Links 5/9/11

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Tiger find prompts logging pressure BBC

Special report: Big Pharma’s global guinea pigs Reuters (hat tip reader Francois T)

Ag-Gag Rules, Meet the Farmarazzi Ecocentric (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Global capitalism and 21st century fascism Aljazeera (hat tip reader Tim C)

Two Muslim Men Kicked Off Airplane, Were Going To Conference About Tolerance Think Progress (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

We won’t pay off our debt… Fine Gael Minister admits Ireland plans to restructure €250bn borrowings as economist warns Ireland is bankrupt Daily Mail (hat tip Richard Smith)

Property experts warn rise in mortgage defaults points to first home buyer stress Smart Company (hat tip reader May S)

Food inflation, land grabs spur Latin America to restrict foreign ownership Christian Science Monitor (hat tip reader May S)

Live reports from Norway on the penal system that runs contrary to all our instincts – but achieves everything we could wish for Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

The PPI racket reminds us that, for Britain’s banks, “business as usual was rotten” Ian Fraser

‘Everything’s been accelerated’ in Wisconsin Steve Benen (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Corporate Martial Law: Public Schools Auctioned Off to Highest Bidder AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

America’s College Bubble Next to Burst National Inflation Association (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

CEO Pay in 2010 Jumped 11% Wall Street Journal

Seeking Business, States Loosen Insurance Rules New York Times (hat tip reader Dr. Kevin)

Welcome to the McJobs Recovery Andy Kroll, TomDispatch

Antidote du jour (hat tip Richard Smith). I had no idea hedgehogs were this hyperactive:

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  1. RebelEconomist

    Usual business at the banks is rotten? Maybe, but the banks alone should not be singled out for criticism here. It seems to me that almost every domestic applicance and service in Britain these days comes with an offer of insurance which, a little calculation suggests, is very poor value. No doubt that is why firms push it. And services such as utilities, telephones and insurance are usually sold with a complex range of options which has the effect of making it very difficult to compare prices. If I were in power, I would make it a priority to deter such bamboozling business practice, because it seems to me that it must detract from the effort that businesses spend on developing their product itself.

  2. David Mead

    The hedgehog was desperate to escape, that was neither funny nor amusing.

    1. Lidia

      Funny that… how being in a plastic tub with a clawed predator 5 times one’s size makes one hyperactive!

    2. Cedric Regula

      I think that when confronted by Furzilla, the baby hedgehog decided pretending to be a cactus doesn’t really cut it, and he needed to seek safety inside a toilet paper roll. But when these creatures both grow up, they will look back on their childhood fears, laugh, and be great friends afterall.

    3. F. Beard

      I agree. The poor hedgehog just wanted to escape, even into that impossibly narrow tube.

      Animal friends from different species is very cute but this reeked of cruelty.

      1. tyaresun

        Hedgehog receives more attention than the guinea pigs in Poland, Hungary and India. Blog reader commits suicide.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We’re all guinea pigs for austerian, Keynesian, supply-side, Great Leap Forward, collective farming, Quantative Easing, deficit spending, globalism, corporatism, communism and a whole bunch of other experiments.

          None of them went through clinical trials to be approved by the FDA before it was used on live human beings.

          1. F. Beard

            We’re all guinea pigs for austerian, Keynesian, supply-side, Great Leap Forward, collective farming, Quantative Easing, deficit spending, globalism, corporatism, communism and a whole bunch of other experiments. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Yep. Man insists on playing God rather than minding his own business.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The cat got it worse though…it has been genetically altered, sorry, domesticated, that it doesn’t even seek to escape anymore.

      1. F. Beard

        The cat got it worse though…it has been genetically altered, sorry, domesticated, that it doesn’t even seek to escape anymore. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s been said that cats domesticated humans and not vice-versa. :)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s debatable, and that’s why I have been urging that we go to plant/vegetable antidotes more often…actually, we never had one, so it would be a breakthrough.

          1. FatCockRoach

            This time of year especially. Nothing quite as cute as a tray of little green seedlings awaiting their big adventure in the great outdoors.

          2. Cedric Regula

            Whatever doesn’t kill ya…makes you stronger.

            I’m looking over the lake in FL here and there is a Mom duck and a whole string of baby ducks. They placidly cruise the lake, then for no reason at all Mom gives a signal and they all start paddling like hell. No other critters in sight. I’ve decided they are having duck fire drill training.

            Must be because of the alligators around here.

  3. financial matters

    Certainly the same thing can be said about the US mortgage service industry and the persistent reluctance of state and federal regulators to take a hard look at these issues… The only progress being made is through the courts as they unravel the mess that this failed regulation and failed enforcement has caused…

    The PPI racket reminds us that, for Britain’s banks, “business as usual was rotten” Ian Fraser

    ‘The quicker the banks acknowledge that business as usual was rotten (and following Lloyds’ lead here would clearly be step in the right direction), and the sooner they turn over a new leaf and demonstrate, through their actions, that their talk about caring for customers is more than window-dressing, the greater Britain’s chances of edging towards becoming a more sustainable and viable economy and a healthier society. It’s probably ridiculously optimistic, but stranger things have happened.’

  4. LeeAnne

    Ag-Gag Rules, Meet the Farmarazzi Ecocentric

    With cell phone camera’s ubiquitous, I say, bring it on! Bring on the criminalizing of picture taking; it’ll increase the value of photos; make it profitable.

  5. Goin' South

    “Global Capitalism and 21st Century Fascism” is a good start at an overview of our situation. The author’s identification of the Obama campaign as a “passive revolution” and his comparison of the Obama Administration to the Weimar Republic are especially apt.

    I’d add one thing to his list of ways that Capitalism is trying to preserve itself as its internal contradictions threaten to bring it down: mandated consumption. We saw it in “health care reform,” and we’ll see more of it as some states privatize schools and step up truancy enforcement. It works both to prop up particular “industries” and to feed the prison industry complex.

    The author seems quite sanguine about the possibility of corralling the 1/3+ of humanity now regarded as surplus by our tiny global elite. That’s likely to be quite expensive. Cheaper just to protect your own enclave and let starvation, lack of shelter and medical care to do its work.

    1. DownSouth

      From the article:

      The crisis of global capitalism is unprecedented, given its magnitude, its global reach, the extent of ecological degradation and social deterioration, and the scale of the means of violence. We truly face a crisis of humanity. The stakes have never been higher; our very survival is at risk.

      Commenter Leviathan the other day accused me of having “a shrine to Arendt somewhere in your home, with burning incense and devotional figurines.” And I suppose it’s true.

      Arendt seems to be one of the very few who had the clairvoyance to perceive the dangers that lay ahead. Forty-eight years ago she wrote in Eichmann in Jerusalem:

      [I]t is apparent that this sort of killing can be directed against any give group, that is, that the principle of selection is dependent only upon circumstantial factors. It is quite conceivable that in the automated economy of a not-too-distant future men may be tempted to exterminate all those whose intelligence quotient is below a certain level.


      Of course it is important to the political and social sciences that the essence of totalitarian government, and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them… True, we have become very much accustomed by modern psychology and sociology, not to speak of modern bureaucracy, to explaining away the responsibility of the doer for his deed in terms of this or that kind of determinism… When Hitler said that a day would come in Germany when it would be considered a “disgrace” to be a jurist, he was speaking with utter consistency of his dream of a perfect bureaucracy.

    2. DownSouth

      Goin’ South said: “Cheaper just to protect your own enclave and let starvation, lack of shelter and medical care to do its work.”

      This from one of Yves’ “Links” the other day is germane:

      If you look at a map of India’s forests, its mineral wealth, and the homelands of the Adivasi people, you’ll see that they’re stacked up over each other. So in reality, those who we call poor are the truly wealthy. As the globalized corporate economy strengthens its grip on our lives and our imaginations, its beneficiaries have united and seceded into outer space. From there they look down at the forests and river valleys where the poor live and see superfluous people sitting on precious resources. They are puzzled. They wonder: What’s our water doing in their rivers, what’s our bauxite doing in their mountains? What’s our iron-ore doing in their forests? The Nazis had a phrase for superfluous people überzähligen Essern, superfluous eaters.

      “The struggle for lebensraum,” Friedrich Ratzel said, after closely observing the struggle between native Indians and their European colonizers in North America, “is an annihilating struggle”. Annihilation doesn’t necessarily mean the physical extermination of people—by bludgeoning, beating, burning, bayoneting, gassing, bombing, or shooting them. (Except sometimes. Particularly when they try to put up a fight. Because then they become Terrorists.) Historically, the most efficient form of genocide has been to displace people from their homes, herd them together, and block their access to food and water. Under these conditions, they die without obvious violence and often in far greater numbers. This was how the Herero people were exterminated by the German General Adolf Lebrecht von Trotha in Southwest Africa in October 1904. “The Nazis gave the Jews a star on their coats and crowded them into ‘reserves,’” Sven Lindqvist writes, “just as the Indians, the Hereros, the Bushmen, the Amandebele, and all the other children of the stars had been crowded together. They died on their own when food supply to the reserves was cut off.” In a democracy, as Amartya Sen says, we are unlikely to have famine. So in place of China’s Great Famine, we have India’s Great Malnutrition. (India hosts fifty-seven million—more than a third—of the world’s undernourished children.)
      ▬Arundhati Roy, Democracy’s Failing Light

      1. Goin' South

        When I venture out onto the streets of my Rust Belt city, I notice that the avenues are not only crumbling where we ragged people go but even alongside the city’s banks and upscale medical centers. The Transnational Capitalists described in this article are too cheap to even fund street repairs that would protect the highest levels of their servant class from busting an axle on their German sports sedans. Massive security forces are too expensive for these tightwads. Some not-so-benign neglect is so much cheaper a “solution.”

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Many areas of Phoenix are looking decidedly third-world too, yielding a weird cityscape of staccato glitz amid blight, especially as foreclosures continue to propagate. The US seems headed toward the shock doctrine plantation landscape that we have been fostering for decades in Latin America: razor-wired luxury surrounded by squalor and despair. Death squads may follow, but I hope Americans prove less passive than many of the Latinos. The perpetrators of such a preventable crime are without any excuse.

          1. skippy

            Although in Carefree Az, the party never stops[ed.

            Skippy…grab yourself a Señorita Limónita at the Mission and drink those troubling doubts away. If you can’t see the ugly people they don’t exist…eh.

          2. shane

            I’m in Osaka…..after a 25 year deflationary depression its HELL here. Brand new sparkling buildings,modern mass transit, clean safe streets, universal health care, 4% unemployment…. Oh the humanity! Save us America! Save us! :)

    3. darms

      IMHO a key difference between 20th century fascism & 21st century version is that in 20th century fascism the secret police are external, a force hired by the gummint to keep the people in line. In 21st century fascism we the people are our own personal secret policeperson as we are too afraid of losing our money, our jobs and our ‘freedoms’ to allow ourselves to speak up, to protest, to resist. The only ‘rebellion’ allowed is that of the teatards who are doing exactly what their fascist corporate overlords want. I find it incredible to how eager common people are to act against their own best interests in the name of some ideology.

  6. Samana

    Plastic Bowl = Capitalism
    Cat = Capitalists
    Hedgehog = Working Class

    Keep your head in that paper tube and all will be OK!

    And I agree, that video seems cute, but it is cruel. All animals should live free.

    1. optimader

      they get tougher w/ age of course, but when thay are young they are not unlike veal from a Doberman perspective

  7. Cynthia

    Our sheepskin bubble remains well inflated, mainly because our federal student loan program is intentionally designed to make students debt slaves to our major banks. But this bubble will quickly deflate as soon as the bulk of our high school graduates realize that a collage degree is no longer a ticket to a decent paying job, much less a high-paying job.

    But the bubble in our ivy league schools isn’t likely to deflate anytime soon, because students at ivy league schools will still find it is fairly easy to land a decent to high paying job upon graduation. This is mostly because success in today’s jobs market is based more on who you know and less on what you know.

    Barack Obama is a perfect example of this in that graduating from an ivy league school has enabled him to become successful in his line of work by aligning himself with people in the know rather than with people who know anything. This still doesn’t stop me from wanting to see his college transcripts, including his test scores. I’m no longer skeptical about Obama’s place of birth, but I am still pretty skeptical about how well he did in college.

    1. Ivy Interpreter

      You can go far in an Ivy League school kissing ass. And from the looks of it that’s exactly what Obama did.

      On the other hand, the president wants to avoid being seen as too brainy, too elite. Having perfect grades might seem like he was smarter than he appears to be when really all it meant is that he sucked up majorly.

    2. CE

      Our last four president’s have gone to Ivy league schools. By all accounts the President is a very intelligent person, it’d be better to focus on his economic policies.

      1. Ivy Interpreter

        George Bush Jr. went to Yale. He was a legacy admit and barely literate. Spent his time getting drunk or high with his frat buds. Suffered permanent brain damage rendering him unable to speak properly. Grade Point Average: C. Scored many points with underachieving Texans and other brain damaged people.

        Clinton also went to Yale. High GPA, and Rhodes scholar. He was deemed too elite by the masses.

    3. ginnie nyc

      I would demure from the assumption here that an Ivy League education guarantees high salaries and a spot in the elite. I never made more than 45K when I was working, and I know many other such. It is true, though, if you view it as primarily an opportunity to network, rather than study, you will go further.

      1. craazyman

        My sister went to Dartmouth and she’s gotten her butt kicked. I went to the University of Magonia and I got my butt kicked too, but it was mostly my fault. Just goes to show you that you get your butt kicked no matter what. So you might as well party hard.

      2. Kal-el

        You can do decently even if you just study. Your chances of elite medical, law and business school admission go up, or you could more readily get into a PhD program in an area where graduates are in high-ish demand.

        Or, like you said, if you don’t like to study, have compromised morals, and suck up decently, you can play the network to get a job on Wall street or “the Hill.”

    1. Pelle Schultz

      I commend Skynet on their excellent work for developing the time machine and placing those birth announcements in the Honolulu newspapers circa 1961. When exactly is judgement day?

    2. Valissa

      Well, I don’t know if this is a good response, but I’ll give it a shot. In my surfing around on this issue over the past couple of years my favorite theory is that Obama was born in Hawaii but there is something personally embarrassing to him on the birth certificate which is why they didn’t just release it right away. Even if the b.c. was altered that doesn’t prove he wasn’t born in HI.

      When my dad, who is sadly a Rush Limbaugh fan, brought up the b.c. issue with me last year my response was that there was a group of very rich folks who very much wanted Obama to be president (as was true of George Bush) and there’s nothing we little people can do about it so he shouldn’t waste his energy on the b.c. thing and instead focus on real criticisms as there are plenty of those to be made.

      Honestly, team Obama has handled this issue poorly from the beginning, IMO. Despite that I think this whole b.c. issue is a big waste of time and yet another distraction from the current real problems this country faces.

    3. Ray Duray

      Hi wunsacon,

      Re: “Does anyone here have a good response?”

      My response is quite simple. I got introduced to Market Ticker in late 2008 and I loved what Denninger was putting out back then about starting the prosecutions of the crooks on Wall Street. His stridency, directness and bombast were a refreshing antidote to the talking heads, to paraphrase Left, Right and Center’s Matt Miller.

      Today, I have utterly lost all respect for both Matt Miller and for Karl Denninger.

      In Denninger’s case, he is still playing the belligerent chihuahua to a tee. He’s full of spite, piss and vinegar. And he’s been reduced to an irrelevant barking annoyance.

      Can anyone with the remotest bit of commons sense believe that you attack a sitting President on the basis of a doctored birth certificate? That issue has been put to rest, Dan Rather’s destruction notwithstanding. In fact, Denninger ought to be concerned that he’s about to be Dan Rathered. In the sense that Obama’s PR team clearly has the upper hand on this birth certificate issue and the longer Denninger insists on imitating an all-bark and no-bite chihuahua the sooner he’s undone. If I were standing in Denninger’s shoes, and I’m glad I’m not, I’d being doing some quaking over just how perpetual the IRS audit about to be started might become. The U.S. Constitution says that there shall be “no corruption of the blood”, so Denninger’s kids may be off the hook. But his estate might be in jeopardy into perpetuity. He ought to have more sense about which windmills are worth tilting at.

    4. Andrew

      Re kerning on Obama’s birth certificate: I heard from a long term typewriter technician that that was not electronic kerning. Notice not all the letters are “kerned” but some appear to be, particularly those whose shapes naturally fit into each other. A computer would kern all letters and not just some, like this text. Also, some letters in the certificate touch each other, which to me suggests the inverse of the randomized effect which caused the “kerning” in letters whose shapes were more congruent, like ‘ay’ and so forth.

    5. Arcadiana

      I’m not a typewriter expert, but… the example of typed text below has all sorts of “kerning” in it(such as that detected in Obama’s birth certificate), so I’m questioning the supposition that “typewriters cannot produced kerning” (“it’s impossible!!”) – such “kerning” is easily noticeably through the sample:

      Which comes as no surprise to me because… between the metal rod that holds each letter and the piece of paper itself… there’s a lot of minute motion going on with a typewriter… I would be more surprised if there wasn’t any kerning in a typed document. But, again, I ain’t no typewriter expert.

  8. Valissa

    The largesse of Monsanto… a variation on the Ag-Gag game.

    Monsanto: “Don’t Worry, We Won’t Sue”

    An Australian farmer whose crops were ruined after a flood washed GM seed into his land is understandably dissatisfied by Monsanto’s response. When Bob Mackley expressed his troubles of maintaining a strictly non-GM Canola crop, Monsanto assured him they would not exercise patent rights for the presence of GM seed now on his land.

    A Monsanto corporate affairs manager said it could be effectively sprayed out (?) and that he should have no trouble marketing his Canola as GM-free. Mr. Mackley is apprehensive about continuing Canola planting is worried that there is no other resolution outside of courtrooms.

  9. Sock Puppet

    Bubbles and disaster capitalism.

    Kudos to NIA for calling college education a bubble. This one is clearly credit driven just like the housing bubble.

    Who’s next? What is going on in Detroit is straight from the Chicago school disaster capitalism playbook as used from Chile to New Orleans. (See Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”) Charter schools are the next education bubble in the making. What we’re seeing here is an example the use of disaster capitalism as a vehicle to create fertile ground for new bubbles.

    (Wisconsin is a case where disaster capitalism may stumble through overreach, as the disaster was declared into existence and therefore lacked the potency to “shock” the public into the disorientation necessary to accept the “reforms”. They won’t make that mistake again.)

    I’m calling another bubble – healthcare. This one funded by insurance aka up front rent collection and medicare/medicaid with no negotiation on prices.

    Here’s another – The “war on drugs”, “immigration control”, and the incarceration industry is a bubble.

    And of course the security industry/MIC/GWOT is a bubble.

    On the bubble horizon? Privatization of local government services. Big agriculture. Domestic energy production.

    What all of these bubbles have in common is government acting as the enforcer in the collection of rent from individuals by corporations and private companies, whether it be through taxation, student loans, mortgages, insurance payments, corporate subsidies, or inflation. All done in the name of a “free market”. All lead to market distortions and bubbles.

    D & R are just good cop/bad cop in this. They work together to take you down.

    1. curmudgeonly troll

      As a counterargument, the unemployment rate for college grads is 4.5%, vs. 14.6% for high school dropouts.

      Harvard is laughing all the way to the bank… if they were a public company, their brand would be worth as much as Apple’s, in terms of the amount people are willing to pay and donate purely for affiliation with a brand.

      You could make a pretty good case for a bubble in for-profit online private education, as Steve Eisman and others have done.

      1. Sock Puppet

        Hmmm. True, but not sure it’s a counter argument. Could it be that college is just an expensive selection process rather than an educational process, at least in the eye of the employer? As a society, can we afford that? Can the student afford that?

        What is the amount of debt worth taking on to enter the job market four years later with a few percentage points difference in unemployment rate? Will the graduate be able to pay off that loan and make up four years of lost earnings? Probably yes with a degree in engineering. Unlikely with a degree in social anthropology.

        What makes it a bubble is the double digit inflation rate in the cost for a questionable result.

        1. Kal-el

          Requiring a college degree is a way of legally discriminating against people who are not sufficiently middle-class. In order for this method of discrimination to work, it has to be practically unaffordable to anyone who isn’t middle class, and just barely affordable to the upper middle class. Scholarships, financial aid and so forth can reward more deserving students who someone feels ought to be in the middle class. Conversely, others felt to be less deserving can be made to collapse under the weight of their loans.

          1. CE

            I don’t think this is right, you can still get a college degree from a decent university for 3,200/year ( If you go through the whole thing on student loans you’ll owe up to 12,000 and with the extra living expenses lets just say 20,000, which is a reasonable student debt to leave school with.

          2. Kal-el

            I think that’s per semester. Plus books, which adds about $600. Plus interest after you graduate. Assuming you live at home, you are set back about a years wages for a middle class person in Ohio.

            But graduating from Ohio University Athens campus presumably won’t get you as far as attending Harvard either.

            I say tuition is still a barrier to the non-middle-class.

          3. CE

            Ugh my fault, its per quarter. Which puts tuition at more like 10,000 per year. So maybe at Ohio University it can get done for 50,000 total? Much more expensive yeah.

        2. curmudgeonly troll

          all of the above… it’s signaling, it’s assimilation into a culture, it’s education, it’s expensive, it’s inefficient. (I went to an Ivy league school and people worked hard and learned something, although I still needed 6 months of on-the-job training before I could do anything useful)

          I don’t think there’s a bubble in BAs from good schools. It’s just that they have too much pricing power, access to subsidies and donations, and competition to one-up the other schools in amenities.


          There’s probably too many Ph.Ds in a lot of disciplines because they are cheap labor, and there are probably too many people doing useless ‘Communications’ degrees at third-tier schools and online for-profit mills.

          I think Peter Thiel makes an interesting point, that if you want to disrupt the establishment, just do it, don’t go to an Ivy League school, get saddled with loans, and then have to work for a bank or hedge fund and help the establishment find loopholes and schemes to get richer.

          1. Kal-el

            If you look at higher education over the last century, you will see that only the most elite and a few very dedicated non-elites went to college at the beginning and middle of the century. After WWII, the army paid for a lot of people to attend college, and so if you were from a certain broader class chances are you would attend. Suddenly around the time that colleges became coed people started going to college even more broadly. That trend picked up pace until around 2000, when college became an extension of high school and colleges started to teach remedial high school subjects. (You probably didn’t see this so much at your ivy league university. But you may have seen many science courses for “poets” and other “gut” courses–polite terms for remedial education for hopeless individuals.)

            There were also other trends like grade inflation and relaxing of prerequisites that diluted the meaning of a college degree. In addition, having a college degree became mandatory for getting a job, so professors took pity on their students and tried to help them graduate even when in previous times they would have been considered unsuited for college work. If you are old enough, you might remember the saying “look to the left of you, look to the right of you, one of these people won’t be back next year.” Nowadays, this would never happen. The college diploma is the new high school diploma in terms of what graduates know.

            You might say there are many exceptions to this in terms of college graduates who know a lot, but there were also many high school graduates then that knew much more than the average high school graduate.

            Extending this trend out, graduate school will become the new high school education and you’ll need a graduate degree to even be considered for a job.

            That’s one way to limit the number of job applicants in the face of dwindling job prospects for everyone.

  10. Cedric Regula

    A web search indicates that a full grown doberman may decide to protect a human child, or eat it. Could go either way.

    But here is a video of a full grown hedgehog and near full grown doberman. The video says they are playing, but it looks to me like they just met.

    BTW, full grown dobermans scare the crap out of me too. Especially in the wild. Don’t know if that’s learned behavior on my part or if the snarling, drooling, growling, barking triggers some kind of DNA response.

  11. Valissa

    Can’t decide if this is silly or sad… Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason, director for counterterrorism, both edited out due to religious stupidity and bias… how pathetic. Saw the article a few places but this one shows the before and after photos, and also refers to Tomanson as a mere staffer.

    NY Hassidic paper ‘deletes’ Clinton from iconic photo

  12. CE

    From the NIA article:

    “NIA believes that the future of college education is over the Internet and that Americans in the future will be able to receive a better quality education from the best professors from all around the world at only a fraction of the cost of a traditional brick and mortar college education.”

    The article’s tone is basically, because Amazon has proved the future of shopping is online, then we believe the future of education is online.

    I have two criticisms of online schools, both dealing with the need for human interaction. For most students, the college classroom is the first place they are treated and held accountable like adults and that acclimation is important. And for teachers, its much easier to care about students and develop a bond with them if you see them face to face on a daily basis.

    1. Kal-el

      It really is true that it is more efficient and efficacious to deliver large lecture courses online. Studies show that students learn better learning these subjects from online lectures. Realistically virtually none of the students would have face-to-face contact with their professor in any event. Also the notion that college students are treated like adults is false in most places and for most of their college experience.

      Most of the costs of running a University can be ascribed to a.) buildings: building, equipping, maintaining, heating, and cooling them.
      b.) administrators: pushing paper
      c.) sports teams

      Delivering courses online can save $$$ if properly implemented.

      1. CE

        A lot of 100-level courses are in large lecture halls. But that becomes less the case as you progress through college. I can’t argue with the efficiency of online courses, but the social aspect of college has always been as important as the instructional aspect. To completely remove that seems incredibly destructive.

        1. Kal-el

          No one says they can’t communicate with each other or their prof by email or over skype, or even in person. And no one says that a college student can’t get out and mingle with others, go to dances etc.

          If you mean that college is more important for the connections you make than the education you receive, then I think that’s what’s got us into this mess.

          1. Cedric Regula

            I don’t see communicating as a big problem either. That’s what texting and tweets are for. Then we can have FaceFrat and FaceSorority. They can work out at which bar the local chapters will commandeer.

            The smart guy will still have to do the homework problems for everyone else, but that’s what Facebook Friends are for.

            But cost seems like the big problem to me. In the mid to late 70s I remember state school tuition was $450/semester. I went out-of-state to Purdue for $800/semester. I think prestigious private schools went for $2000-$2500/semester. Books used to cost as much as books.

            I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination most starting salaries or lifetime incomes kept up with the increase. Not to mention 4 years or more of supporting yourself on little or no income. Then who can make it 40 years without a career change and back to school anyway?

            Anyone with half a brain would decide to be a plumber.

        2. alex

          “the social aspect of college has always been as important as the instructional aspect”

          Important to which students and for what reasons?

          1. CE

            Important to all students and because socializing is a net plus. Fuck me if I have to defend the merits of 18 to 22 yr olds socializing.

            Universities are generally vibrant places no? All sorts of students are creating all sorts of projects and a lot of them are extremely good and you generally get positive feedback because collegians are generally positive people, this is all important right?

            I was in the college concert band this can’t happen online. My fellow students created physical tangible engineering projects as teams. There were television studios for students, weather stations, recording studios for music, photography studios along with darkrooms (back when that mattered, it must still somehow). Art was endemic. If you took a tree biology course, you went outside and looked at trees. There are so many learning activities that cant happen online that the thought of 2-dimensional lecture only curriculum is profoundly depressing.

          2. Jaroslav

            I read that American university is like a city. There are movie theaters, golf courses, newspapers, radio stations, tv stations, swimming pools, libraries, theaters, concert halls, cafeterias, pizzerias, cathedrals, art studios, astronomy observatories, field research stations and more. Many students in Europe want to go to American university but it is too expensive.

            In Europe, university is free or almost free and in some places you can be paid to be a student. We are lucky when there is toilet paper in the bathrooms. Still we socialize and we can do all of those things but not all at our Uni and it can cost some money.

  13. del

    On the subject of McJobs, is there any source of information on the changing number of jobs at or near the minimum wage, as a percentage of the total jobs in the economy, over time?

    It always strikes me as strange what sorts of data you never see (endless graphs of inflation, rarely an account of minimum household income).

    1. Kal-el

      McJobs offer at least some kind of employment contract and minimum wage. They are far from the worst jobs out there.

      There are growing numbers of temp positions, part time, no benefits, no workplace safety, pay your own FICA, where people are called “independent contractors.”

      I would guess that these horrible jobs are the fastest growing segment of the job market.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You will never succeed in the McUniverse if you have to say, McJob Recovery.

        Too long.

        Instead, it should be McCovery…fast, EZ to replicate and you will sell more. Trust me.

  14. poorhedgehog

    I’ll join the group that thinks the hedgehog video was cruelty rather than humor.

    Sure wish the owner would give it to somebody who would take care of it properly.

  15. Valissa

    While I can understand why some found the hedgehog video cruel, I did not. That’s because the hedgehog did not act frightened. It acted trapped and possibly frustrated, but not scared.

    Two major clues:
    1. The hedgehog tolerated the cat (they were clearly used to each other’s presence)
    2. The hedgehog was not squealing, or clicking and hissing

    Hedgehog Sounds

    IMO it was a mildy cute video, but not up to par with the typical ‘antidote.’

  16. Waffenembargo gegen den Mann

    future of college education is over the Internet

    When I was 17 I took a correspondence course from the University I later entered. I learned the facts more thoroughly at home and actually had more fun at the process than was usually the case on campus. Is study, like death, a lonely process? Do we learn alone but hit the campus for something non-educational? I don’t think people go to college to learn the facts. I think we go for something else. I think we go for adventure. We go for the excitement. For the games, the discoveries of what is out there in a larger World. We go to learn the art of survival. College is a jungle survival course. But more difficult than a real jungle.

    Do lot of people read Wiki on the monitor, but lot more people play video games on line? Play against other real people? Is that a form of education? A virtual campus?

    Think about it

  17. MichaelC


    Just saw this commercial for The Cosmopolitan in Vegas again.

    The irony of the tagline “Just the right amount of wrong” given that Deutsche Bank owns (and manages) the hotel, coupled with the high quality erotic decadence of the video captures something elusive (with words (at least for me) about the state of play in financial mkts. But I chuckle each time it comes on.


    1. Skippy

      Owned and operated by a joint combine of Mormon elders who provided political and business legitimacy and people involved with organized crime who provided unreported income and street muscle, such as Meyer Lansky these crime hotels became regarded as the epitome of gambling entertainment. Even with the general knowledge that some of the owners of these casino resorts had dubious backgrounds, by 1954, over 8 million people were visiting Las Vegas yearly pumping 200 million dollars into casinos. Gambling was no longer the only attraction; the biggest stars of films and music like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Abbott and Costello, Bing Crosby, Carol Channing, and others performed in intimate settings. After coming to see these stars, the tourists would resume gambling, and then eat at the gourmet buffets that have become a staple of the casino industry.

      However, the confluence of various marginal and/or suspected groups such as Jews, Sicilians, and Mormons into the gambling enterprises in Las Vegas and the subsequent cornering of the gambling market in the city by these groups sparked a two-year investigation by Senator Estes Kefauver and his Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce in 1950–51. The hearing concluded that organized crime money was incontrovertibly tied to the Las Vegas casinos and was becoming the controlling interest in the city thereby earning for the groups vast amounts of income which was strengthening their influence in the country. This led to a proposal by the Senate to institute federal gambling control. Only through the power and influence of Nevada’s Senator Pat McCarran did the proposal die in committee.

      Along with their connections in Hollywood and New York City, these interests in Las Vegas were able to use publicity provided by these media capitals to steer the rapid growth of tourism into Las Vegas thereby dooming Galveston, Texas; Hot Springs, Arkansas; and other illegal gaming centers around the nation.[9] Nevada’s legal gaming as well as the paradoxical increased scrutiny by local and federal law enforcement in these other locales during the 1950s made their demise inevitable.


      Despite the success, the home mortgage crisis and the Late 2000s Recession affected the economic success. Unaffordable housing led to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sub-prime mortgage lending that was unstable and risky, not to mention the speculation and extra loan borrowing influenced by the low interest rates of the Federal Reserve. Soon after, properties were foreclosed, new home construction was stalled, and construction projects were either canceled, postponed, or continued with financial troubles. Some of these projects included the MGM Mirage property of CityCenter, Fontainebleau, Echelon, and The Plaza. Even worse, the global financial situation had a negative effect on gaming and tourism revenue, thus allowing many of the companies to report net loss.

      While the city seems to be weathering the unprecedented recession, a slow recovery is predicted, and future concerns such as the water supply in the ongoing drought, diversification of the area economy from tourism and competition from other gaming hot spots continue to be major issues.

      Las Vegas has still managed to host many conventions and major events. Las Vegas will be hosting the Latin Grammy Awards up until 2012.

      On November 20, 2010, Forbes listed Las Vegas as the worst major city in America to find a job, citing 8.86 unemployed people per advertised job. Las Vegas has been continuously ranked as having the highest unemployment for a major city during the Late-2000s recession,[13] as well as the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.[14]

      Skippy…so many temples to build, so many sheeple, too fleece.

  18. The lives of others

    I have been following this website for the economic news and this is the first time I am compelled to comment.
    The hedgehog video is cruel and if you cannot see it you lack empathy. That is also the problem with economists and those who pose as economists. Lack of empathy and lack of imagination.
    Furthermore, the cat could walk out anytime, but the hedgehog could not. I am a cat lover, but I would not subject my worst enemy/hedgehog to that kind of “amusement”. I am ready to accept your apologies on behalf of the hedgehog.
    Did the cat gain any substantive intelligence from the exercise? Not that it would matter, of course.

  19. Jack E. Lope

    NIA – National Inflation Association, “Preparing Americans for Hyperinflation”?

    More like “Propagandizing Americans to Believe That Hyperinflation Lurks”.

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