Higher education: the next subprime bubble

This story will break your heart: A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College. We live in a country where it’s hard to find work that pays living wages without a college degree, and yet few jobs actually require the use of any knowledge obtained while earning that college degree. It’s a hard life for young people these days. Education is no longer a guaranteed path out of poverty, and it can actually help keep a person in poverty with the onerous burden of student loans. A number of people have already made the comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, and this article does the same:

Republican Stonewalling on the Debt Ceiling

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell stated his position on the debt ceiling:

“I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy,” he said, adding that after two years in office, Obama is now responsible for the economic conditions that began under former president George W. Bush.

Jaehwan's Come-to-Jesus Moment


(cartoon from here)

If you talk to fundamentalist Christians, you’ll learn that each one has a story about God’s salvation.  Each person has a testimony, a come-to-Jesus moment, where they “realize” that Jesus died for their sins and that all Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists, and atheists are condemned to eternity in Hell for not believing in Christ.  I never had such a moment with respect to religion (I still prefer the Flying Spaghetti Monster over the late J.C.), but this week I did have a revelation about life.  My revelation was this: I’ve officially entered middle age, and I’ve adopted the middle aged mindset about responsibility and legacy that comes along with it.

The Good, the Exciting, and the Dull

With a crying infant and a growing toddler, I’ve been suffering from severe sleep deprivation, which means that I’m finding it hard to think on my own.  Creativity?  Gone.  Writing?  On hiatus.  Dreaming?  How do you dream when you never sleep?  So these days it makes me happy when someone does my thinking for me.

Piracy Hits Print Media

Writers have remained relatively unscathed and unaffected by digital piracy.  Until now.  With the proliferation of E-books and digital devices, it’s only a matter of time before writers will face the same problems as recording artists and filmmakers.  From the Times article:

Until recently, publishers believed books were relatively safe from piracy because it was so labor-intensive to scan each page to convert a book to a digital file. What’s more, reading books on the computer was relatively unappealing compared with a printed version.

Who's to blame?

The Pham family

The Pham family

Man, talk about the mortgage crisis affecting families.  In the NY Times today, they profiled several families and individuals who have lost massive deposits on real estate purchases in the New York area: Up in Smoke.  The Pham family above, for example, put down a deposit of $93,199 for a $956,990 2 bedroom apartment in Hoboken, NJ.  They signed the agreement in 2005, but when their closing date came around this past September, they no longer qualified for a mortgage without putting more money down.  Since they don’t have the additional funds, they are going to lose their entire $93,199.  Even for rich folk, that’s a lot of money.  Toll Brothers, the builder, is refusing to give them any of their deposit back.

Dow Falls Below 7,000


The Dow has crashed below yet another floor of support.  It’s at 6,884 as I’m writing this.  It has lost more than half its value since its high of 14,000 in October of 2007.

It’s time to nationalize the banks.  Let’s learn from Japan, and let’s not repeat the same mistakes they made.  Have the government take over the banks now.  We need to act swiftly.  With the government in charge, investors will have greater faith in the system.  The government will have more authority to curb the absolutely ridiculous levels of executive pay, and Americans can know that there will be oversight.

Frugality on Trial

22japan600I saw this article in the NY Times yesterday.  The article talks about how following Japan’s Lost Decade, consumption continued to lag.  People were so affected by the past economic problems that they never got back up.  For example:

Today, years after the recovery, even well-off Japanese households use old bath water to do laundry, a popular way to save on utility bills. Sales of whiskey, the favorite drink among moneyed Tokyoites in the booming ’80s, have fallen to a fifth of their peak. And the nation is losing interest in cars; sales have fallen by half since 1990.

Learning from Japan's Bank Crisis

Heizo Takenaka, fixer of the Japanese "lost decade"

Heizo Takenaka, fixer of the Japanese "lost decade"

I’ll admit that I’m at a total loss for explanation on all this bailout talk.  I have no strong opinion, other than the belief that it’s wrong for executives to be overpaying themselves at times like this.  Why do I lack an opinion?  I think it’s because I have trouble conceptualizing $800 billion, plus I have no idea what will ever restore future confidence in the American consumer.

For those who have a strong opinion, here is a piece from the NY Times about Japan’s bank crisis for the 90’s.  People who have studied Japan say that even though the U.S. is spending like crazy, we should be spending and doing even more.

Adult Entertainment Industry Wants Bailout

Sorry, no picture included with this post.

Thanks to Larry from the AA Movement blog for this article on Fox News.  This is yet another angle on the “internet decreasing profitability” stuff that I’ve been posting about the publishing and media industries.  I usually try to summarize, but in this case, the article itself says it best:

Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis and “Hustler” magazine publisher Larry Flynt have said they will petition Congress for financial aid along the lines of what the Big Three auto makers are getting.