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Archive for June, 2013

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The Real Cause of the Higher Education Bubble

As the yahoos at One Wisconsin Now spend the weekend trying to cover the ass of Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Baldwin signed onto a Democratic proposal which killed a long-term, bipartisan agreement being finalized in the Senate over the “crisis” of seeing student loan rates go from a low of 3.4% to 6.8%.  Sen. Ron Johnson had signed onto the bipartisan agreement by the way…must be so hard for OWN to attack Baldwin, you know, with the Kraus connection to her campaign and all. ), the InstaPundit, Glenn Reynolds once again highlights just why college costs the way it is.

It has nothing to do with loans, or state spending, or the typical litany of liberal claims.  It’s a combination of two things: The federal government telling universities it will subsidize student loans while a student is enrolled; causing colleges with an open excuse to escalate their costs knowing full well that it is the federal government (Banks were removed from the equation with ObamaCare by the way, something OWN has finally started admitting in their press releases) truly covering the bills.  Secondly, schools have used this money to increase their administrator class to insane bounds.

The end result, students went from having a manageable, but high student loan debt, to one that now buries them.

But hey, trust the government we keep getting told, right?

Anyway, here’s Reynolds:

In truth, America’s student loan problem won’t be solved by low interest rates—for many students, the debt would be crippling even if the interest rate were zero.

If we want to solve the very real problem of excessive student-loan debt, college costs need to be brought under control. A 2010 study by the Goldwater Institute identified “administrative bloat” as a leading reason for higher costs. The study found that many American universities now have more salaried administrators than teaching faculty.

Another way to approach costs is to remove the incentives for universities to accept government-subsidized student-loan money regardless of a student’s prospects of graduation or gainful employment. Under the current setup, incentives run the other way: Schools get their money up front via student loans; if students are unable to pay the loans back, the burden falls on taxpayers (if the loan was “guaranteed” by the federal government), and the students themselves, while the schools get off scot-free.

A serious student-loan fix would change this incentive. First, federal aid could be capped, perhaps at a national average, or simply indexed to the consumer-price index, making it harder for schools to raise tuition willy-nilly. Second, schools that receive subsidized loan money could be left on the hook for a percentage of the loan balance if students default. I would favor allowing students who can’t pay to discharge their loan balances in bankruptcy after a reasonable time—say, five to seven years, maybe even 10—with the institutions that got the money being liable to the guarantors (i.e., the taxpayers) for, say, 10% or 20% of the balance.

You can bet that under this kind of a rule, universities would be much more careful about encouraging students to take on significant debt unless they are fully committed first to graduating, and second to a realistic career path that would enable them to service that debt over time. At the very least, schools would be more likely to warn students of the risks.

Even thinking about the impact of such a “skin in the game” rule for colleges helps to illustrate the irresponsible—even, in Elizabeth Warren’s words, “immoral”—way that colleges up to now have dealt with costs and with debt. If lawmakers were serious about helping students pay for college, Congress would be considering more than simply continuing low interest rates on ever-higher student-loan balances.

Of course, what those harping about student loan debt are really hoping for is a massive federal debt forgiveness program — a bailout per se — but know that such a program would be politically unpopular, especially in a world where no one feels sorry for an “Art History” degree graduate who now works at Starbucks for a living.

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Australian Left Coups Its Leadership (Again)

Regularly scheduled parliamentary elections in Australia are set for September.  Or rather, they were until yesterday.

Yesterday, Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister before he was removed in an intra-party coup by Julia Gillard in 2010, returned the favor by staging a successful coup against Gillard himself. 

Few believe that a change in leadership will save the Australian Labor Party from eventual defeat against its conservative counterparts, the Liberal Party later this summer.

(Down under, the Liberal Party stands for economic liberalism — small l — otherwise known as the free market.  It is also the more socially conservative party.  Labor is the center-left party and is the actual basis for the British center-left party of the same name.)

Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, has been swept from office in an internal party coup. She lost a snap leadership election of her Labor party caucus to Kevin Rudd, the man she ousted as prime minister in a similar vote just three years and two days ago.

Few will mourn Gillard’s departure. A deeply polarizing leftwing figure, she won election by a single parliamentary seat in 2010. She proceeded to break a key campaign promise not to impose a carbon tax after the election. Most recently, she has been seen as ineffectual in stopping a stream of boats bearing migrants seeking asylum from arriving on Australia’s shores. Polls showed her likely to lose in a landslide to Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal party coalition, in scheduled elections in September.

Rudd will now have to put the broken pieces of the Labor party together quickly. Look for him to call an early election to capitalize on the appearance of change at the head of the Labor party — the earliest date for any election would be August 3. But while he may be able to prevent a Labor-party disaster, analysts still expect him to lose to Abbott. After all, it was his economic mismanagement in 2009 and 2010 that led to his own departure from office after a coup initiated by Gillard. Since then, there are no signs that Rudd or Labor have updated or moderated their economic thinking.

Rudd only gained electoral success in 2007 by being a staunch opposition to the Iraq War.  Since then, the entire country has sputtered economically under Labor rule.

As of right now, Labor has a 71-65 seat (150 seats) lead over the Liberals in the Australian House of Representatives, and a 31-30 seat (76 seats) lead in the Australian Senate.

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Marc Rich, America’s Most Dubious Pardon Recipient, Dies in Switzerland

Justice forever denied, thanks to the sitting Attorney General.

Marc Rich, the trader known as the “King of Commodities” whose controversial 2001 pardon by President Bill Clinton just hours before he left office unleashed a political firestorm of criticism in 2001, died on Wednesday. He was 78.

Rich died of a stroke in a hospital in Lucerne, Switzerland, near to his longtime home, according to the Marc Rich Group. His Israel-based spokesman, Avner Azulay, said Rich would be buried in Israel on Thursday.

Rich fled from the United States to Switzerland in 1983 after he was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on more than 50 counts of fraud, racketeering, trading with Iran during the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis and evading more than $48 million in income taxes – crimes that could have earned him more than 300 years in prison.

Rich remained on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, narrowly escaping capture in Finland, Germany, Britain and Jamaica, until Clinton granted him a pardon on Jan. 20, 2001 – the day he handed over the keys to the White House to George W. Bush.

Possible forgotten fact about the Rich case; the U.S. Attorney who spent his time trying to prosecute Rich, was future New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

So where does Attorney General Eric Holder come into play?

He’s the one as a former Clinton Deputy Attorney General who gave the pardon the green light when it was going through the review process, completely missing all the warning signs the FBI, Interpol and countless law enforcement agencies had put up ahead of time.

Eric Holder, the current U.S. attorney general, was deputy attorney general to Clinton, and recommended Rich’s pardon.

Only weeks later, however, he told the House Government Reform Committee: “Knowing everything that I know now, I would not have recommended to the president that he grant the pardon.”

Boy, that just makes us all appreciative he’s on the job, doesn’t it?

The Rich pardon is often seen as the last of the major Clinton campaign finance scandals, with allegations that Rich’s ex-wife Denise gave heavily to the Clinton Presidential Library Fund, the Democratic National Committee as well as acted as a fund raiser for Hillary Clinton’s first Senate run.

No evidence of wrongdoing was every exposed.

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Wasn’t This Only Supposed to Happen in a Romney Presidency?

And the bullshit that was the “Big Bird dies!” storyline from 2012 continues to highlight what a bunch of crap it truly was.  But hey, it fooled a ton of low-information voters didn’t it?

Once again Sesame Workshop is handing out pink slips. Around 30 employees at the producers of Sesame Street were let go today. This comes just more than a year after a dozen employees were shown the door at the non-profit last May. “We at Sesame Workshop are not immune to the challenges of today’s economic environment. After careful review, we have concluded that we must operate, and achieve our strategic priorities with fewer resources. Therefore, we have reluctantly determined that we must reduce our workforce by approximately 10%,” said CEO H. Melvin Ming in a note sent to staff this afternoon. Among those who have been let go are former Newsweek Inc CEO and Nickelodeon executive Tom Ascheim, who joined the company in March 2012 as EVP of the Sesame Learning program. Sesame Learning will be absorbed into other divisions of the company, Ming said today. The CEO also announced that the Corporate Strategy and the Business Systems Programming groups will be dissolved as of July 1st. Sesame Workshop’s Global Education department will also be melded into other units.

From the sound of this release, it would be safe to say that Sesame Workshop’s merchandise business has taken it on the chin in the lax economy.  It is the 800 lbs. gorilla in the company and if parents aren’t buying the “Tickle-Me-Elmos” and “See-and Say Big Birds” (if such a toy even exists) in the numbers they once did, as simple as that.

As for any federal funding, no money has been cut from public broadcasting this year, or ever.  In fact, it likely increased. Back in the 90s, it was $100 million.  Last year, it was $430 million.

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Pew Poll: Most Americans Don’t Care About Global Warming / Climate Change

Today’s supposed to be President Obama’s big “War on Coal” speech.  (Though with the Sec. 4 of the Voting Right Act news from the SCOTUS, that might change…)

According to CNN, Pew finds out what most political insiders have known for years: No one cares — or votes solely on — the issue of global warming / climate change.  In fact, for many, it doesn’t even register.

As President Obama is expected to lay out his plans for combating global climate change Tuesday, Americans don’t seem to be overly concerned about the threat from the environment, according to a new poll.

Americans were far less likely to name global climate change as a major threat to their country compared to international counterparts, according to a new poll spanning more than three dozen countries from the Pew Research Center released Monday.

Just two out of every five Americans, 40%, said that global climate change was a major threat to the United States. That is compared to 54% of all countries surveyed who said climate change was a serious threat to their respective countries.

The 37,653 people surveyed between the beginning of March and the beginning of May spanned 39 countries and included those in China, Russia and Canada as well as countries in Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Citizens of China, Israel and several other nations also registered a similarly low level of concern compared to the average of all countries surveyed.

Climate change was most likely to be seen as a serious problem in Latin America, where 65% said it was a major threat. The same was true of 54% of Canadians, Europeans and those in Africa. Of the regions surveyed, only the Middle East had a similar percentage to the U.S. of people identifying climate change as a major threat, at 42%.

The survey assessed concerns for a variety of perceived threats, from Islamic extremist groups and international financial instability to the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, political instability in Pakistan and power and influence wielded by the United States and China.

For Americans, the big concerns were North Korea’s nuclear programs and Islamic extremist groups, with 59% and 54% respectively of those surveyed identifying those issues as major threats to the country.

Americans are short-term thinkers, always have been.  It’s partially why the 20th Century was such a successful time for the Left.  They focus on the threats in front of them, not ones that some scientists tells that is decades and centuries off, when they’re in the ground or dust in the wind.  Global warming alarmism fits into the latter category.

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