Since college football season is starting to wind down and the NCHSAA football playoffs are going on tonight I was thinking about this new movie about the Marshall tragedy in 1970. For some that don't know the history of that event, the Marshall football team had played at East Carolina and they were flying back to West Virginia, when the plane crashed all those on board were killed. The Marshall Football program just about vanished, but it didn't.
Hatteras Island is famous for its shipwrecks. But Thursday locals experienced their first ever "chip-wreck".
A cargo container loaded with thousands of bags of Doritos Tortilla Chips washed ashore on the beach near Frisco and broke open. ...
Many of the chips were sealed and still edible. Dozens of people were seen gathering the chips and taking them off the beach. Jessica Maxfield, who is doing an internship with the National Park Service, grabbed a couple of bags.
"I was doing a bird survey. The gulls love the Doritos."
Here's the text of a commentary Nov. 29 commentary on NPR by David Frum:
DAVID FRUM: Imagine if the Republicans had retained their Congressional majority and the first thing they did was suggest big new subsidies for, say, the oil industry. Would there no public outrage?
But that's exactly what the Democrats are now offering their staunch supporters in academia. The Democrats are proposing big new subsidies for college tuition: new loans, new grants, new tax deductions.
Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House, promotes these giveaways as a way to make college more "affordable."
Just about every economist agrees that federal student aid has the opposite effect: It enables colleges to raise tuition even faster and even higher than they otherwise would.
Now, the average price of U.S. college tuition is rising twice as fast as the overall rate of inflation, according to the College Board. Only the health care sector has raised its prices faster.
As with healthcare, more money does not translate into better results. College seniors on average scored only 1.5 percentage points higher than college freshmen in their knowledge of history, economics and international relations, according to a recent survey.
Worse, the survey showed that seniors at the most prestigious and expensive schools actually scored lower than freshmen. That suggests that the principal effect of $200,000 worth of Georgetown or Yale may encourage students to forget all the AP material they covered to get into those schools in the first place.
While student knowledge declines, academic pay rises. 112 of America's college presidents now earn more than $500,000 a year.
Most industries deliver constantly-improving products at steadily declining real prices. Healthcare and higher education, the two great exceptions to this rule, are also the two most government-subsidized sectors in the U.S. economy.
More subsidy is not the solution to the problem. The subsidy is the problem.
Believe it or not, Judy Woodruff of PBS is being criticized for being hard on Jimmy Carter in a recent interview. I've read the transcript and darned if I see all that hardness. See if you can find any. I think what's got the PBS viewers in a tizzy is that it wasn't the typical fawning interview PBS usually conducts with libs.
But what really made me want to comment on this was a memory it brought back. I was at the University of Georgia in 1971 and was watching the Atlanta ABC affiliate on Halloween night (why I remember this, I don't know). The top story was Judy Woodruff walking around with a cameraman and a microphone following little 5-year-old Amy Carter as she trick or treated in the neighborhood near the Governor's Mansion.
Come to think of it, after getting that assignment maybe she did have something against Carter.
You'll also hear Michael Sanera describe the life of a Cold War spy in Berlin. (He could tell you more, but then he'd have to kill you.)
Rick Stroup of the Property & Environment Research Center discusses unintended consequences from the federal Endangered Species Act, experts discuss prosecutorial misconduct (or lack thereof) in N.C. death penalty cases, and Chad and Donna chat about blogs from this forum.
A new study at Health Affairs finds that 25 percent of the uninsured nationwide are eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP and another 20 percent likely can afford coverage but go without. This leaves 56 percent in a category the authors describe as needing assistance to afford coverage. Even without the overly broad definition of those who “need assistance,” this is good news. At face value, this means that we should not talk about the 46 million non-elderly uninsured, but the 25 million or fewer uninsured who lack either the ability to pay or who do not qualify for medical welfare. After all, health care advocates want to expand Medicaid to provide insurance to more people, so they must think it is a terrific program.
Again, without challenging the definition of affordability used by the authors, if 7.2 percent of those who can afford insurance choose not to purchase, why not apply that same figure to the “need assistance” group? If we do that, the number of uninsured by necessity drops to 23 million.
But there is a problem with the authors’ definition of affordability. They use annual premiums of $4,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families as their baselines. Even at three times the federal poverty level, the authors note, these premiums would take 13.8 percent of income for an individual and 17.9 percent of income for a family of four.
The average new car costs $27,800. Not everybody drives a new car, and those who do can choose a Nissan Versa to save money. Despite government attempts to drive up prices by limiting interstate competition and mandating benefits, individuals can still find insurance for less than $1,000 a year. This would be less than 4 percent of income.
Before we add more government to health care and health insurance, let's try cutting back on government's role.
Sheldon Richman has an excellent column here on the increasing power of special interest groups that obstruct trade.
FDR used to fulminate against "economic royalists," which just meant people who owned businesses and didn't like his statist schemes. Maybe we should dust the phrase off and apply it to special interest groups and their political henchmen who want to dictate to us with whom we may and may not trade.
Apropos of your post, John, I wrote the following to some friends in email a few weeks back:
A couple of weeks ago I saw The Wizard of Oz. It's been a long time since I saw that — since I was a kid. So I didn't realize that the Wizard's charlatanry extended to the very end of the movie, even after he was exposed. Those gifts he gave at the end, which I used to think were rewards? What a joke. Scarecrow wants a brain; the wizard gives him an academic degree, and he and everybody else thinks it means he's got a brain.
It's a perfect parody of the degree-worship we see in this country, especially from the Left. ... You no longer need the fruits of intellectualism as long as you have the degree and the correct "dispositions," and voilà! you're an unimpeachable intellect saying Important Things.
I think history will regard our time as one of a resurgent superstition among the supposed intelligentsia, marked by a quasi-religious fervor of scientism, credence in anything that speaks in the language of scientific research regardless of whether scientific rigor was applied.
Here's what the wizard says to Scarecrow:
Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts — and with no more brains than you have... But! They have one thing you haven't got! A diploma!
Andrew Biggs, a former Cato staffer who thinks that Social Security needs to move to individual accounts has been nominated for an important policy post in the SS Administration. That has liberals all hot and bothered. They want his nomination crushed because his ideas are a "threat" to SS. You can read about this battle here.
Since no one can unilaterally make any changes in the crumbling SS system, the talk about how Biggs is a threat is awfully lame. What's really going on, of course, is -- dare I say it? -- an attack on diversity. Diversity of thought, that is. According to the Left, everyone with anything to do with government programs must be a zealous supporter.
He makes the same point I've been making on how misleading the average college earnings versus average high school earnings statistic is. Regarding his daughter, a college grad who can find nothing but secretarial work, he says, "As her experience illustrates, although the average salary differential between college graduates and non-graduates remains high, the marginal college graduate is earning little or no premium."
Another money quote: "One politically popular idea is to try to send more young adults to college. This may seen appealing, but in reality we already have too many students in college who lack sufficient basic skills." Yes, and that problem is just going to get worse as K-12 education continues down its feel-good "student-centered" path.
The "entrepreneurship" aspect of the piece is Kling's belief that education is badly in need of innovation. Unfortunately, he writes, "the politicians of both parties who are most strongly 'pro-education' are in fact the biggest obstacles to improvement, since their policies serve only to entrench the educational establishment."
This is too good to miss. Read it and send it to others.
Chad's piece today comparing Governor Easley of North Carolina and Governor Sanford of South Carolina fits into a theory I threw out last month. Remember another Governor from the south, nobody heard of at one time? Why is the south lying low right now? Wait, John Edwards is on a Booktour...
Economist Arnold Kling has a wonderful little piece over at TCS Daily about education, entrepreneurship, and innovation. My favorite passage:
I fear that many of the students who pass will go on to earn Wizard-of-Oz diplomas, which signify nothing. Students will claim to be educated, but employers will know otherwise. The phenomenon of the Wizard-of-Oz diploma has discredited the college degree.
My oldest daughter discovered that her degree qualified her for secretarial positions. She soon decided to try law school instead. As her experience illustrates, although the average salary differential between college graduates and non-graduates remains high, the marginal college graduate is earning little or no premium.
Last week on NC Spin, Rob Schofield of the anti-taxpayer, anti-market, anti-citizen NC Policy Watch blamed low voter turnout on groups that complained about government incompetence and corruption. He didn't mean things like this from the NC Spin email, did he?
More legislative self-serving Another commentary on legislative ethics in our state is the story that former House Co-Speaker Richard Morgan will take advantage of a recently passed law that allows legislators to receive tax dollars for legal fees associated with their conduct while in office.
The previous provision was that a government official would apply to the Attorney General's office for funding, but when Roy Cooper turned down Jim Black's second request for funding for legal fees legislators changed the law to allow an exemption for themselves. Now taxpayers will pay Morgan's legal bills relating to information he was subpoenaed to give concerning 37 groups or individuals. And here's the really good part. There is no cap placed on the amount we will pay. Supposedly the fees are to cover only expenses related to Morgan's official duties and his staff, but who's minding that store?
Isn't this the same Richard Morgan who recently took $500,000 from political campaign funds individuals had given him to run for office and gave it to himself for personal use? Is this the same Richard Morgan who then "loaned" the money back to his campaign fund? He's got the dough, so why should we pay?
And people wonder why nobody respects or trusts public officials anymore.