tool of oppression and the widespread use we've found indicates we're facing a privacy emergency.

We now know that many millions of innocent people will have had their faces scanned with this surveillance without knowing about it, whether by police or by private companies.

The idea of a British museum secretly scanning the faces of children visiting an exhibition on the first emperor of China is chilling. There is a dark irony that this authoritarian surveillance tool is rarely seen outside of China.

Facial recognition surveillance risks making privacy in Britain extinct.

Parliament must follow in the footsteps of legislators in the US and urgently ban this authoritarian surveillance from public spaces.

truepublica.org.uk

[Aug 24, 2019] 2084 Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump -- Strategic Culture

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it might be argued, Americans have been plunged into our own bizarre version of 1984 . In our world, Donald Trump has, in some sense, absorbed into his own person more or less everything dystopian in the vicinity. ..."
"... In some strange fashion, he and his administration already seem like a combination of the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of eternal lies ), the memory hole (down which the past, especially the Obama legacy and the president's own discarded statements , disappear daily), the two-minutes-hate sessions and hate week that are the essence of any of his rallies ("lock her up!," " send her back! "), and recently the "hate" slaughter of Mexicans and Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, by a gunman with a Trumpian "Hispanic invasion of Texas" engraved in his brain. And don't forget Big Brother. ..."
"... In some sense, President Trump might be thought of as Big Brother flipped. In The Donald's version of Orwell's novel, he isn't watching us every moment of the day and night, it's we who are watching him in an historically unprecedented way. ..."
"... In his book, he created a nightmare vision of something like the Communist Party of the Stalin-era Soviet Union perpetuating itself into eternity by constantly regenerating and reinforcing a present-moment of ultimate power. For him, dystopia was an accentuated version of just such a forever, a "huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time," as a document in the book puts it, to "arrest the course of history" for "thousands of years." ..."
"... In other words, with the American president lending a significant hand, we may make it to 2084 far sooner than anyone expected. With that in mind, let's return for a moment to 1984 . As no one who has read Orwell's book is likely to forget, its mildly dissident anti-hero, Winston Smith, is finally brought into the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police to have his consciousness retuned to the needs of the Party. In the process, he's brutally tortured until he can truly agree that 2 + 2 = 5. Only when he thinks he's readjusted his mind to fit the Party's version of the world does he discover that his travails are anything but over. ..."
Aug 24, 2019 | www.strategic-culture.org

Tom ENGELHARDT

I, Winston Smith I mean, Tom Engelhardt have not just been reading a dystopian novel, but, it seems, living one -- and I suspect I've been living one all my life.

Yes, I recently reread George Orwell's classic 1949 novel, 1984 . In it, Winston Smith, a secret opponent of the totalitarian world of Oceania, one of three great imperial superpowers left on planet Earth, goes down for the count at the hands of Big Brother. It was perhaps my third time reading it in my 75 years on this planet.

Since I was a kid, I've always had a certain fascination for dystopian fiction. It started, I think, with War of the Worlds , that ur-alien-invasion-from-outer-space novel in which Martians land in southern England and begin tearing London apart. Its author, H.G. Wells, wrote it at the end of the nineteenth century, evidently to give his English readers a sense of what it might have felt like to be living in Tasmania, the island off the coast of Australia, and have the equivalent of Martians -- the British, as it happened -- appear in your world and begin to destroy it (and your culture with it).

I can remember, at perhaps age 13, reading that book under the covers by flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep; I can remember, that is, being all alone, chilled (and thrilled) to the bone by Wells' grim vision of civilizational destruction. To put this in context: in 1957, I would already have known that I was living in a world of potential civilizational destruction and that the Martians were here. They were then called the Russians, the Ruskies, the Commies, the Reds. I would only later grasp that we (or we, too) were Martians on this planet.

The world I inhabited was, of course, a post- Hiroshima , post- Nagasaki one. I was born on July 20, 1944, just a year and a few days before my country dropped atomic bombs on those two Japanese cities, devastating them in blasts of a kind never before experienced and killing more than 200,000 people. Thirteen years later, I had already become inured to scenarios of the most dystopian kinds of global destruction -- of a sort that would have turned those Martians into pikers -- as the U.S. and the Soviet Union (in a distant second place) built up their nuclear arsenals at a staggering pace.

Nuclear obliteration had, by then, become part of our everyday way of life. After all, what American of a certain age who lived in a major city can't remember, on some otherwise perfectly normal day, air-raid sirens suddenly beginning to howl outside your classroom window as the streets emptied? They instantly called up a vision of a world in ashes. Of course, we children had only a vague idea of what had happened under those mushroom clouds that rose over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we huddled under our desks, hands over heads, " ducking and covering " like Bert the Turtle while a radio on the teacher's desk blared Conelrad warnings , we knew enough, however, to realize that those desks and hands were unlikely to save us from the world's most powerful weaponry. The message being delivered wasn't one of safety but of ultimate vulnerability to Russian nukes. After such tests, as historian Stephen Weart recalled in his book Nuclear Fear , "The press reported with ghoulish precision how many millions of Americans 'died' in each mock attack."

If those drills didn't add up to living an everyday vision of the apocalypse as a child, what would? I grew up, in other words, with a new reality: for the first time in history, humanity had in its hands Armageddon-like possibilities of a sort previously left to the gods. Consider , for instance, the U.S. military's Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) of 1960 for a massive nuclear strike on the Communist world. It was, we now know, meant to deliver more than 3,200 nuclear weapons to 1,060 targets, including at least 130 cities. Official, if then secret, estimates of casualties ran to 285 million dead and 40 million injured (and probably underestimated the longer term effects of radiation).

In the early 1960s, a commonplace on the streets of New York where I lived was the symbol for "fallout shelters" (as they were then called), the places you would head for during just such an impending global conflagration. I still remember how visions of nuclear destruction populated my dreams (or rather nightmares) and those of my friends, as some would later admit to me. To this day, I can recall the feeling of sudden heat on one side of my body as a nuclear bomb went off on the distant horizon of one of those dreams. Similarly, I recall sneaking into a Broadway movie theater to see On the Beach with two friends -- kids of our age weren't allowed into such films without parents -- and so getting a glimpse, popcorn in hand, of what a devastated, nuclearized San Francisco might look like. That afternoon at that film, I also lived through a post-nuclear-holocaust world's end in Australia with no less than Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire for company.

An All-American Hate Week

So my life -- and undoubtedly yours, too -- has been lived, at least in part, as if in a dystopian novel. And certainly since November 2016 -- since, that is, the election of Donald Trump -- the feeling (for me, at least) of being in just such a world, has only grown stronger. Worse yet, there's nothing under the covers by flashlight about The Donald or his invasive vision of our American future. And this time around, as a non-member of his "base," it's been anything but thrilling to the bone.

It was with such a feeling growing in me that, all these years later, I once again picked up Orwell's classic novel and soon began wondering whether Donald Trump wasn't our very own idiosyncratic version of Big Brother. If you remember, when Orwell finished the book in 1948 (he seems to have flipped that year for the title), he imagined an England, which was part of Oceania, one of the three superpowers left on the planet. The other two were Eurasia (essentially the old Soviet Union) and Eastasia (think: a much-expanded China). In the book, the three of them are constantly at war with each other on their borderlands (mostly in South Asia and Africa), a war that is never meant to be either decisive or to end.

In Oceania's Airstrip One (the former England), where Winston Smith is a minor functionary in the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of lies, of course), the Party rules eternally in a world in which -- a classic Orwellian formulation -- "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH." It's a world of "inner" Party members (with great privilege), an outer circle like Smith who get by, and below them a vast population of impoverished "proles."

It's also a world in which the present is always both the future and the past, while every document, every newspaper, every bit of history is constantly being rewritten -- Smith's job -- to make it so. At the same time, documentation of the actual past is tossed down "the memory hole" and incinerated. It's a world in which a "telescreen" is in every room, invariably announcing splendid news (that might have been terrible news in another time). That screen can also spy on you at just about any moment of your life. In that, Orwell, who lived at a time when TV was just arriving, caught something essential about the future worlds of surveillance and social media.

In his dystopian world, English itself is being reformulated into something called Newspeak, so that, in a distant future, it will be impossible for anyone to express a non-Party-approved thought. Meanwhile, whichever of those other two superpowers Oceania is at war with at a given moment, as well as a possibly mythical local opposition to the Party, are regularly subjected to a mass daily "two minutes hate" session and periodic "hate weeks." Above all, it's a world in which, on those telescreens and posters everywhere, the mustachioed face of Big Brother, the official leader of the Party -- "Big Brother is watching you!" -- hovers over everything, backed up by a Ministry of Love (of, that is, imprisonment, reeducation, torture, pain, and death).

That was Orwell's image of a kind of Stalinist Soviet Union perfected for a future of everlasting horror. Today, it might be argued, Americans have been plunged into our own bizarre version of 1984 . In our world, Donald Trump has, in some sense, absorbed into his own person more or less everything dystopian in the vicinity.

In some strange fashion, he and his administration already seem like a combination of the Ministry of Truth (a ministry of eternal lies ), the memory hole (down which the past, especially the Obama legacy and the president's own discarded statements , disappear daily), the two-minutes-hate sessions and hate week that are the essence of any of his rallies ("lock her up!," " send her back! "), and recently the "hate" slaughter of Mexicans and Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, by a gunman with a Trumpian "Hispanic invasion of Texas" engraved in his brain. And don't forget Big Brother.

In some sense, President Trump might be thought of as Big Brother flipped. In The Donald's version of Orwell's novel, he isn't watching us every moment of the day and night, it's we who are watching him in an historically unprecedented way. In what I've called the White Ford Bronco presidency , nothing faintly like the media's 24/7 focus on him has ever been matched. No human being has ever been attended to, watched, or discussed this way -- his every gesture, tweet, passing comment, half-verbalized thought, slogan, plan, angry outburst, you name it. In the past, such coverage only went with, say, a presidential assassination, not everyday life in the White House (or at Bedminster , Mar-a-Lago, his rallies, on Air Force One, wherever).

Room 101 (in 2019)

Think of Donald Trump's America as, in some sense, a satirical version of 1984 in crazed formation. Not surprisingly, however, Orwell, remarkable as he was, fell short, as we all do, in imagining the future. What he didn't see as he rushed to finish that novel before his own life ended makes the Trumpian present far more potentially dystopian than even he might have imagined. In his book, he created a nightmare vision of something like the Communist Party of the Stalin-era Soviet Union perpetuating itself into eternity by constantly regenerating and reinforcing a present-moment of ultimate power. For him, dystopia was an accentuated version of just such a forever, a "huge, accurately planned effort to freeze history at a particular moment of time," as a document in the book puts it, to "arrest the course of history" for "thousands of years."

Yes, in 1948, Orwell obviously knew about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the weaponry that went with them. (In 1984 , he even mentions the use of such weaponry in the then-future 1950s.) What he didn't imagine in his book was a dystopian world not of the grimmest kind of ongoingness but of endings, of ultimate destruction. He didn't conjure up a nuclear apocalypse set off by one of his three superpowers and, of course, he had no way of imagining another kind of potential apocalypse that has become increasingly familiar to us all: climate change.

Unfortunately, on both counts Donald Trump is proving dystopian indeed. He is, after all, the president who threatened to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea (before falling in love with its dictator). He only recently claimed he could achieve victory in the almost 18-year-old Afghan War "in a week" by wiping that country "off the face of the Earth" and killing "10 million people." For the first time, his generals used the "Mother of all Bombs," the most powerful weapon in the U.S. conventional arsenal (with a mushroom cloud that, in a test at least, could be seen for 20 miles), in that same country, clearly to impress him.

More recently, beginning with its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, his administration has started trashing the Cold War-era nuclear architecture of restraint that kept the great-power arsenals under some control. In the process, it's clearly helping to launch a wildly expensive new nuclear arms race on Planet Earth. And keep in mind that this is happening at a time when we know that a relatively localized nuclear war between regional powers like India and Pakistan (whose politicians are once again at each other's throats over Kashmir ) could create a global nuclear winter and starve to death up to a billion people.

... ... ...

And keep in mind as well that our own twisted version of Big Brother, that guy with the orange hair instead of the mustache, could be around to be watched for significantly longer, should he win the election of 2020. (His polling numbers have, on the whole, been slowly rising , not falling in these years.)

In other words, with the American president lending a significant hand, we may make it to 2084 far sooner than anyone expected. With that in mind, let's return for a moment to 1984 . As no one who has read Orwell's book is likely to forget, its mildly dissident anti-hero, Winston Smith, is finally brought into the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police to have his consciousness retuned to the needs of the Party. In the process, he's brutally tortured until he can truly agree that 2 + 2 = 5. Only when he thinks he's readjusted his mind to fit the Party's version of the world does he discover that his travails are anything but over.

He still has to visit Room 101. As his interrogator tells him, "You asked me once what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world." And that "worst thing" is always adjusted to the specific terrors of the specific prisoner.

So here's one way to think of where we are at this moment on Planet Earth: Americans -- all of humanity, in fact -- may already be in Room 101, whether we know it or not, and the truth is, by this steaming summer, that most of us should know it.

It's obviously time to act on a global scale. Tell that to Big Brother.

tomdispatch.com The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: Big Brother Orwell

[Aug 23, 2019] Neoliberal colleges has been suctioning money out of the pockets of kids for the last couple decades

Aug 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

a different chris , , August 23, 2019 at 12:39 pm

>but I think things are actually going well.

Well duh. Your college has been suctioning money out of the pockets of kids for the last couple decades or so at a rate that is multiples of the general growth rate. Which means most (probably all) of the wealth you see around you is a shift from elsewhere, not a creation of such.

At best it is maybe repatriating some of the money going to Asia.

[Aug 23, 2019] Neoliberalism and Education: more evidence of "crapification

Aug 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

noonespecial , August 23, 2019 at 7:12 pm

Neoliberalism and Education
(To borrow a term often seen here at NC term – more evidence of "crapification")

In the new issue of the American Affairs Journal, the following article may be of interest to those who tune into scholastic matters. Two quotes are posted here in case the paywall obstructs.

"Rotten STEM: How Technology Corrupts Education"
https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2019/08/rotten-stem-how-technology-corrupts-education/

1. "But the technology pushed into schools today is a threat to child development and an unredeemable waste. In the first place, technology exacerbates the greatest problem of all in schools: confusion about their purpose. Education is the cultivation of a person, not the manufacture of a worker. But in many public school districts we have already traded our collective birthright, the promise of human flourishing, for a mess of utilitarian pottage called 'job skills.' The more recent, panicked, money-lobbing fetish for STEM is a late realization that even those dim promises will go unmet [E]ducational technology is a regressive political weapon, never just a neutral tool: it increases economic inequality, decreases school accountability, takes control away from teachers, and makes poorer students more vulnerable to threats from automation and globalization."

2. "Dumping gadgets on children is a win-win proposition in poor school districts. It's a win for tech billionaires looking to buy pro­gressive indulgences (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg in Newark), and it's a win for local mayors wanting to gesture toward needy schools with­out changing the underlying economic reality (e.g., Cory Booker in Newark, Pete Buttigieg in South Bend) The meanest trick of all is when funds allocated to bring struggling students "into the future" are used instead to banish them into the realm of for-profit programs called "online charter schools," which consist mostly of children watching lecture videos all day instead of being taught by a teacher. Online charter schools are a worsening catastrophe. Compared to the performance of peers in traditional public schools with similar income, race, gender, and first-language characteristics, the impact of online charter attendance on student reading is so bad, it's like miss­ing 72 days of school each year. In math, being afflicted by an online charter school is like being absent for 180 days!"

[Aug 23, 2019] Nearly 60% of those who said they grew up affluent now consider themselves to be in a lower class -- about half of this group said they're middle-class or upper-middle-class, while the other half said they're poor or working-class

Aug 23, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

This is a clear lack of up mobility. In other words American Dream is now a fake for all but extremely talented or extremely lucky. .

Class Warfare

"6 findings that show the dire state of America's middle class" [ Business Insider ] (From May, still germane). "Nearly 60% of those who said they grew up affluent now consider themselves to be in a lower class -- about half of this group said they're middle-class or upper-middle-class, while the other half said they're poor or working-class. Nearly 60% of those who said they had an upper-middle-class upbringing identified with a lower class -- half of this group said they're middle-class, while the remaining half said they're poor or working-class. And while half of those who said they grew up in the middle class said they're still in it today, more than one-third identified with a lower class. Only about 12% said they're now part of a higher class." • Lover

[Aug 17, 2019] Life, Deferred Student Debt Postpones Key Milestones for Millions of Americans naked capitalism

Aug 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F08%2Flife-deferred-student-debt-postpones-key-milestones-for-millions-of-americans.html

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https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> By Natalia Abrams, the Executive Director of Student Debt Crisis, and Cody Hounanian, the Program Director of Student Debt Crisis. Originally published at openDemocracy

Student debt has been solely responsible for the majority of my decision-making as an adult
(Erin – Portland, Maine)

The student debt crisis is not the burden of a single generation. It impacts Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s; Gen Xers in their 40s and 50s; Millennials in their 20s and 30s – as well as Gen Z high school students still planning for college. Thus it's a grave mistake to frame student loan debt as exclusively or even primarily a "Millennial problem." At the same time, Millennials have borne the brunt of the astounding rise in college costs. They are the first generation to experience a life shaped by the near-certainty of student debt.

Weighted for inflation, college costs (including tuition and fees) rose 81% between 2001 and 2009 – the decade when well over half of Millennials graduated high school.

Traditionally, when the price of a commodity rises rapidly, demand for that commodity drops. Necessities like food and shelter are usually exempt from that general rule. However, college has become one of those essentials, with the perceived cost of not attending growing at least as fast as the actual costs themselves. As a result, student loans make the essential, attainable.

Not everyone saddled with a tremendous debt burden ends up with a degree. Whether a borrower receives a degree or not, few are in a position to rapidly repay their student loans. While a college degree may or may not expand opportunities; as we're finding, student loan debt absolutely shuts doors that might have otherwise remained open.

Lower Homeownership rates

Growing up I was told by my parents, teachers, and guidance counselors to go to college because it would give me a better life. I graduated in 2013 with a Master's Degree in English with the hopes of being a teacher myself. There are no teaching jobs in high schools or colleges and I owe over $100,000 in student debt. I now work a job that doesn't even require a degree, and was turned down for a mortgage because my debt to income ratio was too high. Not a day goes by where I don't think about my debt
(Danielle – Roseville, California)

If homeownership is fundamental to the 'American dream', then student loan debt puts that dream out of reach for millions of Americans. After years of growth, homeownership rates noticeably declined in 2017. While partly due to factors unrelated to student debt (such as rising housing prices , particularly in urban areas), the rate of Millennial homeownership has fallen faster than that of the general population.

In a January 2019 study, the Federal Reserve revealed the connection between lower homeownership rates and the Millennial generation most burdened by student debt: "our estimates suggest that increases in student loan debt are an important factor in explaining (young people's) lowered homeownership rates." The study went on to conclude that "a little over 20 percent of the overall decline in homeownership among the young can be attributed to the rise in student loan debt. This represents over 400,000 young individuals who would have owned a home in 2014 had it not been for the rise in debt."

While the Federal Reserve study focused on the decade between 2005-2014, a 2019 survey by Bankrate of nearly 4,000 American borrowers found that 31% of Millennial respondents postponed buying a home because of student loan debt. By comparison, when the Baby Boomers were entering the housing market 40 years ago, only 15% delayed a purchase because of student loan debt.

It's also worth noting that the real number of Millennials unable to purchase a home because of student debt is likely much higher. While 31% of Millennial respondents reported that student debt directly delayed homeownership, this figure only accounts for potential buyers who still consider future homeownership a real possibility. Thus it does not reflect the unknown number of those whose debt to income ratio is so high that they don't expect to ever afford a home. As Forbes noted in 2019, "no matter how many possible solutions are tossed around Washington and beyond on reducing the crushing burden of student loan debt, it remains one of the top reasons millennials are putting off buying a home."

Historically, home mortgages defined middle-class debt. Yet due to pre-existing debt, student loan borrowers face difficulty qualifying for a mortgage. In tandem with rising housing prices, and stringent mortgage qualification requirements adopted in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, those with already exorbitant levels of student debt face a near-perfect storm for obtaining a mortgage: placing a key component of the 'American dream' out of reach for millions of young Americans.

A 2018 study by Summer and Student Debt Crisis found that 56% of respondents reported that student loan debt made it more difficult to buy a home. That figure excludes those who consider homeownership so unattainable that they have preemptively "given up." The same study notes that 58% of those surveyed experienced a decline in their credit score as a direct result of their student debt. Credit scores, based on past payment habits as well as debt-to-income ratios, are pivotal to mortgage qualification. Even borrowers who haven't yet considered buying a home are keenly aware that their student-debt-burdened credit scores have put a mortgage out of reach.

Fewer Marriages

I have put off having children, marrying, or purchasing a home due to the high costs of student debt repayment. Regularly, I contemplate selling everything and living in my car to help free up money to pay off the debt sooner.
(Melissa – Granbury, Texas)

Homeownership is not the only dream deferred, or abandoned altogether, because of crushing student loan debt.

One theme in the stories we've collected – and in our studies – is that student debt is an overwhelming factor in declining marriage and birth rates. Millennial borrowers like Melissa, regularly told us that there were three central dreams that debt had put out of reach: buying a home, getting married, and having children.

In 1990, 26% of adults under 65 were never married – by 2018, that number rose to 36%. Today, only one in five adults are married before the age of 30 – and the average age of first marriage has risen by more than six years since 1960. There are a host of factors that have driven the marriage rate to record lows – and we do not suggest that student debt is the sole (or even primary) driver of delayed marriage. Evolving and elevated expectations for romantic partnership, economic shifts, greater equality for women and increased acceptance of premarital sex all play critical roles in changing marriage habits. One cause of social transformation however, doesn't negate the impact of another.

Student loan debt delays marriage in several ways. One way is through a sheer misunderstanding of the law regarding debt. Several borrowers told us they were reluctant to marry and "make my spouse responsible for my debt." Though the laws concerning spousal responsibility vary by state, the fears of saddling a partner with one's debts are not unfounded. Similarly, if a spouse with pre-existing debt returns to school after marriage, both the debt incurred before and during marriage gets lumped together as a shared liability.

Practically, the legal responsibility for the liability is a nominal matter. Most couples cannot simply isolate one partner's debt. The money spent each month on student loans could be collectively used for other essentials, like rent, car repairs, or childcare.

A study released in June 2019 by the think-tank Demos showed that those who start college after age twenty (or go back to college following a break) have a particularly hard time paying off loans. Twelve years after leaving school, the average borrower (who started college after the age of twenty) will have paid off only 5% of their student debt. If a borrower is determined not to bring their student debt into a marriage, research suggest that they will have to wait a very long before they wed.

Media coverage tends to ignore that finances, rather than changing social mores, are the primary driver of diminishing marriage rates. For every young person who "never wants to marry", statistics suggest there are far more who would like to wed someday but can't imagine ever being able to afford to do so. A Pew Organization study in 2017 found that nearly six out of ten unmarried American adults hope to marry someday. That same report noted that unmarried Millennials cited "not being financially stable" as one of the chief reasons why they haven't yet wed. 41% of those unmarried cited financial instability as a primary reason for remaining single, while 28% described it as a "secondary" reason. (By comparison, only 24% of young adults named "not being ready to settle down" as the primary explanation for not being married.)

The research is clear: the primary reason why Americans delay wedlock, or forego it altogether, is financial insecurity. Debt is reshaping our most intimate relationships, putting a profound source of happiness further and further out of reach.

Falling Birthrates

My wife and I have been married 3 years and she desperately wants kids. But paying out $350 a month to pay off my 45k in loans has shattered our dreams of family. We both work but it's not enough. I've paid my loans since 2004 and I'm not getting ahead.
(James – Kansas City, Missouri)

With less homeownership, along with fewer marriages – it's hardly surprising that the most debt-laden generation in history is also having far fewer babies than their parents and grandparents. Millennials are on track to have a lower birth rate than any generation in American history. In 2018, the overall birth rate in the United States fell to 59 births per 1000 women, the lowest on record and a 2% drop from the previous year.

The birth rate has fallen steadily since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. Yet even after the recovery, the birth-rate continued to decline.

There's a disagreement as to whether the birthrate decline can be attributed to women wanting fewer babies (or wanting them later), versus women being unable to afford children. Yet the survey data is fairly compelling: most young people have had (or expect to have) fewer children than they consider ideal. In a 2018 New York Times/Morning Consult survey , four of the top five reasons respondents cited for not having as many children as they wanted focused on financial concerns:

Child care is too expensive (64% of respondents) Want more time for the children I have (54%) Worried about the economy (49%) Can't afford more children (44%) Waited because of financial instability (43%)

Furthermore, a 2015 study by the National Institutes of Health examined the impact of debt on the decision to have children. The results were stunning. While mortgage holders were more likely than renters to have children, and credit-card debt had no impact among debtors, the study found that "holding student loans more significantly affects fertility at higher levels of indebtedness." Low levels of student loan debt reduced fertility only slightly; high levels of student debt sharply reduced the chances of having a baby.

Every generation reassesses priorities. Some pundits look at the lives of Millennials and conclude that they're simply less interested in homeownership, simply more suspicious of enduring monogamy, simply less interested in having children. The evidence shows that's a false narrative.

The research in fact reveals that a high percentage of Millennials want homeownership, marriage, and children. The chief obstacle is not the timeless problem of finding the right person, but financial insecurity. Student loan debt is a central driver behind this precarity – affecting the fundamental milestones of our lives.

Freshstart , August 16, 2019 at 6:05 am

I hear the phrase "student loan forgiveness " quite often these days. "Forgiveness" for being a victim of financial predators and a failed leadership class? No, that's not forgiveness. That's justice. Forgiveness comes from the victims, not the perpetrators. Personally, I'm not forgiving anybody involved. Politicians, schools, the "financial industry", etc. These are the folks that should be begging for forgiveness from the borrowers, not the other way around. These policies have destroyed lives. They then try to frame any corrective action as doing the victims a favor, "forgiveness", rescuing the borrowers from their own failures and poor choices. Right. This is basically a war on the poor. I wonder if it isn't a way to curb greenhouse emissions without inconveniencing the wealthy.

Carla , August 16, 2019 at 6:18 am

Excellent comment -- thank you! Let us never let our fellow Americans forget Joe Biden's central role in killing bankruptcy protection for student debtors.

Michael Fiorillo , August 16, 2019 at 7:27 am

Extremely perceptive and wise comment.

I also think your final point is very important, as I am increasingly convinced that "environmental footprint reduction" is likely to be used as a pretext for further austerity for the working class. Environmentalism has always been a mostly elite and middle class phenomena, and working class interests are often unmindfully ignored or disregarded. In fact, I don't think it's unduly paranoid to anticipate ostensibly radical environmentalists (Extinction Rebellion and the like) being used as cat's paws to extend Overclass policies of extraction and control.

Bugs Bunny , August 16, 2019 at 8:35 am

It's already happened in France – the Gilets Jaunes movement was a direct result of the radical neoliberal Macron government putting higher taxes on diesel – a regressive tax on the poor and rural working class.

Michael Fiorillo , August 16, 2019 at 9:14 am

Yes, of course: thanks for pointing that out.

bmeisen , August 16, 2019 at 10:27 am

No, penury and exploitation as a result of educational debt is not a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions without inconveniencing the wealthy. It's just another example of Americans being suckered by their own delusions and ignorance, just another example of wealthy Americans, many of whom are rich without being educated, ripping off poorer Americans, many of whom ernestly believe that going into long-term crippling debt in order to pay for a college degree is a good way to get up and out of living from week to week with maxed out credit cards.

The typical American university/college student has drunk the kool-aid. She believes that higher education is a personal choice, freely made, to invest in earning potential. The possibility that this is not necessarily the case apparently does not occur to her. She genuinely believes, or sometimes she is compelled to believe, that it makes sense to take on for example 100k in educational debt because the degree that should follow will allow her to earn a hopefully large multiple of that number. Such students and their parents are apparently blind to the fact that a country that struggles to defend a primitive form of democracy is doomed to dystopic horrors without an educated population. Education, including higher education, is not a personal choice alone – much more it is a national mission that compels the government to provide instruction to qualified candidates at a minimal cost to candidates. This is a not a utopian vision – this is reality in democracies that are not as primitive as the American.

The attempt to associate the diesel tax with French educational policy needs clarification: The French have free public higher education. Their free public higher education consists of institutions that are selective, some highly selective, as well as institutions that are not selective. The selective institutions are intended to provide a nominally meritocratic elite-building function at the service of both public and private beneficieries. Public transport infrasturcture is weak in the country, and the Gilets Jaunes (GJ) argue that that's becasue administrators and mangers, many of whom are graduates of tuition-free elite universities, have not only failed to improve it: they threw salt in GJ wounds by attempting to impose a diesel tax. Though for many the tax is a tax-deductable expense, there are enough economically non-rural residents of rural areas in France to make the salt really sting. The GJ should more aggressively criticize the meritocratic fallacy of (highly) selective public institutions and bring attention to the phenomenon of economically non-rural residents of rural areas. They are relatively heavy polluters (lots of driving, single-family homes). I wonder if public transport infrastructure in rural areas could be expanded or if economically non-rural residents of rural areas could be compelled to live in less isolation.

Keith Newman , August 16, 2019 at 12:27 pm

For bmeisen: Thanks for the interesting insights on the Gilets jaunes.

juliania , August 16, 2019 at 9:25 am

The most repressive and draconian indebtedness has been thrust upon the youth of America by its government. I say 'youth' because many of those suffering under this burden were young once but have struggled long enough to be middle aged and even beyond in the search for a quality education, not only so they could have a good job but also in order to develop their minds. This was not a foolish pursuit – – until it was.

Something has to be done about this. And if it has to be done, it will be done, to paraphrase what Professor Hudson has said: if a debt can't be paid it won't be paid. And also lest we forget, these neoliberal shenanigans came about as financiers figured they could layer everything into juicy offerings for the players on Wall Street. Tranches or trenches as with mortgages – you know, like layers of filo dough with yummy stuff sandwiched in between. (Hah, my spellcheck doesn't like the word 'neoliberal'. Phooey on you, spellcheck; it's a word!)

Thank you, Yves.

bmeisen , August 16, 2019 at 11:01 am

Hasn't been thrust upon the youth of America by its government – the student debt crisis is a result of predatory financial interests consorting with ignorant, anti-government ideologues to corrupt the wise support of state and federal governments for public education. Private non-profit as well as private for-profit "educators" have lobbied lobbied lobbied for example to expand government lending facilities for students while doing little to regulate the "institutions" that were convincing candidates to use the facilities to borrow funds to pay for the questionable degrees that the "institutions" were awarding. There should have been a major cultural effort to convince Americans that we need public education including virtually free higher education and to contradict the delusion that an investment in higher education was essentially an investment in earning potential. Free public education including effectively free public higher education is essential for the success of democracy. Sadly many Americans have forgotten a fundamental aspect of the American Way of Life.

JohnnySacks , August 16, 2019 at 10:09 am

Brother in law couldn't make the payments, went underground and worked for cash, then ultimately committed suicide in his 50's. Not saying he wasn't unstable to begin with, but will say that having a mountain of debt he was never going to be able to get out from under certainly was a major factor.

With an 81% increase adjusted for inflation in under a decade, why aren't schools being penalized? Why not stop writing any and all loans for those schools?

polecat , August 16, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Schools WILL be penalized, by going out of business .. as many surely will !! .. especially the ones specializing in SJW studies

Medbh , August 16, 2019 at 9:11 am

That's an excellent point. I had burdensome student loans and eventually paid them off, but I support student loan forgiveness. However, from a political standpoint, I understand why some people are angry about the concept. They think they were smart and chose not to go to college because of the financial danger, and if loans are forgiven, they're being "punished" in the housing and job market for being "responsible."

Your "justice" framing could address both of these interest groups. Instead of just looking at the student loans alone, we'd consider all the ways in which the loans and the degrees have influenced people's lives. Maybe everyone could have access to "educational credit," which could be used to directly pay off existing loans, allow people to enroll in a degree program now, or be credited towards a new or existing mortgage. The program becomes a universal benefit, and depending upon one's situation, the money could be used in different, socially beneficial ways.

The main point is I like the "justice" framing, and it should be used to create a program that benefits everyone. Then the messaging is more about rectifying a dysfunctional system, then bailing out irresponsible spendthrifts (I don't believe this is true, but that is how loan forgiveness is framed).

Joe Well , August 16, 2019 at 10:32 am

How about the government takes over all consumer debt and charges only the Fed rate in interest? And writes down any amount considered unpayable? Would anyone not connected to the financial industry be opposed?

Big River Bandido , August 16, 2019 at 5:05 pm

The arguments against student loan forgiveness on the basis of "I paid mine off, why can't you?" are short-sighted and ultimately injure the person making them.

Everyone is harmed by the toxic environment of debt that we're living in -- even those of us who never had student loans and those of you who paid them off. We are all suffering under a regime that has paralyzed people economically. The act of debt cancellation, as those whose incomes were locked up now get a little piece of it back to spend on other things, would have a stimulative effect on the economy.

Tyronius , August 16, 2019 at 11:50 am

We can start holding those responsible accountable by refusing to support Joe Biden for office!

The key is to tell everyone, including poll takers, the reason why we won't vote for him.

I graduated in 1995 and I'm still over $65k in debt. I'll vote for any politician who will fight to redress this injustice.

It's time Washington fights for We the People instead of the already outrageously wealthy.

Carla , August 16, 2019 at 2:40 pm

Hear, Hear!

timbers , August 16, 2019 at 8:26 am

I work with a lady who's only child entered college last year, and was exposed at work to her discussions with her daughter over the phone and with co workers what is on the list she choose for her student loans. Things like room and board/rent, etc. This lady has a killer personality that works smashingly well in corporate offices – only positive things may be talked about and she juggles her aging, ailing mom, her daughter off to college, and work quite well.

It wasn't my place to offer advice, but I got a bad feeling listening to the load up of student loan debt. Then I overhead her advice to her mother regarding what package from Comcast to get. She recommended the package for seniors with insurance that protects seniors from phishing and that sort of thing. I don't recall the fee, but she also has insurance for her smart phone screen.

The $$$ signs of how I could manager their budget and save them some money where dancing in my head.

I guess they call that being a Financial Advisor today. It used to be called common sense.

When I was with my former, much younger partner, I told him he would live free with me on condition he cut back his 60+hrs/week working at multiple Dunkin Donuts and go to school, take NO school debt and pay everything with his paycheck. He did, and got tax credits on top of that. He choose medical billing and coding at a school that has since gone bankrupt. But it got him in the door. He is now supervisor in the billing department at Boston Children's Hospital and they told him they are sending him to management training at their expense.

He too has a killer personality. Perfect for Facebook where only positive things are said. He will do well but I worry he will later be not so well off because he doesn't save, he spends everything he has.

My first year at University of Chicago undergrad was $4,000. Second year $5,000. Then I moved to Boston and my employer paid most of my school expense while I finished up at Northeastern University. Peanuts compared to today.

I would never pay for College education at todays prices. I'd take that same money and buy a house.

Arizona Slim , August 16, 2019 at 8:57 am

Insurance for a smartphone screen? Yeesh!

And I say that as someone who just dropped a smartphone face-down on a hardwood floor.

I'm here to say that my screen protector, which cost something like 30 bucks, did its job. It took one for the Arizona Slim team and cracked in several places. The screen was intact. Hooray!

However, the replacement protector doesn't stick, so back to the phone repair shop I go. While I'm there, I think I'll strike up a conversation about the right to repair. Hey, I might just be able to turn another person on to Naked Capitalism.

Arizona Slim , August 16, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Indeed I did. The phone repair guy was very interested in NC.

Matter of fact, I showed him how to pull up the site and read that recent article about Apple. Link:

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/08/rotten-apple-right-to-repair-roundup.html

And then I went down the street to a state senator's office. Said senator is very interested in fracking issues. So, another recruit to our site.

JohnnySacks , August 16, 2019 at 10:49 am

I'd say that a robust course in home economics would be valuable in public schools. But I'm guessing our owners would heavily attack that effort.

Fact is, if you want to have any professional career, an education is mandatory. I don't want my nurse practitioner or doctor to be the likes of the Trump children simply because they're the only ones who will be able to afford the education, same as all economics, political science, law etc. workers to only be the ones who can afford it. Sort of insures that our future leaders won't have any clue whatsoever about the lives of the 90% they'll be claiming to support. A crappy situation made even worse.

Joe Well , August 16, 2019 at 8:44 am

The author claims that college costs (that term is not defined) rose 80% from 2001 to 2009. That is far higher than any figure I have seen. According to National Center for Education Satistics, the figure for tuition+fees is closer to 30% which is still outrageous. If the descrepancy means that aid is being cut back more or non-tuition/fee costs are increasing faster, that would be good to know. Defenders of high prices claim that aid is increasing (I doubt that but do not have figures).

Anyway, #freecollege

Arizona Slim , August 16, 2019 at 8:53 am

Good discussion topic. Permit me to share a little tale from the Arizona Slim file:

As mentioned here before, I am learning the Russian language. After completing all 30 lessons in Mark Thompson's "Russian Made Easy" video series on YouTube, I decided that it was time for some classroom training.

So, off to look at the University of Arizona website. I couldn't easily find any information about enrolling as a non-degree student, so I sent an email to the department where I'd be taking an intro Russian class.

Reply: In order to become a UA non-degree student, I would have to complete an online application. And pay a $45 application fee.

Nyet.

Instead of paying the UA 45 bucks just to apply, I could spend that same money on a vocabulary builder course, which is taught by a native Russian speaker. From her home in Moscow, she has built a global business as a language teacher. So, look out, Real Russian Club, here I come. Link:

https://realrussianclub.com/

anonymous , August 16, 2019 at 10:23 am

Arizona Slim, take a look at the free Russian language courses on Coursera.org. I've taken excellent Italian courses on EdX, but Coursera looks better now for conversational Russian. (EdX has a couple of classes on Russian for scientific work.) With foreign languages, the more practice and exposure, the better, so maybe Coursera could be useful in addition to your vocabulary builder course.

Arizona Slim , August 16, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Spasibo!

David Carl Grimes , August 16, 2019 at 11:48 am

I was wondering about the kids and parents who pay full freight for college. Can that cost ever be recouped? Even for top colleges? For instance, financial aid at Harvard maxes out at $110K in household income. So a high income family will have to pay full sticker price every year. Tuition and living expenses could be $70K per year or more. So a four year education could cost $280K to $350K. It's like buying a house in many parts of the country without buying a house. Yet the median salary for a Harvard graduate is $90K ten years after entering school (six years after graduation). If college costs are paid back in ten years, the college graduate will have to pay back $30K every year, on top of everything else. Not much left for savings, retirement, or a house. Even for Harvard College graduates.

Shiloh1 , August 16, 2019 at 12:01 pm

I love these articles. At no point is it ever questioned or addressed why cost of college has gone exponential relative to the real economy (taking out real estate and healthcare) since the late 1970s,

It is because "financial aid", especially loans, spends the same as cash. The colleges will charge what the market will bear, Econ 101,taking account the new money those loans bring into the picture, driving up the price. Colleges have no skin in the game for repayment / default of loans.

Sorry, but I am cool with the whole system collapsing into itself and my bank account sitting this one out.

Please spare me the club med, lazy river, climbing wall stories. FULL DISCLOSURE: I went to Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, a garden spot of the city between 31st and 35th and State Street off the Dan Ryan Expressway in the late 70s. The place is a bigger dump now when I went there, full salute to the Mies Van Der Rohe flat roof glass shoe boxes and the post WWII housing project-like dorms.

polecat , August 16, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Campus pizza and beer ain't cheap you know ..

Eudora Welty , August 16, 2019 at 9:39 pm

A friend invited me to lunch at the cafeteria in the university dorm building. Lunch was $11 50, but all-you-can-eat with a gourmet style, nice China tableware. I had pizza, hamburger , pasta al fredo, pudding, cookies, salad, soft drinks. Great opportunity to gain weight & spend $$$!

jrs , August 16, 2019 at 2:45 pm

well also probably due to both the decimation of the non-college job market, and credential inflation (a degree now being required for jobs it didn't use to be). of course college grads are now overproduced relative to demand as well.

Synoia , August 16, 2019 at 12:38 pm

I have some advice for the young with Student debt, as I have some acquaintances whose children have huge debts $400,000 to $600,000..

Emigrate. Don't look back.

polecat , August 16, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Here's an educational experiance one can endeavor : Enter your local thrift/antique establishment/yard sale/dump, etc. and pick an item – any item .. and figure out how to rebuild/repair/make serviceable said item. Presto ! THERE'S your future, waiting in the wings of regression !
Not a bad place to be actually .. beats high penury, no ?

inode_buddha , August 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

My paleo-conservative dad likes to point out that student loans existed before the government started backing them. He took out a very large loan in 1950 to attend MIT in got his Masters there, PhD at SUNY Buffalo in 1970. He paid it off in 1985. Back then lending standards were based on reality and job market projections. When I went to school, all you had to do was fog a mirror Then in the 1990s prices started doubling and tripling, etcetc . Answer is to ban the government from backing loans, full stop.

Joe Well , August 16, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Or we could do what many other countries do and abolish tuition and fees.

chuck roast , August 16, 2019 at 1:39 pm

I have a bunch of hoops to jump through for that!
Here's what my hoops look like:
One of them cancels $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000.
Another hoop provides substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation. Pick you hoop!
I also have a non-hoop, hoop that offers no debt cancellation to people with household income above $250,000 (the top 5%).
For most Americans, cancellation will take place automatically using data already available to the federal government about income and outstanding student loan debt.
We also have a moving hoop private student loan debt is also eligible for cancellation, and the federal government will work with borrowers and the holders of this debt to provide relief.
And our final hoop. Canceled debt will not be taxed as income.
E. Warren (the Hoop Queen)

Joe Well , August 16, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Does anyone else find the idea that parents should pay for, and therefore have veto over, their adult children's college, offensively infantilizing?

jrs , August 16, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Well unless full room and board is paid for, that's how it ends up being though? I mean free tuition is simply not going to solve this, because how to pay for a roof over one's head while going to school?

1) live at the parents home and go to a nearby school, sure a bit infantalizing 2) get the bank of mom and dad to foot the dorm costs again mom and dad paying 3) take out debt for living expenses.

Haha, no you usually can't afford housing on or off campus (renting a room) with some low wage job!!! And if you had the capacity to get a well paying job without a degree (or other training) you might not be pursuing one anyway. Since a large number of students are homeless (actually true here, shocking numbers), I guess that's also an option.

shinola , August 16, 2019 at 3:31 pm

I'm surprised, this being NC, that no one has mentioned this yet – student debt is a modern form of indentured servitude.

While it does not directly tie the indebted (former) student to a single employer, it provides potential employers with leverage in regard to wages & working conditions. Quite simply, someone with a large debt hanging over their head is more likely to accept a job with lower pay, fewer raises and/or benefits than some someone who is debt-free and therefore can afford to be more picky, more demanding to be paid & treated decently.

Get 'em in more debt at an earlier age so they will be more docile and accepting of neoliberal crapification.

Anthony G Stegman , August 16, 2019 at 6:18 pm

At the same time it has become vastly more expensive a college degree has also become watered down and of less value. That is the true injustice. Many jobs that once required only a high school education now require a college degree. This is not because the job requirements have changed. This is due to the simple fact that many more people possess college diplomas, so employers now demand them for a greater number of occupations. However, the pay for these occupations has not risen to be commensurate with the additional costs incurred to gain the newly required credentials. Now these holders of costly credentials find themselves in a real bind. The author of this article offered no solutions.

[Aug 16, 2019] Ministry of truth materialized in XXI century in a neoliberal way by Kit Knightly

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Latest is the secretive Andy Pryce squandering millions of public money on the "Open Information Partnership" (OIP) which is the latest name-change for the Integrity Initiative and the Institute of Statecraft, just like al-Qaeda kept changing its name. ..."
"... In true Orwellian style, they splashed out on a conference for "defence of media freedom", when they are in the business of propaganda and closing alternative 'narratives' down. And the 'media' they would defend are, in fact, spies sent to foreign countries to foment trouble to further what they bizarrely perceive as 'British interests'. Just like the disgraceful White Helmets, also funded by the FO. ..."
"... "The Guardian is struggling for money" Surely, they would be enjoying some of the seemingly unlimited US defense and some of the mind control programmes budgets. ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | off-guardian.org

OffGuardian already covered the Global Media Freedom Conference, our article Hypocrisy Taints UK's Media Freedom Conference , was meant to be all there was to say. A quick note on the obvious hypocrisy of this event. But, in the writing, I started to see more than that. This event is actually creepy. Let's just look back at one of the four "main themes" of this conference:

Building trust in media and countering disinformation
"Countering disinformation"? Well, that's just another word for censorship. This is proven by their refusal to allow Sputnik or RT accreditation. They claim RT "spreads disinformation" and they "countered" that by barring them from attending. "Building trust"? In the post-Blair world of PR newspeak, "building trust" is just another way of saying "making people believe us" (the word usage is actually interesting, building trust not earning trust). The whole conference is shot through with this language that just feels off. Here is CNN's Christiane Amanpour :
Our job is to be truthful, not neutral we need to take a stand for the truth, and never to create a false moral or factual equivalence."
Being "truthful not neutral" is one of Amanpour's personal sayings , she obviously thinks it's clever. Of course, what it is is NewSpeak for "bias". Refusing to cover evidence of The White Helmets staging rescues, Israel arming ISIS or other inconvenient facts will be defended using this phrase – they will literally claim to only publish "the truth", to get around impartiality and then set about making up whatever "truth" is convenient. Oh, and if you don't know what "creating a false moral quivalence is", here I'll demonstrate: MSM: Putin is bad for shutting down critical media. OffG: But you're supporting RT being banned and Wikileaks being shut down. BBC: No. That's not the same. OffG: It seems the same. BBC: It's not. You're creating a false moral equivalence . Understand now? You "create a false moral equivalence" by pointing out mainstream media's double standards. Other ways you could mistakenly create a "false moral equivalence": Bringing up Gaza when the media talk about racism. Mentioning Saudi Arabia when the media preach about gay rights. Referencing the US coup in Venezuela when the media work themselves into a froth over Russia's "interference in our democracy" Talking about the invasion of Iraq. Ever. OR Pointing out that the BBC is state funded, just like RT. These are all no-longer flagrant examples of the media's double standards, and if you say they are , you're "creating a false moral equivalence" and the media won't have to allow you (or anyone who agrees with you) air time or column inches to disagree. Because they don't have a duty to be neutral or show both sides, they only have a duty to tell "the truth" as soon as the government has told them what that is. Prepare to see both those phrases – or variations there of – littering editorials in the Guardian and the Huffington Post in the coming months. Along with people bemoaning how "fake news outlets abuse the notion of impartiality" by "being even handed between liars the truth tellers". (I've been doing this site so long now, I have a Guardian-English dictionary in my head).

Equally dodgy-sounding buzz-phrases litter topics on the agenda. "Eastern Europe and Central Asia: building an integrated support system for journalists facing hostile environments" , this means pumping money into NGOs to fund media that will criticize our "enemies" in areas of strategic importance. It means flooding money into the anti-government press in Hungary, or Iran or (of course), Russia. That is ALL it means. I said in my earlier article I don't know what "media sustainability" even means, but I feel I can take a guess. It means "save the government mouthpieces". The Guardian is struggling for money, all print media are, TV news is getting lower viewing figures all the time. "Building media sustainability" is code for "pumping public money into traditional media that props up the government" or maybe "getting people to like our propaganda". But the worst offender on the list is, without a doubt "Navigating Disinformation"

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1vbSj1WQqUw?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

"Navigating Disinformation" was a 1 hour panel from the second day of the conference. You can watch it embedded above if you really feel the need. I already did, so you don't have to. The panel was chaired by Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Foreign Minister. The members included the Latvian Foreign Minister, a representative of the US NGO Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Information

Have you guessed what "disinformation" they're going to be talking about? I'll give you a clue: It begins with R. Freeland, chairing the panel, kicks it off by claiming that "disinformation isn't for any particular aim" . This is a very common thing for establishment voices to repeat these days, which makes it all the more galling she seems to be pretending its is her original thought. The reason they have to claim that "disinformation" doesn't have a "specific aim" is very simple: They don't know what they're going to call "disinformation" yet. They can't afford to take a firm position, they need to keep their options open. They need to give themselves the ability to describe any single piece of information or political opinion as "disinformation." Left or right. Foreign or domestic. "Disinformation" is a weaponised term that is only as potent as it is vague. So, we're one minute in, and all "navigating disinformation" has done is hand the State an excuse to ignore, or even criminalise, practically anything it wants to. Good start. Interestingly, no one has actually said the word "Russia" at this point. They have talked about "malign actors" and "threats to democracy", but not specifically Russia. It is SO ingrained in these people that "propaganda"= " Russian propaganda" that they don't need to say it.

The idea that NATO as an entity, or the individual members thereof, could also use "disinformation" has not just been dismissed it was literally never even contemplated. Next Freeland turns to Edgars Rinkēvičs, her Latvian colleague, and jokes about always meeting at NATO functions. The Latvians know "more than most" about disinformation, she says. Rinkēvičs says disinformation is nothing new, but that the methods of spreading it are changing then immediately calls for regulation of social media. Nobody disagrees. Then he talks about the "illegal annexation of Crimea", and claims the West should outlaw "paid propaganda" like RT and Sputnik. Nobody disagrees. Then he says that Latvia "protected" their elections from "interference" by "close cooperation between government agencies and social media companies". Everyone nods along. If you don't find this terrifying, you're not paying attention. They don't say it, they probably don't even realise they mean it, but when they talk about "close cooperation with social media networks", they mean government censorship of social media. When they say "protecting" their elections they're talking about rigging them. It only gets worse. The next step in the Latvian master plan is to bolster "traditional media".

The problems with traditional media, he says, are that journalists aren't paid enough, and don't keep up to date with all the "new tricks". His solution is to "promote financing" for traditional media, and to open more schools like the "Baltic Centre of Media Excellence", which is apparently a totally real thing .

It's a training centre which teaches young journalists about "media literacy" and "critical thinking". You can read their depressingly predictable list of "donors" here . I truly wish I was joking. Next up is Courtney Radsch from CPJ – a US-backed NGO, who notionally "protect journalists", but more accurately spread pro-US propaganda. (Their token effort to "defend" RT and Sputnik when they were barred from the conference was contemptible).

She talks for a long time without saying much at all. Her revolutionary idea is that disinformation could be countered if everyone told the truth. Inspiring. Beata Balogova, Journalist and Editor from Slovakia, gets the ship back on course – immediately suggesting politicians should not endorse "propaganda" platforms. She shares an anecdote about "a prominent Slovakian politician" who gave exclusive interviews to a site that is "dubiously financed, we assume from Russia". They assume from Russia. Everyone nods.

It's like they don't even hear themselves.

Then she moves on to Hungary. Apparently, Orban has "created a propaganda machine" and produced "antisemitic George Soros posters". No evidence is produced to back-up either of these claims. She thinks advertisers should be pressured into not giving money to "fake news sites". She calls for "international pressure", but never explains exactly what that means. The stand-out maniac on this panel is Emine Dzhaparova, the Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Information Policy. (She works for the Ministry of Information – nicknamed the Ministry of Truth, which was formed in 2014 to "counter lies about Ukraine". Even The Guardian thought that sounded dodgy.)

She talks very fast and, without any sense of irony, spills out a story that shoots straight through "disinformation" and becomes "incoherent rambling". She claims that Russian citizens are so brainwashed you'll never be able to talk to them, and that Russian "cognitive influence" is "toxic like radiation." Is this paranoid, quasi-xenophobic nonsense countered? No. Her fellow panelists nod and chuckle. On top of that, she just lies. She lies over and over and over again. She claims Russia is locking up Crimean Tartars "just for being muslims", nobody questions her. She says the war in Ukraine has killed 13,000 people, but doesn't mention that her side is responsible for over 80% of civilian deaths.

She says only 30% of Crimeans voted in the referendum, and that they were "forced". A fact not supported by any polls done by either side in the last four years, and any referenda held on the peninsula any time in the last last 30 year. It's simply a lie. Nobody asks her about the journalists killed in Ukraine since their glorious Maidan Revolution . Nobody questions the fact that she works for something called the "Ministry of Information". Nobody does anything but nod and smile as the "countering disinformation" panel becomes just a platform for spreading total lies.

When everyone on the panel has had their ten minutes on the soapbox, Freeland asks for recommendations for countering this "threat" – here's the list:

  1. Work to distinguish "free speech" from "propaganda", when you find propaganda there must be a "strong reaction".
  2. Pressure advertisers to abandon platforms who spread misinformation.
  3. Regulate social media.
  4. Educate journalists at special schools.
  5. Start up a "Ministry of Information" and have state run media that isn't controlled, like in Ukraine.

This is the Global Conference on Media Freedom and all these six people want to talk about is how to control what can be said, and who can say it. They single only four countries out for criticism: Hungary, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Russia .and Russia takes up easily 90% of that. They mention only two media outlets by name: RT and Sputnik. This wasn't a panel on disinformation, it was a public attack forum – a month's worth of 2 minutes of hate. These aren't just shills on this stage, they are solid gold idiots, brainwashed to the point of total delusion.

They are the dangerous glassy eyes of a Deep State that never questions itself, never examines itself, and will do anything it wants, to anyone it wants whilst happily patting itself on the back for its superior morality. They don't know, they don't care. They're true believers. Terrifyingly dead inside. Talking about state censorship and re-education camps under a big sign that says "Freedom". And that's just one talk. Just one panel in a 2 day itinerary filled to the brim with similarly soul-dead servants of authority. Truly, perfectly Orwellian.


Jonathan Jarvis

https://southfront.org/countering-russian-disinformation-or-new-wave-of-freedom-of-speech-suppression/

Read and be appalled at what America is up to .keep for further reference. We are in danger.

Tim Jenkins
It would serve Ms. Amanpour well, to relax, rewind & review her own interview with Sergei Lavrov:-

Then she might see why Larry King could stomach the appalling corporate dictatorship, even to the core of False & Fake recording of 'our' "History of the National Security State" , No More

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8H7aKGOpSwE

Amanpour was forced to laugh uncontrollably, when confronted with Lavrov's humorous interpretations of various legal aspects of decency & his Judgement of others' politicians and 'Pussy Riots' >>> if you haven't seen it, it is to be recommended, the whole interview, if nothing else but to study the body language and micro-facial expressions, coz' a belly up laugh is not something anybody can easily control or even feign that first spark of cognition in her mind, as she digests Lavrov's response :- hilarious

Einstein
A GE won't solve matters since we have a Government of Occupation behind a parliament of puppets.

Latest is the secretive Andy Pryce squandering millions of public money on the "Open Information Partnership" (OIP) which is the latest name-change for the Integrity Initiative and the Institute of Statecraft, just like al-Qaeda kept changing its name.

In true Orwellian style, they splashed out on a conference for "defence of media freedom", when they are in the business of propaganda and closing alternative 'narratives' down. And the 'media' they would defend are, in fact, spies sent to foreign countries to foment trouble to further what they bizarrely perceive as 'British interests'. Just like the disgraceful White Helmets, also funded by the FO.

Pryce's ventriloquist's dummy in parliament, the pompous Alan Duncan, announced another £10 million of public money for this odious brainwashing programme.

Tim Jenkins
That panel should be nailed & plastered over, permanently:-

and as wall paper, 'Abstracts of New Law' should be pasted onto a collage of historic extracts from the Guardian, in offices that issue journalistic licenses, comprised of 'Untouchables' :-

A professional habitat, to damp any further 'Freeland' amplification & resonance,

of negative energy from professional incompetence.

Francis Lee
Apropos of the redoubtable Ms Freeland, Canada's Foreign Secretary.

The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland's maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo) Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war. He was given a powerful post, money, home and car by the German Army in Cracow, then the capital of the German administration of the Galician region. His principal job was editor in chief and publisher of a newspaper the Nazis created. His printing plant and other assets had been stolen from a Jewish newspaper publisher, who was then sent to die in the Belzec concentration camp. During the German Army's winning phase of the war, Chomiak celebrated in print the Wehrmacht's "success" at killing thousands of US Army troops. As the German Army was forced into retreat by the Soviet counter-offensive, Chomiak was taken by the Germans to Vienna, where he continued to publish his Nazi propaganda, at the same time informing for the Germans on other Ukrainians. They included fellow Galician Stepan Bandera, whose racism against Russians Freeland has celebrated in print, and whom the current regime in Kiev has turned into a national hero.

Those Ukrainian 'Refugees' admitted to Canada in 1945 were almost certainly members of the 14th Waffen SS Division Galizia 1. These Ukie collaboraters – not to be confused with the other Ukie Nazi outfit – Stepan Bandera's Ukrainian Insurgent Army -were held responsible for the massacre of many Poles in the Lviv area the most infamous being carried out in the Polish village of Huta Pienacka. In the massacre, the village was destroyed and between 500] and 1,000 of the inhabitants were killed. According to Polish accounts, civilians were locked in barns that were set on fire while those attempting to flee were killed. That's about par for the course.
Canada's response was as follows:

The Canadian Deschênes Commission was set up to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the collaborators

Memorial to SS-Galizien division in Chervone, Lviv Oblast, western Ukraine

The Canadian "Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes" of October 1986, by the Honourable Justice Jules Deschênesconcluded that in relation to membership in the Galicia Division:

''The Galicia Division (14. Waffen grenadier division der SS [gal.1]) should not be indicted as a group. The members of Galicia Division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada. Charges of war crimes of Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission. Further, in the absence of evidence of participation or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution.''

However, the Commission's conclusion failed to acknowledge or heed the International Military Tribunal's verdict at the Nuremberg Trials, in which the entire Waffen-SSorganisation was declared a "criminal organization" guilty of war crimes. Also, the Deschênes Commission in its conclusion only referenced the division as 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Galizische Nr.1), thus in legal terms, only acknowledging the formation's activity after its name change in August 1944, while the massacre of Poles in Huta Pieniacka, Pidkamin and Palikrowy occurred when the division was called SS Freiwilligen Division "Galizien". Nevertheless, a subsequent review by Canada's Minister of Justice again confirmed that members of the Division were not implicated in war crimes.

Yes, the west looks after its Nazis and even makes them and their descendants political figureheads.

mark
Most of these people are so smugly and complacently convinced of their own moral superiority that they just can't see the hypocrisy and doublethink involved in the event.
Mikalina
Eva Bartlett gives a wider perspective:
https://www.globalresearch.ca/londons-media-freedom-conference-smacks-irony-critics-barred-no-mention-jailed-assange/5683808
Harry Stotle
Freedom-lover, Cunt, will be furious when he hears about this!

Apparently Steve Bell is doubleplusbad for alluding to the fact Netanyahu has got his hand shoved deep into Tom Watson's arse – the Guardian pulled Bell's most recent ouvre which suggests the media's antisemitism trope might not be quite as politically untainted as the likes of Freedland, Cohen and Viner would have you believe.
https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/guardian-cartoonist-steve-bell-specious-charge-of-antisemitism-in-email-to-all-paper-1.486570

Meanwhile Owen Jones has taken to Twitter to rubbish allegations that a reign of terror exists at Guardian Towers – the socialist firebrand is quoted as saying 'journalists are free to say whatever they like, so long as it doesn't stray too far from Guardian-groupthink'.

Tutisicecream
Good analysis Kit, of the cognitive dissonant ping pong being played out by Nazi sympathisers such as Hunt and Freeland.

The echo chamber of deceit is amplified again by the selective use of information and the ignoring of relevant facts, such as the miss reporting yesterday by Reuters of the Italian Neo-Nazi haul of weapons by the police, having not Russian but Ukrainian links.

Not a word in the WMSM about this devious miss-reporting as the creation of fake news in action. But what would you expect?

Living as I do in Russia I can assure anyone reading this that the media freedom here is on a par with the West and somewhat better as there is no paranoia about a fictitious enemy – Russians understand that the West is going through an existential crisis (Brexit in the UK, Trump and the Clinton war of sameness in the US and Macron and Merkel in the EU). A crisis of Liberalism as the failed life-support of capitalism. But hey, why worry about the politics when there is bigger fish to fry. Such as who will pay me to dance?

The answer is clear from what Kit has writ. The government will pay the piper. How sweet.

I'd like to thank Kit for sitting through such a turgid masquerade and as I'm rather long in the tooth I do remember the old BBC schools of journalism in Yelsin's Russia. What I remember is that old devious Auntie Beeb was busy training would be hopefuls in the art of discretion regarding how the news is formed, or formulated.

In other words your audience. And it ain't the public

Steve Hayes
The British government's "Online Harms" White Paper has a whole section devoted to "disinformation" (ie, any facts, opinions, analyses, evaluations, critiques that are critical of the elite's actual disinformation). If these proposals become law, the government will have effective control over the Internet and we will be allowed access to their disinformation, shop and watch cute cat videos.
Question This
The liberal news media & hypocrisy, who would have ever thought you'd see those words in the same sentence. But what do you expect from professional liars, politicians & 'their' free press?

Can this shit show get any worse? Yes, The other day I wrote to my MP regards the SNP legislating against the truth, effectively making it compulsory to lie! Mr Blackford as much as called me a transphobic & seemed to go to great length publishing his neo-liberal ideological views in some scottish rag, on how right is wrong & fact is turned into fiction & asked only those that agreed with him contact him.

Tim Jenkins
"The science or logical consistency of true premise, cannot take place or bear fruit, when all communication and information is 'marketised and weaponised' to a mindset of possession and control." B.Steere
Mikalina
I saw, somewhere (but can't find it now) a law or a prospective law which goes under the guise of harassment of MPs to include action against constituents who 'pester' them.

I've found a link for the Jo Cox gang discussing it, though.
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/new-research-on-the-intimidation-and-harassment-of-mps-featured-in-inaugural-conference

Question This
I only emailed him once! That's hardly harassment. Anyway I sent it with proton-mail via vpn & used a false postcode using only my first name so unlikely my civil & sincere correspondence will see me locked up for insisting my inalienable rights of freedom of speech & beliefs are protected. But there again the state we live in, i may well be incarcerated for life, for such an outrageous expectation.
Where to?
"The Guardian is struggling for money" Surely, they would be enjoying some of the seemingly unlimited US defense and some of the mind control programmes budgets.
Harry Stotle
Its the brazen nature of the conference that is especially galling, but what do you expect when crooks and liars no longer feel they even have to pretend?

Nothing will change so long as politicians (or their shady backers) are never held to account for public assets diverted toward a rapacious off-shore economic system, or the fact millions of lives have been shattered by the 'war on terror' and its evil twin, 'humanatarian regime change' (while disingenuous Labour MPs wail about the 'horrors' of antisemitism rather than the fact their former leader is a key architect of the killings).

Kit remains a go-to voice when deconstructing claims made by political figures who clearly regard the MSM as a propaganda vehicle for promoting western imperialism – the self-satisfied smugness of cunts like Jeremy Cunt stand in stark contrast to a real journalist being tortured by the British authorities just a few short miles away.

It's a sligtly depressing thought but somebody has the unenviable task of monitoring just how far our politicians have drifted from the everyday concerns of the 'just about managing' and as I say Mr Knightly does a fine job in informing readers what the real of agenda of these media love-ins are actually about – it goes without saying a very lengthy barge pole is required when the Saudis are invited but not Russia.

Where to?
This Media Freedom Conference is surely a creepy theatre of the absurd.

It is a test of what they can get away with.

Mikalina
Yep. Any soviet TV watcher would recognise this immediately. Message? THIS is the reality – and you are powerless.
mark
When are they going to give us the Ministry of Truth we so desperately need?

[Aug 16, 2019] Lapdogs for the Government and intelligence agencies by Greg Maybury

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... We know our disinformation program is complete when almost everything the American public believes is false.' ..."
"... Using groundbreaking camera and lighting techniques, Riefenstahl produced a documentary that mesmerized Germans; as Pilger noted, her Triumph of the Will 'cast Adolf Hitler's spell'. She told the veteran Aussie journalist the "messages" of her films were dependent not on "orders from above", but on the "submissive void" of the public. ..."
"... All in all, Riefenstahl produced arguably for the rest of the world the most compelling historical footage of mass hysteria, blind obedience, nationalistic fervour, and existential menace, all key ingredients in anyone's totalitarian nightmare. That it also impressed a lot of very powerful, high profile people in the West on both sides of the pond is also axiomatic: These included bankers, financiers, industrialists, and sundry business elites without whose support Hitler might've at best ended up a footnote in the historical record after the ill-fated beer-hall putsch. (See here , and here .) ..."
"... The purpose of this propaganda barrage, as Sharon Bader has noted, has been to convince as many people as possible that it is in their interests to relinquish their own power as workers, consumers, and citizens, and 'forego their democratic right to restrain and regulate business activity. As a result the political agenda is now confined to policies aimed at furthering business interests.' ..."
Aug 16, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Lapdogs for the Government

Here was, of course, another surreal spectacle, this time courtesy of one of the Deep State's most dangerous, reviled, and divisive figures, a notable protagonist in the Russia-Gate conspiracy, and America's most senior diplomat no less.

Not only is it difficult to accept that the former CIA Director actually believes what he is saying, well might we ask, "Who can believe Mike Pompeo?"

And here's also someone whose manifest cynicism, hypocrisy, and chutzpah would embarrass the much-derided scribes and Pharisees of Biblical days.

We have Pompeo on record recently in a rare moment of honesty admitting – whilst laughing his ample ass off, as if recalling some "Boy's Own Adventure" from his misspent youth with a bunch of his mates down at the local pub – that under his watch as CIA Director:

We lied, cheated, we stole we had entire training courses.'

It may have been one of the few times in his wretched existence that Pompeo didn't speak with a forked tongue.

At all events, his candour aside, we can assume safely that this reactionary, monomaniacal, Christian Zionist 'end-timer' passed all the Company's "training courses" with flying colours.

According to Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times, all this did not stop Pompeo however from name-checking Wikileaks when it served his own interests. Back in 2016 at the height of the election campaign, he had ' no compunction about pointing people toward emails stolen* by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and then posted by WikiLeaks."

[NOTE: Rosenberg's omission of the word "allegedly" -- as in "emails allegedly stolen" -- is a dead giveaway of bias on his part (a journalistic Freudian slip perhaps?), with his employer being one of those MSM marques leading the charge with the "Russian Collusion" 'story'. For a more insightful view of the source of these emails and the skullduggery and thuggery that attended Russia-Gate, readers are encouraged to check this out.]

And this is of course The Company we're talking about, whose past and present relationship with the media might be summed up in two words: Operation Mockingbird (OpMock). Anyone vaguely familiar with the well-documented Grand Deception that was OpMock, arguably the CIA's most enduring, insidious, and successful psy-ops gambit, will know what we're talking about. (See here , here , here , and here .) At its most basic, this operation was all about propaganda and censorship, usually operating in tandem to ensure all the bases are covered.

After opining that the MSM is 'totally infiltrated' by the CIA and various other agencies, for his part former NSA whistleblower William Binney recently added , ' When it comes to national security, the media only talk about what the administration wants you to hear, and basically suppress any other statements about what's going on that the administration does not want get public. The media is basically the lapdogs for the government.'

Even the redoubtable William Casey , Ronald Reagan's CIA Director back in the day was reported to have said something along the following lines:

We know our disinformation program is complete when almost everything the American public believes is false.'

In order to provide a broader and deeper perspective, we should now consider the views of a few others on the subjects at hand, along with some history. In a 2013 piece musing on the modern significance of the practice, my compatriot John Pilger ecalled a time when he met Leni Riefenstahl back in 70s and asked her about her films that 'glorified the Nazis'.

Using groundbreaking camera and lighting techniques, Riefenstahl produced a documentary that mesmerized Germans; as Pilger noted, her Triumph of the Will 'cast Adolf Hitler's spell'. She told the veteran Aussie journalist the "messages" of her films were dependent not on "orders from above", but on the "submissive void" of the public.

All in all, Riefenstahl produced arguably for the rest of the world the most compelling historical footage of mass hysteria, blind obedience, nationalistic fervour, and existential menace, all key ingredients in anyone's totalitarian nightmare. That it also impressed a lot of very powerful, high profile people in the West on both sides of the pond is also axiomatic: These included bankers, financiers, industrialists, and sundry business elites without whose support Hitler might've at best ended up a footnote in the historical record after the ill-fated beer-hall putsch. (See here , and here .)

" Triumph " apparently still resonates today. To the surprise of few one imagines, such was the impact of the film -- as casually revealed in the excellent 2018 Alexis Bloom documentary Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes -- it elicited no small amount of admiration from arguably the single most influential propagandist of recent times.

[Readers might wish to check out Russell Crowe's recent portrayal of Ailes in Stan's mini-series The Loudest Voice , in my view one the best performances of the man's career.]

In a recent piece unambiguously titled "Propaganda Is The Root Of All Our Problems", my other compatriot Caitlin Johnstone also had a few things to say about the subject, echoing Orwell when she observed it was all about "controlling the narrative".

Though I'd suggest the greater "root" problem is our easy propensity to ignore this reality, pretend it doesn't or won't affect us, or reject it as conspiratorial nonsense, in this, of course, she's correct. As she cogently observes,

I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don't have the time or energy to write about every single narrative control tool that the US-centralised empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they're just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.'

The Discreet Use of Censorship and Uniformed Men

It is hardly surprising that those who hold power should seek to control the words and language people use' said Canadian author John Ralston Saul in his 1993 book Voltaire's Bastards–the Dictatorship of Reason in the West .

Fittingly, in a discussion encompassing amongst other things history, language, power, and dissent, he opined, ' Determining how individuals communicate is' an objective which represents for the power elites 'the best chance' [they] have to control what people think. This translates as: The more control 'we' have over what the proles think, the more 'we' can reduce the inherent risk for elites in democracy.

' Clumsy men', Saul went on to say, 'try to do this through power and fear. Heavy-handed men running heavy-handed systems attempt the same thing through police-enforced censorship. The more sophisticated the elites, the more they concentrate on creating intellectual systems which control expression through the communications structures. These systems require only the discreet use of censorship and uniformed men.'

In other words, along with assuming it is their right to take it in the first place, ' those who take power will always try to change the established language ', presumably to better facilitate their hold on it and/or legitimise their claim to it.

For Oliver Boyd-Barrett, democratic theory presupposes a public communications infrastructure that facilitates the free and open exchange of ideas.' Yet for the author of the recently published RussiaGate and Propaganda: Disinformation in the Age of Social Media , 'No such infrastructure exists.'

The mainstream media he says, is 'owned and controlled by a small number of large, multi-media and multi-industrial conglomerates' that lie at the very heart of US oligopoly capitalism and much of whose advertising revenue and content is furnished from other conglomerates:

The inability of mainstream media to sustain an information environment that can encompass histories, perspectives and vocabularies that are free of the shackles of US plutocratic self-regard is also well documented.'

Of course the word "inability" suggests the MSM view themselves as having some responsibility for maintaining such an egalitarian news and information environment. They don't of course, and in truth, probably never really have! A better word would be "unwilling", or even "refusal". The corporate media all but epitomise the " plutocratic self-regard" that is characteristic of "oligopoly capitalism".

Indeed, the MSM collectively functions as advertising, public relations/lobbying entities for Big Corp, in addition to acting as its Praetorian bodyguard , protecting their secrets, crimes, and lies from exposure. Like all other companies they are beholden to their shareholders (profits before truth and people), most of whom it can safely be assumed are no strangers to "self-regard", and could care less about " histories, perspectives and vocabularies" that run counter to their own interests.

It was Aussie social scientist Alex Carey who pioneered the study of nationalism , corporatism , and moreso for our purposes herein, the management (read: manipulation) of public opinion, though all three have important links (a story for another time). For Carey, the following conclusion was inescapable: 'It is arguable that the success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century.' This former farmer from Western Australia became one of the world's acknowledged experts on propaganda and the manipulation of the truth.

Prior to embarking on his academic career, Carey was a successful sheep grazier . By all accounts, he was a first-class judge of the animal from which he made his early living, leaving one to ponder if this expertise gave him a unique insight into his main area of research!

In any event, Carey in time sold the farm and travelled to the U.K. to study psychology, apparently a long-time ambition. From the late fifties until his death in 1988, he was a senior lecturer in psychology and industrial relations at the Sydney-based University of New South Wales, with his research being lauded by such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, both of whom have had a thing or three to say over the years about The Big Shill. In fact such was his admiration, Pilger described him as "a second Orwell", which in anyone's lingo is a big call.

Carey unfortunately died in 1988, interestingly the year that his more famous contemporaries Edward Herman and Chomsky's book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media was published, the authors notably dedicating their book to him.

Though much of his work remained unpublished at the time of his death, a book of Carey's essays – Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty -- was published posthumously in 1997. It remains a seminal work.

In fact, for anyone with an interest in how public opinion is moulded and our perceptions are managed and manipulated, in whose interests they are done so and to what end, it is as essential reading as any of the work of other more famous names. This tome came complete with a foreword by Chomsky, so enamoured was the latter of Carey's work.

For Carey, the three "most significant developments" in the political economy of the twentieth century were: the growth of democracy the growth of corporate power; and the growth of propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

Carey's main focus was on the following: advertising and publicity devoted to the creation of artificial wants; the public relations and propaganda industry whose principal goal is the diversion to meaningless pursuits and control of the public mind; and the degree to which academia and the professions are under assault from private power determined to narrow the spectrum of thinkable (sic) thought.

For Carey, it is an axiom of conventional wisdom that the use of propaganda as a means of social and ideological control is 'distinctive' of totalitarian regimes. Yet as he stresses: the most minimal exercise of common sense would suggest a different view: that propaganda is likely to play at least as important a part in democratic societies (where the existing distribution of power and privilege is vulnerable to quite limited changes in popular opinion) as in authoritarian societies (where it is not).' In this context, 'conventional wisdom" becomes conventional ignorance; as for "common sense", maybe not so much.

The purpose of this propaganda barrage, as Sharon Bader has noted, has been to convince as many people as possible that it is in their interests to relinquish their own power as workers, consumers, and citizens, and 'forego their democratic right to restrain and regulate business activity. As a result the political agenda is now confined to policies aimed at furthering business interests.'

An extreme example of this view playing itself right under our noses and over decades was the cruel fiction of the " trickle down effect " (TDE) -- aka the 'rising tide that would lift all yachts' -- of Reaganomics . One of several mantras that defined Reagan's overarching political shtick, the TDE was by any measure, decidedly more a torrent than a trickle, and said "torrent" was going up not down. This reality as we now know was not in Reagan's glossy economic brochure to be sure, and it may have been because the Gipper confused his prepositions and verbs.

Yet as the GFC of 2008 amply demonstrated, it culminated in a free-for all, dog eat dog, anything goes, everyman for himself form of cannibal (or anarcho) capitalism -- an updated, much improved version of the no-holds-barred mercenary mercantilism much reminiscent of the Gilded Age and the Robber Barons who 'infested' it, only one that doesn't just eat its young, it eats itself!

Making the World Safe for Plutocracy

In the increasingly dysfunctional, one-sided political economy we inhabit then, whether it's widgets or wars or anything in between, few people realise the degree to which our opinions, perceptions, emotions, and views are shaped and manipulated by propaganda (and its similarly 'evil twin' censorship ,) its most adept practitioners, and those elite, institutional, political, and corporate entities that seek out their expertise.

It is now just over a hundred years since the practice of propaganda took a giant leap forward, then in the service of persuading palpably reluctant Americans that the war raging in Europe at the time was their war as well.

This was at a time when Americans had just voted their then-president Woodrow Wilson back into office for a second term, a victory largely achieved on the back of the promise he'd "keep us out of the War." Americans were very much in what was one of their most isolationist phases , and so Wilson's promise resonated with them.

But over time they were convinced of the need to become involved by a distinctly different appeal to their political sensibilities. This "appeal" also dampened the isolationist mood, one which it has to be said was not embraced by most of the political, banking, and business elites of the time, most of whom stood to lose big-time if the Germans won, and/or who were already profiting or benefitting from the business of war.

For a president who "kept us out of the war", this wasn't going to be an easy 'pitch'. In order to sell the war the president established the Committee on Public Information (aka the Creel Committee) for the purposes of publicising the rationale for the war and from there, garnering support for it from the general public.

Enter Edward Bernays , the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who's generally considered to be the father of modern public relations. In his film Rule from the Shadows: The Psychology of Power , Aaron Hawkins says Bernays was influenced by people such as Gustave le Bon , Walter Lippman , and Wilfred Trotter , as much, if not moreso, than his famous uncle.

Either way, Bernays 'combined their perspectives and synthesised them into an applied science', which he then 'branded' "public relations".

For its part the Creel committee struggled with its brief from the off; but Bernays worked with them to persuade Americans their involvement in the war was justified -- indeed necessary -- and to that end he devised the brilliantly inane slogan, "making the world safe for democracy" .

Thus was born arguably the first great propaganda catch-phrases of the modern era, and certainly one of the most portentous. The following sums up Bernays's unabashed mindset:

The conscious, intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.'

The rest is history (sort of), with Americans becoming more willing to not just support the war effort but encouraged to view the Germans and their allies as evil brutes threatening democracy and freedom and the 'American way of life', however that might've been viewed then. From a geopolitical and historical perspective, it was an asinine premise of course, but nonetheless an extraordinary example of how a few well chosen words tapped into the collective psyche of a country that was decidedly opposed to any U.S involvement in the war and turned that mindset completely on its head.

' [S]aving the world for democracy' (or some 'cover version' thereof) has since become America's positioning statement, 'patriotic' rallying cry, and the "Get-out-of-Jail Free" card for its war and its white collar criminal clique.

At all events it was by any measure, a stroke of genius on Bernays's part; by appealing to people's basic fears and desires, he could engineer consent on a mass scale. It goes without saying it changed the course of history in more ways than one. That the U.S. is to this day still using a not dissimilar meme to justify its "foreign entanglements" is testament to both its utility and durability.

The reality as we now know was markedly different of course. They have almost always been about power, empire, control, hegemony, resources, wealth, opportunity, profit, dispossession, keeping existing capitalist structures intact and well-defended, and crushing dissent and opposition.

The Bewildered Herd

It is instructive to note that the template for 'manufacturing consent' for war had already been forged by the British. And the Europeans did not 'sleepwalk' like some " bewildered herd ' into this conflagration.

For twenty years prior to the outbreak of the war in 1914, the then stewards of the British Empire had been diligently preparing the ground for what they viewed as a preordained clash with their rivals for empire the Germans.

To begin with, contrary to the opinion of the general populace over one hundred years later, it was not the much touted German aggression and militarism, nor their undoubted imperial ambitions, which precipitated its outbreak. The stewards of the British Empire were not about to let the Teutonic upstarts chow down on their imperial lunch as it were, and set about unilaterally and preemptively crushing Germany and with it any ambitions it had for creating its own imperial domain in competition with the Empire upon which Ol' Sol never set.

The "Great War" is worth noting here for other reasons. As documented so by Jim Macgregor and Gerry Docherty in their two books covering the period from 1890-1920, we learn much about propaganda, which attest to its extraordinary power, in particular its power to distort reality en masse in enduring and subversive ways.

In reality, the only thing "great" about World War One was the degree to which the masses fighting for Britain were conned via propaganda and censorship into believing this war was necessary, and the way the official narrative of the war was sustained for posterity via the very same means. "Great" maybe, but not in a good way!

In these seminal tomes -- World War One Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War and its follow-up Prolonging the Agony: How the Anglo-American Establishment Deliberately Extended WWI by Three-And-A-Half Years -- Macgregor and Docherty provide a masterclass for us all of the power of propaganda in the service of firstly inciting, then deliberately sustaining a major war.

The horrendous carnage and destruction that resulted from it was of course unprecedented, the global effects of which linger on now well over one hundred years later.

Such was the enduring power of the propaganda that today most folks would have great difficulty in accepting the following; this is a short summary of historical realities revealed by Macgregor and Docherty that are at complete odds with the official narrative, the political discourse, and the school textbooks:

It was Great Britain (supported by France and Russia) and not Germany who was the principal aggressor in the events and actions that let to the outbreak of war; The British had for twenty years prior to 1914 viewed Germany as its most dangerous economic and imperial rival, and fully anticipated that a war was inevitable; In the U.K. and the U.S., various factions worked feverishly to ensure the war went on for as long as possible, and scuttled peacemaking efforts from the off; key truths about this most consequential of geopolitical conflicts have been concealed for well over one hundred years, with no sign the official record will change; very powerful forces (incl. a future US president) amongst U.S. political, media, and economic elites conspired to eventually convince an otherwise unwilling populace in America that U.S. entry onto the war was necessary; those same forces and many similar groups in the U.K. and Europe engaged in everything from war profiteering, destruction/forging of war records, false-flag ops, treason, conspiracy to wage aggressive war, and direct efforts to prolong the war by any means necessary, many of which will rock folks to their very core.

But peace was not on the agenda. When, by 1916, the military failures were so embarrassing and costly, some key players in the British government were willing to talk about peace. This could not be tolerated. The potential peacemakers had to be thrown under the bus. The unelected European leaders had one common bond: They would fight Germany until she was crushed.

Prolonging the Agony details how this secret cabal organised to this end the change of government without a single vote being cast. David Lloyd George was promoted to prime minister in Britain and Georges Clemenceau made prime minister in France. A new government, an inner-elite war cabinet thrust the Secret Elite leader, Lord Alfred Milner into power at the very inner-core of the decision-makers in British politics.

Democracy? They had no truck with democracy. The voting public had no say. The men entrusted with the task would keep going till the end and their place-men were backed by the media and the money-power, in Britain, France and America.

Propaganda Always Wins

But just as the pioneering adherents of propaganda back in the day might never have dreamt how sophisticated and all-encompassing the practice would become, nor would the citizenry at large have anticipated the extent to which the industry has facilitated an entrenched, rapacious plutocracy at the expense of our economic opportunity, our financial and material security, our physical, social and cultural environment, our values and attitudes, and increasingly, our basic democratic rights and freedoms.

We now live in the Age of the Big Shill -- cocooned in a submissive void no less -- an era where nothing can be taken on face value yet where time and attention constraints (to name just a few) force us to do so; [where] few people in public life can be taken at their word; where unchallenged perceptions become accepted reality; where 'open-book' history is now incontrovertible not-negotiable, upon pain of imprisonment fact; where education is about uniformity, function, form and conformity, all in the service of imposed neo-liberal ideologies embracing then prioritising individual -- albeit dubious -- freedoms.

More broadly, it's the "Roger Ailes" of this world -- acting on behalf of the power elites who after all are their paymasters -- who create the intellectual systems which control expression through the communications structures, whilst ensuring these systems require only 'the discreet use of censorship and uniformed men.'

They are the shapers and moulders of the discourse that passes for the accepted lingua franca of the increasingly globalised, interconnected, corporatised political economy of the planet. Throughout this process they 'will always try to change the established language.'

And we can no longer rely on our elected representatives to honestly represent us and our interests. Whether this decision making is taking place inside or outside the legislative process, these processes are well and truly in the grip of the banks and financial institutions and transnational organisations. In whose interests are they going to be more concerned with?

We saw this all just after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) when the very people who brought the system to the brink, made billions off the dodge for their banks and millions for themselves, bankrupted hundreds of thousands of American families, were called upon by the U.S. government to fix up the mess, and to all intents given a blank cheque to so do.

That the U.S. is at even greater risk now of economic implosion is something few serious pundits would dispute, and a testament to the effectiveness of the snow-job perpetrated upon Americans regarding the causes, the impact, and the implications of the 2008 meltdown going forward.

In most cases, one accepts almost by definition such disconnects (read: hidden agendas) are the rule rather than the exception, hence the multi-billion foundation -- and global reach and impact -- of the propaganda business. This in itself is a key indicator as to why organisations place so much importance on this aspect of managing their affairs.

At the very least, once corporations saw how the psychology of persuasion could be leveraged to manipulate consumers and politicians saw the same with the citizenry and even its own workers, the growth of the industry was assured.

As Riefenstahl noted during her chinwag with Pilger after he asked if those embracing the "submissive void" included the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? " Everyone ," she said.

By way of underscoring her point, she added enigmatically: 'Propaganda always wins if you allow it'.

Greg Maybury is a freelance writer based in Perth, Australia. His main areas of interest are American history and politics in general, with a special focus on economic, national security, military, and geopolitical affairs. For 5 years he has regularly contributed to a diverse range of news and opinion sites, including OpEd News, The Greanville Post, Consortium News, Dandelion Salad, Global Research, Dissident Voice, OffGuardian, Contra Corner, International Policy Digest, the Hampton Institute, and others.


nottheonly1

This brilliant essay is proof of the reflective nature of the Universe. The worse the propaganda and oppression becomes, the greater the likelihood such an essay will be written.

Such is the sophistication and ubiquity of the narrative control techniques used today -- afforded increasingly by 'computational propaganda' via automated scripts, hacking, botnets, troll farms, and algorithms and the like, along with the barely veiled censorship and information gatekeeping practised by Google and Facebook and other tech behemoths -- it's become one of the most troubling aspects of the technological/social media revolution.

Very rarely can one experience such a degree of vindication. My moniker 'nottheonly1' has received more meaning with this precise depiction of the long history of the manipulation of the masses. Recent events have destroyed but all of my confidence that there might be a peaceful way out of this massive dilemma. Due to this sophistication in controlling the narrative, it has now become apparent that we have arrived at a moment in time where total lawlessness reigns. 'Lawlessness' in this case means the loss of common law and the use of code law to create ever new restrictions for free speech and liberty at large.

Over the last weeks, comments written on other discussion boards have unleashed a degree of character defamation and ridicule for the most obvious crimes perpetrated on the masses through propaganda. In this unholy union of constant propaganda via main stream 'media' with the character defamation by so called 'trolls' – which are actually virtual assassins of those who write the truth – the ability of the population, or parts thereof to connect with, or search for like minded people is utterly destroyed. This assault on the online community has devastating consequences. Those who have come into the cross hairs of the unintelligence agencies will but turn away from the internet. Leaving behind an ocean of online propaganda and fake information. Few are now the web sites on which it is possible to voice one's personal take on the status quo.

There is one word that describes these kind of activities precisely: traitor. Those who engage in the character defamation of commenters, or authors per se, are traitors to humanity. They betray the collective consciousness with their poisonous attacks of those who work for a sea change of the status quo. The owner class has all game pieces positioned. The fact that Julian Assange is not only a free man, but still without a Nobel price for peace, while war criminals are recipients, shows just how much the march into absolute totalitarianism has progressed. Bernays hated the masses and offered his 'services' to manipulate them often for free.

Even though there are more solutions than problems, the time has come where meaningful participation in the search for such solution has been made unbearable. It is therefore that a certain fatalism has developed – from resignation to the acceptance of the status quo as being inevitable. Ancient wisdom has created a proverb that states 'This too, will pass'. While that is a given, there are still enough Human Beings around that are determined to make a difference. To this group I count the author of this marvelous, albeit depressing essay. Thank you more that words can express. And thank you, OffGuardian for being one of the last remaining places where discourse is possible.

GMW
Really great post! Thanks. I'm part of the way through reading Alex Carey's book: "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty," referenced in this article. I've learned more about the obviously verifiable history of U.S. corporate propaganda in the first four chapters than I learned gaining a "minor" in history in 1974 (not surprisingly I can now clearly see). I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in just how pervasive, entrenched and long-standing are the propaganda systems shaping public perception, thought and behavior in America and the West.
Norcal
Wow Greg Maybury great essay, congratulations. This quote is brilliant, I've never see it before, "For Carey, the following conclusion was inescapable: 'It is arguable that the success of business propaganda in persuading us, for so long, that we are free from propaganda is one of the most significant propaganda achievements of the twentieth century.' "

Too, Rodger Ailes was the man credited with educating Nixon up as how to "use" the TV media, and Ailes never looked back as he manipulated media at will. Thank you!

nondimenticare
That is also one of the basic theses of Harold Pinter's Nobel Prize speech.
vexarb
I read in 'Guns, Germs and Steel' about Homo Sapiens and his domesticated animals. Apparently we got on best in places where we could find animals that are very like us: sheep, cattle, horses and other herd animals which instinctively follow their Leader. I think our cousins the chimpanzee are much the same; both species must have inherited this common trait from some pre-chimpanzee ancestor who had found great survival value in passing on the sheeple trait to their progeny. As have the sheep themselves.

By the way, has anybody observed sheeple behaviour in ants and bees? For instance, quietly following a Leader ant to their doom, or noisily ganging up to mob a worker bee that the Queen does not like?

Andy
Almost unbelievable that this was commisioned by the BBC 4 part series covering much of what is in Gregs essay. Some fabulous old footage too. https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/
S.R.Passerby
I'd say the elites are both for and against. Competing factions. It's clear that many are interested in overturning democracy, whilst others want to exploit it.

The average grunt on the street is in the fire, regardless of the pan chosen by the elites.

[Aug 06, 2019] Amazon.com ELSRA USB Wired Programming Numeric Keypad ControlPad Black PK-2068(23 Key, 2-level programmable, 2 USB Hub) for Windows

Works independently of OS. New (1) from $38.90 & FREE shipping. Details
Aug 06, 2019 | www.amazon.com

XXX

function as describe, once setup the keypad remember the setting even move to another computer September 21, 2018 Verified Purchase

This is a great device for shortcuts. I like the part where the driver only runs once on a computer then the setting will remember even unplug and use it on another computer. The key setting is very easy straightforward. The keys: control alt and shift can be set as combo key with other keys. The window key is standalone can't do a combo (too bad). The two side extra slot USB2 are ready, not usb3. The key plate can be lifted up for label custom key. Most other devices do the same and cost more than tripple.

5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely well made programmable keypad November 6, 2018 Verified Purchase

As a developer, I type the same statements repeatedly. I wanted a programmable keypad so the most common operations could be incorporated into a single key press. The Elsra PK-2068 is perfect for that task.

This is a sturdy, well-made keypad and the keys feel of excellent quality when pressed. The Windows software provided is easy to understand and use. I did have an issue with the software on one PC which I suspect was a USB HID conflict, but switching to another PC solved that problem. The programmes are saved onto the keypad itself, which means I can pick up the PK-2068 and plug it into my Linux desktop and the programmed keys just work.

Whilst troubleshooting the programming issue, I was in contact with Elsre Customer Support, who responded very quickly, and offered exceptional service.

Overall I am extremely happy with this purchase and recommend the keypad over the many others I looked at when purchasing. >

Christian Gibbs , May 8, 2019

Programming software is pretty bad, but product itself is great.

Hardware: Excellently built. USB hub works well. Would be better if it were ergonomically angled like a keyboard instead of being flat, but the size and convenience make up for it. Customizable key covers are sturdy and remain in place even with extended use. Sturdy, appears to be quality materials. I already have plans to buy a second one.

The software to program it is pretty terrible. No help or instructions, so you just have to figure it out on your own. It doesn't let you save different configurations as files, so if you want multiple configurations, you'd pretty much have to have the entire application stored on different machines. Also, you can not type the characters you want to program; you have to manually click each one from an on-screen keyboard, which is very tedious. You can't easily edit the text, either: If you want to change a character, you need to click on the "delete" button over and over 'til you reach the character, then you have to re-do everything using the onscreen keyboard. Presumably, they figure that you'll only have to program it once, so they don't expend much effort on making the software user friendly.

It's really hard to know how to rate such a good product that comes with such terrible software. Once it's programmed the way you want it, it's great- but getting there is a real hassle.

empojohn , December 15, 2018
Works Great for My Needs

This sturdy little keyboard is easy to program with up to 30 characters for each key. And 3-stroke combos like Ctrl+Shift+-(Ctru plus Shift plus -) appear only to count as one Character toward this limit - at least according to the character counter in the program. You will see from the included photo that I have set up mine for use with a specialty computer program (for Indexing Genealogical Records). The two AHK-labeled keys in the lower left trigger AutoHotkey actions I have separately programmed that assign more complex actions to certain key combos, so yes, it will work with AutoHotkey. The keypress is very quiet and satisfying.

Regarding Support, I had trouble triggering the modifier keys (Ctrl, Shift, etc.) with the specified double-click, possibly due to a problem with my mouse, but a third click worked for me. I reached out to Support, and they were very responsive and helpful. I have ordered a second PK-2068 for use with another program we use regularly in our household. For the price and considering both its capabilities and restrictions, I am very pleased with the value and effectiveness of this product for my purposes, and highly recommend it for use in similar situations.

For your information, I made the little paper labels in the photo by creating a Table in MS Word with cell size .56" x .56" (after experimenting) and used AlternateGothic2 BT font in font size 11 for most of the cells. Transparent keycaps and a keycap puller come with the device and it is easy to pull a keycap, place your label, and replace the transparent keycap over it.

Andrew , May 14, 2018
Great keypad, good customer support

--EDIT 6/17/2019--
The company contacted me and sent me a newer revised keypad with software capable of adding delays between keystrokes, I'm going to try it asap but my needs changed so it's low on my priority list. Seems like good customer support though!

--EDIT 7/12/2018---
The company that manufactures this keypad contacted me after I asked about adding a delay function, and they're considering adding it! I'm excited they care about customer service. This keypad works as intended so I upped my rating to 4 stars. It's inability to have pauses is a bummer but it's still a good keypad and should work for most modern programs. Older programs written to only accept human-speed inputs may struggle with instant keystrokes. Hopefully the timing feature will make it to a hardware/software revision.

---EDIT 5/29/2018---
We've been running into either driver issues, or timing issues. Windows 7 installs four drivers for this keypad, and we're not sure what the problem is but whenever we're using it, our data entry program crashes. It COULD be that the keypad doesn't allow pauses, so it types so fast the program we use crashes.

We also had a "driver power state failure" while trying to reboot a computer that was affected. Besides the issues above, it's a good keypad and definitely worth a try, if you have a good modern program to use it with. Personally, our business uses an older system (auto star) that may not be liking the fast keystrokes.

---original review:

Awesome keypad, immense help at work, and the PRICE is appropriate!!! Unlike some keys that cost over $80 for a simple pad, this one is $34.90 at time of writing.

We use tons of hotkeys for everyday work at my job, and an entire programmable keyboard was unnecessary and expensive, and a good number pad can come in handy. This has both, and it has a delete key! Not that you couldn't program one in, but this has it already, along with "00" for you number crunchers, and still has 4 programmable keys in number pad mode.

The rubber dome keyswitches feel fine, and they bounce well. They aren't rough, slidey, or goopy like some keyboards. These feel fine and have a tactile pop at the bottom as you'd expect from a decent rubber dome.

The programming is easy, you download the program or install from the disk, run the .exe, and click the keys on the graphic GUI that you want programmed to the selected button. You can do key combinations or strings of text like you'd expect from other macro setups. There's a good LED button up top to show what mode you're in; programmable 24 button keypad, or a number pad with just four open programmable buttons up top.

The macros are stored on the keypad, so if you have several computers, you don't have to worry about loosing your macro programs.

The only two gripes I have so far, which I consider slight; the 5 key doesn't have a bump, so finding the "home row" of the keypad with your middle finger on the 5 isn't easy. I stuck a rubber pad on it, problem fixed. A drop of hot glue, keycap sticker, whatever. fixed.

The other thing some may like is a "pause" feature in macros for slower programs or scripts that require a pause in keystrokes. I don't need it, but some may.

I used a basic template for the caps.

I'm tempted to buy the whole programmable board, but then I'd have two number pads. Still tempting though, as I could use this for just hotkeys.
If I need hotkeys at home for photoshop or something I may very well buy another one of these. The only improvement I could see would be hotkeys that are program specific, or a third layer of macros.

MP3 Fan , May 16, 2019
Nice for Generating Keystroke Macros

Pros:
All keys (except Enter) are programmable
See-through keycaps pop out and label can be inserted
Programming accepts all combinations of Shift, Alt and Ctrl
Key travel with positive feedback, yet quiet
Unit provides two USB 2.0 ports
Solid construction.

Cons:
Keypad must be manually programmed, i.e., cannot save and retrieve macros from configuration files
Wish the Enter key can be programmed as well
Keys do not auto-repeat.

[Jul 31, 2019] Is Hiring Broken?

Notable quotes:
"... For example, as a Stanford graduate he nonetheless argues that "The skills required for getting into Stanford at 17 (extracurriculars, SAT prep etc) do not correlate to job success as a software developer ..."
"... How good a student you were at 17, is not very relevant to who you are at 25." References are flawed because "People will only ever list references who will say good things about them," and they ultimately punish people who've had bad managers. But asking for source code from past sides projects penalizes people with other interests or family, while "most work product is confidential." ..."
Jul 31, 2019 | it.slashdot.org

(rajivprab.com) 391

Posted by EditorDavid on Sunday July 28, 2019 @06:34AM from the if-it-is-broke-fix-it dept. DevNull127 writes: Hiring is broken and yours is too," argues a New York-based software developer whose LinkedIn profile says he's worked at both Amazon and Google, as well as doing architecture verification work for both Oracle and Intel. Summarizing what he's read about hiring just this year in numerous online articles, he lists out the arguments against virtually every popular hiring metric , ultimately concluding that "Until and unless someone does a rigorous scientific study evaluating different interviewing techniques, preferably using a double-blind randomized trial, there's no point in beating this dead horse further. Everyone's hiring practices are broken, and yours aren't any better."

For example, as a Stanford graduate he nonetheless argues that "The skills required for getting into Stanford at 17 (extracurriculars, SAT prep etc) do not correlate to job success as a software developer.

How good a student you were at 17, is not very relevant to who you are at 25." References are flawed because "People will only ever list references who will say good things about them," and they ultimately punish people who've had bad managers. But asking for source code from past sides projects penalizes people with other interests or family, while "most work product is confidential."

Brain teasers "rely on you being lucky enough to get a flash of inspiration, or you having heard it before," and are "not directly related to programming. Even Google says it is useless ." And live-coding exercises are "artificial and contrived," and "not reflective of practical coding," while pair programming is unrealistic, with the difficulty of the tasks varying from day to day.

He ultimately criticizes the ongoing discussion for publicizing the problems but not the solutions. "How exactly should we weigh the various pros and cons against each other and actually pick a solution? Maybe we could maybe try something novel like data crunch the effectiveness of each technique, or do some randomized experiments to measure the efficacy of each approach? Lol, j/k. Ain't nobody got time for that!"

[Jul 27, 2019] Huxley's Brave New World was published in 1931, Orwell's 1984 in 1949. Both came true ion 2019

Notable quotes:
"... I favor the notion that the Internet's gift of vastly more accessible information and greater and less expensive communication is exposing more of corruption in government that continues an ancient trend, this web site being a sterling example. ..."
Jul 27, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

LJ , July 25, 2019 at 10:38

Quite a few people couldn't help but notice that the country was shifting into a dis-informational mode several years ago. So much for the Information Age, the Internet and hand held ( communication ) devices to increase awareness. It was noticed by some folks even here at CN that tendencies had come ito play that were reminiscent of Orwell's dystopian yet fictional accounts in the novel 1984. This entire Russiagate episode could just as easily have come from 1984's Ministry of Information as our own Intelligence Services and might have been just as boring if it had . Meanwhile us , prols, just go with the flow and don't really care. Are things that much different than they have ever been? I rem,ember the Waterdate hearings and the Iran-Contra Hearings, Ken Starr's Investigation. I'm a little to young to remember the Warren Commission or Senator Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare but I do remember the 9/11 Commission and WMGs in Iraq.. I remember wrote a paper on Propaganda films in WW II. Is this episode really all that different?

Paul Merrell , July 26, 2019 at 19:11

@ "Quite a few people couldn't help but notice that the country was shifting into a dis-informational mode several years ago. So much for the Information Age, the Internet and hand held ( communication ) devices to increase awareness. "

You address a topic I've pondered long and hard. Although I can cite scant evidence, I can't help but wonder: Are we instead only noticing -- because of the far wider availability of information via the Internet -- a disinformation phenomenon that is perhaps centuries old if not still older?

Huxley's Brave New World was published in 1931, Orwell's 1984 in 1949. Dickens' Bleakhouse was serialized in 1852-53. All can be fairly said to deal with a perception that those who control government are dishonest and corrupt, based on then-current norms. E.g., Dickens noted in the preface of his first edition that his fictional Jarndyce and Jarndyce largely paralleled the sadly real Thellusson v Woodford. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thellusson_v_Woodford

Such precedents argue against the "disinformational mode" being of recent origin.

I favor the notion that the Internet's gift of vastly more accessible information and greater and less expensive communication is exposing more of corruption in government that continues an ancient trend, this web site being a sterling example.

[Jul 20, 2019] Love Literature Stay Away From Grad School

Notable quotes:
"... And ultimately, this is why I can't blame graduate students for figuring out that they need to be technocrats in order to survive. The job market is tough, there are very few tenure-track jobs available, and the people who make it are the people who don't do History for the love of it but who do it like...a career. ..."
Jul 20, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Right now, for a creative or artistic or even just a curious person, I think over-exposure to academia is intellectual and spiritual poison.

But I should qualify that disillusionment by saying that academia also saved me. If I hadn't read Franz Kafka in community college and discovered (to my utter shock) that I had a gift for writing poetry in my first creative writing class, I have no idea what kind of bad roads I would've wandered down. So my disillusionment with academia was gradual and fairly late.

I can maybe explain if you'll indulge a mini-narrative of my academic career. After community college, I went to a very conservative Christian college in the Missouri Ozarks. It was a school for working class kids where you worked on campus to pay for your tuition and room and board. So for most students it was our one realistic chance at a full college education without crushing debt.

So, no matter how crazy the school's politics got in our eyes, we felt like we were stuck there. But when I was a student, the college also had a great English faculty who turned us on to William Butler Yeats, Flannery O'Connor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Emily Dickinson, Faulkner, Hemingway. There was also a healthy theater department.

Little by little, my handful of weirdo artsy friends and I learned how to creatively thrive without institutional sanction or ideological kinship with our hyper-conservative college.

After my undergrad education, I went to the University of Arkansas's MFA program in creative writing to study poetry. And that was pretty amazing in its own feral way. I connected with this great generation of old school Southern writers in Arkansas, though that generation began phasing out during my four years in the program. They started getting replaced by writers who were more slick, more credentialed, more politically astute, less problematic but also infinitely less interesting than the generation that preceded them. [Emphasis mine -- RD]

... So I think my issues are less with Duke or that particular English department and more with this emerging academic generation, which to me seems to double-down on the older generation's worst trait (ideological certainty) while skimping out on its greatest strengths (genuine erudition and intellectual curiosity). As an academic, I generally felt like as soon as the older professors retired, I was going to be surrounded by people who all read the same ten theorists and who uniformly had pretty banal tastes in literature and who were all frothing to cancel and leap-frog each other into eternity and/or tenure. [Emphasis mine -- RD]


Peter 14 hours ago

If Cambridge decolonizes its curriculum then our heritage will be preserved at places like the College of the Ozarks.

I had a very similar experience in my PhD program, mine was in History. I did an MA in London and loved every minute of it. It was designed as a very international program, and I have so many fond memories of sitting in pubs after our seminars arguing in a good natured way about the topic of the day, and I thought "this is what I want to do with my life!" But graduate work for a career in academia is nothing like that. People have to specialize, and so you find quickly that in a room full of PhD candidate historians there is actually not that much to talk about because everyone's silo is so specific and so different. Politics plays a role too, I suppose. I was free to be an out and proud conservative in my MA program.

I did not feel that freedom in my PhD program, where you need good professional relationships in order to have a chance at a job.

And ultimately, this is why I can't blame graduate students for figuring out that they need to be technocrats in order to survive. The job market is tough, there are very few tenure-track jobs available, and the people who make it are the people who don't do History for the love of it but who do it like...a career.

Which is what they want it to be. They had the right approach and I had the romantic, and wrong, approach. It's not their fault. Being one of the few to carve out a career in such an industry takes determination and not a little joyless professionalism. If you aren't ready to turn your passion into a business, don't go to graduate school.

David J. White Peter 10 hours ago
I noticed when I was in graduate school in the 80s that one thing that seemed to characterize many of the students and professors in literature-oriented fields -- particularly Comp Lit -- was that they didn't really seem to enjoy reading very much. I'm not sure they were even capable anymore of just sitting and reading a book purely for enjoyment with trying to mine it for nuggets to support their pet theory.
Adamant 13 hours ago
"If you deeply love art or books or music, I really believe the last thing you should do is pursue a graduate degree studying that thing you love. "

They will beat that love right out of you, replace it with vapid ideology, and you'll never love those things with the same wide-eyed innocence as before.

This is unfortunate, as a cooler, more mature perspective on art is something we should all try to cultivate. But critique as murder + autopsy is the order of the day.

My American poetry professor in college (a proper reactionary, he spoke without irony of 'the War of Northern Aggression) inoculated me against 'interrogating the text' in the way the modern academy trains its cadres to do.

[Jul 20, 2019] Orwell, Inc. How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

There are a lot of exaggerations here.
While email and web activity of employees is definitely monitored, all other monitoring usually is pretty fragmentary. Often on a corporate smartphone there are two zones -- secure zone where you access corporate network and email and private zone where you have access to the internet via you provider and traffic is not monitored other then for the volume.
Keeping track of all those details (and some of them will be wrong) is just too expensive and few corporation outside FIRE sector so that.
In short anything that opens company to a lawsuit will be monitored, but outside of that companies actually are not interested in the information collection as it opens them to additional liability in save of suicides and such.
Mining data from social media is a different complex topic and requires a separate article.
Notable quotes:
"... From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks. ..."
"... Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential . Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked. ..."
"... Even Chet's phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software. ..."
Jul 20, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Orwell, Inc.: How Your Employer Spies On You From When You Wake Up Until You Go To Bed

An increasing number of large companies are using data from employees' electronic devices to track such personal details like when you they wake up, where they go for coffee in the morning, their whereabouts throughout the entire day, and what time they go to bed according to a new Wall Street Journal article. What's the company explanation for this type of spying?

"An increasing number of companies are keeping track of such information to flag potentially suspicious activity and measure work-life balance," the article claims.

The article walks through the day in the life of a fictional worker, Chet. It starts by noting that his employer logs the time and his location when he first wakes up to check his e-mail in the morning.

From there, the company even sees as Chet logs onto the guest Wi-Fi connections at places like the coffee shop in the morning. Many companies require additional authentication when they try to access company information from unsecure Wi-Fi networks.

Then, a Bluetooth device and his ID badge mark what time he arrives at the office while tracking his movement around the building. These technologies are supposedly used to see what teams collaborate frequently and to make sure that employees aren't accessing unauthorized areas.

Then, as Chet gets to his desk, his web browsing is tracked along with his email. New software breaks down how workers interact with email and how quickly colleagues reply in an attempt to see which employees are most influential . Some software on company computers even snaps screenshots every 30 seconds to evaluate productivity and hours worked.

Even Chet's phone conversations can be recorded, transcribed and monitored. Companies use this information to find subject matter experts and measure productivity. Even conference room discussions and meetings can now be recorded and analyzed by software.

At the end of the day, if Chet goes to the gym or for a run, the company will know that too and just how many calories he has burned: his fitness tracker logs how many steps he takes and what exercise, if any, he is doing. Companies then use that information to determine how frequently employees are exercising and whether or not they should be paying for health and fitness services.

You can view the WSJ's full animated panel here .


Xena fobe , 4 minutes ago link

They retain firms that track us on our social media accounts. Supposedly to defend against workplace violence threats. And then there are the cameras. We never really know. Just do my job and keep personal use of company resources to a minimum.

misgivings , 10 minutes ago link

Just NO. This is pretty much slavery. There should be a right to privacy, human rights. the insidious nature of ever more control must be reversed.

misgivings , 13 minutes ago link

we really ARE just cattle.

Ms No , 15 minutes ago link

Shortly Im going to start leaving my phone at home and just carrying a book with me. Screw these Bolshevik bitches.

Kefeer , 47 minutes ago link

The operation known as "LifeLog" was replaced the very day that Face Book came into being?

Life Log : The objective of the LifeLog concept was "to be able to trace the 'threads' of an individual's life in terms of events, states, and relationships", and it has the ability to "take in all of a subject's experience, from phone numbers dialed and e-mail messages viewed to every breath taken, step made and place gone". [1]

" CIA Can Selectively Disclose Information, Court Affirms " Bookmark this website Anons

My takeaway from all this is that many, perhaps most, human institutions are corrupt and that there is no basis from which most people are able to discern truth from lies or right from wrong. This explains the ability of the Power Elite to easily divide people against each other. For example, you cannot debate a Liberal because they have their basis for truth on their personal feeling or emotions. Many conservatives do as well, but they are closer in their thingking to the foundation from which truth sits upon.

PKKA , 48 minutes ago link

How to avoid electronic surveillance

Edward Snowden, former NSA employee. Snowden is an absolute supporter of encryption of all stored and transmitted content. Now there are many applications that have encryption features. And among them there are common and well-known messengers, such as, for example, WhatsApp, Telegram and others.

The former NSA agent also advises to secure his computer, in particular, the hard drive. On the Internet you can find instructions on how to do this. Usually used special software. For example, for Windows, there is a program preinstalled in advanced versions of the OS -- BitLocker, for Mac -- FileVault. Thus, if the computer is stolen, the attacker will not be able to read your data.

Password Managers A useful thing that most people do not even think about. Such programs allow you to keep your passwords in order - to create unique keys and store them. According to Snowden, one of the most common problems with online privacy is leaks.

Tor. The former NSA official calls the anonymous Tor network "the most important technological project to ensure the confidentiality of those currently used." He stated that he uses it on a daily basis. Tor allows you to "cover up traces" on the Internet, that is, it provides anonymity, making it difficult to determine the person's IP address and location.

Also, Snowden told how to avoid total surveillance. For example, special services that can remotely turn on a microphone or camera on a smartphone and start listening. The answer is simple - pull out the microphone and camera modules from the device. Instead, it is proposed to use an external accessory and disconnect from the selfie and never use it.

Kefeer , 33 minutes ago link

The only safe way is to abstain as much as possible, which is now next to impossible. Security is only as protected as the weakest link. Consider a person who uses their smart phone giving Google or Apple the permissions needed to use their OS's and apps; we do not even know exactly how much info we agreed to give away. Consider all the contact info that your friends, relatives, work or other organizations you associate with have on their devices and how vulnerable they make it; they are not as cautious as you and some people using these things do not even think about security; it never occurs to them.. .. just some musing on my part.

Cardinal Fang , 50 minutes ago link

Jeez, I used to sign a quarterly affirmation that I complied with all of the companies electronic communication monitoring policies...and they made us sign that we understood that they had climbed up our *** and pitched a tent.

One of the reasons they had to find a replacement for me when I quit.

Quia Possum , 57 minutes ago link

If you're using your employer's devices, facilities, or networks, you should assume they are tracking what you're doing, and they have every right to do so. When I buy your company's products or services, I don't want to have to pay for your time spent messing around at work.

I can't read the article since it's behind a paywall, but I don't see how your waking and sleeping time and "work life balance" could be tracked unless you are using your employer's devices or networks outside of work. Which is friggin stupid if you do it.

fezline , 56 minutes ago link

Actually it doesnt work like that... Chet isn't informed of this happening. The fact that the company does this is buried in vague language in the 500 page employee handbook that Chet has to sign when he is hired. Chet is just like anyone else with a company provided electronic device. All companies monitor and track everything they can with the electronic devices they provide. If you have one and th think your company doesnt do it... you are naive.

Wild Bill Steamcock , 12 minutes ago link

Chet has the ability to determine when and where he uses the work-provided devices. And why does work have access to his fitness tracker? Supplied by his employer too? Really, Chet had options

fezline , 1 hour ago link

Not with me... I have a personal phone and when I am not at work I keep my work phone at home turned off. My emails are forwarded to my personal device and any voicemail I get also gets forwarded to my personal device. I never place personal calls with my work phone and I turn it off the second I leave work to go home.

Steele Hammorhands , 1 hour ago link

What a waste of resources. If you want to see what I do, just ask. I'll show you how I accomplish my work-related duties. How I manage my time at work. Where I go to cry and regret my life choices.

[Jul 09, 2019] Aldous Huxley said something that points exactly what happening in the world now

Notable quotes:
"... Huxley died at 5:20pm, London time, on 22 November 1963. About ten minutes later, CS Lewis died. Just under an hour after that, of course, JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. There may never have been a deadlier 70 minutes for celebrity ..."
"... Fifty years ago, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. In 1982, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft imagined the three of them in conversation after their deaths. ..."
"... I think there's a good deal to be said for this this point of view in in regard to the permanence of any dictatorship. " ..."
Jul 09, 2019 | www.unz.com

Robjil says: July 9, 2019 at 1:06 pm GMT 500 Words @ChuckOrloski

Chuck,

There another famous person who died that day. Aldous Huxley.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/eclipsed-in-death-we-remember-jfk-but-what-about-aldous-huxley-or-cs-lewis-8957192.html

Poor old Aldous Huxley. In other circumstances, his name would be all over the place today, the 50th anniversary of his death. Yet, just moments after his demise, the Brave New World author had the misfortune, if that's the right word, of becoming a key member of the "eclipsed celebrity death club".

Huxley died at 5:20pm, London time, on 22 November 1963. About ten minutes later, CS Lewis died. Just under an hour after that, of course, JFK was shot and killed in Dallas. There may never have been a deadlier 70 minutes for celebrity

A book has been written about these three deaths on the same day by Peter Kreeft. He imagines them talking together in the heavens.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/the-day-c-s-lewis-john-f-kennedy-and-aldous-huxley-died/

Fifty years ago, three great men died within a few hours of each other: C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. In 1982, philosophy professor Peter Kreeft imagined the three of them in conversation after their deaths.

Positioning Lewis as a proponent of ancient Western theism, Kennedy as a modern Western humanist, and Huxley as an ancient Eastern pantheist, Kreeft wrote a conversational book entitled Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley. "

Aldous Huxley said something that points exactly what happening in the world now. We are lead by a wild species. The Zios don't want to be domesticated by freedom of speech. Spare the rod ( of freedom of speech) spoil the child. The Zios want to be wild forever. They want to do whatever they want on earth with no scolding feedback.

This question and answer talk was at Berkeley Univ. on March 20 1962. This fear of being domesticated is why the ADL went crazy on 6/6/19, closing down websites and videos all over the internet.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/5hJp5JrOTuQ?start=578&feature=oembed

9:23 t0 10:44

Another point which was made by Sir Charles Darwin in his book "The Next Million Years" which I think was one would with in different terms .

I envisaged in brave new world .I mean here he points out that the human species is still a wild species, it has never been domesticated .

I mean domesticated species is one which has been tamed by another species. Well, until we get an invasion from Mars we shall not be tamed by another species. All we can do is to try to tame ourselves.

An oligarchy tries to tame ourselves but the oligarchy still remains wild. I mean however much it succeeded in taming the domesticating the rest of the race it from it must remain wild. And this was the part of the fable the dramatic part of the fable of brave new world is that the people in the upper hierarchy who were not ruthlessly conditioned could break down.

I mean this Charles Darwin insists that because man is wild he can never expect to domesticate himself because the people on top would always be undomesticated sooner or later always run wild. I think there's a good deal to be said for this this point of view in in regard to the permanence of any dictatorship. "

[Jul 01, 2019] The Real College Inequality Democrats Have Yet to Address by Keith Hoeller

Notable quotes:
"... As Curtis notes, full-time salaries are only one part of the faculty salary picture. Curtis' own research for the AAUP (published as an appendix to my Equality for Contingent Faculty documents that only twenty-five percent of professors now teach on the tenure-track, and only sixteen percent have tenure. Seventy-five percent of all college professors, one million in total, teach off the tenure-track, with fifty percent of all professors teaching part-time. ..."
"... While "free trade" agreements encouraged the closing of American factories and the loss of millions of American jobs, colleges and universities instituted their own brand of wage theft called by adjunct Ron Swift "inside-outsourcing." Even though the number of students was increasing, the colleges staunched the number of well-paid, secure, full-time tenure-track positions. They met rising enrollments by staffing classrooms with "contingent" faculty who teach off the tenure-track without the protections for free speech afforded their tenured brothers and sisters. ..."
"... The colleges save money by refusing to pay these contingent professors a living wage, in flagrant violation of the principle of equal pay for equal work. They are paid on a completely separate and lower pay scale than their full-time counterparts are paid for teaching the very same courses; they are paid on average only about fifty percent of what a full-timer would earn for teaching the same number of courses. See my " The Wal-Martization of Higher Education: How Young Professors Are Getting Screwed "). ..."
"... In " The Ph.D. Now Comes with Food Stamps ," the Chronicle of Higher Education has documented hundreds of thousands of people with graduate degrees receiving some form of public assistance, many of them contingent faculty. ..."
Jul 01, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
So are the Democrats right to try and solve the equality problem by making college more affordable, with tuition perhaps free? Or are these proposals simply the current version of the Herbert Hoover's 1928 Presidential campaign where he literally offered voters " A chicken for every pot."

But before we go spending trillions of dollars on college tuition and eliminating student debt, shouldn't we ask: What has been driving up the cost of attending college over the past few decades leading to the current lack of affordable college options?

In his run for re-election as Vice President in 2012, Joe Biden made clear that he blamed college professors' high salaries for the skyrocketing costs of tuition. This was an astonishing charge, especially given that his wife has long been a college professor. He was immediately admonished by faculty groups around the country. " Faculty Groups Try to Educate Biden on Salaries ".

John Curtis, former Director of Research for the American Association of University Professors, wrote a rebuttal to Biden on January 18, 2012. He took issue with Biden's claim, pointing out that full-time faculty salaries have been stagnant for a number of years. He noted that tuition rates, in contrast, had risen "between three and fourteen times as fast as full-time faculty salaries." (underlining added)

Curtis also cites " Trends in College Spending 1998-2008 by the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability ," which documented decreased spending on college teaching in favor of administration even before the Great Recession and wrote, "The common myth that spending on faculty is responsible for continuing cost escalation is not true."

As Curtis notes, full-time salaries are only one part of the faculty salary picture. Curtis' own research for the AAUP (published as an appendix to my Equality for Contingent Faculty documents that only twenty-five percent of professors now teach on the tenure-track, and only sixteen percent have tenure. Seventy-five percent of all college professors, one million in total, teach off the tenure-track, with fifty percent of all professors teaching part-time.

While "free trade" agreements encouraged the closing of American factories and the loss of millions of American jobs, colleges and universities instituted their own brand of wage theft called by adjunct Ron Swift "inside-outsourcing." Even though the number of students was increasing, the colleges staunched the number of well-paid, secure, full-time tenure-track positions. They met rising enrollments by staffing classrooms with "contingent" faculty who teach off the tenure-track without the protections for free speech afforded their tenured brothers and sisters.

The colleges save money by refusing to pay these contingent professors a living wage, in flagrant violation of the principle of equal pay for equal work. They are paid on a completely separate and lower pay scale than their full-time counterparts are paid for teaching the very same courses; they are paid on average only about fifty percent of what a full-timer would earn for teaching the same number of courses. See my " The Wal-Martization of Higher Education: How Young Professors Are Getting Screwed ").

In other words, though women are still paid only 82% percent of what men earn for doing the same work, with black men earning only 73% and Hispanics only 69%, most adjunct professors are paid at most 50% of what tenure-track faculty earn for teaching the same course.

Though possessing Master's and Doctorates and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, these college professors are not being paid for all of the hours they work outside of class preparing lectures, grading tests, and meeting with students. They often do not even have offices. Their work schedule is capped below full-time so they will not qualify for tenure. Their work varies from quarter to quarter and they are often denied unemployment when they are in fact unemployed. The adjuncts and other contingent professors usually do not have any health insurance or retirement benefits

In " The Ph.D. Now Comes with Food Stamps ," the Chronicle of Higher Education has documented hundreds of thousands of people with graduate degrees receiving some form of public assistance, many of them contingent faculty.

The treatment between the two tiers is so disparate that I have called it "faculty apartheid" because the tenure-track few control and dominate the contingent many. Indeed, the tenured faculty often serve as the direct supervisors of the contingents. I have called the kind of discrimination that exists in higher education "tenurism," the baseless but widespread stereotype that the tenured faculty are superior and warrant higher pay and better treatment and than the non-tenure-track faculty. (see my " Against Tenurism ").

In an interview with Shankar Vedantam on the NPR show "The Hidden Brain," Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist who has done research on inequality in education, says the best solution is to have "the best teachers in American classrooms."

But we are far from that solution, with the majority of the U.S. higher education teaching force earning much less than the vaunted $15 an hour minimum wage recommended by nearly all of the Democratic candidates. These contingent faculty are "apprentices to nowhere" with little realistic hope of escaping the academic ghetto as the contingents far outnumber the dwindling number of tenure-track professors.

But don't' the Democrats have a tight relation with the faculty unions (American Association of University Professors, American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association)? Yes, they do. But the unions themselves have collectively bargained the contingents into poverty and income insecurity. The two-tier system exists within the unions too, which have long been run by and for the tenure-track faculty; these unions clearly have not apprised the Democrats of these inequalities, let alone insist they solve them.

Will the Democrats insist that these unions, upon whom they are so dependent for money and campaign workers, treat all of their members equally? Or will they continue to look the other way in order to keep union money flowing into their campaign coffers.

Will the Democrats insist that these colleges, upon whom they wish to build an equal society, treat their professors equally and offer them the same opportunities for a better life that they are offering their students?

If politicians are going to solve a problem, they must first have a clear diagnosis before offering a treatment. Before the Democrats spend tax money on free tuition and paying off student loans, they need to acknowledge the income disparity among the professoriate and make solving it an equal priority.

Keith Hoeller is the co-founder of the Washington Part-Time Faculty Association and editor of Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System (Vanderbilt University Press).

[Jun 30, 2019] Orwell s 1984 No Longer Reads Like Fiction It s The Reality Of Our Times by Robert Bridge

Highly recommended!
1984, Brave New World, and Idiocracy look more and more like Documentaries now.
Notable quotes:
"... Describing the protagonist Winston Smith's frugal London flat, he mentions an instrument called a 'telescreen', which sounds strikingly similar to the handheld 'smartphone' that is enthusiastically used by billions of people around the world today. ..."
"... At the same time, the denizens of 1984 were never allowed to forget they were living in a totalitarian surveillance state, under the control of the much-feared Thought Police. Massive posters with the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You' were as prevalent as our modern-day advertising billboards. Today, however, such polite warnings about surveillance would seem redundant, as reports of unauthorized spying still gets the occasional lazy nod in the media now and then. ..."
"... In fact, just in time for 1984's anniversary, it has been reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has once again been illicitly collecting records on telephone calls and text messages placed by US citizens. ..."
"... Another method of control alluded to in 1984 fell under a system of speech known as 'Newspeak', which attempted to reduce the language to 'doublethink', with the ulterior motive of controlling ideas and thoughts. ..."
"... Another Newspeak term, known as 'facecrime', provides yet another striking parallel to our modern situation. Defined as "to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense." It would be difficult for the modern reader to hear the term 'facecrime' and not connect it with 'Facebook', the social media platform that regularly censors content creators for expressing thoughts it finds 'hateful' or inappropriate. ..."
"... 'Hate speech' is precisely one of those delightfully vague, subjective terms with no real meaning that one would expect to find in the Newspeak style guide. Short of threatening the life of a person or persons, individuals should be free to criticize others without fear of reprisal, least of all from the state, which should be in the business of protecting free speech at all cost. ..."
"... Another modern phenomenon that would be right at home in Orwell's Oceania is the obsession with political correctness, which is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." But since so many people today identify with some marginalized group, this has made the intelligent discussion of controversial ideas – not least of all on US college campuses , of all places – exceedingly difficult, if not downright dangerous. Orwell must be looking down on all of this madness with much surprise, since he provided the world with the best possible warning to prevent it. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Robert Bridge, op-ed via RT.com,

70 years ago, the British writer George Orwell captured the essence of technology in its ability to shape our destinies in his seminal work, 1984. The tragedy of our times is that we have failed to heed his warning.

No matter how many times I read 1984, the feeling of total helplessness and despair that weaves itself throughout Orwell's masterpiece never fails to take me by surprise. Although usually referred to as a 'dystopian futuristic novel', it is actually a horror story on a scale far greater than anything that has emerged from the minds of prolific writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. The reason is simple. The nightmare world that the protagonist Winston Smith inhabits, a place called Oceania, is all too easily imaginable. Man, as opposed to some imaginary clown or demon, is the evil monster.

In the very first pages of the book, Orwell demonstrates an uncanny ability to foresee future trends in technology. Describing the protagonist Winston Smith's frugal London flat, he mentions an instrument called a 'telescreen', which sounds strikingly similar to the handheld 'smartphone' that is enthusiastically used by billions of people around the world today.

Orwell describes the ubiquitous device as an "oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror" affixed to the wall that "could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely." Sound familiar?

It is through this gadget that the rulers of Oceania are able to monitor the actions of its citizens every minute of every day.

At the same time, the denizens of 1984 were never allowed to forget they were living in a totalitarian surveillance state, under the control of the much-feared Thought Police. Massive posters with the slogan 'Big Brother is Watching You' were as prevalent as our modern-day advertising billboards. Today, however, such polite warnings about surveillance would seem redundant, as reports of unauthorized spying still gets the occasional lazy nod in the media now and then.

In fact, just in time for 1984's anniversary, it has been reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) has once again been illicitly collecting records on telephone calls and text messages placed by US citizens. This latest invasion of privacy has been casually dismissed as an "error" after an unnamed telecommunications firm handed over call records the NSA allegedly "hadn't requested" and "weren't approved" by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 2013, former CIA employee Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA's intrusive surveillance operations, yet somehow the government agency is able to continue – with the help of the corporate sector – vacuuming up the private information of regular citizens.

Another method of control alluded to in 1984 fell under a system of speech known as 'Newspeak', which attempted to reduce the language to 'doublethink', with the ulterior motive of controlling ideas and thoughts. For example, the term 'joycamp', a truncated term every bit as euphemistic as the 'PATRIOT Act', was used to describe a forced labor camp, whereas a 'doubleplusgood duckspeaker' was used to praise an orator who 'quacked' correctly with regards to the political situation.

Another Newspeak term, known as 'facecrime', provides yet another striking parallel to our modern situation. Defined as "to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense." It would be difficult for the modern reader to hear the term 'facecrime' and not connect it with 'Facebook', the social media platform that regularly censors content creators for expressing thoughts it finds 'hateful' or inappropriate. What social media users need is an Orwellian lesson in 'crimestop', which Orwell defined as "the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought." Those so-called unacceptable 'dangerous thoughts' were determined not by the will of the people, of course, but by their rulers.

And yes, it gets worse. Just this week, Mark Zuckerberg's 'private company' agreed to give French authorities the "identification data" of Facebook users suspected of spreading 'hate speech' on the platform, in what would be an unprecedented move on the part of Silicon Valley.

'Hate speech' is precisely one of those delightfully vague, subjective terms with no real meaning that one would expect to find in the Newspeak style guide. Short of threatening the life of a person or persons, individuals should be free to criticize others without fear of reprisal, least of all from the state, which should be in the business of protecting free speech at all cost.

Another modern phenomenon that would be right at home in Orwell's Oceania is the obsession with political correctness, which is defined as "the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against." But since so many people today identify with some marginalized group, this has made the intelligent discussion of controversial ideas – not least of all on US college campuses , of all places – exceedingly difficult, if not downright dangerous. Orwell must be looking down on all of this madness with much surprise, since he provided the world with the best possible warning to prevent it.

For anyone who entertains expectations for a happy ending in 1984, be prepared for serious disappointment (spoiler alert, for the few who have somehow not read this book). Although Winston Smith manages to finally experience love, the brief romance – like a delicate flower that was able to take root amid a field of asphalt – is crushed by the authorities with shocking brutality. Not satisfied with merely destroying the relationship, however, Smith is forced to betray his 'Julia' after undergoing the worst imaginable torture at the 'Ministry of Love'.

The book ends with the words, "He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother." Will we too declare, like Winston Smith, our love for 'Big Brother' above all else, or will we emerge victorious against the forces of a technological tyranny that appears to be just over the horizon? Or is Orwell's 1984 just really good fiction and not the instruction manual for tyrants many have come to fear it is?

An awful lot is riding on our answers to those questions, and time is running out.

[Jun 29, 2019] Millennials Blame Unprecedented Burnout Rates On Work, Debt Finances

Jun 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The issue of Millennial 'burnout' has been an especially hot topic in recent years - and not just because the election of President Trump ushered in an epidemic of co-occurring TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) that sent millions of American twenty somethings on a never-ending quest for a post-grad 'safe space'.

For those who aren't familiar with the subject, the World Health Organization recently described burnout as "a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed." As birth rates plunge and so-called deaths from despair (suicides and overdoses) climb, sending the US left expectancy lower for multiple consecutive years for the first time since the 1960s, many researchers see solving the problem of burnout as critical to fixing many of our societal issues.

To try and dig deeper into the causes and impact of millennial burnout, Yellowbrick , a national psychiatric organization, surveyed 2,000 millennials to identify what exactly is making a staggering 96% of the generation comprising the largest cohort of the American labor force say they feel "burned out" on a daily basis.

The answer is, unsurprisingly, finances and debt: These are the leading causes of burnout (and one reason why Bernie Sanders latest proposal to wipe out all $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt might be more popular with millennial voters than many other Americans realize).

Anthony Aaron , 1 hour ago link

The average student loan is $30,000

At 6% interest with a 6-year amortization, that works out to monthly payments of $497 -- about what many of these folks spend on eating at restaurants or on tattoos or on drugs per month.

It's a matter or priority -- and repaying the student loans isn't a priority for them which is why a report in '17 showed that at 7 years after graduation, more than 45% of them hadn't paid even one dollar of principle on their student loans.

Deadbeats whiners

kikrlbs , 1 hour ago link

This is becoming exhausting. The boomers and the like simply don't want to admit that it is much harder today making ends meet than it was when they were younger. That is a fact, inflation and asset inflation has made the value of a dollar half of what is was 40 years ago. Meaning, you would have to work 80 hours in today's money to match 40 hours in money from the late 70's. Now, millenials don't get off easy either because they think they deserve that same standard and since it does not and cannot exist in our monetary system, they try to usurp personal responsibility, at any level, by finger pointing and apathy. Our society is slowly collapsing.

[Jun 27, 2019] 'The Ugly Americans' From Kermit Roosevelt to John Bolton Iran Al Jazeera

Highly recommended!
Jun 27, 2019 | www.aljazeera.com

Sixty-six years later, I am witnessing how another "Ugly American" is walking in the footsteps of Roosevelt. His name is John Bolton, a chief advocate of the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, a nefarious Islamophobe, and former chairman of the far-right anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute. This infamous institution is known for spreading lies about Muslims - claiming there is a looming "jihadist takeover" that can lead to a "Great White Death" - to incite hatred against them and intimidate, silence, and alienate them.

In his diabolical plans to wage war on Iran, Bolton is taking a page from Roosevelt's playbook. Just as the CIA operative used venal Iranian politicians and fake news to incite against the democratically elected Iranian government, today his successor, the US national security adviser, is seeking to spread misinformation on a massive scale and set up a false flag operation with the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a militant terrorist organisation. Meanwhile, he has also pressed forward with debilitating sanctions that are further worsening the economic crisis in the country and making the lives of ordinary Iranians unbearable.

... ... ...

Bolton is the dreadful residue of the pure violence and wanton cruelty that drive Zionist Christian zealots in their crusades against Muslims. He is the embodiment of the basest and most racist roots of American imperialism.

The regime he serves is the most naked and vulgar face of brutish power, lacking any semblance of legitimacy - a bullying coward flexing its military muscles. At its helm is an arrogant mercantile president, who - faced with the possibility of an impeachment - has no qualms about using the war machine at his disposal to regain political relevance and line his pockets.

But the world must know Americans are not all ugly, they are not all rabid imperialists - Boltons and Roosevelts. What about those countless noble Americans - the sons and daughters of the original nations that graced this land, of the African slaves who were brought to this land in chains, of the millions after millions of immigrants who came to these shores in desperation or hope from the four corners of the earth? Do they not have a claim on this land too - to redefine it and bring it back to the bosom of humanity?

[Jun 26, 2019] Signs of neoliberalization: an increase since the 70s in de luxe facilities and bloated administrator salaries

Notable quotes:
"... When administrators make budget cuts, it isn't for recreational facilities and their own salaries -- it's the classics and history departments, and it's to faculty, with poorly paid part-time adjuncts teaching an unconscionable share of courses. ..."
"... So universities have been exacerbating the same unequal division between the people who actually do the work (faculty) and the people who allocate salaries (administrators) -- so too as in the business world, as you say. ..."
Jun 26, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

C Wolfe Bloomington IN Jan. 23

@Midwest Josh

I don't think that's entirely accurate, and even if true, leaving students to the predations of private lenders isn't the answer. Although I'm willing to entertain your thesis, soaring tuition has also been the way to make up for the underfunding of state universities by state legislatures.

At the same time, there's been an increase since the 70s in de luxe facilities and bloated administrator salaries. When administrators make budget cuts, it isn't for recreational facilities and their own salaries -- it's the classics and history departments, and it's to faculty, with poorly paid part-time adjuncts teaching an unconscionable share of courses.

So universities have been exacerbating the same unequal division between the people who actually do the work (faculty) and the people who allocate salaries (administrators) -- so too as in the business world, as you say.

[Jun 24, 2019] Bernie Sanders' Newest Plan Would Wipe $1.6 Trillion In Student Debt, Fund Free State College

Notable quotes:
"... The massive student-debt jubilee would be financed with a tax on Wall Street: Specifically, a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% tax on bond trades and a .005% tax on derivatives trades. ..."
"... By introducing the student-debt plan, Sanders has outmaneuvered Elizabeth "I have a plan for that" Warren ..."
Jun 24, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Bernie Sanders' Newest Plan Would Wipe $1.6 Trillion In Student Debt, Fund Free State College

by Tyler Durden Mon, 06/24/2019 - 06:00 34 SHARES

In his latest attempt to one-up Elizabeth Warren and establish his brand of "democratic socialism" as something entirely different from the progressive capitalism practiced by some of his peers, Bernie Sanders is preparing to unveil a new plan that would involve cancelling all of the country's outstanding $1.6 trillion in student debt.

The massive student-debt jubilee would be financed with a tax on Wall Street: Specifically, a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% tax on bond trades and a .005% tax on derivatives trades.

Sanders plan would forgive roughly three times as much debt as Elizabeth Warren's big student-debt amnesty plan, which would forgive some $640 billion in the most distressed student loans.

Additionally, Sanders' plan would also provide states with $48 billion to eliminate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Thanks to the market effect, private schools would almost certainly be forced to cut prices to draw talented students who could simply attend a state school for free.

Reps Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Pramila Jayapal of Washington have already signed on to introduce Sanders' legislation in the House on Monday.

The timing of this latest in a series of bold socialist policy proposals from Sanders - let's not forget, Bernie is largely responsible for making Medicare for All a mainstream issue in the Democratic Party - comes just ahead of the first Democratic primary debate, where Sanders will face off directly against his No. 1 rival: Vice President Joe Biden, who has marketed his candidacy as a return to the 'sensible centrism' of the Democratic Party of yesteryear.

By introducing the student-debt plan, Sanders has outmaneuvered Elizabeth "I have a plan for that" Warren and established himself as the most far-left candidate in the crowded Democratic Primary field. Hopefully, this can help stall Warren's recent advance in the polls. The plan should help Sanders highlight how Biden's domestic platform includes little in the way of welfare expansion during the upcoming debate.


3-fingered_chemist , 8 minutes ago link

My federal student loan monthly statement says I don't have to make a payment. I don't qualify for any forgiveness because I'm responsible. Nonetheless, I pay the loan every month. The balance goes down but every month it's still the same story.

I have to imagine the provider prefers students to see that it says zero dollars owed this month with the hope that they don't pay because it says 0 dollars owed, default, and rack up a bunch of fees and interest that the student doesn't see in the fine print.

The provider can then get paid by the taxpayer no questions asked. Much more profit and payment is significantly faster.

Rex Titter , 18 minutes ago link

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Education costs are in the stratosphere 'because' of conversion of univeristires into neoliberal institution. Which mean that the costs will skyrocket even more.

Somebody once said: If the neoliberal government took over management of the Sahara desert, in five years, there would be a shortage of sand.

The only way to rein in neoliberals in government is to stop giving them so damned much money...

Buy gold and toss it in the lake,,,

honest injun , 24 minutes ago link

The guaranteed student loan program created a mechanism that increases the price of education. Before the program, graduates could expect 10 times the cost of a years' tuition. Now, they'de lucky to get one year. The Americans were pushed out of this business and the UN-Americans replaced them. This goes on for decades until the marks realized that they've been screwed. ... The victims are in full support since they've been systematically dumbed down that it seems like a good idea. It's not. This is a bailout of a failed neoliberal institution.

[Jun 24, 2019] So controversial was this book on Communism and Zionism that it sent the author into indefinite retirement and forced his publisher out of business

Jun 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Jun 23, 2019 7:45:59 PM | 153

@ eagle eye | Jun 23, 2019 6:40:30 PM #137

Thanks for the tip about the author Douglas Reed . He appears to have been stifled so well that even learning he ever existed is accidental. By the way, most of his books seem to be on the Internet Archive site, and I've downloaded all I can find. Want to get a feeling for what kind of man he was. (In Nazis I have no interest)

Here is an Amazon blurb for one of them.

Far and Wide Douglas Reed

Reed gives a record of his travels in the United States. With unusual flair and uncanny prophetic insight, Reed takes us on a journey of the historical and political side of America. So controversial was this book on Communism and Zionism that it sent the author into indefinite retirement and forced his publisher out of business. 398 Pages.

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

The Amazon warehouse in Swansea – the company has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements.

Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberal schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

FionaMcW , 11 Apr 2019 06:36

Schools are teaching to the test. As someone who recently retrained as a secondary science teacher - after nearly 30 years as a journalist - I know this to be true.
Olympia1881 -> Centrecourt , 11 Apr 2019 05:46
Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. It worked well when labour was pumping billions into it and they invested in early intervention schemes such as sure start and nursery expansion. Unfortunately under the tories we have had those progressive policies scaled right back. Children with SEND and/or in care are commodities bought and sold by local authorities. I've been working in a PRU which is a private company and it does good things, but I can't help but think if that was in the public sector that it would be in a purpose built building rather than some scruffy office with no playground.

The facilities aren't what you would expect in this day in age. If we had a proper functioning government with a plan then what happens with vulnerable children would be properly organised rather than a reactive shit show.

DrMidnite , 10 Apr 2019 17:04
"Schools teach to the test, depriving children of a rounded and useful education."
Boy do they. I work in Business/IT training and as the years have rolled on I and every colleague I can think of have noticed more and more people coming to courses that they are unfit for. Not because they are stupid, but because they have been taught to be stupid. So used to being taught to the test that they are afraid to ask questions. Increasingly I get asked "what's the right way to do...", usually referring to situation in which there is no right way, just a right way for your business, at a specific point in time.
I had the great pleasure of watching our new MD describe his first customer-facing project, which was a disaster, but they "learned" from it. I had to point out to him that I teach the two disciplines involved - businesss analysis and project management - and if he or his team had attended any of the courses - all of which are free to them - they would have learned about the issues they would face, because (astonishingly) they are well-known.
I fear that these incurious adult children are at the bottom of Brexit, Trump and many of the other ills that afflict us. Learning how to do things is difficult and sometimes boring. Much better to wander in with zero idea of what has already been done and repeat the mistakes of the past. I see the future as a treadmill where the same mistakes are made repetitively and greeted with as much surprise as if they had never happened before. We have always been at war with Eastasia...

[Jun 21, 2019] A Slow Death The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic

Highly recommended!
The term Casializatin was repced by more correct term "neoliberalization" for clarity.
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalization, a word that says much in, and of, itself, is seen as analogue of broader outsourcing initiatives. Militaries do it, governments do it, and the university does it. Services long held to be the domain of the state, itself an animation of the social contract, the spirit of the people, have now become the incentive of the corporate mind, and, it follows, its associated vices. The entire scope of what has come to be known as outsourcing is itself a creature of propaganda, cheered on as an opportunity drawing benefits rather than an ill encouraging a brutish, tenuous life. ..."
"... Practitioners and policy makers within the education industry have become devotees of the amoral dictates of supply and demand, underpinned by an insatiable management class. Central to their program of university mismanagement is the neoliberal academic, a creature both embraced and maligned in the tertiary sectors of the globe. ..."
"... The neoliberal academic is meant to be an underpaid miracle worker, whose divining acts rescue often lax academics from discharging their duties. (These duties are outlined in that deceptive and unreliable document known as a "workplan", as tedious as it is fictional.) The neoliberal academic grades papers, lectures, tutors and coordinates subjects. The neoliberal provides cover, a shield, and an excuse for a certain class of academic manager who prefers the calling of pretence to the realities of work. ..."
"... Often, these neoliberal academics are students undertaking a postgraduate degree and subject to inordinate degrees of stress in an environment of perennial uncertainty. ..."
"... A representative sample of PhD students studying in Flanders, Belgium found that one in two experienced psychological distress, with one in three at risk of a common psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems tended to be higher in PhD students "than in the highly educated general population, highly education employees and higher education students." ..."
"... Neoliberalization can be seen alongside a host of other ills. If the instructor is disposable and vulnerable, then so are the manifestations of learning. Libraries and research collections, for instance, are being regarded as deadening, inanimate burdens on the modern, vibrant university environment. Some institutions make a regular habit of culling their supply of texts and references: we are all e-people now, bound to prefer screens to paper, the bleary-eyed session of online engagement to the tactile session with a book. ..."
Jun 21, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

A Slow Death: The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic

by Binoy Kampmark / June 20th, 2019

Any sentient being should be offended. Eventually, the Neoliberalization of the academic workforce was bound to find lazy enthusiasts who neither teach, nor understand the value of a tenured position dedicated to that musty, soon-to-be-forgotten vocation of the pedagogue. It shows in the designs of certain universities who confuse frothy trendiness with tangible depth: the pedagogue banished from the podium, with rooms lacking a centre, or a focal point for the instructor. Not chic, not cool, we are told, often by learning and teaching committees that perform neither task. Keep it modern; do not sound too bright and hide the learning: we are all equal in the classroom, inspiringly even and scrubbed of knowledge. The result is what was always to be expected: profound laziness on the part of instructors and students, dedicated mediocrity, and a rejection of all things intellectually taxing.

Neoliberalization, a word that says much in, and of, itself, is seen as analogue of broader outsourcing initiatives. Militaries do it, governments do it, and the university does it. Services long held to be the domain of the state, itself an animation of the social contract, the spirit of the people, have now become the incentive of the corporate mind, and, it follows, its associated vices. The entire scope of what has come to be known as outsourcing is itself a creature of propaganda, cheered on as an opportunity drawing benefits rather than an ill encouraging a brutish, tenuous life.

One such text is Douglas Brown and Scott Wilson's The Black Book of Outsourcing . Plaudits for it resemble worshippers at a shrine planning kisses upon icons and holy relics. "Brown & Wilson deliver on the best, most innovative, new practices all aimed at helping one and all survive, manage and lead in this new economy," praises Joann Martin, Vice President of Pitney Bowes Management Services. Brown and Wilson take aim at a fundamental "myth": that "Outsourcing is bad for America." They cite work sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America (of course) that "the practice of outsourcing is good for the US economy and its workers."

Practitioners and policy makers within the education industry have become devotees of the amoral dictates of supply and demand, underpinned by an insatiable management class. Central to their program of university mismanagement is the neoliberal academic, a creature both embraced and maligned in the tertiary sectors of the globe.

The neoliberal academic is meant to be an underpaid miracle worker, whose divining acts rescue often lax academics from discharging their duties. (These duties are outlined in that deceptive and unreliable document known as a "workplan", as tedious as it is fictional.) The neoliberal academic grades papers, lectures, tutors and coordinates subjects. The neoliberal provides cover, a shield, and an excuse for a certain class of academic manager who prefers the calling of pretence to the realities of work.

Often, these neoliberal academics are students undertaking a postgraduate degree and subject to inordinate degrees of stress in an environment of perennial uncertainty. The stresses associated with such students are documented in the Guardian's Academics Anonymous series and have also been the subject of research in the journal Research Policy . A representative sample of PhD students studying in Flanders, Belgium found that one in two experienced psychological distress, with one in three at risk of a common psychiatric disorder. Mental health problems tended to be higher in PhD students "than in the highly educated general population, highly education employees and higher education students."

This is hardly helped by the prospects faced by those PhDs for future permanent employment, given what the authors of the Research Policy article describe as the "unfavourable shift in the labour-supply demand balance, a growing popularity of short-term contracts, budget cuts and increased competition for research sources".

There have been a few pompom holders encouraging the Neoliberalization mania, suggesting that it is good for the academic sector. The explanations are never more than structural: a neoliberal workforce, for instance, copes with fluctuating enrolments and reduces labour costs. "Using neoliberal academics brings benefits and challenges," we find Dorothy Wardale, Julia Richardson and Yuliani Suseno telling us in The Conversation . This, in truth, is much like suggesting that syphilis and irritable bowel syndrome is necessary to keep you on your toes, sharp and streamlined. The mindset of the academic-administrator is to assume that such things are such (Neoliberalization, the authors insist, is not going way, so embrace) and adopt a prostrate position in the face of funding cuts from the public purse.

Neoliberalization can be seen alongside a host of other ills. If the instructor is disposable and vulnerable, then so are the manifestations of learning. Libraries and research collections, for instance, are being regarded as deadening, inanimate burdens on the modern, vibrant university environment. Some institutions make a regular habit of culling their supply of texts and references: we are all e-people now, bound to prefer screens to paper, the bleary-eyed session of online engagement to the tactile session with a book.

The neoliberal, sessional academic also has, for company, the "hot-desk", a spot for temporary, and all too fleeting occupation. The hot-desk has replaced the work desk; the partitions of the office are giving way to the intrusions of the open plan. The hot-desker, like coitus, is temporary and brief. The neoliberal academic epitomises that unstable reality; there is little need to give such workers more than temporary, precarious space. As a result, confidentiality is impaired, and privacy all but negated. Despite extensive research showing the negative costs of "hot-desking" and open plan settings, university management remains crusade bound to implement such daft ideas in the name of efficiency.

Neoliberalization also compounds fraudulence in the academy. It supplies the bejewelled short cut route, the bypass, the evasion of the rigorous things in learning. Academics may reek like piddling middle class spongers avoiding the issues while pretending to deal with them, but the good ones at least make some effort to teach their brood decently and marshal their thoughts in a way that resembles, at the very least, a sound whiff of knowledge. This ancient code, tested and tried, is worth keeping, but it is something that modern management types, along with their parasitic cognates, ignore. In Australia, this is particularly problematic, given suggestions that up to 80 percent of undergraduate courses in certain higher learning institutions are taught by neoliberal academics.

The union between the spread sheet manager and the uninterested academic who sees promotion through the management channel rather than scholarship, throws up a terrible hybrid, one vicious enough to degrade all in its pathway. This sort of hybrid hack resorts to skiving and getting neoliberals to do the work he or she ought to be doing. Such people co-ordinate courses but make sure they get the wallahs and helpers desperate for cash to do it. Manipulation is guaranteed, exploitation is assured.

The economy of desperation is cashed in like a reliable blue-chip stock: the skiver with an ongoing position knows that a neoliberal academic desperate to earn some cash cannot dissent, will do little to rock the misdirected boat, and will have to go along with utterly dotty notions. There are no additional benefits from work, no ongoing income, no insurance, and, importantly, inflated hours that rarely take into account the amount of preparation required for the task.

The ultimate nature of the Neoliberalization catastrophe is its diminution of the entire academic sector. Neoliberals suffer, but so do students. The result is not mere sloth but misrepresentation of the worst kind: the university keen to advertise a particular service it cannot provide sufficiently. This, in time, is normalised: what would students, who in many instances may not even know the grader of their paper, expect? The remunerated, secure academic-manager, being in the castle, can raise the drawbridge and throw the neoliberals to the vengeful crowd, an employment environment made safe for hypocrisy.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com . Read other articles by Binoy .

This article was posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019 at 9:00pm and is filed under Neoliberalization , Education , Universities .

[Jun 21, 2019] Men need not apply: university set to open jobs just to women

Since when female sex is the guarantee of the academic achievement ? And why we want party between sexes in academic jobs ?
Jun 18, 2019 | www.sciencemag.org

A Dutch engineering university is taking radical action to increase its share of female academics by opening job vacancies to women only. Starting on 1 July, the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) in the Netherlands will not allow men to apply for permanent academic jobs for the first 6 months of the recruitment process under a new fellowship program. If no suitable applicant has been found within that time, men can then apply, but the selection committee will still have to nominate at least one candidate of each gender. The [insane] plan was announced today and is already attracting controversy.

[Jun 21, 2019] The War on Normal People The Truth About America s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future Andrew Yang

Looks like this guys somewhat understands the problems with neoliberalism, but still is captured by neoliberal ideology.
Notable quotes:
"... That all seems awfully quaint today. Pensions disappeared for private-sector employees years ago. Most community banks were gobbled up by one of the mega-banks in the 1990s -- today five banks control 50 percent of the commercial banking industry, which itself mushroomed to the point where finance enjoys about 25 percent of all corporate profits. Union membership fell by 50 percent. ..."
"... Ninety-four percent of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were temp or contractor jobs without benefits; people working multiple gigs to make ends meet is increasingly the norm. Real wages have been flat or even declining. The chances that an American born in 1990 will earn more than their parents are down to 50 percent; for Americans born in 1940 the same figure was 92 percent. ..."
"... Thanks to Milton Friedman, Jack Welch, and other corporate titans, the goals of large companies began to change in the 1970s and early 1980s. The notion they espoused -- that a company exists only to maximize its share price -- became gospel in business schools and boardrooms around the country. Companies were pushed to adopt shareholder value as their sole measuring stick. ..."
"... Simultaneously, the major banks grew and evolved as Depression-era regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished. Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan in 1980 and culminated in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 under Bill Clinton that really set the banks loose. The securities industry grew 500 percent as a share of GDP between 1980 and the 2000s while ordinary bank deposits shrank from 70 percent to 50 percent. Financial products multiplied as even Main Street companies were driven to pursue financial engineering to manage their affairs. GE, my dad's old company and once a beacon of manufacturing, became the fifth biggest financial institution in the country by 2007. ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The logic of the meritocracy is leading us to ruin, because we arc collectively primed to ignore the voices of the millions getting pushed into economic distress by the grinding wheels of automation and innovation. We figure they're complaining or suffering because they're losers.

We need to break free of this logic of the marketplace before it's too late.

[Neoliberalism] had decimated the economies and cultures of these regions and were set to do the same to many others.

In response, American lives and families are falling apart. Ram- pant financial stress is the new normal. We are in the third or fourth inning of the greatest economic shift in the history of mankind, and no one seems to be talking about it or doing anything in response.

The Great Displacement didn't arrive overnight. It has been building for decades as the economy and labor market changed in response to improving technology, financialization, changing corporate norms, and globalization. In the 1970s, when my parents worked at GE and Blue Cross Blue Shield in upstate New York, their companies provided generous pensions and expected them to stay for decades. Community banks were boring businesses that lent money to local companies for a modest return. Over 20 percent of workers were unionized. Some economic problems existed -- growth was uneven and infla- tion periodically high. But income inequality was low, jobs provided benefits, and Main Street businesses were the drivers of the economy. There were only three television networks, and in my house we watched them on a TV with an antenna that we fiddled with to make the picture clearer.

That all seems awfully quaint today. Pensions disappeared for private-sector employees years ago. Most community banks were gobbled up by one of the mega-banks in the 1990s -- today five banks control 50 percent of the commercial banking industry, which itself mushroomed to the point where finance enjoys about 25 percent of all corporate profits. Union membership fell by 50 percent.

Ninety-four percent of the jobs created between 2005 and 2015 were temp or contractor jobs without benefits; people working multiple gigs to make ends meet is increasingly the norm. Real wages have been flat or even declining. The chances that an American born in 1990 will earn more than their parents are down to 50 percent; for Americans born in 1940 the same figure was 92 percent.

Thanks to Milton Friedman, Jack Welch, and other corporate titans, the goals of large companies began to change in the 1970s and early 1980s. The notion they espoused -- that a company exists only to maximize its share price -- became gospel in business schools and boardrooms around the country. Companies were pushed to adopt shareholder value as their sole measuring stick.

Hostile takeovers, shareholder lawsuits, and later activist hedge funds served as prompts to ensure that managers were committed to profitability at all costs. On the flip side, CF.Os were granted stock options for the first time that wedded their individual gain to the company's share price. The ratio of CF.O to worker pay rose from 20 to 1 in 1965 to 271 to 1 in 2016. Benefits were streamlined and reduced and the relationship between company and employee weakened to become more transactional.

Simultaneously, the major banks grew and evolved as Depression-era regulations separating consumer lending and investment banking were abolished. Financial deregulation started under Ronald Reagan in 1980 and culminated in the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 under Bill Clinton that really set the banks loose. The securities industry grew 500 percent as a share of GDP between 1980 and the 2000s while ordinary bank deposits shrank from 70 percent to 50 percent. Financial products multiplied as even Main Street companies were driven to pursue financial engineering to manage their affairs. GE, my dad's old company and once a beacon of manufacturing, became the fifth biggest financial institution in the country by 2007.

Nolia Nessa , April 5, 2018

profound and urgent work of social criticism

It's hard to be in the year 2018 and not hear about the endless studies alarming the general public about coming labor automation. But what Yang provides in this book is two key things: automation has already been ravaging the country which has led to the great political polarization of today, and second, an actual vision into what happens when people lose jobs, and it definitely is a lightning strike of "oh crap"

I found this book relatively impressive and frightening. Yang, a former lawyer, entrepreneur, and non-profit leader, writes showing with inarguable data that when companies automate work and use new software, communities die, drug use increases, suicide increases, and crime skyrockets. The new jobs created go to big cities, the surviving talent leaves, and the remaining people lose hope and descend into madness. (as a student of psychology, this is not surprising)

He starts by painting the picture of the average American and how fragile they are economically. He deconstructs the labor predictions and how technology is going to ravage it. He discusses the future of work. He explains what has happened in technology and why it's suddenly a huge threat. He shows what this means: economic inequality rises, the people have less power, the voice of democracy is diminished, no one owns stocks, people get poorer etc. He shows that talent is leaving small towns, money is concentrating to big cities faster. He shows what happens when those other cities die (bad things), and then how the people react when they have no income (really bad things). He shows how retraining doesn't work and college is failing us. We don't invest in vocational skills, and our youth is underemployed pushed into freelance work making minimal pay. He shows how no one trusts the institutions anymore.

Then he discusses solutions with a focus on Universal Basic Income. I was a skeptic of the idea until I read this book. You literally walk away with this burning desire to prevent a Mad Max esque civil war, and its hard to argue with him. We don't have much time and our bloated micromanaged welfare programs cannot sustain.

[Jun 20, 2019] The Omnipresent Surveillance State by John W. Whitehead

Jun 19, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

"You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

-- George Orwell, 1984

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state .

It's been 70 years since Orwell -- dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm -- depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984 .

Who could have predicted that 70 years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, "He loved Big Brother," we would fail to heed his warning and come to love Big Brother.

"To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone -- to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink -- greetings!"

-- George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or "Party," is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: "Big Brother is watching you."

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

―George Orwell

Much like Orwell's Big Brother in 1984 , the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley's A Brave New World , we are churning out a society of watchers who "have their liberties taken away from them, but rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing." Much like Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale , the populace is now taught to "know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away ."

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick's darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state -- which became the basis for Steven Spielberg's futuristic thriller Minority Report -- we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike -- facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on -- are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality .

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes , facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness -- a philosophy that discourages diversity -- has become a guiding principle of modern society.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. For example, USA Today reports that five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the homeland security business was booming to such an extent that it eclipsed mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue. This security spending to private corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others is forecast to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.

The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the "security/industrial complex" -- a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance -- has come to dominate the government and our lives. At three times the size of the CIA, constituting one third of the intelligence budget and with its own global spy network to boot, the NSA has a long history of spying on Americans, whether or not it has always had the authorization to do so.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans, caught up in their partisan flag-waving, are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs. As Orwell explains:

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."

― George Orwell

How do you change the way people think? You start by changing the words they use.

In totalitarian regimes -- a.k.a. police states -- where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons. In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 , reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley's Brave New World , serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

And in Orwell's 1984 , Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish "thoughtcrimes." In this dystopian vision of the future, the Thought Police serve as the eyes and ears of Big Brother, while the Ministry of Peace deals with war and defense, the Ministry of Plenty deals with economic affairs (rationing and starvation), the Ministry of Love deals with law and order (torture and brainwashing), and the Ministry of Truth deals with news, entertainment, education and art (propaganda). The mottos of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

All three -- Bradbury, Huxley and Orwell -- had an uncanny knack for realizing the future, yet it is Orwell who best understood the power of language to manipulate the masses. Orwell's Big Brother relied on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary. To give a single example, as psychologist Erich Fromm illustrates in his afterword to 1984 :

The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as "This dog is free from lice" or "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used in its old sense of "politically free" or "intellectually free," since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts .

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is "safe" and "accepted" by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

"Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious."

-- George Orwell

Americans have been conditioned to accept routine incursions on their privacy rights . In fact, the addiction to screen devices -- especially cell phones -- has created a hive effect where the populace not only watched but is controlled by AI bots. However, at one time, the idea of a total surveillance state tracking one's every move would have been abhorrent to most Americans. That all changed with the 9/11 attacks. As professor Jeffrey Rosen observes, "Before Sept. 11, the idea that Americans would voluntarily agree to live their lives under the gaze of a network of biometric surveillance cameras, peering at them in government buildings, shopping malls, subways and stadiums, would have seemed unthinkable, a dystopian fantasy of a society that had surrendered privacy and anonymity ."

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry -- mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all -- we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government. In search of so-called terrorists and extremists hiding amongst us -- the proverbial "needle in a haystack," as one official termed it -- the Corporate State has taken to monitoring all aspects of our lives, from cell phone calls and emails to Internet activity and credit card transactions. Much of this data is being fed through fusion centers across the country, which work with the Department of Homeland Security to make threat assessments on every citizen, including school children. These are state and regional intelligence centers that collect data on you.

"Big Brother is Watching You."

―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the U.S. government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

Speech recognition technology now makes it possible for the government to carry out massive eavesdropping by way of sophisticated computer systems. Phone calls can be monitored, the audio converted to text files and stored in computer databases indefinitely. And if any "threatening" words are detected -- no matter how inane or silly -- the record can be flagged and assigned to a government agent for further investigation. Federal and state governments, again working with private corporations, monitor your Internet content. Users are profiled and tracked in order to identify, target and even prosecute them.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity.

"Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull."

― George Orwell

Here's what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it's not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We've already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called "hateful" thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter.

Say hello to the new Thought Police .

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it's not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA is now designing an artificial intelligence system that is designed to anticipate your every move. In a nutshell, the NSA will feed vast amounts of the information it collects to a computer system known as Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence), which the computer can then use to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS. One NSA researcher actually quit the Aquaint program, "citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability."

Thus, what we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

-- Orwell

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won't be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government's roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We're running out of options.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People , we'll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

Yet as Aldous Huxley acknowledged in Brave New World Revisited : "Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it."

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People .

[Jun 20, 2019] Meritocracy is a Lie by Gary Olson

Notable quotes:
"... Sherman found that her interviewees, all in the top 1-2 percent of income or wealth or both, had thoroughly imbibed the narrative of meritocracy to rationalize their affluence and immense privileges. That is, they believed they deserved all their money because of hard work and individual effort. Most identified themselves as socially and political liberal and took pains to distinguish themselves from "bad" rich people who flaunt their wealth. ..."
"... Finally, meritocracy is the classic American foundation myth and provides the basis for an entire array of other fairy tales. Foremost, this illusion serves to justify policies that foster economic inequality and hinder the development of social movements. After so many decades of neoliberal ideology, this lie is now firmly lodged in the public's collective consciousness but I'm convinced that with effort and relying on the evidence, it can be expunged. ..."
May 02, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
In 2017, Sociology Professor Rachel Sherman wrote Uneasy Street: The Anxiety of Affluence , a book which drew upon 50 in-depth interviews with Uber-wealthy New Yorkers in order to obtain a picture of just how they perceived their status.

Sherman found that her interviewees, all in the top 1-2 percent of income or wealth or both, had thoroughly imbibed the narrative of meritocracy to rationalize their affluence and immense privileges. That is, they believed they deserved all their money because of hard work and individual effort. Most identified themselves as socially and political liberal and took pains to distinguish themselves from "bad" rich people who flaunt their wealth. Although one unselfconsciously acknowledged "I used to say I was going to be a revolutionary but then I had my first massage."

One striking characteristic was that these folks never talk about money and obsess over the "stigma of privilege." One typical respondent whose wealth exceeded $50 million told Sherman, "There's nobody who knows how much money we spend. You're the only person I've ever said the numbers to out-loud." Another couple who had inherited $50 million and lived in a penthouse had the post office change their mailing address to the floor number because PH sounded "elite and snobby." Another common trait was removing the price tags from items entering the house so the housekeeper and and staff didn't see them. As if the nanny didn't know

Her subjects (who remained anonymous) readily acknowledged being extremely advantaged but remained "good people, normal people," who work hard, are careful about ostentatious consumption, and above all, "give back." They spend considerable time trying to legitimate inequality and Sherman concludes they've largely succeeded in feeling "morally worthy."

As a follow-up to this study, Prof. Sherman has been conducting similar in-depth interviews with young people whose parents or ancestors accumulated sizable fortunes, wealth they now have or will soon inherit. Sherman's recent piece, "The Rich Kid Revolution," ( The New York Times , 4/28/19) reveals a stark contrast in self-perception from her earlier findings.

First, her interviewees totally "get" the lie of meritocracy as they ruefully skewer family myths about individual effort, scrimping and saving and the origins of wealth. One young woman who's in line to inherit a considerable fortune told Sherman, "My dad has always been a CEO, and it was clear to me that he spent a lot of time at work, but it has never been clear to me that he worked a lot harder than a domestic worker, for example. I will never believe that."

Sherman discovered that whether the immense fortunes came from "the direct dispossession of indigenous people, enslavement of African-Americans, production of fossil fuels or obvious exploitation of workers, they often express especially acute guilt." One response has been that some wealthy people under age 35 have formed organizations to fund social justice initiatives.

Second, many of her respondents have read about racialized capitalism and harbor no illusions about their own success. From access to the "right" schools and acquiring cultural capital to social networking and good, high paying jobs, they readily acknowledged that it's all derived from their class (and race) privilege. Third, they are convinced the economic system is "immoral," equality of opportunity does not exist and their wealth and privileges are absolutely "unearned." Finally, they grasp, often from personal observation, that traditional philanthropy is primarily about keeping those at the top in place, obtaining generous tax breaks and treating symptoms while ignoring the causes rooted in the very social structures from which they benefit.

Beyond the article's hyperbolic title and a certain vagueness about where this new consciousness may lead, the piece -- whether intentionally or not -- does raise issues that demand much wider public discussion.

First, a note about philanthro-capitalism or as Peter Buffet (Warren Buffet's son) terms it, "conscience laundering." In Chris Rock's pithy phrase, "Behind every fortune is a great crime" and given what we know about the sources of great wealth -- the collectivity -- these monies should be supporting public needs that are democratically determined not the cherry-picked, pet projects of billionaires. And this reveals another motive behind private charity: the desire to stifle any enthusiasm for an activist government responsible to the public will.

I should add that whenever I hear a philanthropist piously proclaim, "I just wanted to give something back," my first impulse is to shout "Why not give it all back?" That is, I've always been partial to the moral injunction, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required" (Luke 12:48). And although I won't attempt to improve on scripture, I might suggest "From whom much is taken, much is owed."

Second, one might ask about the case where a person of modest means succeeds at something and accumulates a fortune? We've all heard or read ad infinitum, someone exclaim, "Damn it! Nobody even handed me anything. I did it all on my own. I'm entirely self-made." Isn't that evidence of individual merit? No. For starters, as Chuck Collins, heir to the Oscar Mayer fortune, once put it, "Where would wealthy entrepreneurs be without taxpayer investments in the Internet, transportation, public education, the legal system, the human genome project and so on?" Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, has calculated the societal contribution at ninety percent of what people earn in Northwest Europe and the United States.

In addition to the sources mentioned above, just off the top of my head I can list many other factors that belie this powerfully seductive but wholly fictional narrative, one that's also touted to and embraced by many members of the working class: Child labor, Chinese and Irish immigrant labor (railroads), eminent domain, massacres of striking workers, state repression of unions, Immigration Act of 1864, public land grabs, corporate welfare, installing foreign dictators to guarantee cheap labor and resources, inheritance laws, public schools and universities, public expense mail systems, property and contract laws, government tax breaks incentives to business, Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure trust in the stock market, the U.S. military, and a police state to keep the rabble from picking up pitchforks. Another factor that almost merits its own paragraphs is pure luck. By any objective criteria, we can conclude that absent this arrangement there would be no accumulation of private wealth.

Finally, meritocracy is the classic American foundation myth and provides the basis for an entire array of other fairy tales. Foremost, this illusion serves to justify policies that foster economic inequality and hinder the development of social movements. After so many decades of neoliberal ideology, this lie is now firmly lodged in the public's collective consciousness but I'm convinced that with effort and relying on the evidence, it can be expunged.

Gary Olson is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. He can be reached at: olsong@moravian.edu . Read other articles by Gary .

This article was posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 at 2:22pm and is filed under Economic Inequality , Meritocracy , Opinion .

[Jun 18, 2019] The Looting Machine Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth by Tom Burgis

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The trade in oil, gas, gems, metals and rare earth minerals wreaks havoc in Africa. During the years when Brazil, India, China and the other "emerging markets" have transformed their economies, Africa's resource states remained tethered to the bottom of the industrial supply chain. While Africa accounts for about 30 per cent of the world's reserves of hydrocarbons and minerals and 14 per cent of the world's population, its share of global manufacturing stood in 2011 exactly where it stood in 2000: at 1 percent.

[Jun 18, 2019] Poisoned Wells The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson

Jun 10, 2007 | www.amazon.com

LVT06 , December 29, 2007

An Expert Falls Short

Shaxson's introduction and preliminary chapters immediately prove that he is a bona fide Africa expert. Having extensively lived and worked there, getting closely acquainted with the politicians, industrialists and average joes, he knows his topic better than any ivory tower academic or think tank regional "expert." His anecdotes and insights are accurate, concise and reasonably centrist. His writing is excellent. And yet he failed to earn 5 stars because the book itself delves too far into specific biographies of pivotal politicos and activists. Shaxson is sharp and experienced enough to produce a country-by-country analytical handbook documenting oil's impact on 21st Century Africa but instead he chose to take the conversational, journalistic feature-article format. For professionals and novices seeking accurate and timely information on Africa, this is a good start. Lutz Kleveman's "New Great Game" was equally readable and informal but a far more informative example for Shaxson to follow in his next book.

Denno , September 7, 2012
Poisoned Wells: the Dirty Politics of African Oil

The book is very well written.It documents the authors expereinces with various African countries in relation to the oil business and provides an insightful analysis of the impacts of the sleazy dealings within the oil industry on the continent. An excellent read!! Read more

R. Utne , June 10, 2007
Poisoned Wells

Of the current crop of "what is wrong with Africa" books including "The Shackled Continent", "The White Man's Burden" and "The Trouble with Africa", Nicholas Shaxson's analysis and prescriptions for change are the most radical and on-the-money. Shaxson's book should be widely read and discussed. Unfortunately, too much invested in the status quo by all concerned to see much likelihood of change within the next few decades.

OHYN , December 26, 2009
Book Fails Credibility Test

Every responsible reader and serious seeker of "enlightenment" usually applies a "credibility check" to new information.
When author Nicholas Shaxson, in the opening chapter of his book, "Poisoned Wells," badly mischaracterized the Biafra-Nigeria War of 1967-1970, I could not read any further.
In trying to support his assertion that Oil is the root cause (or at least, a major cause) of post-colonial Africa's problems, he force-fits that terrible war into "Oil" context. How do I know? Well, I was there: was old enough to live in Nigeria up to the War, live through that War fighting in it on the Biafran side, and live after the war in Nigeria, until decided that I am truly Biafran, not Nigerian.
This book has failed a critical credibility test.
Please send my comments to this author.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.
Nwa Biafra
A Biafran Citizen.

William Podmore , May 9, 2011
Fine study of the curse of (foreign-owned) oil

In this informative book, journalist Nicholas Shaxson looks at some African countries that have suffered the curse of foreign-owned oil - Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon, the Congo Republic and São Tomé e Principe. In 1970, before the oil boom, 19 million Nigerians were poor; after $400 billion of oil earnings, 90 million (of a 130 million population) were poor.

Each week sub-Saharan Africa's oil fields produce more than $1 billions' worth of oil. But the oil money promotes not investment and development but capital flight and poverty. Greedy foreign oil corporations ally with corrupt rulers.

The struggle of rival imperialisms for oil strips Africa bare. In 2005 the USA imported more oil from Africa than from the Middle East, and it is intervening in Africa to control its supplies, as now with its illegal attack on Libya. Oil comprises 87 per cent of US imports from Africa. Angola is China's biggest source of imported oil.

France too is scheming and warmongering to keep its hold on Africa. France's former colonies have to keep two-thirds of their reserves in France's treasury. Their central banks' HQs are in Paris. Much EU `aid' funds French companies in Africa.

Shaxson also looks at the curse of tax havens. More than half of world trade passes through tax havens. Over half of all banking assets and a third of foreign direct investment by giant corporations are routed offshore. Terrorists and drug smugglers use the same offshore system that corporations use.

Offshore finance is centred on Britain, the EU and the USA. The City of London runs half the world's tax havens and holds more than $3.2 trillion in offshore bank deposits, half the world total. When the Labour government signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2000, it exempted all the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories.

The West's banks, mainly from the USA and Britain, take their cut too. They force countries further into debt by making them take out new loans to pay off old ones, at ever higher rates. The bankers make private gains out of public losses.

Sunday Todili Aremu , October 14, 2014
Well, this is a book that has all the ...

Well, this is a book that has all the attributes of a well researched book. It is informative, entertaining but didn't dwell well enough on the historical perspectives that gave rise to Africa's debilitating circumstances. The author's privileged upbringing may not have accorded him the opportunities of seeing things with the eyes of the ordinary dispossessed, repressed and oppressed African whose life is badly structured within the bogus and fraudulent concept of Nation State. A concept that has robbed him of his due place and left him stranded in cyclical malady of frightening dimensions! On the whole, the book is worth reading!!

[Jun 18, 2019] The End of Oil On the Edge of a Perilous New World by Paul Roberts

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Christopher R , July 10, 2008

Makes analysis of the contemporary energy order accessible.

When I decided to read this book, I did so with the expectation of learning something only after wading through a great degree of partisan political rhetoric. It did not take me long to realize that Mr. Roberts' book is not what I had expected.

He makes this complex issue accessible to the layman looking to familiarize himself with not only oil, but the energy economy. Rather choose a side and engage in partisan sniping, he tells the good, the bad, and the ugly of the policies advocated by every party involved in the energy debate. Not only does he analyze our present situation, but he also studies our several possible ways forward into a new energy economy.

If I were pressed to make a complaint, it would be that I read the original hardcover edition of the book. A lot of the speculation regarding "worst case" scenarios involve $50 a barrel oil. Now that we are nearly $100 past that worst case, the educated speculation portrayed in the book should be coming to pass in the market. I would like to see either a completely updated 2008 edition or at least one with an updated preface.

John A. Leraas , September 26, 2015
Most informative, well written

A prequel to "The End of Food", this is a most informative book that discusses our dependence on oil; its history, its politics and its economics. After reading this piece there is much that is more easily understood. Much of international politics and economics is more clear. The development of new energy sources and their tardiness, and the dependence of many sectors of the economy on oil is more transparent.

Roberts' sequel, "The End of Food" is highly recommended after you read this book as the interdependence of these two great industries is amazing.

Larry B. Woodroof , January 19, 2006
An outstanding review of the current situation

Paul Roberts does an excellent job in not only telling about the coming troubles with oil, but doing so with an, at times, humorous style.

He makes no assumptions about the reader's knowledge, and spends the first part of the book explaining how the world got to be in this mess we are in, by deliniating the different energy eras throughout human history.

Common themes arise, in each era, and they combine to help the reader gain a perspective upon why things are they way they are.

Mr. Roberts did his research well, with an extensive foot note and bibliography section, yet in the course of this research he did more than just peruse reports and other books on the matter. He managed to gain access to the indutry leaders, talking and touring the facilties of the Russians and the Saudis.

If there is any fault, it is that the last chapeters of the book, wherein he extrapolates from his knowledge and research what he forsees occuring, seems a little less well developed than the earlier chapters. True, they are based upon fact and not prgnostication, but the writing seems at times rushed, and not up to the level of some of the earlier chapters.

Regardless, this is a book that I highly recommend reading, and is one that I have bought extra copies of for insertion into my "lending library" of books I share and recommend to friends.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Dalton C. Rocha , March 26, 2009
Good, but fails about Brazil, biofuels and nuclear power

I read this good book, here in Brazil.This book has many excellent parts.To example, about Hirohito, on page 39, this tells the true:Hirohito was Japan's Hitler and ordered the attack to Pearl Harbor, China and rest of Asia.
On page 176, this book tell that more than 90% of new power plants in the USA burn gas.About american culture, the page 263 has writen:"By contrast, although car manufactures offer more than thirty car models with with fuel economy of thirty miles for gallon or better, the ten most fuel-efficient models sold in the United States make up just 2 percent of the sales."
Americans love the SUVs, but to combat the blood of islamic terrorism, the petro-dollars, has no place in american hearts.
About the corrupt and also supporter of terrorism Saudi Arabia, this book is correct.

**************************************************************
This book is weak, when forgets Brazil, that only on page 56 is remebered only one time, without no detail at all.I don't agree, with this failure only because I'm a brazilian, but also because Brazil is among the world's leaders in oil reserves.See to example, the site [...] to read about this fact.
About nuclear energy, this book is very weak.On part III, there's talks about replacement of coal and gas for electric energy,but there's nothing about the fact that France, more than 20 years ago, closed all its coal and gas power plants an replaced all of them for nuclear power plants.
About ethanol, there's almost nothing.Only on page 340, ethanol is remebered, without any detail.I'm an agronomist and I think that biofuels are the answer for oil , at least on transportation.My family uses ethanol cars for more than 25 years, without no problem.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"> Roger Brown , September 23, 2007
Fair minded and objective overview of big energy

Very readable....Roberts does an excellent job of presenting opinions fairly and from many pro/contra angles. He has fully immersed himself in his topic and the book is chocked-full of fascinating energy facts.

What to do about our energy future has become as politically polarized as abortion - Conservatives favor fossil fuels and the Moderate - Liberal folks want to go Renewable.

Roberts is bare-knuckled about what he feels the agendas are behind the current debate, which leads him to a (slightly) reserved pessimism about our chances of making it out of the mess we've made, by putting all our energy eggs in one basket. He does not hide his contempt for later-day politicians who can't see the forest for the trees and won't take action to avert the coming energy drought.

[Jun 18, 2019] Washington s Dark Secret The Real Truth about Terrorism and Islamic Extremism by John Maszka

Notable quotes:
"... "A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225). ..."
Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Anna Faktorovich , December 17, 2018

The War for Oil and the New Holocaust

The premise of this book is to say what most of the world's public has probably been thinking since the War on Terror began, or that it is a "war for natural resources -- and that terrorism has little to do with it. Once the military became mechanized, oil quickly became the most sought-after commodity on the planet, and the race for energy was eventually framed as a matter of national security."

John Maszka argues that the "oil conglomerates" are the real "threats to national security". Demonizing "an entire religion" is a repercussion of this policy. My own research in Rebellion as Genre a few years ago also attempted to point out the misuse of the term terrorism in its current application, or as a weapon against one's enemies rather than as a reference to a type of attacks intended to terrorize. Governments that accuse others of terrorism while legitimizing their own "acts of violence" as "retributive" are clearly breaking human rights agreements and their stated commitments to freedom.

Maszka's perspective is of particular interest because he teaches this subject at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, and has published widely his criticisms of the War on Terror, including Terrorism and the Bush Doctrine.

Many of the books I have read on terrorism from American supporters of this pro-War on Terror doctrine are troubling in their references to spreading Christianity and other similarly questionable ideologies, so it is refreshing to hear from somebody with a fresh perspective that is more likely to bring about world peace. The preface acknowledges that this book contrasts with the bulk of other books in this field. It also explains that it focuses primarily on two "Islamic militant organizations -- al-Qaeda and the Islamic State".

He explains that perception has a lot to do with who a country is willing to commit violence against, giving the example of Nazis being able to commit violence on Jews in the Holocaust because of this blindness. Thus, violence against Muslims by the West in the past two decade is shown as possibly a new Holocaust where the militaries are carrying out orders because Muslims have been demonized.

Terrorism has historically been the work of a few extremists, or terms like "war" or "revolution" is employed to describe large groups of such fighters; so it is strange that the West has entered the War on Terror with entire Muslim-majority countries, killing so many civilians that it is not a stretch to call these Holocaust-like.

The Islamic State targets Muslims as well, also showing dehumanized traits that are even harder to explain (x-xi). The preface also acknowledges that the author will be using "contractions and anecdotal digressions" as "intentional literary devices", shooing the standard scholarly style (this is troubling for me personally, as I'm allergic to digressions, but at least he tells readers what to expect).

As promised, Chapter One begins with a poet's story about the Tree of Life, then discusses the Boston Marathon bombings from the perspective of the author as he worked in Kyrgyzstan, and goes off on other tangents before reaching this conclusion -- the marathon's bombers were not terrorists: "They had no political aspirations. They weren't attempting to obtain concessions from the government or provoke a reaction. They simply believed that they were 'wave sheaves' -- first fruits of God -- and that they would be instrumental in ushering in the apocalypse" (5).

This conclusion explains the relationship between all of the digressions across this section, so these digressions were necessary to prove this point, and thus are suitable for a scholarly book. And this is exactly the type of logical reasoning that is missing in most of the oratory on terrorism. The entire book similarly uses specific acts of supposed terrorism to explain what really happened and working to understand th motivations of the actors.

Since the author's digressions into his own life are typically very relevant to the subject, they are definitely helpful: "I was stationed in Riyadh at an American military base that was attacked by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber" (135).

It would actually be unethical if Maszka did not explain that he has been personally affected by al-Qaeda in this context; and since he has seen this War as a civilian living in the affected countries and as a member of the military that is attaching these "terrorists", his opinions should be trustworthy for both sides. Given how emotional writing this book with detachment and carefully crafted research must have been for somebody who has been bombed, it is only fitting that the final chapter is called, "The Definition of Insanity."

And here is the final chapter:

"A century after World War I, the great war for oil is still raging, with many of the same fronts as before and also a few new ones. Throughout it all -- whether waged by realists, neoliberals, or neocons -- war has been extremely good for business" (225).

Very powerful words that are justly supported. I would strongly recommend that everybody in the West's militaries who is responsible for making decisions in the War on Terror read this book before they make their next decision. Who are they shooting at? Why? Who is benefiting? Who is dying? Are they committing war crimes as serious as the Nazis? If there is any chance these allegations are true what kind of a military leader can proceed without understanding the explanations that Maszka offers here? This would probably also work well in an advanced graduate class, despite its digressions, it will probably help students write better dissertations on related topics.

Pennsylvania Literary Journal: Fall 2018

[Jun 18, 2019] The Party s Over Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg

Jun 08, 2019 | www.amazon.com

The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

In The Party's Over , Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the twentieth century and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the twenty-first century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the United States -- the world's foremost oil consumer -- is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a "managed collapse" that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

More readable than other accounts of this issue, with fuller discussion of the context, social implications and recommendations for personal, community, national and global action, Heinberg's updated book is a riveting wake-up call for human-kind as the oil era winds down, and a critical tool for understanding and influencing current US foreign policy.

Richard Heinberg , from Santa Rosa, California, has been writing about energy resources issues and the dynamics of cultural change for many years. A member of the core faculty at New College of California, he is an award-winning author of three previous books. His Museletter was nominated for the Best Alternative Newsletter award by Utne in 1993.


Laura Lea Evans , April 20, 2013

love and hate

Well, how to describe something that is so drastic in predictions as to make one quiver? Heinberg spells out a future for humans that is not very optimistic but sadly, is more accurate than any of us would like. The information and research done by the author is first rate and irrefutable, which is as it should be. The news: dire. This is my first in a series of his work and indeed, it's a love/hate experience since there is a lot of hopelessness in the outcome of our current path. Be that as it may, this is a book to cherish and an author to admire.

Scott Forbes , May 31, 2005
This book will make you think differently about energy

Surprizingly its not about the rising cost of the energy that you personally use. Its about the whole economy that has been built on using a non-replenishable energy supply. You know how those economists always count on the 3% growth in the GDP. Well the book argues that this long term growth is fundamentally driven by our long term growth in energy usage, which everyone knows will have to turn around at some point.

The other surprizing fact is that the turning point is long before you run out of oil. Heinberg shows data that indicates that half of the oil is still left in the ground when the returns start to diminish. And it appears that that we are within a few years of reaching that point.

So we've used up about half the "available" ( i.e. feasible to extract from an energy perspective ) oil. Now oil production starts to decrease. What happens next is anyone's guess, but Heinburg presents some detailed discussions on the possiblities. Don't assume that a coal, nuclear, or "hydrogen" economy are going to be as easy and profitable as the petroleum economy we are leaving behind.

I've read lots of books about energy and the environment, and this is definitely one of the best.

B. King , November 22, 2003
An Industrial Strength Critique of Energy Usage

Part history and part prophesy, this book is an outstanding summary of many major issues facing Western industrial society. Author Richard Heinberg provides a scholarly critique of modern industrialism, focusing on its current use of energy, and a sobering forecast based on predictable trends.

The key point of the book is that the Earth's crust can provide mankind with an essentially finite amount of fossil fuel energy, with primary reference to oil. Drawing on the relatively unknown, and oft-misunderstood, concept of "peak oil," the book addresses the imminent shortfall of petroleum that will not be available on world markets. That day of reckoning is far closer than most people think. "Peak oil" is a global application of Geologist M. King Hubbert's (1903-1989) studies of oil production in "mature" exploration districts. That is, exploration for oil in sedimentary basins at first yields substantial discoveries, which are then produced. Additional exploration yields less and less "new" oil discovered, and that level of discovery coming at greater and greater effort. Eventually, absent additional significant discovery, production "peaks" and then commences an irreversible decline.

This has already occurred in the U.S. in the 1970's, and is in the process of occurring in oil-producing nations such as Mexico, Britain, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia. Ominously, "peak" production can be forecast in the next few years in such significant producing nations as Saudi Arabia and Iraq (in addition to all of the other problems in those unfortunate nations.)

Much of the rise of industrial society was tied to increasing availability of high energy-density fuel, particularly oil. Western society, and its imitators in non-Western lands, is based upon access to large amounts of energy-dense fuel, and that fuel is oil. With respect to the U.S., the domestic decline in oil production has been made up, over the past thirty years, by increasing imports from other locales, with concomitant political risk. When the world production "peaks" in the next few years, the competition for energy sources will become more fierce than it already is. This book addresses issues related to what are commonly thought of as "substitutes" for oil, such as coal, natural gas and natural gas liquids, and shatters many myths. The author also delves deeply into energy sources such as "tar sand," "oil shale," nuclear and renewable sources. And thankfully, the author offers a number of proposals to address the looming problem (although these proposals are probably not what an awful lot of people want to hear.)

A book like this one could easily descend into a tawdry level of "chicken-little" squawks and utter tendentiousness. But thankfully it does not do so. This is a mature, well-reasoned and carefully footnoted effort. I could take issue with some of the author's points about "big business" and how decisions are made at high political levels, but not in this review. Instead I will simply congratulate Mr. Heinberg for writing an important contribution to social discourse. I hope that a lot of people read this book and start to look at and think about the world differently.

This Hippy Gorilla , July 19, 2006
Cogent, timely, largely ignored

Maybe the most important book since Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species". This volume represents THE wakeup call for a world society quite literally addicted to crude oil for its continuation, and, in most cases, it's very survival.

Heinberg has done his homework, and this volume should be required reading for anyone in an industrialized nation, or one just getting started down that road. It is a proven scientific fact that within a few years, we will begin to run out of oil, and it will be pretty much gone within 5 or 6 decades. Considering that we have built our entire society around an oil economy, the implications are dire - far, far beyond not being able to drive through the coffee shop with the kids in your SUV on the way home from the mall. Alternative energy sources? Dream on - read on.

The book is thoroughly researched, well-thought and organized and presents the often dissenting views at every side of this hugely important issue. It is also delightfully written and composed, and is fun and quick to read.

I highly recommend this book, and I hope at least one person reads what I'm writing and buys this book. And I hope they tell someone, too.

[Jun 18, 2019] Caught in Their Fun House by Paul Haeder

Notable quotes:
"... America just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. ..."
"... And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths ..."
"... What is more compelling than the average person captured in a truthful narrative, as counterpoint to a society that delves into the celebrity, the spectacle, the idiocy as Jason puts forth in his piece, "The Idiot." ..."
"... Yet, my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced, hits the nail on the head by providing his own retort to example after example of the cruelty of capitalism and the US of I -- United States of Idiots? ..."
"... What in the fuck is wrong with this country? The republicans enact cruel legislation to protect criminal enterprises, slash taxes for the obscenely rich, while removing any social or environmental protections for the population, (the Flint Michigan water system for example). ..."
"... The democrats response to Trump is to promote Joe Biden, a compilation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Strom Thurman and just about every other corporate whore they could steal parts off of to make their democratic very own version of Donald Trump. ..."
"... As if there were no real journalists working on all the pre-September 11 illegalities of the republican party and then the post-September 11 evisceration of the few rights the people of the world and USA had before full spectrum war on our planet. ..."
"... As if journalists hadn't cracked open the Koch brothers, the fake think tanks, all the pre-Truman/post-Truman lies of empire, from Roy Cohen, through to the rigged systems of oppression. Way before any trivial Hollywood wannabe open her eyes. ..."
"... Entertainment and a few laughs at the expense of millions of bombed-dead people, millions more suffering-a-lingering-death daily because of Hollywood and USA policies and the evangelicals and the Crypto-Christo-Zionists bombing "the other" back to the stone age. The movie, Vice. ..."
"... What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies , the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy . ..."
"... As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984 , Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World , they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us. ..."
"... The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. ..."
"... Huxley was right -- " Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Brave New World , "Chapter 4" ..."
Jun 05, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

America just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

-- Hunter S. Thompson

Now I think poetry will save nothing from oblivion, but I keep writing about the ordinary because for me it's the home of the extraordinary, the only home.

-- Phillip Levine

I'm digging the DV piece, " The Idiot " by Jason Holland, since in a critical mass sort of black hole kind of way, his main thesis is reflective of the experiences many of us in the bloody trenches of dying capitalism see/feel/believe minute by minute.

And after all our idiotic overcomplicated plots and schemes, they are but to mask simple truths the idiot facade tries so desperately to avoid; the inner torments of being afraid of not being good enough, not measuring up to our peers, not meeting arbitrary expectations we either accept from others or set for ourselves, or quite simply feeling like we are not worthy of love. So we play these pointless high stakes games which have a rewards as meaningless and worthless as a plastic trophy just to prove our worth. The idiot is a temporal state of being, although many are finer long term examples of displaying the behaviors of the idiot; however none of us are the perfect idiot. To avoid the affectations of being in an idiotic state it takes conscious effort to live our lives moment to moment with authenticity, to be in a state of awareness of our actions, to always be willing to suffer for something worthwhile and to be consistently well reasoned examiners of what constitutes something worthwhile.

That authenticity, moment to moment existence -- and it should be a reveling of life -- is good, but there is a bifurcating of sorts when many of us are still subject to the masters of Big Brother and Big Business. We are suffering the dualism of the Century, and the more we know, the more we seek and the more we grapple, well, the more emancipated we are, but in that freedom comes some pretty harsh treatment by the masters and their sub-masters and all the Little Eichmann's that keep the Capitalist's trains moving like clockwork toward the global demise set in their plastic worlds!

And some of us think Dachau and Auschwitz were bad! We have already seen a hundred of them since 1945.

For me, I have the benefit of being a writer, and at this time, I have this new gig I created myself to bring to the Oregon Coast a sense of the people who are here living or who come here to set down their own stories . . . people who do things to make this world better and themselves better. Something in the draw that brings my subjects for my pieces here to the coast of Oregon. These are people, and they are not perfections or cut-outs or pulverized remnants of humanity that Capitalism mostly demands in it shark tank of inane media manipulation and marketing.

I crack open humanity and get people's contexts -- entire stories upon stories laid down, strata by strata, and cover their own formula for the art of living in harmony in a world of disharmony. Reading my stuff, I hope, will allow readers of this rag, Oregon Coast Today , and its on-line version a better sense of authenticity via people they may or may not even run across in their own lives of being the consummate busy tourist and consumer.

A few of the pieces will be worthy of DV display, and I hope that my attempt at drilling down and "getting people" for who they are and how they got here will better the world, in some small shape. Really small, but small wonders sometimes are the ionic glue of a bettering world.

What is more compelling than the average person captured in a truthful narrative, as counterpoint to a society that delves into the celebrity, the spectacle, the idiocy as Jason puts forth in his piece, "The Idiot."

In many ways, talking to people who have lived authentic (albeit struggle-prone) lives, or who are just embarking on a nascent stage of multiple iterations of living, I get my sense of grounding in a very flummoxed world of inanity and crass disassociation, as in the disease of pushing away humanity and pushing away the natural world to hitch oneself to the perversions of the billionaire class.

Time and time again, daily, my friends who are still in struggle -- still trying to make sense of the perverted world of idiots controlling the message, the economy, the environment, the culture, and the mental-physical-spiritual health of the world, as if this is it, Trump 2.0 -- give me news feed after news feed of the quickening of not only idiocy that capitalism and consumerism and war engender in our species, but also examples of the inhumanity driving the agendas of the Fortune 500 Class, the Davos crowd, the Aspen Institute gatherings, et al .

Yet, my friend, Joe the Farmer from Merced, hits the nail on the head by providing his own retort to example after example of the cruelty of capitalism and the US of I -- United States of Idiots?

If this doesn't slap the Hell out of you and rub your nose into the proverbial dog shit of what a criminally insane, inhumane, cruel and thuggish enterprise our government has become, then there is absolutely no hope for your soul. The truth tellers like Manning, Assange, Snowden and others, the brave young guys like Tim DeChristopher that monkey wrenched the sale of oil leases to public lands to try and protect the environment, this fellow that is showing his human side by providing water and aid for those dying in the desert sun, are all facing prison terms or maybe even the death penalty. Their crime? Being a compassionate human being.

What in the fuck is wrong with this country? The republicans enact cruel legislation to protect criminal enterprises, slash taxes for the obscenely rich, while removing any social or environmental protections for the population, (the Flint Michigan water system for example).

The republicans are ruthlessly attacking the environment and endangered species, turning their backs on infrastructure that is endangering peoples lives, while the spineless democrats sit idly by, wringing their hands. The democrats won't take action against the most openly corrupt president we have ever had, that is daily destroying everything in this country as well as the rest of the world with his insane military budgets, trade wars and climate policies. The democrats response to Trump is to promote Joe Biden, a compilation of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Strom Thurman and just about every other corporate whore they could steal parts off of to make their democratic very own version of Donald Trump.

Both the republicans and the democrats promote austerity for the working people and the poor, while stuffing the oligarchs pockets with gold. Both political Parties support endless war and war profiteers but slash budgets for schools, infrastructure, health care and the elderly. Both political Parties shower money on the police state and a corrupt system of justice and private prisons. Both political Parties are turning their heads to what the oil industry is doing to our water and air with fracking and are in fact have promoted legislation to let the oil industry off the hook when it causes unbelievable environmental damage. Both political Parties are doing nothing to check the nuclear industry that is a environmental time bomb waiting to go off and have promoted legislation to limit the industries liability when it does.

What is wrong with the American people that they sit on their collective asses and do nothing while all this is happening? Are they that fucking stupid? Are they that lacking in human decency? Are they that politically dumbed-down that they won't even fight for their own interests?

The fact that this government corruption has been allowed to go on for years evidently proves that Americans are that stupid and lacking of compassion and politically dumbed-down. Thank God for guys like Dr. Warren the others that are trying to slap some sense into the American public to show us what courage and being humane is all about. Dr. Warren and company shouldn't be put in jail but our so called leaders sure as Hell should be for their crimes against humanity.

He's talking about a desert saint of sorts, Scott Warren, who has the power of his call to duty to give water in milk cartons to anyone crossing the Arizona desert. Now that is a hero, yet, he is facing decades in prison. America!

The charges against Warren "are an unjust criminalization of direct humanitarian assistance" and "appear to constitute a politically motivated violation of his protected rights as a Human Rights Defender," states Amnesty International's Americas regional director Erika Guevara-Rosas .

"Providing humanitarian aid is never a crime," Guevara-Rosas added in a statement last week. "If Dr. Warren were convicted and imprisoned on these absurd charges, he would be a prisoner of conscience, detained for his volunteer activities motivated by humanitarian principles and his religious beliefs."

Yet how many humans in this crime country even give a rat's ass about one man who is doing the good that all men and women should be doing?

Read the great piece about these water bearers on the border at the Intercept by Ryan Devereaux .

So, here, whatever will come of my new column, "Deep Dive: Go Below the Surface with Paul Haeder," starting June 7, well, I hope people reading this rag -- 18,000 and counting and as they are compelled to hit each longer version of each of my profiles on line, Oregon Coast Today -- will understand that life is the sum total of one's search for meaning and worthy work and community involvement.

Maybe this compulsion toward narrative has always been inside me during my early root setting living in Canada, Maryland, Paris, Edinburgh, Arizona . . . then on that walkabout throughout Latin America, Europe, Vietnam, USA, Central America!

When times get tough, the storyteller gets writing. Ha. Believe you me, the stories we all have collected in this Marquis de Sade world of capital and artery-clogging entertainment and constant death spiral the elites have banked as their Appian Way to Complete Dominance, they make for so much more validation of humanity than anything Hollywood could make.

Point of fact -- I attempted to watch the film, Vice, about Dick Cheney, his perverse family, the perversity of neocons fornicating with neoliberalism. It was one of Hollywood's "cutting edge" dramas. Written and directed by a Saturday Night Live writer. All the usual suspects with Hollywood multi-millions stuffed in their jowls -- Christian Bale, Amy Adams, et al .

It wasn't that good, but I sensed that the filmmakers were all about trying to make something that was "different." I didn't nod off during the viewing. But, I unfortunately had the DVD so I went to the extras section, and then, the behind-the-scenes of the making of Vice . This is when things went south real quickly with neoliberal, Democrat-leaning Hollywood creeps. We get every goofy platitude about each and every department's genius in making this film. Every actor fawns the other actor for his or her amazing performance.

Then the Limey, Christian Bale, yammers on and on about he was all about making Dick Cheney human, going into his good side, being cognizant of Cheney, the human. Rubbish and this is the quality of men, adults, in our society -- multimillionaires with gobs of limelight and credit and awards and houses and yachts thrown at them, and they can't even begin to attack the cause -- capitalism, rampant competitiveness, droll I-got-mine-too-bad-you-can't-get-yours thinking. Hollywood is the anti-culture, the flagging bumbling money changers, the money makers, the money grubbers, and well, everything is about the pockets and the suits and the "executive producers," i.e. Bankers.

Oh god, what a trip going into these Hollywood people's hot yoga, macrobiotic diet, four-hour-a-day workout minds. The director, McKay, actually thinks this drama -- make-believe -- has given the world new stuff, new insights, new news about the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush-Reagan-Bush world of prostitute politics.

As if there were no real journalists working on all the pre-September 11 illegalities of the republican party and then the post-September 11 evisceration of the few rights the people of the world and USA had before full spectrum war on our planet.

As if journalists hadn't cracked open the Koch brothers, the fake think tanks, all the pre-Truman/post-Truman lies of empire, from Roy Cohen, through to the rigged systems of oppression. Way before any trivial Hollywood wannabe open her eyes.

Entertainment and a few laughs at the expense of millions of bombed-dead people, millions more suffering-a-lingering-death daily because of Hollywood and USA policies and the evangelicals and the Crypto-Christo-Zionists bombing "the other" back to the stone age. The movie, Vice.

Racists, misogynists, misanthropes, one and all. Yet, we gotta love these democrat-leaning guys and gals making films, having millions stuffed up every possible orifice until their brains gel.

Insight into the flippancy that is Hollywood the Power Broker! Watching people like Amy Adams and Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell play this soft-shoe goofball show, and then in the little "Making of the Movie Vice" documentary (sic-infomercial) blathering on and on about the greatness of the script and every cog of the machine that churns out this pabulum, well, it steels me to continue my small-time, no-fame, big-effing-deal gig writing people profiles to bring some sense to a world captured by capital . . . idiocy!

Oh, how we fall in line. Over at Counterpunch , that cloistered world of writers has the countdown for 2018 -- Best Films of the Year, as in the most conscious, socially (give me a effing break!) that is. Nothing in American society once it floats on the offal barrel is sacred, socialist, communist.

Peak TV is creating more opportunities for independent film directors, and for new stories to be told. More films from around the world are released on streaming every day, and Netflix spent an estimated 13 billion dollars on content just this year. More cash available can sometimes mean more stories by and about communities of color, women, transgender and gender nonconforming people, and other communities Hollywood has long ignored. But the movie industry is still primarily about making profit, and it's main business is reinforcing the status quo, including churning out films that glorify capitalism, war, and policing.

Below are 2018's top ten conscious films that made it through these barriers, plus twenty more released this year that you may want to check out.

[ ]

Hollywood doesn't have a great record in covering presidential politics (remember Kevin Costner in Swing Vote ?). Vice , comedy director Adam McKay's follow up to The Big Short , explores the Bush/Cheney presidency, attempting to make history and polemic accessible to a wide audience. It's not as effective as his previous film, but it's a good history, especially for those less familiar with the ins and outs of the early 2000s corporate power grab.

Lighten up already , many a friend and acquaintance tell me. "You are going to burn out like one of the bulbs you use underwater to do your night dives. Way too much shining the hoary light onto the more hoary caverns of American society. Let things go."

Ha, well, how can we? We are entertained to death, as Neil Postman states:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies , the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy .

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984 , Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World , they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.

This book [ Amusing Ourselves to Death ] is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

And so it goes, as I trail the acrid dust devil of injustice -- my own and the veterans' and families' I helped just months ago in Portland as a social worker for, drum roll, homeless veterans (and some came with families, including babies and service dogs).

I've written about it here and elsewhere -- the Starvation Army. The deceitful, unethical, possibly murderous Starvation Army. You see, where I worked, I had these insane Nurse Ratched's lording over grown men and women treating them like criminals, and infantiles, and the constant berating and recriminations. It was anything but social work 101. Anything but trauma-informed care. Anything but caring people, enlightened helpers; instead, think mean, warped people who within their own broken self's, do all the wrong things for veterans.

I decided to jump ship, and, alas, a few lawyers advised me I couldn't get far with a hostile workplace complaint until I went through the state of Oregon's, Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) quasi-judicial pathway.

There was great harm put upon the veterans, great harm put upon the staff, because a director was all into herself and her self-described Jesus Saves bullshit, yammering on about her former cocaine addiction and booze abuse and 350 pounds of flesh, as well as her own failings as a mother. This place has 100 people living in it temporarily, while Starvation Army receives taxpayer money, all part of the poverty pimping Starvation/Salvation Army's SOP.

In the end, relying on idiots in any state bureaucracy to carry forth an investigation was not my idea of justice. I did my due diligence and filed grievances, first with the Starvation Army, and, then with BOLI. I contacted VA officials, state politicians, and the media. To no avail. They too are accomplices!

To make a long and stupid Byzantine story short, my prediction of zero assistance and zero admonishing from the state to the executive director and the higher ups of the Starvation Army played out. BOLI is a toothless and empty-hearted agency, staffed by soulless Little Eichmann's counting their paychecks and amassing points to their state sourced pension fund.

I have moved on, as usual, and the injustice perpetrated upon me is minor in the scheme of things. The veterans, however, already foisted with trauma, PTSD, administrative rape, etc., are still vulnerable to the Nurse Ratched's of the inhumane social services that serves (sic) non-profits and religious crime syndicates like the Starvation Army.

Here , "How the Salvation Army Lives Off (and thrives with) a Special Brand of Poverty Pimping"

Here , "Alcohol, Atheism, Anarchy: The Triple A Threat to the Pro-Capitalist Salvation Army"

Here , "Insanity of Social Work as Human Control"

I have since my departure been in contact with a few veterans, and talked a few off the proverbial ledge -- several that wanted to off themselves because of the Nurse Ratched's they encounter at the Starvation Army, in the VA, and in non-profits. This is the reality, and it's sick, in real perverted American time -- "Hundreds witness veteran shoot and kill himself in VA waiting room"

In December, Marine Col. Jim Turner, 55, put his service uniform on, drove to the Bay Pines Department of Veterans Affairs, and shot himself outside the medical center, leaving a note next to his body. "I bet if you look at the 22 suicides a day you will see VA screwed up in 90 percent," it read.

This is Trump, this is Biden, this is Clinton, this is the lot of them, callous and broken capitalists, who have sold their souls to the devil and brains to Jeff Bezos, et al . And it ain't going to get fixed until we cut away the cancer. Really cut away, daily, in small acts of defiance, great collective acts of beating the system. Not sure what that great director Ava Duvernay says about more and more movies like her 13th or this new Netflix mini-series on the Central Park Five , When They See Us will do to eventually get enough Americans (70 percent are racist to the core) to demand change in the criminal injustice system of private prisons, Incarceration Complex, Profitable Prosecutions. That all those cops, dailies, elites, deplorables, Trumpies, and Trump said terrible terrible things about these 5 juveniles, calling them animals, or super predators like the Clinton Klan, well, imagine, an insane 2016 runner for the highest crime lord position of the land, POTUS, Donald Trump, after these five men were released after all the evidence found them innocent, sputtering with his big fat billionaire's fourth grader's words that the Central Park Five are guilty, guilty, guilty.

The press coverage was biased. There was a study done by Natalie Byfield, one of the journalists at the time for the New York papers who later wrote a book about covering the case, and it saw that a little more than 89 percent of the press coverage at the time didn't use the word "alleged," that we had irresponsibility in the press corps at the time not to ask second questions and literally take police and prosecutor talking points and turn those into articles that people read as fact, and proceeded to shape their opinions about this case that essentially spoils the jury pool, so that these boys were never given a chance.

Trump's comments in his ads that he took out in 1989 were taken out just two weeks after the crime was announced -- they hadn't even gone to trial, so it was impossible for them to have an impartial jury pool. The printing of their names in the papers for minors, and where they lived, was a jaw-dropper. All of this was done by "reputable" papers in New York that we still read, so I'm curious how these papers take responsibility for their part in this, and also possibly use this to review the part they play in other cases that may not be as famous as this.

Thus, she makes my case -- the callous and racist and sexist and xenophobic US Press, and here we are today, 2019, enter Amusing Ourselves to Death and a Brave New World .

The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.

-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World , "Preface"

Alas, though, we have to keep those words coming, even sent to the great gray hearts and souls populating those state agencies whose workers are supposed to investigate the workplace safety concerns of workers, and are supposed to prevent workplace harassment.

I write to break through the fog, and to envelop a new way of seeing my world, for me and for the few readers that dabble in even attempting to start, let alone finish, these missives.

Huxley was right -- " Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Brave New World , "Chapter 4"

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. He organized Part-time faulty in Washington State. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice . Read his autobiography, weekly or bi-weekly musings and hard hitting work in chapter installments, at LA Progressive . He blogs from Otis, Oregon. Read other articles by Paul , or visit Paul's website .

[Jun 17, 2019] Matt Taibbi Exposes The Great College Loan Swindle

Notable quotes:
"... If you want to take the risk of going into debt to attend college, you better come out with skills that are in high demand. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole...

On a wind-swept, frigid night in February 2009, a 37-year-old schoolteacher named Scott Nailor parked his rusted '92 Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Fireside Inn in Auburn, Maine. He picked this spot to have a final reckoning with himself. He was going to end his life.

Beaten down after more than a decade of struggle with student debt, after years of taking false doors and slipping into various puddles of bureaucratic quicksand, he was giving up the fight. "This is it, I'm done," he remembers thinking. "I sat there and just sort of felt like I'm going to take my life. I'm going to find a way to park this car in the garage, with it running or whatever."

Nailor's problems began at 19 years old, when he borrowed for tuition so that he could pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Maine. He graduated summa cum laude four years later and immediately got a job in his field, as an English teacher.

Bu t he graduated with $35,000 in debt, a big hill to climb on a part-time teacher's $18,000 salary. He struggled with payments, and he and his wife then consolidated their student debt, which soon totaled more than $50,000. They declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans. From there he found himself in a loan "rehabilitation" program that added to his overall balance. "That's when the noose began to tighten," he says.

The collectors called day and night, at work and at home. "In the middle of class too, while I was teaching," he says. He ended up in another rehabilitation program that put him on a road toward an essentially endless cycle of rising payments. Today, he pays $471 a month toward "rehabilitation," and, like countless other borrowers, he pays nothing at all toward his real debt, which he now calculates would cost more than $100,000 to extinguish. "Not one dollar of it goes to principal," says Nailor. "I will never be able to pay it off. My only hope to escape from this crushing debt is to die."

After repeated phone calls with lending agencies about his ever-rising interest payments, Nailor now believes things will only get worse with time. "At this rate, I may easily break $1 million in debt before I retire from teaching," he says.

Nailor had more than once reached the stage in his thoughts where he was thinking about how to physically pull off his suicide. "I'd been there before, that just was the worst of it," he says. "It scared me, bad."

He had a young son and a younger daughter, but Nailor had been so broken by the experience of financial failure that he managed to convince himself they would be better off without him. What saved him is that he called his wife to say goodbye. "I don't know why I called my wife. I'm glad I did," he says. "I just wanted her or someone to tell me to pick it up, keep fighting, it's going to be all right. And she did."

From that moment, Nailor managed to focus on his family. Still, the core problem – the spiraling debt that has taken over his life, as it has for millions of other Americans – remains.

Horror stories about student debt are nothing new. But this school year marks a considerable worsening of a tale that ought to have been a national emergency years ago. The government in charge of regulating this mess is now filled with predatory monsters who have extensive ties to the exploitative for-profit education industry – from Donald Trump himself to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who sets much of the federal loan policy, to Julian Schmoke, onetime dean of the infamous DeVry University, whom Trump appointed to police fraud in education.

Americans don't understand the student-loan crisis because they've been trained to view the issue in terms of a series of separate, unrelated problems.

They will read in one place that as of the summer of 2017, a record 8.5 million Americans are in default on their student debt, with about $1.3 trillion in loans still outstanding.

In another place, voters will read that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, soaring in a seemingly market-defying arc that for nearly a decade now has run almost double the rate of inflation. Tuition for a halfway decent school now frequently surpasses $50,000 a year. How, the average newsreader wonders, can any child not born in a yacht afford to go to school these days?

In a third place, that same reader will see some heartless monster, usually a Republican, threatening to cut federal student lending. The current bogeyman is Trump, who is threatening to slash the Pell Grant program by $3.9 billion, which would seem to put higher education even further out of reach for poor and middle-income families. This too seems appalling, and triggers a different kind of response, encouraging progressive voters to lobby for increased availability for educational lending.

But the separateness of these stories clouds the unifying issue underneath: The education industry as a whole is a con. In fact, since the mortgage business blew up in 2008, education and student debt is probably our reigning unexposed nation-wide scam.

It's a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a "big store scheme," like in the movie The Sting : a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie – sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate – have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams – that's the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He's the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements.

It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don't. "A bachelor's degree is worth $2.8 million on average over a lifetime" is how Georgetown University put it. The Census Bureau tells us similarly that a master's degree is worth on average about $1.3 million more than a high school diploma.

But these stats say more about the increasing uselessness of a high school degree than they do about the value of a college diploma. Moreover, since virtually everyone at the very highest strata of society has a college degree, the stats are skewed by a handful of financial titans. A college degree has become a minimal status marker as much as anything else. "I'm sure people who take polo lessons or sailing lessons earn a lot more on average too," says Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice, which advocates for debt forgiveness and other reforms. "Does that mean you should send your kids to sailing school?"

But the pitch works on everyone these days, especially since good jobs for Trump's beloved "poorly educated" are scarce to nonexistent. Going to college doesn't guarantee a good job, far from it, but the data show that not going dooms most young people to an increasingly shallow pool of the very crappiest, lowest-paying jobs. There's a lot of stick, but not much carrot, in the education game.

It's a vicious cycle. Since everyone feels obligated to go to college, most everyone who can go, does, creating a glut of graduates. And as that glut of degree recipients grows, the squeeze on the un-degreed grows tighter, increasing further that original negative incentive: Don't go to college, and you'll be standing on soup lines by age 25.

With that inducement in place, colleges can charge almost any amount, and kids will pay – so long as they can get the money. And here we run into problem number two: It's too easy to find that money.

Parents, not wanting their kids to fall behind, will pay every dollar they have. But if they don't have the cash, there is a virtually unlimited amount of credit available to young people. Proposed cuts to Pell Grants aside, the landscape is filled with public and private lending, and students gobble it up. Kids who walk into financial-aid offices are often not told what signing their names on the various aid forms will mean down the line. A lot of kids don't even understand the concept of interest or amortization tables – they think if they're borrowing $8,000, they're paying back $8,000.

Nailor certainly was unaware of what he was getting into when he was 19. "I had no idea [about interest]," he says. "I just remember thinking, 'I don't have to worry about it right now. I want to go to school.' " He pauses in disgust. "It's unsettling to remember how it was like, 'Here, just sign this and you're all set.' I wish I could take the time machine back and slap myself in the face."

The average amount of debt for a student leaving school is skyrocketing even faster than the rate of tuition increase.

In 2016, for instance, the average amount of debt for an exiting college graduate was a staggering $37,172. That's a rise of six percent over just the previous year. With the average undergraduate interest rate at about 3.7 percent, the interest alone costs around $115 per month, meaning anyone who can't afford to pay into the principal faces the prospect of $69,000 in payments over 50 years.

So here's the con so far.

You must go to college because you're screwed if you don't.

Costs are outrageously high, but you pay them because you have to, and because the system makes it easy to borrow massive amounts of money

The third part of the con is the worst: You can't get out of the debt.

Since government lenders in particular have virtually unlimited power to collect on student debt – preying on everything from salary to income-tax returns – even running is not an option. And since most young people find themselves unable to make their full payments early on, they often find themselves perpetually paying down interest only, never touching the principal. Our billionaire president can declare bankruptcy four times, but students are the one class of citizen that may not do it even once.

October 2017 was supposed to represent the first glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, one of the few avenues for wiping out student debt. The idea, launched by George W. Bush, was pretty simple: Students could pledge to work 10 years for the government or a nonprofit and have their debt forgiven. In order to qualify, borrowers had to make payments for 10 years using a complex formula. This month, then, was to start the first mass wipeouts of debt in the history of American student lending. But more than half of the 700,000 enrollees have already been expunged from the program for, among other things, failing to certify their incomes on time, one of many bureaucratic tricks employed to limit forgiveness eligibility. To date, fewer than 500 participants are scheduled to receive loan forgiveness in this first round.

Moreover, Trump has called for the program's elimination by 2018, meaning that any relief that begins this month is likely only temporary. The only thing that is guaranteed to remain real for the immediate future are the massive profits being generated on the backs of young people, who before long become old people who, all too often, remain ensnared until their last days in one of the country's most brilliant and devious moneymaking schemes.

Everybody wins in this madness, except students. Even though many of the loans are originated by the state, most of them are serviced by private or quasi-private companies like Navient – which until 2014 was the student-loan arm of Sallie Mae – or Nelnet, companies that reported a combined profit of around $1 billion last year (the U.S. government made a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016!). Debt-collector companies like Performant (which generated $141.4 million in revenues; the family of Betsy DeVos is a major investor), and most particularly the colleges and universities, get to prey on the desperation and terror of parents and young people, and in the process rake in vast sums virtually without fear of market consequence.

About that: Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago.

In that incident, UW raised tuition by 5.5 percent six years in a row after 2007. The school blamed stresses from the financial crisis and decreased state aid. But when pressed during a state committee hearing in 2013 about the university's finances, UW system president Kevin Reilly admitted they held $648 million in reserve, including $414 million in tuition payments. This was excess hidey-hole cash the school was sitting on, separate and distinct from, say, an endowment fund.

After the university was showered with criticism for hoarding cash at a time when it was gouging students with huge price increases every year, the school responded by saying, essentially, it only did what all the other kids were doing. UW released data showing that other major state-school systems across the country were similarly stashing huge amounts of cash. While Wisconsin's surplus was only 25 percent of its operating budget, for instance, Minnesota's was 29 percent, and Illinois maintained a whopping 34 percent reserve.

When Collinge, of Student Loan Justice, looked into it, he found that the phenomenon wasn't confined to state schools. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees. "They're all doing it," he says.

While universities sit on their stockpiles of cash and the loan industry generates record profits, the pain of living in debilitating debt for many lasts into retirement. Take Veronica Martish. She's a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. She's also a grandmother who's never been in trouble and consid?ers herself a patriot. "The thing is, I tried to do everything right in my life," she says. "But this ruined my life."

This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Five years later, after deaths in her family, she fell behind on her payments and entered a loan-rehabilitation program. "That's when my nightmare began," she says.

In rehabilitation, Martish's $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since. She says she's paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. "By the time I die," she says, "I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000 loan." She pauses. "It's a scam, you see. Nothing ever comes off the loan. It's all interest and fees. And they chase you until you're old, like me. They never stop. Ever."

And that's the other thing about lending to students: It's the safest grift around.

There's probably no better symbol of the bankruptcy of the education industry than Trump University. The half-literate president's effort at higher learning drew in suckers with pathetic promises of great real-estate insights (for instance, that Trump "hand-picked" the instructors) and then charged them truckfuls of cash for get-rich-quick tutorials that students and faculty later described as "almost completely worthless" and a "total lie." That Trump got to settle a lawsuit on this matter for $25 million and still managed to be elected president is, ironically, a remarkable testament to the failure of our education system. About the only example that might be worse is DeVry University, which told students that 90 percent of graduates seeking jobs found them in their fields within six months of graduation. The FTC found those claims "false and unsubstantiated," and ordered $100 million in refunds and debt relief, but that was in 2016 – before Trump put DeVry chief Schmoke, of all people, in charge of rooting out education fraud. Like a lot of things connected to politics lately, it would be funny if it weren't somehow actually happening.?"Yeah, it's the fox guarding the henhouse," says Collinge. "You could probably find a worse analogy."

But the real problem with the student-loan story is that it's so poorly understood by people not living the nightmare. There's so much propaganda that blames the borrowers for taking on the debt in the first place that there's often little sympathy for people in hopeless situations. To make matters worse, band-aid programs that supposedly offer help hypnotize the public into thinking there are ways out, when the "help" is usually just another trick to add to the balance.

"That's part of the problem with the narrative," says Nailor, the schoolteacher. "People think that there's help, so what are you complaining about? All you got to do is apply for help."

But the help, he says, coming from a for-profit predatory system, often just makes things worse. "It did for me," he says. "It does for a lot of people."

jcaz -> ThirdWorldNut , Nov 5, 2017 7:36 PM

So..... This guy is working ONE job, part-time.... How does he fill the rest of his day?

Take away his student loan, he's still living on $18K/yr- you're still broke...

Moe Hamhead ->