The banning of catastrophic-only plans infuriates me the most. Those are the only plans that are actually financially sensible for a healthy individual to purchase. Everything else on the market is a perverse by-product of the employer-based insurance system.
Worst case scenario with a catastrophic-only plan is you end up with $10,000 in debt. That’s a debt load many times smaller than what the Federal government thinks students should take out to get a college degree. We’ll let you borrow $100,000 to get a sociology degree but, we think that $10,000 is an unconscionable amount to pay for medical expenses? So unconscionable that we have to FORCE YOU to buy a plan with more extensive coverage?
Of course, we all know the real reason for this. it’s meant to force healthy young people to subsidize healthcare for older sicker people. Just force them to pay more for insurance than they ought to, and force them to buy more extensive coverage than is rational.
Posts tagged ‘college’
My son's team the Lord Jeffs (simultaneously the worst and most awesome team name in college sports) made the NCAA baseball playoffs this year. Don't have a team to root for? Why not choose the one named after an early advocate of biological warfare against Native Americans?
You would have to be a Coyote Blog old-timer to remember back in January of 2007 when I asked
Is there any state where a college men's football or basketball coach is not the highest paid state official?
Robert Fischer-Baum, via Ilya Somin, has the answer. In forty states, the highest paid state employee is a university football or basketball coach. In all fifty states, the highest paid public employee works for a state university. Which brings us back to my post earlier today. Government student loans are to university payrolls as quantitative easing is to stock prices.
Via the WSJ, President Obama is proposing debt forgiveness for student borrowers
The White House proposes that the government forgive billions of dollars in student debt over the next decade, a plan that cheers student advocates, but critics say it would expand a program that already encourages students to borrow too much and stick taxpayers with the bill.
The proposal, included in President Barack Obama's budget for next year, would increase the number of borrowers eligible for a program known casually as income-based repayment, which aims to help low-income workers stay current on federal student debt.
Borrowers in the program make monthly payments equivalent to 10% of their income after taxes and basic living expenses, regardless of how much they owe. After 20 years of on-time payments—10 years for those who work in public or nonprofit jobs—the balance is forgiven.
Already, it's pretty clear that many students pay little attention to size of the debt they run up. Easy loans for students have essentially made them less price sensitive, however irrational this may seem (did you make good short - long term trade-offs at the age of 18?) As a result, tuition has soared, much like home prices did as a result of easy mortgage credit a decade ago. The irony is that easier student debt is not increasing access to college for the average kid (since tuition is essentially staying abreast of increases in debt availability), but is shifting student's future dollars to university endowments and bloated administrations. Take any industry that has in the past been accused of preying on the financially unsophisticated by driving them into debt for profit, and universities are fifty times worse.
So of course, the Progressives in the White House and Congress (unsurprisingly Elizabeth Warren has a debt subsidy plan as well) are set to further enable this predatory behavior by universities. By effectively capping most students' future financial obligations from student debt, this plan would remove the last vestiges of price sensitivity from the college tuition market. Colleges can now raise tuition to infinity, knowing that the bulk of it will get paid by the taxpayer some time in the future. Just as the college price bubble looks ready to burst, this is the one thing that could re-inflate it.
Postscript: By the way, let's look at the numbers. Let's suppose Mary went to a top college and ran up $225,000 in debt. She went to work for the government, averaging $50,000 a year (much of her compensation in government is in various benefits that don't count in this calculation). She has to live in DC, so that's expensive, and pay taxes. Let's say that she has numbers to prove she only has $20,000 left after essential living expenses. 10% of that for 10 years is $20,000 (or about $13,500 present value at 8%). So Mary pays less than $20,000 for her education, and the taxpayer pays $205,000. The university makes a handsome profit - in fact they might have given her financial aid or a lower tuition, but why bother? Mary doesn't care what her tuition is any more, because she is capped at around $20,000. The taxpayer is paying the rest and is not involved in the least in choosing the university or setting prices, so why not charge the taxpayer as much as they can?
Postscript #2: It is hard to figure out exactly what Elizabeth Warren is proposing, as most of her proposal is worded so as to take a potshot at banks rather than actually lay out a student loan plan. But it appears that she wants to reduce student loan interest rates for one year. If so, how is this different from teaser rates on credit cards, where folks -- like Elizabeth Warren -- accuse credit card companies of tricking borrowers into debt with low initial, temporary rates. I find it a simply astounding sign of the bizarre times we live in that a leading anti-bank progressive is working on legislative strategies to get 18-year-olds further into debt.
Some professors are arguing about online education. I will not comment on that particular topic right now, though it sounds a bit like two apatosauruses arguing about whether they should be worried about the comet they just saw.
I did, however, want to comment on this, from an SJSU professor to a Harvard professor, I assume pushing back on online course work designed by Harvard. Emphasis added.
what kind of message are we sending our students if we tell them that they should best learn what justice is by listening to the reflections of the largely white student population from a privileged institution like Harvard? Our very diverse students gain far more when their own experience is central to the course and when they are learning from our own very diverse faculty, who bring their varied perspectives to the content of courses that bear on social justice…
having our students read a variety of texts, perhaps including your own, is far superior to having them listen to your lectures. This is especially important for a digital generation that reads far too little. If we can do something as educators we would like to increase literacy, not decrease it…the thought of the exact same social justice course being taught in various philosophy departments across the country is downright scary — something out of a dystopian novel…
I would have said that teaching social justice at all and requiring students to take it at many universities was something out of a dystopian novel. In fact, the whole concept of social justice, wherein it is justified that certain groups can use the coercive force of government to get whatever they may fancy merely by declaring that there is a right to it (e.g. health care), actually underlies a number of dystopian novels.
Postscript #1: If find it hilarious that the SJSU rejects Harvard-created course materials because they are the product of white privilege. I cannot speak to Harvard undergrad, but my son is at Amherst which could certainly be lumped into the same category (any college named after an early proponent of biological warfare against Native Americans has to be up there in the white privilege category). My son actually gave up his earlier plan to study history when he looked at the course catalog. It was impossible to simply study, say, the political and economic history of Western Europe. All the courses are such things as "the role of women in the development of Paraguayan aboriginal rights."
Postscript #2: I don't have the larger context for this letter but it strikes me the professor is stuck in the typical leftist technocratic top-down and centralized single mandated approach to anything. Why is it that online courses would end up with no viewpoint or content competition? The Internet has increased the access of most people to a diversity of ideas that go beyond what they got in the morning fish-wrap and from Uncle Walter on TV. Why would it have the opposite effect in education? Or perhaps that is what the professor is worried about, a loss of control of the education message by the current academic elite, to be feared in the same way the Left hates Fox News.
Rick Perry has an interesting post on a Texas proposal to require that college transcripts show, along with the student's grade in each class, the average grade in the class.
I think this is an excellent idea -- simple and effective -- though I am not big on a state mandate on private institutions but this is totally reasonable for public institutions and would likely force private colleges to follow suit voluntarily.
To the extent that colleges squeal about this, it will be entirely hypocritical. Why? Because colleges will not seriously consider the grades on a high school transcript in their admission process without a guide from the school listing such things as average grades. Colleges demand exactly this type of benchmark for grades, without which a transcript would be almost meaningless. They should not balk at providing the same.
A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5 million in a lawsuit originally brought against helmet maker Riddell and several high school administrators and football coaches over brain injuries suffered by a teenager in 2008.” While the jury rejected the plaintiff’s claim of design defect, it accepted the theory that the helmet maker should have done more to warn of concussions.
If the helmet makers are getting nailed, wait until every high school and college in the country is sued, not to mention the massive suit looming against the NFL. Expect to see a debate soon, beginning in state legislatures, over tort protection for football. Texas, for example, has several of the country's tort hellholes but if Friday night high school football is threatened, you can bet that the legislature will be moved to action.
I am happy to see the public school system coming in for much-deserved criticism. I don't have anything to add to this article that I have not already said about schools many times. But I want to make one complaint about a chart used in the blog post:
SAT scores are a terrible metric for measuring academic performance over time.
First, I am not at all convinced that the test scoring does not shift over time (no WAY my son had a higher score than me, LOL).
But perhaps the most important problem is that all students don't take the SAT -- it is a choice. Shifts in the mix of kids taking the test -- for example, if over time more kids get interested in college so that more marginal academic kids take the test -- then the scores are going to move solely based on mix shifts. Making this more complicated, there is at least one competitive test (the ACT) which enjoys more popularity in some states than others, so the SAT will represent an incomplete and shifting geographic mix of the US. Finally, as students have gotten smarter about this whole process**, they gravitate to the ACT or the SAT based on differing capabilities, since they test in different ways.
To me, all this makes SAT scores barely more scientific than an Internet poll.
** If you have not had a college-bound student recently, you will have to trust me on this, but parents can spend an astounding amount of time trying to out-think this stuff. And that is here in flyover country. Apparently private school parents on the East Coast can be absurd (up to and including hiring consultants for 6 figures). A few years ago it was in vogue to try to find your kid a unique avocation. Violin was passe -- I knew kids playing xylophone and the bagpipes. A friend of mine at a high profile DC private school used to have fun with other parents telling them his son was a national champion at falconry, the craziest thing he could make up on the spur of the moment at a cocktail party. Other parents would sigh enviously, wishing they had thought of that one for their kid.
I have written before about how much I enjoy the physical board game Twilight Struggle. This is not really going out on a limb, since it has occupied the #1 spot at BoardGameGeek for a while. But over the last 3 months my son and I became totally addicted. He is at college, but we played online via the terrific Twilight Struggle add-on in the VASSAL gaming engine (all free). Very highly recommended.
I couldn't resist clicking through to this article supposedly laying out a "trend" that increasing numbers of women were finding "sugar daddies" to pay for college. I was considering an article calling BS on the whole trend when my attention was diverted. I found the best single-statement illustration of the attitude that is bankrupting this nation. First, the basic story:
Nearly 300 NYU co-eds joined the site’s service last year seeking a “mutually beneficial” arrangement with rich older men — a 154 percent jump over 2011.
It was the second-highest number of new members for any college in the country.
Hundreds more young women from Columbia, Cornell and Syracuse universities also have recently signed up for the service, the site said.“I’ll admit that I’ve thought about doing something like that,” said a Columbia junior who gave only her first name, Karen.
“It would be easier in some ways than working, taking classes and then spending years paying back loans.”
The writer is obviously trying to get me to be outraged, but all I can do is shrug. There are a lot of worse things in the world to worry about than people entering into "mutually beneficial relationships." But this is the line that stopped me short:
“Clearly, we need more financial aid if those are the lengths people are going to pay for school,” sniffed Ashley Thaxton, 20, an NYU theater major.
God, is there ever going to be a non-problem that doesn't require more government spending. How about lowering tuition? Cutting back on bloated administrative staffs? Eliminating useless academic departments? Channeling less money to the football team? Or how about we just accept that some people make personal choices that might be distasteful to us, but are really their own god damned business.
Of late I have been seeing a lot of examples of people trying to claim that complex, even chaotic multi-variable systems are in fact driven by a single variable. Whether it be CO2 in climate or government spending in Keynesian views of the economy, this over-simplification seems to be a hubris that is increasingly popular.
The worst example I believe I have ever seen of this was in the editorial page today in the Arizona Republic. Titled Arizona vs. Massachusetts, this article purports to blame everything from Arizona's higher number of drunk driving accidents to its higher number of rapes on ... the fact that Arizona has lower taxes. I kid you not:
In the absence of discernible benefits, higher taxes are indeed a negative. We would all like to keep more of what we earn. That is, if there are not other negative consequences. So, it is reasonable to ask: What do Massachusetts citizens get for these increased public expenditures? A wide range of measures from widely disparate sources provide insight into the hidden costs of a single-minded obsession with lower taxes at all costs.
The results of such an investigation are revealing: Overall, Massachusetts residents earn significantly higher salaries and are less likely to be unemployed than those who live in Arizona. Their homes are less likely to be foreclosed on. Their residents are healthier and are better educated, have a lower risk of being murdered, getting killed in a car accident or getting shot by a firearm than are Arizonans. Perhaps these factors explain the lower suicide rate in Massachusetts than in Arizona as well as the longer life spans.
None of this supposed causation is based on the smallest scrap of evidence, other than the spurious correlation that Arizona has lower taxes at the same time it has more of the bad things the authors don't like. The authors do not even attempt to explain why, out of the thousands of variables that might have an impact on these disparities, that taxation levels are the key driver, or are even relevant.
Perhaps most importantly, the authors somehow fail to even mention the word demographics. Now, readers know that I am not very happy with Arizona Conservatives that lament the loss here of the Anglo-Saxon mono-culture. I think immigration is healthy, and find some of the unique cultures in the state, such as on the large tribal reservations, to make the state more interesting.
However, it is undeniable that these demographic differences create wildly different cultures between Arizona and Massachusetts, and that these differences have an enormous impact on the outcomes the authors describe. For example, given the large number of new immigrants in this state, many of whom come here poor and unable to speak English, one would expect our state to lag in economic averages and education outcomes when compared to a state populated by daughters of the revolution and the kids of college professors (see immigration data at end of post). This is made worse by the fact that idiotic US immigration law forces many of these immigrants underground, as it is far harder to earn a good income, get an education, or have access to health care when one does not have legal status. (This is indeed one area AZ is demonstrably worse than MA, with our Joe-Arpaio-type fixation on harassing illegal immigrants).
By the way, it turns out Arizona actually does pretty well with Hispanic students vs. Massachusetts -- our high school graduation rate for Hispanics is actually 10 points higher than in MA (our graduation rate for blacks is higher too). But since both numbers are so far below white students, the heavy mix of Hispanic students brings down Arizona's total average vs. MA. If you don't understand this issue of how one state can do better than another on many demographic categories but still do worse on average because of a more difficult demographic mix, then you shouldn't be writing on this topic.
Further, the large swaths of this state that are part of various Indian nations complicate the picture. AZ has by far the largest area under the management of tribal nations in the country -- in fact, almost half the tribal land in the country is in this one state. These tribal areas typically add a lot of poverty, poor education outcomes, and health issues to the Arizona numbers. Further, they are plagued with a number of tragic social problems, including alcoholism (with resulting high levels of traffic fatalities) and suicide. But its unclear how much these are a result of Arizona state policy. These tribal governments are their own nations with their own laws and social welfare systems, and in general fall under the purview of Federal rather than state authority. The very real issues faced by their populations have a lot of historical causes that have exactly nothing to do with current AZ state tax policy.
The article engages in a popular sort of pseudo-science. It drops in a lot of numbers, leaving the impression that the authors have done careful research. In fact, I count over 50 numbers in the short piece. The point is to dazzle the typical cognitively-challenged reader into thinking the piece is very scientific, so that its conclusions must be accepted. But when one shakes off the awe over the statistical density, one realizes that not one of the numbers are relevant to their hypothesis: that the way Arizona runs its government is the driver of these outcome differences.
It's really not even worth going through the rest of this article in detail. You know the authors are not even trying to be fair when they introduce things like foreclosure rates, which have about zero correlation with taxes or red/blue state models. I lament all the negative statistics the authors cite, but it is simply insane to somehow equate these differences with the size and intrusiveness of the state. Certainly I aspire to more intelligent government out of my state, which at times is plagued by yahoos focusing on silly social conservative bugaboos. I am open to learning from the laboratory of 50 states we have, and hope, for example, that Arizona will start addressing its incarceration problem by decriminalizing drugs as has begun in other states.
The authors did convince me of one thing -- our state university system cannot be very good if it hires professors with this sort of analytical sloppiness. Which is why I am glad I sent my son to college in Massachusetts.
PS- If the authors really wanted an apples to apples comparison that at least tried to find states somewhat more demographically similar to Arizona, they could have tried comparing AZ to California and Texas. I would love for them to explain how well the blue state tax heavy model is working in CA. After all, they tax even more than MA, so things must be even better there, right? I do think that other states like Texas are better at implementing aspects of the red-state model and do better with education for example. You won't get any argument from me that the public schools here are not great (though I work with several Charter schools which are fabulous). For some reason, people in AZ, including upper middle class white families, are less passionate on average about education than folks in other states I have lived. I am not sure why, but this cultural element is not necessarily fixable by higher taxes.
Update- MA supporters will argue, correctly, that they get a lot of immigration as well. In fact, numerically, they get about the same number of immigrants as AZ. But the nature of this immigration is totally different. MA gets legal immigrants who are highly educated and who come over on corporate or university-sponsored visa programs. Arizona gets a large number of illegal immigrants who get across the border with a suitcase and no English skills. The per-person median household income for MA immigrants in 2010 was $16,682 (source). The per-person median household income for AZ immigrants was $9,716. 35.3% of AZ immigrants did not finish high school, while only 15.4% of MA immigrants have less than a high school degree. 48% of AZ immigrants are estimated to be illegal, while only 19% of those in MA are illegal. 11% of Arizonans self-report that they speak English not at all, vs. just 6.7% for MA (source).
One of the charities my family supports is Teach for America. Among other things, we sponsor a local teacher in the program. A bunch of our friends were kind enough to chip in with gifts for the kids in her class and my wife and I delivered them last week at the Phoenix Collegiate Academy, a charter school in South Phoenix for 5-8 graders.
The fun of delivering the presents was reduced later on finding out that at almost that same moment, another group of kids was being killed in Connecticut. But through a strange series of articles that seemed to have used the Sandy Hook massacre as an argument for teacher unionization and against charter schools (yeah, I don't get the connection either), I found out that teachers unions hate Teach for America. Which means that I will likely double my contribution next year.
Postscript: Teach for America began as a senior thesis at Princeton. Its key idea is to make teaching a viable job option, as least for a few years, for top college grads. The program is quite selective, and combines talented highly motivated young people with a proven teaching approach. They then drop these teachers into the public school system, often in classrooms with a high percentage of kids who qualify for school lunch programs (ie low income).
It's clear from the article that teachers union and education establishment types hate these teachers. Since they make a contrast by calling themselves "professionals", the presumed implication is that these young people are unprofessional. Its amazing to me that anyone who has spent even ten minutes in a room with a group of TFA teachers could be so hostile to them. I have met many of them, and they are a consistently amazing bunch who are both smart and genuinely love their kids.
I was skeptical, and still am a bit, of the notion of throwing great teachers into a failing public school system. They clearly help individual kids, which is why I am still behind it, but they do nothing to help the overall system. It's like sending great engineers into Solyndra -- at some level, it seems like a waste (though I am impressed with this particular charter school, which seems to be doing a good job with the limited resources it has -- it gets far less money per pupil than the average public school in Phoenix but does a better job given the demographic of its students).
I will quote from Don Boudreaux (who was in turn commenting on his own quote of the day, which happened to be from Brink Lindsey, my old college roommate).
In other words, very many people – nearly everyone on the political left, yet plenty also on the political right – remain creationists. They continue to fail to grasp the nuances, deep meaning, and full implications of the science of spontaneous order that first flowered among scholars in 18th-century Scotland.
Once upon a time, government officials decided it would help them keep their jobs if they could claim they had expanded the middle class. Unfortunately, none of them really understood economics or even the historical factors that led to the emergence of the middle class in the first place. But they did know two things: Middle class people tended to own their own homes, and they sent their kids to college.
So in true cargo cult fashion, they decided to increase the middle class by promoting these markers of being middle class. They threw the Federal government strongly behind promoting home ownership and college education. A large part of this effort entailed offering easy debt financing for housing and education. Because the whole point was to add poorer people to the middle class, their was a strong push to strip away traditional underwriting criteria for these loans (e.g. down payments, credit history, actual income to pay debt, etc.)
We know what happened in the housing market. The government promoted home ownership with easy loans, and made these loans a favorite investment by giving them a preferential treatment in the capital requirements for banks. And then the bubble burst, with the government taking the blame for the bubble. Just kidding, the government blamed private lenders for their lax underwriting standards, conviniently forgetting that every President since Reagan had encouraged such laxity (they called it something else, like "giving access to the poor", but it means the same thing).
A similar bubble is just about to burst in the college loan market, and this time it will be much harder for the government to blame private lenders, since the government effectively nationalized the market several years ago and for years has been the source of at least 90% of all college loans. In the Wall Street Journal today, it was reported that student loans are now the largest component of consumer debt, and growing
Further, a Fed report yesterday said that student loan diliquencies have jumped substantially of late
The scary part was found by Zero Hedge in the footnotes of the report, which admit that this number is understated by as much as half, meaning the true delinquency rate of student debt may be north of 20%.
The Journal article linked above explains why this is:
Nearly all student loans—93% of them last year—are made directly by the government, which asks little or nothing about borrowers' ability to repay, or about what sort of education they intend to pursue.
President Barack Obama championed easy-to-get loans during the campaign, calling higher education "an economic imperative in the 21st century." A spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the goal is "to make student loans available to as many people as possible," and requiring minimum credit scores would block many Americans
Any of this sound familiar? I seldom learn much from anecdotes in new stories since it is too easy to craft a stirring anecdote on either side of just about any issue. But I was amazed at the story of the woman who was issued $184,500 in student debt to send her son to college when her entire income is a $1600 a month disability check.
I always suspected government jobs programs and job training programs were a waste of time. I never imagined they were total vaporware:
"There are no jobs!" That is what people told me outside a government "jobs center" in New York City.
To check this out, I sent four researchers around the area. They quickly found 40job openings. Twenty-four were entry-level positions. One restaurant owner told me he would hire 12 people if workers would just apply.
It made me wonder what my government does in buildings called "job centers." So I asked a college intern, Zoelle Mallenbaum, to find out. Here's what she found:
"First I went to the Manhattan Jobs Center and asked, "Can I get help finding a job?" They told me they don't do that. 'We sign people up for food stamps.' I tried another jobs center. They told me to enroll for unemployment benefits."
So the "jobs" centers help people get handouts. Neither center suggested people try the 40 job openings in the neighborhood.
From John Stossel, who has a lot more at the source link.
Apparently the co-owner of the Miami Heat Ranaan Katz does not like to be criticized by the plebes. So like many rich guys nowadays, he sued a blogger who he felt was saying hurtful things about him, because as we all know the First Amendment has a built in exception for college students and billionaires who have a right not to be offended by other peoples' speech. So far, this is just the usual SLAPP nuttiness, up to and including a rallying of support by attorneys willing to help out pro bono. This latter can usually solve the problem, as these suits gain their strength not from any legal merit but from the ability to intimidate ordinary people unfamiliar with the legal system and without the resources to hire top attorneys to defend themselves.
But, as with the case of serial moron Charles Carreon, Katz and his attorneys then proceeded to drive right over the cliff. Because they then sued the attorney's representing the blogger on the brilliant theory that by providing legal advice to the blogger, the attorneys made themselves parties to the bloggers "crimes." Seriously. By which theory Jerry Sandusky's attorneys will soon be serving time for child abuse.
I suppose it is time again to remind folks about my comment moderation policy, which is: I don't moderate. I certainly strongly request that commenters remain civil, reasonable, and respectful. But, the combination of being lazy and not easily offended cause me to almost never moderate on content, except to eliminate obvious spam.
Readers should remember that the existence of comments from morons does not mean that I in any way endorse them - I simply have no desire, paraphrasing Napoleon, to interrupt a moron when he is proving himself to be such. I have never fully understood folks deleting comments of foul-mouthed idiots who disagree with them in spectacularly stupid ways -- aren't you just helping your opposition? The only folks I am ever tempted to moderate are those who agree with me, and do it poorly. Back in college, I used to much prefer a group argument when I was the only person on my side, as I always found that people who leaped to my defense did more rhetorical harm than good.
I will admit, I can get angry, especially when I believe someone has done me wrong. But over time, I have learned to distrust this anger. About twenty of twenty of the actions that I have most regretted in life or that have backfired on me have been undertaken during such periods of anger -- from yelling at innocent airline employees to writing scathing business letters that only make a situation worse. I have learned to impose on myself a sort of count-to-ten rule, where if I am really ticked off about something, I force myself to wait 24 hours before I respond. It works for me.
Attorney Charles Carreon needs to figure out a parallel strategy, or else he needs a business partner or family member who can perform an intervention for him. Because last week, he totally lost it.
As you might remember from our last episode, Carreon was representing a web site called Funnyjunk where people post content strip-mined from other sites. One of those sites, the Oatmeal, got mad about their cartoons ending up on this site without compensation, and called them out online. No lawsuit, nothing unnatural, just good old American criticism.
I don't know enough about copyright law to know if Funnyjunk was in the right or wrong. The Oatmeal could have tied it up anyway in copyright suits, but chose not to. So of course Funnyjunk responded in asymmetric fashi0n by hiring Carreon to threaten the Oatmeal with a $20,000 lawsuit. Apparently they were really sad and hurt by the Oatmeal's criticism, and argued that the Oatmeal abused their copyrighted name by using it online in the criticism (a hilarious charge given how the whole thing started). By the way, in case anyone is confused about this, though this approach is tried constantly, courts have routinely held that there is no such copyright that bars someone from criticism or comment using one's name.
At this point, this all constituted irritating but fairly normal (unfortunately) behavior of people and lawyers online who don't really understand the First Amendment.
On Friday, he apparently sued not only the Oatmeal (for criticizing him online, causing other people to hate him, and for violating his copyright in his own name) but also, get ready for this, the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. Why? Because when the Oatmeal first got Carreon's demand letter, its proprietor said he would raise $20,000 for charity instead, and send Funnyjunk a picture of the money. To date, nearly $200,000 has been raised for the two charities by Oatmeal fans who wanted to show their support.
Apparently, according to Carreon's suit (I still can't believe he actually filed this), the money that was raised for these charities was tainted because it was raised in the name of making him look like a doofus. Which, by the way, is exactly right. I am not a huge fan of either charity (they use too much money in both cases for political activism rather than solving problems), but I gave $100 just to help hammer home the point that Charles Carreon is an idiot.
Perhaps this guy has no friends. But if he does, one of them needs to be grabbing his collar and shoving him up against the wall and explaining in one syllable words how suing two prominent charities is NOT a path to success in the war to reclaim his reputation. The guy basically kneecapped himself with his opening shot. He will soon learn that while it may be increasingly against the law on college campuses to hurt someone's feelings with your speech, it is not illegal in the rest of America. And he will also soon learn all about California's tough anti-SLAPP law, as he finds himself headed to Bank of America to take out a second mortgage on his home so he can pay the legal bills of those he has sued with the intent to suppress their speech.
Update: Mr. Carreon, welcome to the Streisand effect. Last Thursday, none of his first page Google results mentioned this incident. Today, there are five.
Update #2: Mr. Carreon claims his web site has been hacked. Maybe. But I will observe that for the web NOOB, "buying the cheapest Godaddy hosting account that is fine for my normal 12 visitors but crashes when I get 50,000 hits in an hour from Reddit" and "hacking" often look the same.
Update #3 and irony alert: If you want to see something odd, check out the web site he and his wife run. The site is full of very raw critiques that would easily land a desk full of lawsuits in the Carreon mailbox if the legal system routinely accepted the type of censorious lawsuits he himself is attempting to initiate. If he takes the linked site down, the screenshot is here. As an aside, I am constantly amazed at how liberals, including those who claim to be feminists, seem so obsessed with the sexuality of Conservative women and couch so much of their criticism in terms up to and including rape images (particularly oral sex).
The trade group that represents companies like mine that privately operate public parks is looking for a college student to work part-time for us, either this summer or into the fall. The ideal committment is 20 hours a week for 6-10 weeks but we could accommodate fewer hours for a longer span of time. We are willing to pay in the ballpark of $13 an hour plus expenses (phone and Internet bills, etc). We anticipate the candidate would work from his or her own home (or dorm) and already has access to a computer and Internet connection as well as a word processing software of some sort.
Job responsibilities would include:
- Working with our members to accumulate and organize our intellectual property vis a vis this business. This includes marketing material, regulatory and statutory information, how-to guides, etc.
- Working with our partner agencies, like the US Forest Service, to get statistics on our members' scope (e.g. we don't even know how many US Forest Service parks are run privately) and to synthesize these into marketing materials
The candidate need not have any specific knowledge of our business, and we have experts in the organization that can supply contacts and information. Being an all-volunteer organization, we need someone with the time and the focus to gather and organize the information we have. The candidate will have direct contact with the CEO's of most of the key players in this industry as well as with senior staff officers of a number of public recreation and lands agencies. We want someone who is bright and unafraid to approach, even pester, strangers for information. Quantitative skills and/or economics or business-related studies are a plus but are not required. Experience with web tools such as content management systems like WordPress also a plus.
If someone is interested, have them email me at warren -at- camprrm *dot* com or hit the email link above.
Apparently the news of the week is that the letter grade "A" is now the most common. Mark Perry has more on college grade inflation.
I am actually a fan of the grading system at Harvard Business School when I was there. 15% of the students in each course get the top grade (category I) -- no more, no less. 10% get the bottom grade (category III) -- again by rule, no more and no less. All the rest are in the middle. It effectively acknowledges that for most folks, the point is to demonstrate you have satisfactorily learned the course material, while still allowing folks to distinguish themselves on both ends. Budding young executives who complain that it is unfair to automatically "fail" the bottom 10% of each course are reminded that this is exactly how many Fortune 500 companies run their HR systems, seeking to constantly weed out the bottom 10%.
Update: The argument usually is that students need high grades to compete with other kids from grade-inflated schools in the marketplace. I just don't think this is true. Colleges themselves deal with this all the time in admissions. When they get a high school transcript, attached to that transcript is a fact sheet about the high school that gives its distribution of grades. That way the recipient can discount the GPA as appropriate. Every company doing hiring should demand the same of colleges.
Here is a personal anecdote. My son Nic's school grades hard. Something like 2 kids over the last 2 decades have graduated with a 4.0. One could argue my son's grades could have been higher at another school, but knowledgeable consumers of high school GPA's know how our school works and we have never felt he somehow was at a loss due to the school's grading policies (but Oh God can type A parents fret about this incessantly among themselves). [edit: took out brag about my son. Nothing more boring than other people bragging on their kids.]
Back in August, when I wrote the first section of this guide, I was sitting in Long Island at a baseball recruiting camp. Now that my son has completed the process, I want to share the rest of our experience for others who, like myself, have an athletic kid but no idea how the college sports recruiting process works.
Some reminders. First, this is baseball-specific -- other sports work differently, I presume. Second, this is the experience of a kid with good baseball skills but not good enough to have been scouted by a Division I baseball power like Texas or Arizona State. Third, my son was not looking for scholarship money. He was looking to play baseball in college, and to parlay his baseball talent into admission in a top academic school. We were looking at division III (DIII from now on) schools like Williams, Amherst, Haverford, Pomona and a few DI Ivies. Finally, our experience is heavily colored by the fact that he plays for one of the smallest high schools in the state, so getting attention and recruiting advice was much harder than if he had played for a baseball powerhouse.
Here were some of the lessons from our first episode:
- The DIII baseball recruiting process does not really even begin until the summer between Junior and Senior year. My son landed a good spot without a single coach even knowing he existed as of June 1 before his Senior year of high school. As late as January of his senior year he was still getting emails from coaches asking him if he might be interested in their school.
- In baseball, coaches mostly ignore high school stats and records unless it is a school with which they are very familiar. They use their eyes to pick talent - ie from video or watching kids play at recruiting camps (more on the video and camps in our first episode)
- As we will see in a minute, only about three things my son did in recruiting really mattered -- see the first episode for more detail on what we did
- He proactively contacted coaches to tell them he was interested
- He sent coaches a 5-10 minute video of himself pitching and hitting. We made it from game film but I think most of the videos are just taken in a cage (you can see a bunch of these on YouTube, or email me and I will give you a link to ours)
- He went to several camps, which fell into two categories: School camps, at schools he was really interested in; and multi-school camps run by third parties. Of the latter, I am convinced the Headfirst Honor Roll camps are the best if you are interested in DIII or DI "smart schools" (e.g. Ivies, Duke, UVA, Stanford).
OK, so we left off with my son at a two-day baseball camp. My son sent out emails afterwards to the coaches that were at the camp and from schools in which he was interested. Basically he said "nice to have met you, still really interested in your school; now that you have seen me, I'd like to know what you think." He had a few good conversations with coaches at the camp, but after that we really did not hear much until after Labor Day. In retrospect, this delay is probably because the coaches have lots of camps and they want to synthesize their prospect list after all the camps before talking in earnest with players.
We really did not know what to expect. Would coaches call, and if they did, what were the next steps? It was only later that we learned what outcome we should be hoping to hear: Basically, each coach is given some spots by the admissions office (the average seems to be 5 for the baseball guys). If your kid can make that list, then two good things happen: a) it means the coach wants the kid on the team. And b) it generally means the kid will get a good shove to help him through the admissions process, not an inconsequential thing at a school like Princeton or Amherst.
Here is what happened next. This was just our experience, but since it was repeated at five or six schools, almost identically, its a good bet this is a fairly standard process at colleges with high admission requirements:
- The coach asks my son to send his transcript and SAT scores early to the Admissions office.
- The Admissions office vets these, and gives the coach a reading -- for us, that reading was generally "if you put this kid on your short list, coach, he very likely will get in."
- The coach then passed this message to my kid, saying there are no guarantees (etc. etc.) but all the kids with this same read from the admissions office who have been on his list have gotten in in the past.
BUT, there is a bit of a catch. The coach will say that he can only put my kid on his list if we will commit to applying early decision. Early decision (ED) means that one applies in November and hears in December (so well earlier than the April 1 regular admit date), but it is a binding commitment to attend if admitted. This means that one can only apply to one school early decision. Coaches aren't dumb. They can't afford to waste the few recruiting spots they have on kids who aren't going to come. So there is a quid pro quo - the coach will commit to the kid and help him through admissions, but the kid has to commit to the program.
But we only learned this later. When coaches started calling, we weren't sure what to expect. A couple called early to say that my son would not be on their list. I have to give kudos to Coach Bradley from Princeton -- he called and told my son he wouldn't make the list. It was not the news we wanted to hear, but he was up front and honest with us so we did not waste our time. He was also the one who really explained all the stuff I wrote above, so we were more knowledgeable when other coaches called.
Soon, however, we were getting floods of interested contacts. Many were from the coaches he had proactively contacted. Some were from schools we never had heard of, and some were from very good schools but in parts of the country that weren't in his college search area (e.g. Kenyon, Grinnell, Carlton in the midwest). Many of these coaches asked for him to come to campus (on our own dime, they were not paying) for a visit, including an overnight stay with someone on the team. Eventually my son scheduled visits at Wesleyan, Bowdoin, Vassar, and Haverford. He chose these in some cases for the school and in some cases because he really liked the coach. All four of these offered him a spot on the short list for admissions if he was willing to go ED.
It was at this point that we hit the highlight of the whole process. Like many parents, I just want to see my kid gain life skills. My son will never be a good sales person. He is really, really hesitant to cold call adults to ask them for something. This process was good for him in that sense, because he began to see the fruits of having proactively cold-called these coaches earlier in the process. But I still had to poke and prod him to do it.
However, with these other visits set up, my son was apparently thinking "these would all be good schools, but they are not in the top tier of my aspirations." He was thinking about skipping ED, and trusting his grades and resume to the regular admissions process so he could still take a shot at his top choices (places like Princeton and Stanford).
He decided that the ideal choice for him would be Amherst - he loved the school, it was top-notch academically, had a great baseball tradition and an engaging coach. That was the school he would be willing to go ED for. He had met the Amherst coach on a school visit and at camp and Coach Hamm had been very nice. But in the Fall,we had not heard anything from him. (I have to insert a story here -- way back in March my son was on the Amherst campus and dropped by without an appointment at Coach Hamm's office. At that point, Hamm did not know who my son was -- for all he knew he might have been the strikeout leader in T-ball. But he spent a whole hour with Nic showing him around the facility and later at practice.)
This is where the breakthrough came. Without my prodding or even involvement, my son contacted Coach Hamm one more time, to say he had not heard from Amherst but he was still really interested and he would be touring other nearby colleges in a week or so and would still love to meet with him.
We will never know exactly what happened. Perhaps the coach was late in kicking off his recruiting. Perhaps another kid on his list dropped out. Perhaps he just wanted to sit back and see which kids were the hungriest. Whatever the case, Coach Hamm wrote back immediately and said he would love to meet my son on campus (he actually changed around a trip to be there). The process described above played out (grades to the Admissions office, offer to be on the "list", ED application) and long story short, Nic will be at Amherst next year.
As I mentioned earlier, there was no money offered for baseball (nor could there be in leagues like the Ivies or the NESCAC which ban athletic scholarships). Amherst has a great financial aid program, and there are great possibilities for scholarships, grants, and tuition discounts -- but these are offered to all admits, not just to athletes.
I hope this is helpful to some folks who are just starting this process -- I know it would have been a huge help to us to understand in advance.
Postscript: One of the hardest things in the world is to get a good honest reading on your son's talent, particularly if he does not play for a top high school team. People have told my son that he should not have gone DIII, he could be playing DI or he should be in front of pro scouts. You have to take all this stuff with a grain of salt. Sure, you don't want to cut off an opportunity, but on the flip side, sort of like the fox and the cheese, you don't want to lose a good thing chasing the illusion of something better (we know folks this happened to in other sports).
I don't know how to solve this, maybe people have experiences they can put in the comments. For us, being from a small school, several summers playing club ball in a wood bat leagues with the big school kids finally convinced us our son could play at a high level (I say convinced us as parents, our son does not lack confidence so he always knew).
PS#2: Fun Amherst facts
I don't think you could find any better example of paying off one's political constituents at the cost of out groups than this:
Congressional Democrats and the White House have agreed to pay for a bill to freeze student loan interest rates for a year by raising taxes on so-called S Corporations, according to a top Senate Democrat and senior House and Senate aides, but Republicans said the tax increase may ensure the bill’s defeat in the Senate.
Apparently, the taxpayer-subsidized rate of 3.4% on student loans is set to go up to a less-subsidized 6.8% in a couple of months. So to keep this subsidy rolling, Congress is proposing to tax S-Corporations, mainly used by entrepreneurs and small businesses (disclosure: including mine) to avoid double taxation of business income.
I don't think its possible to come up with a real policy reason that money should be taken away from entrepreneurs and given to 18-year-olds so they can overpay for college, especially since most of the subsidy for student loans is captured by universities that have simply raised tuition to soak up each successive college subsidy program. Note that Congress is instituting a permanent tax hike on entrepreneurs in order to give just a 1-year break (ie through the next election) to students.
But this is the perfect political bill. It takes money from a group likely to be lost to the Administration in the next election anyway (e.g. entrepreneurs and small business people) and transfers it to a group that is very likely to vote for Obama if it votes at all, but needs to be energized to get to the polls. The Obama Administration was obviously watching the Occupy movement carefully, and noted that much of the angst seemed to be aimed at student loans.
Expect similar payoffs to other constituencies over the next few months. Oops, here is one already.
I am sure that prosecuting Jon Edwards is a heck of a lot of fun for Republicans, but it is an enormous mistake. Yes, the guy is a poster child for the hypocritical self-serving jackass that defines exactly whey we hate politicians. But setting a legal precedent for defining campaign spending subject to crazy election laws more broadly is a terrible idea. Already, there are prosecutors who, mostly for political reasons, have tried to nail certain politicians for election law violations by labeling certain activities as in-kind political giving. Down this path lies a world where every institution that offered a candidate's family member or friend a job, or a spot in college, or a book deal, or a consulting contract is subject to ex post facto scrutiny and potential prosecution.
I want to thank Professor Mike Rizzo and members of the University of Rochester Alexander Hamilton [sic] Society for having me up to speak last week. I had an awesome time touring campus, some quality pub time with some of the students, some really good donuts, and then a speaking engagement followed by literally hours of questions and discussions. Here are some of us out the next day hiking the waterfront (Professor Rizzo is fourth from the right). This is at a "lighthouse" which I had expected to be some sexy Maine-type thing but turned out to be a 3-foot wide steel column with a blinking red light on top. We are on one of the breakwaters at the mouth of the Genessee River as it pours into Lake Ontario.
Professor Rizzo teaches four economics courses, including a couple of the introductory survey courses, and many students go out of their way to take all four, even if they are not even in the department. The group had an incredible vibe, the kind of student-professor learning group we all thought would be typical of college but most of us seldom actually encountered. It reminded me of Dead Poet's Society, except with economics rather than poetry and without the suicides.
In addition to being a popular professor, Rizzo also is a vastly outnumbered campus defender of individual liberty and economic sanity. I can't tell me how many kids told me they had been converted to the cause of free market economics by Professor Rizzo.
Professor Rizzo is also a constant campus gadfly on cost-benefit sensibility. Featured in an upcoming post will be a U of R solar charging station that was one of Rizzo's favorite targets. Which brings us to the issue of the group's name and why I keep writing [sic]. Apparently creating a new campus organization and 501c3 was way too costly, so they just piggy-backed on an existing group, despite the incongruity of the "Alexander Hamilton" name on a group generally dedicated to exploring small government.
I seem to be having some odd problem subscribing to his feed in Google Reader (all I get is Viagra Spam) but his blog is here: The Unbroken Window. Update: I could never get his feed to work for me so I burned a new one on my feedburner account. http://feeds.feedburner.com/UnbrokenWindow
Wow, did I ever stink it up with my brackets over the weekend. Worst I have ever done, and it had nothing to do with missing the two 15-2 upsets (everybody missed those). The only good news is that I am ahead of my son Nic. My traditional bias against all schools Ohio definitely hurt me.
Anyway, congrats to those who were far more prescient:
|Leaderboard after 48 games - See full standings|
I am not sure who does it, but we have a reader who faithfully enters the President's bracket into the pool each year, and I must say that Barack does seem to know his college hoops.
UPDATE: Special congrats to Mike Langan, who due to the vagaries of the CoyoteBlog traditional scoring system is in second, but his bracket based on number of correct picks is actually in the top 50 of 88,000+ brackets at PickHoops.com.