Showing posts with label Bernie Sanders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bernie Sanders. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Big Nothing Burger: The FBI should stop investigating Jane Sanders, Bernie's wife and former president of Burlington College

The FBI is investigating Jane Sanders, former president of Burlington College and wife of Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The heart of the matter, as I understand it, is this: Jane allegedly submitted a loan application on behalf of Burlington College that falsely represented that the College had secured millions of dollars in pledged financial donations. The college obtained the loan but the pledged donations did not materialize. The college then closed in 2016 under a mountain of debt.

This is a big NOTHING BURGER, and the FBI should shut this investigation down.

Let's assume for a moment that the allegation is true and that Jane falsely represented that the college had financial pledges and that the the college obtained a large loan based on that misrepresentation. That would be reprehensible but no more reprehensible than the millions of people who filled out so-called liars loans during the real estate bubble that burst in 2008.

We all remember that episode, accurately dramatized in the movie The Big Short. People were applying for loans to buy homes without proper documentation of their income and assets. Those homes were wildly overvalued; but real estate brokers, real estate appraisers, and the banks all colluded to make sure the loans were approved Corporate financiers then packaged the loans into asset backed securities (ABS), which were peddled to unwary investors, including pension funds. The ratings agencies glibly certified that the ABS were investment grade when in fact they were junk.

And then the real estate market collapsed in a flood of foreclosures, and the American economy nearly collapsed.

Did anyone go to jail for that huge speculative bubble? No, no one went to jail.

Even if we put Jane's conduct in the worst possible light (which I am not inclined to do), she did nothing that wasn't done by millions of Americans, including a lot of fat cats in the global financial industry.  If we aren't going to put the ratings-agency executives, the real estate brokers, and the fat cats from Goldman Sachs in jail, then let's leave Jane Sanders alone.

Apart from whether Jane filed a fraudulent loan application, there is a suggestion that she was an incompetent president of Burlington College and that the college closed last year due at least in part to her poor leadership. But that allegation is bogus as well.

Dozens of small private colleges have closed in the past three or four years, and dozens more are on the brink of closure. Even if Jane Sanders had sterling administrative and financial skills, it is doubtful she could have saved that little college. After all, Burlington only had a couple of hundred students.

Her detractors have collected negative assessments from disgruntled former Burlington faculty members, but let's face it. Colleges all over the country are on the brink of extinction, and the professors generally do nothing but moan, gripe and criticize.

I repeat, this is a big nothing burger. The FBI and the conservative media should get off Jane's back.

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit I was once a big fan of Bernie Sanders. I voted for him, and I was disappointed when he wasn't named the Democratic nominee for President.

But I am over Bernie. In my opinion, he was cheated out of the Democratic nomination by Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a gaggle of disreputable journalists. Remember when columnist Froma Harrop called Bernie a racist in an op ed essay? Bernie Sanders, who was arrested in a civil rights demonstration when Hillary was checking footnotes at Yale Law School. What an outrageous accusation!

After the way the Democratic Party treated him, Bernie should have quit the Democrats and started a third political party. I am hugely disappointed to see him working collegially with the people who treated him so disgracefully during the 2016 primary season.

Nevertheless, Jane does not deserve to have aspersions cast against her based on a loan application that might have been puffed up a bit.  The FBI and Fox News should leave her the hell alone.


Leave Jane the hell alone!


References

Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz: Why the Sanders FBI bank loan investigation is dangerous territory. Fox News, June 28, 2017.


Froma Harrop. Bernie Sanders and Racism LiteSeattle Times, May 19, 2016.

Eli Watkins, Elizabeth Landers, and Will Cadigan. Bernie Sanders says reported investigation into his wife stems from 'pathetic attack. CNN, June 28, 2017.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers and they believe student loans should be forgiven: Politicians take note

 Gordon Long authored an essay for MATASII.com (reposted on the Zero Hedge blog site) that contains some profound observations about the Millennial generation. As Long points out, Millennials now surpass Baby Boomers as the nation's largest generation. In 2015, there were 74.9 Baby Boomers (ages 51-69), while there were 75.4 million Millennials (ages 18-34). And of course, Baby Boomers will shrink as a percentage of the nation's entire population as they grow older and die.

Gordon argues that Millennials have a larger sense of entitlement than Baby Boomers, who, after all, were raised by people from the notoriously self-reliant Greatest Generation. My late parents, for example, lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and they didn't believe anyone was entitled to anything; and I suppose some of that philosophy was passed on to me.  My children are Millennials; and I think they believe that everyone living in a prosperous society is entitled to health care and a basic level of education. If so, I agree with them.


Gordon made two observations about Millennials that have important political implications. First, millennials make about 20 percent less than the Baby Boomers did at their age--they are poorer as a whole than my generation was when we were young.


Second, a lot of Millennials believe student loans should be forgiven. And why shouldn't they hold that view? After all, I paid a pittance for a fine law degree when I was young and immediately got a well-paying job. Millions of Millennials are burdened with student loans and are struggling to find good jobs in a weak job market.


Long believes the Millennials' support for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election can be largely explained by Bernie's impassioned call for a free college education for everyone. This is a very appealing proposal to a generation of Americans who hold billions of dollars in student debt.


So what are the political implications of Long's observations? Simply this: the Millennials will not put up with the status quo in terms of the federal student program. Our political and media elites seem to think young Americans will continue borrowing more and more money for postsecondary education and will be content to enter into income-driven repayment plans that last as long as a quarter of a century. But the elites are delusional.


In the next presidential election and every election thereafter, the Millennials and the generations coming after them will flock to any candidate who calls for student loan forgiveness and free postsecondary education. They will become one-issue voters.


So far at least, President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are tone deaf to the student loan crisis. The Department of Education is mishandling the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and it nullified a decision by the Obama administration to ban student loan collection agencies from slapping huge penalties on student borrowers who defaulted on their loans. Apparently, DeVos is seeking advice from the for-profit college industry rather than the student debtors who were victimized by that industry.


The student loan crisis grows worse by the month, and the politicians who step forward with solutions will win the vote of the Millennials and a lot of other Americans. If our current President doesn't understand that, he will be a one-termer.





References


Stacy Cowley. Student Loan Forgiveness Program Approval Letters May Be Invalid, Education Dept. SaysNew York Times, March 30, 2017.


Steve Rhode. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Teeters With Unmitigated DisasterPersonal Finance Syndication Network, PFSyn.com, May 2, 2017.


Editorial, The Wrong Move on Student Loans. New York Times, April 76, 2017.





Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Governor Cuomo proposes free college education at New York's public institutions, but the for-profits and private liberal arts schools will likely oppose this plan

Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to offer a free college education at New York's public colleges and universities for all New York families making $125,000 or less. This plan is nearly identical to the proposal put forward by Hillary Clinton last fall during the presidential campaign.

In a press release, U.S. Secretary of Education  John B. King quickly endorsed Cuomo's plan, noting that it is similar to President Obama's proposal for a free community-college education.  "I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in expanding the doors of opportunity for New Yorkers, particularly those who otherwise may not be able to afford [a college education]," King said.

Governor Cuomo's proposal is a sound idea, Hillary Clinton's proposal is a sound idea, and President Obama's proposal for a free community-college education is a sound idea as well. And, contrary to what critics have said about these plans, they are not financially irresponsible.

The federal government already spends $150 billion a year on student aid programs--Pell grants, student loans, work-study programs, etc. The states also spend billions on higher education every year. New York, for example, spends a $1 billion a year in tuition assistance for the state's students.

If all this money was dedicated toward offering a free college education at public colleges and universities, taxpayers might actually save money.  But none of these plans will work if the federal and state governments continue to subsidize the for-profit college industry and private nonprofit colleges.

If Governor Cuomo's plan moves forward, you can expect to see for-profit and nonprofit colleges oppose it. Catharine Hill, president of Vassar College, came out against free college tuition in a New York Times op ed essay last year--back when Bernie Sanders was the only politician endorsing the idea. And New York's association of private colleges has already expressed skepticism about Governor Cuomo's free tuition plan.

The next six months will be a time of great turmoil for higher education. A number of for-profit colleges have closed or gone bankrupt, and many more are hanging on by their fingernails, hoping the Trump administration treats them more kindly than the Obama administration did during its waning days.  Several nonprofit liberal arts colleges have closed as well and more are on the brink of closing.

If the for-profit college industry collapses and the nonprofit college sector shrinks dramatically, then proposals to offer a free college education at public colleges might actually work. But they will not work if federal and state governments continue to prop up the nonpublic college sector with public money.

Bernie & Andrew Cuomo support free college education at public institutions
(photo credit, Sam Hodgson, New York Times)


References

Catharine Hill. Free Tuition Is Not the AnswerNew York Times, November 30, 2015, p. A23.

Jesse McKinley. Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students. New York Times, January 3, 2017.

Rick Seltzer. Free Tuition Idea Revived. Inside Higher Ed, January 4, 2017.

U.S. Department of Education Press Release. U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr.'s statement on New York Gove. Andrew Cuomo's free college tuition proposal. U.S. Department of Education, January 3, 2017.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Suicides and a Jail Death in Anadarko, Oklahoma: Bitter, Angry and Frightened, Oklahomans will not vote for Hillary

Last January, the Washington Post reported on a spate of suicides in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Four people committed suicide over a period of less than two months. All were young, all were racial minorities, and all killed themselves with guns.

And last April, Darius Robinson, an African American father of seven, was killed in his Anadarko jail cell, asphyxiated by jail employees. Jailers say Robinson was trying to escape, but the Oklahoma Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide.  A small demonstration was organized a couple months after Robinson's death; about 50 people attended. Robinson, by the way, was not in jail for a violent crime; he was in the slammer for failing to pay child support.

You might think these tragedies would draw the attention of President Obama. Four desperate young people killed themselves with handguns--what a great opportunity for the President to talk about gun control. A black man strangled by his jailers while in police custody--that's as least as shocking as the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore/

Nevertheless, as far as I can determine, Barack Obama has said nothing about these deaths, and Hillary Clinton has said nothing about them. And, to the best of my knowledge, neither Al Sharpton nor Jessie Jackson has shown up in Anadarko.

Why? Because the Oklahomans don't matter. The Democratic political operatives have written off Oklahoma, and well they should. In the Democratic presidential primary, Oklahoma Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders--Bernie Sanders! And  God knows they didn't vote for Bernie because they are socialists. No, Oklahoma Democrats loath Hillary Clinton, and Bernie was their only alternative. And if Oklahoma Democrats loath her, you can imagine what Oklahoma Republicans think.

In truth, Oklahomans are bitter, angry and frightened. Outside a few pockets of urban prosperity--Oklahoma City, metropolitan Tulsa, and Bartlesville--the state is in deep depression. From the Winding Stair Mountains in the east to the short grass country of western Oklahoma, there are no jobs. Anadarko, my home town, may be the epicenter of Oklahoma's desperate condition. Abandoned houses, suicide, alcohol abuse, drug addiction--rural Oklahomans are among the casualties of the new global economy.

Hillary and Barack despise these people, and the Oklahomans know it.  Barack sneeringly dismissed poor white Americans generally when he said they comfort themselves with guns and religion. When Hillary condemned the "basket of deplorables," she was talking about the people I grew up with.

Eighty years ago, John Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, a tribute to the strength and courage of the Oklahomans who were driven off their land during the Dust Bowl years and migrated to California in rattletrap cars. "We're the people that live," Ma Joad says in the novel. "They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people."

Do you think Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton have read The Grapes of Wrath? Not likely. Do you think they give a damn about contemporary Oklahomans who are suffering now just as much as their ancestors did during the Great Depression? No, of course not.

Image result for darius robinson death
Darius Robinson: "We're the people"



References

Sarah Kaplan.'It has brought us to our knees': Small Okla. town reeling from suicide epidemic. Washington Post, January 25, 2016. It https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/01/25/it-has-brought-us-to-our-knees-small-okla-town-reeling-from-suicide-epidemic/


Xin Xin Liu. Protesters Gather At Caddo Co. Courthouse After Inmate's Death, new9.com, July 22, 2016. Available at
http://www.news9.com/story/32507009/protest-planned-at-caddo-co-courthouse-after-inmates-death

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hillary embraces Bernie Sanders' plan for a free college education: God bless Senator Sanders

You did it! You did it! You said that you would do it, And indeed you did. I thought that you would rue it; I doubted you'd do it. But now I must admit it That succeed you did. 

                                                         lyrics from My Fair Lady

Hillary Clinton announced this week that she favors a tuition-free college education at in-state public colleges for all families with annual incomes up to $125,000. As the New York Times correctly noted, by taking that step, Hillary "largely embraced" Bernie Sanders's core position about a free college education at public institutions for all Americans.

God bless Bernie Sanders! As the Democratic primary season ground on, attacks by Hillary's supporters became more and more vicious. Froma Harrup insinuated he was a racist, Barney Frank accused him of McCarthyism, and a New York Times reporter suggested he was a sexist.  I think someone in the Clinton camp would have accused him of antisemitism were it not for the fact that he is Jewish.

All shameful poppycock. But doughty Bernie went the distance, and the Democratic Party has essentially adopted one of his core campaign issues.

What does this mean?

If Clinton is elected President, which seems likely, Congress will be forced to grapple with real reform for the federal student-loan program.  Clinton crossed the Rubicon when she endorsed Bernie's free-college tuition proposal. There is no going back. And by calling for a 3-month moratorium on student-loan payments to allow college borrowers to refinance their college loans, Clinton has forced the Democratic Party and the American public to face the fact that the student loan program is a train wreck.

As Winston Churchill said after the battle for Egypt, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

A calamity has descended on American higher education. In the coming years, the for-profit sector will collapse,dozens of  small liberal arts colleges will close, and millions of Americans will be forced into 20-and 25-year repayment plans. The student-loan program as we now know it will unravel.

It's going to be ugly, but at least Hillary's two recent pronouncements about higher education finance are an acknowledgement that we have to embrace radical change. And we can thank Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont for pushing America's most important domestic policy issue to the front and center of American politics.

And let us not forget what I have been arguing for 20 years: There is no way out of this morass without allowing millions of student borrowers to shed their student loans in bankruptcy.

Image result for "bernie sanders"

References

Stephanie Saul and Matt Flegenheimer. Hillary Clinton Embraces Ideas From Bernie Sanders's College Tuition Plan. New York Times, July 6, 2016. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/07/us/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-education.html?_r=0

Anne Gearan and Abby Phillip. Clinton to propose 3-month hiatus for repayment of  student loansWashington Post, July 5, 2016. Accessible at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/07/05/clinton-to-propose-3-month-hiatus-for-repayment-of-student-loans/?hpid=hp_special-topic-chain_clinton-loans-11pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Student Loan Crisis and the Democratic Party Platform: Key Reform Proposals Would Entice Young Voters to vote for Hillary

Hillary Clinton has a problem with young  voters. They went 3 or 4 to 1 for Bernie Sanders in the various Democratic primaries this spring. Why did young voters go to Bernie, and how can Hillary win them over?

The Democratic Party insiders--dinosaurs like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Charles Schumer, etc--don't realize it but the number one domestic policy issue in the United States today is the student loan crisis.  Approximately 43 million Americans are carrying $1.3 trillion in student-loan debt, and at least half of them can't pay it back.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in April, about 40 percent of college-loan borrowers in the repayment phase aren't making their monthly loan payments.  And five million people are enrolled in various income-based repayment programs. Most debtors in these programs are making payments so low that the payments don't cover accruing interest. In reality then, most people in income-based repayment plans will never pay off their loan balances.

Bernie Sanders signaled that he understands the scope of the problem when he proposed a free college education at a public college for every American.  By making that pledge, he turned millions of young Americans into single-issue voters.

Hillary could attract millions of Bernie supporters by adding these  planks to the Democratic Party platform:
  • Free college education at a public college or university (as Bernie proposed).
  • Eliminating the tax penalty for people who successfully complete long-term repayment plans but who have a loan balance when they've  completed their repayment terms.
  • Stopping the garnishment of Social Security checks for elderly student-loan defaulters.
  • Forcing the for-profits to stop putting mandatory arbitration clauses in student enrollment documents.
  • Repealing the provision of the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act that virtually eliminated bankruptcy relief for people who took out student loans from private lenders.
If Hillary and her handlers are smart, they will adopt these ideas. I hope Bernie refuses to endorse Hillary until she endorses at least some of them. If Bernie can pressure Hillary to make a commitment to solve the student-loan crisis, his campaign for the presidency will not have been in vain. But if the presidential race between Trump and Hillary rolls toward election day without any serious discussion of the student-loan crisis, then this country is in huuuge trouble.



Image result for bernie sanders

References

Josh Mitchell. More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments. Wall Street Journal, April 7 2015. Accessible at http://www.wsj.com/articles/more-than-40-of-student-borrowers-arent-making-payments-1459971348 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How many college graduates have jobs that don't require a college degree? You might be surprised.

Last April, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released an analysis of labor-market conditions for college graduates. Here is what it found:

  • In 2015, almost 45 percent of recent college graduates (graduates aged 22 through 27) were working in jobs that do not require a college degree.
  • Around 35 percent of all graduates (graduates aged 22 through 65) were holding down jobs that don't require a college education.
  • Wages for recent college graduates have remained relatively flat from 1990 to 2015.
So what do these numbers mean for young Americans?

College is not a good bet for everyone. First, although the college industry and their advocates (Brookings Institution, etc.) like to remind us that people who graduate from college make more money over their lifetimes than people who only have high school diplomas, going to college is not a good bet for everyone.

As the New York Fed has shown us, darn near half of recent college graduates are working in jobs they could have gotten without going to college. Of course many recent graduates will eventually find jobs that require a college degree. But even among the college-educated population as a whole, about one third of college graduates are working in jobs that do not require a college education.

 The payoff for getting a college degree is not as good as it once was. Second, wages for college graduates have remained about the same for the past 25 years--about $45,000 in constant 2015 dollars. But the cost of going to college has tripled over the last quarter of a century. That's why about two thirds of college graduates leave school with college-loan debt.

Thus, you may still need to go to college to earn a decent income, but a larger share of that income is going to go to servicing student loans.  In other words, recent college graduates are not as well off financially as their counterparts were 1990 because a majority of them are graduating with a significant amount of debt.

The case for a free college education gets stronger and stronger. People laughed at Bernie Sanders when he argued for a free college education from a public college for anyone who wants one. But, as I have repeatedly pointed out, Bernie's plan would actually cost less than the current federal loan program, because millions of people aren't paying off their loans.

Now Bernie is gone--swept away in the California primary election, and the higher education community can look at this idea afresh without fear of undermining their favorite presidential candidate--Hillary Clinton.

And lo and behold, the Brookings Institution published a paper today by a couple of croakers named Morley Winograd and Michael Hais that suggests free college might be a good thing.

And it would be a good thing. Certainly offering a free college education would be better than Hilary's scheme to pump billions of dollars more into a higher education system that is corrupt, obsolete, inefficient, and horribly overpriced.

References

The Labor Market for Recent College Graduates. Federal Reserve Bank f New York, 2016. Accessible at https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/college-labor-market/index.html

Mathew Boesler. More College Grads Finding Work, But Not in the Best Jobs. Bloomberg.com, April 7, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/more-college-grads-finding-work-but-not-in-the-best-jobs

Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. The Democrats' Generation Gap. Brookings Institution, Jun 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2016/06/03-millennials-democrats-election-2016-winograd-hais?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30380706&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8kyQSbZyUfxh-t2hnsxhvRRXvUp2j0eORShy09EK-7-HQpeIdEwoZaQ1CXQ3fR5CAxWRHk2cBWPTT6cCkIOO74q4BLUw&_hsmi=30380706

 Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. The Democrats' Generation Gap, Mike and Morley web site, June 6, 2016. http://www.mikeandmorley.com/the_democrats_generation_gap


Morley Winograd and Michael Hais recommend free college in a Brookings paper less than 24 hours after Bernie Sanders lost the California primary


The Brookings Institution is a cowardly, sniffling organization committed to preserving the status quo in higher education. And here is another indication of that.

On June 8, the morning after Hillary beat Bernie in California, Brookings posted an essay by Morley Winograd and Michael Hais about how the Democrats can win back  the young voters who went for Bernie Sanders over Hillary by 3 or 4 to 1. 

In case you haven't heard of them, Morley Winograd and Michael Hais are two old coots who profess to be experts on the millennial generation. Judging by their photos, Winograd and Hais are not millennials themselves, but they have written some books about millennials and that makes them experts.

In their essay for Brookings, Winograd and Hais cooed approvingly about Hillary's stand on the student-loan crisis:  "[Hillary] has already spoken out forcefully on the need to lift the burden of student debt from this generation," the authors wrote. They note that sheendorses the idea of allowing college-loan borrowers to refinance their loans and she favors loan forgiveness for people who were defrauded by "unscrupulous lenders or schools." 

Big friggin' deal. Allowing distressed debtors to refinance their loans will not solve the student loan crisis. There are 43 million people with outstanding college-loan debt, and most have signed multiple promissory notes. There must be at least 200 million individual debt instruments floating around--maybe twice that many.  Is the federal government really going to refinance all those loans at lower interest rates? In your dreams, Mike and Morley.

And as for the notion that defrauded students should have their loans forgiven, I've got news for you, Mike and Morley. The Department of Education already has a debt forgiveness program in place. The problem is that the process is so cumbersome that very few loans have actually been forgiven.

But here's the money quote.  Mike and Morley recommend a free college education for everybody.
 "[M]illennials and the generations that come after them should be able to get their higher education debt free," Winograd and Hais wrote, "because that’s the level of education they—and America—will need to be successful both in today’s economy and in the years ahead."

Hey, that's exactly what Bernie Sanders said at his first debate with Hillary last fall. If this is such a good idea, why didn't Mike and Morley, the so-called millennial experts, suggest it sooner? Why didn't Hillary endorse this idea? And, more to the point of this commentary, why didn't the Brookings Institution publicize this idea before the California primary rather than after the votes were counted and Bernie was defeated?

I'll tell you why--because Hillary, the Brookings Institution, and the Democratic Party are committed to the status quo in higher education. If Americans could get a free college education from a public college in the same way they get a free high school education, the for-profit colleges would shut down almost overnight and the elite private colleges would be forced to slash their tuition rates.

Hillary is not going to let that happen. She and Bill have made too much money off the higher education industry, and so have Democratic Party insiders like Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  That's why Mike and Morley's whispered suggestion about a free college education didn't surface until after Hillary had defeated Bernie. And my prediction is this: the Brookings Institute will never allow this very good idea to be floated again in any of its publications.

Image result for morley winograd and michael hais
Morley Winograd & Mihael Hais: Experts on millennials

 Note: The Winograd and Hais essay is dated June 3, 2016, but it first appeared for public viewing on the Brookings web site on June 8, 2016. The same essay appeared on the Mike and Morley web site on June 6. 

References

Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. The Democrats' Generation Gap. Brookings Institution, Jun 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2016/06/03-millennials-democrats-election-2016-winograd-hais?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30380706&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8kyQSbZyUfxh-t2hnsxhvRRXvUp2j0eORShy09EK-7-HQpeIdEwoZaQ1CXQ3fR5CAxWRHk2cBWPTT6cCkIOO74q4BLUw&_hsmi=30380706

 Morley Winograd and Michael Hais. The Democrats' Generation Gap, Mike and Morley web site, June 6, 2016. http://www.mikeandmorley.com/the_democrats_generation_gap


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Someone needs to wake George Will and tell him Ronald Reagan is dead

They tell the story in England of a British politician who dreamt he was addressing the House of Lords. When he awakened, he found that indeed he was!

Today I read the Review section in the Sunday Times and the Opinion section of my local newspaper. I had the feeling all the political pundits are asleep or that they're living in the 1980s.  In the Times, Timothy Egan wrote a rambling and largely incoherent essay about Bernie Sanders. Egan said Bernie's plan for a free college education and universal health care "are no more thought out than a bumper sticker."

Egan's observations are so false as to be almost libelous. Sanders' health care plan and his higher-education proposal are quite sound, and both are less expensive and more egalitarian than Obamacare and our federal student-loan nightmare.

In my local paper, George Will dismissed the rise of Trump and Sanders as "political silliness," and lumped them both with the simplistic socialist politicians of Great Britain.  Will  derided supporters of both candidates, calling them Trumpkins and Sandernistas.

I am astonished by the near unanimity among political columnists on both the right and the left regarding the upcoming presidential election. Almost with one voice, they ridicule both Trump and Sanders--basically implying by their arguments that Americans would be better off if Crooked Hillary became President

Some write from a conservative perspective and some call themselves liberals, but almost all of them share one thing in common--their columns appear under photographs of themselves that are about 20 years out of date.

Indeed all these people are from another era--from a time when the oligarchs had Americans convinced that our politicians were aligned into two political parties based on political principles. But of course we all know now that the Democratic-Republican divide was a charade--just a puppet show to amuse the rubes while politicians on both sides of the aisle lined their own pockets.

But the saps woke up. Some threw their support behind Trump, and some went to Sanders. Now the media elites are hysterical, writing mad drivel that cannot be identified by ideology. Froma Harrop insinuates Bernie Sanders is a racist, and Bill O'Reilly ridicules Bernie as doddering Socialist. Or is the other way around?

All these people--Froma Harrop, George Will, Timothy Egan, Frank Bruni, Steve and Cokie Roberts, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, etc.--need to  wake up and join the 21st century. The peasants are rising, and their fury will not be assuaged by stale prose written by people who come across like eccentric  nursing-home inmates writing letters to the local newspaper.

Image result for george will images
I hate to break it to you, George, but Ronald Reagan is dead.

References

Timothy Egan. Bernie's Last Stand. New York Times, June 5, 2016, Review Section, p. 2. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/05/opinion/sunday/bernies-last-stand.html?_r=0

George Will. Britain, too, is infected with political silliness. Baton Rouge Advocate, June 5, 2016, p. 7B. Also accessible in the Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/britain-too-is-infected-with-political-silliness/2016/06/03/77560a20-28e8-11e6-b989-4e5479715b54_story.html







Saturday, June 4, 2016

Nearly 95 million Americans aren't working: The government's unemployment rate is just a bullshit number

During the First World War, it is said. the British military kept three separate casualty lists: one list to deceive the public, a second list to deceive the War Office, and a third list to deceive itself.

We could say much the same thing about the government's official unemployment rate.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) claims the nation's unemployment rate is only 4.7 percent, less than half the rate in Europe and about half what it was when Obama came into office.  "We cut unemployment in half, years before a lot of economists thought we could," President Obama boasted recently to a crowd in Indiana.

The BLS unemployment rate is just a bullshit number

But nobody believes that. Everyone knows the government's official unemployment rate is just a bullshit number.

Even the government admits the unemployment rate is higher if we include people who are working part-time involuntarily and the people who have given up looking for work. But including those people in the analysis still understates how bad the employment situation is.

In fact, when we ponder how many American adults are simply not working, we get a clearer understanding of the employment picture.  A few days ago, BLS reported that 94,708,000 American adults are not in the labor force--37 percent of the entire American adult population.

Of course, not all of these people are unemployed. Millions are retired, millions are pursuing post-secondary education, and millions are not working  because they are disabled and receiving disability benefits. Obviously, not all non-working Americans are suffering.

But a lot of non-working Americans are suffering. Millions of Americans are unemployed or underemployed, millions gave up looking for work and elected to take early retirement at reduced benefits. And there are millions who are still in the labor force but are working at substandard wages, including a lot of college graduates who hold jobs that don't require a college degree.

Signs of economic decline are everywhere

Although Obama takes credit for leading the nation out of the 2008 recession, the standard of living for millions of Americans continues to decline.  As the Brooking Institution paper noted in 2012, median wages for male workers have gone down precipitously in recent years.  In constant dollars, median wages for American men have slipped  by 19 percent since 1970.

Although the Obama administration insists that the economy is creating new jobs, that's probably bullshit as well. BLS reported last week that 38,000 new jobs came on line in May, a dramatic decline from an average of 178,000 a month over the first three months of 2016.  But a Brookings analysis, using a different form of measurement, claims the economy actually lost 4,000 jobs last month.

 And more and more people are on food stamps--1 out of 7 Americans are now receiving food-stamp assistance. That's 45 million people--up from around 28 million when Obama took office.  Do these numbers suggest that the economy is in recovery?

And then there's the student-loan crisis

And then there's the student loan crisis.  Approximately 43 million Americans owe 1.3 trillion in student-loan debt.  Although  the Department of Education's three-year default rate is only around 10 percent, that's just more bullshit.  By encouraging people to obtain economic hardship deferments, the government has artificially kept default rates down, because people with deferments aren't counted as defaulters even though they aren't making loan payments.

But of course people who accepted deferments are seeing their loan balances go up because interest continues to accrue. Now the only way they can service their loans is by signing up for 20-year income-base repayment plans.

The true student-loan default rate is probably 25 percent; and its 50 percent for people who took out loans to attend for-profit colleges. And even this estimate may be too low.

Millions of Americans are suffering and they're  foaming with rage

In short, millions of Americans are suffering. They know the economy is deteriorating; they know their standard of living is going down. They know Barack Obama despises ordinary Americans--the poor stiffs who live in fly-over country and still go to church on Sundays.

And ordinary Americans are foaming with rage.

The political and media elites think they can keep a lid on all this anger, that they can persuade a majority of Americans to vote for Hillary and prolong the status quo. They think Americans are listening to Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon when they paint Trump as a racist and a bigot on CNN. They think columnist Froma Harrop will persuade her readers that Bernie Sanders is a racist.

But I've got news for the elites. The people who are angry aren't listening to CNN. They aren't reading Froma Harrop. The elites may succeed in crowning Hillary Clinton as the next queen of post-modern America, but the pundits will never tamp this anger down. It's real, it's ugly, and it's permanent.







References

Alan Bjerga. Food Stamps Still Feed One in Seven Americans Despite RecoveryBloomberg News, February 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-03/food-stamps-still-feed-one-in-seven-americans-despite-recovery

Christopher Goins, 44.7 Million Americans Now on Food Stamps--More than at Any Time Under Bush, CNS News, February 3, 2012. Accessible at http://cnsnews.com/news/article/447-million-americans-now-food-stamps-more-any-time-under-bush

 Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney. The Uncomfortable Truth About American Wages. Brooking Institution, October 23, 2012. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/10/22-wages-greenstone-looney

Susan Jones, Record 94,708,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Drops in May. CNS News, June 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/record-94708000-americans-not-labor-force-participation-rate-drops

Matthew Boesler. More College Grads Finding Work, But Not in the Best Jobs. Bloomberg.com, April 7, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/more-college-grads-finding-work-but-not-in-the-best-jobs

Nicholas Wells and Mark Fahey. What's the REAL unemloyment rate? CNBC.com, January 8, 2016. Accessible at http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/08/

Jonathan Wright. Amidst unimpressive official jobs report for May, alternative measure make little difference. Brookings Institution, June 3, 2016. Accessible at http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/jobs/posts/2016/06/03-amidst-unimpressive-official-jobs-report-for-may-alternative-measures-wright?utm_campaign=Brookings+Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=30258460&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8wODcWxeX-Vo8PGswc2439RPH_hV1yCM05S_knJvJmuSfYUbz-xh1mWd76dc0m2GG5fhL55iubJxPERM_sbHc3qH5Hfg&_hsmi=30258460