I will never understand why people say Republicans are good for the economy. Historically it seems to me that the kind of laissez-faire deregulation they tend to advocate produces short term economic benefit for a few, with no real gains in productivity for the nation as a whole. The gains are illusory, and when things collapse, the results are devastating. I worry about what Republicans will try with such an overwhelming majority in Congress. I hope the President and Congressional Democrats remain strong.
Below is the beginning of an excellent piece from Moyers & Company that adds to my doubts. It’s worth reading.
Republicans and Wall Street Say To Hell With Protecting the Public!
January 17, 2015 by Bill Moyers
This post first appeared on BillMoyers.com.
Since December, Congress has twice passed measures to weaken regulations in the Dodd-Frank financial law that are intended to reduce the risk of another financial meltdown.
In the last election cycle, Wall Street banks and financial interests spent over $1.2 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions, according to Americans for Financial Reform. Their spending strategy appears to be working. Just this week, the House passed further legislation that would delay by two years some key provisions of Dodd-Frank. “[Banks] want to be able to do things their way, and that’s very dangerous.” MIT economist Simon Johnson tells Bill.
“‘Here we go again’ — I think that’s exactly the motto, or the bumper sticker for this Congress. It’s crazy, it’s unconscionable, but that is the reality.”
Lawmakers are pinning these provisions to Dodd-Frank onto bigger must-past bills like spending measures that the president doesn’t dare veto.
Bill Moyers: The safeguards that Congress is tearing down, even as we speak, were put in place after the financial disaster of 2008 to prevent another one like it from happening. Why do you think the Republicans are trying to sabotage them?
Read his Simon Johnson’s response and the rest of the interview at the Moyers & Company site, where you’ll also find much more coverage of the issue.
In: Politics and Society · Tagged with: congress, economic justice, financial reform, MIT, politics
The birth rate among teens in Massachusetts is at its lowest recorded level in the state’s history, a report out Friday says.
The birth rate of teens ages 15-19 fell 14 percent last year, from 14 births per 1,000 women in 2012 to 12 births per 1,000 women in 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Health reported.
“This is terrific news for all Massachusetts families, and a dramatic indication that our decisions to invest in our young people — through education, support and resources — can have a real and lasting impact on their lives and in their communities,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement.
Indeed, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the statistics on teenage birth rates were also terrific news for Massachusetts and for most of New England, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota in 2011 when all those states already had rates below 20 births per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 19. They were the only ones, and they really stand out on the map. Read the rest of this post »
In: Massachusetts, Politics and Society, Rants, US News · Tagged with: economic justice, Massachusetts, politics, regionalism, social welfare
This was a really good report on student loan debt from John Oliver’s new show, Last Week Tonight. It was funny and at the same time some of the best reporting on the topic I’ve seen in a while, so I’m sharing it here.
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In: Education, Higher Education, US News · Tagged with: John Oliver, Student Loans, video
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Audrey Hepburn, a worthy choice to be sure. She was one of the most respective actresses of her time, ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema, she is one of the few people to have won an Grammy, Tony, Emmy, Oscar, BAFTA, and numerous other accolades for her work as an actress.
She was also a fashion icon, but she may be most worthy of honor for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She first did work for UNICEF in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1988 that she began work in an official capacity. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, only a year before she died of cancer at the age of only 45.
She’s a worthy subject of honor, to be sure, but I’m curious what criteria Google chooses. Around this time two years ago the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace launched an effort to ask Google to dedicate a Doodle to Pearl S. Buck.
Read the rest of this post »
In: Global News, Literature, Movies, Pearl S. Buck, The Arts · Tagged with: Activism, Audrey Hepburn, Google Doodles, Pearl S. Buck, UNICEF
Below is a something that originally appeared in the MIT Libraries Libguide to Islamic Architecture that is maintained by the Aga Khan Documentation Center @ MIT. The archive it describes is fascinating. I’ve just replaced it with something new, but I couldn’t bear to just throw this out completely, so I’m recycling it here. To find out what I archive I’m featuring now, you’ll just have to check out the Archnet portion of the Libguide. It’s got a lot of interesting resources, most of it compiled by our Program Head and our Visual Resources Librarian, though I try to hold up my end. Check it out and let us know what you think.
In: AKDC@MIT, Professional · Tagged with: AKDC, Arab World, architecture, Archnet, culture, MENA, Middle East, MIT
I just got back from vacation in New Mexico, but I confess I kind of slacked off when it came to photographing bicycles. I missed some good opportunities, especially in Albuquerque where most buses has cool bikes on the racks on the from of the bus. There are also a fair number of cyclists on the roads, but I usually don’t photograph these because it’s hard to get a good shot of a bike with a rider on it that’s in motion. I didn’t have my bike and I wish I had, because it definitely seems like a bike friendly place.
In: Bicycling, Commuting, Recommendations, Sports, travel, Travel · Tagged with: Albuquerque, bicycles, bike, gallery, New Mexico, photos, Santa Fe
To celebrate the launch of the new Archnet, I’m presenting a Spotify playlist on the theme of architecture and the built environment. It explores various themes, ranging from an appreciation of great cities and monuments, to architecture as a spiritual metaphor. Check it out and let me know what you think?
I’m missing are. This is just what happened to come to mind at the moment, so I’m missing a lot, I’m sure. What would you add? Leave a comment and let me know.
In: AKDC@MIT, Music, Professional, Recommendations, Uncategorized · Tagged with: architecture, Archnet, MENA, Middle East, Music, North Africa, Playlist, pop, Spotify, World Music
An email I received today from MoveOn puts the case for the Student Borrowers’ Bill of Rights very well. This is a very important piece of legislation.
Did you know that, like murder and treason, there is no statute of limitations on the collections of student loan debt?
Did you know that student loans do not enjoy bankruptcy protections just like any other type of debt in America, including gambling debts?
Did you know that defaulted borrowers face the potential of having their professional licenses suspended, as well as having their wages, Social Security benefits, tax returns and other benefits garnished, without a court order?
It’s well past time we right these wrongs and that’s why Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) has introduced the Student Borrowers’ Bill of Rights (H.R. 3892).
Please sign the petition and share it widely!
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: debt, economic justice, Higher Education, legislation, politics, Student Loans
The Wellesley College statue story is making news in New Zealand, and I just saw it on Al Jazeera, too! It’s clearly blown way out of proportion, so much that I now regret doing my insignificant part to give it legs in my social media presences.
Let’s be clear, only 713 people have signed the petition to move the statue as of this writing. Wellesley has approximately 2500 students. The petition is open to the public so anyone can sign. I can’t see the signatures, but I suspect that many of the signatories are not from the campus community at all. Still, even if we assume that everyone who signed is a Wellesley student, the vast majority of students have no problem with the statue being where it is. That is consistent with what I am hearing.
I have spent my entire adult life in higher education environments of various sorts: public and private, large and small, technical and liberal arts, foreign and domestic. Student protests are frequent and healthy. They seldom get much traction in the media, even when they are much larger and even when they work for it. What is it about this one that has caused such buzz? Would this story have gotten so much attention if it had happened at a coed liberal arts college? Or is it the fact that Wellesley is such an highly rated college, so there’s delight in knocking it down? Or is it that people delight in seeing a students at a liberal arts college behaving so narrow-mindedly? Whatever it is, the story has been carried way beyond whatever legs it should have had.
In: Education, Higher Education, Journalism and Media, Massachusetts · Tagged with: Art, education, Ethics, Higher Education, journalism, media, social media, Wellesley College
Check out this article from Inside Higher Ed highlighting comments made by President Obama about the discipline of Art History. It ends with a chart of politicians that have attacked liberal arts disciplines, only 4. I’m pretty sure it could be much longer than it is.
This article by Virginia Postrel in Bloomberg argues that Art History was a particularly bad major for President Obama to use in his comparison, noting that it’s a major for the elite and that people who have degrees in Art History are wildly over-represented in the top 1% of wage earners. Be that as it may, and whether he intended it or not, the President’s remarks were an implicit attack on liberal arts education in general. I take exception to that.
I do agree with the first part of his statement. It is possible to get a good, high-paying job without a college education. They are decent jobs and if that is what you know you want to do, you should do it. I see many people go to college who don’t need to, and arguably shouldn’t go, often accumulating debt working toward degrees they’re unable to complete, only to end up in a job they wouldn’t have needed it for. Read the rest of this post »