Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Student Debt is Challenging the Reason for Getting that Long Sought After College Degree

What has changed for many of the college educated is finding themselves in debt longer than their parents were after college, being penalized for having student debt when going to buy homes, cars, etc., and in the end having less wealth and a lower salary when compared to those without a college education.

One reader’s comment. “I’ve been meaning to write back, but a large number of days on the road takes precedence. I disagree about the relevance of my experience working endless shit jobs while living in crappy apartments and eating pb&j to pay back my loans. That said, I do respect your opinion, and I hope you continue to share your thoughts about how entirely fucked up our priorities are as a Nation when it comes to education.

As my father who is in his late sixties recently said to me “sorry your generation got screwed”, something I’m quite cognizant of as I lose twenty grand selling a home to pursue a career. In the meantime, time to bust some ass and take care of what is in our power to affect. Patrick “Ripping Off College Students Economic Future”

The argument for a college education has always been the earning potential the 4-year degree holder has as opposed to those without a 4-year college degree. As more and more students have trouble buying into the Middle Class with the degree they have earned because of the overwhelming debt, the value of a college education has come into question considering the debt load carried by college graduates. What has changed in the last decade is tuition increases outstripping the cost of healthcare, the decline in state support for colleges, and the increased use of credit cards, home equity, and retirement account borrowing to fund college education. What remains after the piece of paper is passed out at graduation day is debt remaining with the student into his thirties and sometimes well into their forties.

Tags: , Comments (51) | |

PRESS RELEASE: Angry Bear Offers Dem Pols Free Political Consulting Service. Free!

Here’s our offer.  It’s a very good offer.  And a serious one.  Seriously.

(Yeah, I’m venting my frustration.)

Who, the HELL, is running the House and Senate Campaign committees? My guess: People who have some personal or financial connection to the usual-suspect Dem consulting firms. Or who just can’t even imagine that, y’know, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

So, folks, let’s start a protest movement, right here at AB, and demand a change.


UPDATE: Reader Alex Bollinger posted this in the Comments thread this morning:

Not only would low-info voters benefit from actually knowing that the ACA is doing good, but a few lefties could use a reminder that it’s not just a neoliberal gift to the insurance industry.

I responded:

Yes, Alex.  Exactly.  It surprises me that the insurance industry hasn’t been sponsoring pro-ACA, anti-AFP-disinformation ads.  I realize that it would involve implicitly acknowledging that their past policies–e.g., denying individual-market coverage to anyone who had even a minor preexisting condition–but they’re in real danger of losing the single-payer war (or at least the public-option) war.

Back last December, after it had become clear that many of the state Blue Cross companies–which had by far the largest market share of the individual market in many, many states–was taking obscene advantage of the ACA (and then the debacle) to imply to policyholders of canceled plans that their only option was a very high-priced plan, I wrote here in AB that they were presuming that single-payer or at least the public option could not become a real possibility as a result. And by the very end of the year, after several pundits began making the same point, and it looked like the issue could really take off, the industry apparently did recognize it; it did stop the deceit.

What everyone seems to forget is that until last fall, the wingnut argument, including in the court challenges, was “Freedom! Liberty!”  You never hear that anymore.  Now all you hear is that premiums and out-of-pocket caps are too high and provider networks are too narrow.

Um.  Single-payer would take care of those things.  So maybe sometime before November the industry will realize that it’s very much in its interest to counter the AFP with a massive ad campaign.  Call it survival instinct.

And, who knows?  Maybe by the time the insurance industry realizes that the AFP ads need to be countered with an ad campaign of hard-hitting refutations and real-people  stories, the Dems will have figured that out, too. I never got this idea of addressing the ACA with generic we-need-to-fix-rather-than-repeal it, and hope that that nullifies the law’s unpopularity as a political problem.

The way to nullify the law’s unpopularity as a political problem is to make the law popular.  And all that would take is a good ad campaign.

Please, no more generic keep-and-fix. Please, now, specific refutations and explanations from actual real people .  And, fix?  A public option, maybe?

Seriously, Dems.  Go for it. There’s nothing to lose but loss itself.



Tags: , , , , Comments (7) | |

Here’s what “unaffordable” long-term leukemia care ACTUALLY looks like, Ms. Boonstra. And Rep. Peters.

Just when I thought I’d written my last post on Julie Boonstra, I read Kenneth Thomas’s post below, from Sunday.  The only comment to that post–mine, which I just posted–reads:

How very, very, very sad that there was no ACA during his years of leukemia treatments and hospitalizations, and that we still do not have single-payer.

And how ironic that he had the very same fatal illness that Julie Boonstra has.  I’d like to shove your post in her face, Kenneth.

I’d also like to see Rep. Gary Peters use this family’s situation in his Senate campaign ads in Michigan, and ask whether Julie Boonstra has any idea of what “unaffordable” means with respect to medical care for leukemia.

When she cut the first of her two ads for AFP in mid-February, Boonstra apparently was genuinely unaware of the full terms of her new Blue Cross plan and of the out-of-pocket-costs limitations legislated in the ACA.  And part of the reason why was the failure of to work in October and November and, apparently at least for Michigan’s exchanges, during early December–coupled with Michigan’s decision to not provide its exchange system through a webstie and run and operated by the state.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Comments (2) | |

What the Marvin M. Brandt Case Means for America’s Rail-Trails

I’m a big fan of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and was well aware of the Supreme Court case, Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, argued two months ago at the Supreme Court, that had the potential to endanger or end large swaths of Conservancy trails.  The Court issued its opinion in the case last week.

I’m on the Conservancy’s email listserve, and received an email this morning that links to the organization’s summary of the opinion and effects, after a week of reflection and analysis of it. Here’s the Conservancy’s take, at this juncture.

Tags: , Comments (2) | |

Bobby Jindal Picks His Passion: Lieutenant Governors Should File Frivolous Lawsuits (Ostensibly) On Behalf of States


LOUISIANA SUING MOVEON FOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT: In a move that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the liberal group’s billboard and TV ad criticize Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to turn down the expansion of Medicaid, leaving tens of thousands of Louisianans without health insurance, the state says its lawsuit is just about the fact that the ads riff on their “Louisiana: Pick Your Passion” slogan, and that threatens to dilute the state’s brand. [Boldface mine.]

— Paul Waldman (sitting in for Greg Sargent), Morning Plum, Washington Post, today*

Lordy, lordy.

One of the few tacks of the Conservative Movement at its current stage that actually amuses me (well, you know what I mean) is that after a three-decades-long, intense, obsessive, stunningly successful campaign–in the U.S. Supreme Court, in state Supreme Courts, and through federal and state legislation–to end access to court by ordinary people to file lawsuits against corporations or local, state and federal-government entities, employees and officials, this crowd now routinely uses civil litigation in federal court to challenge the constitutionality of this or that law or public policy, or to distort beyond recognition certain federal statutes so as to flip their meaning.

For decades, these people riffed loudly and unremittingly on frivolous lawsuits, the definition of “frivolous” being defined, of course, as any civil lawsuit that does not attempt to advance a rightwing policy cause; beginning in, I guess, the early ’90s, that’s been the definition, anyway. But most people don’t know that that that what “frivolous” means in the mantra “frivolous lawsuits.”**

So, yes, for someone like me, who’s (all too) familiar with this mighty curious trajectory by the Conservative Movement, the Waldman post this morning was downright hilarious.

It’s especially funny for me. I’ve begun working on a book to be titled “Why Law Is Such an Inside Game.”  Most modern nonfiction books that argue a viewpoint have a catchy or cutesy one- or two-word title (often a pun) and then a subtitle like ““Why Law Is Such an Inside Game.” It’s apparently considered obligatory.  But not for me.

Me? I want my point to be in the title itself.

Anyway … I just thought I’d share the inside joke with y’all.  The article Waldman links to is on the New Orleans Times-Picayune site.  It’s titled “Louisiana sues over Bobby Jindal billboard,” by Lauren McGaughy.

And really, folks, it’s pretty funny.


*This post has been corrected to reflect that Paul Waldman, not Greg Sargent, wrote that blog post.  I also amended the title of this post to indicate that the lawsuit was filed by the lieutenant governor, not by Jindal.  The lieutenant governor will be a candidate for governor next year.

**Paragraph edited for clarity, after initial posting.  (3/18)  Not that it matters, since this post isn’t exactly breaking “hits” records.  Oh, well. 

Tags: , , , , , , Comments (2) | |

Financing new economic activities and bankrolling speculation…

by Joseph Joyce  (is a Professor of Economics at Wellesley College and the Faculty Director of the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs)

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Global banks do not have much to cheer about these days. Earnings are falling, and the banks are responding by cutting jobs. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has charged 16 banks of colluding to rig the London Interbank Offer rate (LIBOR). And theFederal Reserve has approved a rule that requires foreign banks with $50 billion of assets in the U.S. to establish holding companies for their American units that meet the same capital adequacy standards as do their U.S. peers. The latter move has been interpreted as a sign of the fragmentation of global finance that will hinder the global allocation of credit.

The Federal Reserve supported the foreign banks in the fall of 2008 when the it lent to distressed institutions. The U.S. units of European banks accounted for $538 billion of the Federal Reserve’s emergency loans, over half of the total. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke had to answer criticism from U.S. lawmakers that the loans did not benefit U.S. taxpayers. At the same time, the Federal Reserve was establishing swap lines with central banks in 14 countries. The dollars those monetary authorities acquired were used to prop up their banks that needed to finance their holding of U.S. debt.

Comments (2) | |

RIP BartCop

I’m a little late on this, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the recent death of Terry Coppage, aka BartCop. Bart died March 5th at the age of 60, from complications of the flu, pneumonia, and leukemia.

Bart was one of the pioneers of the liberal blogosphere, starting out in February 1996 with an email newsletter that was converted to web pages by Marc Perkel. He gave much support to new bloggers, including luminaries like Digby and Atrios. Though I never knew him, I am in his debt as well. The affiliated site, Marty Pflugrath’s BartCop Entertainment, was the first to permanently and prominently link to me.

In his final column, Bart requested financial help for his wife to help pay for his medical bills. You can send a PayPal payment to If you still use checks, you could send a contribution to, PO Box 54466, Tulsa, OK 74155.

Comments (2) | |

Guest post: Stockholders are Fungible, Employees are Not

by J Tzimiskes (who is currently juggling a job in the private sector while studying for a Wayne State MBA, getting a blog post or two in when he can. Previously, he worked for New York State and  holds a Masters in Political Science from University at Albany and a biology degree from University of Toronto.  He blogs at Tsimiskes)

Stockholders are Fungible, Employees are Not

This has been on my mind after reading some review’s of Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” (which I really need to make time to read). Paul Krugman’s recent post on it made a major point gel for me when he observes that:

How relevant is this story to what has happened so far? In the United States, as Piketty himself stresses, soaring inequality has to date been largely been driven by labor income – by “supermanagers” (I prefer superexecutives.)

Something that I’ve been considering as I take management classes is that it seems that a well managed firm should end up developing a strong espirit de corps and a great deal of management loyalty in the company. Companies should end up with long term employees and management that will oppose stockholder efforts to extract revenue from the company instead of using it to serve employees. Psychological characteristics and organizational behavior should be leading companies to have an in group of employees opposed to the out group of stockholders.

Comments (19) | |