Archive for March 15th, 2011

March 15, 2011

Giving Thanks During Lent

by Vince

BZ is giving thanks and not necessarily giving something up (worth a full read).

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March 15, 2011

Holes

by Vince

All you could ever want to know about deep, deep holes.

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March 15, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince

H/T: Tony Auth

March 15, 2011

The Fate of Everyone

by Vince

Rob Bell’s book on this very topic comes out today:

Love Wins is not a book about who is in or out. That sort of talk is too small. It is a book that invites people to remember the life God is offering them and this encourages them to thrive as they joyously participate in that life. Bell challenges theologies that seem to have forgotten what it means to live this life and moves the conversation back to a placed where Christians have the freedom to say yes to the gift God continually offers. Christianity isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about living joyously and transformativly for Jesus — and this is a message we can all benefit from being reminded of.

March 15, 2011

Unintended Consequences of Federal Student Aid

by cpmy3rs

The rise of “for profit” Universities (if one must stoop to calling them that), has led to a rather perverse incentive structure. As a recent Senate hearing revealed, one need only buy a struggling college (for ‘legitimacy’) before aggressively recruiting desperate students who are unable to find meaningful employment after graduating high school without meaningful skills — and without the grades to have other options. Or, as one ITT Technical Institute document put it, “poke the pain a bit”, until you have successfully bullied your recruit into buying your product. The next step, of course, is to have the overwhelming majority of them apply for (and receive) student loans while telling some of them to lie in order to get more money.

It is tempting, after seeing that last part, to make the counter-argument that — were loans of this nature left up to private entities (i.e., banks) — this sort of abuse would not occur. The National Review Online gives a nice sample of this argument.

Simply put, we reached the point years ago at which the traditional colleges and universities could no longer accomodate the demand — that’s where for-profit schools stepped into the picture. And, because we have increased higher-ed subsidies so dramatically, both traditional and for-profit schools have increased tuition to capture their share of the rents. Tuition inflation routinely outpaces other measures of inflation. Tuitions at for-profit schools are particularly high.

Rather than curb the subsidies — a move that by itself would reduce the cost of postsecondary education — Obama’s [Department of Education] would prefer to use a price control, and boy, have they come up with a doozy.

This is an argument which is persuasive if taken at face value. The flaw in the model, however, is an assumption that private entities would not engage in the same sort of reckless lending to borrowers who were unable to pay for the (well beyond their means) purchase they were about to make. One could look at the buildup to the financial crisis of 2008-2009 to see an obvious counterpoint or, since the exact role of federal subsidies in that mess is still being debated, one could ask the following question:

If declaring bankruptcy is not guaranteed to absolve one of student loan debt, then could loans be packaged, insured, and sold on the market the way mortgages were? If I had to venture a guess, I’d go with yes.