Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category.

Safety, Risk and Innovation



The Complacent Class (Episode 1/5)

Compare today to the 1950s. At that time, a typical apartment in New York City rented for about $60 per month, or, adjusting for inflation, about $530 a month. … Or to put that 1950s rent in perspective, the U.S. median wage at that time was about $5,000 a year, so a typical New Yorker spent as little as 10 percent of salary on rent, or perhaps even less to the extent that New Yorkers were earning more than other typical Americans.

The Complacent Class,” by Tyler Cowen (page 43)


The New Era of Segregation (Episode 2/5)

American Culture and Innovation, Produced by Marginal Revolution University

Also see:
How did we become such bumps on a log?
Complacent or Crazy?
A top economist says Americans are not nearly as ambitious or innovative as they think
The future will be good for matchers and bad for strivers
Complacent or Pathological?
NPR Interview
Have Americans Given Up?
The Art of Manliness podcast
How America Gave Up on Change

Ozymandias and Statolatry

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“Success” and Children

The prejudice against children begins from an immoderate desire for order. Order, the first need of all, is like all other goods in that it can be taken too far. And disgust with the intrinsic disorder of children (especially boys) takes this good to the point of denying the value of life itself. When one adds to this prejudice the social science myth that traditional societies remain poor because they include too many children, one gets a powerful argument against life. Some traditional societies are ruled by policies, such as subdividing inheritances and multiplying the obligations of family members, that do in fact discourage economic advancement. That said, however, contemporary policies in the West have gotten to the point of substituting the government for the family so thoroughly that they, too, have undermined entrepreneurship while having the further disadvantage of sapping the spirit out of communities and increasingly isolated individuals.

Traditional societies are poor for many reasons. They survive because their families remain strong. Modern societies, after decades relentlessly pursuing wealth, are becoming poorer, and increasingly have only the state to look to for “social” security. That state, while seemingly unstoppable in its growth and grasp for power, is running out of money and drowning in the bureaucratic red tape it uses to bind the rest of us to its will.

In addition, society itself is becoming increasingly disordered even as we in effect consume our children. As our middle class disappears, those children who do survive until birth are either palmed off to the state, then to drugs, technology, and further dependency, or put onto “the path to success” at the hands of various facilitating professionals who coddle them in a stress-filled manner creating sky-high suicide rates and the pathetically fragile creatures who inhabit elite institutions of education. This is a society suffering from a veritable death wish, as those with the responsibility for raising responsible adults either eschew children altogether or abandon them to others while they pursue their own vision of personal success, treating spouses and children as mere accoutrements, consumer items made more precious by emotional attachments that, alas, are rooted in precious little practical experience at shaping lives and characters together.

It would be all too easy to throw up our hands and say that this is the inevitable route of decadent cultures, and especially of cultures rooted in the drive for economic well-being. While understandable, such a reaction would be misguided on several levels. First, material goods are in fact good. It is pursuing them for their own sakes, rather than as necessary but limited tools in building a good life for one’s family, that is wrong. Moreover, the progress toward our atomistic society was not paved merely with greed, but more fundamentally with a revolt against nature. By this I mean not merely the rejection of traditional families and the necessary role of women as primary caregivers, but also rejection of men’s obligation to marry, have children, and stay married, supporting their families in good times and bad.

The West’s War on Children, by Bruce Frohnen

“[A]s communities become more ethnically diverse they in fact become socially frayed,” as Jonah Goldberg wrote in The Tyranny of Cliches:

Putnam found that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust plummets. People tend to “hunker down,” in Putnam’s words banding together with a shrunken and shrinking group of friends or alone in front of the TV. Trust in political leaders, the political process, and even voting decline precipitously. Volunteerism, from charitable giving to carpooling, deteriorates. Political activism increases as people look to government to solve problems that once might have been solved by a simple conversation across a coffee table or a shared fence between neighbors. Note: Putnam did not find that diversity fuels racism; the vast bulk of the people interviewed for the study were not bigots. What he found was that diversity promotes alienation, disengagement, and social isolation. This all runs counter to a host of prevailing clichés and pieties.

. . .

A healthy, vibrant society requires citizens who see themselves as parts of things that are larger than themselves, in which they must play important, though rarely central roles. This means that families, churches, voluntary associations, and states are part of a way of life. They are aspects of our nature as social beings.

When we ignore our social nature—or substitute mere political activism for community life—we may enjoy ourselves as flies of a summer, whether singly or in swarm-like mobs. More likely we will merely make ourselves miserable in pursuit of pleasures and honors of the moment that will never satisfy because they have no place in any larger order and so lack any intrinsic meaning or value. And so, no matter how many toys we accumulate before we die, we die fundamentally alone and un-mourned, in a society that is dying, largely unnoticed even by its own members.

Gone to Texas

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Social and Economic Costs of Legal Abortion

[L]egal abortion is the main cause of family breakdown, including specifically the rise in rates of divorce, illegitimacy and crime, and entry of most developed nations–now including the United States–into “demographic winter.”
. . .
“taken in its entirety, legal abortion is perhaps the single largest American economic event of the past century, more significant than the Great Depression or the Second World War.”
. . .
Legalizing abortion raised crime rates immediately and with a lag by turning new fathers back into men without dependent children.
. . .
Finally, the birth rate is strongly and positively related to the rate of weekly worship. This is because all gifts of scarce resources—whether rearing a child or worship—require the same lowering of self and raising of others in our scale of preferences for persons. On average throughout the world in 2005-10 (adjusted for differences in mortality), a couple which never worshipped had an average of 1.2 children; but the average couple which worshipped at least once a week had 2.4 more—an average of 3.6 children.

Social and Economic Costs of Legal Abortion, by John D. Mueller

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College Layoffs and the Standard BS from “academics”

Having tenure seems to mean reality need not intrude on your world. According to a sociology “professor” financial reality is “Social Darwinism” Ai yi yi, stop with the cant when you, the president of the local chapter of your union, can’t even figure out your own union is responsible. Sheesh. A PhD in stupid.

“They are really pitting old against new in a kind of social Darwinism,” said Christy Hammer, a sociology professor and president of the local chapter of the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

Hammer said the method prompted infighting to break out within departments.

The “last hired, first fired” method is nothing new, but the faculty said that sort of thinking did not belong in nonprofit higher education.

“To my way of thinking, the administration is assaulting the whole institution of tenure,” said Rachel Bouvier, an economics professor who was laid off Friday.

Caswell, the university spokesman, said the order of layoffs was actually a product of the system’s faculty contracts. Those contracts are negotiated by the union.

“Under terms of the faculty contract, those with less seniority are terminated before those with more seniority,” he said in an email.

Exiled in Maine

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Higher Ed Bubble, Demographics and Roe Effect

The Roe Effect, combined with way-too-high college tuition and fees for a lousy education, the resulting student debt, and underemployment of recent college grads is going to lead to many more colleges closing in the coming years.

A waning number of high school graduates from the Midwest is sparking a college hunt for freshman applicants, with the decline being felt as far away as Harvard and Emory universities.

The drop is the leading edge of a demographic change that is likely to ease competition for slots at selective schools and is already prompting concern among Midwestern colleges.

“You can’t create 18-year-olds in a lab,” said Brian Prescott, director of policy research at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder, Colorado. “Enrollment managers are facing an awful lot of pressure that they can’t do much about.”

Denison University, in Granville, and the College of Wooster, both project about a 13 percent drop from within the state. Ohio residents make up about a quarter of Denison’s student body and about a third at Wooster. Denison and Ohio Wesleyan University have boosted travel outside the state to attract prospective students, especially in California and the Southwest.

Dwindling Midwest High School Grads Spur College Hunt

From April 2013: Colleges Struggling to Stay Afloat

Too many high school students are told they must go to college when many of them would be much better off getting trained in a 1 to 3 year program learning a trade or earning a certificate in a practical skill, like welding. See
mikeroweWORKS Foundation
Don’t Go to College Next Year
Don’t Send Your Kids to College
Edububble
Phi Beta Cons

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Higher Ed Bubble

The current situation is unsustainable, with lending risks falling entirely on the students and taxpayers. The rewards go to the universities, which have raised tuition to maximize their share of the flood of cheap money. University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds estimates that college tuition grew at more than double the inflation rate between 1980 and 2010. In fact, college costs rose more steeply than the price of health care.

University administrators saw no need to curb their appetite to raise tuition rates because no matter how high the cost of entry to college, it was always covered by cheap loans, subsidized by the taxpayers. Federal student aid increased by 372 percent between 1985 and 2010, from just under $30 billion to almost $140 billion, according to the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey. This is how Uncle Sam has been inflating the higher-education bubble.

Families should be able to weigh the true costs and benefits of college. This can’t be done while Congress continues to “help” students by subsidizing a debt that has reached $1 trillion. The Senate should take up the House bill, which represents a modest first step in deflating the bubble.

Pricking the college loan bubble: Welfare for students isn’t good for student welfare

“How much Ivory does this tower need?”

Who could possibly object to seeing 18- to 22-year-olds take on large debts that must be paid back so that we can keep the college-industrial complex healthy? Have you no decency, sir!?!?!

Lastly there’s higher education. Once again, someone who hasn’t had much time to study policy might reasonably think the key to improving and expanding higher education would be for the federal government to spend more on it. But again, reality differs: federal aid fuels tuition inflation and encourages massive waste.

The connection between aid and prices is somewhat intuitive if you think about it. Basically, if you give people $100 more to buy something, sellers will raise their prices $100. The buyers are no worse off, the sellers are better off, and the only losers are the people who furnished the money. With college aid, we call these losers “taxpayers.”

Of course there’s more to college pricing than aid, but the effect remains.

Studies have found that private colleges raise their prices a dollar for every extra buck students get in Pell Grants, and schools often reduce their own aid when government assistance rises.

Then there are the dismal outcomes that go with giving away college money.

First, only about 58 percent of first-time, full-time students finish a four-year degree within six years at the school where they started, and most who don’t finish by then likely never will.

Next, a third of people with bachelor’s degrees are in jobs that don’t require them.

Education Spending Doesn’t Deliver

Ozymandias

Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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The Higher Ed Bubble is Leaking

A growing number of liberal-arts colleges are supplementing their traditional glossy brochures touting ivy-covered libraries and great-books seminars with more pecuniary pitches: Buy seven semesters, get one free. Apply today, get $2,500 cash back. Free classes after four years.

The schools are adjusting their marketing to attract students at a time when families are struggling to foot the bill for college—and increasingly concerned about the potential payoff. Some of the most aggressive offers come from the most financially vulnerable schools: midtier, private institutions that are heavily dependent on tuition and sit in regions with shrinking pools of college-bound high-school seniors.
. . .
The pressure on liberal-arts schools is coming from several directions. Nationwide, the number of graduating high-school seniors this year is expected to decline to 3.32 million from a projected all-time high of 3.41 million during the 2010-11 school year, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. And fewer college-bound seniors are choosing private four-year schools: Between 2006 and 2011, the percentage of students at those schools dropped to 20% from 22%, according to the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center.

For students headed to college, tuition is a bigger issue than ever. The average cost of public and private schools jumped 92% between 2001 and 2011, compared with a 27% rise in the consumer-price index. Last year the average amount that students at public colleges paid in tuition, after state and institutional grants and scholarships, climbed 8.3%, the biggest jump on record, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Colleges’ Latest Offer: Deals: Liberal-Arts Schools Dangle Bargains in Response to Concern Over Cost, Value

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Don’t let your grandparents steal your money.

In 1950, there were 16 workers paying payroll taxes for each retiree collecting Social Security benefits. Today, there are 3.3 workers supporting the Social Security and Medicare benefits of each retiree. In the future there will be only 2 workers paying taxes to support the benefits of each retiree.

Demographics is a bigger problem than health care costs

Stan Druckenmiller, one of the best- performing hedge fund managers of the past three decades, has a warning for the youth of America: Don’t let your grandparents steal your money.

Druckenmiller, 59, said the mushrooming costs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with unfunded liabilities as high as $211 trillion, will bankrupt the nation’s youth and pose a much greater danger than the country’s $16 trillion of debt currently being debated in Congress.

“While everybody is focusing on the here and now, there’s a much, much bigger storm that’s about to hit,” Druckenmiller said in an hour-long interview with Stephanie Ruhle on Bloomberg Television’s Market Makers. “I am not against seniors. What I am against is current seniors stealing from future seniors.”

Druckenmiller said unsustainable spending will eventually result in a crisis worse than the financial meltdown of 2008, when $29 trillion was erased from global equity markets. What’s particularly troubling, he said, is that government expenditures related to programs for the elderly rocketed in the past two decades, even before the first baby boomers, those born in 1946, started turning 65.


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The Future Of Social Security


Thomas Sowell

If you’re like most Americans, Social Security is a key part of your retirement plans — around 96% of the workforce is currently covered by some sort of Social Security plan. But the current economic downturn has many people seeing an increasingly uncertain (if not downright bleak) future for their Social Security benefits.

This article describes how the Social Security benefit process works and explains how your Social Security benefits might be impacted by funding shortages.

Are Social Security Benefits in Trouble?
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Live Like a Prince on a Pauper’s Budget – Minimalist Living

First, a PES video:

On to minimalist living!

A new movement is gaining steam in America: overseas retirement. Kiplinger, a personal finance and business forecast site, recently put out a list of eight great places to retire abroad. The attractions of these places are impressive. Bracketing off the one entry from Spain, the most expensive of the seven places was $2,700 per month per couple for comfortable, high-class living, and many were much less than that. That’s not to mention the other benefits: temperate weather, culture, history, beaches in some places and mountains in others, and even special state-backed perks for U.S. retirees.

Continue reading ‘Live Like a Prince on a Pauper’s Budget – Minimalist Living’ »

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