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Jennifer Rubin has words for a president who has a love affair with government.
The president’s news conference belly-flop Friday was a killer on two levels. Obviously, the private sector is not doing fine, as Obama admitted later in the day when he tried to walk back the remark. (But if it’s not doing fine is he to blame? No! That’s 2E and 2F.) But the rest of his message — that it’s good to keep growing the public sector — won’t be walked back. That is what he believes and why his comments, coupled with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in last week’s recall election, spell big trouble for him. …
… President Obama seems unaware that we need the private sector to generate wealth (you know, make things, sell things, etc.) or that we face in the near future a fiscal crisis when we can no longer off-load our debt. Where does he think the money to pay for an ever-expanding public employee workforce comes from? (“The fair if depressing takeaway from Mr. Obama’s press conference is that he continues to believe, despite three and a half years of failure, that more government spending is the key to faster growth and that government really doesn’t need to reform. This is how you get a jobless rate above 8% for 40 months and the weakest economic recovery in 60 years.”) …
Andrew Malcolm says the White House has a new economic advisor – Wile E. Coyote.
One of the immutable rules of politics is that if you have to explain something you’ve said publicly, the argument is already lost. “What I was trying to say was….”
In that sense President Obama was strategically wise Friday afternoon not to try to somehow explain his morning jaw-dropper about the private U.S. economic sector doing just fine with the real unemployment rate above 14%. Instead, the Democrat simply contradicted himself. Create a new quotable reality. The Chicago way.
Morning: “The private sector is doing just fine.”
Afternoon: “It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.”
Dissembling doesn’t faze him. Pretending just might work. Which Obama do you believe? Increasingly, neither. The president’s latest gaffe is, as another high-ranking Democrat would put it, a big #$%&*+@ deal because:
1) It came as Obama gives the consistent week-after-week impression that he’s much more interested in raising millions at campaign fundraisers (13 in just 3 “work” days) than lowering the unemployed ranks by millions,
2) It adds to the impression that a lost Obama, distracted by Mitt Romney’s surprising early strengths, is kinda panicked, will say almost anything to make it true and easily slips off-script with silly, immediately refutable statements. …
John Hinderaker thinks it is “Obama’s most clueless moment yet. ”
President Obama’s seemingly-bizarre claim that “the private sector is doing fine” is echoing across the country. When I first saw the quote, I thought it must be a momentary gaffe, or perhaps taken out of context. But no: Obama really did say, at some length, that the private sector is prospering and we need to spend more money on government:
“The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
And so, you know, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry? …”
George Will gets on to the student debt crisis.
… Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, believes that college has become, for many, merely a “status marker,” signaling membership in the educated caste, and a place to meet spouses of similar status — “associative mating.” Since 1961, the time students spend reading, writing and otherwise studying has fallen from 24 hours a week to about 15 — enough for a degree often desired only as an expensive signifier of rudimentary qualities (e.g., the ability to follow instructions). Employers value this signifier as an alternative to aptitude tests when evaluating potential employees because such tests can provoke lawsuits by having a “disparate impact” on this or that racial or ethnic group.
In his “The Higher Education Bubble,” Reynolds writes that this bubble exists for the same reasons the housing bubble did. The government decided that too few people owned homes/went to college, so government money was poured into subsidized and sometimes subprime mortgages/student loans, with the predictable result that housing prices/college tuitions soared and many borrowers went bust. Tuitions and fees have risen more than 440 percent in 30 years as schools happily raised prices — and lowered standards — to siphon up federal money. A recent Wall Street Journal headline: “Student Debt Rises by 8% as College Tuitions Climb.”
Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist, writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education that as many people — perhaps more — have student loan debts as have college degrees. Have you seen those T-shirts that proclaim “College: The Best Seven Years of My Life”? Twenty-nine percent of borrowers never graduate, and many who do graduate take decades to repay their loans. …
Joe Nocera, of the NY Times, points to another area where college administrators have failed.
The lead article in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week is about a University of Memphis football player named Dasmine Cathey. He lives not on campus but in his aunt’s home nearby, where he helps raise his siblings, who were essentially abandoned by their mother. He has two children of his own (with different mothers). He uses his Pell grant money to help pay the household bills and often skips class because he has to drive a family member somewhere. It’s a lot for a college student to shoulder, but he doesn’t shirk it.
College itself, however, is a different story. As an incoming freshman, Cathey could barely read, and academics remain a chore. His papers — a handful of which are posted on the Chronicle’s Web site — seem more like the work of a seventh grader than a college student. Among the courses he has failed are Family Communication and Yoga. His major is called “interdisciplinary studies.” As the article ends, the athletic department’s academic advisers are desperately trying to get him to go to class so he can graduate.
So while the article, written by Brad Wolverton, causes one to root for Cathey, who is a largely sympathetic figure, it also, inevitably, raises the question: How in the world did he get into college? But, of course, we know the answer to that. He is in college because, as one of his former coaches puts it, “He had all the tools you could ask for.” Football tools, that is. …
UC Santa Cruz prof on the trap of minority studies.
When Naomi Schaefer Riley was fired by the Chronicle of Higher Education for her trenchant remarks on Black Studies programs, most of those who criticized the firing saw in it a display of the campus left’s intolerance. Fair enough, but this episode also has a much broader meaning.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large populations of poor immigrants arrived in the U.S.–Irish, Italians, and Jews from Russia and Poland. Their extreme poverty placed them at the bottom of the social ladder, and they were often treated with contempt. Yet just a few generations later they were assimilated, and their rapid upward social mobility had produced mayors, senators, judges, and even Presidents from among their ranks. None of this could have happened without first-rate public education.
To be sure, they worked hard to get ahead, but they were not obstructed by something that afflicts the have-nots of today: as they walked through the school gates they were not met by people intent on luring them into Irish or Italian Studies programs whose purpose was to keep them in a state of permanent resentment over past wrongs at the hands of either Europeans or establishment America. …