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Student Debt as a Moral Issue

Student Debt as a Moral Issue

By Noam Shpancer

A few months ago I took several of my students to a conference in Chicago. Many of my students come from small towns in Ohio. Many have never been to a big city. Many have never left Ohio, never been on a plane before. It was thus particularly rewarding to chaperone them and witness their excitement and joy as they experienced the Second City.

One evening, strolling down Michigan Ave, the conversation turned to money. I casually asked my students about their loan burden. One of them, a perky senior psychology major planning to get her Masters and become a social worker, said she had $80,000 in student loan debt. I was shocked.

Now, I am not entirely naïve about the problem of student loan debt. Until this year, I had one myself. A university degree is still—and perhaps more than before—the passport to the American middle class life.

Demand for education is high, classroom seats in good schools are in limited supply, and so prices tend to go up. Tuition rate hikes routinely outpace inflation. Thus, students are pushed into larger debts. According to the NY Times, the average student loan debt in the US topped $23,000 last year. Much has been written recently about the attendant economic and social hazards. A debt of $23,000 is a troubling burden, for students and parents.

But a debt of $80,000 is something else entirely.

You can perhaps make a case that debt of this magnitude is justified in some unique cases—such as in the process of obtaining a highly valuable degree from a top notch institution. Some professions pay very well. And Ivy League degrees practically guarantee higher starting salaries. But in this particular context—in my reality and that of my students—such a debt is simply not justifiable.

The difference between 23k and 80k debt is a bit like the difference between drinking and driving drunk. If I see a student of mine drinking beer, I may feel uneasy, or worried. I may even say something about responsibility. But if I see a drunken student get behind the wheel, I’m obligated to intervene. An $80,000 debt, for my students, is akin to getting behind the wheel while plastered. it is a recipe for disaster.

Like most private liberal arts institutions, my university prides itself on nurturing students. Many formal systems and procedures are in place to identify and address potential problems and pitfalls students may encounter as they pursue their degrees. We track student attendance, we track their grades, we advise them on which courses to take so as to stay on track toward graduation; we make sure they take the right load—that they don’t over-burden themselves.

There is a medical clinic on campus, as well as career counselors at the ready and free psychotherapy sessions. There are writing labs and tutors and study groups and remedial classes for those who are academically behind, or unprepared. There are assorted advocacy and support group and myriad religious activities.

There are social clubs and Greek organizations and many opportunities set up to help students find company, identity, a sense of belonging; we’re trying to take care of them while they learn the tools that will facilitate their ascent in the world.

Yet nobody, it seems, is looking out for their financial well-being. Nobody is there to monitor their debt load, throw up red flags and email notifications, set up consults, supports, or interventions.

One would be hard pressed to name three issues more critical to a young person’s chances of success in America than financial solvency, know-how, and responsibility. Yet we do little to help our students achieve these goals. In fact, we systematically undermine them.

You can probably guess why that is. Private liberal arts universities like mine are tuition-driven. We need that money to survive. Moreover, money matters in the US are private and personal. Adult Americans such as our students are entitled to act however they want with regard to their money. Americans, it is a well established fact, are entitled to do dumb things with their money. And they often take spectacular advantage of that entitlement.

But universities are not just businesses. They play a unique role in the life of young people and the life of the culture. A university in this regard is like a church—it requires money to exist well, but money should not be the goal of its existence. If a church is in financial trouble, it still should not sell its soul to the devil for an endowment. If it did, it might become wealthy, but it would cease to be a church.

The goal of university is to facilitate the future success of its students. A university that lets a would-be social worker (around 30k average starting salary, after graduate school, if they find a job) take on $80,000 in debt is negligent in terms of that goal.

The university may become solvent by taking this money, but in doing so it ceases to be a university.

Now, it’s true that professors and administrators in liberal arts institutions all around the country have not been in a very good mood of late. The business model that has sustained many small, private, non-Ivy League colleges around Ohio and the nation is dying. Online education is about to take many such institutions out of business. Soon enough, students will be able to receive great lectures, study materials, and help online; they will be able to take tests and earn diplomas and certificates matching their performance. They will be able to earn reputable degrees and acquire real knowledge and skills at home through the digital college, on their own time, for a fraction of the cost of traditional college.

First rate research institutions that don’t depend on tuition money will survive, as will private Ivies that cater to rich clientele and offer the benefits of national brand identifications and connections. But places such as the one that employs me are feeling the financial squeeze, and may go out of business in the not-too-distant future. And so it is no surprise that faculty and administrators are reluctant to do anything that might reduce enrollment and undermine further their already shaky financial stability. Little wonder the issue of student debt doesn’t get much attention on campus right now.

However it should. If we decide to fight to sustain the old classroom model of college education, it should not be on the backs of our students. If small liberal arts colleges are destined to fade out, we should not go out in a bitter, clueless and self pitying cloud of shame, dragging our students down with us.

The academic life—in particular the small liberal arts college tenured professor life—has been for a long time the best life America could offer. And for a while yet, that remains true. The quality of life in academia emerges from a unique blend of intellectual challenge, personal autonomy, and financial security. But in no small part, the quality of life in academia hinges on the palpable sense that you are doing good; that you are providing young people with real benefits, both tangible and intangible, that will help them—and if they don’t help, at least they won’t hurt. This sense of being on the side of goodness is what’s being undermined by letting a psychology undergrad take on $80,000 in student loan debt.

Universities, and faculty, should honor core commitments even—perhaps particularly—when under great duress. Our biggest commitment is to our students. Our biggest commitment to our students is to try to tell them the truth. The truth is that, for most people, taking on $80,000 in debt in the service of a social work degree is not a move that makes any sense these days. Universities should explicate their commitment to student solvency. They should establish effective formal mechanisms to supervise student debt, dispense sound, timely advice and guidance to students and their parents in this regard, and insist on first doing no financial harm. Failing to do so means that we are complicit—by fatigue, by willful ignorance, by lazy habit, by self-deception, or by wickedness; in other words by all those things we try to teach our students to shed and reject—in betraying our charges, and therefore also ourselves.

SOURCE

Children of Illegal Immigrants Sue Florida Over Being Charged Out-of-State Tuition

Children of Illegal Immigrants Sue Florida Over State’s College Tuition Policy

MIAMI, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Children of illegal immigrants living in Florida are suing the state for charging them out-of-state tuition.

Wendy Ruiz, a sophomore at Miami Dade College, is one of those behind the lawsuit.

She is paying $5,000 more than she technically has to, because her college insisted upon charging her out-of-state tuition when her parents were unable to produce legal immigration documents.

Ruiz was born in the United States, and has lived in Florida her entire life. As such, she is both an American and Florida citizen in the eyes of the law.

“It’s so unfair,” she told CBS Tampa. “I was born here. This makes no sense.”

Rather than keeping quiet, Ruiz chose to take action. She and five other college-age Floridians are now involved in a class-action lawsuit that seeks to overturn the rule.

Miriam Haskell of the Southern Poverty Law Center is working on the case.

“We believe strongly that young people … should be treated equally, and have a right to access education,
” Haskell stated to CBS Tampa. “(This policy) is deterring not just Wendy and the four other plaintiffs, but scores of others in Florida.”

Gerard Robinson, the Florida Commissioner of Education, and Frank T. Brogan, the Chancellor of the State University System, are listed as the defendants in this case.

When CBS Tampa called the Florida Department of Education, the press office said they could not comment on pending litigation.

Haskell said that the case has been filed in federal court.

This policy violates the federal constitution. This is not a state statute,” she said. “It violates the equal protection clause, which guarantees equal rights for all United States citizens. The constitution doesn’t make exceptions based on who the parents are.”

In the meantime, Ruiz is doing her best to continue with her education despite the thousands of dollars she must now pay in tuition costs.

“I have financial aid … (but) the rest I pay out of pocket,
” she said. “During the week I work at the school in administrative services, and on the weekends I tutor, I babysit … I’ve been a waiter, and had other jobs.”

To make time for her jobs, Ruiz said that she has assumed part-time student status, and is presently taking eight credits in the form of three courses.

Haskell noted that, though sometimes grueling, Ruiz is still fortunate.

“Some are able to make ends meet. Some try to do later education, or take a longer time with their education,” she said. “But hundreds are completely deterred from going at all. Three of the plaintiffs (in this case) are unable to attend at all.”

The hope is to resolve the issue and see this rule reversed before it reaches trial.

“We’ve reached out to them, and given them the opportunity to talk with us before moving forward,”
Haskell said. “(They have not done so) yet, but it hasn’t been too long.”

According to NPR, State Rep. Reggie Fullwood (D-15) has introduced legislation that would grant access to in-state tuition rates to qualifying citizens, regardless of the immigration status of his or her parents.

“You know I would be extremely happy if we didn’t have to push this legislation, if there was some policy fix or some administrative fix that could be done,”
Fullwood told NPR. “I would be one of the happiest people around.”

Ruiz is optimistic that the situation will resolve itself in a way that allows for more affordable opportunities for her and others in her situation. Until then, she’s not backing down.

“This is not stopping me from coming to school. I want to have a bright future ahead of me,” she said. “This (situation) is making me strong and more independent, and more willing to speak my voice.”

Added Ruiz, “It makes me more determined to what I want to become.”
SOURCE

Who Is Left To Bribe?

Obama Taps Taxpayers For Student Stimulus

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By Chris Stirewalt

Obama Looks to Wring Stimulus From Saturated Student Loan Market

“$1 Trillion”

Estimated amount of student loan debt owed by Americans.

In keeping with his new campaign theme of “we can’t wait,” President Obama today will roll out a plan to put more money in the pockets of some of the nation’s 36 million student loan recipients.

Obama has broad latitude in this area – certainly broader than the first two parts of his western campaign trip, underwater mortgages and subsidies for hiring veterans – because one of his early legislative initiatives was to have the federal government take over the student lending business in America.

Obama argued for the measure in 2009 as a cost-savings initiative, saying that the old system of privately issued, government secured loans reduced the amount of available money for needy students and also prevented the feds from making the system more efficient.

But Obama is now seeking to use that new power to obtain a taxpayer-financed stimulus that Congress won’t approve. The idea is to cap student loan repayment rates at 10 percent of a debtor’s income that goes above the poverty line, and then limiting the life of a loan to 20 years.

Take this example: If Suzy Creamcheese gets into George Washington University and borrows from the government the requisite $212,000 to obtain an undergraduate degree, her repayment schedule will be based on what she earns. If Suzy opts to heed the president’s call for public service, and takes a job as a city social worker earning $25,000, her payments would be limited to $1,411 a year after the $10,890 of poverty-level income is subtracted from her total exposure.

Twenty years at that rate would have taxpayers recoup only $28,220 of their $212,000 loan to Suzy.

The president will also allow student debtors to refinance and consolidate loans on more favorable terms, further decreasing the payoff for taxpayers.

Obama’s move comes at a moment when many economists are warning of a college debt bubble that is distorting college tuition rates and threatening to further damage credit markets. The president’s move is intended to make college more affordable for more people, which will, in turn allow universities to jack up their rates.

As in the housing bubble, cheap credit on easy terms increases the amount of money chasing the product (in this case a diploma) allowing schools to increase prices. This inflation makes it harder for middle-class families to afford paying their own tuitions, driving them into the government financing program, which, you guessed it, drives up costs further still.

Obama’s goals, aside from continuing to encourage young people to spurn the private sector in favor of service jobs, is to try to juice the economy. Those who participate in the program could see their monthly incomes rise by hundreds of dollars, thereby increasing the money they have to buy stuff and try to juice the economy.

A more modest program already in place has been a bit of a bust with only 1.25 percent of debtors signing up, likely because of the unpleasant notion of additional paperwork and government reporting hassles. But by sweetening the deal and putting a big PR push behind it, Obama is betting that he can get people spending in time to help shore up his re-election chances.

The best part for Obama is that he can obligate the Treasury without Congressional approval thanks to the passage of what he described as a cost-saving measure in 2009.

Risk-Averse Romney Frustrates Hill GOPers

“I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues. Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party’s efforts here.”

— Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walking back his prior support of a new Ohio law that restricts the collective bargaining power of state worker unions.

While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has done a better job of wooing Capitol Hill Republicans than his fellow GOP 2012 contenders, there’s still a resistance to the man who has been the party’s frontrunner for most of the past three years.

Romney heads to the Hill today to try to corral supporters from two groups – more moderate members who are natural fits for Romney and a few conservatives to vouch for a nominee they can accept as the inevitable choice.

It’s been a hard sell.

“If he’s inevitable, I don’t know why he needs my help,” one swing-state Republican House member told Power Play. “I’ll endorse the nominee, whoever that is.”

Members and staffers agree that while Romney looks increasingly unbeatable since the party’s conservative base remains divided, there’s little to be gained from jumping on board early.

“If you endorse [Romney], you upset the base at home and don’t really get anything in return,” a former senior Senate staffer who now works as a GOP campaign consultant told Power Play. “This is not one where you want to be seen as ahead of the curve.”

A closet Romney backer in Congress who said she is soon to announce her support publicly told Power Play that the frontrunner would continue to roll out a series of high-profile endorsements in the days and weeks to come.

“We respect results and we respect experience,” he said. “We also know that it will take practical solutions to do the job.”

Romney made his task more complicated on Tuesday when he flinched when questioned about a pair of state ballot initiatives while visiting a Republican campaign office where they were working hard to pull out wins on the referenda.

Romney issued a statement this summer in support of the law pushed by Gov. John Kasich to roll back the collective bargaining powers of state worker unions, but when asked in person about the union-led effort to repeal the law through a plebiscite, Romney was agnostic on the subject deferring to the will of the voters.

Many have attributed this to Romney’s unwillingness to be attached to the losing side of the issue since polls show lopsided support for the union-backed repeal measure. Others have speculated that Romney was looking to avoid connection to the anti-government union movement inside the GOP, an association that could be damaging to a candidate whom Democrats are already painting as a plutocrat uninterested in the plight of blue-collar workers.

More likely, though, it was the other issue on the ballot: A constitutional amendment that would shield Ohioans from the key provision of President Obama’s health law that requires all Americans to either purchase private insurance or be enrolled in a government program.

Romney, who pioneered the concept of mandatory insurance in Massachusetts, can hardly speak in favor of the Ohio amendment, which looks likely to pass. He has held that states should be allowed to compel citizens to buy insurance, but not the federal government and that each state should do as it wishes on the subject.

If Romney expressed an opinion on the union rule, he would be hard pressed to then express agnosticism on the mandatory insurance provision. By ducking the question, Romney protected himself from having to talk about his health law and, perhaps, avoided an even bigger embarrassment than what followed.

Romney’s answer was therefore technically the politically correct one since it traded a small embarrassment for a larger gaffe, but it is exactly that kind of calculation that continues to leave GOP activists cold. Romney avoids the gaffes that have plagued Herman Cain, Rick Perry and even occasionally Newt Gingrich.

By giving such careful answers, Romney has been able to maintain his quarter of the GOP electorate, but hasn’t been able to rebut the central critique of his candidacy: ideological inconstancy.

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We Don’t Need No Thought Control: Teachers’ Leave Those Kids Alone

Obama rolling back Bush-era education law

By KIMBERLY HEFLING Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – (WPVI) — President Barack Obama is giving states the flexibility to opt out of provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, a move he says is designed to energize schools but Republicans challenge as outside his authority.

The law, a Bush-era education initiative passed with bipartisan support, has grown increasingly unpopular as more schools risk being labeled a failure.

Under the plan Obama was to outline Friday, states would be allowed to ask the Education Department to be exempted from some of the law’s requirements if they meet certain conditions. That includes enacting standards to prepare students for college and careers and setting evaluation standards for teachers and principals.

“To help states, districts and schools that are ready to move forward with education reform, our administration will provide flexibility from the law in exchange for a real commitment to undertake change,” Obama said in a statement Thursday. “The purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level.”

The administration says it is acting because Congress has been slow to address the issues by rewriting the law.

But Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who chairs the House Education Committee, has questioned whether the Education Department has the authority to offer waivers in exchange for changes it supports. He’s said the president has allowed “an arbitrary timeline” to dictate when Congress should get the law rewritten and that the committee needs more time to develop its proposals.

Kline on Thursday called the administration’s plan a political move and said he could not support a process that sets a precedent by granting the education secretary “sweeping authority to handpick winners and losers.”

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the ranking member on the Senate committee that oversees education, said the president’s plan would undermine the policymaking authority of Congress.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said the plan would not undermine efforts in Congress because the waivers could serve as a bridge until Congress acts.

Duncan said the emphasis would be more on growth than on test scores.

“We can’t have a law on the books that’s slowing down progress, that’s slowing down innovation,” he said Thursday in Joplin, Mo., where schools were left in ruins after a tornado in May.

The No Child Left Behind law passed in 2001 with widespread bipartisan support and much fanfare. It sought to hold schools more accountable for student performance and get better qualified teachers into the classrooms. It also offered school choice and extra tutoring to students attending schools deemed failing.

In Obama’s plan, states granted waivers would have more control over how troubled schools are handled, although to qualify for a waiver they would have to show they had a plan to help low-performing schools. A majority of states are expected to apply for waivers, which will be given to qualified states early next year.

Critics say the law placed too much emphasis on standardized tests, raising the stakes so high for school districts that it may have driven some school officials to cheat. In particular, the requirement that all students be on grade level in math and reading by 2014 has been hugely unpopular.

Duncan has warned that 82 percent of schools next year could fail to reach proficiency requirements and thus be labeled “failures,” although some experts questioned the figure.

He has said it is “dishonest” for schools to be labeled as failing if they are showing real improvements and that the law is creating a “slow-motion educational train wreck.” Duncan also has said that many states under the law have lowered standards instead of making them more rigorous.

The law has been due for a rewrite since 2007. Obama and Duncan had asked Congress to overhaul it by the start of this school year but a growing ideological divide in Congress has complicated efforts to do so.

The GOP-led House Education Committee has forwarded three bills that would revamp aspects of the law but has yet to fully tackle some of the more contentious issues such as teacher effectiveness and accountability.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a former U.S. education secretary, said waivers should be limited.

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

(Copyright ©2011 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

SOURCE

Seven Sins of Our System of Forced Education

In my last post I took a step that, I must admit, made me feel uncomfortable. I said, several times: “School is prison.” I felt uncomfortable saying that because school is so much a part of my life and the lives of almost everyone I know. I, like most people I know, went through the full 12 years of public schooling. My mother taught in a public school for several years. My beloved half-sister is a public schoolteacher. I have many dear friends and cousins who are public schoolteachers. How can I say that these good people–who love children and have poured themselves passionately into the task of trying to help children–are involved in a system of imprisoning children? The comments on my last post showed that my references to school as prison made some other people feel uncomfortable also.

Sometimes I find, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me and others feel, I have to speak the truth. We can use all the euphemisms we want, but the literal truth is that schools, as they generally exist in the United States and other modern countries, are prisons. Human beings within a certain age range (most commonly 6 to 16) are required by law to spend a good portion of their time there, and while there they are told what they must do, and the orders are generally enforced. They have no or very little voice in forming the rules they must follow. A prison–according to the common, general definition–is any place of involuntary confinement and restriction of liberty.
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Now you might argue that schools as we know them are good, or necessary; but you can’t argue that they are not prisons. To argue the latter would be to argue that we do not, in fact, have a system of compulsory education. Either that, or it would be a semantic argument in which you would claim that prison actually means something different from its common, general definition. I think it is important, in any serious discussion, to use words honestly.

Sometimes people use the word prison in a metaphorical sense to refer to any situation in which they must follow rules or do things that are unpleasant. In that spirit, some adults might refer to their workplace as a prison, or even to their marriage as a prison. But that is not a literal use of the term, because those examples involve voluntary, not involuntary restraint. It is against the law in this and other democratic countries to force someone to work at a job where the person doesn’t want to work, or to marry someone that he or she doesn’t want to marry. It is not against the law, however, to force a child to go to school; in fact, it is against the law to not force a child to go to school if you are the parent and the child doesn’t want to go. (Yes, I know, some parents have the wherewithal to find alternative schooling or provide home schooling that is acceptable to both the child and the state, but that is not the norm in today’s society; and the laws in many states and countries work strongly against such alternatives.) So, while jobs and marriages might in some sad cases feel like prisons, schools generally are prisons.

Now here’s another term that I think deserves to be said out loud: Forced education. Like the term prison, this term sounds harsh. But, again, if we have compulsory education, then we have forced education. The term compulsory, if it has any meaning at all, means that the person has no choice about it.

The question worth debating is this: Is forced education–and the consequential imprisonment of children–a good thing or a bad thing? Most people seem to believe that it is, all in all, a good thing; but I think that it is, all in all, a bad thing. I outline here some of the reasons why I think this, in a list of what I refer to as “seven sins” of our system of forced education:

1. Denial of liberty on the basis of age.

In my system of values, and in that long endorsed by democratic thinkers, it is wrong to deny anyone liberty without just cause. To incarcerate an adult we must prove, in a court of law, that the person has committed a crime or is a serious threat to herself or others. Yet we incarcerate children and teenagers in school just because of their age. This is the most blatant of the sins of forced education.

2. Fostering of shame, on the one hand, and hubris, on the other.

It is not easy to force people to do what they do not want to do. We no longer use the cane, as schoolmasters once did, but instead rely on a system of incessant testing, grading, and ranking of children compared with their peers. We thereby tap into and distort the human emotional systems of shame and pride to motivate children to do the work. Children are made to feel ashamed if they perform worse than their peers and pride if they perform better. Shame leads some to drop out, psychologically, from the educational endeavor and to become class clowns (not too bad), or bullies (bad), or drug abusers and dealers (very bad). Those made to feel excessive pride from the shallow accomplishments that earn them A’s and honors may become arrogant, disdainful of the common lot who don’t do so well on tests; disdainful, therefore, of democratic values and processes (and this may be the worst effect of all).

3. Interference with the development of cooperation and nurturance.

We are an intensely social species, designed for cooperation. Children naturally want to help their friends, and even in school they find ways to do so. But our competition-based system of ranking and grading students works against the cooperative drive. Too much help given by one student to another is cheating. Helping others may even hurt the helper, by raising the grading curve and lowering the helper’s position on it. Some of those students who most strongly buy into school understand this well; they become ruthless achievers. Moreover, as I have argued in previous posts (see especially Sept. 24, 2008), the forced age segregation that occurs in school itself promotes competition and bullying and inhibits the development of nurturance. Throughout human history, children and adolescents have learned to be caring and helpful through their interactions with younger children. The age-graded school system deprives them of such opportunities.

4. Interference with the development of personal responsibility and self-direction.

A theme of the entire series of essays in this blog is that children are biologically predisposed to take responsibility for their own education (for an introduction, see July 16, 2008, post). They play and explore in ways that allow them to learn about the social and physical world around them. They think about their own future and take steps to prepare themselves for it. By confining children to school and to other adult-directed settings, and by filling their time with assignments, we deprive them of the opportunities and time they need to assume such responsibility. Moreover, the implicit and sometimes explicit message of our forced schooling system is: “If you do what you are told to do in school, everything will work out well for you.” Children who buy into that may stop taking responsibility for their own education. They may assume falsely that someone else has figured out what they need to know to become successful adults, so they don’t have to think about it. If their life doesn’t work out so well, they take the attitude of a victim: “My school (or parents or society) failed me, and that’s why my life is all screwed up.”

5. Linking of learning with fear, loathing, and drudgery.

For many students, school generates intense anxiety associated with learning. Students who are just learning to read and are a little slower than the rest feel anxious about reading in front of others. Tests generate anxiety in almost everyone who takes them seriously. Threats of failure and the shame associated with failure generate enormous anxiety in some. I have found in my college teaching of statistics that a high percentage of students, even at my rather elite university, suffer from math anxiety, apparently because of the humiliation they have experienced pertaining to math in school. A fundamental psychological principle is that anxiety inhibits learning. Learning occurs best in a playful state, and anxiety inhibits playfulness. The forced nature of schooling turns learning into work. Teachers even call it work: “You must do your work before you can play.” So learning, which children biologically crave, becomes toil–something to be avoided whenever possible.

6. Inhibition of critical thinking.
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Presumably, one of the great general goals of education is the promotion of critical thinking. But despite all the lip service that educators devote to that goal, most students–including most “honors students”–learn to avoid thinking critically about their schoolwork. They learn that their job in school is to get high marks on tests and that critical thinking only wastes time and interferes. To get a good grade, you need to figure out what the teacher wants you to say and then say it. I’ve heard that sentiment expressed countless times by college students as well as by high-school students, in discussions held outside the classroom. I’ve devoted a lot of effort toward promoting critical thinking at the college level; I’ve developed a system of teaching designed to promote it, written articles about it, and given many talks about it at conferences on teaching. I’ll devote a future post or two in this blog to the topic. But, truth be told, the grading system, which is the chief motivator in our system of education, is a powerful force against honest debate and critical thinking in the classroom. In a system in which we teachers do the grading, few students are going to criticize or even question the ideas we offer; and if we try to induce criticism by grading for it, we generate false criticism.

7. Reduction in diversity of skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking.

By forcing all schoolchildren through the same standard curriculum, we reduce their opportunities to follow alternative pathways. The school curriculum represents a tiny subset of the skills and knowledge that are important to our society. In this day and age, nobody can learn more than a sliver of all there is to know. Why force everyone to learn the same sliver? When children are free–as I have observed at the Sudbury Valley School and others have observed with unschoolers–they take new, diverse, and unpredicted paths. They develop passionate interests, work diligently to become experts in the realms that fascinate them, and then find ways of making a living by pursuing their interests. Students forced through the standard curriculum have much less time to pursue their own interests, and many learn well the lesson that their own interests don’t really count; what counts is what’s measured on the schools’ tests. Some get over that, but too many do not.
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This list of “sins” is not novel. Many teachers I have spoken with are quite aware of all of these detrimental effects of forced education, and many work hard to try to counteract them. Some try to instill as much of a sense of freedom and play as the system permits; many do what they can to mute the shame of failure and reduce anxiety; most try to allow and promote cooperation and compassion among the students, despite the barriers against it; many do what they can to allow and promote critical thinking. But the system works against them. It may even be fair to say that teachers in our school system are no more free to teach as they wish than are students free to learn as they wish. (But teachers, unlike students, are free to quit; so they are not in prison.)

I must also add that human beings, especially young human beings, are remarkably adaptive and resourceful. Many students find ways to overcome the negative feelings that forced schooling engenders and to focus on the positive. They fight the sins. They find ways to cooperate, to play, to help one another overcome feelings of shame, to put undue pride in its place, to combat bullies, to think critically, and to spend some time on their true interests despite the forces working against them in school. But to do all this while also satisfying the demands of the forced education takes great effort, and many do not succeed. At minimum, the time students must spend on wasteful busywork and just following orders in school detracts greatly from the time they can use to educate themselves.

I have listed here “seven sins” of forced education, but I have resisted the temptation to call them the seven sins. There may be more than seven. I invite you to add more, in the comments section below.

Finally, I add that I do not believe that we should just do away with schools and replace them with nothing. Children educate themselves, but we adults have a responsibility to provide settings that allow them to do that in an optimal manner. That is the topic of my next post

SOURCE

Is marriage obsolete? 6 things to consider

Is marriage obsolete? 6 things to consider

By Dave Singleton

Nearly four in ten Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete. What?! Taken from a recent nationwide Pew Research Center survey entitled The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families (conducted in association with Time and complemented by demographic and economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau), this statistic shows the 11 percent spike since Time asked the same question of its readers in 1978. That new research figure is sending a few shockwaves through the country, especially among conservative groups who are up in arms over what they perceive to be the culprits; namely, the rise in the number of unmarried couples living together, single mothers, and same-sex relationships.

Are traditional marriages and nuclear families a thing of the past?

Clearly, there’s been a shift in attitudes about these cultural institutions, but overall, I don’t think they’re genuinely becoming obsolete. Over the past couple of generations, there’s been a relationship revolution going on. The 1950s model of American life — marriage in your early twenties followed by children, differences in socioeconomic status between men and women — has given way to newer and evolving ways of dating, mating and socializing in general.

If you take a look at current pop culture trends, you’ll see that we’re actually more in love with relationships than ever before. Ratings for TV shows like The Bachelor, Say Yes to the Dress, and Modern Family show that our love for relationships of every variety is going strong. We’re just less committed to how we make them happen and who gets to participate in the process. “If marriage is viewed as increasingly obsolete, it’s because we’re appreciating a wider range of options,” says Brian Powell, Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and coauthor of Counted Out: Same-sex Relations And Americans’ Definitions Of Family. “This doesn’t indicate a vote against marriage; more likely, it’s a vote for the diversity of family forms out there, even those without the legal imprimatur of marriage.”

But what does this all mean for the millions out there dating and relating? I pored over the research to bring to light the six survey implications that matter most for singles.

1. Ninety-five percent of younger respondents say I “still” do to marriage
Despite the rising figures for cohabitation and divorce, the new study shows that 44 percent of Americans under 30 believe marriage is heading for extinction, while only five percent of respondents in that same age group don’t want to get hitched. So, how do you wrap your mind around these two seemingly contradictory findings? A theory proposed by David Popenoe, a former Rutgers sociology professor and co-director of the National Marriage Project, is that the ones who called marriage “obsolete” may be voicing their own fears rather than expressing a genuine wish to see the institution disappear. Others think it may just be a case of semantics. The basics of committed relationships are solid, but the formalities involved could become increasingly less common. “Most Americans today take the marital relationship more seriously than ever before, expecting more intimacy, fairness and mutual respect,” says Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families and author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

2. There’s a difference between “needing” and “wanting” to be married
We still want to get married, obviously… but maybe the bigger implication from the Pew Center’s survey is that we just don’t need it as much as we once did. In purely practical terms, marriage today is not like it was for previous generations. Socially, spiritually and symbolically, how we view it has changed greatly, and that factors into the results. “The truth is that we no longer feel that the marital institution is essential for [someone’s] social respectability or personal well-being,” says Coontz. “For the most part, that’s good news for singles. It means you can take your time making up your mind about whether or not you want to marry without being stigmatized the way singles were back in the 1960s. And the longer you take, the better your chances of forming a lasting partnership.”

3. When it comes to marriage views, money and education matter
Marriage remains the norm for adults with college educations and good incomes, but it’s now markedly less prevalent among poorer and less educated individuals. Why? It turns out we are much more into getting married if we can afford it — and maybe that’s a sign of the times. Getting married during a recession means not only considering whether you have enough money for the wedding and other associated costs, but also any concerns you might have about taking on a spouse’s debt. The survey found that people whose education ended with a high school diploma (or less) are just as likely to say they’d like to marry as those with college degrees, but the first group placed a higher premium on financial stability as one of the most important reasons to do so than the latter did (38 percent versus 21 percent, respectively).

4. We’re waiting longer to get hitched, but what’s so bad about that?
Census data shows that young people are waiting to marry until they’re a few years older nowadays. The median age for first marriages in the U.S. is at its highest point ever. For women, it’s 26.1 years of age, and for men, it’s 28.2. On top of that, for the first time in half a century, unmarried people between the ages of 25 and 34 outnumber their married counterparts in the same age range. But here’s good news for all the twenty-somethings who feel like they’re never going to meet the right mate and settle down: younger people are waiting until they’re better educated, better off financially, and more mature first. They’ve seen their parents’ generation divorce at unprecedented rates (approximately 50 percent), and frankly, they don’t want that to happen to them. Maybe they just want to get it right by taking their time, and if you ask me, that’s cause for celebration. It actually shows reverence for marriage, not disdain.

5. Being in a less traditional relationship does not equal less happiness
Everyone talks about the “good old days.” In marriage terms, we think of role models such as Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, who were the perfect 1950s couple. Here’s a wild notion implied by the research: maybe couples today are actually happier. Yes, there’ve been dramatic changes to the way couples live now — for example, more cohabitation vs. marriage — but it’s clear that the importance of family still remains strong. Seventy-six percent of adults claim that their family is the most important thing to them (regardless of how it’s structured), 75 percent say they are “very satisfied” with their family life, and more than eight in 10 say the family they live in now is as close as (45 percent) or closer than (40 percent) the family in which they were raised. More than half of the people living with someone (as opposed to being married) report that they have a better relationship with their romantic partners than their parents did when they were growing up. Marriage might be viewed as an increasingly obsolete tradition, but it’s clear that marriage, relationships and family are ultimately still quite satisfying.

6. Feelings about marriage are relative
It’s hard to evaluate the findings of this survey without assessing the role that timing plays in shaping people’s views. Maybe people are just more cynical in general these days. Consider how the study’s marriage findings compare with other key areas of life: more Americans (67 percent) remain optimistic about marriage than about the educational system (50 percent), economy (46 percent) or human morality (41 percent). Think about that for a minute; it means we’re actually more upbeat about marriage than we are about our chances of educating our kids, making a decent living, or being a good person. When it comes to love, obsolescence is clearly in the eye of the beholder. Based on this research, I’d say there’s plenty of validation and support for singles looking to create meaningful relationships on their own terms — including, but not limited to, the ever-revered tradition of marriage.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at [email protected]

SOURCE

The Student Loan Lie: 21 Statistics that will make you reconsider going to college


Student Loan Debt Hell: 21 Statistics That Will Make You Think Twice About Going To College

Is going to college a worthwhile investment? Is the education that our young people are receiving at our colleges and universities really worth all of the time, money and effort that is required? Decades ago, a college education was quite inexpensive and it was almost an automatic ticket to the middle class. But today all of that has changed. At this point, college education is a big business. There are currently more than 18 million students enrolled at the nearly 5,000 colleges and universities currently in operation throughout the United States. There are quite a few “institutions of higher learning” that now charge $40,000 or even $50,000 a year for tuition. That does not count room and board or living expenses. Meanwhile, as you will see from the statistics below, the quality of education at our colleges and universities has deteriorated. When graduation finally arrives many of our college students have actually learned very little. Tthey find themselves unable to get good jobs and end up trapped in student loan debt hell for essentially the rest of their lives.

Across America today, “guidance counselors” are pushing millions of high school students to go to the very best colleges that they can get into, but rarely do they caution them about how much it is going to cost or about the sad reality that they could end up being burdened by massive debt for decades.

Yes, college is a fun and it is a really unique experience. If you can get someone else to pay for it then you should definitely consider going!

There are also careers which absolutely require a college degree. Depending on your career goals, you may not have much of a choice of whether to go to college or not.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to go to student loan debt hell!

You don’t have to go to the most expensive school that you can get into.

You don’t have to take out huge student loans.

There is no shame in picking a school based on affordability.

The sad truth is that pretty much wherever you go to school the quality of the education is going to be rather pathetic. A highly trained cat could pass most college courses in the United States today.

Personally, I have had the chance to spend quite a number of years on college campuses. I enjoyed my time and I have some pretty pieces of parchment to put up on the wall. I have seen with my own eyes what goes on at our institutions of higher learning.

The vast majority of college students in America spend two to four hours a day in the classroom and maybe an hour or two outside the classroom studying. The remainder of the time these “students” are out drinking beer, partying, chasing after sex partners, going to sporting events, playing video games, hanging out with friends, chatting on Facebook or getting into trouble. When they say that college is the most fun that most people will ever have in their lives they mean it. It is basically one huge party.

If you are a parent and you are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars every year to pay for college you need to know the truth.

You are being ripped off.

Sadly, a college education just is not that good of an investment anymore. Tuition costs have absolutely skyrocketed even as the quality of education has plummeted.

A college education is not worth getting locked into crippling student loan payments for the next 30 years.

Even many university professors are now acknowledging that student loan debt has become a horrific societal problem. Just check out what one professor was quoted as saying in a recent article in The Huffington Post….

“Thirty years ago, college was a wise, modest investment
,” says Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. He studies the politics of higher education. “Now, it’s a lifetime lock-in, an albatross you can’t escape.”

Anyone that is thinking of going to college needs to do a cost/benefit analysis.

Is it really going to be worth it?

For some people the answer will be “yes” and for some people the answer will be “no”.

But sadly, hardly anyone that goes to college these days gets a “good” education.


There’s Nothing Average About An Average Student Loan Debt


No human being is average. An average is a mathematical abstraction. You are no abstraction. You are a real soul with a desire to live and fulfill some purpose in life, for which you need to be free, so that you can meet this purposeful destiny.

To the great apostles of political freedom the word ‘freedom’ meant freedom from coercion, freedom from the arbitrary power of other men, release from the ties which left the individual no choice but obedience to the order of a superior to whom he was attached.

These are the words of Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek in his superb book The Road To Serfdom.

If you review your life, my friend, I doubt that you could argue that you’ve lived it under repression, where you’ve been coerced by an arbitrary power to break your ties with your beloved family and friends to be forced to obey without any other choice a superior to whom you were now dependent.

If you are or have been, on the contrary, like any typical student who has wished to join the ranks of the collegiate, by attending some university campus somewhere, then you voluntarily took on debt. With it you bought into the propaganda that a college degree was the best investment that you could make in your young life.

We really do need to rethink our approach to higher education in this country.

Posted below are 21 statistics about college tuition, student loan debt and the quality of college education in the United States….

#1 Since 1978, the cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent.

#2 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.

#3 Approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.

#4 Americans have accumulated well over $900 billion in student loan debt. That figure is higher than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.

#5 The typical U.S. college student spends less than 30 hours a week on academics.

#6 According to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses”, 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit “no significant gains in learning” after two years in college.

#7 Today, college students spend approximately 50% less time studying than U.S. college students did just a few decades ago.

#8 35% of U.S. college students spend 5 hours or less studying per week.

#9 50% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to write more than 20 pages.

#10 32% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to read more than 40 pages in a week.

#11 U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.

#12 Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.

#13 Nearly half of all the graduate science students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States are foreigners.

#14 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 years old was 9.3 percent in 2010.

#15 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

#16 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.

#17 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.

#19 In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail salespersons have a college degree.

#20 Once they get out into the “real world”, 70% of college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in school.

#21 Approximately 14 percent of all students that graduate with student loan debt end up defaulting within 3 years of making their first student loan payment.

There are millions of young college graduates running around out there that are wondering where all of the “good jobs” are. All of their lives they were promised that if they worked really hard and got good grades that the system would reward them.

Sometimes when you do everything right you still can’t get a job. A while back The Huffington Post featured the story of Kyle Daley – a highly qualified UCLA graduate who had been unemployed for 19 months at the time….

I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren’t the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.

At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year — it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.

The sad truth is that a college degree is not an automatic ticket to the middle class any longer.

But for millions of young Americans a college degree is an automatic ticket to student loan debt hell.

Student loan debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt. You can’t get away from student loan debt no matter what you do! Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.

So are you still sure that you want to go to college?

Another open secret is that most of our colleges and universities are little more than indoctrination centers. Most people would be absolutely shocked at how much unfiltered propaganda is being pounded into the heads of our young people.

At most colleges and universities, when it comes to the “big questions” there is a “right answer” and there is virtually no discussion of any other alternatives.

In most fields there is an “orthodoxy” that you had better adhere to if you want to get good grades.

Let’s just say that “independent thought” and “critical thinking” are not encouraged at most of our institutions of higher learning.

Am I bitter because I didn’t do well? No, I actually did extremely well in school. I have seen the system from the inside. I know how it works.

It is a giant fraud.

If you want to go to college because you want to have a good time or because it will help you get your career started then by all means go for it.

Just realize what you are signing up for…..

If you have a degree, you may have bought into the belief that an average student loan debt was no big deal since, being average, most students were assuming it to be “the thing to do for anyone going to college.”

The new freedom promised, however, was to freedom from necessity, release from the compulsion of the circumstances which inevitably limit the range of choice of all of us. Freedom in this sense is, of course merely another name for power or wealth.

Doesn’t this sound more like you, nevertheless? Isn’t this what you really wanted? Wasn’t it a desire for freedom from necessity and from having to confront the simple fact that you live in a world where you cannot do everything that your heart desires, that encouraged that voice to whisper in your ear: “With a college degree in my hands I will have the power to become wealthy”?

So, you went ahead and fell for an ancient trick. You had the expectation that you would succeed in showing off to others how free you truly could become, merely by postponing the inevitable – having to pay that average student loan debt.

Yet this trick chained you to a rail along the long road to serfdom. For you will have to pay off those loans. And you will give up far more than they’re worth for it. And who cares if others are now slaves along with you?

Is it not always better to be an insignificant freeman than an average slave?

The Average Student Loan Debt Is More Than What You Owe A Bank!

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 makes it virtually impossible for you to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy. For as long as you can make money in any way, you will be required by those in real power – your masters, the lenders – to pay what you owe them.

If this “investment” that you made doesn’t pay off, if this average student loan debt proves unweilding, then you literally won’t be able to pay off your loan as you’ve anticipated; that is, you won’t be able to pay it off according to your time line or even your liking. But pay it you shall for as long as you’re alive making traceable money somewhere, somehow.

You will be a slave fettered with electronic chains to your lender’s collections agency. An agency can garnish your wages if your disposable earnings per week exceed thirty times the federal minimum hourly wage.
average student loan debt shakedown.

Put another way, this means that if you make $154.50 or more per week your wages will be garnished.

Your disposable income, which is whatever money you have left after paying all required taxes and national insurances, will not be yours but will belong to the lender by federal law.

What’s the likelihood of this happening to you? Well, you do the math.

Let’s see what should have been the most that you should have paid for your college education. If you’ve paid more than you should have, then you’re screwed.

To estimate this valuation we must calculate what’s known as your capitalization rate or the cap rate of this college “investment” that you’re the proud owner of. Of course, this is a calculation that you should have made way before taking on any student loans. But this exercise should prove valuable to you in many other ways.

Let’s start.

The cap rate is a very useful tool because it helps you figure out whether you should buy an income-producing asset by borrowing for it. Do you think your college education is an asset that can generate income for you? Then let’s determine its cap rate.

To begin this calculation we’re going to use an example to make things easy to understand. We’re going to estimate first the cap rate for an actual business. Then we will use your average student loan debt to estimate your own cap rate for college.

Let’s say that there is an in-home seniors care provider business that you want to buy. It’s going for $25,000. This business produces $2,500 per month after taxes and insurance. Annual net income therefore is $30,000. Let’s say the bank charges 5.25% fixed interest for your loan, and you want to pay the loan in 15 years.

How much of the loan are you paying per year? Dividing 100% by 15 tells you that you’re paying 6.67% of the loan every year. This is your repayment rate. You also already know that you have to pay interest of 5.25% per year for 15 years. So now add the 6.67% repayment rate to your 5.25% interest rate. You end up with 11.92%. This is your cap rate or 0.1192 in decimal form.

Here’s how to use your cap rate to determine whether buying this senior care business makes sense.

Take the $30,000 worth of annual income and divide it by your cap rate of 0.1192, which will give you $201,342. This is the maximum amount of money that you should pay for this business. If you buy it by borrowing $25,000 at 6.67% for 15 years to make $30,000 per year, then you are buying it at a bargain price.

Now let’s estimate a cap rate for an undergraduate in the social sciences going into an entry level job and see how he fairs having embraced an average student loan debt of $24,000.


Should You Have Sought Even For An Average Student Loan Debt?

Junior has consolidated his loans at a rate of 6.75%. His average student loan debt repayment plan calls for paying $24,000 over 20 years. He believes that he will average a gross salary of $50,000 per year. His cap rate is 11.75% which, when divided into $50,000 yields $425,532 as the maximum that he should have paid for his college education. Pretty nifty, huh? Seems like junior made a great decision, except for a few intrusive points.

What if junior can’t get work, can’t break into his career field and ends up working at a job that doesn’t require a degree, making half of what he expected?

What if junior doesn’t have the average student loan debt but more like $35,000, $50,000, $80,000 even $125,000 or more in loans? What then should his education have cost him?

What if junior, being a wage earner rather than a business owner, gets stuck in a tax bracket that doesn’t allow him to net out more than $40,000? After all the median household income in the United States is $46,326.

So half of American households live on less than this income amount gross every year. Only 34% of all U.S. households make more than $65,000. Only 17.8% make more than $118,200 a year and just 2.67% make more than $200,000. College doesn’t guarantee you an individual income in any particular income bracket.

More importantly, we must apply the cap rate to junior’s net income, which is the money from his wages that he has left after paying all his interests, taxes and insurance expenses. That’s called junior’s disposable income.

How much of a personal disposable income would junior have if he had to pay a big student loan, a ton of credit card debt, FICA, unemployment and all kinds of other taxes, plus his insurance premiums for his car, property and health?

The U.S. Census indicates that per capita disposable income in this country is around $35,000. But that’s just the nation’s total disposable income divided by the total population. What if your personal disposable income is only one-third of this?

Do you think it farfetched?

What if I told you that 1 in 5 people filing for bankruptcy right now are college students and that this is just a point along a trend going back for 2 decades?

Here’s what the Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University had to say about young adults of college age and beyond. Does it sound like people who have lots of personal disposable income?

Americans aged 25-34 have the second highest rate of bankruptcy (just after those aged 35 to 44). The bankruptcy rate among 25-34 year olds increased between 1991 and 2001, indicating the GenXers were more likely to file bankruptcy than were young baby Boomers at the same age.

average student loan debt forgiveness And what if you owed $80,000 more than the average student loan debt and you had to pay it at 6.75% for 15 years because of minimum monthly payment requirements by your lender?

Now we’re talking!

Do the math. Your cap rate would be 13.42% and your disposable income $11,655, which means that the most that you should have paid for college should have been $86,848.

Yet you paid $104,000 for it. That’s a 20% premium beyond what you should have paid for your education. Now, how smart of an investment was that for an educated person?

Can you say “I’m broke but can’t go bankrupted.” Say then, “I’m a serf of my lender.”

You might think that you’re safe so long as your average student loan debt stays, well, average. But even if you had loaded yourself with just an average student loan debt, in conclusion this burden leaves you at a disadvantage because, had you spent the money in building a business, you would have benefitted, in this example, from a net income of $30,000 rather than a personal disposable income of only $11,655, since businesses face tax deductions that wage earner do not. So as a business owner you end up ahead of an employee.

In the end, debt proves to be a terrible deterrent to entrepreneurship and risk-taking, despite the promise of riches that a college degree might have lured you to believe would be within you reach if you borrowed for it.

But if you cannot get a job to pay your loan back, and you can neither get out of debt nor escape it through loan forgiveness, then you need to look at entrepreneurship in a different light, because this may be the only way that you could achieve deliverance from the life of serfdom that even an average student loan debt burden will force you to serve out.

The infographic also lists the most expensive colleges based on total cost (tuition + room and board) for the 2008-2009 school year. Here are the 25 most expensive colleges in 2008-2009:

1. Sarah Lawrence College | $53,166
2. George Washington University | $50,312
3. New York University | $50,182
4. Georgetown University | $49,689
5. Connecticut College | $49,385
6. Bates College | $49,350
7. Johns Hopkins University | $49,278
8. Skidmore College | $49,266
9. Scripps College | $49,236
10. Middlebury College | $49,210
11. Carnegie Mellon University | $49,200
12. Boston College | $49,020
13. Wesleyan University | $49,000
14. Colgate University | $48,900
15. Claremont McKenna College | $48,755
16. Vassar College | $48,675
17. Haverford College | $48,625
18. University of Chicago | $48,588
19. Union College (NY) | $48,552
20. Colby College | $48,520
21. Mount Holyoke College | $48,500
22. Tufts University | $48,470
23. Bard College at Simon’s Rock | $48,460
24. Franklin & Marshall College | $48,450
25. Bard College | $48,438

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/student-loan-debt-hell-21-statistics-that-will-make-you-think-twice-about-going-to-college

http://www.startingyourownbusinessovernight.com/average-student-loan-debt.html

What Is Outsourcing?

What Is Outsourcing?

Once upon a time in America, virtually anyone with a high school education and the willingness to work hard could get a good job. Fifty years ago a “good job” would enable someone to own a home, buy a car, take a couple of vacations a year and retire with a decent pension. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Every single year the number of “good jobs” in the United States actually shrinks even as our population continues to grow. Where in the world did all of those good jobs go? Economists toss around terms such as “outsourcing” and “offshoring” to describe what is happening, but most ordinary Americans don’t really grasp what those terms mean. So what is outsourcing? Well, it essentially means sending work somewhere else. In the context of this article I will be using those terms to describe the thousands of manufacturing facilities and the millions of jobs that have been sent overseas. Over the past several decades, the U.S. economy has become increasingly merged into the emerging “one world economy”. Thanks to the WTO, NAFTA and a whole host of other “free trade” agreements, the internationalist dream of a truly “global marketplace” is closer than ever before.

But for American workers, a “global marketplace” is really bad news. In the United States, businesses are subject to a vast array of very complex laws, rules and regulations that make it very difficult to operate in this country. That makes it very tempting for corporations to simply move out of the U.S. in order to avoid all of the hassle.

In addition, the United States now has the highest corporate tax rate in the entire world. This also provides great motivation for corporations to move operations outside of the country.

The biggest thing affecting American workers, however, is the fact that labor has now become a global commodity. U.S. workers have now been merged into a global labor pool. Americans must now directly compete for jobs with hundreds of millions of desperate people willing to work for slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

So exactly how is an American worker supposed to compete with a highly motivated person on the other side of the planet that makes $1.50 an hour with essentially no benefits?

Just think about it.

If you were a big global corporation, would you want to hire American workers which would cost you 10 or 20 times more after everything is factored in?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why millions of jobs have been leaving the United States.

Corporations love to make more money. Many of them will not hesitate for an instant to pay slave labor wages if they can get away with it. The bottom line for most corporations is to maximize shareholder wealth.

Slowly but surely the number of good jobs in the United States is shrinking and those jobs are being sent to places where labor is cheaper.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, U.S. multinational corporations added 2.4 million new jobs overseas during the first decade of this century. But during that same time frame U.S. multinational corporations cut a total of 2.9 million jobs inside the United States.

So where are all of our jobs going?

They are going to places like China.

The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

In addition, over 40,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been closed permanently during the past decade.

What do you think is eventually going to happen if the U.S. economy continues to bleed jobs and factories so badly?

As the U.S. has faltered, China has become an absolute economic powerhouse.

Ten years ago, the U.S. economy was three times as large as the Chinese economy. At the turn of the century the United States accounted for well over 20 percent of global GDP and China accounted for significantly less than 10 percent of global GDP. But since that time our share of global GDP has been steadily declining and China’s share has been steadily rising.

According to the IMF, China will pass the United States and will become the largest economy in the world in 2016.

Should we all celebrate when that happens?

Should we all chant “We’re Number 2”?

Our economy is falling to pieces and the competition for the few remaining good jobs has become super intense.

The average American family is having a really tough time right now. Only 45.4% of Americans had a job during 2010. The last time the employment level was that low was back in 1983.

Not only that, only 66.8% of American men had a job last year. That was the lowest level that has ever been recorded in all of U.S. history.

Just think about that.

33.2% of American men do not have jobs.

And that figure is going to continue to rise unless something is done about these economic trends.

Today, there are 10% fewer “middle class jobs” in the United States than there were a decade ago. Tens of millions of Americans have been forced to take “whatever they can get”. A lot of very hard working people are basically working for peanuts at this point. In fact, half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

Things have gotten so bad that tens of thousands of people showed up for the National Hiring Day that McDonald’s just held. With the economy such a mess, flipping burgers or welcoming people to Wal-Mart are jobs that suddenly don’t look so bad.

Right now America is rapidly losing high paying jobs and they are being replaced by low paying jobs. According to a recent report from the National Employment Law Project, higher wage industries accounted for 40 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months but only 14 percent of the job growth. Lower wage industries accounted for just 23 percent of the job losses over the past 12 months and a whopping 49 percent of the job growth.

Thanks to the emerging one world economy, the U.S. is “transitioning” from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

But it certainly doesn’t help that China is using every trick in the book to steal our industries. China openly subsidizes domestic industries, they brazenly steal technology and they manipulate currency rates.

A recent article on Economy In Crisis described how the Chinese paper industry has been able to grow by threefold over the past decade while the U.S. paper industry has fallen apart….

From 2002 to 2009, the Chinese government poured $33.1 billion into what should be an unproductive industry. But, with the help of government subsidies, China was able to ride export-driven growth to become the world’s leading producer of paper products.

In the same time frame that China pumped $33 billion into its paper industry, U.S. employment in the industry fell 29 percent, from 557,000 workers to just 398,000.

So why should we be concerned about all of this?

Well, just open up your eyes. As I have written about previously, our formerly great cities are being transformed into post-apocalyptic hellholes.

In a comment to a recent article, Trucker Mark described what he has seen happen to the “rust belt” over the past several decades….

I am a product of Detroit’s northwest suburbs and the Cleveland, OH area, where together I lived almost 2/3rds of my 54 years. As a 30-year semi driver, I am intimately familiar with large areas of the industrial Midwest, the Northeast, and even much of central and southern California, and everything in-between. I am also college-educated, in Urban Planning and Economics. What has happened to not just Detroit, but to virtually every city in the southern half of Lower Michigan and northern Ohio is mind-boggling. When I was 18, it was quite common to head over to a car plant and get hired immediately into a middle-class job. At one time I had dozens of friends from school working at car plants, dozens more in other large factories, dozens more in major grocery warehousing and distribution, and me, I was a semi driver delivering to all of those places. Between 1979, when I started driving semis, and now, I must have seen 10s of thousands of factories across just the southern Great Lakes region close their doors. Some of them were small, and some of them employed 10,000 workers or more.

The former Packard plant from your photo closed in 1957, and at one time it employed 12,000 workers, and my roommate in 1982 in Birmingham, MI had been laid-off from the old Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck, which once employed over 20,000 workers, which closed in 1981. In 1970 just Chrysler had over 40 plants in the Detroit-area, and now there are just 11 left open. The Willow Run plant, which at one time turned-out a brand-new B-29 bomber every 40 minutes, and employed 50,000 workers, is long dead too, as is the tank plant north of town too. Even fairly new car plants like Novi Assembly are closed, Pontiac’s ultra-modern robotic car assembly plant too. In Cleveland 100 or more huge old plants stand empty, car plants, steel mills, and machine tool builders, in Akron dozens of rubber plants are long gone, Sharon, Warren, and Youngstown have all lost huge numbers of industrial jobs, Canton and Massillon too, where the NFL started, have been reduced to mere shells of their former selves. Along with the plant closings have gone the hopes and dreams of many thousands of retail operators, restaurant owners, and thousands of other small businesses too. Hundreds of entire major shopping malls stand vacant, as seas of potholes consume local roads. The city of Hamtramck, MI a Detroit suburb of 40,000 people, is bankrupt and has had to layoff all but two employees, one of whom works part-time. The traffic lights are shut-off and stop signs now appear at those intersections instead, as the city can’t even pay its power bill. I could go on & on & on for days but I don’t have the time.

I haven’t driven a semi in almost 2 years as my eyesight has begun giving out early. My last 10 years in the industry was spent delivering fresh and frozen meat on a regular multi-stop route through the Chicago-area and throughout southern Michigan. Between 2001 and 2009, my boss lost 14 of 19 major weekly customers in Michigan to bankruptcy, including three major grocery chains, plus numerous less-frequent customers. The Detroit News reported before Christmas of 2007 a 29% unemployment rate within the city limits of Detroit, with an estimated 44% of the total adult population not working, and another news story reported a 1 in 200 chance of selling a house across the entire metropolitan area, which still has 4 million people total. Since 2003, home prices within the city limits of Detroit have fallen by 90%, and today there are thousands of houses in move-in condition on the market there for $5K to $10K. The suburbs are not immune either.

You know what? Detroit and Cleveland used to be two of the greatest cities in the entire world.

Today very few people would call them great. They are just shells of their former glory.

Sadly, this cruel economy is causing “ghost towns” to appear all across the United States. There are quite a few counties across the nation that now have home vacancy rates of over 50%.

Another reader, Flubadub, also remembers how things used to be….

I am also a product of that generation and remember well the opportunities that existed for anyone with even a high school diploma in those days. Just within a reasonable commute to where I grew up we had US Steel, 3M, General Motors Fisher Body, Nabisco, The Budd Co., Strick Trailer and others providing thousands of jobs that enabled you to provide a decent living for your family. There were also plenty of part time jobs to keep high school students busy enough to avoid the pratfalls of idle youth and afford the 28 cent/ gallon gas for their used cars. Most of it is gone now and I don’t blame the Mexicans or the Chinese for stealing it. I blame the greed of the globalists and their flunkies, the phony free trade advocates in office, who’ve spent the last twenty years giving it all away.

Our jobs are being shipped overseas so that greedy corporate executives can pad their bonuses and our politicians are allowing them to get away with it.

According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the average CEO made 343 times more money than the average American did last year.

Life is great if you are a CEO.

Life is not so great if you are an average American worker trying to raise a family.

Another reader, Itsjustme, says that things are also quite depressing In New Jersey….

I live in northern NJ in a suburb a very short ride from NYC.

Our region was hit very hard — we once had a very prosperous and booming industrial area; mixed use with many warehouses and commercial buildings, hirise and lowrise.

The majority of companies that were in those buildings are gone. Long vacant; the signage is left and nobody is inside them.

One large commercical building with 15 floors now is home to 2 tenants: a law firm and a Korean shipping company.

It’s very sad what’s happened out here.

The only “companies” moving into these buildings are small change tenants that that are usually Chinese or Middle Eastern; you’ll see them subletting out 2 or 3 offices in these buildings and they operate out of those offices. They’re mostly importers of apparel or soft goods.

My guess is that they are there on very short term leases.

This will benefit our local and state economy not. These groups usually send the money home.

If this is the shape of things to come, we can hang it up right now. No viable companies are moving into our area; if anything new is being built it is retail and service industry garbage, like crummy fast food chain restaurants. No livable wage jobs are entering our local economy.

As I have written about previously, the standard of living of the middle class is being pushed down to third world levels. We have been merged into a “global labor pool”, and what that means is that the standard of living of all workers all over the world is going to be slowly equalized over time.

Our politicians never told us that all of these “free trade” agreements would mean that soon we would be living like the rest of the world.

America used to be the greatest economic machine on the planet. But now we are just another region of the one world economy that has workers that are too expensive to be useful.

In the end, there is not some great mystery as to why we are experiencing economic decline as a nation.

If millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, it was basically inevitable that we were going to experience a housing crisis. Without good jobs the American people simply cannot afford high mortgage payments.

Today we consume far more wealth as a nation than we produce. We have tried to make up the difference by indulging in the greatest debt binge that the world has ever seen.

We have lived like kings and queens, but our debt-fueled prosperity is not sustainable. In fact, the collapse of our financial system is a lot closer than most people would like to believe.

Things did not have to turn out like this, but we bought into the lies and the propaganda that our leaders were feeding us.

Now our economy lies in tatters and our children have no economic future.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/what-is-outsourcing

Open Border with Mexico: A Study in Contrast

Open Border with Mexico
A Study in Contrast

by D13

There has been much said about the “open border” concept along the Mexico border. Some have the opinion that there should be no control and some are of the opinion that there should be closed borders and some fall in the middle. The purpose of this article is to lay out some facts and figures and you decide what the best procedure would be. Since I am on the “front lines” so to speak, I feel that I can speak authoritatively. I will do my best to present both sides of the concern and then present my analysis and opinion. The issue is not to look at this in an emotional state but rather look at it in the form of reality….what is…and not what we wish it would be. Never should a decision be made from emotion but rather, it is my belief that all decisions should be made from fact and from realism.

First, let me begin by saying that this article is not anti immigration. I have absolutely no problems with immigration. I have all sorts of problems with illegal immigration; consequently, this article will be aimed at the illegal immigration that takes place, its effects on the economy, both local and federal, its effects on health issues, and its criminal element. So, in order to proceed with the article, please accept the fact (as it is fact) that we are a nation of laws. Some of those laws directly affect immigration. It matters not whether you agree with those laws. If you disagree with our laws, I will be the first to say…great…you have an inherent right to disagree but change them if you do not like them. To break the law in order to change the law is wrong… legally, morally, and philosophically. So, deal with the fact that we have laws and the laws should be obeyed until changed.

The popular perception of illegal aliens crossing our southern border is that they are merely poor Mexicans trying to find a better life here. But increasingly, the border is being crossed by hardened, often violent criminals. During the past five months, more than 54,000 of the illegal aliens caught at the border were convicted criminals or people being sought in connection with crimes, according to federal officials. About 139,000 of the illegal aliens arrested last year fell into the same category. The main stream media has been instructed to not write articles about the issue of the criminal elements that have consistently been coming into this country disguised as poor immigrants. Yes…. instructed and the hammer is that they will not have a seat on Air Force One if they do not follow that rule. The criminal element knows that we are not actively engaged in stopping the immigrants because it is known that the liberal (progressive) establishment wants the votes and wants a voting block, therefore, it is a well known among those of us that patrol and fight on the border that the law is deliberately avoided and sanctioned by the progressive faction in this country. The first thing that I will deal with in the article is the gang influence and the criminal element that is prevalent on the border and in our cities.

Mexican Drug Cartels

Mexico’s drug gangs have been highly successful in the past two decades, gradually replacing Colombian gangs in the United States to control the profitable distribution of cocaine from coast to coast. Colombia remains the world’s largest producer, but Larry Holifield, the DEA’s past director for Mexico and Central America, says Mexican cartels are now the most powerful in the world. In 2003, Mexican traffickers supplied 77 percent of the cocaine that entered the US. Last year, 2009, it was 95 percent, a top DEA intelligence official, told a congressional panel. Now, in 2010, Mexican Drug Cartel trafficking has increased to 96% according to acting administrator Ms. Michelle Leonhart in a circular sent to all border agencies in February, 2010.

Mexican gangs have also dominated the growing methamphetamine trade, producing 53 percent of the drugs on the market in “super-labs” in Mexico as the U.S. tightens its laws. Much of the rest is made in clandestine labs mostly in amnesty safe California, also run by Mexicans, according to U.S. officials. And as has been the case for nearly 100 years, Mexico is the biggest marijuana supplier to the United States and produces nearly half the heroin consumed north of the border, behind only Colombia.

The drug trade permeates life in Mexico. In Ciudad Miguel Aleman, drug traffickers boost the local economy and rule with a combination of fear and awe, threatening or bribing anyone who dares to try to stop them. In this city of 35,000 across from Roma, Texas, hit men are easily identified by their bulletproof pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. The traffickers have lookouts at every entrance to the city and informants on bicycles looking for anyone suspicious, townspeople say. They will photograph newcomers, including reporters, and question strangers. This can be further verified by the local National Guard Units that help patrol the border and by Department of Defense officials that are in observance. Quite often, these bullet proof pickup trucks and SUV’s, come across the border and are involved in shoot outs on the US side and it goes unreported….yes, that is UNREPORTED on a consistent basis. Again, it is not reported through heavy handed intimidation by the current administration. (Let me add a side note. It was also unreported in the Bush Administration as well but I have not seen written instructions from the Bush Administration as I have seen from the present administration.)

Armed gangs dressed in military uniforms often illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border, providing cover for the trafficking of drugs and illegal aliens into the United States. U.S. government officials and sheriffs from border areas told a Senate panel of U.S. lawmakers these intruders were becoming more sophisticated and ruthless, often clashed with U.S. Border Patrol agents and committed crimes in the United States.

We are indeed aware of criminal organizations that wear military-style uniforms, use military-style equipment and weapons and employ military-style vehicles and tactics while conducting illegal activity in border areas,” Border Patrol chief David Aguilar told a joint hearing of the Senate subcommittees on immigration and terrorism.

The Border Patrol has intercepted over 400,000 aliens trying to cross the border in the first two months of this year, compared to around 100,000 a month – 1.2 million — last year. About 120,000 or 10% of those caught had criminal records. That’s 40,000 with criminal records caught so far this year!!!!! How many have not been caught?

One other NON REPORTED ITEM that has happened from the Mexico side. Mexican President Felipe Calderon tacitly turned his head as Mexican prisons officials “released” over 52,000 known felons and drug traffickers, rapists, murderers, and a variety on the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California borders over a period of 6 months in 2008/2009. These “released” inmates were driven to remote areas outside of Piedras Negras, Ojinaga, Juarez, Monument 67, Nogales, and Tijuana, Mexico and told to not come back. They were given back packs of food, water, maps of sanctuary locations, and money. In January of 2010, three bodies, now identified as drug cartel members, were found in the Big Bend area of Southwest Texas. All three had walked off a cliff in the middle of the night trying to find their way through. All three had brand new Mountain West backpacks, three sets of clothes, 7 weapons (3 US, 2 Russian, and 2 Chinese origins), over $4,000 cash (collectively), maps of the region, and pick up points.

Terrorist Ties

It is common knowledge that Criminal Gangs and Al Qaeda are also merging along the Mexican Border

A Bangladeshi Muslim man named Fakhrul Islam was among a group of 13 illegal aliens arrested near Brownsville, Texas, just across the border from Mexico. Border Patrol agents have said that one of the men detained along with Islam was a member of Mara Salvatrucha, a violent Salvadoran criminal gang with more than 300,000 members across Central and North America, including powerful enterprises in several major U.S. cities. Adnan El-Shukrijumah, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda leader and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, was spotted in Honduras meeting with members of MS-13. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that El-Shukrijumah, who he has described as a ‘clear and present danger to America,’ is seeking ways to infiltrate the U.S. via the Mexican border, and is willing to pay top dollar in order to do so. Erik Holder, the current attorney General, disavows any knowledge of said meetings.

In the last 6 months, we have captured several immigrants that are linked to Muslim factions in Europe and South America. Everyone knows that our borders are porous and that it is easy to get into the United States and get on our welfare roles and actually get jobs often times in federally classified areas because of the lack of background security checks. In November of 2009, a security sweep of the Federal Border Patrol personnel in Laredo, Texas resulted in 23 firings of US Border Patrol agents that were NOT US Citizens and not on work visas or in the US legally. They were hired with fake birth certificates and social security numbers and the lack of background checks allowed them to work almost unrestricted. One of the “fired” agents was a three time convicted felon in the United States and released on treaty with Mexico only to have him come back and get hired.

Drug gangs could be acquiring weapons from contacts in drug rings operating on U.S. military bases near the border. Ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have made fighting drug use by soldiers a lower priority within the military. In addition, the constant flow of material back and forth between the U S and combat theaters has made it increasingly difficult to account for every piece of ordnance. With pressure to recruit more troops, standards have been lowered, which has opened the door to recruits with prior drug convictions. The Mexican gangs, then, could be involving in-house dealers in weapons-for-drugs schemes.

Laredo is increasingly becoming a sanctuary for members of Mexico’s various drug cartels. Nuevo Laredo drug gangs use Texas the same way the Taliban and al Qaeda use Pakistan: as a refuge from the fighting; a place where they- theoretically can rest, regroup and plan further operations. The gangs also use Laredo as a transshipment point for drugs going north and weapons coming south.

A new report is out that shows the costs imposed on Texas taxpayers by illegal aliens. The report was released by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The current estimates show there are 1.5 million illegal aliens in Texas. The costs, when broken down, come to a total of $725 a year per taxpaying household to cover the costs of education, health care and incarceration of illegal aliens throughout the state.

The more than $4.7 billion in costs incurred by Texas taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in Texas and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Texans spend more than $4 billion annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings. About 11.9 percent of the K-12 public school students in Texas are children of illegal aliens.

Health Care. Taxpayer-funded medical outlays for health care provided to the state’s illegal alien population amount to about $520 million a year.

Incarceration. The uncompensated cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Texas’s state and county prisons amounts to about $150 million a year (not including local jail detention costs or related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).

The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, welfare programs used by the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were also calculated.
Media Coverage

An award winning reporter has detailed an ongoing media blackout concerning a major issue of national security on the southern border.

Sara A. Carter, National Security and Pentagon reporter for the Washington Times, spoke to the Alex Jones show today regarding consistent incursions into the U.S. by armed Mexican troops aiding illegal smugglers.

Ms. Carter has won several national prestigious awards for her coverage of border issues north and south, including the 2006 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies.

There are a lot of people who don’t realize how serious the situation is on the southern border.” Ms. Carter said. “Even to the extent when sometimes some of our own government officials choose to ignore it, even though they know it’s going on.”

This is a very serious national security issue in many respects and it deals with an array from smuggling humans, to smuggling narcotics, and the whole mix up is that there’s many people within the Mexican government and military that have already been bought and sold out to the drug cartels.

“It’s very difficult to distinguish between those that are really trying to do the job, and those that are sell outs to the drug cartels. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, I’ve been down in many of the same border cities, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in Mexico working with intelligence officials and others, and I have many Mexican sources who had said ‘please get the truth out’.” Ms. Carter continued.

Ms. Carter pointed out that although such activity has been ongoing for years, there has essentially been a news blackout in America.

It is a huge story. It is bigger than most of us even know, and people are afraid of covering the story. We hear reports but we don’t see in depth detail.” Carter said.

Aside from Carter herself it has been left entirely to the alternative media to expose the reality of the situation on the border. The mainstream media cautiously began reporting on the issue two years ago when Sara Carter uncovered Department of Homeland Security documents and maps showing that Mexican military has crossed into the United States 216 times in the past nine years. In the documents U.S. officials claimed the incursions are being made to help foreign drug and human smugglers into the United States. Those of us that work the border know that this is a crock of 24 carat BS. The efforts at strengthening the border and the efforts at getting the word out are, once again, being completely stifled. Any United States Military officer risks his career when voicing his thoughts and letting out information that is not “cleared” through Erik Holder and the Justice Department……………in violation of military protocol and rules. There is no freedom of speech and there is no right for the public to know in the minds of our current administration.

Many incidents have seen Mexican troops fire on U.S. border agents and our rules of engagement do not allow us to fire back. (That is as the rules of engagement for FEDERAL troops.) The State National Guard is under the command of the Governor until activated by Federal Order. President Obama is not the Commander in Chief of National Guard units exercising under state authority. Texas is the ONLY independent National Guard Unit in the United States (meaning that it does not “round out” active duty units. It stands alone) and the Texas Governor does not give up jurisdiction. The rules of engagement are completely different for the Texas National Guard. The Governor has the right to declare a State Emergency and, hence, National Guard Units can defend themselves in open combat….even when fired upon by Mexican Military Units. The state of Texas now employs armed drones, infra red detection equipment, ground patrols (utilizing ranchers with night vision support), intelligence operatives in Mexico, and armored units allowed by private land owners to patrol the more rugged areas.

Human Trafficking

This is, by far, the most despicable event that is happening on the entire Mexican border, but the El Paso area is the roughest so far. Most people think of human trafficking in terms of “coyotes” infiltrating the United States with hordes of illegal immigrants. It used to be this way….not anymore. A seldom reported fact are the abductions for ransom, prostitution, drug running, and slave trade from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, and even the border areas on the United States side. The worst of the areas on our border is Juarez, across from El Paso. Known as the city of “Femicides”, from 2005 through 2009, it is estimated that over 5,000 female deaths (ages 12-22) have occurred. The latest find was on a ranch 12 kilometers outside of Juarez in Northern Chihuahua province, wherein one mass grave, 612 female bodies were discovered….tortured, burned, sexually abused, and dismembered. Average age…..16 years old.

It is common knowledge that families “sell” their off spring to human cartels for food money. Scores of children are abducted from immigrants traveling to the United States seeking work and hooking up with “coyotes” who, in turn sell them at the border. Open borders are an invitation to “take a chance” to travel to Norte America and play into the hands of the criminal element.

The latest personal observation was July, 2009 on a remote stretch of road outside of Del Rio, Texas. A refrigerated van was stopped at a remote unmarked check point. After a shoot out with the drive and its escorting vehicle, the 18 wheeler was transporting 32 young girls to Chicago, Illinois and New York City. Their ages ranged from 8 years to 16 years for use in prostitution and sweat shops. Despicable!!!! (For the record, the driver of the truck and the escort did not survive the gun fight).

Conclusion

Today, our great American nation is being invaded by millions of illegal immigrants who are fundamentally changing American society. Notably, a massive influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America is changing the face of the American Southwest. For some Mexicans, the motivations in this migration are pure – to secure a better life in a better place. However, not only is this illegal immigration illegal to begin with, it is also precipitating a host of problems for the United States of America. This influx is bankrupting state and local governments, hospitals, school districts, prisons, and social services across the Southwest. The influx is also fueling a wide range of criminal activities in the United States, from the simple, such as the hiring of illegal aliens by American companies, to the serious, such as drug running, human trafficking, organized criminal activity, gang activity, weapons violations, burglaries, auto thefts, etc., etc. In addition, terrorists from overseas nations are gaining entry to the United States through our porous borders.

“William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, states that this is “the end of America as we know it. At least 10 million illegal immigrants are in the U.S. now, and that’ll double in five years.” (Dallas Morning News, Rancher in border case backs Minuteman, 04/03/2005) FOXNews.com reports that “public health care in Los Angeles is on life support, where sixty percent of the county’s uninsured patients are not U.S. citizens. More than half are here illegally. About 2 million undocumented aliens in Los Angeles County alone are crowding emergency rooms because they can’t afford to see a doctor.” (L.A. Emergency Rooms Full of Illegal Immigrants, 03/17/2005). The National Research Council estimates that the net fiscal cost of immigration ranges from $11 billion to $22 billion per year, with state and local governments bearing most of the costs. California’s tab is estimated at $3 billion alone. Richard D. Lamm, former governor of Colorado, writes in the Denver Post that “illegal immigration today isn’t cheap labor, except to the employer. The average family of illegal immigrants has two to four school-age kids. It costs U.S. taxpayers more than $7,000 a child just to educate them in our public schools.” (There’s nothing cheap about immigrant labor, 04/03/05) In the end, the American taxpayer pays many times the amount the cheap hourly wage was worth to a vagabond American company.”

But one has to figure that these costs are just a drop in the bucket. The Arizona Automobile Theft Authority for example reports that there were 56,222 stolen vehicles in Arizona in 2003. These thefts in many cases are tied to a host of other problems, including smuggling, illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, burglaries, fraud, and drive-by shootings. The costs to these associated problems are immeasurable, both in dollar amounts (auto insurance, law enforcement costs, etc.) and in terms of general personal security.

In Dallas, Texas, we are witness firsthand to some of the problems associated with illegal immigration. Business owners in predominantly Hispanic areas are scared for their safety. Recently, a member of a family that owns several local restaurants was kidnapped in broad daylight, held for ransom, and then killed. The perpetrator fled back to Mexico. Mexican graffiti covers everything from houses and fences to businesses and highway signs. The City of Dallas, at great costs – up to $2,000 per sign, is currently either cleaning or replacing graffiti-marred highway signs across the area. One bridge overpass colorfully says it all: “Welcome to the Barrio, Bitches.” For Dallas Public Schools, Spanish proficiency for teachers is almost mandatory in many sections of the city. The enormous cultural and budgetary problems associated with educating children of illegal aliens denigrate the education of our American children.

Fed up by the deluge of trespassers and the lack of attention by the U.S. Government, ordinary Americans are now fighting back. A host of organizations, some listed on this page, are sprouting to deliver information about this travesty. Other organizations, such as Ranch Rescue, and the Minuteman Project, are taking a more proactive approach such as patrolling ranches and borders.

As wide-ranging as the problem of illegal immigration is, the solutions are simple.

First, we as Americans have to make it where it is not worth coming to America. We can do this by legally requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency for jobs, education and benefits. Unable to obtain jobs and services in America, many if not most immigrants would stay at home. As part of this effort, penalties would be more severe for American companies and organizations that knowingly provide jobs and services to illegal immigrants. In a way, providing jobs to illegal immigrants is treasonous.

Second, America needs a comprehensive guest worker program. This program would be funded primarily by Mexicans wishing to work in America and by American companies who can prove they need foreign workers because American workers are not available. In such a program, Mexicans (or American companies) would pay a processing fee to the federal government, instead of a smuggling fee to the Coyotes (human smugglers).

Third, America needs to physically secure its borders. We must get the Southwest region of the United States under control. Either we need a beefed-up Border Patrol, or we need the military to patrol the border in sufficient numbers, or both.

And fourth, eliminate the automatic United States Citizenry to children of undocumented and illegal immigrants,

The time to act is now. Each day, 5,000 to 10,000 new illegal immigrants enter the United States along the Mexican border. Each day, the costs associated with this influx escalate.

Lastly, do not play the race card on this one. It matters not what nationality these illegal immigrants are….it only matters that they are here in violation of our laws. There is no “natural right” or no “natural law” that justifies such illegal activity.

http://standupforamerica.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/guest-commentary-open-border-with-mexico/