As Trump stresses ‘America First’, China plays the world leader

I find it hard to argue with this conclusion, but I didn’t see it coming.

” ‘If anyone were to say China is playing a leadership role in the world I would say it’s not China rushing to the front but rather the front runners have stepped back leaving the place to China,’ said Zhang Jun, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s international economics department.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china-analysis-idUSKBN1590KJ

Teachers Wanted: No Experience Necessary

They’re looking for teachers in the hill country of West Virginia – no experience necessary.

I saw this clip in PBS news tonight. There’s a sad, nasty cycle of poverty and ignorance up in those hills.

Most of the kids in this video are doomed – like their parents and their own kids. I’m prone to knee-jerk reactions but I can’t come up with one for this scenario.

This internet version includes a 20 second promo for a labor union – perhaps because there’s a teachers union featured in the story, but it’s not a flattering treatment.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/videos/#133489

 

Politics by telepathy – A lethal delusion

The Economist reminds us that following the Democratic rout of the 2014 mid-term elections President Obama referred to himself as, “the guy who’s elected by everybody, not just from a particular state or a particular district.” He said he heard a message from voters but also from “ the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday.”

The columnist’s conclusion: “That is perilously close to politics by telepathy: a lethal delusion that can afflict embattled leaders. Mr Obama is right that presidents enjoy a unique role in American democracy. It is true that voters are sick of gridlock. But many are also tired of him. If he misreads his mandate and overreaches, even in the best of causes, he may do real harm.”

Lexington: Barack Obama runs a red light | The Economist.

 

Tip to Young Homebuyers: Rent (or be born in 1946)

How myopic is this quote – from a study by The Urban Institute, cited initially in the NYT and debunked here in Ecomonitor.com

“If a person delayed the purchase of a home to age 40 instead of buying at age 30, that might result in a $42,000 loss in home equity by the time she reaches 60, given trends in wealth accumulation over the past few decades.”

Trends in wealth accumulation over the past few decades were driven by Boomers.  Those days are gone.  The party is over. The good ship Aloha has sailed.

Ecomonitor provides some solid rationale for renting, not buying, a home.

via EconoMonitor : EconoMonitor » Bizarre New York Times Article on Lousy Finances of the Young Gives Undue Prominence to Housing as an Investment.

Should the USAF Retire the A-10?

The A-10 is in the news again – they’ll get the axe in the U.S. D of D’s proposed budget for FY 2015, as released by Chuck Hagel yesterday.

This detailed argument in support of the A-10 was written back in November but is still germane.The Air Force wants to retire the A-10, claiming it is old and expensive to maintain. The Army who apparently don’t get much of a vote want to keep it. Because the A-10 can fly low and slow for a long time, it’s very effective in supporting troops on the ground. And apparently it is not expensive to maintain, especially compared to more modern planes which aren’t comparable because they can’t do the sustained low-and-slow. But if the Air Force retires the A-10 it can redirect the costs of supporting the A-10 to other more glamorous, hi-tech aircraft: the Joint Strike Fighter and drones:

Regarding JSF: The Air Force version is optimized for air-to-air combat, not ground support. The Marine version more versatile, with consideration to supporting troops on the ground was scaled back years ago from a Vertical Take-Off design to a Short-Take-Off and Landing design because of insurmountable technical problems and durability testing of that STOL version was recently cancelled cracks in the bulk head and that variant may have to be redesigned.

Regarding drones: Yes, drones might, one day, be able to provide ground support more effectively. One day. Not in FY 2015

The political considerations will probably trump economic considerations and common sense. The pork in the proposed budget for FY 2015 will flow to those districts which are home to the defense industries that are developing the hi-tech options. The impact of canning the A-10 will be concentrated in the very few (two?) districts with A-10 bases – one in Arizona and one in Georgia.

via Should the AF Retire the A-10? – A Seminar on a Seminal Question | Small Wars Journal – mike.bedford.1@gmail.com – Gmail.

Are Global Cities Really Doomed to Become ‘Citadels’ for the Rich?

Very interesting review of a Financial Times opinion piece by Simon Kuper “Priced out of Paris“. and asserts that Paris is not alone – it’s a global phenomenon.  This isn’t news, but the analysis in the original article is interesting.

Reviewer Emily Badger points out, idealistically, that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Yes, the more desirable a place becomes, the more expensive it is to live there. But cities also become unaffordable when zoning regulation limits the supply of new housing, or caps the height of new construction. Cities become out of reach when no policies are in place to maintain affordable or mixed-income housing.

Kuper diagnosed the problem, but he didn’t identify the causes – or the slightly more optimistic view that if our intentional choices about how to design and govern cities make them unaffordable, we might also attempt to actively prevent that from happening.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

Are Global Cities Really Doomed to Become ‘Citadels’ for the Rich? – Emily Badger – The Atlantic Cities.

Education: Is going to college worth it? Uh…maybe

I like The Week magazine because it provides a good sampling of opinion pieces of various newsworthy (and not) items of public interest.  This article from the May 24 issue let me down.  In answer to the provocative question, “Is going to college worth it?” , the article cites several authorities who intentionally muddy the issue, ignoring two fundamental assumptions:

  • How to measure worth: getting a job after graduation, starting salary, life time earnings, life time satisfaction?
  • What to include in the estimate of costs? Tuition, books, housing, interest expense on college loans?

I say they “intentionally” muddied the issue because these assumptions aren’t esoteric details.  They’re fundamental.  Shame on Brenda Cronin (wsj.com) and Dylan Mathews (washingtonpost.com) and on The Week magazine for giving these two unwarranted column inches.

Education: Is going to college worth it?

A new paper from the Brookings Institution claims that “we may have overdone the message” on college.By The Week Staff | May 15, 2013 Maybe “the old college try isn’t the answer for everyone,” said Brenda Cronin in WSJ.com. At least that’s what a new paper from the Brookings Institution claims, warning that “we may have overdone the message” on college. Researchers in Canada have drawn similar conclusions, warning that college degrees don’t guarantee satisfying or well-paid jobs—even though college graduates do have a lower jobless rate than those who didn’t attend college. But there are several factors to consider when deciding whether investing in a college degree makes sense. Students who study engineering and sciences tend to earn more than those who major in arts or education. Vocational-technical training programs that teach programming, plumbing, or welding are also worth exploring, since “employers are desperate” for workers with such skills.The real issue isn’t whether people should go to college, said Dylan Matthews in WashingtonPost.com, but whether colleges are performing well enough. What’s really at issue in the Brookings report “is the ‘return on investment’ ROI to college.’’ That is, how much more money you can expect to earn by going to college than if you don’t go at all. And “generally speaking, the annual ROI for college is enormous.” While science majors, math majors, and highly selective institutions tend to have a higher ROI than less selective schools and humanities programs, they still all report higher lifetime earnings than the average high school graduate. Some colleges that are both expensive and focused on the arts may, in fact, have a negative ROI—that is, fail to pay for themselves after graduation. “But there isn’t a major that reduces lifetime earnings relative to earnings without college.”If you do enroll in college, be sure to see it through, said Matthew Yglesias in Slate.com. “Going to college isn’t a passive investment like buying a four-year bond.” Students have to attend classes, write papers, and do the work to earn their degree. That means individuals need to weigh not just the potential ROI on a college degree, but how likely they are to actually get it—so be sure to research the graduation rates at any schools you’re considering. But there’s also a societal issue here—specifically, the “sheepskin effect.” For some reason, “getting a bachelor’s degree is worth much more than double what completing two years of college and then dropping out is worth.” In some ways, degrees convey diligence and conformity—and employers like that. For an individual, that’s worth keeping in mind. “But as a society, we should ask whether there isn’t some more cost-effective way young people show that they’re willing and able to pursue multiyear projects.”

via Education: Is going to college worth it? – The Week.