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and are the only real growth industries of Obama Administration. In Jan 2010 35 millions,
or one in eight Americans, were on food stamps.
Obama's biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military
|When I was a kid they told us that automation would "free" us from working
long hours. What they didn't tell us what that they weren't going to pay us for all this leisure
time we'd get.
Mass unemployment is the primary indication of the collapse of a given form of society -- James Burnham
|"Unemployment" statistics has been the political advertising media for every Administration
in modern times
Chronic unemployment is an immanent feature of neoliberalism, which requires the army of unemployed to suppress wages in order to increase share of profits for the top 1$ and, especially, the top 0.01%. Another problem is secular (long-term) stagnation of the economy due to destruction of consumer demand, which comes with the deterioration of the standard of living and high level of unemployment. As Pope Francis noted:
...Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.
... ... ...
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
The institutions of neoliberal capitalism, while promoting an expanded role in the economy for "market forces" (read "financial oligarchy") simultaneously transform labor relations. The “market” under neoliberalism certainly no longer refers to competition as a form of the production and distribution goods and services. Instead, it means something more along the lines of international financial monopolies protected by collusion between captured vassal state institutions (including neoliberal fifth column domination in the all major branches of government, especially executive and legislative branches, educational institutions and media) and multinationals, which pay money to sustain this social order. The term “Free markets” under neoliberalism means letting rich people do what they want, not promoting efficient allocation of resources through competition and the price mechanism. The core of the fifth column are local oligarchs and so called "Chicago boys": sons and daughters of local elite who are trained for and indoctrinated for this purpose in Western universities. As George Monbiot aptly noted Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems ( The Guardian, April 15, 2016)
We internalize and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.
Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.
Under neoliberalism labor relations assumes the form of full domination of labor by capitalists. Unions are officially suppressed and large part of middle class is brainwashed to hate using set of propaganda stories about unions corruption, welfare quinsy, lack of competitiveness in unionized industries (with Detroit as a prime story), etc. In this sense crushing by Reagan of the strike of air controllers was one of the first manifestation of this dominance. Workers again are downgraded to the role of debt slaves, who should be glad to get subsistence wages. And, for example, wages in Wal-Mart are really on subsistence level, no question about it (Making Change at Wal-Mart » Fact Sheet – Wages):
Wal-Mart jobs are poverty-level jobs.
Wal-Mart's average sale Associate makes $8.81 per hour, according to IBISWorld, an independent market research group. This translates to annual pay of $15,576, based upon Wal-Mart's full-time status of 34 hours per week1. This is significantly below the 2010 Federal Poverty Level of $22,050 for a family of four. The Wall Street Journal reported that the average Wal-Mart cashier makes just $8.48 an hour, far below the $11.22 national average for all cashiers.
This contrasts with the capital-labor compromise that characterized the state capitalism that existed several post-WWII decades and that was crushed by neoliberalism in 1970th. Neoliberalism also brought change in the relation between financial and non-financial capital: financial capital now again like in 1920th plays a dominant role dictating the rules of the game to manufacturing sector and controlling it via banks.
Under neoliberalism the wealthy and their academic servants, see inequality as a noble outcome. University professors of economics form the most corrupt part of intellectual elite – they are nothing more than employees of the financial oligarchy paid to administer intellectual anesthetic to those among debt slaves, who still have enough time to ask what’s going on. They want to further enrich top 1%, shrink middle class making it less secure, and impoverish poor. That's an officially state goal. Then in 1992, when asked what Iran-Contra was really all about, Bush I replied that it was done for "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."
The upward redistribution of wealth requires high unemployment to weep prols into unconditional obedience. In other words neoliberalism and high unemployment are twins.
Under the disguise of "free market" Newspeak neoliberals promote a type of economy which is often called a plantation economy. In this type of the economy all the resources and power are in the hands of a wealthy planter class who then gives preference for easy jobs and the easy life to their loyal toadies. The wealthy elites like cheap labor: it's much easier to dictate their conditions of employment when unemployment is high.
Keynesian economics values the middle class and does not value unemployment or cheap labor, so it is incompatible with neoliberal ideology and needs to be suppressed. Neoliberals created the system which richly reward stooges of neoliberalism for their loyalty to the top 1% bestowing on them an easier life than they otherwise merit. In a meritocracy where individuals receive public goods and services that allow them to compete on a level playing field, many neoliberal academic toadies would be losers who cannot compete.
One of the most important measures of the health of an economy is the following criteria: how many fulfilling, living-wage jobs are created or destroyed (most other economic factors can be distilled to this.). For example, widely used measure of economic growth, GDP is too influenced by financial masturbation and does not distinguish useful activity from harmful or irrelevant.
Under neoliberalism the elite revived Roman emperor Septimius Severus advice to his sons before he died at Eboracum (York) on February 4, 211:
"Avoid infighting, pay well the soldiers, and ignore everybody else" .
So during the Great Recession Congress simply tuned backs to unemployed. With the implicit message you just need to die out folks ;-).
Military budget at the same time was greatly expanded and several unnecessary wars were launched. Brainwashed American public eats all those neoliberal policies like real lemmings, demonstrating the level of groupthink and lack of critical thinking that is typical for high demand cults. So the myth about highly conscious "proletariat" that Marxists cherished remains a myth. Moreover quite opposite tendencies to creation of "enlightened lower classes" show their ugly face (Chris Hedges America is a Tinderbox naked capitalism):
ictus92, July 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm
To paraphrase Madeline Albright: “What’s the point of creating a totalitarian police state if you’re not going to use it?”
So where is the American totalitarian state going? If you look at the NDAA and the discussion around repealing the Posse Comitatus Act, the key words include quelling “domestic civil unrest”… So what are the “deep government” types anticipating so hysterically?
Well, the financial crisis keeps grinding away and is about to enter another phase of collapse as “quantitative easing” has run its course. Interest rates are rising, posing “technical insolvency” of the Federal Reserve itself. What this means is that time’s up for the 46 million in the Food Stamp Supplemental Program; 56 million getting Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and at least 20 million more needing full time employment. Obviously there’s some overlap, but the total number of people living on the margins of subsistence pushes 30% of the population.
For these, they face an immediate “Final Solution”… not exactly direct extermination, but death by deprivation, illness etc. Can work camps be far off for these tens of millions and the many millions more living paycheck to paycheck? This population and their sympathizers comprise the tinder for “civil unrest”. Hence the corollary to the famous “Collect it all” (communications) is “control it all” (civil disorder following further economic collapse).
Furthermore, prolonged neglect of key infrastructure will lead inevitably to severe food, water and electric power access shortages — another source of civil unrest potential.
Of course, overseas the totalitarian police state eliminates all expression of opposition that can change policies in the quest for “Permanent War” and “full spectrum” military dominance. This ends in global military confrontation… just as the financial crisis of the 30’s gave rise to another World War… only this time around world war will pitch towards thermonuclear war in short order. That’s how totalitarian regimes collapse into catastrophe, dragging the rest of us to an unpleasant demise.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a damn thing any of us can do to arrest this beserk Levithan…
tongorad, July 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm
“This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness.
They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they’re listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.
The left won’t accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix “if only the people knew the Truth.”
But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber and meaner the lie, the more the public wants to hear it repeated.”
“We, The Spiteful” by Mark Ames
Dave, July 20, 2013 at 8:18 pm
Please consider that the “right” is far more realistic in their assessment of human nature. The “left” wants things to be according to what they think it should be, mostly because of their left wing educators. The majority of humans are not perfectible.
Even Asians, with their highly socialized societies, have behaved very badly towards those outside their country.
This tendency of self-deception of "blue color America" and resonating of Republican Party ideas within "working poor" and lower middle class, two strata of the US society that typically votes against its own economic interests is analyzed in What's the matter with Kansas And to fight neoliberal machine is not easy as media dominance is total, and on a new technological level, which does not require silencing of opponents, just ignoring them, approach the level typical for the USSR or Nazi Germany. And even if some people question the system, like (at the very beginning) Tea Party did, or later "Occupy Wall Street" movement did, they are mercilessly co-opted or crashed by well paid guard labor. The latter is one of the few types of employment which prospers under neoliberal empire. See The Rise of Guard Labor (dollarsandsense.org)
The reality is that many rich countries including the USA now face two problems. One is a shortage of jobs, especially middle class jobs. The other is stagnant (or falling) wages for those outside top 1%. This is not a temporary problem. Despite all the propaganda smoke this is an immanent feature of neoliberal regimes that now dominate in the USA and most other countries. Neoliberalism requires high unemployment as a way to keep workers in check and prevent attempts to slow down redistribution of wealth toward the top.
As George Bush Sr . noted in November 1992 neoliberalism is "the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands". The essence is the consolidation of money and power to the top 0.1% or even 0.01%. In a very deep sense our new lords from financial and political oligarchy are not that different from feudal aristocracy, may be only less educated, more prone to avoid military service and much more greedy.
Unlike Keynesian economy which put middle class in the center of society serving a buffer between rich and poor, under neoliberalism middle class is no longer needed as a buffer between aristocracy and proles, as repressive power of the state and regime of total surveillance (National Security State) makes an organized opposition practically impossible. The fate of "Occupy Wall Street" movement is nice illustration here.
On the other hand neoliberalism as an ideology, while discredited by event of 2008 still does not have any viable alternative. Socialism was discredited by collapse of the USSR (which in reality was a neoliberal counterrevolution by Soviet nomenklatura including part of KGB). Authoritarian versions of state capitalism does not look too attractive, despite being quite effective as was proven by economic progress of "Asian tigers".
Other important factors are also in play. Technology has stripped away the ability for many to hold a job and the trend continues. In other words automation eats jobs. Outsourcing eats jobs too. Between those two trends almost no job growth left. This is a structural situation, not transitional caused by recession due to aftermath of 2008 financial bubble bust. In other words jobs that disappeared will never return. And jobs in construction sector and finance were artificial and unsustainable in any case, crisis or no crisis (as in "what can't last forever eventually stops." )
We are in the midst of slow motion employment collapse. Eurozone unemployment recently reached 12%. The US has probably 20% rate of involuntary unemployment now. The official unemployment "rate" is lower, but that is because both 60-65 years old and 20 to 24 year olds are dropping out of the wage force.
Add to this "peak energy" problem and the situation looks really bleak. That's the funny thing about oil and modern civilization -- almost everybody in large western urban centers is dependent on mass produced technology (much of which was invented before we were born) and cheap oil (and generally cheap energy), Those who live in those urban centers no longer have any direct control or ability to produce own food or transportation energy or heating. those three activities are completely outsourced. See Peak Oil Demand is Already a Huge Problem.
Globalization is yet another problem. I was actually surprised by how many jobs large corporations managed to shred during 2008-2013 without negatively affecting profitability. The impression is that it is no low limit. Usual wisdom is that if you shred too much, this labor shortage will bite you in a couple of years. This is no longer the case in the USA. No visible backlash at all. Even consumption that should be suffering due to destruction of middle class in this process is no suffering much, because it was already mostly top 1% game and, as such, is recession proof. Here is one interesting comment form Krugman column Globalization and Macroeconomics - NYTimes.com
The analysis is flawed. The issue is not goods trade - on its own, this is relatively benign. The real problem is the associated capital drain. Owners of capital will transfer productive capital abroad for better returns. This process creates deep structural problems for all developed economies. Here are some basic predictions:
- Real wage stagnation. Labor is less productive having less capital to work with.
- Rapid rise in income by capital owners. The big winners in this scenario, not only do they earn higher rents abroad, they earn higher rents at home as capital is now more scarce there.
- Rise in inequality - obviously, from above.
- Slow growth. Capital formation is moderated by the constant capital drain so grows more slowly than otherwise.
- Increase in structural unemployment. Because capital transfer abroad is slower than internal capital transfer, the restructuring is long term as opposed to the short to medium term restructuring that occurs in goods trade.
Recessions are difficult to manage and may become protracted. In a downturn, capital formation dries up but the capital drain continues. This erodes the output gap. A fiscal stimulus now has less headroom for expansion. On top of that, an increase in domestic demand may be met by investment in productive capital abroad; the domestic investment response is missing. This may even cause a fall in labor productivity ( UK productivity puzzle?).
In short, globalization IS the problem.
Recessions generate inequality in both income and well-being: people who lose their jobs bear a disproportionate burden of the recession. As Kathleen Geier noted the impact of unemployment on well-being it’s even worse than you thought
While reading this odd and meandering New York Times op-ed this morning, I stumbled upon a link to a fascinating study from last year on the impact of unemployment on non-monetary well-being. It was conducted by Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young, who discovered that unemployment has an even more catastrophic effect on personal happiness that we thought.
The study produced three major findings. The first is the devastating impact job loss has on personal well-being. Job loss, says Young, “produces a large drop in subjective well-being”:Job loss into unemployment, however, is a different matter; this brings on deep distress that is greater in magnitude than the effect of changes in family structure, home-ownership or parental status. The distress of job loss is also hard to ameliorate: family income does not help, unemployment insurance appears to do little and even reemployment does not provide a full recovery [italics mine].
The second finding is that while unemployment insurance (UI) is successful as a macroeconomic stabilizer, it doesn’t make unemployed people any happier. UI, says Young:is not central to their sense of well-being… [Snip] …[ I]t does little to support their identity, sense of purpose or self-regard.
Third, job loss has a strong, lasting negative impact on well-being that may persist for years:[J]ob loss has consequences that linger even after people return to work. Finding a job, on average, recovers only about two thirds of the initial harm of losing a job. It is not clear how long it takes for the nonpecuniary effect of unemployment to heal.
Other research suggests that what Young refers to as “the scarring effect” of job loss can last from three to five years, or even longer. He also notes that “the more generalized fear of becoming jobless” may persist.
Young’s discussion of these findings stresses the inequality theme. He points out that “recessions generate inequality in both income and well-being: people who lose their jobs bear a disproportionate burden of the recession.” He suggests job-sharing as a way to reduce the concentrated misery of unemployment. That’s a great idea that unfortunately never seems to go anywhere. Employers today seem more interested in squeezing as much labor out of employees as possible for the lowest cost. They’re looking to shrink their payroll rather than expand it. And unfortunately, there are very few public policies that promote job-sharing, let alone do it effectively.
The sheer human misery created by the economic downturn has been stunning. The economic damage is, in some ways, the least of it. Another study shows that the long-term unemployed experience shame, loss of self-respect, and strained relationships with friends and family. They even suffer significantly higher rates of suicide.
Yesterday, Paul Krugman and others discussed the impact of economic inequality vs. unemployment on income. Krugman argued that inequality has had the greater impact, and I agree. Among other things, inequality is also the root cause of the unemployment problem. Special interests which have disproportionate power in our political system prevented more stimulus and inflicted an austerity agenda, which has had a disastrous effect on employment. Enacting an economic equality agenda will be huge political challenge, but it’s the only way I can see of ultimately resetting the priorities of our government so that it starts working on behalf of ordinary Americans again.
There are two popular unemployment measured U3 (commonly cited as "official unemployment rate", which dramatically understates real unemployment) and U6, which is close to actual unemployment rate as was measured during the Great Depression. U3 is often as low as half of U6 (that's why it sometimes called 50 cents unemployment rate). As The Big Picture note in the entry Unemployment Reporting
- U3 is the "official unemployment rate" according to the BLS website. Due to this, it is the current measure of Unemployment that gets focused upon by most media, and therefore the public. It has, over the years, slowly excluded many of the factors that USED to go into how the US reported unemployment. Hence, there has been a gradual decrease in the Unemployment rate that has occurred regardless of what was happening in the Jobs market. U3 is now comprised in a way that merely repeating it without a slew of caveats borders on fraud.
- U6, on the other hand, is the broadest measure of Unemployment: It includes those people counted by U3, plus marginally attached workers (not looking, but want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the recent past), as well as Persons employed part time for economic reasons (they want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule).
Its been pretty obvious for sometime that the Financial Media are doing a disservice to their readers by only reporting U3, given how dramatically it understates Unemployment. Indeed, consumer sentiment reports are at deep negative levels that only occur when Unemployment is much than what U3 has been saying. It is painfully obvious that U3 does not paint an accurate view of the Employment situation.
Here's the experiment I propose: Let's start reporting both, with appropriate descriptions of each. Report U3, add U6, provide monthly and year over year changes. Let the reader see the full picture, via BLS data.
I would like to stress it again: many factors point to the fact that the current level of unemployment is mostly structural. In other words jobs eliminated will not be coming back. Among the most important factors we can mention:
The first three factors changed the distribution of power between labor and capital in favor of capital; and those guys are not inclined to take prisoners, when there is a chance to fatten their pockets. None of the first three factors will probably be reversed soon, although neoliberal ideology is after 2008 entered a zombie state.
Also computerization and Internet allowed capital and political forces behind it much better organize politically. So like in in previous human history well organized and wealthy minority dictates its will less-organized poor majority.
I think that financial capital might eventually experience some setbacks. This bacchanalia of greed with those hedge fund which hack financial system left and right might come to an abrupt end with the rise of the price of oil. Even now price of oil indirectly pressure "masters of the universe". And remember famous slogan of 2008 "Jump suckers" ;-). It reflects the society attitude to financial oligarchy and as such entail certain dangers of "blowback" for all those derivatives games.
Not under Obama watch as he is essentially a sock puppet of financial oligarchy. But eventually setback for "big finance" can happen. At the end of the day it is oil that is the real convertible currency and when oil production is diminishing or flat, financial oligarchy will be pushed back.
Measures taken by political elite to save financial institutions after 2008 collapse means that unemployment is a part of a general political problem with neoliberalism as a social system. Under neoliberal regime the elite can't care less about long term unemployment. National Security State ensures the security of the neoliberal elite. Elections in the USA are a sham as two party system effectively blocks candidates outside the list approved by the current elite. The latter might even see sharp division of the society into "have" and "have nots" as a solution of oil depletion problem (Economist's View):
Monetary policy does not operate in a vacuum. Monetary policy operates in an economic system that includes fiscal and regulatory tools. It is a mistake to lock the fiscal and regulatory tools in a shed.
Fiscal policy ALWAYS operates in a recession, at least in the form of automatic stabilizers, (UI, etc.) and sometimes in the form of additional stimulus.
The meagre automatic stabilizers currently in place are enough for a mild recession, but are woefully short of what is needed in a recession like the recent one.
The primary objection to fiscal policy manipulations is that fiscal policy is more easily politicized. This overlooks the fact that monetary policy is not only political, but bankers (who constitute a wealthy special interest) have an agenda that tilts monetary policy to their own self interests.
The primary objection to using fiscal stimulus to address our unemployment crisis is POLITICAL. Wealthy special interests want pay less taxes and short term stimulus would interfere with their political agenda to roll back spending and reduce spending as a percent of GDP.
Wealthy special interests have the upper hand at the moment because enough politicians are dependent on their campaign donations. However, this politicalization of fiscal policy, doing too little to address unemployment, is the prime force behind the Fed keeping interest rates low. If enough fiscal stimulus was enacted to quickly return to full employment and inflation at or slightly above the target, the Fed would not have to consider extraordinary measures.
Anyone unhappy about extraordinary monetary measures should be urging Congress to fix unemployment now. This is not what our elites are doing. They are complaining about extraordinary monetary measures AND about additional stimulus. This suggests that these policy elites care nothing about social problems of long term unemployment, are content to have the US become a divided nation between haves and have nots and are content to oversee the creation of an underclass in order to concentrate wealthy upward.
When one is saying that unemployment became a structural problem that means that it is immune to the business cycle. For example, during the last economic expansion (Jan 2002 -Dec 2007), the median US household income dropped by $2,000. In other words many Americans were worse off at the end of an economic cycle as jobs went outsourced to low wage countries due to wage arbitrage...
The collapse of “casino capitalism” model in 2008-2009 was so profound that all sectors of the economy became depressed. As securitization mess exploded in the face of their creators as it became clear to everybody that the king is naked. Debt overhand of financial industry is tremendous and it was just socialized, not removed. Essentially it became the problem of the USA government debt. In many ways problems the USA faces now are more serious then the problems the country faced during Great Depression because economic crisis doubles as the crisis of dominant ideology -- the ideology of neoliberalism. And the Great Recession, despite Economic Cycle Institute premature desire to bury it, is still with us. Five years in the making as of 2013.
Ideology on which FIRE sector dominance was based is now questioned and that creates additional problems both nationally and internationally, much more internationally. Internationally it means a substantial loss of the USA "soft power", the factor that played tremendous role in the decade of 1990-2000. When other country laugh at the US financial oligarchy tribulations it is difficult to open new markets selling old neoliberalism doctrine. due to debt overhand the US dollar is replaced by currency swaps in national currency for several major trading partners of China such as Brazil and Russia. First of all that makes the crisis even deeper and analogies between the USSR and the USA more sinister. As with Stalinists in USSR who destroyed the country economically, there is a powerful block of republican dead enders and democratic supporters of financial oligarchy (blue dogs) who will continue to promote the current neoliberal course with its deification of "free markets" (free as in "free shooting zone"), oblivious to consequences of neoliberal policies which eat the society and protected by the size of their accounts. There is nothing new here. Oligarchic democracies can commit suicide. Actually none lasted long. And with such a formidable political wrecking crew in action and gridlock in Congress even over minor reforms that became less probable.
For all practical purposes two party system actually works like one-party system: democrats were also captured by FIRE industries to the extent that they should not be considered an independent party, but as a slightly more moderate wing of the Republican Party. Similarly by all accounts Obama is a moderate Republican with the policies to the right of such Republican Presidents as Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt. In a way, Democratic Party perform the role of spoiler: it exists for the sole purpose of attracting disgruntled left-wing electorate away from more radical parties. Republicans play symmetrical role for right wing crazies. None can or want to became the agent of change. In this sense Obama electoral slogan "change we can believe in" was a nasty, cruel joke of political insiders over political outsiders. Note how unceremoniously Obama dumped labor after his reelection, while courting it during his reelection campaign.
As private sector is still downsizing, and government can't be the employer of last resort due to dominance of neoliberal ideology, the whole situation looks more and more like Japanese lost decade. The only area where government can expand workforce are defense contractors (military keysianism):
Minsky, however, argued for a “bubble-up” approach, sending money to the poor and unskilled first. The government - or what he liked to call “Big Government” - should become the “employer of last resort,” he said, offering a job to anyone who wanted one at a set minimum wage. It would be paid to workers who would supply child care, clean streets, and provide services that would give taxpayers a visible return on their dollars. In being available to everyone, it would be even more ambitious than the New Deal, sharply reducing the welfare rolls by guaranteeing a job for anyone who was able to work. Such a program would not only help the poor and unskilled, he believed, but would put a floor beneath everyone else’s wages too, preventing salaries of more skilled workers from falling too precipitously, and sending benefits up the socioeconomic ladder.
It is important to understand that the USA is not just coping with the largest financial crisis in history, the USA is also going through a major restructuring of the American economy as well as the world economy due to plato in oil extraction. This transformation, which was postponed by two decades due the collapse of the USSR (which gave the USA companies half billion of new consumers and huge area to dollarize and buy assets for pennies on a dollar), will be very long, very painful and very slow. One additional factor that complicates the picture of "peak oil", is that it is more properly can be called "end of cheap oil", as at higher prices more oil became economically available. So this is not a peak but long plato.
As GDP is highly correlated with the energy consumption, the side effect of peak oil will probably be stagnant (close to zero after inflation) growth and with it speed up in permanent decline of the standard of living for middle class
Also complicating the situation is the status of baby boomers which lost significant part of their savings during last two bubble bursts and now need to retire or will be pushed out of workforce. Pensions are already cuts either directly or indirectly (via inflation). For example, defined benefit pensions almost disappeared outside of government job force. After housing crash middle class no longer has a realistic prospect to fund their retirement and need to work longer: that increases competition for jobs. For middle aged professionals who are unemployed now the odds of finding reasonably paid work are low and they create additional competition for young people entering work force from universities. People over 50 now face especially poor job prospects.
At the same time corporate executives became corporate aristocracy (with differences in pay raising from 10-20 to 100-200 more of average corporate salary; this is the differences close to what used to exist in feudal societies). Most corporations are taking a lazy way out of the crisis with relentless cost-cutting. This is a self-defeating strategy as cost cuttings eventually returns back via supply chain and bite the corporation which performs it. But so far this did not happened.
In addition productive sectors of economy are now under pressure of rampant financial speculation which serves as a huge tax on productive sectors of economy. Financial system is controlled by small number of large firms that permanently shifted their main activity into gambling and hacking of the financial system. There is some justice that computers which fueled all this crazy gambling on the strength of global reserve currency led to outsourcing of IT professionals to the extent that this part of US economy was destroyed and became a shadow of its former self in just ten years (2000-2010).
Another important sign of stagnation is that new college graduates face extremely bad job market which squeezes out anybody without substantial experience so for them it's Catch 22. Only graduates form Ivy League colleges has real prospect to get a job after graduation. Plus those with good family connections. In a way education is no longer a guarantee for better paying job, the same situation what was typical for the USSR and other countries of Eastern block during Brezhnev's stagnation.
There is also an interesting transformation of the quality of the education that also parallel transformation experienced by the USSR in post-war period, but in especially acute form, three decades before the collapse. Private education became more like subprime lending. It's quality became fake, as the term "diploma mills" suggests. This rat rate to the lowest possible quality (quality instead of quality) was the central tendency in Brezhnev's USSR.
In the USA in addition to devaluation of education caused by low quality "everything passes, everybody graduates, just pay" modus operandi of diploma mills, graduates from lower middle class families are now overloaded with debt, which creates for them really difficult situation and push many of them into low level service jobs like waiting. In other words excessive debt after college make getting into workforce using acquired specialty even more difficult as there is no space for long job search, relocation is more difficult and so on and so forth.
There is also huge criminal industry that flourished around people desperate attempts to find well paying jobs. Many educational scams like "we will make you an ultrasound technician in six month; 90% of our graduates found jobs that pay over $60K in the first month after graduation" or " software tester in four month; 100% of our graduates find jobs" are trying to capitalize of people desperate to find job, any job and getting into crushing debt trying to improve their chances in job market. Those criminals are not prosecuted. For more information see:
The employment growth comes mainly from the service sector which feeds off of consumer spending. It was hit by outsourcing especially in such areas as IT. Manufacturing no longer create jobs – outsourcing and computers eat them and you no longer need more people to make more stuff.
Peter Dornan at EconoSpeak has the following comment which perhaps looks deeper at why the elite is so indifferent to mass unemployment and growing poverty in the U.S.
“…The process is more complicated: where one sits in society and the kinds of problems one typically has to solve leads to a way of thinking, and this manner of thinking then informs politics.
For centuries, the finance perspective has played a central role in economic theorizing, and there is ordinarily a body of research to support it. What I am proposing is this: economic orthodoxy is regaining control over policy because it reflects the outlook of those who occupy the upper reaches of government and business….”
IMHO to get the economy out of this mess, government should concentrate on direct job creation (like was the case with Roosevelt administration), not on propping zombie banks hoping that they will generate credit necessary for creation o new jobs. Growth of credit will not happen and if it will happen it will not generate new jobs: most of it is pushed into speculation. Spectacular rise of S&P500 in first half of 2013 is a pretty good illustration of the process.
Long term high unemployment is a disaster for the country and disaster for the people, despite the fact that it is irrelevant for banksters, too busy playing in the huge casino they created. Failure to address this problem directly by Obama administration (which in economic terms is the second Summers-Bush administration making a joke in the slogan "change we can believe in") make Obama a real serial betrayer of people who elected him, the role he seems enjoy playing.
There are several additional factors that makes addressing the problem of chronic, structural unemployment even more difficult:
One can't solve the current problems the US are facing without the reform of the political system
and institutions. Power of lobbyists need to be curtailed. Senate needs to be reformed. Republican
Party probably should be dissolved or temporary prohibited like Communists after the dissolution
of the USSR as it is unable to reform. As there is no political will for political changes the crisis
is structural and little people have to suffer.
- There has been some evidence of a shift by employers to more temporary workers ("We are all temporary now!"). Increase of temporary workforce is the most trend that signifies a changing employment relations and social structure. Most recent research throw "cold water on the notion" that temporary workers turn into full-time workers. The notion that temp positions help low-skill workers to acquire experience and eventually join the permanent workforce in better long-term jobs. Actually opposite, very brutal process is happening. Many waiter/waitresses has a college degree and are pretty proficient in calculus and/or C language. The US workforce (and Japan's and Europe's) have been increasingly temporary for many years now.
- Even most 'permanent' jobs don't have the protections of seniority etc., and are basically temporary in nature. Due to capturing of the government it can block any significant reforms.
Essentially net job growth might occur only if three sectors: health, education and government related jobs. Municipalities are under tremendous financial stress and will start shedding jobs in late 2010 when Fed stimulus expires.
Peak Baby Boomer demographic drag effects and the composition of household spending are structural factors underlying the "new normal".
The composition of household spending is shifting from growth-oriented high-GDP-multiplier spending for housing, autos, durables, and child rearing to maintenance/subsistence, low-multiplier spending for property taxes, house maintenance, insurance premia, out-of-pocket spending for medical services and medications, and utilities.
Moreover, the composition of the labor force is becoming increasingly feminized, if you will, as the fastest growing sectors, education and health care services, are composed of 80-85% female employees, even as the labor force participation rate for males age 24-54 continues a mutli-decade decline to under 90%. If the pattern of the 1930s to WW II and that of Japan from the early '90s to date repeats, males under age 30-35 and over age 50-55 will suffer the highest rates of labor force dislocation, unemployment, underemployment, and loss of occupational continuity.
Thus, as structural demographic drag effects bear down on the US labor force and economy, and males experience lower participation rates and higher unemployment and underemployment, females will become increasingly relied upon by households and by underemployed, unemployed, or retired males to bear a larger financial burden as the debt-deflationary depression persists well into the end of the decade and early '20s.
That females do most of the discretionary household spending, the increasing share of females' after-tax incomes required for household subsistence will further reduce discretionary expenditures for meals out, travel, gifts, apparel, jewelry, etc.
With Libya and Syria added to the list, the hidden costs of foreign wars will weight on weakened economics more heavily. Annual cost per soldier oversees is approximately $1 Million per year.
The disability rates are higher. The cost of caring for the disabled are higher. Almost one out of two people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are disabled. This is an unfunded liability of—we calculate now to be almost a trillion dollars, over $900 billion. So, one of the big ways of reducing our deficit is a—is cut back some expenditures....
The latest internal government estimates place the cost of adding 40,000 American troops and sharply expanding the Afghan security forces, as favored by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, at $40 billion to $54 billion a year, the officials said.
Any expectations that Obama would show some sense of restraint about military spending have long ago vanished.
"It is my intention to finish the job” translates to "I will blow another $3 trillion war mongering if that is what it takes". And of course Pelosi does not think war idiocy should be at the expense of domestic idiocy.
War mongers want war but they do not want to pay for it. Sadly, Obama, Bush, Pelosi are all alike. Thus, Congress and the Administration is committed to having military idiocy and domestic idiocy at the same time.
God do we ever need a balanced budget amendment and a sound currency. We should not fund a damn thing unless we are willing to raise taxes to pay for it. Virtually no one but the war mongers and the military beneficiaries would be in support of raising taxes to pay for this monstrosity.
Rent that hypertrophied financial sector extracts from the rest of the society continues to be a serious drag on the economy. This drag adds to substantial drag caused by foreign wars and military bases as well as huge military industrial complex. While parasites are omnipresent in nature, two large parasites instead of one might spells trouble for the host. Moreover the ascendancy of the financial sector and the decline of manufacturing in the U.S. ("Casino Capitalism" ) has implications similar to consequences of an organized crime running the country. The creation of tangible products whose utility/quality can be more or less objectively measured were phased out in favor of "financial products," whose utility/quality is much easier to conceal behind legal/technical jargon and junk economics. That created a huge new class of white collar criminals. While Blankfein is out claiming that GS is doing God’s work, the reality is quite different: it became a training ground for new type of ruthless criminals, much more dangerous then bank robbers. Killing of Glass-Steagall by Clinton and leverage obtained by financial sector operating without regulatory limit created prerequisites to the financial panic of 2008. Glass-Steagall enshrined two principles that were abandoned:
The violation of the second principle directly leads to a regulatory capture in which anything goes and a corresponding observed "need" to accommodate indiscretions, as with the Greenspan/Bernanke put. It perhaps should be identified as THE primary cause, since it left Wall Street with the well-founded (LTCM, Latin America debt crisis, etc. ) and since-proved belief that prudence and capital were quite unnecessary, and that reckless, sociopathic deal making is profitable. Four examples :
A cynic believes that only selfishness motivates human actions. As
Gordon Gekko said “Greed is good”. I believe that the bonus structure led Wall Street to line
up all the pieces for the clash as fast as they could. Stan O’Neal is the poster child. After
presiding over all four of the steps above at Merrill Lynch he was paid $200 million to leave.
Where is the clawback!
The collapse in the U.S. commercial real estate market is fought by the government will maximum force but government resources to fight the crisis are diminishing too. in 2011 state financial crises led to cuts in state budget. In addition, in June 2013 municipal bonds came under fire, making financing more costly. Commercial debt is approximately one third of the size of the total residential debt and it is concentrated in the same places creating double whammy. In Florida commercial loans, broadly defined, are bigger then residential. Unlike residential real estate, problem with commercial real estate are not solved by growth of population and creation of new families.
Retail and white-collar positions will be directly impacted by CRE crash. As stores and offices
close, mall and office building owners suffer from cuts in cash flow and severely limited prospects
for new tenants. Insurance companies, hedge funds and regional banks are heavily invested in CRE
and are next in line so some financial jobs will be lost too. Extend and pretend might work but the
question is if there is enough liquidity to stretch loans.
My feeling is that even in corporate IT after drastic cuts that were the standard game for large corporations in 2008-2009, additional cuts are possible. But the situation on the ground is somewhat paradoxical as real cuts runs deeper that you would assume from headcount: a lot of current IT personnel belongs to "untouchable" caste -- wives of somebody higher up in this or linked by the supply chain company, sons of somebody important and so on. I can't give you percentage, but probably 10%-20% of "untouchables" would be an educated guess. So removing of at least 10% of the current IT workforce means removal of 12% or more those who do actual work.
Another factor is that cuts in IT are one way street as they stimulate replacing of people with technology and there are still tremendous potential for computerization of many areas including first of all IT itself.
For example all this cloud initiatives are in disguise politically correct way to move things
in the direction of higher automation and outsourcing because under the surface there is not much
innovation in those "new" technologies.
With the rising oil all bets for re-inflating the economy (aka kicking the can down the road)
Unemployment is a very harsh condition, that traumatize the workers greatly (Sliding into the Great Depression)
At first the unemployed searched eagerly and diligently for alternative sources of work. But if four months or so passed without successful reemployment, the unemployed tended to become discouraged and distraught.
After eight months of continuous unemployment, the typical unemployed worker still searches for a job, but in a desultory fashion and without much hope.
And within a year of becoming unemployed the worker is out of the labor market for all practical purposes: a job must arrive at his or her door, grab him or her by the scruff of the neck, and through him or her back into the nine-to-five routine if he or she is to be employed again.
The USA as a whole is facing the worst labor market prospects since 1929. In terms of duration of elevated unemployment we already rival the early 80s. But in no way we can expect a steep decline in the rate of unemployment in the way that happened in 1983 when unemployment declined at a brisk 2%. And permanent high unemployment creates economic conditions that feel like the USA brought back slavery. The new reserve army of the unemployed drives wages down, while average productivity continues to rise, as a way to generate surpluses to be channeled into executive bonuses. The whole sectors like IT were decimated by outsourcing. Unfortunately given the current overcapacity and ample supply of qualified job seekers in many occupations, I certainly don't expect labor arrangements and employment conditions to become more favorable.
Looks like 7% unemployment is going to become the "new normal". In any case government statistics is very suspect (see Fake Employment Statistics) and actually unemployment is higher. For example, the declining participation in work force means that actual unemployment rate is higher then reported.
Obama-Bush administration saved banks waiting most of taxpayers money and piling up debt in hopes that they restore credit flow in the economy. But this was a fallacy: banks aren’t lending to prospective home buyers, small businesses and real estate developers because bankers recognize the obvious — many of those loans won’t get repaid. Of course, as bankers refuse to lend, the stagnation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But since society is burdened with too much debt, piling on more debt would not be the solution in any case.
There is no smooth, painless route back to the easy-money based false prosperity of Reagan-Clinton-Bush era (age of leveraging). We entered the age of deleveraging. Obama’s “you owe us” message to the banks is the height of naïveté’ and tells us a lot about him. In 2013 our problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis. Peak credit is as dangerous for the economy as peak oil...
The inability of the economics profession to forecast unemployment in the short, medium, or long run would be downright comical, if not for the human tragedy involved. While the Occam Razor approach suggests incompetence as a culprit, I think it's a manifestation of the corruption of the profession by financial interests (with some "don't rock the boat" variations). First of all, economists much like elected officials and Wall Street executives have a vested interest in keeping the perception of a robust economy. The employment data announced each month are critical to this perception. That's why government "prints up jobs out of thin air" the same way the Federal Reserve prints money. This is economic propaganda and as such it is not that much different from the over-stated earnings practiced by companies of all striped and colors.
The second problem is that fiscal policy cannot solve the problem of job creation in all circumstances, especially in deleveraging environment. Position of people like The Fed Can Help, But Fiscal Policy Is The Key To Job Creation ) is a step in right direction. But without something like Jobs Corps to get out of the current situation is very difficult. In 1982 SETH S. KING wrote in NYT (PROPOSAL FOR JOB CORPS RECALLS ROOSEVELT PLAN):
Few of this city's recent celebrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 100th birthday have passed without nostalgic references to the Civilian Conservation Corps, that President's cherished vehicle for getting thousands of jobless, hungry youths off the streets and putting them to work refurbishing the nation's parks and forests.
With today's unemployment rate nearing a postwar high and new thousands of young people again unable to find work, Congress is preparing to wrestle with the Reagan Administration for money to start a new youth job training program and reconstitute the Job Corps, the pale copy of the old C.C.C. that emerged in the Carter days.
But there is little in these plans that is likely to reproduce those Depression era pictures of sturdy, bare-chested young men planting trees, building bridges and saving the nation's battered farmlands.
Nor is today's procedure-encumbered Washington, where a year usually elapses between idea and action, likely to duplicate the astonishing start on the C.C.C., which four months after being conceived had been approved by Congress and had more than 300,000 young men being clothed, housed, fed and paid $30 a month while they breathed all that fresh air.
In this crisis the main lesson was that theologically captured by free market fundamentalism government can destroy economy at a really staggering rate. This is "Back in the USSR" situation. Eight years of Clinton and eight years of Bush administration (see The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush, by Joseph E. Stiglitz) are as good proof of this as one can ever get. Clinton and Bush regimes (especially Rubin-Greenspan alliance and "vice president from an undisclosed location" activities) proved to be a real wrecking crew. But that does not mean that government cannot put it weight on easing the unemployment burden. Incentives such a investment tax credit matters. Not tax cuts for the rich, but direct investment credit. direct job creation which is anathema to market fundamentalism would be even better and less costly. Roosevelt administration did it, so why not capitalize on positive experience and develop it further ?
|In this crisis the main lesson was that theologically captured by free market fundamentalism government can destroy economy at a really staggering rate.|
In any case socializing losses and privatizing gain (crony capitalism) should be downsized. Insurance for gambling by big banks should be cut.
As long as economists believe their report card is the rise in GDP (GDP Mania), we will remain in a failure mode. A country is not defined by GDP but by the quality of life of its citizens. And quality of life cannot be assessed by a simplistic, one-dimensional metric such as GDP. The key dimensions for well-being are: employment, earnings, wealth, health, infrastructure, and living conditions. In that particular order. With employment as the critical factor: the USA looks like an underdeveloped banana republic by the current measure of unemployment and in many respect has became such.
It looks like high persistent unemployment became the defining feature of this recession. Jobs creation prospect in 2014 look pretty grim -- there is no sector other then government that can absorb redundant workforce and automation in manufacturing makes sure that those who are unemployed right now will stay unemployed in the foreseeable future. Most jobs cut are permanent, not temporary, especially in such sectors as IT (structural shift). As Robert Reich noted:
...The basic assumption that jobs will eventually return when the economy recovers is probably wrong. Some jobs will come back, of course. But the reality that no one wants to talk about is a structural change in the economy that's been going on for years but which the Great Recession has dramatically accelerated.
Under the pressure of this awful recession, many companies have found ways to cut their payrolls for good. They’ve discovered that new software and computer technologies have made workers in Asia and Latin America just about as productive as Americans, and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently outsourced abroad.
This means many Americans won’t be rehired unless they’re willing to settle for much lower wages and benefits. Today's official unemployment numbers hide the extent to which Americans are already on this path. Among those with jobs, a large and growing number have had to accept lower pay... Or they've lost higher-paying jobs and are now in a new ones that pays less.
The current crisis also means that financial services and real estate (FIRE) economy, this gigantic casino that the US government was trying to build for the last 25 years is now in trouble and shed workers in vast numbers (although working condition in financial industry are still good or very good depending on your position in the food chain). But the profitability of large banks and can achieved only by oversees expansion and derivatives games with foreign assets. The most profitable essentially converted themselves into hedge funds, getting most profits from trading operations, not from the traditional banking activities.
The simplest and the most obvious solution in the current situation is to cut work week and hours of work (4 days six hours a day). That will put enough people to work to make unemployment bearable and it might slightly help entertainment and hospitality industries which now is suffering more that others. From the other point of view if lower standard of living is inescapable, why not to make the transition smoother and more fun by cutting work hours.
But that's not enough. The USA needs drastically cut military budget. Military Keynesianism no longer works as expected. As John Maudin in his e-letter proposed (see Thoughts on the Economy- Problems and Solutions):
Mauldin: Unemployment is likely to continue to rise and last longer than ever before. We have to take care of the basic needs of those who want work but can't find it. Unemployment insurance should be extended to those who are still looking for work past the time for benefits to expire, and some program of local volunteer service should be instituted as the price for getting continued benefits after the primary benefits time period runs out. Not only will this help the community, but it will get the person out into the world where he is more likely to meet someone who can give him a job. But the costs of this program should be revenue-neutral. Something else has to be cut.
Mish: Can we deal with 15 million volunteers? Somehow I doubt it.
Mauldin: We have to re-think our military costs (I can't believe I am writing this!). We now spend almost 50% of the world's total military budget. Maybe we need to understand that we can't fight two wars and support hundreds of bases around the world. If we kill the goose, our ability to fight even one medium-sized war will be diminished. The harsh reality is that everything has to be re-evaluated. As an example, do we really need to be in Korea? If so, why can't Korea pay for much of the cost? They are now a rich nation. There are budgetary fiscal limits to being the policeman for the world.
Mish: Bingo. We can easily slash our military budget by 70% and still be the most powerful nation in the world. Moreover, it is time to declare the war in Iraq and Afghanistan over, pack our bags and leave. Gradually, over the next 5-8 years we should bring home all our troops from literally every county they are stationed.
This chart shows the absurdity of our spending.
Chart courtesy of Global Issues - World Military Spending.
By the way that chart does not include the latest increase in the US military budget. Please consider US lawmakers pass 680-billion-dollar defense budget billThe US House of Representatives passed a 680-billion-dollar defense authorization bill on Thursday that includes funds to train Afghan security forces and more mine-resistant troop carriers.
Lawmakers defied President Barack Obama's veto threat and approved 560 million dollars to continue work on an alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet built by General Electric and British manufacturer Rolls-Royce.
The compromise legislation would also raise military pay by 3.4 percent -- half a percentage point higher than Pentagon recommendations -- and assign 6.7 billion dollars for mine-resistant armored vehicles known as MRAPs, which is 1.2 billion dollars more than the administration had proposed.
Nearly $700 billion dollars of "defense" spending. The amount needed for actual defense is 20% of that at most, and more likely 5%. Balancing the budget is easy if you start here.
Mauldin: Glass-Steagall, or some form of it, should be brought back. Banks, which are subject to taxpayer bailouts, should not be in the investment banking and derivatives-creating business. Derivatives, especially credit default swaps, should be on an exchange, and too big to fail must go. Banks have enough risk just making loans. Leverage should be dialed down, and hedge funds selling what amounts to naked call options in any form, derivative or otherwise, should be regulated.
Mish: What we need to do is get rid of the Fed, FDIC, and fractional reserve lending. Regulation has failed every step of the way. Regulation created Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Fed. Regulation by the SEC anointed Moodys, Fitch, and the S&P as debt rating companies. We do not need more regulation, we need less regulation, a sound currency, and no Fed. Regulation is clearly the problem, yet the cries for still more regulation come from nearly every corner save the Austrian economists.
Mauldin: Let me see, is there any group I have not offended yet? But something like I am suggesting is going to have to be done at some point. There is no way we can continue forever on the current path. At some point, we will hit the wall. The fight between the bug and the windshield always ends in favor of the windshield. The bond market is going to have to see a credible effort to get back to a reasonable deficit, or we risk a very difficult economic environment. The longer we wait, the worse it will be.
Mish: "Is there any group I have not offended yet?" Yes. You failed to offend those on public pension plans. Not to fear, I did that myself in Five Major Pension Problems - One Simple Solution.
- Expecting 8% returns in a 4% world. When 30 year treasury bonds are yielding 4%, the dividend yield of the S&P 500 is 2%, and the S&P 500 PE is 140 (26 if you use operating earnings), 8% returns are from Fantasyland.
- Pension benefits start too early. People are living longer.
- Private employees do not receive these kind of benefits. Public employees should not either, especially at taxpayer expense.
- Indeed, continuing to chase high-yield in a low-yield world is a guarantee those plans will blow up again down the road.
- Pension plans are so underfunded that it is virtually impossible to catch up, no matter what risks the plan managers undertake. When asked how long it would now take for its investments to put the fund back on track, Ohio officials simply said: "Infinity."
Jul 01, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org
Just in time for the 2020 presidential election, the Democrats have discovered that there is real economic inequality in the United States. But they have not yet fully addressed the role that the Democratic party and its leaders have played in creating this vast inequality that led to the election of President Donald Trump in 2016.
The presidential candidates have been slow to fully recognize the role that former President Bill Clinton's globalization policies (NAFTA and WTO) played in the outsourcing of American jobs or the lowering of wages for workers.
As the Democratic presidential debates have shown, Vice President Biden is having a hard time defending his long public record, especially as an opponent of federally mandated "forced" busing to integrate our public schools decades after the Supreme Court's overturning of racial segregation in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). As a Senator Joe Biden was a free trade advocate as well.
But Senator Biden played a large role in creating inequality in two additional realms. He was a strong backer of a 2005 bankruptcy "reform" law that made it harder for people to file personal bankruptcy and to wipe out all of their debts. Given that perhaps as many as fifty percent of all personal bankruptcies in America are caused by debt incurred from health care not covered by insurance, this was an especially cruel blow to those seeking relief from their heavy debt loads.
Senator Warren has already criticized Biden for his support of this bill (" The Twenty Year Argument Between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren Over Bankruptcy, Explained ")
In "' Lock the S.O.B.s Up: Joe Biden and the Era of Mass Incarceration ," The New York Times documents his decades-long support of tough on criminals legislation, culminating in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. This bill, signed into law by President Clinton, has been blamed for the jailing of high numbers of African Americans and other minorities, in particular.
Unlike the Republicans whose goal is to increase inequality by lowering taxes on the wealthy, at least the Democrats seem sincere about reducing it. To do this, they have fallen all over themselves to offer free college tuition and to reduce student loan debt. Sen. Bernie Sanders recently proposed to eliminate all student loans entirely .
Why have Democrats focused on college as a means of solving economic inequality? Statistics have shown that in general the more education you have, the higher your lifetime earnings will be. For example, men with bachelor's degrees earn nearly a million more dollars in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates.
Jul 01, 2019 | www.counterpunch.orgSo 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 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.
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 28, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
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Unlike Occupy, then, Barber has demands, both policy and geographical. Barber and Theoharis, having convened the "the first-ever Poor People's Moral Action Congress," write in The Hill , on policy:
We will present a national moral budget, outlining a plan to pay for real, systemic change as well a challenge to the lie of scarcity. And poor people who haven't seen a place for them in American public life will testify before the House Budget Committee, in a hearing to share their stories and address what the federal government can and must do now to address the real issues affecting everyday Americans.
And on geography:
We are building coalitions among poor people who are too often pitted against one another by the divide-and-conquer tactics of the Southern Strategy. In the so-called "red-states" of the South and Midwest, we are organizing people into a movement who will vote, take action and challenge the assumptions of candidates from both parties. We are organizing across race and other lines that too often divide us and lifting up and deepening the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.
(Note that this strategy is very, very different from the strategy of liberal Democrats, who tend to regard citizens outside their coastal enclaves as " deplorables ," or as "bitter" people who "cling to guns and religion," and leave it at that.) Here is an extract from the PPC's "Moral Budget," created together with the Institute of Policy Studies (PDF):
The United States has abundant resources for an economic revival that will move towards establishing a moral economy. This report identifies:$350 billion in annual military spending cuts that would make the nation and the world more secure; $886 billion in estimated annual revenue from fair taxes on the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street; and Billions more in savings from ending mass incarceration, addressing climate change, and meeting other key campaign demands.
The below comparisons demonstrate that policymakers have always found resources for their true priorities. It is critical that policymakers redirect these resources to establish justice and to prioritize the general welfare instead. The abundant wealth of this nation is produced by millions of people, workers, and families in this country and around the world. The fruits of their labor should be devoted to securing their basic needs and creating the conditions for them to thrive. At the same time, policymakers should not tie their hands with "pay-as-you-go" restrictions that require every dime of new spending to be offset with expenditure cuts or new revenue, especially given the enormous long-term benefits of most of our proposals. The cost of inaction is simply too great.
I think the left could get behind all of this (though sadly, MMT is not explicitly included, though it's certainly righteous to cripple PayGo).
So why can't we have nice things? The budget concludes on page 115:
For too long, we have turned to those with wealth and power to solve our most pressing social problems. We have been led to believe that those in positions of influence and authority will use the resources at hand in the best possible way for the betterment of our society. This orientation has justified tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and work requirements for the poor; it has secured environmental shortcuts for industry and military expansion around the world; and it has yielded very little for the 140 million people in this country who are still poor and struggling to meet their needs.
This is not an argument for charity or goodwill to the poor. It is, rather, a simple recognition that the poor are not only victims of injustice, but agents of profound social change. Indeed, if we organize our resources around the needs of the 140 million, this Budget shows that we will strengthen our society as a whole.
This is why the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival continues to organize and build power among the poor today. It understands that those who have been cast out of the economy and who are living on the few remaining crumbs of its meager offerings are also articulating a way out of this wretched existence -- not just for themselves, but for us all.
That's the stuff to give the troops! If I have a criticism of PPC (and the budget) it's that who "those with wealth and power" might be is not crisply articulated (unlike, for example, " the billionaire class "). At this point, I realize I've shifted from saying the left should give an account to the PPC to saying that the PPC should give an account to the left. Be that as it may, Barber tweets:
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Well, those Democrats who talk about "working people" use that phrase -- "working families" seems to have, mirabile dictu , vanished from the discourse -- probably started doing so only recently, having been pressured from their left, and as a replacement for "working class"; they don't take their bourbon neat, that is, but watered down. And yes, they may be scared of the "free stuff" argument that liberal Democrats deploy against the left. However, I think the left (very much as opposed to liberals) would view "the poor" as a subset of the working class, those who are coerced sell or give their labor to survive (forgive the crudity of this ahistorical analysis). If indeed the PPC/DSA/left are to move beyond a relationship of "endorsing partners" to something akin to co-operation, both tactical and strategic, then distinctions like this are going to have to be hashed out. For example, Barber tweets:
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"Policy murder" is brilliant framing (and would provide one account of elite behavior on climate change). However, who is the murderer? Barber says "a legislator." But if you believe -- as most of the left does, and (I would say) most liberals do not, especially donor-dependent NGOs -- that we live in an oligarchy, then the murderer is not the legislator, but the person who hired or owns the legislator: Much more often than not, when all the threads are traced down, a billionaire. The billionaire class is surely composed of great sinners. And every billionaire is a policy failure , just as surely as every slaveowner was. Should this be hard to say? Should we not seek to remove the systemic occasion of sin?
Henry Moon Pie , , June 28, 2019 at 4:40 pm
This kind of discussion is something that is badly needed on the Left. Rev. Barber is doing an excellent job of making a class-based argument for reform based on Protestant theology. It's a matter of shame for American Protestantism that more pastors in affluent suburban congregations and mega-churches are not doing the same.
That said, the persuasiveness of Christian theology is shrinking, not growing. Other voices from other spiritual traditions are needed who can articulate the connections between their non-Abrahamic frames of reference and the suffering of the poor and the sacredness of the Earth and its creatures. This is especially true for making the case to the young who are constantly bombarded with materialism and individualism on the one side and find patriarchal religion on the other side too much to swallow, especially given the historical realities of how those patriarchal religions have conducted themselves in the past. That's one reason why I find Marianne Williamson's presence in the debates to be refreshing. At least she's bringing spirituality to the conversation where it's usually absent except for cliches.
I also think that James Fowler's stages of faith analysis is useful for understanding the impact of one's "faith" and political views. His argument is that everyone lives by "faith," which he defines as a worldview through which we encounter and interpret life and its experiences. The critical difference is not the content of the "faith" but the maturity level of the individual's faith development. My recent explorations of the thought of Gary Snyder, a counterculture, Peyote using Buddhist/animist, and Wendell Berry, a Kentucky born-and-raised Protestant, reveals that the contents of "faith" of each is very different -- they argue about it frequently -- but their way of interacting with the world and their fellow human beings is essentially the same because they both have a high level of spiritual maturity. In Fowler's system, both are at top of the pyramid.
The divisive encounters we have with others about spiritual matters are often more a result of differing levels of spiritual maturity than the content of the faith. The close-minded Fundamentalist reflexively citing Bible verses rather than truly engaging in dialog is someone who has not moved beyond the level of faith maturity achieved upon junior high confirmation training in a tradition. The sort of person who runs through an Eschaton thread repeating "THERE IS NO GOD!!!!!" over and over again has moved beyond the indoctrinated stage but has not attained the ability to re-integrate any spiritual aspects into what amounts to a barren, incomplete "faith" typical of the college freshman who throws aside his religious training because he's seen through the difficulties in the simplistic religion he was taught in Sunday School or confirmation class.
Stanley Dundee , , June 28, 2019 at 7:20 pm
This seems like a good prompt to revisit the the Pelagians, from around 400 AD, one of whom wrote in the marvellous essay On Riches :
Get rid of the rich man, and you will not be able to find a poor one. Let no man have more than he really needs, and everyone will have as much as they need, since the few who are rich are the reason for the many who are poor. (p. 194)
RBHoughton , , June 28, 2019 at 7:26 pm
Michael Hudson has advice for you old chap, if you have time to read his " .. and forgive them their debts." It turns out that the Catholics and Protestants of all flavors overlook an important part of the Christian message about debt jubilees. Overturning the money tables of the Rabbi-approved bankers in the temple was in pursuit of a fairer economic system such as had been common in the Bronze Age.
Hudson reveals the precedent cause of the collapse of first Athens, then Rome, then Constantinople and now us is the oligarchy of each civilisation favoring creditors and writing laws that advantage them and punish / enslave debtors. The result is the accumulation of global wealth on a small class of people with the rest of the population in poverty and careless of the country in which they live.
Its a great pleasure to see Mr Hudson is reading this NC article. Good luck to him. Any errors in this note are mine.
Susan the other` , , June 28, 2019 at 7:42 pm
The collapse of billionaire-ism.
notabanktoadie , , June 28, 2019 at 9:20 pm
This seems very different from "For ye have the poor always with you" (Matt 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8). lambert
This is not to excuse poverty but as an indictment of that generation since:
However, there will be no poor among you , since the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. Deuteronomy 15:4-5 [New American Standard Bible (NASB) [bold added]
However obedience included the following:
"You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess. Deuteronomy 23:19-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [bold added]
Draw your own conclusion then as to whether government privileges for a usury cartel are Biblical.
Wombat , , June 28, 2019 at 11:10 pm
James could have been the first century PPC leader. Oddly missing from most sermons is this passage (instead we worship the rich for their "ingenuity" and "work ethic"):
James 5:1-5 (NIV)
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.
Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
Jan 23, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
In its most recent analysis, Gallup found that from 1994 to 2018, the percentage of all Democrats who call themselves liberal more than doubled from 25 percent to 51 percent.
Over the same period, the percentage of Democratic moderates and conservatives fell steadily, with the share of moderates dropping from 48 to 34 percent, and of conservatives dropping from 25 to 13 percent. These trends began to accelerate during the administration of George W. Bush and have continued unabated during the Obama and Trump presidencies.
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The anti-establishment faction contributed significantly to the large turnout increases in Democratic primaries last year. Pew found that from 2014 to 2018, turnout in House primaries rose from 13.7 to 19.6 percent of all registered Democrats, in Senate primaries from 16.6 to 22.2 percent and in governor primaries from 17.1 to 24.5 percent.
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The extensive support among prospective Democratic presidential candidates for Medicare for All , government-guaranteed jobs and a higher minimum wage reflects the widespread desire in the electorate for greater protection from the vicissitudes of market capitalism -- in response to "increasingly incomplete risk protection in an era of dramatic social change," as the political scientist Jacob Hacker put it in " Privatizing Risk without Privatizing the Welfare State: The Hidden Politics of Social Policy Retrenchment in the United States ." Support for such protections is showing signs of becoming a litmus test for candidates running in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries.
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Sawhill looks at the ideological shifts in the Democratic electorate less from a historical perspective and more as a response to contemporary economic and social dislocation. Among both conservatives and liberals, Sawhill argued, there is "an intellectual awakening about the flaws of modern capitalism" -- a recognition of the failings of "neoliberalism, the idea that a market economy with a few light guardrails is the best way to organize a society." This intellectual climate may result in greater receptivity among voters to more radical proposals.
Michael Rochester, NY Jan. 23 Times PickThese "big, bold leftist ideas" pose a strategic problem for liberals and the Democratic Party," (sigh). Here we go again. I am an older guy (Caucasian). I attended Texas A&M University from 1978 to 1982. My tuition payments during that entire time was $4 per credit hour. Same for every Texas resident during that time. Roughly $128 per year. Had Texas A&M not offered education at this modest entry point financially, I would still be working in the Holiday Inn kitchen washing dishes. Like I was in high school. So, I don't understand why older guys who went to school on the cheap, like me, and probably like Mr. Edsall, are writing articles about "radical" proposals like "free" or at least "affordable" education for Americans. We could achieve this very easily if America refocused on domestic growth and health and pulled itself out of its continuous wars. America has spent $6 Trillion dollars on war since 2001. For what? Nothing. Imagine how much college tuition we could have paid instead. Imagine how that would change America. What is radical is killing people of color in other countries for no goal and no reason. Let's refocus on domestic USA issues that are important. Like how to get folks educated so they/we can participate in the US economy.Bruce Rozenblit Kansas City, MO Jan. 23 Times Pick
Mr. Edsall, what did you pay to go to school per year? Was that "radically" cheap? For me, it was not radical to pay $128 per year. It was a blessing.To the conservative, liberal means socialist. Unfortunately, they don't know what socialism is. They think socialism is doing nothing and getting paid for it, a freeloader society. Socialism is government interference in the free market, interference in production.Ronny Dublin, CA Jan. 23 Times Pick
Ethanol is socialism. Oil and gas subsidies are socialism. Agricultural price supports are socialism. Tax breaks and subsidies are socialism. The defence industry is socialism. All of these socialist policies greatly benefit big business. What liberals want is socialism of a similar nature that benefits people. This would include healthcare, education, public transportation, retirement, and childcare. Currently, people work their tails off to generate the profits that pay for corporate socialism and get next to nothing in return. Daycare costs as much as many jobs pay.
Kids graduate from college $50,000 in debt. Get sick and immediately go bankrupt. They have to work past 70. Pursuing these policies is not some far out leftist agenda. They are the norm in most industrialized nations.
It's hard to live free or die if you don't have anything to eat. It's easy to be a libertarian if you make a million bucks a year. Liberals are not advocating getting paid for doing nothing. They want people to have something to do and get paid for it. That is the message that should be pushed. Sounds pretty American to me. 27 RepliesThis old white (liberal) man regrets that I was born too late for the FDR New Deal era and too early to be part of this younger generation taking us back to our roots. I lived in America when we had a strong middle class and I have lived through the Republican deconstruction of the middle class, I much preferred the former.Matthew D. Georgia Jan. 23
Economic Security and FDR's second bill of rights is a very good place for this new generation to pick up the baton and start running. 4 RepliesAre these really moves to the left, or only in comparison to the lurch further right by the republicans. What is wrong with affordable education, health care, maternal and paternal leave, and a host of other programs that benefit all people? Why shouldn't we have more progressive tax rates? These are not radical ideas. 6 RepliesMIMA heartsny Jan. 23 Times PickAs a senior, who has been a healthcare provider for decades, I hope that people will not be afraid if they get sick, that people will not fear going bankrupt if they get sick, that they do not have to fear they will die needlessly if they get sick, because they did not have proper access to haeathcare treatment. If a 29 year old woman from Queens, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, can fulfill my hopes and dreams, and alleviate these fears, just to get humane healthcare - then I say "You Go Girl!" What a wonderful world that would be..... 9 Replieschele ct Jan. 23 Times PickMoving to the left??? I'm 64 years old. I started out on the left and haven't moved leftward in all these years. I'm just as far left now as when I registered to vote as a Democrat when I was 18. We called it being liberal and the Democratic Party reflected my beliefs.Rich Pein La Crosse Wi Jan. 23
The Democratic Party, thanks largely to the Clintons and their DLC nonsense, has certainly moved to the right. So far right that I haven't been able to call it the Democratic Party. So far right that I have seriously considered changing my party affiliation. Right now, the only think keeping me in the party is this influx of vibrant new faces. One thing that will make me leave is any ascendancy of the corporate lapdog "New Democrat Coalition" attempting to keep my party in thrall to the Republicans. No. The electorate has not shifted sharply leftward. We've been here all along. Our party went down a wrong path. It had better get back on track or become a footnote. 12 RepliesI work with young adults in a university setting. The university I work for used to be really inexpensive. It is still relatively inexpensive and still a bargain. Most of the students have student loans. They can not make enough money in the summer or during the term to pay for tuition, fees, housing, and food. They need jobs that will pay enough to pay for those loans. They also need portable health care. As the employer based health insurance gets worse, that portable health care becomes a necessity so they can move to where the jobs are. So if a livable wage and universal health care are far left ideas then so be it. I am a leftist. 1 Replystuart glen arbor, mi Jan. 23 Times PickEvery Democrat should sign on to FDR's 1944 Economic Bill of Rights speech. It is hardly radical, but rather the foundation of the modern Democratic Party, or at least was before being abrogated by the "new Democrats." Any Dem not supporting it is at best one of the "Republican-lights" who led the Dem party into the wilderness. It would also behoove the party to resurrect FDR's Veep Henry Wallace's NY Times articles about the nature of big businesses and fascism, also from '44. Now that was a party of the people. 7 RepliesKen New York Jan. 23@Michael. Pell grants and cheap tuition allowed me to obtain a degree in aerospace engineering in 1985. I'd like to think that that benefited our country, not radicalized it.C Wolfe Bloomington IN Jan. 23@Midwest Joshshstl MO Jan. 23 Times Pick
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.I have a friend who lives on the West Coast and is constantly posting on social media about "white privilege" and how we all need to embrace far left policies to "even the playing field" for minorities. I always bristle at this, not because I don't support these policies, but because this person chooses to live in a city with actually very few minorities. She also lives in a state that's thriving, with new jobs, new residents and skyrocketing real estate values. I, by contrast, live in a state that's declining....steadily losing jobs, businesses and residents....leaving many people feeling uneasy and afraid. I also live in a city with a VERY high minority crime rate, which also makes people uneasy and afraid. Coastal liberals like my friend will instantly consider anyone who mentions this a racist, and hypocritically suggest that our (assumed) racism is what's driving our politics. But when I look around here and see so many Trump supporters (myself NOT included), I don't see racists desperately trying to retain their white privilege in a changing world. I see human beings living in a time and place of great uncertainty and they're scared! If Dems fail to notice this, and fail to create an inclusive message that addresses the fears of EVERYBODY in the working/middle class, regardless of their skin color, they do so at their own peril. Especially in parts of the country like mine that hold the key to regaining the WH. Preaching as my friend does is exactly how to lose. 5 RepliesBruce Shigeura Berkeley, CA Jan. 23A majority of Americans, including independent voters and some Republicans favor Medicare for all, a Green New Deal, and higher taxes on the rich. While Trump has polarized voters around race, Ocasio-Cortez is polarizing around class -- the three-fourths of Americans working paycheck to paycheck against the 1 percenters and their minions in both parties. Reading the tea leaves of polls and current Democratic Party factions as Edsall does, is like obsessing about Herbert Hoover's contradictory policies that worsened the Depression. If Ocasio-Cortez becomes bolder and calls for raising the business taxes and closing tax incentives, infrastructure expansion, and federal jobs guarantee, she'll transform the American political debate from the racist wall meme to the redistribution of wealth and power America needs. 1 ReplyStu Sutin Bloomfield, CT Jan. 23Labels such as 'liberal" fail to characterize the political agenda articulated by Bernie Sanders. By style and substance, Sanders represented a departure from the hum-drum norm. Is something wrong about aspiring to free college education in an era when student debt totals $1.5 trilliion? His mantle falls to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her followers. One hundred years ago, American progressivism was spawned by Robert La Follette. As governor and senator from Wisconsin, and as failed third party candidate for president, La Follette called for laws to protect youth from horrendous labor practices. He called for laws to protect civil rights. In time, many of La Follette's positions became mainstream. Will history repeated itself? Maybe. The rise of "liberalism" in the Democratic Party is therapeutic, as evidenced by youthful audiences who attended the Sander's rallies. Increasing voter turnout will take back government from a minority that undermines the essence of a democratic system. A Democratic counterbalance to the Republican "Freedom Caucus" may appear divisive to some. To others, it offers a path to the future. 4 RepliesTracy Rupp Brookings, Oregon Jan. 23 Times PickI am so proud of our youth today. They are the hope. I am a lifetime ashamed of my own demographic: Old white men. We really suck. 6 Repliestom midwest Jan. 23Ok, from the perspective of a rural white midwest retiree independent with post graduate education, the issues weren't the democrats moving to the left, it was the Republican party turning right (and they show no signs of stopping). Who is against an equal opportunity for an equal quality education for everyone? My college costs years ago could be met with a barely minimum wage job and low cost health insurance provided by the school and I could graduate without debt even from graduate school. Seeing what years of Republican rule did to our college and university systems with a raise in tuition almost every year while legislative support declined every year, who is happy with that? Unions that used to provide a majority of the apprenticeships in good jobs in the skilled were killed by a thousand tiny cuts passed by Republicans over the years. The social safety net that used to be a hand up became an ever diminishing hand out. What happened is those that had made it even to the middle class pulled the ladder up behind them, taking away the self same advantages they had in the past and denying future generations the opportunity. The young democrats and independents coming along see this all too clearly. 1 ReplyAshley Maryland Jan. 23These so-called liberal and progressive ideas aren't new. They work now in other countries and have so for many, many years, but the rich keep screaming capitalism good, socialism bad all the while slapping tariffs on products and subsidizing farmers who get to pretend that this is somehow still a free market. It's fun to watch my neighbors do mental gymnastics to justify why subsidizing soy bean farmers to offset the tariffs is a strong free market, but that subsidizing solar panels and healthcare is socialism AKA the devil's work. All of this underscores the reality that, much like geography, Americans are terrible with economics.JABarry Maryland Jan. 23The tensions between progressive and moderate positions, liberal and conservative positions in the Democratic Party and in independents, flow from and vary based on information on and an understanding of the issues. What seems to one, at first glance, radically progressive/liberal becomes more mainstream when one is better informed. Take just one issue, Medicare for all, a progressive/liberal objective. At first glance people object based on two main points: costs and nefarious socialism. How do you pay for Medicare for all? Will it add to the debt? Will socialism replace our capitalist economy? People who have private medical insurance pay thousands in premiums, deductibles, co-pays each year. The private insurance is for profit, paying CEO's million dollar salaries and returns to stockholders. People paying these private insurance premiums would pay less for Medicare and have more in their own pockets. Medicare for all is no more nefariously socialistic than social security. Has social security ended capitalism and made America a socialist country? I think not. Is social security or Medicare adding to the national debt? Only if Congress will continue to play their tribal political games. These programs are currently solvent but definitely need tweaking to avoid near term shortfalls. A bipartisan commission could solve the long term solvency issues. The more we know and understand about progressive/liberal ideas, the less radical they become. The solution is education. 17 RepliesJames St. Paul, MN. Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Absolutely correct. According to the Bible of Saint Reagan, Socialism for corporations and the rich: Good. Socialism for the poor and working class: bad.Midwest Josh Four Days From Saginaw Jan. 23@Michael - cheaper tuition starts with getting the Federal Govt out of the student loan business, it's as simple as that. Virtually unlimited tuition dollars is what drove up tuition rates. Higher Ed is a business, make no mistake.mrfreeze6 Seattle, WA Jan. 23@Bruce, have you ever considered creating a new "reality" network where the truth about things could be told? You're quite good at articulating and defining how the world works, without all the usual nonsense. I really appreciate your comments.Samuel Santa Barbara Jan. 23 Times PickCan we please, please stop talking about AOC? Sure, she's young and energetic and is worthy of note, but what has she accomplished? It's easy to go to a rooftop- or a twitter account- and yell "health care and education for all!' But please, AOC, tell us how you are going to not only pay for these ideas but actually get them through Congress and the Senate? It's just noise, until then, and worse, you're creating a great target for the right that will NOT move with you and certainly can label these ideas as leftist nutism- which would be fine, if we weren't trying to get Trump out of office ASAP.. Dreams are great. Ideals are great. But people who can get stuff actually done move the needle...less rhetoric, more actual plans please.. 10 Repliesc harris Candler, NC Jan. 23Its ok for a far right bigoted clown to be elected to the president and a tax cut crazy party that wants to have a full scale assault against the environment and force more medical related bankruptcies to be in charge? The safe candidate protected by 800 superdelegates in 2016 was met with a crushing defeat. The Democratic establishment wants a safe neo con corporatist democrat. Fair taxation and redistribution of wealth is not some far out kooky idea. The idea that the wealthiest Americans getaway with paying tax at 15%, if at all, is ruinous to the country. Especially since there is an insane compulsion to spend outlandish trillions on "national security". Universal health care would save the country billions of dollars. Medicare controls costs much more effectively than private insurers. As with defense the US spends billions more on health care than other countries and has worse medical outcomes. Gentrification has opened fissures in the Democrats. The wealthy price out other established communities. The problems of San Francisco and Seattle and other places with gentrification need to be addressed before an open fissure develops in the party. 2 RepliesDavid Wahnon Westchester My Jan. 23@Midwest Josh It's time for higher education to stop being a business. Likewise it's time to stop electing leaders who are businessmen/women. 38 RepliesT.R.I. VT Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Wow! Great points, why don't you run for office? I agree!Michelle Teas Charlotte Jan. 23One could argue that many of these ideas are not that far left - rather it's a result of more and more Americans realizing that WE are not the problem. Clean water and air, affordable health care and affordable education are not that radical.don salmon asheville nc Jan. 23@Midwest Josh Hmmm, how old are you Midwest Josh? There were student loans back in the 1970s when college cost me about $400 a year. Maybe something happened when that failed Hollywood actor spouted slogans like "Government is not the solution, government is the problem" (and, no, it was not taken out of context, he most definitely DID mean that government is the problem - look it up) www.remember-to-breathe.org 38 RepliesMatt Williams New York Jan. 23You are studying this like it represents some kind of wave but in fact it is just a few districts out of 435. These young women seem extraordinarily simply because the liberal media says they are extraordinary. If the media attention on these new representatives were to cease, no one except their families, their staff, and maybe Stephen Colbert would notice. 9 RepliesAmanda Jones Jan. 23Finally, the left came out of its hibernation. We have spent the last decade or more either sleeping or hiding, while at the same time, the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, Trump, and his minions were taking over our government---It is such a breath of fresh air to finally listen to airwaves filled with outrage over CEO's making millions of dollars an hour, of companies that have become monopolies, of tax plans that bring back the middle class---it took us a while, but we are back. 2 RepliesFunkyIrishman member of the resistance Jan. 23For so long (40+ years) the political spectrum has been pulled wildly and radically to the right across so many issues. The Democratic party has for the most part ''triangulated'' their stances accordingly to essentially go along with republicans and corporate interests for a bargain of even more tax/corporate giveaways to hold the line on social issues or programs. It has now gotten to the point that continuous war has been waged for two (2) decades and all the exorbitant costs that go along with that. There has been cut, after cut after cut whereas some people and businesses are not paying any taxes at all now. Infrastructure, social spending and education are all suffering because the cupboard is now bare in the greatest and most richest country in the world. It just came out the other day that ONLY (26) people have as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire world's population. That amount of wealth in relation to dwindling resources of our planet and crushing poverty for billions is abjectly obscene on so many levels. Coupled with all of the above, is the continued erosion of human rights. (especially for women and dominion over their own bodies) People are realizing that the founding fathers had a vision of a secular and Progressive nation and are looking for answers and people that are going to give it to them. They are realizing that the Democratic party is the only party that will stand up for them and be consistent for all.dudley thompson maryland Jan. 23 Times PickDemocrats just don't like to win presidential elections. Go ahead. Move left. But remember, you are not taking the rest of the country with you. As a NeverTrump Republican, I'll vote for a moderate Democrat in 2020. No lefties. Sorry. Don't give the country a reason to give Trump four more years. Win the electoral college vote instead of complaining about it. The anti-Trump is a moderate. 5 RepliesFourteen Boston Jan. 23"These "big, bold leftist ideas" pose a strategic problem." No they don't. The Real Problem is the non-thinking non-Liberal 40% of Democrats and their simpatico Republicans who are programmed to scream, "How will we pay for all that?" Don't they know all that money will just be stolen? They were silent when that money was stolen by the 0.1% for the Tax Giveaway (they're now working on tax giveaway 2.0) and by the military-industrial complex (to whom Trump gave an extra $200,000,000,000 last year), various boondoggle theft-schemes like the Wall, the popular forever Wars (17 years of Iraq/Afghanistan has cost $2,400,000,000,000 (or 7 times WW2)), and the Wall Street bailouts. Don't those so-called Democrats realize whose money that was? First of all, it's our money. And second, our money "spent" on the People is a highly positive investment with a positive ROI. Compare that to money thrown into the usual money pits which has no return at all - except more terrorists for the military, more income inequality for the Rich, and Average incomes of $422,000 for Wall Street. When the People's money is continually stolen, how can anyone continue to believe that we're living in a democracy?David Walker Limoux, France Jan. 23Bruce, a succinct summary of your post is this: What we have now is socialism for the wealthy and corporations (who, as SCOTUS has made clear, are people, too) and rugged individualism for the rest of us. What we're asking for is nothing more than a level playing field for all. And I hope that within my lifetime SCOTUS will have an epiphany and conclude that, gosh, maybe corporations aren't people after all. We can only hope. 27 RepliesLoren Guerriero Portland, OR Jan. 23Edsall writes with his normal studious care, and makes some good points. Still, I am growing weary of these "Democrats should be careful and move back to the center" opinions. Trump showed us that the old 'left-right-center' way of thinking is no longer applicable. These progressive policies appeal to a broad majority of Americans not because of their ideological position, but because so many are suffering and are ready to give power to representatives who will finally fight for working families. Policies like medicare for all are broadly popular because the health insurance system is broken and most people are fed up and ready to throw the greedy bums out. We've been trying the technocratic incrementalism strategy for too long, with too little to show for it. Bold integrity is exactly what we need. 1 ReplyReilly Diefenbach Washington State Jan. 23Outstanding post. America has to catch up with Europe. Democratic socialism is the only answer. 38 RepliesJessica Summerfield New York City Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Thank you; as others have commented already, this is so well said. To build on your point: just yesterday, a commenter on a NYT article described AOC as a communist. Incredible. The extent to which decent, pragmatic and, in a bygone era, mainstream, ideas are now painted as dangerous, extreme, and anti-American is both absurd and disturbing. 27 RepliesA. Stanton Dallas, TX Jan. 23 Times PickIf Hillary were President, there would never have been a shutdown. That is the lesson that Mrs. Pelosi, AOC and Democrats should carry forward to 2020. 5 RepliesBE Lawrence KS Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Once again reader comments are better than the editorial! This is the most concise explanation I've seen on these pages. 27 RepliesFunkyIrishman member of the resistance Jan. 23@LTJ No one is promoting ''free stuff'' - what is being proposed is that people/corporations pay into a system Progressively upwards (especially on incomes above 10,000,000 dollars per year) that allowed them and gave them the infrastructure to get rich in the first place. I am sure you would agree that people having multiple homes, cars, and luxury items while children go hungry in the richest nation in the world is obscene on its face. Aye ?Michael Los Angeles Jan. 23 Times PickKeep on keepin' on, AOC. Be the leader you (and we) know you are.FJS Monmouth Cty NJ Jan. 23@Ronny Respectfully, President Clinton had a role in the deconstruction of the middle class. My point is many of the folks in the news today were in congress that far back. Say what you will about President Trump and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez,I believe they both have exposed the left,the right,the press for what they are. Please choose your own example. I don't agree with all of her positions, but I can't express how I enjoy her making the folks that under their watch led us to where we find ourselves today squirm and try to hide their anger for doing what she does so well. I've been waiting 55 years for this. Thank you AOC.G James NW Connecticut Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Bruce, spot on. The point of the New Deal was not to replace capitalism with socialism, but to save capitalism from itself by achieving the balance that would preserve a capitalist economic system but one in which the concerns of the many in terms of freedom from want and freedom from fear were addressed. In other words, the rich get to continue to be rich, but not without paying the price of not being hung in the public square - by funding an expanding middle class. A middle class that by becoming consumers, made the rich even richer. But then greed took over and their messiah Saint Reagan convinced this large middle class that they too could be rich and so cutting taxes for the wealthy (and in the process redistributing the wealth from the expanding middle class to the wealthy) would one day benefit them - when they were wealthy. Drunk on the promise of future wealth, and working harder than ever, the middle class failed to notice whose ox was being gored and voted Republican. And now finally, the pendulum swings. Amen. 27 RepliesC Wolfe Bloomington IN Jan. 23@Socrates I'm reminded of a poll I saw several years ago that presented positions on issues without attaching them to any individual politician or affixing labels of party or ideology. The pol aimed to express the issue in neutral language without dog whistles or buzzwords. When the pollsters had the data, they looked for the member of Congress whose positions best reflected the view of the majority of respondents. It was Dennis Kucinich, the scary liberal socialist bogeyman of his day.Liz Chicago Jan. 23I lived in Europe for a long time. Not even most right wing parties there wish to abolish universal healthcare, replace low or tuition-free colleges with college debt, etc. The US has politically drifted far to the right when the center Democrats were in charge. Now Trump is lurching the country to extreme raw capitalism at the cost of national debt, even our environment and climate, Democrats need to stop incrementalism. Simple as that. 1 ReplyBlackmamba Il Jan. 23@Michael Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was opposed to the eternal triumvirate axis of inhumane evil aka capitalism, militarism and racism. King was a left-wing socialist community organizer. In the mode of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. And the Nazarene of Matthew 25: 31- 46. America's military and prison industrial complexes are the antithesis of America' s proclaimed interests and values. America is number one in arms, money and prisoners. MAGA? 38 RepliesBob Taos, NM Jan. 23Bernie and AOC don't seem all that radical to me for the reason this op-ed points out -- I grew up in a New Deal Democratic family. My Grampa was an electrician supervisor for the City of Chicago and my Granma was a legal secretary. They wanted universal health care and free education and jobs for all. Those things made sense then, and they make sense now. They provide solutions to the deep problems of our society, so who wouldn't want them? We've had a lab test -- other than actual jobs for all Northern Europe has these things and we don't. Neo-liberalism, its Pay-Go formula for government, and its benefits for the rich fails on most counts except producing massive inequality and concentrated wealth. Bernie voters want solutions to inequality and climate change, and they are readily available if government can be wrested from the hands of Republicans like Trump and neo-liberals.Ellen San Diego Jan. 23@Michael To me, the key sentence in your excellent post is that American needs to "refocus on domestic growth and health and pull itself out of its continuous wars." All policiticians hoping for our votes in the future need to make clear where they stand on this. As to those who say that making all those weapons creates jobs, is there any reason that we couldn't instead start producing other quality goods in the U.S. again? 38 RepliesBill W Vancouver, WA Jan. 23@chele Me too! I am 72 y/o, retired, college educated at a rather tough school in which to gain entrance. Lived below my means for over 40 years. Parents are both WW2 Marine Corps officers(not career), who voted Republican and were active in local elections. They would be shocked and disgusted at what that "party" represents now.Thea NY Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Wish I could like this many more times. What you are saying is what is the truth. 27 Replieswalking man Glenmont NY Jan. 23I think you look at all this in a vacuum. Democrats veered left because there was a need to counterbalance what was happening on the right. They see Republicans aggressively trying to undo all the gains the left had achieved the previous several decades. Civil rights, Womens' rights, anti-poverty efforts, and so on all not just being pushed to the right, but forced to the right with a bulldozer. It got to a tipping point where Democrats could clearly see the forest for the trees. A great deal of this was a result of Republicans inability to candy coat their agenda. Universal healthcare....not being replaced by affordable alternatives, but by nothing. Tax cuts that were supposed to help the middle class, but, as evidenced by the government shutdown, giving them no economic breathing room. And, in fact, making their tax cut temporary, something nearly impossible to reverse with such a high deficit. Attacking immigrants with no plan on who, actually, would do the work immigrants do. The list goes on and on. In the past, many social programs were put in place not so much to alleviate suffering as to silence the masses. Now Republicans feel the time has come to take it all back, offering easily seen through false promises as replacements. That the left should see the big picture here and say "Not so fast" should come as absolutely no surprise. All they need now is a leader eloquent enough to rally the masses.allen roberts 99171 Jan. 23I think the Democratic Party is finally returning to its roots. We are now engaging in the same politics which gave us control of the House for about fifty years. I went to my first International Union convention is 1972 at which Ted Kennedy was one of the featured speakers. One of the themes of the convention was healthcare for all. Now it treated as some sort of radical proposal from the left. I am not certain why clean air and water, affordable health care and housing, combating climate change, raising wages, taxing the highest income brackets, updating our infrastructure, solving the immigration issue, and providing aid not weapons to other nations, are considered liberal or socialistic. I think it represents the thinking of a progressive society looking to the future rather than living in the past. 1 Replybdfreund Ottawa Jan. 23@David G. I would also say that many people think a cooperative economic enterprise, such as a worker owned factory, is Socialism. But this is blatantly wrong and is pushed by the rich business and stock owners to denigrate these types of businesses. Cooperatives have often proven themselves quite successful in navigating a free market system, while simultaneously focussing on workers rights and ownership. We need more if this in North America. 27 Replieswill b upper left edge Jan. 23@Samuel She's been in office less than a month. You want to shut down the conversation that is finally bringing real hope & passion to average people, & is bringing a new set of goals (& more integrity) to the Democratic Party? Paying for single-payer has been rehashed many times; just look at all the other 'civilized' countries who have it. For once, try putting the savings from ending co-pays, deductibles, & premiums into the equation. Think about the savings from large-group bids, & negotiations for drug prices, & the savings from preventative medicine heading off more expensive advanced treatment. Bernie Sanders has been explaining all this for years now. 'Less rhetoric'? The conversation is (finally) just now getting started! You start by explaining what is possible. When enough people understand it, the needle will start to move. Watch.David J NJ Jan. 23@JBC, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was voted into congress and then the media took notice. It wasn't the other way around. My only hope is that she stays the course.H. G. Detroit, MI Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit And don't forget the biggest socialist project of our time - the wall! And withholding 800k employee checks to do so? That's socialism at gun point. 27 RepliesJean Cleary Jan. 23There are two points left out of all of the analysis of both Pressley's and Ocasio-Cortez's campaigns. First of all, both women did old fashioned retail politics, knocking on doors, sending out postcards, gathering as many volunteers as they could and talking about the issues with voters face to face. They took nothing for granted. This is precisely what Crowley and Capuano did not do. Second, they actually listened to the voters regarding what they needed and wanted in Congressional representation. What both of the stand for is neither Liberal or Conservative. What they stand for human values. This is not to say that Capuano and Crowley did not stand for these same values, but they took the voter for granted. That is how you lose elections. The Democrats are going back to their roots. They have found that the Mid-terms proved that issues of Health Care, minimum wages, good educations for all despite economic circumstances, and how important immigration is to this country really matter to the voters. They need to be braver in getting this across before the next election And the press might want to start calling the candidates Humane, period. 1 ReplyAPT Boston, MA Jan. 23@MIMA Yes, absolutely. I'm retired from the healthcare field after practicing 38 years. It is unconscionable that we question the access of healthcare to everyone. The complaint usually heard from the right is about "the takers." Data I've seen indicates that the majority on "the dole" are workers, who can't make ends meet in the gig economy or the disabled. That some lazy grubbers are in the system is unavoidable; perfection is the enemy of the good.Felix New England Jan. 23@Michael Could not have said it better myself. 38 RepliesBilly from Brooklyn Jan. 23@Stu Sutin I agree, "Liberal" is too broad a term, as so-called liberals do not agree on everything, especially the degree. We can be socially liberal, while economically moderate--or vice versa. Some believe in John Maynard Keynes economics, but appose abortion. Some want free college tuition, while others support public schools but do not support the public paying for higher education. Our foreign policy beliefs often differ greatly. What joins us is a belief in a bottom up economy, not top down--and a greater belief in civil liberties and a greater distribution of wealth. Beyond that, our religious and cultural beliefs often differ.Robert Grant Charleston, SC Jan. 23I think the Internet has provided an influx of new understanding for the American left. They've learned that things considered radical here are considered unexceptional in the rest of the developed world. There is a realization that the only reason these are not normal here is because of a lack of political will to enact them. That will is building as the ongoing inequities are splashed across the front pages and the twitter feeds. It is the beginning of the end for American exceptionalism (a term coined by Stalin as America resisted the wave of socialism spreading around the world in the early 20th century). Unbridled capitalism lasted longer than communism but only because its costs were hidden longer. We need to find the sustainable middle path that allows for entrepreneurship along with a strong social safety net (and environmental protection). This new crop of progressive Democrats (with strong electoral backing) might lead the way.G. Slocum Akron Jan. 23at 63, I was there. I don't want second Trump administration either, but the route to a Democratic victory is not cozying up to the corporations and the wealthy, but by stating clearly, like FDR, "they are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred." We need people who are willing to say that the rich deserve to be taxed at a higher rate, because they have benefited more from our society, that no income deserves to be taxed at a lower rate than the wages paid to working people, and that vast wealth needs to be earned, not inherited. Emmanuel Saez makes persuasive arguments, but they need to be made in the language of the working people. 12 RepliesRichard Grayson Brooklyn Jan. 23@Michael Your $128 a year would be more like $414 or so in today's dollars. Still . . . I went to Brooklyn College, part of the tuition-free City University of New York from 1969-1973. We paid a $53 general fee at the start of every semester ($24 for a summer semester), and that was it. Wealthy or poor, everyone paid the same amount (about $334 in today's dollars). 38 RepliesRob Ware Salt Lake City, UT Jan. 23@JRS Democratic party leaders have been in favor of more border security and an overhauled immigration system for as long as I've been alive. The suggestion (clearly this comment's intention) that Democrats favor "open" borders, ports, etc., is a myth propagated by an ever more influential right wing. And it's working: it's been repeated so often that it's now virtually an assumption that Democrats favor open borders, despite that fact that any critical thought on the subjection indicates the opposite is true.Cass Missoula Jan. 23I'm a very moderate Democrat -liberal on social issues and very supportive of free global trade- who would vote for any of the current Democrats over Trump, but would leave the party if AOC's ideas became the norm. I don't have a problem in principle with a 70% top marginal tax rate or AOC's Green New Deal- Meaning, these aren't moral issues for me per se. I just believe they would bankrupt the economy and push us into a chaos far worse than what we're seeing under Trump. 5 Repliesmagicisnotreal earth Jan. 23@Michael The increase in fees for education to include the books along with the lowering of standards for the classes taken is part and parcel of the reagan revolution to remake American society. One of the most problematic things for those seeking to undo what FDR did was the plethora of well educated and well read people American had managed to create. How were they going to be able to overcome this? You can deduce whatever methods you may know but I saw them tank the economy on purpose and prey on the fear that it created with more and more radical propaganda. Once they got into office they removed the best and brightest of our Civil Service and began making legal the crimes they wanted to commit and changing laws and procedures for how things were done so that people would eventually come to think of this as the "right" way when it was in fact purpose designed to deny them their due. 38 RepliesOldBoatMan Rochester, MN Jan. 23Younger candidates, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, appeal to younger voters. John Kennedy appealed to WWII veterans, most of whom were in their 30s when they elected him. One of the reasons for Barack Obama's support in 2008 among younger voters is that he was a younger candidate and they identified with a younger candidate. That appeal to a younger electorate will play a larger role in future elections. Don't focus too strongly on issues. Democrats will win by a landslide in 2020 if they nominate a younger candidate that can inspire younger voters. November 3, 2020. 1 ReplyBarry McKenna USA Jan. 23@Samuel Actually, running a campaign and getting elected is a significant accomplishment. Before anyone decides about what bills to promote and means of paying for them, we need a momentum of discourse, and promoting that discourse is another major accomplishment. You and many millions of others, also, have good reasons to be frustrated. Let's just try to actually "work" at talking the talking and walking the walk, and maybe we will--or maybe we won't--arrive some place where we can see some improvement.Jason A. New York NY Jan. 23 Times PickThe interesting part of this piece is the statement about politicians moving unwillingly. So some Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen are allowing their personal beliefs to be compromised for the glory of being elected or re-elected? Sounds like someone I would not care to support. 2 Repliesprofwilliams Montclair Jan. 23A great essay! The wild card in all this analysis, of course, is what happens when these (now) young voters, age, eventually partner, and have kids. As every generation has shown, the needs of a voter changes as they age. I'm surrounded by many new neighbors with little kids who moved out of Brooklyn and Jersey City who suddenly find themselves concerned about rising property taxes- they now see the balance between taxes and services. Not something they worried about a few years ago. 2 RepliesJohn Patt Koloa, HI Jan. 23@Tracy Rupp I am a senior citizen heterosexual white male. I do not apologize for my race, gender, etc. In fact, I am proud of our accomplishments. I do apologize for my personal wrongs, and strive to improve myself.D I Shaw Maryland Jan. 23"This will be difficult, given the fact that what is being proposed is a much larger role for government, and that those who are most in need of government support are in the bottom half of the income distribution and disproportionately minority -- in a country with a long racist history." True enough, but if progressives want actual people in that bottom half to lead happier lives, the focus of any programs should not be to employ armies in left-leaning and self-perpetuating "agencies," but rather to devise policies to help people develop the self-discipline to: A) finish high school, B) postpone the bearing of children until marriage (not as a religious construct but as a practical expression of commitment to the child's future), and; C) Find and get a regular job. These are supported by what objective, empirical data we have. These have not struck me as objectives of the rising left in the Democratic party. Mostly, I see endless moral preening, and a tribal demonizing of the "other," just exactly as they accuse the "other." In this case the "other" is we insufficiently "woke" but entirely moderate white folks who still comprise a plurality of Americans. I see success on the left as based primarily on an ability to express performative outrage. But remember, you build a house one brick at a time, which can be pretty boring, and delivers no jolt of dopamine as would manning the barricades, but which results in a warm, dry, comfortable place to live. 4 RepliesEdward Wichita, KS Jan. 23@Concerned Citizen For your information, Holiday Inns typically had a restaurant in the hotel in the days Michael is talking about so... whatever! 38 RepliesWarren Peace Columbus, OH Jan. 24My father fought in Germany during WWII, then came home and went to college on the GI bill. Both my parents received federal assistance for a loan on their first house. Later, during retirement, they were taken care of by Medicare and given an income by Social Security. They worked hard, kept their values, lived modestly, and voted for Democrats. Apparently, they were wild-eyed, leftist-socialist radicals, and I never knew it.617to416 Ontario Via Massachusetts Jan. 23@Bruce Shigeura AOC in some ways is doing what Bernie was doing -- mobilizing people around class as you say -- but the difference is that AOC doesn't shy away from issues of racial justice. Bernie seemed to want to unite people by ignoring issues of race, as if he was afraid that mentioning race too much might drive Whites away. AOC seems able to hold whites on the class issue while still speaking to the racial justice issues that are important to non-Whites. She's an extraordinary phenomenon: smart, engaging, articulate and with personal connections to both the White and Non-White worlds, so she threatens neither and appeals to both.harpla Jan. 23@Stu Sutin "Is something wrong about aspiring to free college education in an era when student debt totals $1.5 trilliion?" Yes. If you're the Congressperson who gets his/her funding from the lenders.Joshua Schwartz Ramat-Gan, Israel Jan. 23A O-C has yet to open a district office. A O-C is more interested in "national" issues and exposure than those of her district. What A O-C may have forgotten is that it is her district and constituents that have to re-elect her in less than 2 tears (or not): "Would you rather have a Congress member with an amazing local services office, or one that leads nationally on issues?" she queried her 1.9 million followers on Instagram -- a number that is well over twice the population of her district. The results strongly favored national issues." https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/nyregion/aoc-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-district-office.html As Mr. Edsall points out, her district is not necessarily progressive and liberal and while there may be national issues, at the bottom line, many of her instagram groupies are not her constituents. Democrats like to constantly point out that Ms. Clinton won the popular vote, and she was the non-liberal-progressive Democrat. I am sure that the Republicans pray for the success of the Democratic left. They seek to give voice to that left. That will bring the swing votes right back to or over to the Republicans, without, but possibly even with Mr. Trump (if the Democrats cross a left-wing tipping point). Bottom line, instagram is fine and likes are great, twitter is good for snappy answers, but representatives to the House have to deliver to their district and constituents. A O-C leads, but to the salvation of the Republican party. 6 RepliesMarc Vermont Jan. 23@Joshua Schwartz M. Ocasio-Cortez explained on The Late Show the other night that the reason she has not opened her district office is due to the Government Shutdown. The people charged with setting up the office are on furlough, the money for the office is being held up and she staff or furnish the office.Eric Bremen Jan. 23Isn't this somehow the natural swing of things? Years of heavy-handed politics benefitting small minorities on the right have taken their toll, so now new ideas are up at bat. By the way, these ideas aren't really that bold at all - many countries have living minimum wages or mandatory healthcare, and are thriving, with a much happier population. Only in the context of decades-long, almost brainwash-like pounding of these ideas as 'Un-American' or 'socialist' can they be seen as 'bold'. American exeptionalism has led to a seriously unbalanced and dangerously threatened social contract. Tell me again, Republicans: why is a diverse, healthy and productive population living under inspiration instead of constant fear so bad?jrd ny Jan. 23The "experts" offering advice here seem to have forgotten that Hillary Clinton listened to them in 2016: the party decided that appealing to suburban Republicans and Jeb Bush voters was more important than exciting the Democratic party base. The other hazard of calculated politics is that the candidate is revealed to be a phony, believing in nothing but power or that it's simply "her turn" -- an uncompelling program for a voter. 1 ReplyH NYC Jan. 23They will all face primary challengers in 2020. Tlaib and Omar didn't even win a majority of the primary vote. There were so many candidates running in those primaries, they only managed a plurality. And let's be honest about the demographic changes in the districts Pressley and Ocasio Cortez won. They went from primarily ethnic White to minority majority. Both women explicitly campaigned on the premise that their identity made them more representative of the district than an old White male incumbent. Let's not sugarcoat what happened: they ran explicitly racist campaigns. They won with tribalism, not liberal values. Democrats actually need more candidates like Lucy McBath, Antonio Delgado, and Kendra Horn if they want to retain Congressional control and change policy. And many minorities and immigrants aren't interested in the far left faction. We don't have a problem with Obama and a moderate approach to social democracy.Len Charlap Printceton NJ Jan. 23@JABarry - Some data: Canada has a program like Medicare for All, and its bottom line health care statistics are better than ours in spite of a worse climate. We paid $9506.20 per person for health care in 2016. In Canada, they paid $4643.70. If our system we as efficient as Canada's, we would save over $1.5 TRILLION each and every year. This is money that can be used for better purposes. If one uses the bottom line statistics, we see that both Canada and the UK (real socialized medicine) do better than we do: Life expectancy at birth (OECD): Canada- 81.9, UK - 81.1, US - 78.8 Infant Mortality (OECD)(Deaths per 1,000): Canada - 4.7, UK - 3.8, US - 6.0 Maternal Mortality (WHO): Canada - 7, UK - 9, US - 14 Instead of worrying how we would pay for it, we will have the problem of how to spend all the money we would save. BTW can you point to a period where too high federal debt hurt the economy? In 1837 the federal debt as a percentage of GDP was 0%; it was 16% in October of 1929. Both were followed horrendous depression. It was 121% in 1946 followed by 27 years of Great Prosperity.UTBG Denver, CO Jan. 23Best comment in some time. I work and live too much in the'big flat'. I am a very hard core Chicago Democratic Liberal from birth, but the distressed towns and small cities are facing extinction. then what?Mercury S San Francisco Jan. 23@In the know I'm formerly Republican, and female. I'm on the ACA, and while premiums were going up slowly, they've exploded in the past two years due to Republican sabatoge. They are certainly no reason to vote for Trump.D.j.j.k. south Delaware Jan. 23@Midwest Then the rich will only be eligible for college. Give me government intervention any time. I am retired military . Off base in Lewes De a mans hair cut is now 20.00 plus tips. Just a plain cut. On base with gov intervention it 12.00 . Capitalism you support is only for the 1 percent the 99 percent never gets ahead. 38 RepliesP New York Jan. 23She has a massive throng of twitter followers, is completely unconcerned with facts, uses publicity to gain power and seems unwilling to negotiate on her positions. Remind you of anyone else? 3 RepliesFXQ Cincinnati Jan. 23The establishment is trying so hard to spin the progressives push on the issues of Medicare for All, free state college and university tuition, a livable wage of $15/hr as ponies and fairy dust and an extreme "socialist" makeover/takeover of America. But from all the polls that I've seen, these policies are actually quite popular even with a majority of Republicans. Yes, a majority of Republicans. A Medicare for All would cover everybody, eliminate health insurance premiums for individuals and businesses ( which by the way are competing with businesses in other countries that have a single-payer system) and would save $2 trillion over ten years (Koch bothers funded study). The result would be a healthy and educated populace. But how to pay for this? Well, we spend over $700 billion on our military while Russia spends $20 billion and China spends $146 billion, so there seems to be plenty of money that is already being spent to be redirected back to us without compromising national security. A Medicare for All system supports a private healthcare system just as it is now, except instead of giving some insurance company our premium who then skims off a big chunk for their profit, we pay it to our government who then administers the payments to the healthcare provider(s). The system is in place and has been for people 65 years and older and works very well with high satisfaction rates. Just expand it to all. 2 RepliesSmartone new york,ny Jan. 23@Midwest Josh Wrong!!! Tuition's have skyrocketed because for past 35 years States have slashed support for public universities. The Federal Government took over student loan business from predatory banks which was a very good thing but unfortunately have kept interest rates high ... Student loans is a profit center for Federal Government 38 RepliesMichael Rochester, NY Jan. 23@Concerned Citizen Go ahead and check the holiday inn in Palestine Texas. It had a small restaurant in 1978. I was their dishwasher. There was no ford plant nearby. 38 RepliesFXQ Cincinnati Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Well put. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: "We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for the poor." 27 RepliesGlenn Ribotsky Queens Jan. 23@stuart They used to call it the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party". I was glad when Thomas Edsall finally got around, in this piece, to mentioning that what is often thought of as a radical leftist turn today, due to just how far to the right our general political discussions had gone, was actually pretty much mainstream Democratic policy for much of the middle 20th century.Fourteen Boston Jan. 23@Len Charlap Quite simply Canada's healthcare quality is ranked 16th in the world, while ours is lower ranked at 23rd. And we pay twice as much. That indicates some funny business going on.Westchester Guy Westchester, NY Jan. 23It is remarkable that "big, bold leftist ideas" include - preserving the historical relationship between the minimum wage and the cost of living - lowering the cost of college to something in line with what obtained for most public colleges and universities in the 50s, 60s and 70s and exist in the rest of the Western world today - adapting our existing Medicare system to deliver universal coverage of the kind generally supported across the political spectrum in Canada and the UK Democrats should reject the "leftist" label for these ideas and explain that it is opposition to these mainstream ideas that is, in fact, ideological and extreme. 2 RepliesH NYC Jan. 23@Marc Except that's outright false. Offices are open. All the other new Congress members from New York are setup and taking care of people. She doesn't care about constituent service. She revels in the media attention, but isn't getting anything done even in the background. NY has three Congress members (Lowey, Serrano, Meng) whose under-appreciated work on the appropriations committee actually helps ensure our region's needs and liberal priorities are reflected in federal spending. Meanwhile Ocasio Cortez is working on unseating Democrats incumbents she deems insufficiently leftist e.g. Cuellar, Jeffries. Who needs Republicans when you have Socialists trying to destroy the Democratic Party.Eric The Other Earth Jan. 23The NYT should consider getting some columnists who reflect the new (FDR? new?) trends in the country and in the Democratic party. The old Clinton/Biden/Edsall Republican lite approach -- all in for Wall Street -- is dying. Good riddens. BTW I'm a 65 year old electrical engineer. 1 Replyrtj Massachusetts Jan. 23You're missing something big here, sir. Capuano was a Clinton superdelegate in 2016 who declared well before the primaries (like all other Mass superdelegates, save for Warren who waited until well after the primaries.) Thereby in effect telling constituents that their vote was irrelevant, as they were willing to override it. Somerville went for Sanders 57% to 42%. Putting party over voters maybe isn't a great idea when 51% of voters in Massachusetts are registered Unenrolled (Independent) and can vote in primaries. Bit rich to signal that our votes don't matter, but then expect it later as it maybe actually does matter after all. Pressley was all in for Clinton, which is of course suspect. But like me, she had only one vote.don salmon asheville nc Jan. 23@C Wolfe Wow. Funky Irishman has been, for many months, writing about and presenting excellent data showing that the US is actually a center-left (if not strongly progressive) country. I used to present this evidence to Richard Luettgen (where has he gone??) who kept insisting we are center-right (but never, as was his custom, presented any evidence for this). your example is the best I've ever seen. I'm a member of a 4000-strong Facebook group, the "Rational Republicans" (seriously - a local attorney with a decidedly liberal bent started it and almost beat regressive Patrick McHenry here in Asheville). I've been making this point on the FB page for the past year and people are stunned when they see the numbers. I'm going to post your example as well. Excellent!John LINY Jan. 23It's funny to watch people shocked when she makes her proposal. Her ideas are very old and have worked in the past in various cultures. But the point that she can voice them is because she can. Her people put her there because she said those things with their approval. She reflects her community ideals. Just like Steve King.rose atlanta Jan. 23I'm already tired of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and I'm a liberal and Hispanic...its constant overkill, everybody falling over her, total overexposure. The news media has found their darling for the moment. Let's see what she accomplishes, what bills she proposes and passes that is the work to be done not being in the news 24/7.GregP 27405 Jan. 23Until the left figures out that every single one of their most desired Policy Implementations are only feasible with controlled immigration and secured borders doesn't matter who the messenger is. Want Single Payer Healthcare? Can't have it and Open Borders too. Want free College? Can't have it and Open Borders too. Want Guaranteed Basic Income? Cannot have it in any form without absolutely controlling the Border. So, either you want that influx of new voters to win elections or you want to see new policy changes that will benefit all Americans. Pick one and fight for it. You seem to have chosen the new voters. 3 RepliesFourteen Boston Jan. 23@Matt Williams But they are extraordinary, relative to their bought and paid for colleagues. That came first and the media is reporting it. Their authenticity is naive, but it shouldn't be, and that's the story. It's a glimmer of hope for democracy that may be extinguished - let's celebrate this light in the darkness, while it lasts.Erik Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit This is. Spot. On. The socialism of: Privatize the profits, socialize the losses. It's defined American economic and social policy for the last 30+ years and we can see the results today. 27 RepliesDeb Jan. 23@shstl I agree and as a moderate Democrat, I already feel like an outsider, so imagine what independents are thinking. AOC stated that she wants to primary Hakeem Jeffries, who is a moderate. With statements like these, made before spending a day in congress, who needs the GOP to tear apart the Democratic party? Sanders didn't even win the primary and his supporters claim the primary was stolen. We lost the house and senate all by ourselves. I already have AOC fatigue and my rejoice for the blue wave is still there but fading.Bill Terrace, BC Jan. 24Since 1980, the US has veered sharply to the Right. A course correction is long overdue.Kingfish52 Rocky Mountains Jan. 24The Democratic party was shoved to the right with Bill Clinton's Third Way ideology that made its focus the same wealthy donor class as the Republicans, while breaking promises to its former base, the middle and working class. This led to the unchecked capitalism that produced the Crash of '08, and the subsequent bail out to Wall St. The powers running the DNC - all Third Way disciples, like Hilary - refused to take up any of these "socialist" causes because their wealthy donors didn't want to have their escalating wealth diminished. Meanwhile these Democrats In Republican Clothing were banking on continued support from those they had abandoned. And they got it for years...until now. Now, finally, we're getting candidates who represent those abandoned, and who are refusing to hew to the poobah's Third Way agenda. But the Old Guard is trying to retain their power by labeling these candidates as "socialists", and "far left". Well, if that's true, then FDR was a "socialist" too. Funny though how all those "socialists" who voted for FDR, Truman, JFK, and LBJ enjoyed such capitalistic benefits like good paying jobs, benefits, home ownership, good education, and the fruits of Big Guv'mint like the Interstate Highway system, electricity, schools, the Space Program and all the benefits that produced. It was only when we turned our backs on that success and relied on unchecked capitalism that most of America began their slide backwards. We need to go left to go forward.Elfego New York Jan. 23Why is the media lionizing this ignorant, undisciplined child? She should shut up, sit down, learn how to listen and learn from her elders in government. She is acting like a college student, who has no one to hold her accountable for her reckless, stupid behavior. Why does the media seem to be enamored of her?????mj somewhere in the middle Jan. 23@Michael Lucky for you. I went to the University of Michigan at roughly the same time and it was no where near that cheap--not even close. And housing? Don't get me started on that. Even then it took my breath away. 38 RepliesQuiet Waiting Texas Jan. 23@chele That which you are pleased to call the DLC nonsense originated not with the Clintons, but with one of the worst presidential defeats the Democratic party ever suffered: the 1972 campaign of George McGovern. That debacle resulted in a second Nixon administration and I hope that the current trends within the Democratic party do not result in a second Trump administration.Jack Shultz Pointe Claire Que. Canada Jan. 23It is exceeding strange to me that "Conservatives" in the US consider Medicare for all and universal access to higher education as being radical, pie-in-the-sky, proposals. Here in Canada we have had universal medicare for a half a century and it has proven itself to be relatively effective and efficient and has not driven us into penury. As for free access to education beyond high school, I remember learning a while ago that the US government discovered that it had earned a return of 700% on the money spent on the GI Bill after WWII which allowed returning GIs to go to colleges and universities. The problem with American conservatives is that they see investments in the health, welfare and education of the citizenry as wasteful expenditures, and wasteful expenditures such as the resources going to an already bloated military, and of course tax cuts for themselves as investments.Orangecat Valley Forge, PA Jan. 23Note to the NYT and its contributors. Your sycophantic enslavement to promoting Ocasio-Cortez is beginning to fatigue some of your readers. 2 RepliesRedRat Sammamish, WA Jan. 23@chele Amen to you! I too am old guy (79) and think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a savior of the Democratic Party! She is young and has great ideas. I agree with you about the Clintons, they led the party down a sinkhole. I agree with just about everything I have heard Alexandria espouse. She is refreshing. Glad she is kicking the butts of those old guard Democrats that have fossilized in place--they are dinosaurs. 12 RepliesTintin Midwest Jan. 23@Tracy Rupp The problem with blaming a group based on demographics, rather than behavior or ideology, is that you are likely to be disappointed. There are a lot of people who are not old white men who are just as seduced by money, power, and local privilege as was the old guard. Feminists writing letters to condemn a male student who made charges of being sexually harassed by his female professor; African American activists who refuse to reject the antisemitism of charismatic cult leaders. Human beings in charge will be flawed, regardless of their race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As the balance of power changes hands, corruption too will become more diverse. 6 RepliesWoof NY Jan. 23Money is the mother's milk of politics, so let me comment on "many of whom did not want the Democrats to nominate a candidate with deep ties to party regulars and to the major donor community." Include me. Because the major donor community is Charles E Schumer, Leader Democrats, House Top Contributors, 1989 - 2018 1 Goldman Sachs 2 Citigroup Inc 3 Paul, Weiss et al 4 JPMorgan Chase & Co 5 Credit Suisse Group That is Wall Street Nancy Pelosi, leader Democrats, House Top Contributors, 2017 - 2018 1 Facebook Inc 2 Alphabet Inc (Google) 2 Salesforce.com 4 University of California 5 Intel Corp $13,035 That is Silicon Valley . The U of CA should spent its money on students What is the interest of these donors ? For Wall Street, it is maximizing profits by suppressing wages, outsourcing to of enterprises it owns to low wage countries, and immigration of people willing to work for less For Silicon Valley it is Mining your data, violating your privacy, and immigration of people willing to work for less via H1B To win general (not primary) elections you need large amounts of money. At in return for this money, you need to take care of your donors, lest you find you without money in the next election Until the Democratic Party frees itself of this system, it will spout liberal rhetoric, but do little to help average Americans As Sanders showed, it can do so, running on small donations. DNC, eye on frightened donors, killed his attempt. 1 ReplyCwnidog Central Florida Jan. 23"The most active wing of the Democratic Party -- the roughly 20 percent of the party's electorate that votes in primaries and wields disproportionate influence over which issues get prioritized -- has moved decisively to the left." Yet it seems that you feel that the party should ignore them and move to the center right in order to capture suburban Republican women, who will revert back to the Republican party as soon as (and if) it regains something resembling sanity. Do you seriously think that its worth jettisoning what you describe as "the most active wing of the party" for that? 2 RepliesRon Cohen Waltham, MA Jan. 23@shstl Right on!Linda Miilu Chico, CA Jan. 23@David G. See Norway, Denmark, Germany, England and Finland. Citizens have jobs and health care; education is affordable and subsidized. Not all young people attend universities; many go to vocational schools which prepare them for good jobs. We could do the same. 27 RepliesLisa NYC Jan. 23@Midwest Josh That is so NOT true Midwest Josh. The unattainable loans and interest problems are because the private sector has been allowed into the student loan game. The government should be the underwriter for all student loan programs unless individual schools offer specialized lending programs. Whenever the government privatizes anything the real abuse starts and the little guy gets hurt. 38 Repliesmichaeltide Bothell, WA Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit, at the end of a long line of commenters, I add my congratulations for a well-articulated overview of our political dilemma. Both "trickle-down"economics and "neo-liberalism" have brought us to this pass, giving both Democrats and Republicans a way of rewarding their corporate masters. I believe both Cinton and Obama believed they could find a balance between the corporate agenda and a secure society. We see with hindsight how this has hailed to materialize, and are rightly seeking a more equitable system – one that addresses the common sense needs of all of us. I, for one, am overjoyed that the younger generation has found its voice, and has a cause to support. My recollection of demonstrating against the Viet Nam war (and the draft), marching for civil rights, and even trying to promote the (then largely inchoate) women's rights movement, still evokes a passionate nostalgia. We have witnessed an entire generation that lacked passion for any cause beyond their individual desires. It's good to have young men and women reminding us of our values, our aspirations, and our power as citizens. As the bumper sticker says, "If you think education is expensive – try ignorance." Thanks again for a fine post. 27 RepliesJames Mullaney Woodside, NY Jan. 23@Matt Williams Without the undue media attention we wouldn't be saddled with this cartoon character masquerading as a president.Shirley0401 The South Jan. 23@Quiet Waiting That was FIFTY YEARS AGO. People who fought in the Spanish-American War were still casting ballots, for heaven's sake. McGovern has been used by Third Way apologists as a cautionary tale to provide cover for doing what they clearly wanted to do anyway. The other reality is that the McGovern/Nixon race took place in a time when there was broad consensus that many of the social programs Republicans are now salivating over privatizing weren't going anywhere. 12 Repliesann Seattle Jan. 23Abolishing ICE is tantamount to having open borders. No modern country can allow all people who are able to get to its borders to just move in, and take advantage of its government services. If a country were to start offering Medicare for All, no or reduced college tuition, a universal jobs guarantee, a $15 minimum wage, and wage subsidies to the entire bottom half through an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, paid maternity/paternity leave, and free child care, it would need tax-payers to support these plans. It could not afford to support all of the poor, uneducated migrants who have been illegally crossing our borders, let alone all of those who would run here if ICE were to be abolished. Look at Canada which has more of a social safety net than is offered in our country. It has practically no illegal immigrants. (A long term illegal immigrant had to sue for the government to pay for her extensive medical care, and the court decisions appear to have limited government payment of her medical bills just to her and not to other illegal migrants.) It picks the vast majority of its legal immigrants on a merit system that prioritizes those who would contribute a special needed skill to the Canadian economy, who are fluent in English and/or French, and who could easily assimilate. Thus, most of Canada's immigrants start paying hefty taxes as soon as they move to Canada, helping to support the country's social safety net. 1 ReplyGAO Gurnee, IL Jan. 23@Samuel To pay for universal health care you capture all the money currently being spent for the health care system. That includes all the employer insurance premiums, VA medical care costs, military medical costs, all out-of-pocket expenses, everything. That provides plenty of money for our health care needs as exemplified by the costs in other advanced countries with better systems. Also re-activate parts of the ACA that were designed to control and reduce costs but that have gone unfunded. Reduce hospital and hospital administration costs, which are exorbitant and provide little real health care benefit. There will be plenty of funds for actual provider salaries (physicians, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, etc). 10 RepliesMartin Kobren Silver Spring, MD Jan. 23You have to accept some of this polling data with a grain of salt. Most of the population has no idea what "moderate," "slightly liberal," or extremely liberal mean. These tend to be labels that signify how closely people feel attached to other people on the left side of the ideological spectrum. The same is true, btw, of people on the right. The odd thing is that if you ask Trump voters about the economic policies they favor, they generally agree that social security ought to be expanded, that the government has an obligation to see that everyone has medical care, that taxes on the rich should be higher and that we ought to be spending more money, not less on education. Where you see a divergence is on issues tightly aligned with Trump and on matters that touch on racial resentment. Trump voters do not favor cuts in spending on the poor, though they do support cuts in "welfare." The moral of the story is that a strategic Democratic politician who can speak to these Trump voters on a policy level or at the level of values -- I'm thinking Sharrod Brown -- may be able to win in 2020 with a landslide.jk ny Jan. 23I saw AOC on the Colbert Show recently and one of her first statements was in regards to wearing red nail polish. I turned it off. Enough of the red lipstick as well. Please. Next she'll discuss large hoop earrings. 1 ReplyP McGrath USA Jan. 23O'Cortez is a "Fantasy Socialist. She says the stupidest and most outlandish things so the media puts a microphone in front of her face. She hates when folks fact check her because nothing she is saying adds up. O'Cortez has all of the same "spread the wealth" tendencies as the previous president who was much more cunning and clever at hiding his true Socialist self.Trebor USA Jan. 23@chele Right on. I expect there is a very large contingent of us. It is disheartening to be associated by age and ethnicity with the corporatist financial elite power mongers who control both parties and the media. But we can still continue vote the right way and spread the word to fight corruption and corporatism. Eschew New Democrats like ORourke. The first commitment to find out about is the commitment to restore democracy and cut off the power of the financial elite in politics. All the other liberal sounding stuff is a lie if that first commitment is not there. Because none of it will happen while the financial elite are controlling votes. There will always be enough defectors against, for example, the mainstream support for medicare for all national health care to keep it from happening if New Democrats aren't understood as the republican lite fifth column corrupters they really are. 12 RepliesMDB Encinitas Jan. 23I see a Trump victory in 2020. Thank you, AOC. 1 ReplyOdysseus Home Again Jan. 23@David G. You mean like Scandinavia, right? 27 RepliesR. Law Texas Jan. 23Chock full of very interesting data, but we tend to to believe Zeitz's conclusion that Dems are just returning to their roots, following the spectacular 2008 failures that saw no prosecutions - in starkest contrast to the S&L failure and boatload of bankers charged: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/magazine/only-one-top-banker-jail-financial-crisis.html To the extent this primary voter data is replicated across the country in Dem primaries, and not just the AOC and Ayana Pressley races, we could be convinced some massive swing is occurring in Dem primary results. Until then, we tend to believe that the cycle of 30-50 House seats which swing back and forth as Dem or GOP from time to time (not the exact same 30-50 districts each cycle, but about 30-50 in total per election cycle or two) is a continuation of a long-term voting trend. Unpacking the egregious GOP'er gerrymandering, as is the goal of Eric Holder and Barack Obama: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/02/us/politics/voting-gerrymander-elections.html which has blunted Dem voter effects, will be of far more consequence - get ready !Odo Klem Chicago Jan. 23@Michael Gig'em dude. Class of '88, and I feel the same way. And as far as I can tell, the increase has been almost totally because state support has fallen in order to fund tax cuts for the people, like us, who got the free education. Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too? You just have to raid everyone else's plate. 38 RepliesJay Orchard Miami Beach Jan. 23I understand the Andy Warhol concept of everyone having 15 minutes of fame. But it's absurd that AOC's 15 minutes of fame coincide with her first 15 minutes in office.Fred Up North Jan. 24Ocasio-Cortez and the rest haven't been in Congress a month. Get back to me when anyone of them even gets a bill passed naming a Post Office. Until the, maybe you ought to learn your jobs?mrfreeze6 Seattle, WA Jan. 23@In the know, Your party invented the fundamental ACA program. It was the brainchild of the Heritage Foundation that started this fiasco that you'd like to blame on Dems. Also, you simply cannot argue that the Republicans attempted to implement the program in good faith. They have done everything they can to sabotage it. In the end, Republicans don't want people to have affordable health care. It doesn't fit their "family-unfriendly" philosophy. Furthermore, the only real business-friendly ideas Republicans embrace are a) eliminate taxes, b) remove regulations, c) pay employees nothing. If you as a woman believe these are notions that strengthen you or your family, I'm at a total loss in understanding your reasoning.Len Charlap Printceton NJ Jan. 23@Matt Williams - You are ignoring the many statistics in the article that apply to the Democratic party as a whole. For example: "From 2008 to 2018, the percentage of Democrats who said the government should create "a way for immigrants already here illegally to become citizens if the meet certain requirements" grew from 29 to 51 percent, while the share who said "there should be better border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws" fell from 21 to 5 percent." There are many others.SteveRR CA Jan. 24"...as millennials and minorities become an ever-larger proportion of the party, it will have a natural constituency..." I would counter that as they start to actually pay taxes then the millennials will adopt the standard liberal plaint, 'raise the taxes on everybody except me'Roger California Jan. 23@D I Shaw I think the precise point is that would much easier to do A,B, and C if there were universal health care, job guarantees, and clean water to drink. It is much easier to make good long-term decisions when you aren't kept in a state of perpetual desperation.Giacomo anytown, earth Jan. 23These 'new' ideas are not new, nor are they 'progressive democrats'', nor are they even the democratic party's per se. More importantly, the 'issue', for which no one has come up with a solution, is the same -- how are we going to pay for this all? The GAO reported in '16 that Sander's proposal for payment was completely unsustainable. Similarly, Cortez's plan for a tax rate of 70% of earnings (not capital gains) over $10mm per annum does not come close to funding 'medicare for all', 'free collage/trade school', and 'the New Green Deal'. Our military is a 'jobs program' rooted in certain state's economy -- it is going to be very difficult to substantially reduce those expenditures any time soon. The purpose of government is governance -- what politician is going to have the integrity and cujones to tell the American people that we need these 'liberal' policies, but that every single one of us is going to have to contribute, even those at the far lower income strata? Are we all willing to work longer in life and live in much smaller houses/apartments to do what is necessary? If the answer is yes, then and only then can any of us claim the moral high ground. Until then, it's just empty rhetoric for political gain and personal Aggrandizement of so-called progressives. 5 RepliesKeith Texas Jan. 23@chele I'm an "elder millennial" in my 30s. The first US election I really paid attention to was in 2000. Remember how all of the Democrats would gripe about, "oh I really *like* Nader, but the Green Party candidate is never going to win..." It's a party in dire straights when the ideological base doesn't even particularly love its candidates on the issues. Repeat in 2004 with Kerry. Obama managed to win based on charisma and the nation's collective disgust with the neocons, but then we did it again with Hillary. 12 RepliesChris W Toledo Ohio Jan. 23Sorry libs, but with the exception of the Left Coast, and Manhattan, there is not alot of attention given AOC and her silly class warfare 70% tax nonsense, that goes with the Dem/Lib territory--nothing new or exciting with her. Being a certain ethnicity or gender is not exciting or inherently "good" as Progressives attempt to convince others. Identity politics is nonsense. When she does something of merit, not simply engage in publicity stunts and class warfare nonsense then maybe she will get some attention outside of Lib/Wacko world. "With all the attention that is being paid to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib" Other than these opinion pages and the Lib coasts, not so much. 2 Repliescgtwet los angeles Jan. 23Since Reagan there has been a steady drumbeat to the right and far-right policies. We've lived so long in this bubble that we've normalized these For-the-Rich policies as centrist. So I don't accept the writer's premise that the Democratic party is moving to a radical left. The Democratic party is simply embracing pro middle class policies that were once the norm between 1935-1979. And I welcome the shift of the pendulum. 1 ReplyAndrzej Warminski Irvine, CA Jan. 23@Giacomo That's right, this country can afford trillions for the Pentagon system--the military-industrial complex, to coin a phrase--and foolishly criminal wars, but it can't afford national health insurance, something that some industrialized countries have had since the late 19th century. Anybody who thinks these ideas are "radical" or "leftist" clearly understands nothing about politics.just Robert North Carolina Jan. 23The shift claimed by Mr. Edsall among democratic voters who claim to be liberal or progressive is more illusion than reality. With President Obama more democrats are willing and indeed proud that our party represents the cutting edge principle that we protect the needs and interests of those struggling to find a place in our society. For a long time Democrats bought into the notion that the word liberal was some how shameful. But now with the machinations of a McConnell and Trump it becomes obvious that Democratic principles of justice for all and fighting for economic equality are not outside ideas, but actually central to the growth of our country. No longer will we kow tow to a false stilted opinion, but stand up proudly for what we believe and fight for.Shenoa United States Jan. 24AOC behaves like a sanctimonious know-it-all teenager....entertaining for about 5 minutes, then just plain annoying and tiresome. Does not bode well for the Democratic Party,...Nima Toronto Jan. 23Actually, people like AOC or Bernie aren't that far left at all. Internationally, they'd be considered pretty centrist. They're simply seen as "far left" because the Overton window in DC is far to the right. Even domestically, policies like universal healthcare and a living wage enjoy solid majority support, so they're perfectly mainstreamSamuel Santa Barbara Jan. 23I understand what you are saying, but please remember- half of this country thinks- rightly or wrongly- that AOC and many of her ideals are unobtainable and socialist. Whether they are or are not is NOT the point. We need ideas that are palatable to the mainstream, average American- not just those of us on the liberal wings. And I AM one of those. Since you bring up Bernie- how well did that work out? The country isn't ready for those ideas. And rightly or wrongly, pursuing them at all cost will end up winning Trump the next election.Bob Guthrie Australia Jan. 23@Jose Pieste Well here in Australia its 10 minute waits for appointments made on the same day. I have MS and see my specialist without a problem. And the government through the PBS prescription benefit scheme pays $78 of my $80 daily tablets. We are not as phenomenally wealthy a country as the USA and we mange it with universal health care. I pay about $30 Australian for each doctor's visit and sometimes with bulk billing that is free too. You reflect a uniquely American attitude about social services that is not reflective of what is done in other modern democracies. I really do feel for you my friend and for all Americans who have been comprehensively hoodwinked by the "can't afford it" myth. You can pay for trillion dollar tax cuts for people who don't need it. Honestly mate - you have been conned.beberg Edmonds, WA Jan. 23@Samuel Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has sponsored or co-sponsored 18 bills in the House, including original co-sponsor with Rep. Pressley of H.R.678 -- 116th Congress (2019-2020) To provide back pay to low-wage contractor employees, and for other purposes. 10 RepliesJBC NC Jan. 23Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, as is well documented here and throughout world media, prefers spotlights and baffling interviews to opening her district office and serving her electorate. As with every other media creation, the shiny star that it has made of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez will fade soon. The arc of her House career will as well. 4 RepliesML Boston Jan. 24"What pundits today decry as a radical turn in Democratic policy and politics actually finds its antecedents in 1944." This quote in the article should have been the lede. Instead, it appears 66 paragraphs into the article. What is now being called "left" used to be called "center." It used to be called the values and the core of the Democratic party.jk NY Jan. 23@Derek Flint There was a reason for the DLC's decision to be more center left. The Democrats were losing and this gave them a chance to win, which they did with Clinton, almost Gore, and Obama. 12 RepliesG. Michigan Jan. 23@Jason A. Representatives should represent their constituents. For example, if most of the voters one represents want Medicare, perhaps that's a sign that one should reconsider their anti-Medicare views. And think about why constituents want Medicare.fast/furious the new world Jan. 24@A. Stanton Don't make anything about Hillary. That ship has sailed.Christy WA Jan. 23The leftward swing of the Democrats is in direct proportion to the rightward swing of the Republicans and a gut reaction to the GOP's failure to do anything constructive while in power -- i.e. failure to replace Obamacare with Trump's promise of "cheaper and better;" failure to repair our crumbling infrastructure, and yet another failed attempt at trickle-down economics by robbing the U.S. Treasury with a massive tax cut for the rich that provided absolutely no benefits for the middle class and the poor. As always, what the Republicans destroy the Democrats will have to fix.ErikW65 VT Jan. 23@Quiet Waiting, the DLC was officially formed after Mondale's loss, in '85. the DLC's main position is that economic populism is not politically feasible. But I don't recall either McGovern or Mondale's losses being attributed to being too pro-worker, too pro-regulation of capitalism, or making tax rates progressive again. Further, the idea that economic populism has no political value was just disproved by a demagogue took advantage of it to get elected. The RP's mid-term losses and other data points show that people in the middle are realizing Trump's not really a populist. Those economic Trump voters, some of whom voted for Obama twice, are up for grabs. Why would you be afraid that the DP's shift to raising taxes on the wealthy and being pro-worker will result in a Trump victory? 12 RepliesTom New Jersey Jan. 23@Michael The cost of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security has increased as a fraction of tax receipts. Twice the as many people go to college as when you went, so the subsidies are spread more thinly. Colleges have more bureaucrats than professors because of multiple mandates regarding sex, race, income, sexual preference, etc. People have not been willing to see taxes raised, so things like college subsidies get squeezed. The US decided in the 1940s that the only way to avoid a repeat of WW1 and WW2 was to provide a security blanket for Western Europe and Japan (and really, the world), and prevent military buildups in either region while encouraging economic development. The world is as a result more peaceful, prosperous, and free than ever in human history, despite "its continuous wars" as you put it. For the US to pull back would endanger the stability that gave us this peace and prosperity, but Trump is with you all the way on that one, so it must be a good idea. Liberal reforms will mean tax increases, especially Medicare for all, but also more college subsidies, which largely benefit the middle class and up. Liberal reformers need to convince the public to send more money to the IRS, for which there is no evident support. Let's not confuse opposition to Trump with a liberal groundswell. 38 RepliesSkanik Berkeley Jan. 24Why do Political Commentators and Analysts keep operating under the delusion that people vote their skin colour ? People vote their economic interests. I am all in favour of National Health Care Letting Immigrants who have not committed a crime stay and become citizens. But I am also in favour of stricter Border Control as I feel our duty is to the poor citizens of America. Send Economic aid to poorer countries, help them establish just governments. As for Ocasio-Cortez, she is aiming too high and has too many lies about her past to go much higher.Martin New York Jan. 23The meanings of these labels--liberal, left, center, conservative--, and of the spectrum along which they supposedly lie, changes year to year, and most pundits and politicians seem to use them to suit their own purposes. When you realize that a significant group of people voted for Obama and then for Trump, you realize how radically the politics of the moment can redefine the terms. The Democrats could create a narrative that unites the interests of all economically disadvantaged people, including white people. Doing so would create a broad majority and win elections, but it would arouse the fury of the oligarchs, who will demonize them as "socialists." But as Obamacare proved, if actually you do something that helps people across the board even the Republicans and the media will have a hard time convincing people that they are oppressed, for example, by access to health insurance. For the oligarchs, as for the Republicans, success depends on creating a narrative that pits the middle class against the poor. In its current, most vulgar form, this includes pitting disadvantaged white people against all the rest, but the Republicans have an advantage in that their party is united behind the narrative. Democratic politicians may be united against Trump, but that means nothing. The challenge will be uniting the politicians who run on economic justice with the establishment Democrats who have succeeded by hiding their economic conservativism behind identity politics.Marc Adin Jan. 23I applaude AOC. I am 72 white male. I have been waiting for someone like AOC to emerge. I wish her the best and will work for her positions and re-elections and ultimate ambitions. She is a great leader, teacher, learner, whip smart, and should not be taken likely. Go for it AOC! Realize your full potential.Mario Quadracci Milwaukee Jan. 23Enough about her, sheeshXoxarle Tampa Jan. 23Someone as thoroughly imbedded in the establishment as this Op-Ed writer is necessarily going to need to be educated on what the political center of gravity really is. The Democrats have shifted RIGHT over the past few decades. Under Bill Clinton and Pelosi, Schumer, Feinstein and Obama. They are not left, not center-left, not center, but instead center-right. They have pursued a center-right agenda that does not engage with the rigged economy or widening inequality, or inadequate pay, or monopolist abuse of power, or adequate regulation and punishment of corporate crime. They have enthusiastically embraced our deeply stupid wars of choice, and wasted trillions that could have been put to productive use at home. The new generation of progressive Democrats seek to move the debate BACK TO THE CENTER or Center-Left if you will. Not the Left or Far-Left. They want to address the issues the current Democrat Establishment have ignored or exacerbated, because they are in essence, the same rarified rich as the lobbyists and donors they mingle with. The issues that affect MOST of us, but not the FEW of them. The endgame of this shift is that Obama engineered a pseudo-recovery that saw the very rich recover their gains, but the poor become MORE impoverished. Such is the rigged economy, 21st Century style. Things have to change, the old guard have to be neutered. Too much wealth and power is concentrated in too few hands, and it's too detrimental to our pseudo-democracy.JB Arizona Jan. 24This is the difference between R & D's. OAC may get her support from well-to-do, educated whites, but her platform focuses on those left behind. Even her green revolution will provide jobs for those less well off. R's, on the other hand, vote only for candidates that further their selfish interests.Panthiest U.S. Jan. 23Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and her legislative cohorts are a much needed breath of fresh, progressive air for the U.S. Congress. And I say that as someone going on age 70 who was raised and educated in the conservative Deep South. Go left, young people!Our road to hatred Nj Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit Unfortunately, the hot button on fox is the word socialism. so undo the negative press there and have a chance of implementing fairer policies. 27 RepliesRoger California Jan. 23@Samuel "It's easy to go to a rooftop- or a twitter account- and yell "health care and education for all!'" Its not easy to get anyone to listen. The moral impetus precedes the "actual plans," which come out of the legislative process, Why would you be against this getting attention?Unless, of course, you oppose health care and education for all. 10 RepliesPLH Crawford Golden Valley. Minnesota Jan. 24The further the Democrats go Left with all the cultural politics including white people bashing and calling Men toxic, the further I am heading towards the right. I personally can't stand what the Democratic Party has turned into. We'll see who wins in 2020. I think a lot of people forget what happens in mid term elections. People vote for change and then, after seeing what they wrought, switch back.RVN '69 Florida Jan. 23I am a old white male geezer and lifelong liberal living in complete voter disenfranchisement in Florida due to gerrymandering, voter suppression and rigged election machines (how else does one explain over 30,000 votes in Broward County that failed to register a preference for the Senate or Governor in a race where the Republican squeaked in by recount?). I am pleased to finally see the party moving away from corporatist and quisling centrists to take on issues of critical import for the economy, the environment and the literal health of the nation. As "moderate" Republicans come to a cognitive realization that they too are victims of the fascist oligarch billionaire agenda to end democracy; they too will move to the left. So, I for one am not going to worry an iota about this hand-wringing over something akin to revolution and instead welome what amounts to the return of my fellow New Deal Democrats.ST New York Jan. 23Too much attention here to this new cohort of self important attention seekers presenting as civil servants. Not one of them has had any legislative experience in their lives how can they do all they say they want. They have no grasp of policy economics and politics. Are they too good to recall the wise words of Sam Rayburn - "Those who go along get along" or is that too quaint outdated and patriarchal for them? Why dont journalists and other pols call them out. Example, AOC calls for 70% marginal tax rate - saying we had it before, ha ha. Yes but only when defense spending as percent of gdp was 20-40 percent, in the depth of WW2 and the cold war, life and death struggles - it is now 5%, no one has the stomach for those rates now, and no need for them to boot. Free school, free healthcare, viva la stat! yeah ok who will pay for it? Lots of ideas no plans, flash in the pan is what it is, it will die down then settle in for a long winter.fred Miami Jan. 23There is a difference between posturing as a leader and actually leading. So, there is another, and very direct, way for real Americans to end the shutdown: Recall petitions. With very little money, why not target Mitch McConnell. Laid off federal workers could go door-to-door in Kentucky. The message, not just to the Senate majority leader, would be powerful. And this need not be limited. There are some easy targets among GOP senators. Perhaps Ms. Ocasio-Cortez can achieve greater national standing with a clipboard and pen down on the hustings.Kathy Oxford Jan. 24All this fuss over a bright young person who stopped complaining and ran for office. She has a platform. Time will tell how effective she will be. Right now, she's connecting to those young and old who believe we can do better. If you had a choice who would you rather share a beer with?A Trump supporter who has no interest beyond building an ineffective wall or an Ocasio-Cortez supporter, full of ideas, some fanciful, some interesting but most off all energy and light versus fear and hate?Tintin Midwest Jan. 23I'm a liberal Democrat and I remain very skeptical regarding the platforms of these new members of Congress. Youthful exuberance is admirable, but it's not sufficient to address complicated issues related to fairness. Fairness does not always mean equity of wealth. Some people have more because they have worked more, worked longer, or took more risks with their money. Should the nurse who worked three jobs to make $150,000/year be made to sacrifice a significant portion for those who chose to work less? Such an anecdotal question may seem naive, but these are the kinds of questions asked by regular Americans who often value social programs, but also value fairness. The claim that only some tiny fraction of the 1% will bear the cost of new programs and will alone suffer increased taxation is simply untrue, and those who are making this claim know it. This tiny group of wealthy knows how to hide its money off-shore and in other ways, as documented in the Times last year. Everyone knows the low-lying fruit for increased taxation is the upper middle class: Those who work hard and save hard and are nowhere near the top of the wealth pyramid. It's that nurse with the three jobs, or the small business owner who now clears $200,000 a year, or the pair of teachers who, after 25 years of teaching, now bring home $150,000 combined. Those are the targets of the proposed "new" taxes. Don't believe the hype. I'm a liberal, and I know what's up with these people. 4 RepliesWoody Missouri Jan. 23Ocasio-Cortez represents the success of a progressive in ousting a white liberal in a safely Democratic district. While interesting, that doesn't provide much of a blueprint for winning in 2020 in districts and states that voted for Trump. As noted elsewhere in this newspaper, of the roughly 60 new Democrats in Congress elected in 2018, two-thirds, were pragmatic moderates that flipped Republican seats. Progressives were notably less successful in flipping Republican seats.nora m New England Jan. 23Just keep in mind that what the author deems "radical" ideas are considered mainstream in the rest of the developed world. We are an extreme outlier in lacking some form of universal health care, for example. Also, while the NYT clearly saw Bernie's 2016 campaign as shockingly radical, the very people Edsall says we must court were wild about Bernie. His message about income inequality resonates with anyone living paycheck to paycheck and the only thing "radical" about it is that he said the truth out loud about the effects of unbridled capitalism. The neoliberal types that the NYT embraces are the milquetoast people who attract a rather small group of voters, so, I am not too eager to accept his analysis. I fully expect the Times to back Gillibrand and Biden, maybe even that other corporatist, Booker. They don't scare the moneyed class.Tom J Berwyn, IL Jan. 23Cortez has fire and I respect that. Time to have what WE want, not what they want.David California Jan. 23The Dems have been drifting to the right for decades, egged on by pundits who keep telling them to move to the center. Do the math: moving to the center just moves the center to the right. Frankly, Nixon was more liberal than most of today's Dems. A move to the left is long overdue.Andrea Landry Lynn, MA Jan. 23The Democrats are the party of the middle class and the poor, and the GOP is a party of the rich. That is the distinction most voters make. 3 RepliesRobert Migliori Newberg, Oregon Jan. 23The rumblings in the Democratic party may represent a realization that WE THE PEOPLE deserve a bigger slice of the pie. Democrats such as Sanders, Warren and AOC are tapping into a reservoir of voters who have been excluded from the American Dream by design. The new message seems to be "fairness". I think that translates into government which does the most good for the greatest number of people. Candidates who embody that principle will be the new leaders. Ignore at your peril.AACNY New York Jan. 23The problem is AOC doesn't really know anything. Not everyone feels comfortable saying it, but it's pretty hard to miss. 1 ReplyOle Fart La,In, Ks, Id.,Ca. Jan. 23@Quiet Waiting: if voters believe republicans are helping them economically then follow them off the cliff. Hopefully enough voters will try a more humane form of capitalism. 12 RepliesDerek Flint Los Angeles, California Jan. 23@chele Me, too!Steve W Ford Jan. 23Ms Ocasio Cortez is a partial illustration of Reagan's dictum that "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so". In the case of AOC she is not only very ignorant but she believes many things that are actually not true. For her to actually believe that the "world will end in 12 years" and simultaneously believe that, even if true, Congress could change this awful fact is so breathtakingly ignorant one hardly knows where to start.JoeFF NorCal Jan. 23Maybe it's worth considering that a lot of those spooky millennials, the stuff of campfire scare stories, themselves grew up in the suburbs. They are the children of privilege who have matured into a world that is far less secure and promising than that of their swing-voter soccer moms. Health care, student debt, secure retirement, and the ability to support a family are serious concerns for them. And don't even get me started on climate change and the fossil fuel world's stranglehold on our polity.ErikW65 VT Jan. 23@dudley thompson, if you are one of those elite moderate liberals against the "lefties" concern about college and medical costs, protections for workers and the environment, and progressive taxation, then in the end getting your vote isn't worth sacrificing the votes of all the other people who do care about those things. Your "moderate" way may calm those swing voters who fear change, and allow them to vote for the Democrat, but it also demoralizes and disappoints the much larger group of potential Democratic voters that craves change.Odysseus Home Again Jan. 23@Jessica Summerfield ..."article described AOC as a communist." And I saw an article describe Ross Douthat as a "columnist"... equally misleading. Will the calumny never cease? 27 RepliesML Boston Jan. 23Thomas, this "left" used to be known as the middle. A commitment to housing instead of an acceptance of homelessness. Dignity. A tax system designed to tax wealthy people, not, as we have now, a tax system designed to tax the middle class and poor. Can we all just take a look at what is being promoted -- look at what AOC is proposing compared to Eisenhower era tax rates. We have lurched right so that event center-right is now considered left.Raul Campos San Francisco Jan. 23Rage is the political fuel that fires up the Left. Rage also is the source of some very bad ideas. Having bad ideas is the reason people don't vote for a political party in a presidential election. The democrats are now the party of socialism, open borders, very high taxes, anti-religious bigotry, abolishment of free speech, rewriting the constitution, stuffing the Supreme Court, impeachment of the President, and being intolerance of other views. They have also alienated 64 million Americans by calling them deplorables, racist and a host of other derogatory terms. Not a good strategy to win over voters in swing states. They also have attacked all men and white men in particular. They think masculinity is toxic and that gender is not biological but what a person believes themselves to be (noticed that I used the plural pronoun?). So far a long list of bad ideas. Let's see how it plays out in 2020. 1 ReplyAnthony Western Kansas Jan. 23We need to be careful what we refer to as left. Is the concept that we have access to affordable housing, healthcare, and decent jobs really a position of the far left? Not really. The 1944 progressives saw access to basic life as a right of all people. This is why young educated progressives support policies that encourage success within the unregulated capitalist economy that has been created over the last 40 years. The evidence illustrates that federal and state governments need to help people survive, otherwise we are looking at massive amounts of inequality that affect the economy and ultimately affect the very people, the extremely rich, who support deregulation.Stephen New Haven Jan. 23Look at what's going on in Venezuela! Let's not go this direction. 1 ReplyKathy Oxford Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit The Republicans great skill has been selling lies to the socially conservative to get their greedy financial agenda through. They have never cared about their voters other than how best to spin their rhetoric. 27 RepliesKurt Pickard Murfreesboro, TN Jan. 23Moving left takes a twitter account, a quixotic mentality and the word free. Its sedition arousing rhetoric is blinkered by the lack of a viable strategy to support and move it forward. Liberals thrive on the free media attention which feeds their rancor and aplomb. Liberals are the infants of the Democratic Party. They're young, cute and full of amusing antics. They have an idyllic view of what the world can be but without efficacy. When they are challenged, or don't get enough attention, they revert to petulance. As all mammals do, most liberals eventually grow up to join the Democratic median. Those that don't become the party regalers brought out when the base needs energized. They grow old and fade away, remembered only for their flamboyance and dystopian view of the world. The Democratic Party has never been more fractured since its inception. With close to thirty potential candidates for President, it is going to take a coalition within their party in order to put forth a viable nominee. Then the party infighting will commence which will lead the party into defeat. Democrats must focus on a untied party platform which is viable and will produce results for the American people. Enough of the loquacious hyperbole and misandrous language; it's time to stop reacting and start leading.Larry Roth Ravena, NY Jan. 24If it looks like the Democrats are moving strongly to the left, it's because they have stopped chasing the GOP over the cliff in a vain effort to meet them in some mythical middle. That's why the gap is widening; Republicans have not slowed in their headlong rush to disaster. In truth it is the Republican Party and its messaging machine that has been doing its best to drag America to the extreme right by controlling the narrative and broadcasting talking points picked up and amplified by the Mainstream Media. The Mainstream Media has its own issues. Increasingly consolidated under corporate ownership into fewer and fewer hands, it has developed a reflex aversion to anything that looks too 'left' and a suspicion of anything that looks progressive. The desperate battle for eyeballs in a fragmenting market has also taken a toll; deep journalism or reporting that risks alienating any part of the shrinking audience for traditional news is anathema to the bean counters who have financialized everything. Deliberate intimidation by the right has also taken a toll. Republicans have no answers; Democrats do - and that's the gist of it. The real challenge is to prevail against a party that has embraced disinformation, the politics of resentment and destruction - and the Mainstream Media that has failed to call them out on it.Doremus Jessup On the move Jan. 23We are looking at a future Speaker of the House. Watch out Republicans, this woman is not afraid of you white, stodgy, misogynistic and racist haters. Your party, once a viable and caring party, is dead.Clark Landrum Near the swamp. Jan. 23The Republican Party used to be a moderate political party that was fully capable of governing. Over the years, the right wing of the party assumed control and they became a radically conservative party that basically hated government and did nothing for the benefit of average Americans. As a result, many voters came to believe that a more liberal stance was preferred to what the Republicans had become. Basically, the Republican Party veered sharply to the right and went off and left a lot of their earlier supporters, like me.Charlie Little Ferry, NJ Jan. 23Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the perfect foil to the Trump twitter fest we've been subjected to for the past 2 years. However, enough of the tit for tat -- I would still like to see the freshman representative put forth some legislation for a vote.ray mullen Jan. 23gentrification is bad. white flight is bad. so which is it?Fred Baltimore Jan. 23In terms of policies, this "sharp shift to the left" represents a return to the New Deal and the Great Society and a renewed commitment to civil rights. It is a return to things we never should have turned away from.Larry Long Island NY Jan. 23@Tracy Rupp Don't be so quick to condemn. The really old white men of today defeated Germany and Japan. Then those same old white men went into Korea and then Vietnam. Ok so maybe you have a point.David Keys Las Cruces, NM Jan. 23Shifted to the LEFT? After decades of movement to the Right, by the GOP and even assisted by Dems such as the Clintons, etc., this political movement is merely a correction, not a radical shift as your article contends.RM Brooklyn, NY Jan. 23Just as the reader comments from yesterday's opinion piece on the Covington School story by David Brooks reveal rampant confirmation bias, the comments here reveal an equally relevant truth: nobody, but nobody, eats their own like the left. The "Down With Us" culture in full effect.Marc Vermont Jan. 23I am confused about what message, what issues resonate with the "moderate" people who are disaffected from the liberal message of the Democrats on the left. What policies would bring them to vote Democratic, what is it about health care for all, a living wage and opening the voting process to all people are they opposed to. Is it policy or message that has them wavering?ML Boston Jan. 24@dudley thompson Do you consider Eisenhower leftist? (highest tax rates ever). How about Nixon? (established the EPA). We have lurched so far right in this country that the middle looks left. I'm sick of the labels -- listen to what these leaders are actually proposing. If you don't understand how the marginal tax rate works, look it up. If you don't realize we once didn't accept mass homelessness and mass incarceration as a fact of life in America, learn some history. We're living in a myopic, distorted not-so-fun-house where up is down and center is left. We need to look with fresh eyes and ask what our communal values are and what America stands for. 5 RepliesBlunt NY Jan. 23Here is a thought I would like to share with the New York Times: Thomas Edsall's article is excellent. The corollary I draw from it that the paper that projects itself as the voice of the liberals in this county has to understand that it has fallen behind times. If the statistics and commentary accompanying it is a criteria to consider, The Times should move to a more progressive editorial platform. The sooner, the better! The support given by this paper to Hillary Rodham Clinton over Bernie Sanders in 2016 is unforgivable. The attitude exhibited towards Elizabeth Warren is hardy different. This has to change if you want to keep your relevance unless you believe publishing Edsall's essay is just part of your "diversity" policy. What the followers of AOC and other progressives are clamoring for are very basic human needs that have been delivered in affluent (and not so affluent) societies all over the globe. No need to name those countries, by now the list is well known. What do we need delivered: Universal Healthcare, Free Public Education K through College, No Citizens United, Total Campaign Finance Reform, Regulation of Wall Street, Regulation of Pharma, Regulation of Big Tech, Gender Equality, 21st Century Infrastructure. All paid for by cutting the Military and Defense Budget Waste (cf Charlie Grassley, a buddy of Karl Marx) and taxing the top percent at levels AOC cites and Professors Suez and Zucman concur with in their Times OpEd.David Emmaus, PA Jan. 23Democrats need to win elections first. Progressive ideas may have support on the coasts and cities but fall flat in red states where there is still widespread dislike for immigrants and minorities and strong opposition to "having my hard-earned tax money supporting free stuff for the undeserving who can't/won't take care of themselves." Because the Electoral College gives red states disproportionate representation the Democrats must win some red states to win a presidential election. Running on a strong progressive platform won't work in those Republican-majority states. What Democrats need is a "Trojan Horse" candidate. Someone who can win with a moderate message that has broad appeal across the entire country but who will support and enact a strong progressive agenda once he/she is elected. And on a local election level, Democrats need to field candidates whose message is appropriate for their local constituency -- progressive in liberal states, more moderate in conservative areas. Winning elections comes first. Let's do what it takes to win and not let our progressive wish list blind us to the importance of winning elections.Joe Schmoe Brooklyn Jan. 23@Westchester Guy: Leftists want amnesty and, eventually, open borders. This is utterly and totally incompatible with their push for "free" college, universal health care, and so forth. The fiscal infeasibility is so obvious that one could only believe in these coexisting policies if they were blinded by something, like Trump hatred, or just plain dishonest. The "leftist" label for the new Democrat party is entirely appropriate. You also have your own bigots to counter Trump. The difference is that their bigotry is sanctioned by most of the mainstream media.MDCooks8 West of the Hudson Jan. 23Has AOC or any other liberal offered any feasible policy to improve the lives of the people they claim to help? Just take a good hard look at NYC where AOC is from which for many years the Public Housing Authority cannot even provide adequate heat in the building the city owns. So while AOC dreams of taxing the wealthy 70% perhaps she needs to slow down and catch up to reality to realize what she offers is only building towards another Venezuela.Kip Leitner Philadelphia Jan. 23This article is half poison pill. By reading it, you learn a lot about Democratic Party voting patterns, but you also have to endure a number of false ideas, the worst of which is Edsall's warning that radical Democrats will foment internal chaos leading to electoral loss. The fact is, it is the corporate democrats, who in the last 40 years abandoned the base of working, blue collar democrats in favor of their Wall Street overlords. It is the corporate democrats who created the billionaire class by reducing corporate tax rates. It is the corporate Democrats who by reducing marginal tax rates created the plutocracy. It is the corporate democrats who gave *Trillions of Dollars* to Bush and Obama's perpetual wars and $70 Billion more than the defense department asks. This impoverishing the citizenry with debt is their legacy as much as the Republicans. This shoveling of money to the 1% who abandoned the middle class has been a train ridden by Corporate Democrats. It is the Corporate Democrats who caused all this friction by letting the middle class fall off the edge of the economic cliff -- all the while proclaiming how much they care. They show up on MLK day and read flowing speeches from the podium when what we really need is activism and changes in marginal tax rates, defense spending and the Medical Insurance and care oligopoly. So now there is revolution brewing in response to the Corporate Democrats' appeasement of the Oligarchy? Good. Bring it on.Jeremiah Crotser Houston Jan. 23Honestly, it is the centrist, neoliberal wing of the Democratic party that gave up on talking to the Midwest and focused on the coasts. That was the Clinton strategy and it didn't work. Although AOC comes from an urban area, her message is broad: she is for the struggling, working person. Edsall underestimates AOC's basis in economic thinking and her appeal to flyover country. She speaks carefully and justly to social issues, but she also speaks to the "kitchen table" issues that middle America is concerned with--in a much more real way than the neoliberal Dems have figured out how to.MD Monroe Hudson Valley Jan. 23Please end you outsized coverage of AOC. I really don't know how you justify all the news coverage. She is one of 435 representatives, and a new one at that. No accomplishments, just a large Instagram following.Steve C Boise, Idaho Jan. 23@John Patt Everybody over the age of 50 should apologize for giving our young people catastrophic climate change, endless wars, broken healthcare, crumbling infrastructure, ever widening income and wealth disparates, unaffordable post-secondary education, rampant gun violence, no voice for labor. We over 50 didn't care enough to vote and to make enough political noise to keep these things from happening. We over 50 all have personal responsibilities for this messed up world we're leaving the young. 6 RepliesSteve C Boise, Idaho Jan. 23@Zor The answer is no. Remember Schumer saying that for every urban vote Democrats lost by running Hillary, they would gain 2 suburban votes. It didn't turn out that way. The centrist, corporatist Democrats (including Hillary and Biden) have no clue how to reach the working class of any race. The working class focus of AOC is the Democratic Party's best chance at a future. But of course the establishment, centrist, corporatist Democrats are still focused on helping their big money donors. Here's another question: Just how are establishment, centrist, corporatist Democrats different from Republicans?Evan Walsh Los Angeles Jan. 24Here's my thing- though I'm a deeply liberal person who shares a lot of political beliefs with Ocasio-Cortez, I'm am not the least bit interested in her. Why? Because she's one representative of a district all the way across the country from where I live. I care about about my newly flipped district in Sherman Oaks. I care about my solidly Democratic district in Santa Rosa. Just because one charismatic representative from Brooklyn has a good Twitter feed doesn't mean that I have to care or that she deserves a highly-placed role on an important committee. She's a freshman. Let her learn. And then, go ahead and tell me she deserves a seat.Bob Guthrie Australia Jan. 23There really is not a far left in America. You guys have this weird aversion to moderate sensible socialism that -as the saying goes- is only in America. Our conservative government in Australia accepts it as a given the things AOC is fighting for. There is nothing weird about universal health care in modern advanced countries. The conservatives have a magic word in the USA that they us as a bogeyman and the word is socialism. Ironically they don't mind Trump snuggling up to extreme left dictators like Kim and ex KGB Soviet operatives like Don's supervisor Vlad Putin who by definition had to be a card carrying communist to get to his position. But moderate socialism is all over northern Europe, NZ, UK and Australia. You people are oppressed by conservatives playing the "that's socialism" card at every turn. We never ask where does the money come from? here. The money seems to be there in all the countries that take care of the health of their citizens. America is a wonderful country with fantastic people- I love visiting... but to use an Aussie word - crikey I wouldn't want to live there. 1 ReplyPono Big Island Jan. 23A.O.C. Alexandria "Overexposure" Cortez. This young woman is talented but should pace herself a bit. It's not a marathon but it's not a sprint either. Let's call it "middle distance" in track terms. You need to save some breath for when it's really needed. Pace for long term influence on policy. Or be a "one hit wonder".Cass Missoula Jan. 23@Matt Williams Exactly. I'm a Democratic in a conservative area, and all my Democrat friends think this woman is nuts. Our Senator Jon Tester is wonderful. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Hard pass. 9 RepliesMikeG Left Coast Jan. 23@Cass You may self-identify as a moderate but you sound like a conservative. Please go join the other party of no ideas if AOC strikes you as radical. The majority of Democrats don't agree with you.Eero East End Jan. 23Ideology fails when it meets reality. Trump and McConnell are busy teaching the American middle class what it is to be reduced to poverty - health care they can't afford, rising taxes on those who have had some economic success, elimination of well paying jobs, and on and on. Those voters are understandably interested in pocket book issues, the resurgence of progressive candidates meets this newly emphasized need. In addition, look at the population demographics. The baby boomers were a "bump" in population, they in turn have produced a new bump in their children, who are now adults. The boomers were quite left, their children have inherited some of this belief system - equal rights and protection and support of those with less opportunity. The voters in general are also completely fed up with politicians lying to them and taking away their benefits. They generally have a mistrust both of the right wing destruction of our norms, and the Democrats failure to fight back (Garland should have been appointed even in the face of McConnell's calumny). The new face of the Democratic party feeds pocketbook issues, a belief that America is, in fact, a melting pot, and the need for restoration of our Democracy. This pretty much covers all the bases, the Democrats just need to get better at educating the populace.Zor OH Jan. 23By and large, the majority of 2600+ counties that Trump carried are not economically well off. However, they are socially very traditional. Do the Democrats have a message that will resonate with millions of these traditional white middle/lower middle class voters in the hinterland? 1 Replybored critic usa Jan. 23have you listened to her interviews? she doesn't say much of anything. all political about all these socialist ideas with no means or method of how to get there. and thank goodness she has no clue how to get thereAndrew NY Jan. 23I used to be friends with a very high-achieving guy I met as a 15-year-old on a teen summer tour in Israel, run by the national Reform synagogue movement, in 1985. In the course of our frienship spanning the final years of high school through the beginning of college, gradually fading to an email or 2 once every couple years; our different paths & outlooks became very stark, though we'd both call ourselves liberals. My friend left no stone unturned in his unambivalent achievement orientation, embracing w/religious fervor the absolute virtue of success, the unimpeachable morality & integrity of our meritocracy, & meritocratic ideals/ethos. Naturally, he wound up at Harvard, majoring in government, followed by Harvard Law. What struck me throughout was the unvarnished "empiricism" of his outlook: rarefied, lofty principles or romantic ideals seemed alien: the nitty gritty of practical & procedural realities were the whole picture. The one time we explicitly discussed comparative politics, he only gravitated toward the topic of Harold Washington's coalition-building prowess. He was an ardent Zionist ("Jewish homeland!"), with little apparent interest in theology or spirituality for that matter. Eventually he went into corporate law, negotiating executive compensation. I think he epitomized the Clinton Democrat: A "Social justice," equal opportunity for all, meritocracy "synthesis." In a word, that peculiarly "practical," pragmatic liberalism was *ultimately conservative*.rantall Massachusetts Jan. 23Let us all remember that since Reagan the "center" has moved decidedly right. So when we talk about a move left, we are moving back to where we were in the 1950s-1970's. For example take AOC's tax proposal. Right out of that time period. Look at the GOP platform in the 1950's. It reads like a progressive platform today. So let's put this in perspective. Everything is relative and we have adjusted to right wing dominant politics today.Len Charlap Printceton NJ Jan. 23Edsall looks at the fact the Democrats (and, indeed, the whole country) are moving in a progressive direction. He does not look at the question of why. I maintain that with an increase in educated voters, the country is moving towards policies that work, that are good for the country as a whole, not just for a minority. The other wealthy countries, all with a universal government health care system such as an improved Medicare for all, get BETTER health care as measured by all 16 of the bottom line public health statistics for ALL of their people at a cost of less than HALF per person as we pay. High inequality has been bad for the economy and governance of this country. Look at what happened in 1929 and 2008 both preceded by periods of high inequality. Compare that with the long period of low inequality after WWII of Great Prosperity. Today as a result of terrible SCOTUS decisions, the Super Rich pushing the country towards oligarchy. The situation at our borders was actually better before 2003 when ICE was created. It has perpetrated so many atrocities, rightly garnered such a terrible reputation, why isn't it time to abolish the thing and start over with a new more humane organization. After all, the Germans did not keep the Gestapo after the war. I running out of space, but let me end by saying we are now getting more progressive voters that say that 2 + 3 = 5, and fewer conservative ones who say 2 + 3 = 23 and fewer moderates who want to compromise on 2 + 3 = 14.michaeltide Bothell, WA Jan. 23@Concerned Citizen, likewise, public education is funded largely by property taxes, even on those who do not have children in school, or whose children are out of school. This is not "someone else's" money! It is all our money, and this is the way we choose to employ it – to educate all our children, realizing, I hope, that educated children are a major asset of a developed country. 38 RepliesManhattanWilliam New York, NY Jan. 23Until AOC starts to achieve some actual LEGISTATIVE VICTORIES, I'm not prepared to follow her ANYWHERE. I'm willing to listen to what she has to say, some of which I agree with and some I question. I lean Left on most issues but I'm not a fanatic, and fanatics exist on BOTH sides of the political spectrum. I believe that one must PROVE themselves before being beatified. In substance, I'm open to the "new wing" of the Democratic party which I am, officially, a member of. Let me add that I will NEVER cast a vote for anyone calling themselves a Republican because that very label is forever tainted in my book. But I don't much care for the 'tit for tat' Tweeting from AOC either, writing about Joe Lieberman (whom I do not like) "who dat"? What is "dat", Miss AOC?PeterC BearTerritory Jan. 23The insane part of this never gets addressed. Why should Americans political interests and aspirations be controlled by two monopolistic parties? 1 ReplyMathias Weitz Frankfurt aM, Germany Jan. 23The country may be in a need of a more social agenda, but this agenda must perceptible help the depressed white rural folk first. Nothing will work what make those, who are already falling behind feel like a "basket of deplorables". I hope AOC will find a way not just to become a poster star of the progressive urban left, but also understand the ailing of the depressed rural right.dmdaisy Clinton, NY Jan. 23The Democratic Party needs to do a very good job of educating an electorate (and possibly some of its own members) that has for more than 30 years drunk the kool-aid of the "lower our taxes," small government, and deregulation gurus. We have such a predatory capitalism now, with government failing over and over again to reign in huge corporations headed by those who think they should be determining everything from economic to housing to health to foreign policy. Enough already. Most of the young members of Congress need a lot more experience and more immersion in the nitty gritty of creating legislation before they can take the reins, but they can educate their constituents. And maybe they can convince others that everyone gains through a more level playing field.Lou New York Jan. 23Calling these ideas left is a joke. AOC and Bernie Sanders would practically be conservatives in Canada and Europe. What we have are 3 unofficial parties: 1. The party of people with good ideas who aren't afraid to speak about them because they aren't beholden to big donors 2. The party of watered down, unpopular ideas that are vetted by 20 pollsters and donors before seeing the light of day 3. The party that gets into office by tapping into people's primal fears, and avoids policy altogether Republicans have been moving the goalposts for decades now, how can you even tell left from right anymore?michjas Phoenix Jan. 23@A. Stanton Since 1990, there have been funding gaps, shutdowns or serious threats of shutdowns almost every year. The have become routine tactics in the effort of each party to drive a hard bargain.SLE Cleveland Heights Jan. 23Running up the Democratic vote in Blue states by pandering to left leaning views will not unseat DJT in 2020. Winning the popular vote by 3 or 3 million yields the same results. Unless or until we adopt the Nation Popular Vote Intrastate Compact or reapportion the House more equitably, Republicans will continue to exploit the Electoral College's antimajoritarianism. Courting the minority of lefties mimics DJT's courting of his base; last November proved that elections are won in the middle. Appealing to moderates in purple states is the only path to 270. If you have any doubt, ask private citizen HRC how much good the Democratic over-vote did for her.Barry Moyer Washington, DC Jan. 23@Bruce Rozenblit What is exceedingly strange to me is that those who rail against socialism completely misread socialism at it's very roots; Family. 27 RepliesMike Austin Jan. 23Yes, because all these pundits got 2016 so right. They are people with their own opinions, just like everyone else, except the punditry has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo that has been so good to them for so long. Enough already! Times, you're as much to blame as these pundits for 2016!Jerre Henriksen Illinois Jan. 23When progressive solutions are proposed, the opposition yells "socialism" while others bring up the cost of progressive solutions. No one talks about the significant portion of our nation's wealth spent on the military. We don't audit the Pentagon or do due diligence on the efficiency of huge projects undertaken by the military nor do we question the profits of the industrial-military complex. Meanwhile, Russia manipulated our latest presidential race, underscoring the worry over cyber attacks. Climate events in the country mean our citizens experience life changing events not brought on by terrorists or immigrants. A medical event in a family can initiate bankruptcy; we all live on that edge. Our infrastructure projects have been delayed for so long that America looks like a second rate country. Income inequality is ongoing with no sign of lessening. Suicide is on the increase while death by drugs is an epidemic. An education for students can mean large debt; efforts to train the workforce for the technological world are inconsistent. For many of us, the hate and fear promoted in this country is repulsive. Because our society works for an ever smaller number of us, Americans are increasingly understanding that a sustainable, just society works for all it's citizens. We are exhausted by the stalemate in Washington leaving us caring very little about the labels of progressive, moderate, or conservative. We just know what needs to change.Frank Shifreen New York Jan. 24Edall's final point that thsese are Democrats returning to Democratic roots and not a wave of radicalism. I along with a lot of other older voters was infected with a kind of gradualism. I voted for Hilary, much now to my dismay. AOC among others is stating what she, and what many of us want. The old Democratic party was a mirror image of Republicans, with taking the same money, voting for the same wars, and within it all a kind of shame,liberal as a kind of curse, where we were afraid to make our own agenda, make our own plan for America. taking the burden, in health care, college education, immigration, is an investment in the futureLTJ Utah Jan. 23The New Democratic approach in essence is taking wealth and redistributing it, along with promising free goods and services. Is that high-minded or simply a Brave New World. The underlying assumption seems to be the rest of America will not find that worrisome, and that what happened in MA and NY represents a nationwide trend. 3 RepliesMr. Slater Brooklyn, NY Jan. 23@A. Stanton Well, she's not the president (thankfully) and you can't predict hindsight only speculate.Sarah Conner Seattle Jan. 23These voters are not moving to the left. They are correcting a trend to the right that accelerated with Reagan: the rise of corporate dominance and societal control; the loss of worker rights, healthcare and protections through destruction of our unions; and the mass incarceration of our nation's young African American men for minor drug offenses, thus destroying their futures and communities. These "left" liberals are fighting to bring back democratic norms and values that were once taken for granted among those of all political stripes.Mark Thomason Clawson, MI Jan. 23I have always voted in every primary. I have always voted for the most "leftist" available. So did my whole family, and all the people with whom I discussed our voting. The issue was always "most leftist available." That often was not very leftist at all. That is what has changed. Now the option is there. It isn't because we vote for it. We vote for it now because now we can, now the choice is there. What has changed is not so much the voters as the invisible primary before anyone asks us voters. What changed is the Overton Window of potential choices allowed to us. I think voters would have done this a long time ago, if they'd had the opportunity. So why now? Abject failure of our politics to solve our problems has been true for decades, so it isn't mere failure. I'd like to think it was voter rebellion. We just wouldn't vote for their sell outs. Here, that meant Bernie won our primary, and then we did not turn out for Her. We finally forced it. The money men could not get away with it anymore.Smartone new york,ny Jan. 23It is strange that Mr Edsall frames Medicare 4 All , Free College , and higher taxes on wealthy as RADICAL leftist ideas .. when it fact each of these proposals have the majority of support from Americans.. The most current poll shows 70% support for Medicare 4 All.. so you are only radical if you DON'T support.Centrist NYC Jan. 23Unless the progressives start addressing the concerns of the middle class, they will drive the Democratic Party right off the cliff. You remember us, don't you? People who have tried to do things right and work hard. Granted, our cares and concerns aren't that sexy or tweetable so it's easy for you newly elected firebrands to overlook us. Don't forget, we are the ones who will ultimately foot the bills for your giveaways.Jerry Smith Dollar Bay Jan. 23The notion that democrats are moving leftward is borne on revisionist history. There's nothing new or bold being proposed; Zeitz is right on the money.PK Atlanta Jan. 23"Medicare for All, government-guaranteed jobs and a higher minimum wage" I have a question to all the "progressive" Democratic voices in Congress - how are you going to pay for such an agenda? Money doesn't just grow on trees. Either you will have to cut funds from another program, or raise taxes. Most of these progressive people favor raising taxes on the wealthy. But what is your definition of "wealthy"? $10 million in annual income? $1 million in annual income? $500k? $200k? Almost all the proposals I have seen coming from progressives involves increasing tax rates for families making more than $200k, either through higher rates, phased out deductions, or ineligibility for certain programs. A professional couple where both are software engineers could easily surpass this threshold, but they are not rich. They struggle to pay the mortgage, save for the future, pay taxes, and provide for their children. Why should they be forced to pay more in taxes percentage-wise than a family earning $100k or $60k? It is for these reasons that I as an independent will never support progressive candidates. These candidates lack basic math abilities and a basic notion of fairness. So if the Democratic party starts to embrace some of the policies espoused by these progressives, they are on a path to lose elections in the future. 1 ReplyLinda Miilu Chico, CA Jan. 23@AutumnLeaf Mitch McConnell blocked Obama at every turn; he denied him the appointment of a moderate respected Judge to the SC, a Judge the GOP had voted for on the Superior Court. Congress wasted time with 40 attempts to declare the ACA unconstitutional; the Plan was modeled on a Romney Plan in MA. Scalia's Citizens United Decision declared that corporations are people; Scalia knew that he was using a Superior Ct. Decision with a transcription error: word spoken: corporation; word transcribed: individual. Scalia spent a lot of time at corporate lodges, "hunting"; mainly eating until he finally ate himself to death. McConnell spends his time with mine owners. Trump spends his time with lobbyists for Israel and Saudi Arabia. 9 Repliesnickgregor Philadelphia Jan. 23I think this article underscores the incredible opportunity available to the left if they pick a radical democratic socialist candidate. If they are already winning the college educated crowd that is gentrifying these major urban areas and losing the poorer minority crowd that is voting for people like the Clinton's over Sanders or Crowley over AOC; we are getting the people whom one would think would be less incentivized to vote for our platform and we can gain the people who would benefit more from our platform.Therefore, it is really just a question of exposure and talking to these people. Reaching out to minorities; talking about mass-incarceration, how it disproportinately affects precisely these minority voters that we have to gain; and how the moderate democrats have been benefiting economically and politically from the chaos and inequities in these communities for years. It is a question of messaging. Minorities are our natural allies. They are disproportinately affected by the inequality; and as soon as we can reach them; tell them that there brothers, husbands, sons are coming home, and that we have a job for them to support their family when they do, that is a huge % of voters that will swing our way, and accelerate the pace of our revolution--and what critics will come to remember as the end of their decadence and control over all facets of society, to the detriment of everyone else. The end is coming--and a new, better society is on the verge of being reborn 1 Replyjmgiardina la mesa, california Jan. 23Of all of those quoted in this article, the only one who really gets it right is Joshua Zeitz. FDR's 1944 State of the Union address should be required reading for every Democrat, and every Establishment talking head who warns against alienating suburban voters by advocating for a New Deal social safety net. I share the sentiments of many on who have responded by noting that it was, and is, the leadership of the Democratic Party that has moved right rather than the Democratic electorate that shifted left. Don't believe me? Go back through the sixteen years of the Clinton and Obama presidencies and see how many times each referenced Ronald Reagan versus even mentioning Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, or Lyndon Johnson.Jose Pieste NJ Jan. 23Medicare for all? Get ready for 6-week waits for a 10 minute appointment (and that will be just for primary care). After that, expect to wait 6-12 months to see a specialist. 1 ReplyLen Charlap Printceton NJ Jan. 23@c harris - Hillary received almost 4 million more primary votes than Bernie.JABarry Maryland Jan. 23@José Franco I will not dig out social security trustees' projections of future funding requirements or the possible solutions bandied about by politicians (google them), but one single tweak would eliminate any projected shortfalls. Currently the FICA contribution is limited to earnings of $132,900. Those who earn over that amount pay no FICA tax on the earnings above that level. The person earning a million dollars in 2019 will stop paying FICA on his earnings by mid-February. Applying FICA to all earnings of all earners would keep social security solvent. No raise in retirement age, no reduction in benefits, no insolvency. As to Medicare's solvency and public benefits, see the excellent comments of Len Charlap. 17 RepliesShenoa United States Jan. 23There are several issues upon which I and my like-minded moderate family members will cast our votes in 2020: - Border security and the end to the brazen exploitation of our citizenry by the millions of foreign migrants who illegally, and with an attitude of entitlement, trespass into our sovereign country year after year...costing our taxpayers billions. - Reckless proposals to increase government benefit programs that aren't affordable without raising taxes, threatening our already stressed social security safety net. - The rise of Antisemitism and the mendacious obsession with Israel amongst leftists within Congress, as well as within the ranks of their constituents. Democrats will need to address these issues to our satisfaction if they want our votes. 2 RepliesPeoplePower Nyc Jan. 23Ed, it's time to retire. If you spent time looking at the actual data, Democratic primary voters, particularly those in overly restrictive closed primary states like New York, are older, wealthier, "socially liberal" and "fiscally conservative." They are what we would have called moderate/Rockefeller Republicans 40 years ago, but they vote Democratic because that's who their parents voted for. Most progressive voters today, the ones who support Medicare for all, investment in public higher education, taxation on wealth (you know, those pesky issues that mainstream Democrats used to support 30-40 years ago) are younger and more likely to be unaffiliated with any political party. This is why Bernie did much better in states with open primaries, and Hillary did better in closed primary states like NY AOC won in spite of NY's restrictive primary system. She was able to achieve this because many of the older Democratic establishment voters who would have voted for Crowley stayed home, and she was able to motivate enough first-time young voters in her district to register as a Dem and vote for her. (First time voters in NY can register with party 30 days prior to primary election) Let's be clear though: your premise that Dem primary voters are driving the party's shift to the left couldn't be further from the truth--the progressive shift in the body politic you describe is coming from younger, independent, working class voters and is redefining the American left.Woof NY Jan. 23From the NYT , Edsall April 19, 2018 The Democrats' Gentrification Problem "Conversely, in the struggling Syracuse metropolitan area (Clinton 53.9 percent, Trump 40.1 percent), families moving in between 2005 and 2016 had median household incomes of $35,219 -- $7,229 less than the median income of the families moving out of the region, $42,448." Syracuse, a democratic City in one of the most democratic States in the US, so assuredly democratic that Democratic Presidential candidates rarely show up has been left by the Democrats and the Democratic Governor ,Cuomo, in a death spiral of getting poorer by the day That in a State, that includes NYC, the international capital of the global billionaire elite. Exactly, what have the Democrats done to help ?Dave Connecticut Jan. 23"Sawhill argues that if the goal of Democrats is victory, as opposed to ideological purity, they must focus on general election swing voters who are not die-hard Democrats." Wow, what an original argument! I have been hearing the exact same thing since I registered to vote at age 18 in 1977. Democrats are always urged to support the "sensible, centrist" candidates who keep on losing elections to Republicans who drag their party, and the whole country by default, even further to the right. JFK was called a communist and worse by pundits like this and he would have won by a landslide in 1964. How about if Democrats for once push for policies that are backed by 90 percent of Americans, like Medicare For All, the higher minimum wage, universal college education, renewable energy and the rest of the Green New Deal and higher marginal tax rates for the rich. I would love to see just one presidential candidate run on this platform before I die so I can fill out my ballot without holding my nose. 1 ReplyPiece man South Salem Jan. 23Kind of make sense considering how far to the right the Republican Party has gone with the Donald. And he's a guy who was a Democrat at one point. He's a dangerous mr nobody. Let's counter going far to the left so we can come back to some middle ground.Ellen San Diego Jan. 23@Len Charlap Canada can also more easily afford universal healthcare and a stronger social safety net because it doesn't have the outsized military budget that we do. 17 RepliesRob Calgary Jan. 23@Ronny I agree with you - have a subsidized education - (rather I prefer to say equal access to education) as well as health care guarantees to a greater extent equality of opportunity - which is what all democratic societies should strive for. It's not equality of outcome but equality of opportunity. Children should not be punished for have parents of lesser means or being born on the wrong side of the tracks...Mr. Slater Brooklyn, NY Jan. 23Until I see well-crafted legislation that is initiated by her that will help improve the lives of many she's just another politician with sound bite platitudes. She doesn't even have a district office in the Bronx yet to the chagrin of many of the constituents.mr. mxyzptlk new jersey Jan. 23@Midwest Josh Perhaps student loans made by the FED at the rates they charge the big banks in their heist of the American economy achieved back in 1913. 38 Repliesbfree portland Jan. 23AOC is a liberal darling who's stated (on 60 Minutes) that unemployment rates are low because everyone is working two jobs; I might add, that has nothing to do with how unemployment rates are figured and come on, "everyone?" And recently she's stated that the world will end in 12 years if we don't do something about climate change. Come on, this is silliness, ignorance and borderline stupidity. If she's the poster child for the Democrats, then she's the gift that will keep on giving to the GOP.Andrew M. British Columbia Jan. 23I grew up during the Vietnam War, and over the years came to admire the American people who ultimately forced their government to withdraw from an immoral (and disastrous) military adventure. This is rare in human history. Rare in American history too, as the follies in Iraq drag on and on to remind us. Perhaps the American people are becoming themselves again. I wouldn't call it drifting left at all.Sean Greenwich Jan. 23Thomas Edsall's column is yet another conservative spin on Democrats from The New York Times. Where are the voices of progressive Democrats, who form the overwhelming majority of New York City residents? Of New York state residents? Who form the core of the Democratic Party's support. The Times insists that these conservative voices are the only ones deserving of publication here. Where in the world did the notion come from that The Times was a "liberal" publication?michaeltide Bothell, WA Jan. 23@Chris Young, It seems you aonly approve of departments that teach what you consider "productive." If schools become an adjuct to the marketplace, then only the material, quantifiable results will be the metric by which the value of education is measured. This will leave us, as in some ways we are already becoming, a population that emulates robots, and has no use for critical thinking, ethics, or art. The profit in education is in the quality of the students it turns out into the world, not on a corporate balance sheet. 38 RepliesTR NJ USA Jan. 23It's all good but important to expand the focus on the entirety of the Democrats in Congress - and the amazing age range and gender mix. The opportunities are vast - an intergenerational government of forward thinking, principled women and men. Please media pundits - avoid focus on only 1 or 2. There are brilliant ideas pouring forth - let the ideas from every corner flow! Remember that the intense media focus on Trump, liberal as well as conservative, contributed significantly to what happened in election 2016.
David Gregory Sunbelt Jan. 23If by liberal you mean the circular firing squad of the politics of aggrievement, no. My politics fall in line with FDR's Second Bill of Rights. Here he describes them in 1944 https://youtu.be/3EZ5bx9AyI4 "...true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security & independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry & out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made... We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security & prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are: The right to a useful and remunerative job...; The right to earn enough to provide adequate food & clothing & recreation; The right of every farmer to raise & sell his products at a return which will give him & his family a decent living; The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition & domination by monopolies at home or abroad; The right of every family to a decent home; The right to adequate medical care & the opportunity to achieve & enjoy good health; The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident & unemployment; The right to a good education." That is where Democrats used to be. Then came the Corporate Democrats, the DLC and the Clintons.Wah California Jan. 23This piece misses more than it hits. Where it misses particularly is in it's insistence that the Class interest of working class Democrats pulls the Party right, rather than left, and that the insurgents are mostly young, white gentrifying liberals. This is not altogether false, but misses that many of the gentrifiers are not middle class themselves, but lower middle class young people with huge college debt who could never dream of living in upper middle class enclaves like most of the opinion writers in the Time for example. So they move into the inner city, make it safe for professionals, and then yes, Brooklyn goes white. Harlem goes white. Berkeley loses its working class majority. Etc. The big problem for the left of the Democratic Party is not that its mostly young, white and middle class; it is that the very term "liberal" is now widely understood by working class people as meaning "establishment." And they are against the "establishment". As it happens, so are the young insurgents. This then is the task for the left of the Democrats; to unite the culturally conservative working class with the emerging multi-racial, multi-ethnic youth vote to take down both the reactionary Right and the Liberal establishment. And the only reason such a sentiment seems crazy is that the New York Times, far from being a bastion of the resistance to Trump is actually a bulwark of that Liberal Establishment. Stats are stats but the future is unwritten.Driven Ohio Jan. 23This is a shame as most of the country wants middle of the road.Ralphie CT Jan. 23AOC is pretty interesting. She's charismatic, fearless....and I'm trying to think of something else. OH, she's personally attractive. If the government gig falls apart she can probably get TV work. But as an intellectual light or a rational political leader -- she is clearly lacking. OF course that may not matter as the earth will come to an end in 12 years. Which is even more ludicrous than saying the earth is only 6000 years old. She is simply spouting far left talking points which are driven by emotion, not rational thought. And she keeps making unforced errors in her public speaking engagements. She really doesn't appear to understand what she's talking about and can't respond to reasonable questions about her policy positions. But then, that's not too unlike much of the left. So maybe she's a perfect fit for a fact free faction which is beginning to run the dem party. 1 ReplyGloria Utopia Chas. SC Jan. 23One commenter gave a really insightful look at socialism for corporations and the rich here, otherwise known to most of us as corporate welfare, including subsidies to oil companies, who seem rich enough, but nevertheless, extend their "impoverished" bank accounts for more of our dollars. Successful corporations, will reward investors, CEO's, hedge fund managers, all those at the top, but the worker, not too much for that drone, who was part of the reason of the success of that corporation. Socialism has been tainted by countries with autocratic rulers , uneducated masses, and ofttimes, as in Latin America, religious masses. But, Scandinavia, has shown us a socialism to envy. It's confident citizens know that much of what makes life livable has been achieved. Finland rates as one of the happiest countries in the world. Taxes are high, but one isn't bankrupted because of illness, one doesn't lose a home because of a catastrophic illness, education is encouraged, and one doesn't have to pay the debt off for 30 years or more. The infrastructure is a priority, war is not. It just seems like it's a secure way to live. This is socialism I wish we could duplicate. Does anyone consider that socialism also includes our police, libraries, fire stations, roads, and so much more? Used for the good of society, it's a boon for all, rather than unregulated capitalism which enriches the few at the expense of most of us. 3 RepliesAllentown Buffalo Jan. 23@Reilly Diefenbach "Democratic socialism" isn't a thing, but implies two contradictory ideals. Social democracy is thing, a good thing, and in line with what Nordic nations have. 38 RepliesMichael Pilla Millburn, NJ Jan. 23Never has someone gotta so much for doing so little. None of this means anything if it doesn't become law. As a life long Liberal Democrat (there, I said it) myself, I find it infuriating when Liberal/Progressive politicians get out-sized credit for their good intentions while those same good intentions threaten party unity. The Progressive idea of party unity seems to be limited to getting what they want or they'll walk away. They just know better, so there's no need for compromise. Never mind that they have no way of enacting any of this legislation -- and more often than not Progressives lose at the polls. These "kids" need to wake up and realize that there are no moral victories in politics. The ONLY goal of any Democrat has to be unseating Trump and McConnell, everything else is a noise, and a dangerous distraction.Jake Wagner Los Angeles Jan. 23I support universal health care, free college for students who meet enhanced entrance requirements and raising marginal tax rates to 70% on wealthy Americans. Yet I do not support an expansion of the EITC, ending immigration enforcement or putting workers on boards of directors. So where do I stand? All my life I've voted Democratic. But there has been a seismic shift in politics. And after the shift I will most likely vote Republican or for a third party. The issue that causes my change in affiliation is the Me Too movement. I find it repugnant that feminists seem to argue that the media rather than the courts should determine guilt or innocence in sexual assault cases. Bill Cosby had an agreement with Andrea Constand in their case. But feminists weren't happy with the outcome. So they resorted to extra-legal means to get Cosby convicted. This included a media campaign in which the NY Times and the New Yorker wrote stories highlighting accusations of 60 women for which statutes of limitations had elapsed. But statutes of limitations are there for a reason. This became clear in the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh which degenerated into a trial for rape. Nobody except maybe the accuser could remember in any detail events at the party in which the rape had presumably occurred. So the confirmation became one of character assassination in which Kavanaugh was convicted of drinking beer. I will NEVER vote for any politician who supports the Me Too movement.Alan Seattle, WA Jan. 23"... protection from the vicissitudes of market capitalism"? People want protection from monopoly capitalism. The left-right frame is a fallacy. If you put the actual policies on the table, the great majority want single payer, clean elections, action on climate change, etc. Pitting Left v. Right only redounds to tribalism. It ends up with a President who shuts down the business of which he himself is the CEO. That's not great.
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 | 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 linkRex Titter , 18 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.honest injun , 24 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,,,
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.
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
Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
FionaMcW , 11 Apr 2019 06:36Schools 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 05:46Education 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.DrMidnite , 10 Apr 2019 17:04
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."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 | dissidentvoice.org
A Slow Death: The Ills of the Neoliberal Academic
by Binoy Kampmark / June 20th, 2019Any 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: firstname.lastname@example.org . 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 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.
May 02, 2019 | dissidentvoice.orgIn 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: email@example.com . 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 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. This post describes how the forces driving the US suicide surge started well before the Trump era, but explains how Trump has not only refused to acknowledge the problem, but has made matters worse.
However, it's not as if the Democrats are embracing this issue either.
BY Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. His latest book is The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention Originally published at TomDispatch .
We hear a lot about suicide when celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade die by their own hand. Otherwise, it seldom makes the headlines. That's odd given the magnitude of the problem.
In 2017, 47,173 Americans killed themselves. In that single year, in other words, the suicide count was nearly seven times greater than the number of American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars between 2001 and 2018.
A suicide occurs in the United States roughly once every 12 minutes . What's more, after decades of decline, the rate of self-inflicted deaths per 100,000 people annually -- the suicide rate -- has been increasing sharply since the late 1990s. Suicides now claim two-and-a-half times as many lives in this country as do homicides , even though the murder rate gets so much more attention.
In other words, we're talking about a national epidemic of self-inflicted deaths.
Anyone who has lost a close relative or friend to suicide or has worked on a suicide hotline (as I have) knows that statistics transform the individual, the personal, and indeed the mysterious aspects of that violent act -- Why this person? Why now? Why in this manner? -- into depersonalized abstractions. Still, to grasp how serious the suicide epidemic has become, numbers are a necessity.
According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control study , between 1999 and 2016, the suicide rate increased in every state in the union except Nevada, which already had a remarkably high rate. In 30 states, it jumped by 25% or more; in 17, by at least a third. Nationally, it increased 33% . In some states the upsurge was far higher: North Dakota (57.6%), New Hampshire (48.3%), Kansas (45%), Idaho (43%).
Alas, the news only gets grimmer.
Since 2008 , suicide has ranked 10th among the causes of death in this country. For Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, however, it comes in second; for those between 35 and 45, fourth. The United States also has the ninth-highest rate in the 38-country Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Globally , it ranks 27th.
More importantly, the trend in the United States doesn't align with what's happening elsewhere in the developed world. The World Health Organization, for instance, reports that Great Britain, Canada, and China all have notably lower suicide rates than the U.S., as do all but six countries in the European Union. (Japan's is only slightly lower.)
World Bank statistics show that, worldwide, the suicide rate fell from 12.8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 10.6 in 2016. It's been falling in China , Japan (where it has declined steadily for nearly a decade and is at its lowest point in 37 years), most of Europe, and even countries like South Korea and Russia that have a significantly higher suicide rate than the United States. In Russia, for instance, it has dropped by nearly 26% from a high point of 42 per 100,000 in 1994 to 31 in 2019.
We know a fair amount about the patterns of suicide in the United States. In 2017, the rate was highest for men between the ages of 45 and 64 (30 per 100,000) and those 75 and older (39.7 per 100,000).
The rates in rural counties are almost double those in the most urbanized ones, which is why states like Idaho, Kansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota sit atop the suicide list. Furthermore, a far higher percentage of people in rural states own guns than in cities and suburbs, leading to a higher rate of suicide involving firearms, the means used in half of all such acts in this country.
There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last.
Education is also a factor. The suicide rate is lowest among individuals with college degrees. Those who, at best, completed high school are, by comparison, twice as likely to kill themselves. Suicide rates also tend to be lower among people in higher-income brackets.
The Economics of Stress
This surge in the suicide rate has taken place in years during which the working class has experienced greater economic hardship and psychological stress. Increased competition from abroad and outsourcing, the results of globalization, have contributed to job loss, particularly in economic sectors like manufacturing, steel, and mining that had long been mainstays of employment for such workers. The jobs still available often paid less and provided fewer benefits.
Technological change, including computerization, robotics, and the coming of artificial intelligence, has similarly begun to displace labor in significant ways, leaving Americans without college degrees, especially those 50 and older, in far more difficult straits when it comes to finding new jobs that pay well. The lack of anything resembling an industrial policy of a sort that exists in Europe has made these dislocations even more painful for American workers, while a sharp decline in private-sector union membership -- down from nearly 17% in 1983 to 6.4% today -- has reduced their ability to press for higher wages through collective bargaining.
Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted median wage has barely budged over the last four decades (even as CEO salaries have soared). And a decline in worker productivity doesn't explain it: between 1973 and 2017 productivity increased by 77%, while a worker's average hourly wage only rose by 12.4%. Wage stagnation has made it harder for working-class Americans to get by, let alone have a lifestyle comparable to that of their parents or grandparents.
The gap in earnings between those at the top and bottom of American society has also increased -- a lot. Since 1979, the wages of Americans in the 10th percentile increased by a pitiful 1.2%. Those in the 50th percentile did a bit better, making a gain of 6%. By contrast, those in the 90th percentile increased by 34.3% and those near the peak of the wage pyramid -- the top 1% and especially the rarefied 0.1% -- made far more substantial gains.
And mind you, we're just talking about wages, not other forms of income like large stock dividends, expensive homes, or eyepopping inheritances. The share of net national wealth held by the richest 0.1% increased from 10% in the 1980s to 20% in 2016. By contrast, the share of the bottom 90% shrank in those same decades from about 35% to 20%. As for the top 1%, by 2016 its share had increased to almost 39% .
The precise relationship between economic inequality and suicide rates remains unclear, and suicide certainly can't simply be reduced to wealth disparities or financial stress. Still, strikingly, in contrast to the United States, suicide rates are noticeably lower and have been declining in Western European countries where income inequalities are far less pronounced, publicly funded healthcare is regarded as a right (not demonized as a pathway to serfdom), social safety nets far more extensive, and apprenticeships and worker retraining programs more widespread.
Evidence from the United States , Brazil , Japan , and Sweden does indicate that, as income inequality increases, so does the suicide rate. If so, the good news is that progressive economic policies -- should Democrats ever retake the White House and the Senate -- could make a positive difference. A study based on state-by-state variations in the U.S. found that simply boosting the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit by 10% appreciably reduces the suicide rate among people without college degrees.
The Race Enigma
One aspect of the suicide epidemic is puzzling. Though whites have fared far better economically (and in many other ways) than African Americans, their suicide rate is significantly higher . It increased from 11.3 per 100,000 in 2000 to 15.85 per 100,000 in 2017; for African Americans in those years the rates were 5.52 per 100,000 and 6.61 per 100,000. Black men are 10 times more likely to be homicide victims than white men, but the latter are two-and-half times more likely to kill themselves.
The higher suicide rate among whites as well as among people with only a high school diploma highlights suicide's disproportionate effect on working-class whites. This segment of the population also accounts for a disproportionate share of what economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have labeled " deaths of despair " -- those caused by suicides plus opioid overdoses and liver diseases linked to alcohol abuse. Though it's hard to offer a complete explanation for this, economic hardship and its ripple effects do appear to matter.
According to a study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve , the white working class accounted for 45% of all income earned in the United States in 1990, but only 27% in 2016. In those same years, its share of national wealth plummeted, from 45% to 22%. And as inflation-adjusted wages have decreased for men without college degrees, many white workers seem to have lost hope of success of any sort. Paradoxically, the sense of failure and the accompanying stress may be greater for white workers precisely because they traditionally were much better off economically than their African American and Hispanic counterparts.
In addition, the fraying of communities knit together by employment in once-robust factories and mines has increased social isolation among them, and the evidence that it -- along with opioid addiction and alcohol abuse -- increases the risk of suicide is strong . On top of that, a significantly higher proportion of whites than blacks and Hispanics own firearms, and suicide rates are markedly higher in states where gun ownership is more widespread.
Trump's Faux Populism
The large increase in suicide within the white working class began a couple of decades before Donald Trump's election. Still, it's reasonable to ask what he's tried to do about it, particularly since votes from these Americans helped propel him to the White House. In 2016, he received 64% of the votes of whites without college degrees; Hillary Clinton, only 28%. Nationwide, he beat Clinton in counties where deaths of despair rose significantly between 2000 and 2015.
White workers will remain crucial to Trump's chances of winning in 2020. Yet while he has spoken about, and initiated steps aimed at reducing, the high suicide rate among veterans , his speeches and tweets have never highlighted the national suicide epidemic or its inordinate impact on white workers. More importantly, to the extent that economic despair contributes to their high suicide rate, his policies will only make matters worse.
The real benefits from the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act championed by the president and congressional Republicans flowed to those on the top steps of the economic ladder. By 2027, when the Act's provisions will run out, the wealthiest Americans are expected to have captured 81.8% of the gains. And that's not counting the windfall they received from recent changes in taxes on inheritances. Trump and the GOP doubled the annual amount exempt from estate taxes -- wealth bequeathed to heirs -- through 2025 from $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million (or $22.4 million per couple). And who benefits most from this act of generosity? Not workers, that's for sure, but every household with an estate worth $22 million or more will.
As for job retraining provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the president proposed cutting that program by 40% in his 2019 budget, later settling for keeping it at 2017 levels. Future cuts seem in the cards as long as Trump is in the White House. The Congressional Budget Office projects that his tax cuts alone will produce even bigger budget deficits in the years to come. (The shortfall last year was $779 billion and it is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020.) Inevitably, the president and congressional Republicans will then demand additional reductions in spending for social programs.
This is all the more likely because Trump and those Republicans also slashed corporate taxes from 35% to 21% -- an estimated $1.4 trillion in savings for corporations over the next decade. And unlike the income tax cut, the corporate tax has no end date . The president assured his base that the big bucks those companies had stashed abroad would start flowing home and produce a wave of job creation -- all without adding to the deficit. As it happens, however, most of that repatriated cash has been used for corporate stock buy-backs, which totaled more than $800 billion last year. That, in turn, boosted share prices, but didn't exactly rain money down on workers. No surprise, of course, since the wealthiest 10% of Americans own at least 84% of all stocks and the bottom 60% have less than 2% of them.
And the president's corporate tax cut hasn't produced the tsunami of job-generating investments he predicted either. Indeed, in its aftermath, more than 80% of American companies stated that their plans for investment and hiring hadn't changed. As a result, the monthly increase in jobs has proven unremarkable compared to President Obama's second term, when the economic recovery that Trump largely inherited began. Yes, the economy did grow 2.3% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018 (though not 3.1% as the president claimed). There wasn't, however, any "unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before" as he insisted in this year's State of the Union Address .
Anyway, what matters for workers struggling to get by is growth in real wages, and there's nothing to celebrate on that front: between 2017 and mid-2018 they actually declined by 1.63% for white workers and 2.5% for African Americans, while they rose for Hispanics by a measly 0.37%. And though Trump insists that his beloved tariff hikes are going to help workers, they will actually raise the prices of goods, hurting the working class and other low-income Americans the most .
Then there are the obstacles those susceptible to suicide face in receiving insurance-provided mental-health care. If you're a white worker without medical coverage or have a policy with a deductible and co-payments that are high and your income, while low, is too high to qualify for Medicaid, Trump and the GOP haven't done anything for you. Never mind the president's tweet proclaiming that "the Republican Party Will Become 'The Party of Healthcare!'"
Let me amend that: actually, they have done something. It's just not what you'd call helpful. The percentage of uninsured adults, which fell from 18% in 2013 to 10.9% at the end of 2016, thanks in no small measure to Obamacare , had risen to 13.7% by the end of last year.
The bottom line? On a problem that literally has life-and-death significance for a pivotal portion of his base, Trump has been AWOL. In fact, to the extent that economic strain contributes to the alarming suicide rate among white workers, his policies are only likely to exacerbate what is already a national crisis of epidemic proportions.
Seamus Padraig , June 19, 2019 at 6:46 am
Trump has neglected his base on pretty much every issue; this one's no exception.
DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am
Trump is running on the claim that he's turned the economy around; addressing suicide undermines this (false) claim. To state the obvious, NC readers know that Trump is incapable of caring about anyone or anything beyond his in-the-moment interpretation of his self-interest.
JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am
Not just Trump. Most of the Republican Party and much too many Democrats have also abandoned this base, otherwise known as working class Americans.
The economic facts are near staggering and this article has done a nice job of summarizing these numbers that are spread out across a lot of different sites.
I've experienced this rise within my own family and probably because of that fact I'm well aware that Trump is only a symptom of an entire political system that has all but abandoned it's core constituency, the American Working Class.
sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am
Yep It's not just Trump. The author mentions this, but still focuses on him for some reason. Maybe accurately attributing the problems to a failed system makes people feel more hopeless. Current nihilists in Congress make it their duty to destroy once helpful institutions in the name of "fiscal responsibility," i.e., tax cuts for corporate elites.
dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm
Maybe because Trump is president and bears the greatest responsibility in this particular time. A great piece and appreciate all the documentation.
Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am
I'd assumed, the "working class" had dissappeared, back during Reagan's Miracle? We'd still see each other, sitting dazed on porches & stoops of rented old places they'd previously; trying to garden, fix their car while smoking, drinking or dazed on something? Those able to morph into "middle class" lives, might've earned substantially less, especially benefits and retirement package wise. But, a couple decades later, it was their turn, as machines and foreigners improved productivity. You could lease a truck to haul imported stuff your kids could sell to each other, or help robots in some warehouse, but those 80s burger flipping, rent-a-cop & repo-man gigs dried up. Your middle class pals unemployable, everybody in PayDay Loan debt (without any pay day in sight?) SHTF Bug-out bags® & EZ Credit Bushmasters began showing up at yard sales, even up North. Opioids became the religion of the proletariat Whites simply had much farther to fall, more equity for our betters to steal. And it was damned near impossible to get the cops to shoot you?
Man, this just ain't turning out as I'd hoped. Need coffee!
Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am
We especially love the euphemism "Deaths O' Despair." since it works so well on a Chyron, especially supered over obese crackers waddling in crusty MossyOak™ Snuggies®
DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am
This is a very good article, but I have a comment about the section titled, "The Race Enigma." I think the key to understanding why African Americans have a lower suicide rate lies in understanding the sociological notion of community, and the related concept Emil Durkheim called social solidarity. This sense of solidarity and community among African Americans stands in contrast to the "There is no such thing as society" neoliberal zeitgeist that in fact produces feelings of extreme isolation, failure, and self-recriminations. An aside: as a white boy growing up in 1950s-60s Detroit I learned that if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people.
Amfortas the hippie , June 19, 2019 at 2:18 pm
" if you yearned for solidarity and community what you had to do was to hang out with black people."
amen, to that. in my case rural black people.
and I'll add Hispanics to that.
My wife's extended Familia is so very different from mine.
Solidarity/Belonging is cool.
I recommend it.
on the article we keep the scanner on("local news").we had a 3-4 year rash of suicides and attempted suicides(determined by chisme, or deduction) out here.
all of them were despair related more than half correlated with meth addiction itself a despair related thing.
ours were equally male/female, and across both our color spectrum.
that leaves economics/opportunity/just being able to get by as the likely cause.
David B Harrison , June 19, 2019 at 10:05 am
What's left out here is the vast majority of these suicides are men.
Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm
Actually, in the article it states:
"There are gender-based differences as well. From 1999 to 2017, the rate for men was substantially higher than for women -- almost four-and-a-half times higher in the first of those years, slightly more than three-and-a-half times in the last."
jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm
which in some sense makes despair the wrong word, as females are actually quite a bit more likely to be depressed for instance, but much less likely to "do the deed". Despair if we mean a certain social context maybe, but not just a psychological state.
Ex-Pralite Monk , June 19, 2019 at 10:10 am
You lay off the racial slur "cracker" and I'll lay off the racial slur "nigger". Deal?
rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am
Suicide deaths are a function of the suicide attempt rate and the efficacy of the method used. A unique aspect of the US is the prevalence of guns in the society and therefore the greatly increased usage of them in suicide attempts compared to other countries. Guns are a very efficient way of committing suicide with a very high "success" rate. As of 2010, half of US suicides were using a gun as opposed to other countries with much lower percentages. So if the US comes even close to other countries in suicide rates then the US will surpass them in deaths. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_methods#Firearms
Now we can add in opiates, especially fentanyl, that can be quite effective as well.
The economic crisis hitting middle America over the past 30 years has been quite focused on the states and populations that also tend to have high gun ownership rates. So suicide attempts in those populations have a high probability of "success".
Joe Well , June 19, 2019 at 11:32 am
I would just take this opportunity to add that the police end up getting called in to prevent on lot of suicide attempts, and just about every successful one.
In the face of so much blanket demonization of the police, along with justified criticism, it's important to remember that.
B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:44 am
As someone who works in the mental health treatment system, acute inpatient psychiatry to be specific, I can say that of the 25 inpatients currently here, 11 have been here before, multiple times. And this is because of several issues, in my experience: inadequate inpatient resources, staff burnout, inadequate support once they leave the hospital, and the nature of their illnesses. It's a grim picture here and it's been this way for YEARS. Until MAJOR money is spent on this issue it's not going to get better. This includes opening more facilities for people to live in long term, instead of closing them, which has been the trend I've seen.
B:H , June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am
One last thing the CEO wants "asses in beds", aka census, which is the money maker. There's less profit if people get better and don't return. And I guess I wouldn't have a job either. Hmmmm: sickness generates wealth.
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 PMMoe Hamhead -> Escrava Isaura , Nov 5, 2017 8:05 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...NoPension -> Grimaldus , Nov 5, 2017 9:10 PM
The real flaw is associating "higher" education with value. Get a job. Earn an income. Find an interest for your free time. Raise a family. Spare the four years of wasted time and money.WhackoWarner -> CunnyFunt , Nov 5, 2017 7:10 PM
Colleges.....those bastions of conservatism.Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:08 PM
Yeah there is a predatory lending story here...Krungle -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:14 PM
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. Otherwise you are much better off going into the military, or going to trade school. BTW, thank the Clintons for making it impossible to get out of student debt through bankruptcy.Boxed Merlot -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:16 PM
If you want to give out loans to kids then you should accept the risk that they might default on that debt and leave you with the tab. Let's stop the coddling the banker bullshit. They lobbied to make this loans extremely difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. They wanted all the profit and none of the risk. Let them assume risk and they'll stop handing out loans to unqualified borrowers.t0mmyBerg -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:50 PM
Amen! If the money for an "education" is more difficult to obtain, that ought to be a clue as to the value of the information / training one is purchasing. The fact it's so easy to get is all one needs to know about the worth of what's being spewed by those dispensing their so-called knowledge / truth.
Allow the lawful discharge through bankruptcy and punish every single financial institution, (and especially their individual persons who oversaw the process), that has profited off of ballooning "principle" amounts that even come close to doubling an original amount with ties to any government official that voted to place these kind of loans in such a category.
This is madness! "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,..." Isaiah 10:1
jmoCunnyFunt -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:25 PM
Finally at least one person gets it. The inability to discharge student loan debt through the taint of bankruptcy is one of the greatest financial crimes of the last century. Entirely unAmerican. America used to be all about fresh starts. That is one reason our business life is more vibrant than say many places in Europe with less benign laws. Same goes for individuals. If you go through the pain of bankruptcy there is no reason you shouldnt get that debt discharged. Whomever voted for that law, whether Clintons or others should be beaten to death.ElwinCthulhu -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:35 PM
Hobart's 38-week combo welder program costs $16,625. A trained kid willing to travel and work in the field would make more than an engineering graduate who paid a quarter-million for his degree.PrefabSprout -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:54 PM
No mention made of the rats nest Social Justice program$ infesting college and university campuses across the country, at untold cost, worthless sullshit.Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 7:11 PM
But if you go into the military, you get poisoned and dehabilitated by bazillion vaccines, which you can't refuse.JohnG -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:06 PM
Not that the student loan thing isn't another banker scam, but the lead story doesn't make sense.
Firstly, educators get loan forgiveness after a decade or two of public service. And there are income contingent repayment plans. And lawyers have, in fact, been able to get these things discharged. None of this changes the scam that is giving out high interest loans to kids to pursue an education. But you might want to start with a sob story that makes more sense. How about a pediatrician with 400k in loans and making 100k a year living in a coastal city? Or how about the art history majors at private liberal arts schools with 200k in debt making $10/hour as a barista? But teachers are one of the few groups that has an actual federal out.bluskyes , Nov 5, 2017 7:15 PM
Maybe. My wife is a teacher in a Title I, low income school, and had been for 13 years..... She also has about 13K remaining in student loans, originally federal direct and Perkins loans. With her over 10 years in title I schools, she should be able to get them forgiven, except that she consolidated these loans before I met her, and now they are "serviced" by AES, a private lender, and they are no longer eligible for discharge. This I call the "Consolidation Scam."uhland62 -> bluskyes , Nov 5, 2017 7:27 PM
Should have taken a math course first.dwboston , Nov 5, 2017 7:19 PM
Pay off debt before you have children. There is no law that you must have children, if the debt makes it impossible. I would have liked a lot of tings but could not afford them.TheLastTrump -> dwboston , Nov 5, 2017 7:31 PM
Taibbi has some gall to blame Trump, DeVos and others for the student debt explosion, but not one word about Obama or the government's takeover of the student loan market as part of Obamacare? The student loan market was folded into the ACA as part of the fake accounting to make the ACA numbers "work". Every market the govenrment insinuates itself into - housing, health care, college tuition, etc. - gets distorted and costs explode. Taibbi's yet another dishonest liberal.dwboston -> TheLastTrump , Nov 5, 2017 9:11 PM
Yikes- is this factual? If so fuck him. All name, no cattle.
Obama began his turn as destroyer in chief at the height of the Great Recession, everyone & their brother was running into the safety of college & student loans to pay the bills. I recall watching the local parking lots swell. :) So there's that.
But numbers are off the charts every year because younger millennials expect the govt to forgive all those loans at some point. That's how many thought 20 years ago & it's worse today.allgoodmen , Nov 5, 2017 7:22 PM
"The nexus between the student loan program and ObamaCare is purely opportunistic. As the Affordable Care Act was passing through Congress, its wheels greased by the wholly fraudulent assertion that it didn't need 60 votes to pass the Senate, the administration decided to put in a provision eliminating the private student loan industry, fully federalizing the program. What was not widely understood at the time was that it hoped to raid the funds paid by students to provide money for the bottomless pit known as ObamaCare"
http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/dick-morris/302247-loans-subsidize...TheLastTrump , Nov 5, 2017 7:26 PM
Good article from Matt Taibbi, but you can count on this bolshevik to leave out Clinton complicity in the for-profit student loan scandals:
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/09/06/bill_clinton_earned_milli...kenny500c , Nov 5, 2017 7:30 PM
American college farm. Biggest swindle there is. Your education is an afterthought.
No reason student debt should be treated differently from other debts, allow it to be written off in BK court.
economistsview.typepad.comThomas Piketty on a theme I've been hammering lately, student debt is too damn high!:Student Loan Debt Is the Enemy of Meritocracy in the US: ...the amount of household debt and even more recently of student debt in the U.S. is something that is really troublesome and it reflects the very large rise in tuition in the U.S. a very large inequality in access to education. I think if we really want to promote more equal opportunity and redistribute chances in access to education we should do something about student debt. And it's not possible to have such a large group of the population entering the labor force with such a big debt behind them. This exemplifies a particular problem with inequality in the United States, which is very high inequality and access to higher education. So in other countries in the developed world you don't have such massive student debt because you have more public support to higher education. I think the plan that was proposed earlier this year in 2015 by President Obama to increase public funding to public universities and community college is exactly justified.This is really the key for higher growth in the future and also for a more equitable growth..., you have the official discourse about meritocracy, equal opportunity and mobility, and then you have the reality. And the gap between the two can be quite troublesome. So this is like you have a problem like this and there's a lot of hypocrisy about meritocracy in every country, not only in the U.S., but there is evidence suggesting that this has become particularly extreme in the United States. ... So this is a situation that is very troublesome and should rank very highly in the policy agenda in the future in the U.S.
DrDick -> Jeff R Carter:
"college is heavily subsidized"
In 1980, the states subsidized 70% of the cost per student. Today it is less than 30% and the amount of grants and scholarships has likewise declined. Tax cuts for rich people and conservative hatred for education are the biggest problem.
cm -> to DrDick...
I don't know what Jeff meant, but "easy" student loans are a subsidy to colleges, don't you think? Subsidies don't have to be paid directly to the recipient. The people who are getting the student loans don't get to keep the money (but they do get to keep the debt).
DrDick -> to cm...
No I do not agree. If anything, they are a subsidy to the finance industry (since you cannot default on them). More basically, they do not make college more affordable or accessible (his point).
cm -> to DrDick...
Well, what is a subsidy? Most economic entities don't get to keep the money they receive, but it ends up with somebody else or circulates. If I run a business and somebody sends people with money my way (or pays me by customer served), that looks like a subsidy to me - even though I don't get to keep the money, much of it paid for operational expenses not to forget salaries and other perks.
Just because it is not prearranged and no-strings (?) funding doesn't mean it cannot be a subsidy.
The financial system is involved, and benefits, whenever money is sloshing around.
Pinkybum -> to cm...
I think DrDick has this the right way around. Surely one should think of subsidies as to who the payment is directly helping. Subsidies to students would lower the barrier of entry into college. Subsidies to colleges help colleges hire better professors, offer more classes, reduce the cost of classes etc. Student loans are no subsidy at all except to the finance industry because they cannot be defaulted on and even then some may never be paid back because of bankruptcies.
However, that is always the risk of doing business as a loan provider. It might be interesting to assess the return on student loans compared to other loan instruments.
mrrunangun -> to Jeff R Carter...
The cost of higher education has risen relative to the earning power of the student and/or the student's family unless that family is in the top 10-20% wealth or income groups.
50 years ago it was possible for a lower middle class student to pay all expenses for Northwestern University with his/her own earnings. Tuition was $1500 and room + board c $1000/year. The State of Illinois had a scholarship grant program and all you needed was a 28 or 29 on the ACT to qualify for a grant that paid 80% of that tuition. A male student could make $2000 in a summer construction job, such as were plentiful during those booming 60s. That plus a low wage job waiting tables, night security, work-study etc could cover the remaining tuition and expense burden.
The annual nut now is in excess of $40,000 at NU and not much outside the $40,000-50,000 range at other second tier or elite schools.
The state schools used to produce the bedrock educated upper middle class of business and professional people in most states west of the seaboard. Tuition there 50 years ago was about $1200/year and room and board about $600-800 here in the midwest. Again you could put yourself through college waiting tables part-time. It wasn't easy but it was possible.
No way a kid who doesn't already possess an education can make the tuition and expenses of a private school today. I don't know what the median annual family income was in 1965 but I feel confident that it was well above the annual nut for a private college. Now it's about equal to it.
mrrunangun -> to mrrunangun...
1965 median family income was $6900, more than 200% of the cost of a year at NU. Current median family income is about 75% of a year at NU.
anne -> to 400 ppm CO2...
Click on "Share" under the graph that is initially constructed and copy the "Link" that appears:
March 22, 2015
Federal debt, 1966-2014
This allows a reader to understand how the graph was constructed and to work with the graph.
The US spends half the money the entire world spends on war, that is success!
Massive student debt, huge doses poverty, scores of thousands [of annual neglect related] deaths from the wretched health care system etc are not failure!
Poor education is the enemy of meritocracy. Costly, bloated administrations full of non-educators there to pamper and pander to every possible complaint and special interest - that is the enemy of meritocracy.
Convincing kids to simple "follow their dreams" regardless of education cost and career potential is the enemy of meritocracy. Allowing young adults to avoid challenging and uncomfortable and difficult subjects under the guise of compassion is the enemy of meritocracy. Financial illiteracy is the enemy of meritocracy.
Manageable student debt is no great enemy of meritocracy.
cm -> to tew...
This misses the point, aside frm the victim blaming. Few people embark on college degrees to "follow their dream", unless the dream is getting admission to the middle class job market.
When I was in elementary/middle school, the admonitions were of the sort "if you are not good in school you will end up sweeping streets" - from a generation who still saw street cleaning as manual labor, in my days it was already mechanized.
I estimate that about 15% or so of every cohort went to high school and then college, most went to a combined vocational/high school track, and some of those then later also went college, often from work.
This was before the big automation and globalization waves, when there were still enough jobs for everybody, and there was no pretense that you needed a fancy title to do standard issue work or as a social signal of some sort.
Richard H. Serlin:
Student loans and college get the bulk of the education inequality attention, and it's not nearly enough attention, but it's so much more. The early years are so crucial, as Nobel economist James Heckman has shown so well. Some children get no schooling or educational/developmental day care until almost age 6, when it should start in the first year, with preschool starting at 3. Others get high quality Montessori, and have had 3 years of it by the time they enter kindergarten, when others have had zero of any kind of education when they enter kindergarten.
Some children spend summers in high quality summer school and educational programs; others spend three months digressing and learning nothing. Some children get SAT prep programs costing thousands, and high end educational afterschool programs; others get nothing after school.
All these things should be available in high quality to any child; it's not 1810 anymore Republicans, the good old days of life expectancy in the 30s and dirt poverty for the vast majority. We need just a little more education in the modern world. But this also makes for hugely unequal opportunity.
Observer -> to Observer...
Data on degree by year ...
Observer -> to Syaloch...
One needs to differentiate between costs (total dollars spent per student credit hour or degree, or whatever the appropriate metric is) and price (what fraction of the cost is allocated to the the end-user student).
Note that the level of state funding impacts price, not cost; that discussion is usually about cost shifting, not cost reduction.
I'd say that the rate of increase in costs is, more or less, independent of the percent of costs borne by the state. You can indeed see this in the increase in private schools, the state funding is small/nil (particularly in schools without material endowments, where actual annual fees (prices) must closely actual match annual costs). Price discounts and federal funding may both complicate this analysis.
I think much more effort should be spent on understanding and controlling costs. As with health care, just saying "spend more money" is probably not the wise or even sustainable path in the long term.
Costs were discussed at some length here a year(?) or so ago. There is at least one fairly comprehensive published analysis of higher education costs drivers. IIRC, their conclusion was that there were a number of drivers - its not just food courts or more administrators. Sorry, don't recall the link.
Syaloch -> to cm...
Actually for my first job out of college at BLS, I basically was hired for my "rounded personality" combined with a general understanding of economic principles, not for any specific job-related skills. I had no prior experience working with Laspeyres price indexes, those skills were acquired through on-the-job training. Similarly in software development there is no degree that can make you a qualified professional developer; the best a degree can do is to show you are somewhat literate in X development language and that you have a good understanding of general software development principles. Most of the specific skills you'll need to be effective will be learned on the job.
The problem is that employers increasingly want to avoid any responsibility for training and mentoring, and to shift this burden onto schools. These institutions respond by jettisoning courses in areas deemed unnecessary for short-term vocational purposes, even though what you learn in many of these courses is probably more valuable and durable in the long run than the skills obtained through job-specific training, which often have a remarkably short shelf-life. (How valuable to you now is all that COBOL training you had back in the day?)
I guess the question then is, is the sole purpose of higher education to provide people with entry-level job skills for some narrowly-defined job description which may not even exist in a decade? A lot of people these days seem to feel that way. But I believe that in the long run it's a recipe for disaster at both the individual and the societal level.
Richard H. Serlin -> to Observer...
The research is just not on you side, as Heckman has shown very well. Early education and development makes a huge difference, and at age 5-7 (kindergarten) children are much better off with more schooling than morning to noon. This is why educated parents who can afford it pay a lot of money for a full day -- with afterschool and weekened programs on top.
Yes, we're more educated than 1810, but I use 1810 because that's the kind of small government, little spending on education (you want your children educated you pay for it.) that the Republican Party would love to return us to if they thought they could get away with it. And we've become little more educated in the last 50 years even though the world has become much more technologically advanced.
January 30, 2015
Student Loans Outstanding as a share of Gross Domestic Product, 2007-2014
January 30, 2015
Student Loans Outstanding, 2007-2014
As to increasing college costs, would there be an analogy to healthcare costs?
July 25, 2009
Why Markets Can't Cure Healthcare
By Paul Krugman
Judging both from comments on this blog and from some of my mail, a significant number of Americans believe that the answer to our health care problems - indeed, the only answer - is to rely on the free market. Quite a few seem to believe that this view reflects the lessons of economic theory.
Not so. One of the most influential economic papers of the postwar era was Kenneth Arrow's "Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Health Care," * which demonstrated - decisively, I and many others believe - that health care can't be marketed like bread or TVs. Let me offer my own version of Arrow's argument.
There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don't know when or whether you'll need care - but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor's office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.
This tells you right away that health care can't be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can't just trust insurance companies either - they're not in business for their health, or yours.
This problem is made worse by the fact that actually paying for your health care is a loss from an insurers' point of view - they actually refer to it as "medical costs." This means both that insurers try to deny as many claims as possible, and that they try to avoid covering people who are actually likely to need care. Both of these strategies use a lot of resources, which is why private insurance has much higher administrative costs than single-payer systems. And since there's a widespread sense that our fellow citizens should get the care we need - not everyone agrees, but most do - this means that private insurance basically spends a lot of money on socially destructive activities.
The second thing about health care is that it's complicated, and you can't rely on experience or comparison shopping. ("I hear they've got a real deal on stents over at St. Mary's!") That's why doctors are supposed to follow an ethical code, why we expect more from them than from bakers or grocery store owners.
You could rely on a health maintenance organization to make the hard choices and do the cost management, and to some extent we do. But HMOs have been highly limited in their ability to achieve cost-effectiveness because people don't trust them - they're profit-making institutions, and your treatment is their cost.
Between those two factors, health care just doesn't work as a standard market story.
All of this doesn't necessarily mean that socialized medicine, or even single-payer, is the only way to go. There are a number of successful healthcare systems, at least as measured by pretty good care much cheaper than here, and they are quite different from each other. There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn't work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.
anne -> to anne...
January 30, 2015
College tuition and fees, 1980–2015
1980 ( 9.4)
1981 ( 12.4) Reagan
1982 ( 13.4)
1983 ( 10.4)
1984 ( 10.2)
1985 ( 9.1)
1986 ( 8.1)
1987 ( 7.6)
1988 ( 7.6) Bush
1989 ( 7.9)
1990 ( 8.1)
1991 ( 10.2)
1992 ( 10.7) Clinton
1993 ( 9.4)
1994 ( 7.0)
1995 ( 6.0)
1996 ( 5.7)
1997 ( 5.1)
1998 ( 4.2)
1999 ( 4.0)
2000 ( 4.1)
2001 ( 5.1) Bush
2002 ( 6.8)
2003 ( 8.4)
2004 ( 9.5)
2005 ( 7.5)
2006 ( 6.7)
2007 ( 6.2)
2008 ( 6.2)
2009 ( 6.0) Obama
2010 ( 5.2)
2011 ( 5.0)
2012 ( 4.8)
2013 ( 4.2)
2014 ( 3.7)
2015 ( 3.6)
Syaloch -> to anne...
I believe so, as I noted above. The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget.
Another interesting feature of both health care and college education is that there are many proffered explanations as to why their cost is rising so much relative to other areas, but a surprising lack of a really authoritative explanation based on solid evidence.
anne -> to Syaloch...
Another interesting feature of both health care and college education is that there are many proffered explanations as to why their cost is rising so much relative to other areas, but a surprising lack of a really authoritative explanation based on solid evidence.
[ Look to the paper by Kenneth Arrow, which I cannot copy, for what is to me a convincing explanation as to the market defeating factors of healthcare. However, I have no proper explanation about education costs and am only speculating or looking for an analogy. ]
anne -> to Syaloch...
The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget.
[ Nicely expressed. ]
Peter K. -> to anne...
"As to increasing college costs, would there be an analogy to healthcare costs?"
Yes, exactly. They aren't normal markets. There should be heavy government regulation.
JUST HAD AN IDEA THAT MIGHT LIMIT THE DAMAGE OF THESE PHONEY ONLINE COLLEGES (pardon shouting, but I think it's justified):
Only allow government guaranteed loans (and the accompanying you-can-never-get-out-of-paying) IF a built for that purpose government agency APPROVES said loan. What do you think?
Denis Drew -> to cm...
A big reason we had the real estate bubble was actually the mad Republican relaxation of loan requirements -- relying on the "free market." So, thanks for coming up with a good comparison.
By definition, for the most part, people taking out student loans are shall we say new to the world and more vulnerable to the pirates.
* * * * * * * * * *
[cut and paste from my comment on AB]
Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post.
According to an article in the Huffington Post At Kaplan University, 'Guerrilla Registration' Leaves Students Deep In Debt, Kaplan Ed is among the worst of the worst of internet federal loan and grant sucking diploma mills. Going so far as to falsely pad bills $5000 or so dollars at diploma time - pay up immediately or you will never get your sheepskin; you wasted your time. No gov agency will act.
According to a lovely graph which I wish I could patch in here the Post may actually be currently be kept afloat only by purloined cash from Kaplan:
earnings before corporate overhead
2002 - Kaplan ed, $10 mil; Kaplan test prep, $45 mil: WaPo, $100 mil
2005 - Kaplan ed, $55 mil; Kaplan test prep, $100 mil; WaPo, $105 mil
2009 - Kaplan ed, $255 mil; Kaplan test prep, $5 mil; WaPo negative $175 mil
Wonder if billionaire Bezos will reach out to make Kaplan Ed victims whole. Will he really continue to use Kaplan's pirated money to keep WaPo whole -- if that is what is going on?
Johannes Y O Highness:
"theme I've been hammering lately, student debt is too damn high!: "
Too damn high
Because! Because every event in today's economy is the wish of the wealthy. Do you see why they suddenly wish to deeply educate the proles?
Opportunity cost! The burden of the intelligentsia, the brain work can by carried by robots or humans. Choice of the wealthy? Humans, hands down. Can you see the historical background?
Railroad was the first robot. According to Devon's Paradox, it was overused because of its increment of efficiency. Later, excessive roadbeds were disassembled. Rails were sold as scrap.
The new robots are not heavy lifters. New robots are there to do the work of the brain trust. As first robots replaced lower caste jokers, so shall new robots replace upper caste jokers. Do you see the fear developing inside the huddle of high rollers? Rollers now calling the play?
High rollers plan to educate small time hoods to do the work of the new robots, then kill the new robots before the newbie 'bot discovers how to kill the wealthy, to kill, to replace them forever.
Good bit of data on education costs here
This chart shows state spending per student and tuition ...
" overall perhaps the best description of the data is something along the lines of "sometimes state appropriations go up and sometimes they go down, but tuition always goes up." "
Sep 06, 2017 | www.theguardian.com The Guardian
Navient, spun off from Sallie Mae, has thrived as student loan debt spirals across the US. Its story reveals how, instead of fighting inequality, the education industry is reinforcing it
Nathan Hornes: 'Navient hasn't done a thing to help me. They just want their money. And they want it now.' Photograph: Fusion
A mong the 44 million Americans who have amassed our nation's whopping $1.4tn in student loan debt, a call from Navient can produce shivers of dread.
Navient is the primary point of contact, or the "servicer", for more student loans in the United States than any other company, handling 12 million borrowers and $300bn in debt. The company flourished as student loan debt exploded under the Obama administration, and its stock rose sharply after the election of Donald Trump.
But Navient also has more complaints per borrower than any other servicer, according to a Fusion analysis of data. And these mounting complaints repeatedly allege that the company has failed to live up to the terms of its federal contracts, and that it illegally harasses consumers . Navient says most of the ire stems from structural issues surrounding college finance – like the terms of the loans, which the federal government and private banks are responsible for – not about Navient customer service.
Navient has positioned itself to dominate the lucrative student loan industry in the midst of this crisis, flexing its muscles in Washington and increasingly across the states. The story of Navient's emerging power is also the story of how an industry built around the idea that education can break down inequities is reinforcing them.The tension at the center of the current controversy around student loans is simple: should borrowers be treated like any other consumers, or do they merit special service because education is considered a public good?
Often, the most vulnerable borrowers are not those with the largest debt, but low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color – especially those who may attend less prestigious schools and are less likely to quickly earn enough to repay their loans, if they graduate at all.
Last year, Navient received 23 complaints per 100,000 borrowers, more than twice that of the nearest competitor, according to Fusion's analysis. And from January 2014 to December 2016, Navient was named as a defendant in 530 federal lawsuits. The vast majority were aimed at the company's student loans servicing operations. (Nelnet and Great Lakes, the two other biggest companies in the student loans market, were sued 32 and 14 times over the same period, respectively.)
Many of the complaints and lawsuits aimed at the company relate to its standard practice of auto-dialing borrowers to solicit payments.
Shelby Hubbard says she has long been on the receiving end of these calls as she has struggled to pay down her debt. Hubbard racked up over $60,000 in public and private student loans by the time she graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a basic healthcare-related degree.
"It consumes my every day," Hubbard said of the constant calls. "Every day, every hour, starting at 8 o'clock in the morning." Unlike mortgages, and most other debt, student loans can't be wiped away with bankruptcy.
These days, Hubbard, 26, works in Ohio as a logistics coordinator for traveling nurses. She's made some loan payments, but her take-home pay is about $850 every two weeks. With her monthly student loan bill at about $700, roughly half her income would go to paying the loans back, forcing her to lean more heavily on her fiancé. "He pays for all of our utilities, all of our bills. Because at the end of the day, I don't have anything else to give him," she said. The shadow of her debt hangs over every discussion about their wedding, mortgage payments, and becoming parents.
The power and reach of the student loan industry stacks the odds against borrowers. Navient doesn't just service federal loans, it has a hand in nearly every aspect of the student loan system. It has bought up private student loans, both servicing them and earning interest off of them. And it has purchased billions of dollars worth of the older taxpayer-backed loans, again earning interest, as well as servicing that debt. The company also owns controversial subsidiary companies such as Pioneer Credit Recovery that stand to profit from collecting the debt of loans that go into default.
label="How the Trump administration is undermining students of color | Mark Huelsman and Vijay Das" href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/15/trump-administration-students-color-debt">
And just as banks have done with mortgages, Navient packages many of the private and pre-2010 federal loans and sells them on Wall Street as asset-backed securities. Meanwhile, it's in the running to oversee the Department of Education's entire student debt web portal, which would open even more avenues for the company to profit from – and expand its influence over – Americans' access to higher education.
The federal government is the biggest lender of American student loans, meaning that taxpayers are currently on the hook for more than $1tn . For years, much of this money was managed by private banks and loan companies like Sallie Mae. Then in 2010, Congress cut out the middlemen and their lending fees, and Sallie Mae spun off its servicing arm into the publicly traded company Navient.
Led by former Sallie Mae executives, Navient describes itself as "a leading provider of asset management and business processing solutions for education, healthcare, and government clients." But it is best known for being among a handful of companies that have won coveted federal contracts to make sure students repay their loans. And critics say that in pursuit of getting that money back, the Department of Education has allowed these companies to all but run free at the expense of borrowers.
"The problem is that these servicers are too big to fail," said Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project. "We have no place to put the millions of borrowers whom they are servicing, even if they are not doing the servicing job that we want them to do."
In its last years, the Obama administration tried to rein in the student loan industry and promoted more options for reduced repayment plans for federal loans. Since then, Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos , has reversed or put on hold changes the former education secretary John B King's office proposed and appears bent on further loosening the reins on the student loan industry , leaving individual students little recourse amid bad service.
In late August, DeVos's office announced that it would stop sharing information about student loan servicer oversight with the federal consumer watchdog agency known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.
Earlier this year, as complaints grew, the CFPB sued Navient for allegedly misleading borrowers about the repayment options it is legally obligated to provide.
A central allegation is that Navient, rather than offering income-based repayment plans, pushed some people into a temporary payment freeze called forbearance. Getting placed into forbearance is a good Band-Aid but can be a terrible longer-term plan. When an account gets placed in forbearance, its interest keeps accumulating, and that interest can be added to the principal, meaning the loans only grow.
Lynn Sabulski, who worked in Navient's Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, call center for five months starting in 2012, said she experienced first-hand the pressure to drive borrowers into forbearance.
"Performing well meant keeping calls to seven minutes or under," said Sabulski. "If you only have seven minutes, the easiest option to put a borrower in, first and foremost, is a forbearance." Sabulski said if she didn't keep the call times short, she could be written up or lose her job.
Navient denies the allegations, and a spokeswoman told Fusion via email seven and a half minutes was the average call time, not a target. The company maintains "caller satisfaction and customer experience" are a significant part of call center representatives' ratings.
But in a 24 March motion it filed in federal court for the CFPB's lawsuit, the company also said: "There is no expectation that the servicer will act in the interest of the consumer." Rather, it argued, Navient's job was to look out for the interest of the federal government and taxpayers.
Navient does get more per account when the servicer is up to date on payments, but getting borrowers into a repayment plan also has a cost because of the time required to go over the complex options.
The same day the CFPB filed its lawsuit, Illinois and Washington filed suits in state courts. The offices of attorneys general in nine other states confirmed to Fusion that they are investigating the company.
At a recent hearing in the Washington state case, the company defended its service: "The State's claim is not, you didn't help at all, which is what you said you would do. It's that, you could've helped them more." Navient insists it has forcefully advocated in Washington to streamline the federal loan system and make the repayment process easier to navigate for borrowers.
And it's true, Navient, and the broader industry, have stepped up efforts in recent years to influence decision makers. Since 2014, Navient executives have given nearly $75,000 to the company's political action committee, which has pumped money mostly into Republican campaigns, but also some Democratic ones. Over the same timespan, the company has spent more than $10.1m lobbying Congress, with $4.2m of that spending coming since 2016. About $400,000 of it targeted the CFPB, which many Republican lawmakers want to do away with.
Among the 22 former federal officials who lobby for Navient is the former US representative Denny Rehberg, a Republican, who once criticized federal aid for students as the welfare of the 21st century. His fellow lobbyist and former GOP representative Vin Weber sits on a board that has aired attack ads against the CFPB, as well as on the board of the for-profit college ITT Tech , which shuttered its campuses in 2016 after Barack Obama's Department of Education accused it of predatory recruitment and lending.
In response to what they see as a lack of federal oversight, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia recently required student loan servicers to get licenses in their states. Not surprisingly, Fusion found a sharp increase in Navient's spending in states considering such regulations, with the majority of the $300,000 in Navient state lobbying allocated since 2016.
In Maine and Illinois, the legislatures were flooded with Navient and other industry lobbyists earlier this year, after lawmakers proposed their own versions of the license bills. The Maine proposal failed after Navient argued the issue should be left to the federal government. The Illinois bill passed the legislature, but the Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed it in August following lobbying from an industry trade group . Rauner said the bill encroached on the federal government's authority.
Researchers argue more data would help them understand how to improve the student loan process and prevent more people from being overwhelmed by debt. In 2008, Congress made it illegal for the Department of Education to make the data public, arguing that it was a risk for student privacy. Private colleges and universities lobbied to restrict the data. So, too, did Navient's predecessor, Sallie Mae, and other student loan servicing companies.
Today, companies like Navient have compiled mountains of data about graduations, debt and financial outcomes – which they consider proprietary information. The lack of school-specific data about student outcomes can be life-altering, leading students to pick schools they never would have picked. Nathan Hornes, a 27-year-old Missouri native, racked up $70,000 in student loans going to Everest College, an unaccredited school, before he graduated.
"Navient hasn't done a thing to help me," Hornes told Fusion. "They just want their money. And they want it now."
label="The US cities luring millennials with promises to pay off their student debts" href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/10/the-us-cities-luring-millennials-with-promises-to-pay-off-their-student-debts">
Hornes' loans were recently forgiven following state investigations into Everest's parent company Corinthian. But many other borrowers still await relief.
Better educating teens about financial literacy before they apply to college will help reduce their dependence on student loans, but that doesn't change how the deck is stacked for those who need them. A few states have made community colleges free , reducing the need for student loan servicers.
But until the Department of Education holds industry leaders like Navient more accountable, individual states can fix only so much, insists Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the industry's most outspoken critics on Capitol Hill.
"Navient's view is, hey, I'm just going to take this money from the Department of Education and maximize Navient's profits, rather than serving the students," Warren said. "I hold Navient responsible for that. But I also hold the Department of Education responsible for that. They act as our agent, the agent of the US taxpayers, the agent of the people of the United States. And they should demand that Navient does better."
Laura Juncadella, a production assistant for The Naked Truth also contributed to this article
The Naked Truth: Debt Trap airs on Fusion TV 10 September at 9pm ET. Find out where to watch here
Oct 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
A fresh story at Bloomberg, which includes new analysis, shows the ugly student debt picture is getting uglier. The driver is that higher education costs keep rising, often in excess of the likely wages for graduates. The article's grim conclusion: "The next generation of graduates will include more borrowers who may never be able to repay."
Student debt is now the second biggest type of consumer debt in the US. At $1.5 trillion, is is second only to the mortgage market, and is also bigger than the subprime market before the crisis, which was generally pegged at $1.3 trillion. 1 Bloomberg also points out that unlike other categories of personal debt, student debt balances has shown consistent, or one might say persistent, growth since the crisis.
From the article:
Student loans are being issued at unprecedented rates as more American students pursue higher education . But the cost of tuition at both private and public institutions is touching all-time highs , while interest rates on student loans are also rising. Students are spending more time working instead of studying . (Some 85 percent of current students now work paid jobs while enrolled.) Experts and analysts worry that the next generation of graduates could default on their loans at even higher rates than in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.
The last sentence is alarming. As graduates of the class of 2009 like UserFriendly can attest, the job market was desperate. And for the next few years, the unemployment rate of new college graduates was higher than that of recent high school graduates. One of the corollaries of that is that more college graduates than before were taking work that didn't require a college degree; this is still a significant trend today. And on top of that, studies have found that early career earnings have a significant impact on lifetime earnings. While there are always exceptions, generally speaking, pay levels key off one's earlier compensation, so starting out at a lower income level is likely to crimp future compensation.
And on top of that, interest costs are rising. The rate for direct undergraduate loans is 5% and for graduate and professional schools, 6.6%. So student debt costs will also go up even before factoring in inflating school costs. So the ugly picture of delinquencies and defaults is destined to get worse.
Students attending for-profit universities and community colleges represented almost half of all borrowers leaving school and beginning to repay loans in 2011. They also accounted for 70 percent of all defaults. As a result, delinquencies skyrocketed in the 2011-12 academic year, reaching 11.73 percent.
Today, the student loan delinquency rate remains almost as high, which Scott-Clayton attributes to social and institutional factors, rather than average debt levels. "Delinquency is at crisis levels for borrowers, particularly for borrowers of color, borrowers who have gone to a for-profit and borrowers who didn't ultimately obtain a degree," she said, highlighting that each cohort is more likely to miss repayments on their loans than other public and private college students.
Those most at risk of delinquency tend to be, counterintuitively, those who've incurred smaller amounts of debt, explained Kali McFadden, senior research analyst at LendingTree. Graduates who leave school with six-figure degrees that are valued in the marketplace -- such as post-graduate law or medical degrees -- usually see a good return on their investment.
I'm a little leery of cheerful generalizations like "big ticket borrowers for professional degrees do better." "Better" may still not be that good. Recall that law school and in the last year, business school enrollments have fallen because candidates question whether the hard costs and loss of income while in school will pay off. And there are some degrees, like veterinary medicine, that are so pricey it's hard to see how they could possibly make economic sense.
What is distressing about this ugly picture is the lack of effective activism by the victims. I am sure some are trying, but in addition to the burden of being so overwhelmed by the debt burden as to lack the time and energy to do anything beyond cope, is the fact that being in debt is stigmatized in our society, and borrowers may not want to deal with condescension and criticism. Another obstacle to organizing is that most of the victims are lower income and/or from minority groups, which means Team Dem can ignore them on the usual assumption that they have nowhere else to go. It is also harder to create an effective coalition across disparate economic, geographic, and age groups
But the experience of the post-Civil War South says things could get a lot worse. From Matt Stoller in 2010:
A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.
It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.
They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.
Sanders has made an issue of student debt, but politicians who want big bucks from financiers and members of the higher education complex pointedly ignore this issue. As we've pointed out, top bankruptcy scholar Elizabeth Warren won't even endorse a basic reform, that of making student debt dischargable in bankruptcy. So it may take student debtors becoming a bigger percentage of voters for this issue to get the political traction it warrants.
1 Higher estimates typically included near subprime mortgages then called "Alt A".
Geo , October 18, 2018 at 5:02 am
There are many, many passages in this obscure old book called The Bible speaking of usury as a grave sin. So many it is actually one of the most clear and condemned sins in the entire book. Maybe we could see if any of our Congress persons have ever heard of it? They could learn something from it regarding this topic.
That said, it's passages on gender equality and family structures are pretty outdated and abhorrent so I wouldn't want them to get any bad ideas from this book on those subjects.
Neujack , October 18, 2018 at 5:56 am
Indeed, all of the old "Iron Age religions" (Judaism, Early Christianity, and Islam) explicitly denounce usury.
The great irony of the Deep South in te USA is that they've been frequently banning Sharia law, even when Sharia law is one of the few types of law in the world which explicitly bans charging interest.
L , October 18, 2018 at 9:57 am
It is always intriguing how many politicians are so eager to endorse a literalist fealty to the social structures of the bible but ignore, or even vehemently rail against, the more balanced social restrictions on things like usury or the old idea of a debt jubilee. But then Jesus himself railed (physically) against embedding money in religion and now we have "entrepreneurial churches" who preach a "doctrine of prosperity" so I guess times have changed.
xformbykr , October 18, 2018 at 11:23 am
Michael Hudson wrote about the history of 'debt jubilees' and debt cancellation today.
Pete , October 18, 2018 at 5:46 am
I graduated 10 years ago and the most frustrating part was everyone telling me it would be alright and ignoring thw whole you never recover thing. I am still unable to find worthwhile employment and probably never will be able to.
kurtismayfield , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am
You really can't listen to many of us over 40.. we really lived in complete my different conditions. When I got out of college in the 90's they were basically hiring everyone with a pulse in tech. From what I have seen from recent graduates it's getting easier, as I am seeing a lot more intershops turn into job offers. But for the generation that you are part of, it's an economic hole that may never be recovered from simply because you were born at the wrong time.
Looking at that graph, notice how the only debt that is backstopped completely by the federal government is growing the fastest. The no default on student loans rules have to be rescinded.
Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:05 am
I graduated in the 1990s, and if you were not in tech, the job market was just as lousy as it is now.
The Rev Kev , October 18, 2018 at 6:13 am
Extrapolating from these trends, then in a few years the only young people that would be able to afford higher education in the United States would the the children of the ten per cent – plus a smattering of scholarships to talented individuals found worthy of supporting. It follows then that as these educated people entered the workforce, that over time that the people that would be running the country would be children of the elite in a sort of inbred system. It sounds a lot like 19th century class-based Britain that if you ask me.
As for the country itself it would be disastrous. Going by present population levels, it would mean that instead of recruiting the leaders and thinkers of the country from the present population of 325 million, that at most you would be recruiting them from a base level of about 30-40 million. It is to be hoped that these people are not from the shallow end of the gene pool. You can forget about any idea of an even-handed meritocracy and America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out.
Brooklin Bridge , October 18, 2018 at 6:46 am
You could put that whole paragraph in the present tense quite nicely.
Eclair , October 18, 2018 at 6:56 am
"I wonder how that might work out." Ummm . the Monty Pythons had an idea in the 1970's.
The "Upper Class Twit of the Year" competition. Gotta love the "Kick a Beggar" event.
Henry Moon Pie , October 18, 2018 at 5:13 pm
"America would be competing against countries that might employ the idea of a full meritocracy in the recruitment of their leaders. I wonder how that might work out"
Would the performance of U. S. men in international soccer competition be a similar situation?
eg , October 18, 2018 at 6:40 am
Why is America so determined to reconstruct an aristocracy its founders abhorred?
zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 8:41 am
They only abhorred the British aristocracy, they framed to Constitution to create a home grown one; and, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.
Matthew , October 18, 2018 at 10:00 am
Because they think it will help them stay rich?
Big River Bandido , October 18, 2018 at 10:06 am
an aristocracy its founders abhorred
Alexander Hamilton liked the idea very much. It's why the musical is SO popular among the neoliberal set.
KYrocky , October 18, 2018 at 11:47 am
The concept of student debt as it exists today would be repulsive to our Founders. Not just for the larger issue of our country being on the trajectory of becoming an economic aristocracy, but specifically because the Federal government is profiting tremendously from this crushing usury being applied to majority and the least among us.
Our Founders had no problem with the conquest and seizure of Native Americans land, and they fully respected the rights and claims of other European countries to do the same. One of their strongest repudiations of the aristocracy was the expansion of private property rights beyond what was known under any monarchy on the planet to that point in history. In the pre-industrial world the vast majority of people lived in an agrarian society and economy. Owning land secured you with your livelihood, your living, and much of your resources; it fully supported most families.
For its founding and for generation after generation the United States government gave land to countless men for military service, government service, homesteds, etc. Expansions by the Louisiana Purchase and war and treaties with other European nations, quickly resulting in making these lands available for settlement to our citizens and to immigrants.
The point is that for well over 100 years the government provided to its citizens a huge amount of what our citizens needed to live their lifetimes through these grants of land. These land grants were then passed from generation to generation and formed the economic foundations for millions of people, their children and their next generations.
Our Government did this.
The United States ceased to be a predominantly agrarian country in the mid 20th century. But they did not stop aiding our people and their economic needs. Our government (Federal and states) did continue to provide to our population through public education (very affordable college), the GI Bill that served millions with income, housing and educational benefits, Social Security, Medicare, etc.
Since our country's very founding our government has recognized the benefit and need to facilitate the support of its citizens. The American economy became the greatest on earth because of our land conquest heritage and our collective investments as a nation. No one did it all on their own, and no one pretended they did.
Reagan killed this legacy. Reagan claimed that our nations success and our heritage was built on our history of rugged individualism and that our government was the obstacle to returning to these roots. It was a lie; nothing could have been further from the truth.
Student debt, as it exists to day, is crippling the economic futures of the millions who have accrued this debt and the millions to come, year after year, who will do the same. The student is debt is robbing our nation of the economic activity that historically matriculated out from those passing from college to the world. That has come almost to an end. Worse yet, our government has positioned itself to also profit off this debt, and to prevent the indebted from escaping this type of debt through the legal means available for virtually all other forms of debt.
Our student debt is un-American. It is a cancer on our economy. It exists for the vast short term profit of the few at the expense of our nations future.
Avalon Sparks , October 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm
Amazing essay, thank you!
zagonostra , October 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm
Admirable and well thought-out post.
I hope people keep in mind it was the Democrats, specifically Joe Biden, who made student debt even more crippling and heartless by changing the bankruptcy laws so that creditors can garnish your Social Security benefits (assuming Mitch McConnell doesn't gut them first).
Republicans are open about what they hope to accomplish, you have to clear the verbal BS that clouds what Democrats are after, but at the end of the day they are both about enslavement and debt bondage over unwashed masses.
Mobee , October 18, 2018 at 7:32 am
I'm sure it's often the parents that end up paying the debt, as my sister is doing. Parents have deep pockets and are desperate to help their loved ones get a good start in life.
In my sister's case, they sent their girls to private high school, where they spent the money that could have paid for college. Not a smart decision. But they love their children and really wanted to do give them the best.
Now the girls are struggling to make a living and my sister cannot afford to retire.
Musicismath , October 18, 2018 at 8:18 am
There are so many feedback loops, multipliers, and perverse incentives driving forward this bubble (and its calamitous social and cultural effects) that it's hard to know where to begin.
As Goldman Sachs have pointed out , student-loan-based securities are increasingly "attractive" investments for speculators:
Although the "bubble" is getting bigger, it's not a risk to overall financial stability, Goldman's Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui said in a recent note. In fact, there's one segment of the market that's emerging as an attractive investment.
It's the $190 billion of outstanding [student] loans that are held within asset-backed securities (ABS) refinanced by private lenders such as SoFi.
With these securities, lenders pool loans that have similar risk profiles and sell them as instruments in the public markets. Investors profit as graduates pay back their principal and interest.
So the more student debt there is, and the higher the interest rates are, the better, from that perspective.
It's undeniable, too, that high student loan burdens mean graduates are slower to form households and will probably have fewer children than they would otherwise. Their diminished spending power, meanwhile, adds to the ongoing erosion of the "real economy," in favour of the financial one. Student loans therefore disrupt the basic means of social reproduction. The resulting declines in fertility then demand high rates of immigration to compensate. A fact cheered on, inevitably, by the open borders crowd (a substantial number of whom, oddly or not, seem to work in or for universities).
So we see yet another instance in which "right" neoliberalism and "left" identitarianism go hand in hand–forming, indeed, two heads of the same beast. Student loans have enabled the enormous inflation in tuition costs that have plagued the Anglosphere over the last couple of decades. This fees income feeds the academic beast (or at least its administrators and senior managers), while driving the one economic and social crisis (mass migration and the resulting populist backlash) that "left neoliberals," centrists, and Clinton/Progress types appear to care about. It's a self-licking ice cream of catastrophic size and reach.
Petunia , October 18, 2018 at 9:09 am
One specific example: hospital chaplains are facing a big retirement crisis. And yet the job requires (to be hoard certified): an undergraduate degree & then a Master's of Divinity degree, plus a year-long residency. For a job that pays around $60,000 to $70,000. At least one school, Princeton, funds almost all of their divinity students. But I don't think it's the norm. And then you throw in the fact that such person ideally would be emotionally & spiritually mature, with enough life experience to meet with a wide range of people, who are often facing financial hardship due to being sick (as well as existential concerns). I don't even know how to begin reframing the job or the qualifications or the salary to fit America in 2020. There are a lot of other angles, such as: what about well-qualified people who can't afford seminary? I know there needs to be a way to screen-out and screen-in the best people (who won't proselytize), but is a Master's degree the right hurdle? But, I must say, the need for access to interfaith Spiritual Care is only increasing, as times get tougher & other hospital staff (RNs) don't have time to sit and listen. People are in pain, not only in their bodies. One thought leader in the field has speculated that the job will just go away due to lack of advocacy & inability to evolve into a profit center.
redleg , October 18, 2018 at 9:23 am
It would be interesting to see that student loan debt chart superimposed over %adjuncts and number of administrators. Its pretty easy to guess what that would look like, but seeing that would be decisive.
Fiddler Hill , October 18, 2018 at 2:39 pm
I think a little delineation is in order. I've been an adjunct professor and believe the increasing use of adjuncts at universities has been very beneficial overall -- in terms of the quality of education students are getting. Unfortunately, as we know, that's not why universities are hiring so many more adjuncts; they're being hired because schools can get away with paying them abysmally.
The situation is so embarrassing that, at the university where I was teaching five years ago, the full-time faculty passed a resolution asking the administration to give the entire projected increase in teaching salaries entirely to the adjuncts, an amazing act of selflessness.
The relevance to our discussion here, of course, is the insupportable increase in the annual cost of attending college even as the schools radically reduce their overall expenditures on faculty salaries.
Di Modica's Dumb Steer , October 18, 2018 at 9:49 am
So how long before this leads to a mass "We Won't Pay" movement? I'm stuck on the dumb treadmill myself, but I wouldn't begrudge an entire generation for just saying no. Sure, they can garnish wages and the like, but if 30 million people simultaneously say 'eff this', it's more than just a wrench in the works it's drastic enough to force action.
DolleyMadison , October 18, 2018 at 10:45 am
Why DO they keep paying? The debts are always bought by debt collectors who don't even have COPIES promissory notes. Let them sue you and show up for the hearing and demand proof. They can still ruin your "credit" but if student loans haven't taught you to eschew credit nothing will. If EVERYONE "walked away" what could they do?
Tangled up in Texas , October 18, 2018 at 11:01 am
Unfortunately that is never going to happen. This society has been trained to worship at the altar of the FICO score, and most job seekers cannot afford to have a low score. Said score will be examined and potentially held against you when pursuing employment.
Also, employers frown upon employees who do not pay their bills and then have their wages garnished – at least the smaller emlpoyers do. This creates extra work for the employer and makes the employee suspect, as in irresponsible.
This problem was created by the political class and is going to require a political solution, i.e. legislation to assist the student loan borrower or a debt jubilee. Unfortunately, there's too much money being made off the student borrower – even if the practice is killing the host. And the "I got mine" crowd will not allow a jubilee even if it is for the greater good of society. Lastly, student loan borrowers coming from a different era (who have paid off their loans) will begrudge the forgiving of the loans and consider them undeserved. In this case, perhaps the best resolution is to give everyone money toward their student loans – whether they are currently paid or unpaid.
I cannot jeopardize my employment by joining in a "eff this" movement as much as I would like to. Instead, I will continue on this treadmill called life, pay my bills and hope to escape as unscathed as possible.
Harrison Bergeron , October 18, 2018 at 1:42 pm
I work for a company that contracts with department of Ed to get student loan borrowers out if default and back into the hands of loan servicers. The amount of money sloshing around is stunning. I'm sure they've got well paid lobbyists telling legislators that people will be unemployed if student loans are reformed. I owe well over six figures so the irony is not lost on me. Hiring one half of the working class to debt collect from the other.
Tomonthebeach , October 18, 2018 at 2:58 pm
Who pays for diploma-mill educations, and why? I have always assumed that people attended cash-n-carry schools because they did not qualify aptitude/grade-wise for entrance to a state school, OR a 3rd party like DOD or VA was footing the tab. Both assumptions appear to be supported by data. Given the far-above-average drop/flunkout rate of diploma mills. I know from my military career that enlisted members sign up for courses (local or online) at diploma mills to get extra points toward promotions – at Navy expense. Personally, I would not pay to send my dog to such institutions to learn how to sit up and beg.
One thing is certain, collich kidz do not appear to spend nearly as much time researching where they go to $chool as they do buying the car they drive.
Democrita , October 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm
Jumping into the conversation a little late, but my alma mater recently embarked on a major rethink of the college business model, and cut tuition from around 50k to around 30k. We even got a writeup from Frank Bruni for it .
College officials (I'm relatively active as a fundraiser for my class) describe it as a shift to a "philanthropy model" of funding. Which worries me for lots of reasons. But at least it's a conversation-starter.
It's also very much a school that is not for people looking to buy a future income flow, but rather an education.
Jun 17, 2019 | finance.yahoo.com
I have $235,000 of student debt. The first $120,000 came with a bachelor's degree from my state school. Another $70,000 or so came with my master's degree. The remainder is accrued interest.
The suggested minimum monthly payment on my private debt alone is approximately $1,200. For reference: that's nearly rent for the 600-square-foot apartment where I live with my partner in New Jersey.
Without income driven repayment, the minimum payment amount for my federal student debt would be around $1,000.
I would have to begin devoting half of my income to debt payment if I cared to pay it off by 2042. I can't do that because I make just under $4,000 per month. And that income is a fairly new development in my life. Why would I choose to pay down my debt if it meant I wouldn't be able to afford basic living expenses?
Short of winning the lottery, there's no way I could ever afford to pay off my debt. And though I have a higher debt burden than most, I'm certainly not alone.
One in four American adults has student debt . And that amount will grow over the coming years. Seven in 10 college graduates are now graduating with student debt , with the greatest burden falling on people of color , low-income borrowers , and women .
Meanwhile more and more people can't make their minimum payments.
The price of a college education has quadrupled since the 1980s while wages haven't budged and rents went up by 50 percent. No wonder nearly 5 million American are in default on their student loans. At this rate, 40 percent of borrowers are expected to be in default by 2023.
I'm privileged to have made it through the first few years of repayment. With a financial hardship agreement with Sallie Mae, my parents – cosigners on my private loans – pay $600 per month to keep default at bay from our family and allow me to live a decent life. And through an income driven repayment plan (IDR) with Navient, I've been paying less than $50 per month on my public loans, though that could change as my income changes.
My parents cosigned my loans because we're first-generation immigrants. Moving to the U.S. was about giving me a chance to live my best life. College was a critical component and we couldn't afford it any other way. The only reason they can afford those $600 monthly payments now is because they paid off their 30-year mortgage just a few years ago.
My parents are in their 60s and 70s and will live the rest of their lives with my student debt. Likely so will I. Again – we won't be alone.
Three million Americans over the age of 60 are paying off student debt . Approximately 40,000 of them are having Social Security or other government payments garnished .
College was supposed to be about getting ahead in life. But it's become a driver of inequality . It does not have to be this way.
Some economists say that forgiving student debt would boost GDP by $100 billion per year for ten years and add several million jobs to the economy. It would unlock the capacity of 44 million Americans to buy homes , launch small businesses , and retire with dignity.
Congress could pay for it by repealing the $1.5 trillion tax cut it passed in 2017. Primarily benefiting the wealthy and corporations, even Goldman Sachs says that whatever economic boost the tax cut brought with it has passed.
And to keep future generations from suffering under the burden of student debt, Congress could make public colleges, universities, and trade schools in the United States free.
The federal government already spends $80 billion per year on grants and tax breaks for students pursuing higher education. It spends another $100 billion every year issuing new student loans.
That's $180 billion the U.S. could stop spending on a broken system if it decided to invest it in a new one. Coincidently, that amount is more than enough to cover the cost of that new system.
Tuition at public institutions of higher education totals $63 billion . Add cost of living and that number reaches $127 billion . With the remaining $53 billion, the U.S. can invest in expanding access to higher education with job training and small business accelerators.
Until then, I'm focused on keeping the cost of servicing my debt low while I do other things a 29-year-old should be doing, like saving for an emergency fund or a down payment on a house.
I'm spending my money in a way that invests in my future. Can the country do the same?
J Jive Turkey 7 hours ago$235k for a job that pays less than $48k/year. I'm sure there was no cheaper way to go about this, like, say, taking general education credits at a community college before transferring over to the 'State School'. Millennials are awesome.
W WillyWonga 7 hours agoI had around $3K in student loan debt when I graduated. That's because I received some grants (partly based on my grades) and I WORKED...and WORKED SOME MORE...while I was studying. Two P/T jobs that were the equivalent of a full-time job, maybe more on certain weeks, whenever I could get the extra work.
My parents didn't co-sign anything for me. My dad passed long before I graduated high school, and my family home went into foreclosure so my mom had a horrible credit rating and didn't have two dimes to rub together.
Your story is an example of why we should NOT forgive student loan debt. No one forced you to take the loans out, and given your somewhat cavalier attitude towards it there's a good chance you'll ring up debt someplace else and expect others to pay for that too.
J James 6 hours agoI'm playing my tiny little violin for you. I worked night shifts to pay my way through college. Then for my second degree in engineering, I co-oped and graduated with money in the bank. Seven years of 60 hour weeks, but it was worth it. I retired in my mid-50s.
j jim 7 hours agoso a state school plus masters and you are making $4k a month? And "Some economists say that forgiving student debt would boost GDP by $100 billion per year for ten years and add several million jobs to the economy" Sure in the Bernie Sanders way of how things work.
R R 5 hours agoGot to call BS on the 120k debt from a "state school". This is a problem with the younger generations. They do not want to work while going to college so they take out a ton of loans and then complain when they get out and have a life long debt barring some windfall. I say the issue is the government and companies giving these loans without making sure they pay them back. That is an investment for them so they should have programs to help them stay on track and make sure they get well paying jobs. I retired from a company after 32 years at 50. They paid for my education and I moved up the ladder pretty fast. I was over their clinical labs when I retired and I started in the warehouse.
T Theo the Cat 7 hours agoI do not understand how you got $120k of debt attending a state school for undergraduate. Either your stayed there 6 or more years or you basically earned no money during any summer or school year of your entire undergraduate and went to a really expensive school.
R Really 7 hours agoMaybe your partner ought to be helping you pay off your debt. I helped my partner. That's how "partner" is defined. Also, the notion that if we all absorb your debt will allow you to buy a house, I say, BS. I don't want to take any risk financing your house buy (through any government support -- FHA, VA, FDIC insurance on banks covering your mortgage, etc.) since you were not good for your student loan debt. No way.
P Paul 7 hours agoMy kids are in their 20s and they are in community school to get associate degrees. They wanted to go to a university and get bachelor's but we can't afford it. So we lived within our means and our kids deprived themselves of that "college experience". And now thru our taxes, we will have to pay for someone else's student loans? How is that fair?
D Dustin 6 hours agoTypical millennial....doesn't want to have to pay for anything. My wife and I are in our 40's and we made the last payment on her student debt this year. I didn't complain about it for the last 15 years, I just paid it off.
P Pete 7 hours agoThe parents busted their hump to pay off their mortgage then get saddled with a $600 per month payment because of the kid's degree that lead to nowhere?
Jun 14, 2019 | www.amazon.com
S. Baker 5.0 out of 5 stars Summary/Review of Twilight of Equality November 27, 2007
Duggan articulately connects social and economic issues to each other, arguing that neoliberal politics have divided the two when in actuality, they cannot be separated from one another.
In the introduction, Duggan argues that politics have become neoliberal - while politics operate under the guise of promoting social change or social stability, in reality, she argues, politicians have failed to make the connection between economic and social/cultural issues. She uses historical background to prove the claim that economic and social issues can be separated from each other is false.
For example, she discusses neoliberal attempts to be "multicultural," but points out that economic resources are constantly redistributed upward. Neoliberal politics, she argues, has only reinforced and increased the divide between economic and social political issues.
After the introduction, Duggan focuses on a specific topic in each chapter: downsizing democracy, the incredible shrinking public, equality, and love and money. In the first chapter (downsizing democracy), she argues that through violent imperial assertion in the Middle East, budget cuts in social services, and disillusionments in political divides, "capitalists could actually bring down capitalism" (p. 2).
Because neoliberal politicians wish to save neoliberalism by reforming it, she argues that proposing alternate visions and ideas have been blocked. Duggan provides historical background that help the reader connect early nineteenth century U.S. legislation (regarding voting rights and slavery) to perpetuated institutional prejudices.
Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129
You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "
This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.
Jun 07, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Chris Dillow, an economics writer at Investors Chronicle. He blogs at Stumbling and Mumbling, and is the author of New Labour and the End of Politics. Follow him on Twitter: @CJFDillow. Originally published at Stumbling and Mumbling ; cross posted from Evonomics
I welcome Professor Sir Angus Deaton's report into inequality . I especially like its emphasis (pdf) upon the causes of inequality:
To understand whether inequality is a problem, we need to understand the sources of inequality, views of what is fair and the implications of inequality as well as the levels of inequality. Are present levels of inequalities due to well-deserved rewards or to unfair bargaining power, regulatory failure or political capture?
I fear, however, that there might be something missing here – the impact that inequality has upon economic performance.
My chart shows the point. It shows the 20-year annualized rate of growth in GDP per worker-hour. It's clear that this was much stronger during the relatively egalitarian period from 1945 to the mid-70s than it was before or since, when inequality was higher.
This might, of course, be coincidence: maybe WWII caused both a backlog of investment and innovation which allowed a subsequent growth spurt and a desire for greater equality.
Or it might not. This is not the only evidence for the possibility that inequality is bad for growth. Roland Benabou gave the example (pdf) of how egalitarian South Korea has done much better than the unequal Philippines. And IMF researchers have found (pdf) a "strong negative relation" between inequality and the rate and duration of subsequent growth spells across 153 countries between 1960 and 2010.
Correlations, of course, are only suggestive. They pose the question: what is the mechanism whereby inequality might reduce growth? Here are eight possibilities:
1. Inequality encourages the rich to invest not innovation but in what Sam Bowles calls " guard labour" (pdf) – means of entrenching their privilege and power. This might involve restrictive copyright laws, ways of overseeing and controlling workers, or the corporate rent-seeking and lobbying that has led to what Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles call the " captured economy. " An especially costly form of this rent-seeking was banks' lobbying for a "too big to fail" subsidy . This encouraged over-expansion of the banking system and the subsequent crisis, which has had a massively adverse effect upon economic growth .
2. Unequal corporate hierarchies – what Jeffrey Nielsen calls rank-based organizations – can demotivate junior employees. One study of Italian football teams, for example, has found that "high pay dispersion has a detrimental impact on team performance." That's consistent with a study of Bundesliga and NBA teams by Benno Torgler and colleagues which found that "positional concerns and envy reduce individual performance."
3. "Economic inequality leads to less trust" say (pdf) Eric Uslaner and Mitchell Brown. And we've good evidence that less trust means less growth . One reason for this is simply that if people don't trust each other they'll not enter into transactions where there's a risk of them being ripped off.
4. Inequality can prevent productivity-enhancing changes, as Sam Bowles has described . We have good evidence that coops can be more efficient than hierarchical ones, but the spread of them is prevented by credit constraints. Poverty reduces education levels by making it impossible to afford books, or encouraging bright but poor students to leave earlier than they should, and women and BAME people might avoid careers for which they are otherwise well-suited because of a lack of role modelss
5. Inequality can cause the rich to be fearful of future redistribution or nationalization, which will make them loath to invest. National Grid is belly-aching, maybe rightly, that Labour's plan to nationalize it will delay investment . But it should instead ask: why is Labour proposing such a thing, and why is it popular ?
6. Inequalities of power – in the sense of workers' voices being less heard than they were in the post-war period and trades unions becoming less powerful – have allowed governments to abandon the aim of truly full employment and given firms more ability to boost profits by suppressing wages and conditions. That has disincentivized investments in labour-saving technologies.
7. The high-powered incentives that generate inequality within companies can backfire . As Benabou and Tirole have shown (pdf) , they encourage bosses to hit measured targets and neglect less measurable things that are nevertheless important for a firm's success such as a healthy corporate culture. Or they might crowd out intrinsic motivations such as professional ethics. Big bank bonuses, for example, encouraged mis-selling and rigging markets rather than productive activities.
8. High management pay can entrench what Joel Mokyr calls the "forces of conservatism" which are antagonistic to technical progress. Reaping the full benefits of new technologies often requires organizational change. But why bother investing in this if you are doing very nicely thanks to the increased (pdf) market power of your firm? And if you have, or hope to have, a big salary from a corporate bureaucracy why should you set up a new company?
My point here is that what matters is not so much the level of inequality as the effect it has. And it might well be a pernicious one. If inequality has contributed to weaker growth, then it is very likely to have contributed to the rise of populism and to Brexit and the divisions with which both are associated. In this way, inequality does political damage too.
From this perspective, pointing out that the Gini coefficient has been flat for years (which is true if we ignore housing costs) is like saying that because the bus has stopped moving we need not care about the man who has been run over by it. It misses the main point.
Ignacio , June 7, 2019 at 5:18 am
Very good analysis on the consequences of inequality. I miss a conclusive one: disengagement . It is, in part, an objective of the wealthy because it discourages political participation of the masses. It is also root of populist movements. But maybe the most critical consequence of disengagement now is the difficulty to implement social changes badly needed to fight climate change.
rd , June 7, 2019 at 9:43 am
The re-engagement is often in a revolutionary cause.
Nelson Lowhim , June 7, 2019 at 6:49 am
Big one is health goes down for everyone. Sooner or later we all hurt
Jesper , June 7, 2019 at 8:10 am
Who/what wins when reason encounters power?
The reason why there is inequality is because that is what people in power want. So while there are many reasons why inequality is a problem to be resolved I believe that the only way to deal with it is to use power. The power of the ballot at the election. Voting for people with history of serving other interests than the electorate and then trying to reason with them to get them to change their mind is a bad idea.
Is there anyone who believes that the powers that be will change simply by presenting logical arguments to them?
The healthcare situation in the US is the best example. There are few, if any, logical arguments to have a healthcare system as the US has. Is there really anything to do but to elect people who will change it? Or is there a possibility to change the minds of the politicians who maintains it?
Mark Anderlik , June 7, 2019 at 11:10 am
There is more to do than just elect the "right" people to office, which is important. As we painfully know, elected leaders have a rather sorry record of making change, so simple reliance on the ballot is inadequate. We need resilience, mutual aid and organizational support in the polis, independent of the political class. This in order to not only elect good leaders, but also to hold them accountable from day one. To create such requires the long work of organizing. Organizing is not just advocacy (lobbying, e.g.) nor just mobilizing (mass demos, e.g.), it is about changing lives. When done properly, organizing changes politics and its possibilities in fundamental ways. But when done right, it is literally one person at a time over time. No quick fixes, no easy solutions. Are we up to this or not? That is the question facing us all.
Jim A. , June 7, 2019 at 8:33 am
High levels of inequality lead to the economy being demand-limited rather than capital-limited. Now either one can choke off economic growth, but monetary stimulus is more sustainable when it operates on the latter than the former. Buliding a new factory and employing more people in it is hopefully* going to be better for the economy in the long term than loaning cash strapped people money to be paid back with interest.
*But not always, look at all that dark fiber installed during the dot com boom.
rd , June 7, 2019 at 10:38 am
We are paying off our existing debt we built up while raising kids. It doesn't matter how much cheap debt Mr. Powell and Mr. Dimon want to throw at us, we aren't going to use it and will continue paying off the old debt. the bank calculators tell us we could take on hundreds of thousands of debt to buy a bigger house, fancy cars etc. but that is not happening. One of the key reasons is that we look at the political uncertainty and know that ultimately the best defense is low debt levels and well-diversified savings.
The high student debt levels many people have taken on means they are not taking on much new debt. so they used the debt to pay the universities but that is probably not as productive for the economy as buying condos, houses, cars, etc.
Many other people have been taking on debt because they don't make enough to cover their ongoing expenses. In a recession, that debt is likely to be high risk.
Corporations have been issuing lots of covenant-light junk bonds because Mr. Bernanke and Powell have provided inexpensive money. Many of those will likely go south in a recession creating a bigger issue. Unlike the dark fiber, most of that has not been for long-term capital projects so is unlikely to provide that economic stimulus in the future.
Jim A. , June 7, 2019 at 12:23 pm
And a big part of the reason debt levels are so high is because the wealthy have much more money to lend than they can find productive uses for. High debt levels are the direct result and evidence of a greater concentration of wealth than is optimal.
rd , June 7, 2019 at 10:01 am
Here is a good analysis of income distribution from 1913 to 2012. https://eml.berkeley.edu//~saez/saez-UStopincomes-2012.pdf
It is pretty clear that the period of low income inequality from WW II to the early 80s coincided with the giant productivity bump. So when Trump says "Make America Great Again" which I have assumed relates to that post-WW II boom, is he calling for reduced inequality and better sharing of wealth across the society? Or does he assume that the policies that lead to reduced productivity growth are what make America great?
While the stats aren't strong, my understanding is that the Gilded Age of the 1870s was another classic period of concentrated wealth that then started a period of frequent depressions from the 1880s to WW II, including the Panic of 1908 and the Great Depression. The Great Depression was preceded by a brief period of high inequality in the Roaring 20s that was not erased until after the 1937 stock market drop and the beginning of WW II.
I think the most interesting thing about inequality is how much distortion a short period of it can put into a society. It appears that it takes 2-3 decades for society to fully recover from each decade of high inequality. This is similar to the relative rates of stock market recovery compared to a stock market drop.
My primary hope is that we can come out of this period of inequality without a major global conflict. I suspect that the retiring of the baby boomers and the stress that puts on the system will lead to the realization of many retirees that they are on the menu instead of picking from the menu. That will likely begin to change their voting patterns in the coming decade coinciding with the growing political clout of the millenials.
shinola , June 7, 2019 at 11:28 am
Point #6 has me confused (that's not so difficult to do). The section ends with this sentence:
"That has disincentivized investments in labour-saving technologies."
Huh? I've been under the impression that not only labor-saving but labor-eliminating tech. is a very big deal. A big selling point for automation is that by eliminating jobs & job-related expenses it more than pays for itself.
Ignacio , June 7, 2019 at 12:15 pm
You point to the interesting debate on technology and jobs. IMO labour-saving techs mostly shift jobs. Whether it destroys more or less than those created is open to many informed and uninformed discussions. It almost certainly ends in higher productivity, but what about inequality? For some time technology raised all boats but lately not. I would argue that technology itself is not the evil. Erik Brynjolfsson signalled the "winner take all" dynamics of Silicon Valley as an example on how technology drives inequality nowadays.
Jim A. , June 7, 2019 at 12:31 pm
The big question is what happens to those doing the jobs that are left? If they share in the benefits of productivity growth through higher wages, they can buy more of OTHER products and services which creates demand and provides employment for those creating those products. But If they do not get higher wages, those displaced are competing for jobs with other displaced workers and depressing wages. The economy simply works better, with fewer speculative bubbles and more economic security for the vast majority when productivity gains are linked to rising pay, as they were in the post-war period. How to achieve this is a non-trivial question, but increasing the minimum wage and capital gains taxes are a start.
rd , June 7, 2019 at 1:02 pm
Some of the jobs have been automated. However, many have gone overseas to cheaper labor. Instead of keeping the jobs in country and using automation to reduce the labor cost and increase productivity, they just shipped everything off. In some cases where they kept the work in country, they simply moved the jobs to non-union states where the workers would work for much less.
If all you are concerned about is earnings per share, it doesn't really matter where or how the work gets done as long as you reduced the cost per unit revenue.
Simeon Hope , June 7, 2019 at 11:48 am
Someone, please remind me why we all need more growth in our economy. So far as I was aware, it was capitalism's need for constant growth that was a major cause of climate change. Whilst inequality has dreadful effects in other ways, surely lowering overall growth might be a good thing for the natural world. Infinite growth on a finite planet can go on only so long without serious consequences – or so it seems. The much-vaunted and much-hated Green New Deal takes as given that there is such a thing as green growth. Is there?
Nov 27, 2015 | economistsview.typepad.comOn student loans: Student Debt in America: Lend With a Smile, Collect With a Fist : ... Borrowing is risky, financial decisions are not always rational, and people often do a poor job of properly weighing the interests of their present and future selves.
The private enterprise system is built to limit overborrowing by sharing risk between lenders and borrowers. ... They charge more interest when they take on more risk. Because most loans can be discharged in bankruptcy, lenders share the cost of default. ...
But the federal student loan program doesn't work that way. Those ads that run on bus stop signs and on late-night television - "No Cash? No Credit? No Problem!" - are essentially the Department of Education's official policy on student loans.
On the front end, the department is the world's nicest, most accommodating lender. Interest rates ... are lower than banks charge... Borrowing for college is essentially an entitlement...
When the loan bill finally comes due, the federal government transforms into a heartless loan collector. You don't need burly men with brass knuckles to enforce debts when you have the Internal Revenue Service..., which can and will follow you as long as you live.
The government acts this way because the federal student loan program has been removed from the norms and values of prudent lending. Because the Department of Education doesn't consider risk, it takes no responsibility. If life, luck and bad choices leave you ... in the hole, it's all on you. ...
Most college students ... pay back their loans and enjoy the fruits of their degrees. But most pack-a-day smokers don't die of lung cancer. And most people who bought cars with Takata airbags from 2002 to 2008 weren't killed by shrapnel from explosions. Nevertheless, we still regard small risks of catastrophic outcomes as problems to be solved. ...
Just one quick comment. We need to solve the student loan problem for existing loans, but I wish talk about how to address this problem going forward was more about how to provide adequate funding for colleges so that large loans aren't needed in the first place rather than focusing on how to change the loan program itself.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:28 AM in Economics , Education , Universities | Permalink Comments (10)likbez
=== quote ===
@run75441 -> Sanjait...
The cost containment of colleges is the same as what is needed for healthcare. The government should intervene since it is the principal financier in more ways than one.
=== end of quote ===
Very true. May be even the idea of the net of eligible providers (in network vs out of network) can be borrowed form healthcare.
As this is a public good, it should be severe punishment including jail terms for inflating the cost of education. For example I think Mankiw should be at investigated using RICO act for the cost of his textbook. But I think that students who enroll into Mankiw class are already second rate students because at this point they should do some research about who Mankiw really is and avoid his classes like a plague.
Still this is a clear and provable case of racket. Academic racket but still a racket.
But even minor prosecution of those academic rentiers is impossible under neoliberalism as regulators are captured and corrupted.
And students mostly are too badly informed and too naïve to shop around and find a better price. Which is still possible. For example using community college for the first two years and then transferring credits to a state university. And if student is talented enough he always can get masters at Ivy League school later and it will cost less.
Please note that quality of university education is already very problematic. Switching to preparing "ready for jobmarket" graduates backfired. I would say that quality now is dismal as student lacks fundamentals. They are now kind of "bug of tricks" degree holders.
So the idea of cost control of college education can't be refuted with the hypothesis that it will lower the quality of education. Essentially what Ivy league college degree buys is the first place in a heap of resumes to major companies (some companies simply discard resumes from applicant who do not have Ivy League education).
Now about subsidies. Neoliberal colleges are for profit business with academic sharks no different that sharks in chemical or pharmaceutical companies. They do not care about education, only about lining this own pockets. As simple as that.
That means that in a current environment any "broad" subsidies will result in raising of the cost of education. I would make subsidies more focused, subject to means test as well as passing a qualifying exam similar to GED. After all at this point the society invests some money into student.
so is he saying that we shouldn't give student loans unless a bank would loan the money
that's means many people who can now afford college wont be able to
and this:Dan Berg
"Most college students don't end up like Ms. Kelley. They pay back their loans and enjoy the fruits of their degrees. But most pack-a-day smokers don't die of lung cancer. And most people who bought cars with Takata airbags from 2002 to 2008 weren't killed by shrapnel from explosions. Nevertheless, we still regard small risks of catastrophic outcomes as problems to be solved."
is he kidding me??? My student loans required an 8% insurance policy, money I didn't even get to use, came out before I could pay tuition room and board, but I still owed it. The fact that most people pay their student loans means the government doesn't lose anything from student loans
Rather than "provide adequate (more) funding (taxes)for colleges" - how about ways to reduce cost? Beginning with the absurd costs of textbooks; administrative bloat; disparities between tenured and part-time teachers; etc
Lilly -> Dan Berg...
...and I will add sports in here. A good analysis was published by HP: How College Students Are Bankrolling The Athletics Arms Race
pgl -> Dan Berg...
"Beginning with the absurd costs of textbooks"
Here is where Greg Mankiw will tell you he needs to charge $300 a book for his text because he wants his kids to be rich.
And how does anyone propose to remedy monies being deducted from Social Security for delinquent student loans when the person (victim) cannot make timely payments because of AGE DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT. While illegal, it is practiced by a majority of employers. Often the Soc Sec recipient is reduced to living at poverty level - even though they want to work and would if they could find paying employment.
Or does anyone want to remedy this? Just let the "old folks" starve and become homeless!!!!!!
"As a senator from Delaware -- a corporate tax haven where the financial industry is one of the state's largest employers -- Biden was one of the key proponents of the 2005 legislation that is now bearing down on students like Ryan. That bill effectively prevents the $150 billion worth of private student debt from being discharged, rescheduled or renegotiated as other debt can be in bankruptcy court.
Biden's efforts in 2005 were no anomaly. Though the vice president has long portrayed himself as a champion of the struggling middle class -- a man who famously commutes on Amtrak and mixes enthusiastically with blue-collar workers -- the Delaware lawmaker has played a consistent and pivotal role in the financial industry's four-decade campaign to make it harder for students to shield themselves and their families from creditors, according to an IBT review of bankruptcy legislation going back to the 1970s."
BCSanjait said.. . November 27, 2015 at 11:39 PM
80-85% of jobs today and in the future will not require post-secondary training or a university credential. If accelerating automation and elimination of service employment (retail, health care, education, gov't, legal, etc.) continues apace as anticipated, including middle- and upper-income employment, there will be still fewer jobs requiring post-secondary "education" that pay what was once perceived as breadwinner compensation.
Universities all over the US have since the 1970s-80s become costly public jobs programs primarily for females at low or no productivity and increasing cost to the private sector (as in the case of "health" care). The explosion in administrative employment and the resulting bureaucratic bloat and costs is ridiculous and unsustainable, including the promised pension and benefit payouts in the years to come.
Young people borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to attend private, for-profit colleges (???) or to study the humanities, social sciences, or business is a waste of time and money for the vast majority.
Most urban/suburban high schools have evolved into what might be described as college preparatory girls schools where a large majority of males are marginalized as necessary nuisances and the vast majority of kids learn little that is practical to participating as gainfully employed and self-supporting adults.
But that is not an accident, of course. Feminization and infantilization of the society and economy has been underway coincident with deindustrialization and financialization since the 1970s-80s.run75441 -> Sanjait... November 28, 2015 at 05:51 AM
there should be a subsidy for college, because otherwise people tend to underinvest in education. Individuals are often liquidity constrained or just short sighted.
But IMO we are doing the subsidies all wrong. We are offering subsidized loans and tax deductions. We should instead be using plain old grants more often. That's how you ensure access to people who would otherwise lack it.
But the grants should be relatively small. They should just be sufficient to coverage get of a public university education, without a little t of extra amenities. The critics of higher ed who say that subsidies are driving up the costs are half right. It's really consumer preferences, for the most part. But that doesn't mean government should contribute to that problem, of that taxpayers should pay limitless amounts. Some price pressure should still be left to exist.run75441
The cost containment of colleges is the same as what is needed for healthcare. The government should intervene since it is the principal financier in more ways than one.
I am not sure of what you know; but, this might be a good place to start. http://www.deltacostproject.org/ "The Delta Cost Project" http://www.deltacostproject.org/
There is a movement afoot from the Jason Delisles, Matt Chingos, and the Beth Akers of both the New America Foundation and Brookings who advocate interest rates do not matter, higher interest rates make sense for advanced degrees, and student loans should be risk sensitive using Fair Market Valuation techniques.
Getting a student loan is like checking into a Roach Motel. You can sign in via your signature; but, you can never check out without paying it off. If you default, it gets worst for you as stated in the story. So the risk to the Federal Gov and taxpayers is minimal. Indeed some would tell you, the Gov makes more money in default than in payoff. I also think there is more to the story than being revealed.
Fix interest rates and keep them low at http://angrybearblog.com/2015/11/for-profit-college-student-loan-default-and-the-economic-impact-of-student-loans.html . Indeed households without student loans are buying at a higher rate than those households with student loans. In some cases, it is worsening.
The highest default rate is with those who have student loans of < $10,000 [~39% of them have loans of less than $10,000 (NY Fed)] and are the result of Community Colleges. Potentially these are people attempting to improve their status in life. Student loan borrowers with $100,000 of debt had a default rate of 18% and are also the higher earners after graduation.
To my knowledge and experience with Federal Direct Loans, students can go into forbearance at any time. There is also a 3 year window of no interest accumulation. After the 3 years, interest accumulates. The 3 year window of no interest accumulation needs to be expanded to cover what we experienced since 2008 and perhaps go as long as 10 years. The 20-25 life time of IBR should be shortened to 10 - 15 years. This is not like students ordered up a 2008 recession, they were penalized unknowingly and were encouraged to seek a college education of sorts. The same holds true for those returning to college to better themselves.
Not only does student debt hurt the student, it is also playing out in the overall economy as I reported using NY Fed information at AB. Households with Student Loan Debt are a higher risk than those without Student Loan Debt. They are buying fewer homes and autos than households without Student Loan debt.
State financing has decreased. In Michigan it has gone from ~60% to ~30% with families picking up the load through various sources. Perhaps expanding the public service to erase college debt after 10 years would make more sense than doing so with strings attached.
Colleges do not appear to be cost sensitive to what the market may bear. There has always been a need for them and like healthcare colleges are allowed to increase as needed in cost without question. If you can not pay it upfront, you can always borrow it seems to rule. The new programs was supposed to hold colleges accountable for default rates. From the get-go, the administration let some of them off the hook.
Jul 30, 2015 | zerohedge.comCould you live without debt? Most Americans say that they cannot.
According to a brand new Pew survey, approximately 7 out of every 10 Americans believe that "debt is a necessity in their lives", and approximately 8 out of every 10 Americans actually have debt right now. Most of us like to think that "someday" we will get out of the hole and quit being debt slaves, but very few of us ever actually accomplish this.
That is because the entire system is designed to trap us in debt before we even get out into the "real world" and keep us in debt until we die. Sadly, most Americans don't even realize what is being done to them.
In America today, debt is considered to be just part of normal life. We go into debt to go to college, we go into debt to buy a vehicle, we go into debt to buy a home, and we are constantly using our credit cards to buy the things that we think we need.
As a result, this generation of Americans is absolutely swimming in debt. The following are some of the findings of the Pew survey that I mentioned above
*"8 in 10 Americans have debt, with mortgages the most common liability."
*"Although younger generations of Americans are the most likely to have debt (89 percent of Gen Xers and 86 percent of millennials do), older generations are increasingly carrying debt into retirement."
*"7 in 10 Americans said debt is a necessity in their lives, even though they prefer not to have it."
Most of us wish that we didn't have any debt, but we have bought into the lie that it is a necessary part of life in America in the 21st century.
It has been estimated that 43 percent of all American households spend more money than they make each month, and U.S. households are more than 11 trillion dollars in debt at this point.
When it comes to government debt, that is easy for us to blame on someone else, but all of this household debt is undoubtedly something that we have done to ourselves.
It all starts at a very early age for most of us. When we are still in high school, we are endlessly told about how important a college education is. All of the authority figures in our lives insist that we should just try to get into the best school that we possibly can and to not even worry about how much it will cost.
So many of us go into staggering amounts of debt before we even get out into the working world. We had faith that the "good jobs" that were being promised to us would be there when we graduated.
Unfortunately, in this day and age those "good jobs" end up being a mirage more often than not.
But whether or not we can find a good job, we still have to pay off all that debt.
According to new data that was recently released, the total amount of student loan debt in the United States has risen to a grand total 1.2 trillion dollars. If you can believe it, that total has more than doubled over the past decade.
Right now, there are approximately 40 million Americans that are paying off student loan debt. For many of them, they will keep making payments on this debt until they are senior citizens.
Another way that they get you while you are still in school is with credit card debt.
I got my first credit card while I was in college, and nobody ever taught me about the potential dangers.
Today, the average U.S. household that has at least one credit card has approximately $15,950 in credit card debt.
So let's say that you have that much credit card debt and you are paying an annual interest rate of 17 percent. If you only pay the minimum payment each month, it will take you 229 months to pay your credit card off, and during that time you will have paid $13,505.82 in interest charges.
In other words, you will almost have paid twice as much for everything that you originally bought with your credit card by the time it is all said and done.
This is why banks love to give you credit cards. If they can get back nearly twice as much money as they originally give you, they get rich and you get poor.
Most of us get loaded down with even more debt when we go to buy a vehicle. Instead of saving up and getting what we can afford, many of us end up getting the largest loans that we can qualify for.
In a previous article, I discussed the fact that the average auto loan at signing in America today is approximately $27,000. In order to get the monthly payments down to a level where we can afford them, many of these auto loans are now being stretched out for six or seven years. In fact, the number of auto loans that exceed 72 months has hit at an all-time high of 29.5 percent.
It is the same thing with home loans.
In the old days, it was extremely rare for a mortgage to be stretched over 30 years, but today that is pretty much the standard.
Sadly, most people don't understand how much money this is costing them.
If you take out a $300,000 mortgage at 3.92 percent and stretch it over 30 years, you will end up paying back a grand total of $510,640.
In other words, you will pay for two houses by the time you are done.
Yes, we all need somewhere to live, and there are definitely negatives to renting as well. But it is very important that we all understand what is being done to us.
And I haven't even discussed one of the most insidious forms of debt yet.
Have you noticed that most doctors and most hospitals will never tell you how much something is going to cost in advance?
They get us when we are at our most vulnerable. When there is something wrong with us physically, we are often desperate to get help. So we don't ask too many questions and we just go along with whatever they say.
But then later we get the bill and we are often completely shocked by what they have charged us.
If you are completely unethical, it is a great business model. People that are extremely desperate and needy come to you and you don't even have to tell them how much your services are going to cost. And then once they leave, you send them an absolutely outrageous bill for whatever you feel like charging.
Frankly, I don't know how a lot of people working in the medical field live with themselves. In their extreme greed, they are ruining the lives of millions of ordinary American families.
One very disturbing study found that approximately 41 percent of all working age Americans either currently have medical bill problems or are paying off medical debt. And collection agencies seek to collect unpaid medical bills from about 30 million of us each and every year.
Most of us will spend our entire lives paying off debt.
That is why we are called debt slaves – our hard work makes others extremely wealthy.
All by design. The great lie is that you should "work hard and be responsible".
Yeah? Why? Because it feeds the beast in Wall Street and Washington? The bailouts and free money for the banks/corporations/insurers wiped that idea off the slate.
Give me sound money and start producing again while offering me interest on my savings and we can start talking about responsibility. The example set by Wall Street and Washington is that debt is good, so what the fuck do they expect regular folks to do, keep carrying their bags?
Fuck you assholes, to Hell and back on a bed of nails.
European AmericanIgnorance is bliss
I must confess. I declared bankruptcy back in the late 80's. Not proud of that time in my life but it was legal and it literally saved me. Since then, "If I can't buy that product/service with the cash in my wallet, then I wasn't suppose to have it." has been my philosophy for the last 25 years, and even though the State stills owns my real estate, more or less (various taxes), I'm basically free. Debt is a killer of ones mental, physical and emotional immune system. I highly recommend avoiding IT at all costs. Debit card is the only plastic money in my wallet, along with some fiat currency. My bank is the color of Gold and SIlver.NoDebtyogibear
In General People are stupid
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0he0cqHH20Hugh G Rection
And people wonder how Hitler took over in Germany.
People in the US are now more gullible than the Germans in the 20's.
Tough to keep liberty.
All the US needs is a full-fledged tyrant.chrsn
Speaking of gullible, take a look in the mirror.
Step one: stop tying in the quantity of your possessions with your self-worth. That shift in mindset alone will keep a lot of debt out of your life.NoDebt
This is one of the few topics around here that actually makes me feel good. 100% debt free for last ten years.
Paying off everything off ahead of time, cutting down the interest, was my primary goal for years.
Them damn bankers won't squeeze another penny out of me!LightSpender
Welcome to the club. Been a member for about that long myself.
I knew I'd like the financial freedom. I knew I'd like how much money it saved me.
What it took a few years debt-free to understand was that in a world measured in debt, I would become invisible. I can not be viewed using their technology any more. I'm a steath bomber with glider wings and a zero coefficient of drag.Korea98
If the 100th monkey effect applies here, we will be part of an awakened populace that watches the ctrl+alt+del of USD and the resultant house of cards.Treason Season
As we know debt is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it is worth becoming an indentured servent for a payout later.
We take out a loan, or at least most of us, for a house. This helps us build up equity instead of wasting it all on rent every month. By retirement people should own their home outright and not have to pay rent during their retirement. Most smart people are even able to downsize and stick some money in their savings.
A large percentage of people take out a loan for school. We have all read articled of idiots getting a 4 year degree in women's studies at a fancy private school, having a loan of $120,000, and never being able to pay it off. But the smart people who go to school maybe a state school, for a degree that is marketable do better than those without a degree.
A reliable car can help us save time, thus money, getting to and from work and other places. The key buying something basic and reliable and not a brand new sports car.
I'm glad we have the ability to borrow money. It has helped me immensily in my own personal life. And I would say, I would be worse off without it.
Ugh. You all know my screen name, what it stands for and my opinions on debt. Posting up on this subject borders on the tedious for me, but for those who haven't heard it yet, here it is....
If you have a valid financial reason for going into debt, that is to say you have a well-considered goal for your debt exposure, debt is not necessarily bad. For instance, if you are going to be a professional photographer you might need to buy some cameras and photography equipment that will be necessary for you to exist in that world. You are INVESTING in yourself. Nothing wrong with using debt for that if you can't pay as you go straight out of pocket.
Further down the totem pole is something like buying a house. A collateralized obligation. One you have the USE of the asset while you pay it off. I'm less enthusiastic about this sort of stuff but if it's a necessity (like having a place to live) I can't fault you for doing it. BUT IT WILL NEVER MAKE YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE OR INCREASE YOUR EARNING POWER. You feeling me on this? The key here is to pay that bitch down as fast as possible and minimize your interest expense because it's a pure dead-weight loss to you.
ANYTHING else, you don't need to go into debt over. So just don't. Better to do without than go into debt over anything beyond this point.
There really are very few exceptions to these simple rules (unless you are a government in which case everything is an excuse to go into debt since you're just spending other people's money).
Nov 09, 2015 | naked capitalism
It also never ceases to amaze me the number of anti-educational opinions which flare up when the discussion of student loan default arises. There are always those who will prophesize there is no need to attain a higher level of education as anyone could be something else and be successful and not require a higher level of education. Or they come forth with the explanation on how young 18 year-olds and those already struggling should be able to ascertain the risk of higher debt when the cards are already stacked against them legally. In any case during a poor economy, those with more education appear to be employed at a higher rate than those with less education. The issue for those pursuing an education is the ever increasing burden and danger of student loans and associated interest rates which prevent younger people from moving into the economy successfully after graduation, the failure of the government to support higher education and protect students from for-profit fraud, the increased risk of default and becoming indentured to the government, and the increased cost of an education which has surpassed healthcare in rising costs.
There does not appear to be much movement on the part of Congress to reconcile the issues in favor of students as opposed to the non-profit and for profit institutes.
Ranger Rick, November 9, 2015 at 11:34 am
It's easy to explain, really. According to the Department of Education ( https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans ) you're going to be paying off that loan at minimum payments for 25 years. Assuming your average bachelor's degree is about $30k if you go all-loans ( http://collegecost.ed.gov/catc/ ) and the average student loan interest rate is a generous 5% ( http://www.direct.ed.gov/calc.html ), you're going to be paying $175 a month for a sizable chunk of your adult life.
If you're merely hitting the median income of a bachelor's degree after graduation, $55k (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77 ), and good luck with that in this economy, you're still paying ~31.5% of that in taxes (http://www.oecd.org/ctp/tax-policy/taxing-wages-20725124.htm ) you're left with $35.5k before any other costs. Out of that, you're going to have to come up with the down payment to buy a house and a car after spending more money than you have left (http://www.bls.gov/cex/csxann13.pdf).
Louis, November 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm
The last paragraph sums it up perfectly, especially the predictable counterarguments. Accurately assessing what job in demand several years down the road is very difficult, if not impossible.
Majoring in IT or Computer Science would have a been a great move in the late 1990's; however, if you graduated around 2000, you likely would have found yourself facing a tough job market.. Likewise, majoring in petroleum engineering or petroleum geology would have seemed like a good move a couple of years ago; however, now that oil prices are crashing, it's presumably a much tougher job market.
Do we blame the computer science majors graduating in 2000 or the graduates struggling to break into the energy industry, now that oil prices have dropped, for majoring in "useless" degrees? It's much easier to create a strawman about useless degrees that accept the fact that there is a element of chance in terms of what the job market will look like upon graduation.
The cost of higher education is absurd and there simply aren't enough good jobs to go around-there are people out there who majored in the "right" fields and have found themselves underemployed or unemployed-so I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of many people in my generation.
At the same time, I do believe in personal responsibility-I'm wary of creating a moral hazard if people can discharge loans in bankruptcy. I've been paying off my student loans (grad school) for a couple of years-I kept the level debt below any realistic starting salary-and will eventually have the loans paid off, though it may be a few more years.
I am really conflicted between believing in personal responsibility but also seeing how this generation has gotten screwed. I really don't know what the right answer is.
Ulysses, November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm
"The cost of higher education is absurd and there simply aren't enough good jobs to go around-there are people out there who majored in the "right" fields and have found themselves underemployed or unemployed-so I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of many people in my generation."
To confuse going to college with vocational education is to commit a major category error. I think bright, ambitious high school graduates– who are looking for upward social mobility– would be far better served by a plumbing or carpentry apprenticeship program. A good plumber can earn enough money to send his or her children to Yale to study Dante, Boccaccio, and Chaucer.
A bright working class kid who goes off to New Haven, to study medieval lit, will need tremendous luck to overcome the enormous class prejudice she will face in trying to establish herself as a tenure-track academic. If she really loves medieval literature for its own sake, then to study it deeply will be "worth it" even if she finds herself working as a barista or store-clerk.
None of this, of course, excuses the outrageously high tuition charges, administrative salaries, etc. at the "top schools." They are indeed institutions that reinforce class boundaries. My point is that strictly career education is best begun at a less expensive community college. After working in the IT field, for example, a talented associate's degree-holder might well find that her employer will subsidize study at an elite school with an excellent computer science program.
My utopian dream would be a society where all sorts of studies are open to everyone– for free. Everyone would have a basic Job or Income guarantee and could study as little, or as much, as they like!
Ulysses, November 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm
As a middle-aged doctoral student in the humanities you should not even be thinking much about your loans. Write the most brilliant thesis that you can, get a book or some decent articles published from it– and swim carefully in the shark-infested waters of academia until you reach the beautiful island of tenured full-professorship.
If that island turns out to be an ever-receding mirage, sell your soul to our corporate overlords and pay back your loans! Alternatively, tune in, drop out, and use your finely tuned research and rhetorical skills to help us overthrow the kleptocratic regime that oppresses us all!!
subgenius, November 9, 2015 at 3:07 pm
except (in my experience) the corporate overlords want young meat.
I have 2 masters degrees 2 undergraduate degrees and a host of random diplomas – but at 45, I am variously too old, too qualified, or lacking sufficient recent corporate experience in the field to get hired
Trying to get enough cash to get a contractor license seems my best chance at anything other than random day work.
MyLessThanPrimeBeef, November 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm
Genuine education should provide one with profound contentment, grateful for the journey taken, and a deep appreciation of life.
Instead many of us are left confused – confusing career training (redundant and excessive, as it turned out, unfortunate for the student, though not necessarily bad for those on the supply side, one must begrudgingly admit – oops, there goes one's serenity) with enlightenment.
"I would spend another 12 soul-nourishing years pursuing those non-profit degrees' vs 'I can't feed my family with those paper certificates.'
jrs, November 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm
I am anti-education as the solution to our economic woes. We need jobs or a guaranteed income. And we need to stop outsourcing the jobs that exist. And we need a much higher minimum wage. And maybe we need work sharing. I am also against using screwdrivers to pound in a nail. But why are you so anti screwdriver anyway?
And I see calls for more and more education used to make it seem ok to pay people without much education less than a living wage. Because they deserve it for being whatever drop outs. And it's not ok.
I don't actually have anything against the professors (except their overall political cowardice in times demanding radicalism!). Now the administrators, yea I can see the bloat and the waste there. But mostly, I have issues with more and more education being preached as the answer to a jobs and wages crisis.
MyLessThanPrimeBeef -> jrs, November 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm
We all should be against Big Educational-Complex and its certificates-producing factory education that does not put the student's health and happiness up there with co-existing peacefully with Nature.
- "You must be lazy – you're not educated."
- "Sorry, you are too stupid for our elite university to admit, just as your brother was too poor for our rich club to let in."
- "I am going to kill you intellectually. I will annihilate you intellectually. My idea will destroy you and I don't have to feel sorry at all."
Kris Alman, November 9, 2015 at 11:11 am
Remember DINKs? Dual Income No Kids. Dual Debt Bad Job No House No Kids doesn't work well for acronyms. Better for an abbreviated hash tag?
debitor serf, November 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm
I graduated law school with $100k+ in debt inclusive of undergrad. I've never missed a loan payment and my credit score is 830. my income has never reached $100k. my payments started out at over $1000 a month and through aggressive payment and refinancing, I've managed to reduce the payments to $500 a month. I come from a lower middle class background and my parents offered what I call 'negative help' throughout college.
my unfortunate situation is unique and I wouldn't wish my debt on anyone. it's basically indentured servitude. it's awful, it's affects my life and health in ways no one should have to live, I have all sorts of stress related illnesses. I'm basically 2 months away from default of everything. my savings is negligible and my net worth is still negative 10 years after graduating.
student loans, combined with a rigged system, turned me into a closeted socialist. I am smart, hard working and resourceful. if I can't make it in this world, heck, then who can? few, because the system is rigged!
I have no problems at all taking all the wealth of the oligarchs and redistributing it. people look at me like I'm crazy. confiscate it all I say, and reset the system from scratch. let them try to make their billions in a system where things are fair and not rigged...
Ramoth, November 9, 2015 at 9:23 pm
My story is very similar to yours, although I haven't had as much success whittling down my loan balances. But yes, it's made me a socialist as well; makes me wonder how many of us, i.e. ppl radicalized by student loans, are out there. Perhaps the elites' grand plan to make us all debt slaves will eventually backfire in more ways than via the obvious economic issues?
Aug 05, 2010 | chronicle.com
Courtesy of Frontline, (c) 1995-2010 WGBH Educational Foundation
Mark DeFusco has worked with an investment bank and was a top manager at the U. of Phoenix.
Mark DeFusco has a new gig, and it may speak volumes about the evolving higher-education landscape and the fate of financially struggling private colleges.
Until a few months ago, Mr. DeFusco was working with major investors on plans to buy and bundle up ailing regionally accredited colleges. Now, believing that the once-friendly climate for such nonprofit conversions has grown chilly, he's shifted gears. Instead of buying up troubled colleges, he's going to work with two veteran academics at the University of Southern California to form a consultancy focused on saving them.
"I've been very busy these last five years telling for-profit businesses what's valuable" about themselves, says Mr. DeFusco. The goal of the consultancy is to help nonprofits capitalize on their most valuable traits, too.
"We don't want to see potentially good assets fail," says Mr. DeFusco of the new venture, which will be run out of Southern Cal's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis and headed by Mr. DeFusco and the professors Guilbert C. Hentschke and William G. Tierney.
Considering how Mr. DeFusco has been in the thick of the education industry's most important trends for two decades, this latest move is worth watching.
Mr. DeFusco, 51, is a veteran of the for-profit-college industry. For the past five years, he's been a deal maker with Berkery Noyes, an investment bank that handles many mergers and acquisitions of education and information companies that often don't get publicized. From 2002 to 2005, as a new wave of private-equity investors came onto the scene, he was president of Vatterott College, a privately held institution based in St. Louis. He was a top manager at the University of Phoenix for 10 years before that, at a time when it was broadening its footprint and becoming the national powerhouse it is today.
Voluble and refreshingly unslick, Mr. DeFusco was the guy on the PBS Frontline documentary College Inc. who, with just a little coaxing, memorably discussed how "very, very well" he and his University of Phoenix colleagues made out financially as the university expanded. "I did better than I ever imagined," he said on the show.
Until a few months ago, he thought he might have found another gold mine of a business, one that would be not only lucrative for him and his enthusiastic investors, but also, he says, beneficial to higher education writ large.
His plan was to form an investor-backed "roll-up"-a company comprising several small nonprofit colleges that it would buy, and then continue to operate, but with a single back-office operation for administrative functions.
"You could really have efficiencies" without each college having its own bursar, its own registrar, he says, replaying a theme that many higher-education reformers before him have espoused.
It wasn't a pipe dream, he says. Working with a colleague with years of experience at Catholic colleges, Jack P. Calareso, president of Anna Maria College, he had identified 25 Catholic colleges, with enrollments ranging in size from 400 to 3,000, as acquisition targets.
"I wanted to get to them before they got onto your list," he says, referring to the list published in The Chronicle last year citing the 100-plus nonprofit colleges that had failed the Department of Education's financial-responsibility test.On Second Thought
Two East Coast private-equity investors, he says, "committed more resources than I could spend"-about $500-million over four years. And he says they weren't the sort of investors looking for a fast buck. (The investors asked him not to reveal their identities; Mr. Calareso, who sat in on some of the meetings with investors and colleges, confirmed the details of the venture in an interview.)
The idea, Mr. DeFusco says, was to operate the colleges with "a portfolio view," taking advantage of their strengths and economies of scale on things like marketing and student recruiting, keeping their Catholic mission, investing in new programs and facilities where it made sense, and eventually scrapping some programs that underperformed.
"I really wanted to get into heaven," he says. And the moves might have helped keep some traditional colleges alive, along with the values they perpetuate. "When my kids go to college, I hope there is still tenure and there's still academic freedom."
Mr. DeFusco says he had support from two bishops and actually had in hand three letters of intent from colleges willing to be acquired. (He wouldn't name them.) Then his lawyers advised him in early spring that the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional accreditor that had been known for allowing such conversions over the past five years, had begun to take a tougher line. Eighteen of his 25 targets were in that accreditors' region.
The Higher Learning Commission rejected the conversion of nonprofit Dana College in July and of Rochester College in February, based on new policies it adopted in June 2009 and toughened in February.
Mr. DeFusco says he got the message. Before that commission approves another conversion, he believes, "it's going to be a couple of years-guaranteed."
Sylvia Manning, president of the commission since June 2008, says the new policy does not ban nonprofit-to-for-profit conversions-in fact the continued reaccreditation of two converted institutions, Waldorf College in January and the College of Santa Fe in October, came after the policy was adopted in June.
It was under her predecessor Steven D. Crow that institutions including the American College of Education (formerly Barat College), Grand Canyon University, and Ashford University (formerly the Franciscan University of the Prairies) were acquired by companies and allowed to significantly shift their emphasis to online education while keeping their accreditation.
She allows that in general, the new policy creates a much higher bar than what existed under her predecessor.
"It's quite possible people are reading this and are saying, 'Oh my God,'" Ms. Manning says, The new standards are not intended to block purchases or keep new owners from introducing new styles of management and curricula to the institutions they're acquiring, she says. "We're not saying you can't change them," she says of the colleges. But for colleges' accreditation to transfer upon a sale, "you can't transform them."
Ms. Manning says she never spoke with Mr. DeFusco and declined to comment on his assessment of her commission's stance, or of his sense that other regional accreditors are following suit. "My guess is that he's doing his own reading of tea leaves," says Ms. Manning.A New Deal
Mr. DeFusco says many of the forces that would have made his roll-up venture a success lead him to believe that his shift in gears toward a hands-on consulting project focused on struggling colleges will also keep him very busy, albeit probably with a smaller payday.
"A lot of schools are in trouble," says Mr. DeFusco. In the course of his research for his new venture, he and his team estimated that 15 to 45 colleges could fail each year for the next five years.
Too many colleges are discounting their tuition too heavily in pursuit of students, needlessly holding onto underutilized property that could better used to raise capital ("In this climate, those buildings are an anchor that drown you," he says), and maintaining administrative functions that could be better handled through outsourcing or collaboration.
Worse, he says, many boards of trustees are unaware of the severity of their institutions' problems. If you were on the board of a for-profit company operating like that, "you'd be sued," he says.
A tad less bluntly, Southern Cal's Mr. Tierney, a professor of higher education, echoes much of Mr. DeFusco's concern about the prospects for higher education, especially in the near term. "Some of us are getting very sober about a rebound," he says. The policy-analysis center has had a long interest in business-focused approaches and the role of markets in higher education. Mr. Tierney and Mr. Hentschke have written or co-edited two books on for-profit colleges.
So the idea of teaming up with Mr. DeFusco (who himself received a Ph.D. from Southern Cal) to work as turnaround consultants and help some colleges "stop the bleeding" was appealing, says Mr. Tierney. This month Mr. DeFusco will join the university as a senior research associate at the center.
Although there is no shortage of consultants already mining this territory-Bain, Huron, the Education Advisory Board, and advisers organized by the Association of Governing Boards, to name just a few-Mr. Tierney says the combination of Mr. DeFusco's business experience and his and Mr. Hentschke's understanding of academic culture and the role of shared governance gives their venture a niche. Also, he notes, it may be the first such higher-education consulting group to operate from within a university.
The consultants will help with short-term strategies, governance, and operational audits. They will also offer "workout" expertise; workout is the term used when companies go out of business. As a university effort, the consultancy can also call upon the expertise of other academics in the School of Education and the rest of the university. The consulting entity will pay a portion of its earnings as overhead to Southern Cal in return for administrative support.
Mr. Tierney says he hopes to begin signing up clients by Labor Day. "If nobody calls by January 1, well, then this was an interesting idea."
It all seems pretty fast-paced to Mr. Tierney. But that's been a lesson in itself for Mr. DeFusco, as he prepares to immerse himself more directly in traditional academe. "August off?" he responded incredulously when Mr. Tierney told him the schedule. August is when colleges are sweating the most over whether enough students will show up to cover the budget. "This is your most important month," he says.
For higher education, this new gig may or may not be a bellwether. For Mr. DeFusco, it will certainly require some adjusting.
2011 › Volume 63, Issue 03 (July-August)Dangers and Opportunities of the Present Crisis
Education , Political Economy
Jammed into a thundering crowd of thousands of chanting people in Madison, Wisconsin, it looks like a dam has broken. The new Wisconsin Tea Party governor brazenly accelerated what has been a bipartisan agenda to undermine public education and weaken teacher and other public employee unions. His "budget repair bill"-an assault on public employee unions, schools, and low-income health care-was met with immediate, massive, determined resistance that began with a walkout by Madison public school teachers.
Over three weeks, thousands of teachers, social workers, firefighters, and public and private sector workers of every stripe have demonstrated in communities across the state and piled into busses headed to the state capital. Protesters occupied the capital building for more than two weeks. Two of the rallies were estimated at over one hundred thousand people. There were many signs, such as "Recall Walker," "If you can read this, thank a teacher," and "Stop the War on Workers," but also something more: handmade signs saying "This is Class War" and "End Corporate Greed." A young woman at the rally on March 11 after the state legislature passed the governor's union-busting bill, held up a placard proclaiming, "Teacher by Day, Freedom Fighter by Night."
As I write this, in March 2011, a sleeping giant is stirring. The broad U.S. working class has absorbed blow after blow, concessions and job losses one after the other, stagnating wages for thirty years, and two wars costing trillions of dollars. The greatest capitalist crisis since the Great Depression brought a trillion-dollar bailout of the biggest banks and investment houses, the loss of ten million homes to foreclosure by the banks, and 10 percent official unemployment. A broad process of structural adjustment is under way to make the working and middle classes pay for the crisis created by Wall Street. But recent attempts at the state level to impose austerity measures may be just too much for people to take. The attack on public workers and sell-off of public assets-from schools, to municipal utilities, to bridges and roads-may go too far. This is a watershed moment.
Despite somewhat different tactics, both the Republicans and the Democrats, as parties of Wall Street, aim to impose austerity on the working class in order to deal with the fiscal crisis of the state. The aim is to cut domestic programs and public services, and teacher unions are a prime target. Merit pay for teachers and union "flexibility" is a part of the Obama administration's education program. From this perspective, compliant union officials are a means to instruct teachers and other public employees to make concessions "voluntarily." This approach was articulated by a Wisconsin public official who defended teacher and other public unions' right to exist because unions have been a means to negotiate concessions in wages and benefits peacefully. But some ideologically driven Republican legislators want to go further to make deep cuts in the education budget and break teacher unions and organized labor entirely. This would eliminate the remaining organized working-class resistance against the attempt to make workers pay for the crisis, and would undermine a key support for the Democratic Party.
In Wisconsin, union responses to the Tea Party agenda were mixed. Despite the fact that their own data show real earnings for Wisconsin teachers declined by 2.3 percent over the last decade,1 the leadership of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and some other unions gave in to Walker's demand for financial concessions early on. They drew the line, however, at automatic union dues collection and the right to bargain collectively over working conditions such as class size, that affect children's learning. Their slogan was "It's not about the money, it's about our rights [to bargain collectively]." Other labor organizations, notably the South Central Federation of Labor in Wisconsin and the National Nurses United, put the blame on Wall Street and called for closing corporate tax loopholes. The nurses union said, "Working people did not create the recession or the budgetary crisis facing federal, state and local governments-and there can be NO more concessions, period."2
There is a long and complex road ahead with no clear outcome. But education is the frontline in class warfare by the rich against the working class. The assault on public education, teachers, and their unions has been evolving over the past thirty years as part of the neoliberal restructuring of the global capitalist economy, but the current crisis of capitalism has accelerated this assault.3 Education has been a key sector in the neoliberalization of social policy and the neoliberal political economy of cities. The resistance to these policies has been broad at classroom and school levels and in a growing movement of education activists allied with parents and students. Education, for those in power, plays a key role in social reproduction of the labor force and in ideological legitimation of the social order. Those who, conversely, have seen education as a way to strengthen democratic participation in society and human liberation have always contested these goals. There is a rich history of people of color, women, workers, educators, and social movements fighting for democratic, inclusive, liberatory education. The crisis and the accelerated assault on teachers and public education are sharpening the contest over the right to public education and the role of education in society.
In this article, I review the neoliberal project to restructure education, particularly its relationship to neoliberal urban development, and responses to it. I discuss implications of privatization and austerity measures for public education and its function in social reproduction. I argue that this crisis is a moment of danger but also opportunity, not only to defend public education, but also to reshape it as part of the struggle for a new social order based on human liberation.Neoliberal Restructuring of Public Education
When President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, former-CEO of Chicago Public Schools, to head the U.S. Department of Education in 2008, he signaled an intention to accelerate a neoliberal education program that has been unfolding over the past two decades. This agenda calls for expanding education markets and employing market principles across school systems. It features mayoral control of school districts, closing "failing" public schools or handing them over to corporate-style "turnaround" organizations, expanding school "choice" and privately run but publicly funded charter schools, weakening teacher unions, and enforcing top-down accountability and incentivized performance targets on schools, classrooms, and teachers (e.g., merit pay based on students' standardized test scores). To spur this agenda, the Obama administration offered cash-strapped states $4.35 billion in federal stimulus dollars to "reform" their school systems. Competition for these "Race to the Top" funds favored states that passed legislation to enable education markets.
Race to the Top, although originating in U.S. government, is actually part of a global neoliberal thrust toward the commodification of all realms of existence. In a new round of accumulation by dispossession, liberalization of trade has opened up education, along with other public sectors, to capital accumulation, and particularly to penetration of the education sectors of the periphery (e.g., Latin America, parts of Asia, Africa). Under the Global Agreement on Trade in Services, all aspects of education and education services are subject to global trade.4 The result is the global marketing of schooling from primary school through higher education. Schools, education management organizations, tutoring services, teacher training, tests, curricula online classes, and franchises of branded universities are now part of a global education market. Education markets are one facet of the neoliberal strategy to manage the structural crisis of capitalism by opening the public sector to capital accumulation. The roughly $2.5 trillion global market in education is a rich new arena for capital investment.5
In the United States, charter schools are a vehicle to commodify and marketize education. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated. They eliminate democratic governance, and, although they may be run by nonprofit community organizations or groups of teachers or parents, the market favors scaling up franchises of charter school management organizations or contracting out to for-profit education management organizations that get management fees to run schools and education programs.6 For example, EdisonLearning, a transnational for-profit management organization, claims it serves nearly one-half million students in twenty-five states in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Dubai.7
The market mechanisms and business management discourses and practices that are saturating public education in the United States are all too familiar to teachers and students worldwide. Globally, nations are restructuring their education systems for "human capital" development to prepare students for new types of work and labor relations.8 This policy agenda has been aggressively pushed by transnational organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Objectives and performance targets are the order of the day, and testing is a prominent mechanism to steer curriculum and instruction to meet these goals efficiently and effectively.
In the United States, the neoliberal restructuring of education is deeply racialized. It is centered particularly on urban African American, Latino, and other communities of color, where public schools, subject to being closed or privatized, are driven by a minimalist curriculum of preparing for standardized tests. The cultural politics of race is also central to constructing consent for this agenda. As Stephen Haymes argues, the "concepts 'public' and 'private' are racialized metaphors. Private is equated with being 'good' and 'white' and public with being 'bad' and 'Black.'"9 Disinvesting in public schools, closing them, and opening privately operated charter schools in African-American and Latino communities is facilitated by a racist discourse that pathologizes these communities and their public institutions. But "failing" schools are the product of a legacy of educational, economic, and social inequities experienced by African Americans, Latinos/as, and Native Americans.10 Schools serving these communities continue to face deeply inequitable opportunities to learn, including unequal funding, curriculum, educational resources, facilities, and teacher experience. High stakes accountability has often compounded these inequities by narrowing the curriculum to test preparation-producing an exodus of some of the strongest teachers from schools in low-income communities of color.11
Neoliberalization of public education is also an ideological project, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, to "change the soul," redefining the purpose of education and what it means to teach, learn, and participate in schooling. Tensions between democratic purposes of education and education to serve the needs of the workforce are longstanding. But in the neoliberal framework, teaching is driven by standardized tests and performance outcomes; principals are managers, and school superintendents are CEOs; and learning equals performance on the tests with teachers, students, and parents held responsible for "failure." Education, which is properly seen as a public good, is being converted into a private good, an investment one makes in one's child or oneself to "add value" in order better to compete in the labor market. It is no longer seen as part of the larger end of promoting individual and social development, but is merely the means to rise above others. Democratic participation in local schools is rearticulated to individual "empowerment" of education consumers-as parents compete for slots in an array of charter and specialty schools. In Chicago, twelve thousand parents and students attended the 2010 "High School Fair" sponsored by Chicago Public Schools, and six thousand attended the "New Schools Expo" of charter and school choice options. The political significance of this neoliberal shift stretches beyond schools to legitimize marketing the public sector, particularly in cities, and to infuse market ideologies into everyday life.New Orleans–Feasting on Tragedy 12
Nowhere did the rollback of social welfare policies and public institutions occur with greater force than in hurricane-devastated New Orleans. In the words of George Lipsitz, the aftermath of hurricane Katrina ushered in an orgy of "legalized looting to enable corporations to profit from the misfortunes of poor people."13 Education was at the leading edge. The state at all levels, in alliance with local and national capital and neoliberal think tanks, took advantage of the chaos wreaked by Katrina and the exodus of low-income working-class African Americans from the city to dismantle their public schools. This was a strategic move to exclude low-income African Americans from the city altogether. They not only had no homes to return to, they had no schools. Before Katrina hit in August 2005, there were sixty-three thousand students in New Orleans public schools; about twenty-four thousand began classes there in the fall of 2008.14
Just weeks after the hurricane, the state of Louisiana took over one hundred public schools and began turning over millions of dollars of taxpayer money to private organizations to run them. The state dismissed all forty-five hundred public school teachers, broke the city's powerful black-led teachers' union, and dismantled the school system's administrative infrastructure.15 Right-wing foundations quickly issued reports calling for vouchers, and President Bush proposed $1.9 billion for K-12 students with $488 million targeted for vouchers to be used in schools anywhere in the country. An influential report by the Urban Institute hailed New Orleans as an opportunity for a grand experiment to decentralize and privatize the public school system through vouchers and charter schools.16 Less than a month after the hurricane devastated the city, the U.S. Department of Education gave the state of Louisiana $20.9 million to reopen existing charter schools and open new ones, and nine months later, the department gave the state an additional $23.9 million for new charter schools, most in New Orleans. Prior to Katrina, there were five charter schools in the city. After the hurricane, the state took over most of the schools and established the Recovery School District, an open arena for charter schools. Of the fifty-five schools opened in New Orleans in 2006-2007, thirty-one were public charter schools.17 In 2010, out of eighty-eight public schools in New Orleans, sixty-one were charters run by a variety of operators.18 The pro-market Fordham Foundation judged New Orleans the best city in the United States for charter school expansion.19 All this was done by government fiat guided by think tanks such as the Urban Institute, and backed by corporate foundations such as the Gates Foundation. Excluded were the working-class African American and Latino/a parents, students, teachers, and community members, many of whom had been literally excluded from the city itself by redevelopment policies that made it impossible to return.20
It would be hard to deny that New Orleans's schools were in bad shape before the hurricane. In 1997 per-pupil school funding was 16 percent lower than the average of poorly funded urban districts nationally.21 The New Orleans situation reflects a long-term pattern of disinvestment in inner-city areas, beginning with cuts in federal funding to cities in the 1980s, followed by the shift to an entrepreneurial model of urban governance that prioritizes attracting private investment, tourism, and real estate investment.22 Today charter schools in New Orleans are part of creating a "good business climate" in a "revitalized" (gentrified) whiter New Orleans.Chicago–Disinvestment, Privatization, and Gentrification
Chicago is another exemplar of the logic of disinvestment and privatization that is playing out in urban school districts.23 Chicago's Renaissance 2010 education plan was carried out in partnership with the state and the Commercial Club of Chicago, an organization of the powerful corporate and financial interests in the city. The object was to close public schools and expand charter schools. It has become a national model enshrined in the propagandistic claim of "the Chicago Miracle." Across African-American communities, the mayoral-appointed school board has closed schools on the grounds of low achievement. Others, particularly in gentrifying Latino/a communities, have been closed for low enrollment, despite evidence to the contrary. The board has replaced neighborhood schools with charter schools or selective enrollment schools that most neighborhood children are unable to attend. School closings have resulted in increased mobility, spikes in violence, and neighborhood instability as children are transferred to schools out of their neighborhoods.24 Moreover, Renaissance 2010 has not increased educational opportunities for most students, with 80 percent of displaced students attending schools no better than the ones that were closed.25
This policy eliminates schools that are anchors in their communities, contributing to further disinvestment. In gentrifying areas, closing neighborhood schools and replacing them with schools branded for the middle class facilitates the displacement of working-class families. Chicago, like New Orleans, is an example of the intertwining of education policy and neoliberal urban development. Real estate development is a pivotal sector in urban economies, and closing neighborhood public schools in disinvested areas to open up elite, selective-enrollment public schools or prestigious charter schools is part of the neoliberal restructuring of urban space.26 This nexus of education policy and real estate development is located in the spatial logics of capital-the physical location of production facilities, the built environment of cities, and places of consumption are devalued and selectively rebuilt in order to establish a "new locational grid" for capital accumulation.27 In other disinvested, low-income neighborhoods, students attending under-resourced and struggling public schools are a ready consumer base for the proliferation of charter schools, particularly large charter school chains that target these areas.
In response, parents, teachers, and students are challenging school closings and market solutions, and are demanding democratic participation and community-driven processes to improve public schools and increase resources. In fall 2010, parents at an elementary school in a Mexican immigrant community in Chicago occupied a school field house for forty-three days to force the school board to agree to construct a school library. In 2001 parents in another working-class Mexican neighborhood were compelled to conduct a nineteen-day hunger strike to get a new high school in their community, after the school board had used funds allocated for their school to build two state-of-the-art, selective-enrollment high schools in gentrifying areas of the city. Both of these actions followed years of petitioning the mayor-appointed board of education with no results. Organized resistance to neoliberal policies has prevented some school closings and, most significantly, also spawned a progressive caucus that won the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, the third largest teachers' union local in the country.The "Good Sense" in Neoliberal Education Policy
Yet some measures to reign in teacher unions have support on the ground, as teachers and parents have gravitated to privately run charter schools and vouchers. Certainly venture philanthropists (such as the Gates and Fordham Foundations), charter school operators, business federations (such as Chicago's Commercial Club), and politicians of both parties have deployed enormous economic, political, and symbolic resources to promote education markets and performance pay for teachers as the only alternative to struggling neighborhood public schools and "bad" teaching.28 They have raised the cap on charter school expansion, funded charter school ventures, and established policies like those in New Orleans and Chicago to expand education markets. However, neoliberal policies are not simply imposed from above. They also materialize through the actions of parents and teachers navigating a disinvested, degraded, and often racist public school system. Looked at this way, neoliberalism is a process that works its way into the discourses and practices of schools, through the actions of not only elites, but also marginalized and oppressed people acting in conditions not of their own making.
Tom Pedroni demonstrates this in his study of African-American parents' participation in the Milwaukee voucher movement.29 Pedroni interprets the participation of African-American parents in the voucher program against a background of prolonged struggles and failures to win a modicum of educational equity and respect for their children and themselves as public school parents. Pedroni argues that, for these parents, the identity of educational consumer offers greater dignity and agency than that of citizen-supplicant to an unresponsive and racist public school system that has never fully included African-American children. Like charter school parents and teachers I interviewed in Chicago, Pedroni proposes that parents see themselves as education consumers in the face of a post-welfare state that offers no real alternative.30 Drawing on Gramsci's theory of "good sense" in the ideological construction of hegemonic social alliances, this insight is an opening to reframe the struggle to defend public education by drawing on the real concerns of parents who ally themselves with education markets.
There is no point in romanticizing public schools (or other welfare state institutions). While they have provided free universal education and spaces where people can make claims for justice, and are sometimes empowering and liberating, they have historically been saturated with inequalities and exclusions.31 The benefits the white middle class has had from public schools have often been allowed it to ignore a thoroughly inequitable public school system. Critical education scholars have long criticized public schools for reproducing a stratified labor force and the dispositions and ideologies that support capitalism, racism, and gender oppression. Exclusionary, paternalistic, disrespectful, even brutal treatment of African American, Latino/a, and other people of color and women at the hands of public housing authorities, public hospitals, the police and judicial systems, public welfare agencies, elected officials, city agencies, and schools make existing public institutions deeply problematic places. And teacher union leaders have too often failed to take up progressive causes and ally themselves with working-class parents and communities of color.32
Understanding the appeal of charter schools, choice, and teacher accountability is essential to build alliances not only to defend public education in this period but to develop a program for democratic and just public schools, as well. Resisting predatory neoliberal policies requires acknowledging and grappling with the exclusions and inequities of public institutions.33 This raises the questions: What of public education do we wish to defend; what must be reconstructed, and how can it fulfill its democratic potential?34Structural Adjustment and Education
As the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-08 hit, the Bush and Obama administrations, in league with Wall Street, moved swiftly to socialize the losses of investors through massive taxpayer funded bailouts. This was followed by furloughs (wages cuts) for public workers and worker concessions in the bailed-out private sector (e.g., auto) under the rationale that "there is no alternative" and "we all have to sacrifice."
As the crisis continues to reverberate, states and municipalities face fiscal crises of monumental proportions. The loss of tax revenues combined with government losses in the financial markets have thrown state budgets across the country into massive debt. Public worker pension funds, health insurance benefits, and funding for public services are in real trouble. At the time of this writing, California has a projected budget deficit of $28 billion over the next eighteen months.35 Instead of raising taxes on the rich and corporations, state governments are selling off public assets and imposing austerity measures on the poor, workers, and the middle class, with public-sector workers an immediate target. The state of California is instituting draconian cuts in education, health, and programs for youth and the elderly. This scenario is repeated in state legislatures and city halls across the country. In Wisconsin, Walker pushed through $100 million in tax cuts to corporations, while his bill would cut over $800 million for education alone.36 The broad working class is expected to endure repeated reductions in wages, pensions, and hard-won benefits, drastic cuts in public services, and further loss of personal assets, particularly homes, while municipal services and infrastructure such as bridges and roads are sold off to investors.
City governments are particularly hard hit by the crisis because of their reliance on real estate taxes, housing markets, and investments in financial markets. Urban school districts have already laid off thousands of teachers, increased class sizes, pushed to reduce teacher pensions, and cut out music, gym, kindergarten, bilingual programs, after-school and youth programs, and more. These austerity measures are certain to hit hardest those least able to bear them, low-income schools of color, where these are the very programs that offer some hope.37Dangers and Opportunities of the Present Moment
Social austerity ultimately creates contradictions for capital as well. As capital continues to flow into the inflated financial sector at the expense of the productive sector, and as the state pays for the crisis with cuts in education and general social welfare, there is an unfolding crisis of social reproduction.38 Public education plays an important role in the reproduction of the labor force, political legitimation, and social stability. The problem with franchising and contracting out schools to an assortment of private operators is that the state has less control over these functions of schools. Inflated class sizes, cuts in education programs, and teachers' eroding salaries and working conditions can only degrade public education, particularly in low-income schools. This will exacerbate an already two-tiered education system. Detroit's Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb (a graduate of the Broad Foundation's Superintendent Academy) has proposed closing half the district's schools and putting up to sixty students in a classroom.39
Under Governor Walker's plan, two thousand Wisconsin teachers and school staff would lose their jobs, and the average teacher would lose $5500 to $7000 in net compensation. The average 2011 teacher salary in Wisconsin is $50,627.40 According to a new report by the OECD (Paine & Schleicher, 2011), the pay, working conditions, and qualifications of U.S. teachers are already low in comparison with those of teachers in other advanced economies.41 From the standpoint of capital, serious disinvestment in public education has consequences for the preparation of its workforce. It also has implications for social stability, with more students in affected schools dropping out. The security state is a looming presence in this scenario.
Wisconsin foreshadows the political cost of undermining the living standards and expectations of those who have come to be defined as "middle class," such as teachers. The Tea Party agenda is laying bare the capitalist offensive against the working class. A twenty-foot long banner proclaiming, "Tax the Rich" hung from the third floor of the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda throughout the people's occupation. With leaflets and treatises plastering the walls of the capitol, rallies filled with home-made placards, and hours of conversation between unlikely allies, the three-week-long Wisconsin occupation and rallies were a giant democratic political forum. And this was replicated in town squares throughout the state. For many, this was their first political protest.
The results of this politicization are yet to be seen, but the budget bills themselves are making connections for people between cuts in education and the assault on teacher unions with those of other public- and private-sector workers and farmers. Legions of firefighters and their families from towns around the state marched militantly through the capitol building, fists pumping the air as they chanted, "The workers united will never be defeated."
In addition to slashing state aid to public schools by nearly $834 million, Walker has proposed sweeping changes to Medicaid-funded programs including BadgerCare, which provides health coverage to low-income Wisconsin families, and a $96 million cut in aid to local governments, including cities, towns, and counties. At the rally of over one hundred thousand on March 12, farmers, in a show of "Farm Labor Unity," drove their tractors to Madison for a "tractorcade" around the capitol building. Roughly eleven thousand farmers receive BadgerCare. This is a compelling moment to connect attacks on education to the capitalist crisis, particularly the parasitic financialization, war spending, and tax cuts for the rich that have looted the public coffers, bankrupted states, and threaten our schools. This is, moreover, an opportunity to expose the crisis-ridden logic of capitalism itself and to engage in serious discussion about the world we wish to see.The Potential of an Education Movement
In the past few years, a multifaceted education movement in and outside classrooms has emerged against neoliberal education restructuring and in resistance to racism, gender and heterosexist oppression, and militarization of schools. Liberatory education projects and social-justice-oriented schools have sprouted up in cracks in the public system. There are freedom schools and popular education projects outside public schools, and community-based youth activist organizations across the country. The immigrant rights movement and organized opposition to the criminalization of youth through the "school to prison pipeline" have begun to link political and educational issues. Organizations of activist teachers and community educators in a number of cities have joined together to form national networks. (The Education for Liberation Network and Teacher Activist Groups are examples.) These groups have joined parents and students in community coalitions to stop school closings and privatization, prevent mayoral takeovers of urban school districts, defend undocumented students, and challenge high-stakes testing. With the victory of a progressive caucus to lead the Chicago Teachers Union, there is also a significant progressive force in the heart of the American Federation of Teachers. Although there is some overlap, these various streams are not yet organized around a coherent program or analysis of the problem.42
The outpouring of teachers and other workers against union busting and austerity budgets has changed the terrain. Thousands of people who have never attended a protest before are in the streets and engaged politically. So far, this motion is mainly defensive, and some are willing to make concessions to help capitalism extricate itself from the crisis.43 On the one hand, there is the possibility that the protests will be subsumed by the electoral politics of the Democratic Party, much like the current focus in Wisconsin on recalling Republican legislators, or diverted to scapegoating people of color and immigrants. On the other hand, the challenge to taken-for-granted living standards opens a space to see social arrangements differently. This is a moment that can reveal the systemic connections between the bailout of Wall Street and social privations, a moment to connect attacks on workers with other social struggles-particularly to see the common threads between wars for domination, oppression of people of color, and the unfolding austerity regime.44
Buried in Governor Walker's proposed 2012-2013 budget is a measure to repeal access to in-state tuition for undocumented students and eliminate Food Share benefits (food stamps) for documented ("legal")immigrants.45 How Wisconsin's majority white teachers, union members, and farmers will respond will be important. Bridging deep divisions along lines of race, ethnicity, and immigrant status, and challenging racial oppression are central to building a counter-hegemonic alliance with the power to defeat austerity measures and move toward a proactive politics that challenges capitalism itself. Although it is only now coalescing, a movement that links education with immigrant rights and other social struggles can play an important role in teacher unions and in student community, and parent organizations.
In classrooms, critical educators are positioned to help young people understand why their schools are under attack and to "connect the dots" to the structural crisis of capitalism. Revitalized teacher unions are in a strategic position to insist that Wall Street pay for the crisis. Although the U.S. context is different, there is much to learn from social movement teacher unionism outside the United States (e.g., in Oaxaca, Honduras, and South Africa) and its central role in social struggles for democracy, against neoliberalism, and for social liberation.46 This is a moment not simply to defend the public education we have, but to advocate for a just, inclusive, democratic, humanizing education that prefigures the society we wish to have-one premised not on exploitation but on the full development of human beings in social solidarity.
Pauline Lipman (plipman [at] uic.edu) is an education activist and professor of educational policy studies at University of Illinois at Chicago. Her latest book is The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City (2011).
Jun 06, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Majority Of Recent College Grads Don't Have Jobs Lined Up, Survey Shows
by Tyler Durden Thu, 06/06/2019 - 13:21 2 SHARES Twitter Facebook Reddit Email Print
American students carry an aggregate pile of student loan debt equivalent to roughly $1.5 trillion, a generational burden that has helped contribute to plunging birth rates, lower home-ownership rates among young people, and even lower rates of stock ownership, as more young people dedicate more financial resources to paying down debt.
But to gauge exactly how much a students' finances factor into their decisions about which school to attend and which majors to choose, MidAmerica Nazarene University surveyed 2,000 recent graduates from around the country to learn more about how they financed their degrees, and how much they will owe after graduation.
Given the cost of higher education in the US, the majority of students answered that post-grad job prospects influenced the major they selected (those who answered 'no' either really enjoy studying STEM, or majored in gender studies).Recommended videos Powered by AnyClip The Best Way To Check And Boost Credit Scores Play Unmute Current Time 0:00 / Duration 0:49 Loaded : 100.00% Fullscreen Up Next
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It might seem surprising given the financial stakes, but the survey also showed that more than 60% of recent grads didn't have jobs lined up when they received their diplomas.
For those who did choose their careers based on financial considerations, a majority said they would have picked another line of work if finances weren't a consideration (but hey, we can't all be artists).
Once upon a time, there wasn't as much of a correlation between a students' field of study and their eventual chosen career (investment bankers who studied English at Middlebury College wound up on Wall Street thanks to 'Uncle Jim's' connections). But as the world of higher education becomes increasingly costly and cut throat, situations like this are becoming increasingly rare.
One of the more telling data points in the study was the gauge of graduates' feelings about the job market. Even with unemployment at multi-decade lows, a majority of graduates had a negative outlook on the job market.Florida Millionaire Predicts 'Cash Panic' In 2019
PhD Millionaire who called Dotcom crash, housing bust, and market's surge since '09 is now predicting a 'cash panic' in 2019. Here's how to prepare.