What to do?
Frankly, I think a good, strong showing of mettle is in order.
Support the new Ukrainian government that has succeeded the murderous, kleptocratic thug Viktor Yanukovych.
Suspend Russia’s membership in the G-20 and G-8.
Put some dings in Russia’s economy.
Squeeze Russia with backdoor diplomacy.
Vladimir Putin is a vicious thug. Stand up to him. Make him understand that there are consequences for acting like a vicious thug. Read more »
Now the United States is preparing to pull out of Afghanistan. Indeed, President Barack Obama is talking about moving up the time table and even threatening to remove all U.S. troops by year’s end, in part because of his endless frustrations with Afghan President Muhammad Karzai. Obama’s advisers reportedly want him to leave about 10,000 troops behind to help battle Al Qaueda and Taliban insurgents.
Whether this is a real threat by Obama or just diplomatic brinksmanship is almost irrelevant to some degree; this year or next, the United States will pull out all or nearly all of its troops from Afghanistan, more than a decade after invading it.
Whether one originally supported or opposed the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (I vehemently opposed the former and had mixed feelings about the latter), the current issue confronting the United States has to do with the aftermath of invasion, not its impetus:
To what degree does the United States have a moral obligation to help nations it has invaded? And how much of that obligation is tied to the endemic violence that U.S. invasions helped unleash? Read more »
I suppose that’s just a given, right? I mean, I can’t imagine anyone’s surprised by the diseased Hot Pocket meat.
But Hot Pockets-brand yummy non-food pockets is owned by Nestle? Didn’t see that coming. Huh. But then again, Nestle already makes shitty, low grade industrial chocolate, so why not diversify into shitty, low grade industrial frozen food.
Mmmm-mmmm. Elite, re-heated, multi-national conglomerate treats (apologies to Akbar and Jeff).
But the thing that really caught me off-guard about the whole affair was Hot Pockets’ heart-warming commitment to multiculturalism. After all, a Philly Cheese Steak’s about as American as it gets. Even if it’s mislabled as a “Philly Steak & Cheese.”
Actually, ya know what? Mislabeling it just makes it even more American. Read more »
A report released just this month by the American Institutes of Research (AIR) sheds some light on the problems afflicting American colleges. Entitled Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive? Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education, the report examines spending at American colleges during the years 2000-2012. The findings are illuminating.
At first glance, the news is good. Between 2000-2012, the total higher education workforce actually grew by 28 percent, despite the Great Recession of 2008-present. Why did higher education grow while some sectors of the economy shrank? The short answer is: Millennials. Simply put, there’s an up tick in student populations. Another echo from the post-war Baby Boom, there is a bulge in the college-age demographic. Thus, even during the Great Recession, colleges hired new workers in an attempt (and not always a successful one) to keep pace with rising student enrollment.
However, most employee growth at colleges during the last twelve years has not been in the form of teachers. It is in the form of non-instructional employees, who comprise a clear majority of the college labor force. Among them, the report defines two classes: salaried administrators, whose numbers have grown substantially, and support staff such as secretaries and maintenance workers, whose numbers have actually dwindled.
The report notes that salaried “administrators have assumed a much larger presence on college campuses than ever before.” Read more »
Part I: Identifying the Problems
American colleges have undergone substantial changes during the last three decades.
- Rising tuition costs, which have far outpaced the rate of inflation, are nearly universal.
- Most growth has come in non-instructional areas.
- Many schools have added layers of administration, seen their rosters of administrators substantially enlarged, and spent millions of dollars on non-instructional construction such as recreation centers, student unions, and administrative buildings.
- A serious re-shuffling of labor has degraded the ranks of teachers
- Tenured and tenure track (TTT) positions have been replaced by contingent faculty (ie. non-tenure track) who now make up the majority of teachers
- Contingent faculty fall into two broad groups: part-time labor (adjuncts and graduate students) and full time labor (mostly lecturers and visiting faculty).
There are many explanations for these wide ranging changes, as well as varying degrees of change among America’s hundreds of colleges. For example, private colleges are generally less dependent on public largess, though many of them do in fact receive public subsidies from federal, state, and even local governments. Meanwhile, the public colleges that rely more heavily on public spending face different circumstances depending on which states they’re in; each has different budgets and policies for supporting higher education. In some states there has been extreme volatility in funding while some have been more stable, though in almost all states, public funding as a share of public college budgets has declined.
This has led schools not only to raise tuition rates, but to also seek substantial revenue from fund raising, which runs the gamut from alumni contributions, to naming rights to campus buildings, to exclusive contracts with junk food venders. For example, many schools have cut deals with either Pepsi Co. or Coca Cola, Inc. granting one or the other exclusive rights to sell beverages on their campus.
Good luck finding something healthy to drink. Read more »