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Posts Tagged ‘Economic Issues’

Ministry’s Gift Relieving Lunch Debt Double Edged Sword

January 24, 2020 Leave a comment

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The Alabama Ministry group who offered to pay off the lunch debt in the “relatively affluent” school district described in this article is a clear benefit to the local taxpayers and an even clearer benefit to the children who could not afford to pay for their meals. But there is a shadow side to this gesture. It can lead voters to the conclusion that charity can fill the void in providing meals for every child when the government’s tax revenues fall short. Instead of using moral suasion to help a targeted group of children it would be far more helpful to far more students if the Ministry groups helped their congregations see that by supporting more government spending on schools and social safety nets they could do even greater good.

This McSweeneys Article Would be Funnier if it Weren’t So Close to the Truth

January 23, 2020 Leave a comment

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The banks love Betsy DeVos… Those who owe fly-by-night for profit colleges? Not so much!

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Nick Kristof Bursts the “Personal Responsibility” and “Bad Choice” Bubbles in Cogent Op Ed

January 19, 2020 Leave a comment

A few days ago, Nick Kristof and his wife posted an extended essay describing the fate of the Knapps, a family that grew up in Kristof’s home town of Yamhill OR. The five siblings in that family all ended up dead, diseased, or incarcerated as a result of alcohol and drug addiction. It is a story of many working class families from rural outposts and one that puts a face on and explains the cold statistics showing that the life expectancy in our country is declining.

In today’s op ed column, Mr. Kristof offers several rejoinders to those who responded to this earlier essay with declarations that essentially boiled down to this: the Knapps got what they deserved. In his evenhanded and clear-eyed response to those who suggested this, Mr. Kristof burst the bubbles of personal responsibility and “bad choice” bubbles. The crux of Mr. Kristof’s arguments against these social Darwinists can be found in these paragraphs:

A newborn in a ZIP code of North Philadelphia with a largely poor and black population has a life expectancy 20 years shorter than a newborn in mostly white central Philadelphia just four miles away; that’s not because one infant has displayed “weak character.”

Britain reduced child poverty by half under Tony Blair. It’s not that British infants suddenly showed more personal responsibility; it’s that the government showed responsibility. Here in the United States, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine laid out a blueprint for reducing America’s child poverty by half, yet Congress and President Trump do nothing.

In that sense, Dr. Carson is right: Poverty is a choice. But it’s our choice.

I find it maddening that those who argue that poverty is a character flaw ignore the fact that good fortune plays a huge role in the ability to develop and retain good character. It is much easier for those who have reliable food, clothing to focus on character development. And as pointed out repeatedly in this blog, telling parents in North Philadelphia that their children have a choice about where to attend school is disingenuous at best and completely dishonest at worst. There isn’t a child in North Philadelphia who can choose to attend any school they wish anywhere in the city… and as for attending a school outside the city: forget it!

As is almost always the case with Mr. Kristof’s writing, he leaves the reader with a ray of hope after diagnosing the problem. Here are the concluding paragraphs of his op ed piece which come close to doing that:

We moved from an inclusive capitalism in the postwar era to a rigged system that hobbles unions, underinvests in children and then punishes those left behind. This is the moral equivalent of (placing) spikes on dashboards (to ensure there are adverse consequences for speeders or reckless drivers).

What would a better social narrative look like? It would acknowledge personal responsibility but also our collective social responsibility — especially to help children. It would be infused with empathy and a “morality of grace” that is less about pointing fingers and more about offering helping hands. It would accept that a country cannot reach its potential when so many of its citizens are not achieving theirs.

To which this reader can only say: AMEN!

Fast, Cheap and Relatively Easy Way to Find Talented Employees

January 13, 2020 Comments off

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This recent Quartz article offers a fast, cheap, and relatively easy way to find talented workers: teach immigrants English. As the article notes, many of those seeking entry to our country or already here but living in the shadows already possess the skills sought by employers.. but they lack the ability to speak English. By teaching these skilled immigrants how to speak fluent English employers can fill open jobs without displacing US workers and, in the case of states like Vermont and New Hampshire, attract new residents.

NYTimes’ Ross Douthat Laments Demise of Humanities But, Like Most Conservatives, Wants to Use Earnings a Primary Metric

January 12, 2020 Comments off

In his column in today’s NY times titled “Academic Apocalypse“, Ross Douthat laments the secularization and decline of English departments at universities and colleges across the country. One of the opening paragraphs concludes with this:

“Jobs are disappearing, subfields are evaporating, enrollment has tanked, and amid the wreckage the custodians of humanism are “befuddled and without purpose.”

Why might this be happening? Could it be that our country’s obsession with earnings might be the cause? If you want to restore humanity to the humanities the first step might be to eliminate the idea that the best metric for determine the “value of a college education” colleges is the earnings of it’s graduates. This obsession about connecting dollars earned to college degrees is, alas, embraced by both political parties, most business leaders, and most editorial boards. The “endgame” in humanities is inextricably linked to our culture’s ultimate metric of success— which is earnings and accumulated wealth. As long as we view education as the means to accumulating more and more money and “success” as accumulating more and more stuff we can expect to see the arts and humanities decline.

Homelessness Caused By Liberals??? What???

January 11, 2020 Comments off

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I don’t know which part of this Fox News report is crazier: Betsy DeVos’ notion that offering options will help homeless children or the Fox Friends’ notion that liberal policies contribute to homelessness.

International Education Deficits Dwarf Those in US

January 8, 2020 Comments off

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As this article indicates, the education deficits in our country are not nearly as bad as those in other less developed and poorer nations. BUT instead of closing the gap in our country there appears to be an unsettling resemblance between the description of the way schools function in poor nations and the way we seem to be headed in ours. Unless we can become more equitable in terms of opportunities to learn we will become a Third World education system,