The education bubble is fuel for Revolution

What is the common thread between Tunisia and Egypt? Free university education, with courses of study determined by the government, and a correspondingly high youth unemployment rate.

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Having such a large number of unemployed youths can be dangerous. As George Mason University sociologist Jack A. Goldstone notes, “Educated youth have been in the vanguard of rebellions against authority certainly since the French Revolution and in some cases even earlier.”

In Egypt, enrollment in tertiary education increased from 14 percent in 1990 to approximately 35 percent in 2005. Yet this has not helped the unemployment rate among recent grads. The national Egyptian unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, comparable to the United States, but the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 is 87.2 percent. College graduates, largely because of their age, have a ten times higher unemployment rate than for those who did not attend college.



What is really going on in Wisconsin?

No more closed union shops. State workers are able to keep their jobs without paying union dues. State workers will need to pay 12% of their healthcare costs and half their pension deposits. This hardly seems overly burdensome.Oh, and the exemptions that allow state workers to unionize (as FDR would have never allowed) now exclude benefits from the collective bargaining agreement, plus voters have to approve wage increases that are higher than the cpi. None of this removes anybody’s rights, though it removes extremely generous privileges only state workers had that those who work in the private sector have never had.

And what was the alternative? Raise taxes on everyone in Wisconsin in the middle of a recession that has led to a huge number of home foreclosures. That would increase unemployment and home foreclosures. Hardly a good idea. I support Walker’s choices in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin is broke. The current budget is already $137 million in the red. The 2011–2013 biennial budget faces a $3.6 billion hole. So Governor Walker has called the legislature into special session and presented them with an emergency budget. His plan closes the deficit without raising taxes.

Government employees in Wisconsin get amazing benefits. They get a generous defined-benefit pension with minimal contributions on their part. They also only pay 6 percent of the cost of their health-care premiums. Few taxpayers enjoy anything this generous.

Government employees get these benefits because of the special privileges government unions enjoy. Government workers in many states — including Wisconsin — must pay union dues or lose their jobs. The state subsidizes their fundraising by using its payroll system to collect these forced dues.

This gives the union movement billions of dollars, which it uses to elect favored candidates. The American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent more than any other outside group in the last election. Government unions have used this political clout to hijack state government to serve their interests.

Governor Walker could have raised taxes or fired 6,000 state employees. Instead, like Governor Christie, he decided to actually fix the problems that brought Wisconsin to this point. His budget limits government collective bargaining to just wages, taking benefits and work rules off the bargaining table. He would also require voters to approve any raises above inflation. Walker would prevent government unions from forcing taxpayers to cough up for their gold-plated benefits.

Having done that, his budget requires state and local employees to contribute half of the cost of their pension contributions — roughly 6 percent of their salary. He also requires them to pay 12 percent of their health-care premiums. By private-sector standards these are modest changes, but they will help close Wisconsin’s budget gap.

Walker’s budget removes the special privileges that give government unions their outsize influence. His plan allows workers to quit their union without losing their job. He requires unions to demonstrate their support through an annual secret-ballot vote. He also ends the unfair taxpayer subsidy to union fundraising: The state and local government would stop collecting union dues with their payroll systems.



Alleged bias against women in science disproved

The number of politicized studies pointing to discrimination against women or any affinity group you care to name keeps on growing. The problem with these studies is that they, like the studies about the role of CO2 with relation to climactic effects, depend more on volume than on accuracy. They are trumpeted to a receptive press and a political establishment looking for another excuse to increase its control over people’s lives, and their conclusions become law without any skeptical scientists ever being allowed to examine the evidence, let alone testify against them. If the evidence doesn’t prove the conclusions, or if it is falsified to be more persuasive than it was when raw, in most cases we the public will never know.

So it’s wonderful when science works the way it is supposed to and allows other scientists to challenge the results of earlier studies. That’s what we have here.

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In “Understanding Current Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science,” Cornell professors Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams provide a thorough analysis and discussion of 20 years of data. Their conclusion: When it comes to job interviews, hiring, funding, and publishing, women are treated as well as men and sometimes better. As Williams told Nature, “There are constant and unsupportable allegations that women suffer discrimination in these arenas, and we show conclusively that women do not.” Put another way, the gender-bias empress has no clothes.

Congress should hold hearings on the merits of continuing to spend hundreds of millions on Title IX science reviews and the ADVANCE grants. This time skeptics like Ceci and Williams must be included. It is hard to see how the gender-bias empire will stand once reason and truth are given a place at the table.



When the fawning mainstream media doesn’t fawn enough

The mainstream media did its best to get Obama elected, and continues to do what it can to prop his administration up amid the disastrous economic numbers and terrifying developments overseas, but they aren’t obsequious enough for the White House.

What to do, what to do? How about doing an end-run around the mainstream media to put out an even more whitewashed and falsified view of what goes on?

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As the 2012 presidential campaign kicks into gear, President Obama’s White House media operation is demonstrating an unprecedented ability to broadcast its message through social media and the Internet, at times doing an end-run around the traditional press.

The White House Press Office now not only produces a website, blog, YouTube channel, Flickr photo stream, and Facebook and Twitter profiles, but also a mix of daily video programming, including live coverage of the president’s appearances and news-like shows that highlight his accomplishments.

“The administration has narrowed access by the mainstream media to an unprecedented extent,” said ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, who has covered seven administrations. “Access here has shriveled.”

Members of the press have always had quibbles with White House media strategies, calling cut-backs in access an affront to transparency, even as administration officials insist they’re simply taking advantage of new technologies.

But some say the current dynamic is different, and dangerous.

“They’re opening the door to kicking the press out of historic events, and opening the door to having a very filtered format for which they give the American public information that doesn’t have any criticism allowed,” said University of Minnesota journalism professor and political communication analyst Heather LaMarre.



102.6 percent

The US Government’s debt will be 102.6% of the GDP this year, according to Obama’s budget. To put this in perspective, you must know that he aims for the government to spend 25% of the US GDP while taking in about15% in revenues. This is like you buying a million dollar house on a yearly budget of $250K while only earning $150K. How long do you think that will last before it collapses?

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Mr. Obama‘s budget projects that 2011 will see the biggest one-year debt jump in history, or nearly $2 trillion, to reach $15.476 trillion by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. That would be 102.6 percent of GDP — the first time since World War II that dubious figure has been reached.