Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

Europe:

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Image by osti.andrea Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

[Eu1] The uprising in Moldova is not what they’re telling us it is! There is an uprising in Moldova? I had no idea…

[Eu2] I am happy to report that I did know that Moldova existed, though, because I’d heard of the cemetery.

[Eu3] The Daily Mail reports that had Russia attacked London, Britain would not have retaliated.

[Eu4] Ostana, Italy, has welcome a young baby into its community. The first since 1987.

[Eu5] A runaway freighter was headed for the French coast, but Little Toot came to the rescue.

[Eu6] Some Iraqi refugees are disappointed with Europe and looking to go home.

[Eu7] BBC looks at the gender imbalance in Sweden, which among 16-17 year olds outstrips that of China.

Crime:

Image by scazon

Image by scazon Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

[C1] No longer can you reduce your prison sentence in Romania by writing a book.

[C2] In Ottawa, a man is jailed for not having a cat license.

[C3] Periodically, a severed foot washes up on Canadian shores.

[C4] Well, this Texas town may be hopelessly corrupt, but at least the corruption displayed diversity.

[C5] What are Dutch police going to do when they see a rogue drone? Have an eagle take the drone out. That’s what.

[C6] A funeral has an unexpected guest.

[C7] According to a new study, segregated schools mean more crime.

Democracy:

Image by Metropolico.org

Image by Metropolico.org Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

[D1] A candidate in Oshawa, Canada, has changed his name to Znoneofthe Above.

[D2] The Internet was supposed to lead to a democratic revolution. Instead, it may be killing local democracy.

[D3] Iain Martin explains how Britain could get an early election, while professor Bart Cammaerts suggests that right-wing media cost Miliband the last one.

[D4] The pleasant face of ugly politics in Germany, and the violence of its radical left and radical right.

[D5] If Bloomberg ran for president, would he throw the general election to Donald Trump?

Government:

Image by tobo

Image by tobo Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

[G1] The Philadelphia Parking Authority has been working with taxis to shut down Uber drivers.

[G2] Vice presents a horrible story of a substance abuse testing lab, in conjunction with one of Toronto’s premier children’s hospitals, ruined lives over two decades. I wrote a bit about it on Hit Coffee.

[G3] What does “healthy” mean, anyway? Who decides? The FDA, apparently.

[G4] David Frum says that the trade-off between security and liberty is a false one. As does Reason’s Ronald Bailey, though in markedly different ways.

[G5] Squarely Rooted argues that we should fix the United States by abolishing states. I disagree, of course, as I see a nation as gargantuan as the United States requiring a degree of regional autonomy and I think this should be approached through historical borders rather than trying to draft new ones. I do, of course, agree with him about consolidating government at the lower level.

Education:

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Image by Nouhailler Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

[Ed1] Interesting: For the first time in 35 years, Princeton will accept transfers. Diversity goals is one motivation, athletics another.

[Ed2] Firing bad teachers can lead to educational improvements, but if you want to go that route you are likely going to need to pay the survivors more.

[Ed3] Alexander Russo would like us to change the narrative when we talk about “the teacher shortage.”

[Ed4] How do colleges respond to increased financial aid? Do I really even need to say?

[Ed5] A recent meta-analysis reveals the obvious, that college majors and personalities tend to be related. So what should we think of those who enroll in Stanford’s pilot program to blend computer science and the humanities.

[Ed6] All hail the Liberal Arts College! I went to a big school, but I wish that more states would try to set up some upper-echelon rivals to the private schools.

[Ed7] “About fifty-four per cent of [liberal arts] graduate students report feeling so depressed they have “a hard time functioning, as opposed to ten per cent of the general population.”


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76 thoughts on “Linky Friday #153: Oh, Canada

  1. Ed5: The issue here is that this study was done in Europe where students are supposed to pick their majors going in and double-majoring is rare to non-existent. They also don’t have the American variant of going back to study. I know lots of arts and humanities people who later went on to become lawyers, occupational therapists, art therapists, MBAs, general business people, even the occasional doctor. I wonder what the personality split is between people who try out for arts and humanities and then go to law school vs. people who stay in the arts for the long haul and often without success.

    Ed6: There are some. New York has SUNY-Geneseo with only 5000 undergrads. SUNY-Purchase has 4300 students (mainly arts students). A lot of big state universities have smaller “honors colleges” that function like small liberal arts colleges within a large university. The issue is that it is that states when by running their public universities on a scale size.

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    • I was in the Honors College at Southern Tech and it was a fantastic experience. My college experience would have been a lot less without it, and it gave me the advantages of both big and small universities. Even so, I think public liberal arts schools seem like a prospect worth pursuing if the results really are better. Idaho, of all states, has one.

      Seems that every university ends up wanting to expand beyond its original mission, though, so unless you’re dealing with a small state like Idaho, a lot of these schools would fall under the spell of mission creep and have business schools before too long (see Sangamon State University slash UI-Springfield).

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      • Seems that every university ends up wanting to expand beyond its original mission,

        Aye, boosters are annoying. Not allowed in New York. The university centers have their book and the state colleges have theirs. The nomenclature was fixed in 1948, so all the latter are still styled ‘state university college at [locus]”.

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    • Just to point out that there is no de jure honors college in the SUNY system. There is one of sorts in the CUNY system, but it consists of course offerings which may be taken online or at the baccaulaureate college in which you are enrolled; there is no brick and mortar. The state colleges in the SUNY system are just that – teaching institutions which generally offer little or no graduate work in the arts and sciences or fine arts but do offer vocational master’s degrees. Geneseo is atypical in that its manpower is much more devoted to the arts and sciences than is usually the case and in that it tends to attract and retain students who are well-adapted to study and finish their programs on time, so they are the de facto honors college. The state universities have a larger census (now 16,000 to 30,000 rather than 4,000 to 11,000) and educate to the terminal degree in academic programs; only Buffalo has a medical center, though, and I’m not sure graduate work in engineering is commonly available. The total census has about 55% in the state universities and 45% in the state colleges. Another curio is that when the system was being constructed, all the universities were placed in cities and most of the colleges were placed in small towns at the edges of convenient commuting.

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  2. Ed4
    The assertion that financial aid drives up tuition is never explained as pertains to public universities.
    Public college spending, tuition and management are all controlled indirectly by the public via appointed officials.

    In other circumstances we are told that public entities do not respond to market pricing signals, which is why they are bad. But somehow government run universities respond swiftly and efficiently to increased demand by raising prices.

    Near the end of the article the author gives a hint at the problem when he says the real problem is poor management and wasteful spending. Ok, why can’t the governor and board of regents appoint better managers and establish more efficient spending policies?
    The article sort of assumes that financial aid is the one and only lever of control over public universities.

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    • I can’t speak for all public universities, but mine (“Southern Tech”) raises its price as much as it can whenever it can. Which I have mixed feelings about. I want the university to be the absolute best that it can be, which means raising revenues. But I also recognize that it’s part of the problem and that has me uncomfortable.

      But among the things that give it clearance to raise prices are the costs of the alternatives, including private school, other in-state public schools, and out-of-state public schools. Right now it’s the most expensive public university in the state (despite not being the highest-regarded). They’ve found the price point that people are willing to pay. I suspect that an infusion of cash from the state, if there weren’t strings attached, would pretty much go straight to development and not lower tuition rates.

      The state could go about setting low tuition rates. As you point out, it has lower levers. At that point, though, while the University of Deltona and Southern Tech and Deltona Poly would be similarly affected, the worry then becomes whether the University of Deltona is able to keep up with neighboring-state University of Koroa.

      Which is to say that even if we assume the best intentions of everybody, there is a pretty significant collective action problem going on, and I’m not sure what to do about it. My own preference leans somewhat towards letting the universities do what they do, try to keep state expenditures in line (though with an eye towards merit-based scholarships), and start trying to set up somewhat bare-bones, low-cost alternatives.

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      • One of the things that gets missed in this debate from people who are not actually involve at the university level is the concept of Dual Governance. In other words, the faculty often has just as much control of the uni’s finances as the administrators through the Academic Senate (at lease at the UC’s.) This often creats a financial situation that is only able to be met by increased tuition, which is set by the Board of Regents.

        Uni’s are a caste system with prof’s at the top (not unlike hospitals with doctors) who are often challenged by admins (again, like hospitals) about things such as bugets. When push comes to shove, as with all things it is the powerless who loose. In this case the students.

        For what it is worth, my family has been involved with higher ed in CA for five generations now, and I have picked up a few things.

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      • Right. And who allowed this to happen?

        In California there was no tuition at the UC system until 1975, and it was a very deliberate political decision to end that.
        Yet somehow in the decades of higher ed being virtually free, spending and and salaries did not spiral out of sight. Weird, that.

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        • I can see the incentives pretty clearly.

          State governments have no real incentive to tightly control tuition rates at state universities, except that the rates stay below a comparable private school. If private Ivy is charging $65K/year, state Ivy can hit $50K and still be a great deal.

          State schools that have tuition much lower than private schools either have fewer &/or lower quality resources, or require more taxpayer support. So, as Saul points out, schools make the bargain of accepting less taxpayer support for increased autonomy. This desire has an additional incentive born out of the whole “run schools like a business” mindset, in that school leadership gets to pad their resumes with very large dollar amounts that they raised or controlled. This makes them attractive to other schools, government organizations, and large corporations. You can see this in action through the rampant head hunting & poaching of school leadership that happens regularly.

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          • In other words, poor public policy choices by the elected officials results in poor university administration.

            What I am really pushing back against here is the prevalent notion that there is some mysterious natural force causing this to happen, out of reach for mere mortals to control, so we must only accept the outcome the author wishes us to make, in this case higher tuition and less financial aid.

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            • Oh, sure, we can control it, absolutely. As soon as we gain a critical mass of people who care enough to get the elected representatives to work against their interests enough to pass laws that force university leadership to behave contrary to their interests. All the while said representatives will be working to avoid having to go against their interests and will be working the system they setup to allow them to make grand symbolic gestures without actually making any substantive changes.

              So not impossible at all…

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          • This is one of those weird instances where I am inclined to at least partially agree with Chip (which is, to be clear, not at all disagreeing with Oscar). I think lack of political will is a big part of it. One of three parts, I would say:

            A) Lack of Political Will – Cost-containment is hard. Financing inexpensive-to-student college for everybody who wants to go would be very expensive without cost containment, and that would be hard to pay for. And so red state and blue state alike, college remains expensive.

            B) Lack of Political Consensus – Since there is not an easy fix, any proposed fix is likely to have second-order and third-order effects and ripples. That makes it hard to get the sort of consensus to produce the political will. I have my ideas, Chip has his ideas, and we are both likely to disagree with one another’s ideas.

            C) Lack of a Problem – Which is an odd thing to say, considering that everybody seems to agree that there is a problem. But for all that we do seem to agree on that point, the people that matter most – young people choosing colleges – do not act like there is a problem. So there is not any sort of naturally correcting force.

            In an ideal world, we might be able to get the political will to enact the right change. But realistically, it’s nowhere near happening. Not in red states where Republicans can do whatever they want, not in blue states where Democrats can, and not nationally.

            Where I consider the point made in the original item to be important: There may be a fix, but it’s not a fix as simple as increased subsidy. Not without other reforms, most likely. Potentially painful reforms. Potentially painful reforms that are hard to coordinate and hard to build a consensus around. And difficult-to-coordinate, painful reforms, that would need to be outlined ahead of time.

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            • Again, the University of California did in fact offer free education to anyone who qualified, for decades. It only ended this in 1975 as an overtly political choice.

              It was a working model of free education that the electorate willfully chose to terminate. To assert that such a system is impossible is a flat out falsehood, when we have an empirical real world example.

              In response to Saul Will above and Saul below, yes there was a political consensus where non-college educated people willfully voted for politicians who took money out of their paychecks and gave it to college educated people.

              This was never politically easy, but it was accomplished. It was the same New Deal coalition and WWII generation that saw value in shared goals and sacrifice, and public investment in education and infrastructure.
              The people who saw the TVA, Hoover Dam, and WPA successfully put people to work, and the GIs who saw the federal government successfully organize the most massive logistical undertaking the world had ever seen, were very receptive to the notion that “government works”, because they had seen it with their own eyes.

              There does seem to be, even among liberals today, a sense of defeatism and resignation to the notion of solving large problems. Not just solving problems via government, but solving problems by any means.

              Not just a lack of faith, but an actual antipathy, a determined effort to prove that large projects can’t and shouldn’t be undertaken.
              I remember in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate people talking about the disillusionment with government, but it can’t just be that, not after a full generation.

              I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it does seem to be more an attitude, a worldview of pessimism than any policy mechanics.

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                • Note, by the way, that increasing fees had been a trend for over 50 years before 1975.

                  The culture wars made an impact that helped the changes of the 60s and 70s along, but the trend towards more amenities funded by more fees began before those battles and has continued after them.

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                  • Wasn’t it around 1975 that Heinlein, sinking into his Grumpy Old Man persona, snarked something about California to the effect that “the legislature noticed that people with Bachelor’s Degrees were (statistically) significantly more likely to have a better career, and decided this was unfair, so they passed a law mandating that all citizens be awarded a Bachelor’s Degree upon reaching their 18th birthday”?

                    In “Friday” or something like that – one of his more minor late-period works.

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                • If I were more ambitious, I would go state by state to see when the hikes started. Was California early or late? Or was it all 50 at around the same time? If so, there must be something that pushed the states in that direction. If it was staggered, did a couple of states lead and everyone else follow?

                  Michael Cain seems like he’d be someone that would know.

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                  • I’ve said all of the following before.

                    If you look at a typical state budget today, and look at the same states’ budgets for 1965, two things will stick out: Medicaid and K-12 education. States were enticed to use Medicaid instead of their prior arrangements for health care for the poor by the feds’ promise to pay between 50% and 70% of the cost. K-12 funding showed up initially in the form of “equalization funds” to support poor rural and/or urban school districts, but have grown in most states to supplement property tax revenues in all districts on a sliding scale.

                    The most important characteristic of each is that, for actual economic reasons, they are guaranteed to grow faster than the state GDP. There is a de facto political limit on combined state/local tax revenues in the range of 9-12% of state GDP (generally, lower in poor states and higher in rich ones). Once the revenue limit is reached, other spending must be cut* to accommodate the ongoing increases in Medicaid and K-12 obligations.

                    Of the other major spending areas — and like the federal government, there are only a handful of major areas and then a whole bunch of minor ones that don’t matter at all in solving the budget problem — transportation and higher ed are “least” protected and take the bulk of the cuts. The roads eventually start falling apart (there’s a time lag before undone maintenance really catches up with you) and tuition goes up (higher ed is subject to the same effects that make K-12 expenses grow faster than revenues).

                    Breaking the political limit on revenues is a temporary fix, since there’s always going to be some limit on what voters will tolerate. The real fix is that health care and education workers have to become enormously more productive. This is difficult — eg, no one has a clue how a fifth-grade teacher can handle a class of 50 and get the same educational results as for a class of 25.

                    * The share of the state budget must be reduced.

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                  • Along with what Mr Cain says, I would look at intake numbers for the decade preceding 1975. And I would start to look at what social changes in the university system took place at that time. In other words, what are the raw numbers of people now going to the Uni’s, and what was going on at these environments.

                    The UC system opened four new campuses between ’55 and ’65, and while they are certainly necessary, that is a lot of money to feed the system.

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                    • Lots of stuff goes into the details on timing. What were the population growth rates? When, if ever, did the local property tax levies get whacked (Prop 13 in California, the Gallagher Amendment in Colorado)? Was the state aggressive about expanding Medicaid? How far could they cut Medicaid payments to providers (IIRC, Texas took the route of few people qualifying, but docs got paid okay; California took the opposite tack)?

                      The broad trend is clear, though.

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              • Perhaps we placed too much trust in government? Not in the idea of government, but in the practical implementation. We allowed the inmates to run the asylum, so to speak, and they’ve done a lovely job of making sure we continue to pass them their meds, while being unable to actually help them get better.

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                • That’s exactly the critique I read, and embraced, and repeated, in 1979 when I was a young eager conservative, convinced that smaller government, balanced budgets, and free market innovation would lead to generalized prosperity and happiness.

                  “Hows that workin’ out for ya,?” my 1990’s self came to ask.

                  We have had nearly 35 years of nonstop “red tape cutting”, “budget cutting” “tax cutting”, “Free Market Innovation”, and every other nostrum of conservatives, and yet the middle class is less secure than at any time.

                  Seriously, we are like end stage Vietnam war hawks, convinced that just one more sortie, one more mission, one more final push will bring victory, when in fact we are further way than ever before.

                  I get it, that we can’t just reanimate the corpse of the WPA; but there are even now, at this very moment, real world examples of 1st World societies providing free higher education, a robust social welfare system, living in peace and prosperity.

                  Yet it seems like the very first words people want to exclaim are “B-But, we can’t!”

                  It seems like the only thing America is exceptional at, is making excuses why we must fail.

                  On the other hand, where is this miraculous example of free market conservatism, so we can study it and learn from it? Does it exist anywhere?

                  No, that’s not snark. If there is an exciting idea for a joyful peaceful conservative utopia, I am happy to listen to it.

                  But if the standard bearer of our major opposition party can only say “Make America Great Again” with a snarl that drips venom, then sorry, I don’t want to hear about it.

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                  • Chip Daniels:
                    On the other hand, where is this miraculous example of free market conservatism, so we can study it and learn from it? Does it exist anywhere?

                    No, that’s not snark. If there is an exciting idea for a joyful peaceful conservative utopia, I am happy to listen to it.

                    Singapore, man!

                    Of course, Singapore does have the slight downside of being an autocracy with severe civil rights restrictions, but I suspect those that advance it as a “conservative utopia” probably see that as a feature rather than a bug.

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                  • I’d settle for actual accountability. You know, when politicians and bureaucrats and civil servants who behave badly actually suffered for it when caught.

                    Instead, they are permitted to resign, or enjoy immunity, or head up the committee to investigate why they screwed up so badly, etc.

                    Markets are offered as an alternative because when they work even remotely as intended, bad actors are penalized when discovered. Of course, when they aren’t allowed to work, bad actors just get bailouts, and are told to fix the problems they created, and allowed to make a profit while doing so, as long as some of it comes back in the form of campaign contributions.

                    It isn’t about markets, or civic solidarity, or whatever bit of conservative reflection you have. It’s about trust. Trust that the institution will do what it’s meant to, and should the people holding that trust fail, trust that other parts of the institution will actually hold them to account.

                    As for the UC system, it looks like the system gave up free tuition about the same time I was being born, so I have to wonder, what was it like to go to a UC school before then? When people looked at Berkeley, then looked at Stanford, did Berkeley turn a bit green, or did the two truly rank as equals? And if so, how hard was it to keep that up, or was it already slipping?

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                    • I think you hit it with the word “trust”.
                      I am simultaneously having this sort of conversation over at Crooked Timber, where they are wondering what could lead to a resurgence of labor unions.

                      I made the point that the decline of labor unions coincided with the “Bowling Alone” phenomenon, where fraternal lodges, civic organizations, bridge clubs, mainline religions, and groups in general all declined in America.

                      It wasn’t Taft-Hartley or the Bretton Woods agreement or any macro economic things that caused this, in my view.

                      I do think there was a loss of civic solidarity, a loss of faith in institutions themselves that has lead to the idea that education is a personal luxury good, not a public good.

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                      • I think scandals involving unions & pensions probably did a lot of damage to those institutions, especially if the victims were not made whole and/or didn’t feel as if they received justice.

                        I remail family screwed by those scandals being bitter about it, for a long time.

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                        • Maybe. But scandals are ubiquitous in every institution.
                          Sports, Religions, business…they’ve all had major scandals, yet they survived.

                          Was it scandal that caused the Masons, Shriners, Moose and Elk lodges to dwindle away? Or the VFW and American Legion? Bridge clubs and bowling leagues? Mainline religions?

                          Unions didn’t just arise out of nowhere- there was a society that provided a conceptual foundation for them, one that had a different understanding of the relationship of the individual to

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                          • Part of the point of the Masons, Shriners, Moose, Elk, and so on clubs was that just everybody couldn’t be one.

                            It was an ingroup. Ingroups don’t work without outgroups.

                            Granted, the trust, cooperation/collaboration can be high within the ingroup, that degrades once you start knocking walls down and letting the outgroup in.

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                            • When put that way, it makes it sound like the Boomer generation, the one that rejected organized groups, rejected exclusionary ingroupishness.

                              Yet VIP status of this or that seems to be wildly popular- a place behind velvet ropes where just everybody is not allowed to go, special lines where only the few can access, gated communities closed off to everyone else.

                              I guess I don’t see the Boomer rejection of organized clubs as a rejection of ingroupishness- Churches like the Episcopals and Unitarians are almost comically accepting of all, yet are dwindling; Churches like the Mormons which aren’t, are thriving.

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                          • My point wasn’t the scandals themselves. Those are ubiquitous. It’s the response of authorities to a scandal that matters. Is it dragged out into the light and exposed, or swept under the rug as much as possible?

                            Still, you make a good point, civic orgs have fallen off & not from scandal in all cases. Some probably lost purpose. IIRC the Lions fought eye problems, Moose/Elk/Eagles were all about health problems, VFW/American Legion were all about vet support. Lots of those functions have been taken up by government so the need isn’t there.

                            As for bridge clubs, those get raided by SWAT for illegal gambling.

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        • I would add that there is a culture war issue as well. Lots of people see low-tuition as primarily taking money from the non-college educated and transferring it to people who are already middle-class and above. A lot of people who do attend college, including state schools, come from comfortably middle class families.

          So why should the non-college going majority supplement the college going minority?

          Also stuff about how college is not for everyone, etc.

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          • And there is a relationship between those two things. Because the solution to “Why should people who don’t go to college carry financial burdens for those who do?” is “Well, you could go to college, too!”

            Which is to say, I do think the transfers involved do make us need to ask the question of who we want to foot the bill for when it comes to sending people to college. Everybody? Everybody that wants to go? The best and brightest? Those who want to go and get training in specific skills the economy needs? Only those that can afford it?

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            • What the economy needs is relative. Jaybird took a swipe at film studies but that student could make the next Hollywood blockbusters.

              The cultural issues here are pretty complicated and there is seemingly an impossible impasse. You have a group of people who see a mass-educated society as a universal good for tangible and intangible reasons including vague notions of society and culture. People make fun of it but I think it is a sign of humanity, civilization, and advancement to be in a place where young adults can students in what they like at little or no cost.

              I should also note that my great grand-parents were immigrants and three of my four grandparents went to college (and two received advanced degrees!) So I am deeply imbued in notions that college is a path to success including for first generation Americans. Asian immigrants seem to have taken over this belief from Jewish immigrants in 21st century America.

              A significant part of the American populace seems to really dislike the idea of advancement via college education. The anti-college crowd seems to say “I worked in Trade X. My grandfather worked in Trade X. My kids should be able to work in trade X and be okay.” There is nothing wrong with this argument per se but it is very different than the “We came over here and took crappy jobs so our kids can go to college and have better lives” that you see in immigrant communities including my own past.

              I am not sure what to make of these cultural differences.

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              • But the intrinsic value of an education is separate from it’s economic value. It’s true to say that having an educated population is a net good, but that doesn’t make free, or even heavily subsidized, universal education economically viable. AFAIK, every country that has universal education through college struggles with issues of cost, quality, and supply, and the results are largely all over the map.

                As for your Adjective Film Studies student, how many such graduates actually become successful film makers, such that they can enjoy a middle class lifestyle on the fruits of that education, and how long does it take to get there? Now do the same analysis for doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, etc.

                Every education has different types of value. I’d argue that a classical liberal arts education has value for the classical intellectual, but it’s economic value is much harder to realize and quantify absent a complementary education (medicine, business, law, etc.). And degree in engineering, computer science, biology, chemistry has less of that intellectual value, but often has a much greater economic value. Likewise an education in any of the skilled trades.

                Writing this, I’m starting to think that having the more economically valuable degrees subsidize the less valuable ones is not a bad idea.

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                • A lot end up in editing and production.

                  I don’t like the idea that studying the arts and humanities is a luxury. Right now low Econ value degrees end up subsidizing high Econ value ones. An English department is relatively cheaper to run than a pre med or engineering department but the tuition is the same for all.

                  I still think there are cultural issues at play which are interesting. Why did some groups come from fresh off the boat and send their kids to college as opposed to others being in the U.S. much longer and are now just sending their kids to college. I had classmates who boasted of ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and Civil War but still ended up being the first in their families to attend college. Their ancestors were working class for 200-300 years.

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                  • I’ll agree that degrees which consume more resources (lab space, etc.) should cost more, but I think you over-reach with the claim that the arts & humanities subsidize the STEM, etc. At least, I wouldn’t make that a generalized statement. It may be true on some campuses, while on others, the inverse may be true, depending on enrollment numbers.

                    As for the cultural issues… I don’t know. Perhaps it’s the protestant work ethic combined with the fact that those careers could support a family at one time. I found this interesting one morning on my way to work.

                    PS Art students – that’s good to hear, if the salary is nice. I don’t always here good things about the work and pay for production staff, despite all the money rolling around in Hollywood, etc.)

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                • “Writing this, I’m starting to think that having the more economically valuable degrees subsidize the less valuable ones is not a bad idea.”

                  Hell, we already have a precedent for this in the college system – the NCAA.

                  Not that I’m standing up for the system by any means – it’s not as corrupt as FIFA, but that doesn’t mean much, and it definitely makes sure that as much money as possible stays away from the hands that deserve it most – but without it the “minor” sports system wouldn’t look anything like it does now.

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                  • An English department is relatively cheaper to run than a pre med or engineering department but the tuition is the same for all.

                    on the undegraduate level, this depends entirely upon too many factors to be universally true. it is likely almost always true at r1 and large state schools, but very likely not always the case at slacs and other private 4 years, especially those under 5k enrollment.

                    one must consider the following:
                    – # of majors
                    – faculty and support staff size of each department
                    – # of endowed positions
                    – total # of tenured positions (and their promotion status)
                    – facilities and support staff material requirements
                    – required skill level of support staff
                    – each dept’s majors’ financial aid packages
                    – retention #s for each major (this is a huge deal)

                    short version: you can have, as you do at many slacs, an english dept with 1/2 the majors but 2x the personnel and material costs of, say, engineering. engineering is a big draw, even if it’s only a dual degree or 3/2 program, pretty much everywhere.

                    one may also have a number of high ability, high need students in an engineering program who are carrying a tremendous amount of finaid from internal and external sources who end up costing less than their comp/lit major counterpart as far as the institution is concerned.

                    or you can have an english dept whose majors are rather well-off, gather relatively little aid (and fund their gaps with family funds, private loans, etc) and end up subsidizing the financial aid awards of everyone else.

                    or you can have an english dept with a 10-1 ratio and an average salary for professors around 100k versus an engineering dept with a 20-1 ratio and an 80k avg salary because one dept has an average instructor age closer to 55 than 40.

                    or you can have a tiny engineering program with fairly high startup costs in personnel and materials but whose halo effect in terms of recruitment draw brings 3 or 4x the # of prospectives who end up majoring in something other than engineering (phys, chem, bio/chem, poetry, whatever) but were attracted (and able to convince their parents) due to the attractiveness of said program.

                    or you can have that same tiny program, but it was started by an alum who endowed half the teaching positions, making it far cheaper per student than their colleagues in the english department.

                    or you can have an engineering program at a rural, single-sex school that fails to attract any students in large numbers and a failing english department. they call this a “sweet briar”, which despite the name is surprisingly sour.

                    english (to continue with the example above) is a major in decline in terms of # of total enrolled students; engineering is ascendant on those same terms. part of that is what “education” means to growing #s of first generation students. and the other is related to bad pr from the intentional opaqueness of the discipline and it’s awful writing style, the sheer number of hilarious mla paper titles that make up the public face of “english majors”, and the fact that the last major public literary critic was harold bloom, and only because he committed himself to trying to be a “public intellectual.”

                    (that term is both arrogant and stupid, but that’s not the topic of this digression. also not a bloom fan but whatevs.)

                    sometimes you get an engineering major who minors in lit or a lit major who minors in engineering because life is not a series of flowcharts or boxes to tick off, people enjoy seemingly contradictory things because some are much better syncretists than others, and not everything is a battleground for one’s fragile sense of self.

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              • I take swipes at film studies people because they aren’t the ones writing the Simpsons or anything interesting. You’ve got mathematicians, physicists, science fiction folks writing stuff.

                [I do actually realize that GRRM was a journalist major. Bonus points if you know why he’s getting mentioned, it’s certainly not for Game of Thrones!]

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                • some but not and far all. Once again, you exist in la la land. I know quite a few people from my undergrad and grad school who ended up in TV. Roberto Aguire-Sarcasa (spelling?) graduated from the Yale School of Drama and writes for Marvel

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  3. G5: Not all unitary states are run in a very centralized fashion like France or Sweden. Many unitary states have local governments with a lot of power, it just means that the structure and powers of local government are determined by the national legislature rather than fixed eternally by the Constitution. For instance a non-federal USA could keep all the states we have now but have Congress create a unified form of state and local government with the structure and powers being uniform across America. It could be a National-State-County structure.

    Ed6: Like Saul noted, there are states that run public SLAC like New York or Virginia. I suspect that more states do not have public small liberal arts colleges because of a of lack of demand, most kids will go to a private SLAC if they really want the SLAC experience. Having a public SLAC would be seen as frivolity and contrary to the purpose of public universities. Most people who go to public universities for reasons other than cost do so because they want to go to schools the size of small cities for a variety of reasons like the social scene.

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  4. C1: This is in opposition to Japan, where writing an Full Metal Jacket ESL book (that actually made it into Japanese school libraries, presumably because some uncultured principals hadn’t actually seen the movie…) can count for your community service.

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  5. From C6:
    “But her trials are not yet over. Rukundo told the ABC she’s gotten backlash from Melbourne’s Congolese community for reporting Kalala to the police. Someone left threatening messages for her, and she returned home one day to find her back door broken.”

    If anyone doubts misogyny exists: A woman is being attacked because she let police know that her husband tried to have her assassinated. Remember, as particularly horrifying as this example is, the mundane version of it happens every single day.

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    • It seems incredible, but in a way I guess it makes sense – anyone who thinks “I know, I’ll hire gangsters to assassinate my wife” probably has some cronies nearly as horrible as himself, and to get to the point of seeking out and hiring assassins they’ve created an echo chamber about how dreadful his wife is and how things would be better if she were dead.

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  6. Bill Kristol is wrong about things.

    In 2006, Bill Kristol was kidnapped by a pro-Iranian guerilla group. Six masked men burst into his home; they pulled him naked and spluttering from his bed, beat him unconscious with the butts of their rifles, and dragged him into the back of a waiting van. They kept on pummelling him as the van screeched through midnight avenues, long after he’d passed out: black-gloved fists and chipped-black steel on his beige and spreading flesh, purple supernovae dancing through his hypodermis, flat white TV-teeth splintering into the jaggedness of a bombed-out city. Afterwards, in court, they had to explain this incredible brutality. It was his smile, they said. By the end Kristol was slipping at the edge of death. His face was a bulbous mess of bruises and lacerations; that raw-dough elasticity had finally come to snap, and it was only recognisable as human by a kind of gruesome pareidolia – but throughout he still had his smug, thin-lipped smirk, that knowing look of someone who is always wrong. The Iranians kept on trying to erase it with blunt force; it felt like being condescended to by a corpse. But they couldn’t. The newspapers report what happened next. Bill Kristol woke up handcuffed to a bed in an abandoned building somewhere in Washington DC, the floor thick with brick dust and piss, the windows grime-clouded or broken, the trees outside spindly black death’s-hands against a low and glaucous sky. A guard stood over him, rifle slung over one shoulder. ‘Oh God,’ whined Bill Kristol. ‘I’m not getting out of this one. I’m going to be trapped here for hours.’ And so twenty minutes later, they set him free.

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  7. G5: Random thoughts…

    Jacksonville, FL did a consolidation of the city, surrounding suburbs, and unincorporated county areas back in the 1960s. At the least, it’s worked out well enough that they didn’t undo it.

    In Colorado, the historical structure has been that counties are pure and simple creatures of the state and, like the state, are service-poor. Cities are much more independent of the state, and are service-rich. The budgets for the two examples of consolidation we have — City and County of Denver, City and County of Broomfield — look very much like cities with the (much smaller) necessary county functions tacked on. Eg, each county sheriff is required to operate a jail, to issue concealed carry permits, and some other minor things. Police service more generally in those cases is a separate police department. In the more rural counties here, providing “equal” services for taxes seems like it would be difficult.

    Knee-jerk reaction: I believe all of the examples used where metro areas crossing state boundaries are a problem are “eastern”. Not non-existent in the West, but much rarer. I’d be perfectly happy to, for example, sit out here and be entertained watching someone try to set up a sane government for the NYC metro area :^)

    In the “questions for candidates” post, I almost put up the question, “Do you believe there should be some regional entities bigger than states but smaller than the nation as a whole with the authority to do things like regulating some kinds of interstate commerce, or managing public lands?”

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    • Jax is the most sprawly place in all of sprawlsylvania; I don’t know if that helps or hurts the argument. A couple years ago, (2013, per the internet) Macon & Bibb County in Georgia finally merged after decades of discussing it.

      I’ve always like the Virginia system of independent cities, myself. Avoids both double taxation and tax avoidance by living just over the border. Plus, most modern developments are hooked into some kind of common water and sewer supply, which used to be the other town/county differential. Also, all the independent cities in Hampton roads area except for maybe Norfolk itself are upjumped counties anyway.

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      • I like the Maryland system where the counties do most of the local government work and the municipalities are just flavoring or the New England system of dividing the state into municipalities and mainly ignoring counties.

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