New college grads: could be worse

It’s become an article of faith lately that there’s little point in going to college—you just end up deep in debt and unemployed. That’s not really true, at least the unemployed part. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York—which has shown an unusual interest in the state of the youth lately, having also developed its own data on student debt—is just out with a presentation on how recent college grads have been faring in the job market. (It’s part of a longer presentation that begins on p. 11 of this PDF.) The… Read More

Is NYC really the city of the 1%?

A column in the weekend Financial Times by Simon Kuper (“Priced out of Paris”) has gotten lots of attention for its claim that the world’s great cities have been grabbed by the 1% to the exclusion of everyone else. For support, Kuper turned to Saskia Sassen, a distinguished Professor of Breathless Generalizations at Columbia, who concludes: “The capture by a very small number of cities of a lot of the excitement and wealth produced by the system – this is a problem.” Well yeah, but…. I can’t speak about the other cities, but this rather… Read More

Deficit emergency over

The Congressional Budget Office’s latest debt and deficit projections for the next ten years are out and there’s no way any honest analyst could read them as anything but the official end to any rational concern about red ink. Of course, given that the phantasmic plays such a large role in politics, it’s likely that important people will still worry about fiscal ruin. But to the degree that reality exerts even a weak gravitational pull on discourse, it should be harder to generate the sense of emergency that austerians thrive on. From the… Read More

More bogosity from Michelle Rhee

StudentsFirst, the school “reform” outfit led by the notorious Michelle Rhee, is out with a state-by-state Report Card on the nation’s schools. Grades were awarded on the basis of states’ conformity to the standard reform agenda—ease of creating charter schools, ease of firing teachers, ease of hiring teachers who aren’t certified in the traditional fashion, and testing testing testing. In the past, there’s never been any evidence that this agenda actually improves educational outcomes—and this report is no exception. Despite Rhee’s love of testing, there’s no mention of how states that do well… Read More

Ezra Klein thinks constructively about Walmart

Neoliberal über-dweeb Ezra Klein just unleashed one of those “balanced” efforts on the controversies of the day that are so characteristic of his species: “Has Wal-Mart been good or bad?” The conclusion, it might not surprise you to learn: it’s “a complicated question to frame and a devilishly tough one to answer.” Drawing on—I’m not kidding—Reason editor “Peter Suderman’s 17-part Twitter defense of Wal-Mart,” Klein asserts that Walmart’s low prices are a gift to low-income consumers. (They’ve dropped the hyphen/star, folks; here’s the official timeline.) The Bentonville behemoth’s wages may be low, but not “when compared… Read More

Matt Yglesias has a pleasant fantasy about investment

Inspired by Mitt Romney’s low tax rate, Matt Yglesias defends the principle of taxing investment income more indulgently than labor income. To make the argument, Yglesias spins a morality tale about two well-paid doctors, one a profligates who eats fancily and travels the globe, the other a prudent sort who builds buildings and hires people to work in them. It’s only fair, concludes our Slate pseudo-contrarian, that the prudent doc deserves a break from the tax code, since he’s doing so many other people favors. Leaving aside the fact that the profligate supports an army… Read More

How much do teacher strikes hurt kids?

A Washington Post blogger named Dylan Matthews posted an attempted heart-tugging piece yesterday arguing that teacher strikes do serious academic damage to young students. This is, of course, part of the elite strategy of discrediting the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike against that city’s public schools: it’s a war declared by callous union bosses against schoolkids and their parents to protect their (thoroughly unearned and undeserved) job security and fat paychecks. Their paychecks are anything but fat, and the CTU is anything but a selfish, insular union. For proof of the latter, check out their… Read More

Bain actually loves Dems

All good Democrats are busily hating on Bain Capital right now. What they’re forgetting is how many Bain-affiliated political contributions have gone to Democrats. Plug the words “Bain Capital” into an OpenSecrets.org search and you learn that while Bain people have lovingly contributed to their former CEO’s presidential campaign, almost 3/4 of their contributions to other candidates, 72% to be precise, have gone to Democrats. That’s a higher percentage to Dems than the AFL-CIO! And among the top recipients are Dem headliners like Al Franken, Claire McCaskill, John Kerry, Mark Udall, Nancy Pelosi, and Sherrod… Read More

Morning again in America?

So it looks like Obama plans to sing from the Reagan songbook for his campaign—specifically from the “Morning in America” pages. In case you were too young the first time around, or now are too old to remember, the original went something like this: The logic is this: Reagan got re-elected during the recovery after a deep recession, so Obama can do the same. Also, Reagan whipped Grenada’s ass and Obama killed Osama. Foreign victories don’t count for much in election campaigns but economic conditions count a lot. So how bright is… Read More

How to stop worrying about class

Today’s New York Times contains a fine example of how ideology works at the high end: report information that might trouble the established order, but conclude on a tranquilizing note that allows the comfortable reader to turn the page (or click “close tab”) without changing his or her worldview. Both functions are important. Outlets like the Times do report tons of important stuff that one would be hard-pressed to learn otherwise. But, as Alexander Cockburn put it long ago, a primary function of the bourgeois press is reassurance. The piece by Sabrina… Read More

The CEO as humble worker

For some reason—pathological liberalism? being in the pay of the Washington Post?—Matthew Yglesias wants to blur the distinction between worker and boss. In a strange post at his new Slate playpen (“CEO Pay Drives Inequality”), Yglesias declares the old “rhetoric about ‘workers’ is really a legacy of an outdated time.” Why, you might ask, when class distinctions have a salience not only in fact but in discourse that they haven’t seen in many decades? Because unlike the rentiers of old, today’s rich work hard. Really, Matt, the point isn’t how hard you… Read More

More on credit unions

From a post to the lbo-talk listserv, which I moderate: A big CU failed in South Florida a few years back. They’d been investing in subprime CDOs, actually. Another few failed in FL and out west – they had large member business ADC loan exposure to projects that stalled at the acquisition phase. Just browse the NCUA news center and marvel at the number of CUs placed into conservatorship or acquired by other CUs in NCUA-facilitated firesales I’ve seen stats saying 2/3s of credit unions don’t have any meaningful member loans, and… Read More

Bloomberg sheds a tear for bankers, makes up bogus numbers

Asked to comment on the Occupy Wall Street protests, plutocrat Mayor Michael Bloomberg—#12 on the Forbes 400, net worth almost $20 billion—painted a heart-rending portrait of suffering bankers: The protesters are protesting against people who make $40-50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet. That’s the bottom line.Those are the people that work on Wall Street or on the finance sector. We need to be nice to them, Bloomberg continued, so they’ll make loans and help the economy recover. No need to dwell on the past—let’s move forward. Fact-checking the Mayor, who is far from… Read More