But instead I'm reading this note (sub.req.) by Paul Krugman, pointing out that college degrees no longer have anything to do with wealth or income:
[M]uch of the backlash to proposals for student debt relief is based on a false premise: the belief that Americans who have gone to college are, in general, members of the economic elite.
The falsity of this proposition is obvious for those who were exploited by predatory for-profit institutions that encouraged them to go into debt to get more or less worthless credentials. The same applies to those who took on educational debt but never managed to get a degree — not a small group. In fact, around 40 percent of student loan borrowers never finish their education.
What is widely understood is that America has become a far more unequal society over the past 40 years or so. The nature of rising inequality, however, isn’t as broadly known. I keep encountering seemingly well-informed people who believe that we’re mainly looking at a widening gap between the college-educated and everyone else.
Americans at the 95th percentile don’t consider themselves rich, because they aren’t, surely as compared with C.E.O.s, hedge funders and so on. Nonetheless, they have seen substantial gains. On the other hand, the typical college graduate — who is, remember, someone who made it through and received an accredited degree — hasn’t.
So here’s how I see it: Much of the student debt weighing down millions of Americans can be attributed to false promises.
Some of these promises were scams pure and simple; think Trump University. Even those who weren’t outright cheated, however, were pulled in by elite messaging assuring them that a college degree was a ticket to financial success. Too many didn’t realize that their life circumstances might make it impossible to finish their education — it’s hard for comfortable, upper-middle-class Americans to realize how difficult staying in school can be for young people from poorer families with unstable incomes. Many of those who did manage to finish found that the financial rewards were far smaller than they expected.
And all too many of those who fell victim to these false promises ended up saddled with large debts.
Canceling large swaths of educational debt will do more to help the bottom 95% than most of the legislation proposed this session. The rich don't need it; in fact, many wealthy people have no college debt at all. They're the ones who hold the notes, when you get down to it. So here's hoping President Biden moves forward on the proposal.
The temperature bottomed out at -14.4°C around 1:30 am, and has climbed ever so slowly since then to -0.3°:
Will we get above freezing? The forecast says yes, any moment now. But the sun will set in about 5 minutes. Anyway, a guy can dream, right?
Meanwhile, Chicago's teachers and schools have agreed to let the kids back tomorrow, even as the mayor herself tested positive for Covid. And the Art Institute's workforce has formed a union, which will operate under AFSCME.
And that's not all:
And finally, just as no one could have predicted that more guns leads to more gun violence, the same people could not have predicted that the NFT craze would lead to NFT fraud.
Today's temperatures have hovered around -9°C, with a forecast of bottoming out around -18°C tomorrow morning. But hey, at least the sun is out, right?
Meanwhile, in the rest of the world:
Finally, if you're looking to get away from it all, you might have to pass on the Isle of Rum off the coast of Scotland. Its population has almost doubled in the past couple of years, to 40.
The temperature at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters bottomed out at -16.5°C around 8am today, colder than any time since February 15th. It's up to -8.6°C now, with a forecast for continued wild gyrations over the next week (2°C tomorrow, -17°C on Monday, 3°C on Wednesday). Pity Cassie, who hasn't gotten nearly enough walks because of the cold, and won't next week as her day care shut down for the weekend due to sick staff.
Speaking of sick staff, New Republic asks a pointed question about the Chicago Public Schools: why should their teachers be responsible for making life normal again?
The Washinigton Post asks, what will people do with the millions of dogs they adopted when they (the people, not the dogs) go back to work?
The lawyers for Cyber Ninjas ask, who's going to pay their fees after the grift-based organization shut down abruptly?
And North Michigan Avenue asks, will any more pieces of the Hancock Center fall off the building?
And I ask, will Cassie ever let me sleep past 7am?
The Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union keep butting heads, resulting in CPS closing the schools for another day tomorrow:
Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union have filed unfair labor charges against one another, with each side asking state officials to end the current dispute over in-person learning in their favor.
The latest escalation in the conflict over adequate COVID-19 safety measures in schools comes as CPS saw a new record number of coronavirus cases Tuesday — the last day of classes before the lack of agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union shut down schools districtwide for two days.
As CPS and the union continued their fight Thursday, Illinois reported another record-shattering day for new COVID-19 infections, with 44,089 new confirmed and probable cases reported statewide, with a record 7,098 people hospitalized with the virus overnight Wednesday.
The Mayor and CTU have been at loggerheads for most of her term. Naturally, the parents wish a pox on both their houses:
It’s not clear how long the impasse could last. The city filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the union, and officials are considering litigation to force teachers back to their classrooms if negotiations continue to stall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday.
Parents said they’re desperate for a resolution — and a stable learning environment for their kids.
Numerous parents said they scrambled to find last-minute child care Wednesday. The union did not announce its vote to go remote and CPS didn’t officially inform families there wouldn’t be classes until about 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Jennifer Jones, whose two teenagers attend large Northwest Side high schools, said she fully supports the union’s vote to go remote and she was disappointed CPS canceled classes. Jones said her sons are prepared to learn remotely and feel safer learning from home with cases spiking citywide and inconsistent mask-wearing at school.
“Given the ongoing pandemic, CPS should have been prepared for a switch to remote learning,” Jones said.
Josh Marshall sees similar fights brewing in other cities, and concludes that the people making decisions about schools aren't the ones affected:
There’s a deep conventional wisdom out there which has it that liberal Twitter and the broader Blue State commentariat is a hotbed of demands for school closures. The reality is almost diametrically opposed to this. From mid-2020 the country’s most esteemed and prestigious liberal/cosmopolitan publications, electronic broadcasts and university programs have been dominated by voices of highly educated, affluent and mostly white people demanding schools never close, even for brief periods, and almost always in the name of students from minority and/or marginalized communities.
But there is an upside down character to the image these demands create. In fact, during the pre-vaccine period, when significant sections of the country remained in remote leaning, it was precisely these communities which were most resistant to going back to in-person education. The blunt reality is that the staunchest voices against school closures of any sort for any duration are people with PhDs working from home.
And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's re-election chances took another hit today when former CPS CEO and US Education Secretary Arne Duncan made some noises about running against her.
Every so often in the winter, a cold front pushes in overnight, giving us the warmest temperature of the day at midnight. Welcome to my morning:
The sun actually came out a few minutes ago—right around the time the temperature started dropping faster.
The forecast says temperatures will continue falling to about -12°C by 3pm, rise ever so slightly overnight and tomorrow, then slide on down to -17° from 3pm tomorrow to 6am Friday. And, because it's Chicago, and because the circumpolar jet stream looks like Charlie Brown's shirt right now, between 6am Friday and 9pm Saturday the temperature will steadily rise more than 20°C (that's 36°F to the luddites out there), peaking at 3°C around 9pm Saturday.
Before the cold front hit last night, the Chicago Teachers Union voted to halt in-person teaching, citing alarming Covid numbers. The Chicago Public Schools promptly locked them out of virtual teaching, giving about 100,000 nothing to do and nowhere to go. (Some CPS staff have at least opened the school buildings so kids can get lunches and stay warm, but the SEIU won't cross what it sees as a picket line, so...)
Since most of the area's colleges and universities have moved back to virtual instruction for the next two weeks, I have trouble understanding the CPS position here, or why CPS locked the teachers out. Sure, the teachers may lose a day's pay, but the kids will suffer more harm than either organization.
Chicago's public health officials say the schools are safe, with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot complaining that "There’s no reason to shut down the entire system, particularly given the catastrophic consequences that will flow." But the CTU didn't call a work stoppage; they called for virtual classes, something CPS has done for almost two years. That leaves me with the impression that Lightfoot and CPS want to stand up to the CTU more than they want to find a solution.
Frankly, both sides look bad here. And again: the kids get the worst of it.
Hard to imagine why Illinois recreational marijuana sales doubled to $1.38 billion in 2021.
Police arrested Jennifer and James Crumbley at a commercial building in Detroit today after a day-long manhunt. They're the parents of the kid who killed four of his high school classmates last week, and wow, are they in trouble:
Prosecutors allege that the parents bought the gun for their son, and that Jennifer Crumbley boasted on social media about taking her son to a shooting range to try it out. Authorities also say 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley’s parents left the gun unlocked and neglected to act on concerns expressed by school officials that he might act violently.
Hours after announcing that the pair was being charged — an extraordinarily rare move to hold parents accountable when a minor uses a weapon in a school shooting — police officials said that the couple had gone missing. They were located overnight in a commercial building after an extensive search involving police dogs, local law enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service, authorities said.
The details of how these idiots enabled their kid to shoot a dozen people boggle the mind:
According to the criminal complaint described by McDonald at a press conference, the Sig Sauer 9mm pistol that Ethan used to kill fellow students was purchased by James Crumbley at a local gun store with his son present on November 26, four days before the rampage.
“Just got my new beauty today,” Ethan posted on social media that same day, according to the complaint, along with photos of the Sig Sauer weapon.
“Mom and son day, testing out his new Christmas present,” Jennifer allegedly posted on social media the following day.
In the days leading up to the attack, an Oxford High teacher had “observed Ethan searching ammunition on his cellphone during class,” according to McDonald—a common warning behavior in school shooting cases. That prompted attempts by worried school officials to contact his parents via phone and email; the school got no response from the Crumbleys, said McDonald. Shortly after that outreach, Jennifer exchanged text messages with her son, according to McDonald.
“LOL, I’m not mad at you,” she allegedly texted to Ethan. “You have to learn not to get caught.”
By the morning of the shooting, graphically violent images Ethan had drawn in class prompted school officials to convene an urgent meeting with the Crumbleys and their son at the school. In his backpack, Ethan had the Sig Sauer and dozens of rounds of ammunition, according to prosecutors. Whether the parents may have suspected or been aware of that is unknown, but according to McDonald they did not ask about the whereabouts of the newly purchased weapon or inspect Ethan’s backpack. They left the high school, refusing a recommendation to take Ethan with them, according to McDonald. “He was returned to the classroom,” she said. Investigators further determined that the gun had been stored in an unlocked drawer in the Crumbley’s home.
The utter depravity.
The couple have pleaded not guilty to four counts of involuntary manslaughter. If convicted, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison. I hope they do.
While running errands this morning I had the same thought I've had for the past three or so weeks: the trees look great this autumn. Whatever combination of heat, precipitation, and the gradual cooling we've had since the beginning of October, the trees refuse to give up their leaves yet, giving us cathedrals of yellow, orange, and red over our streets.
And then I come home to a bunch of news stories that also remind me everything changes:
- Like most sentient humans, Adam Serwer feels no surprise (but plenty of disgust) that a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse: "This is the legal regime that a powerful minority of gun-rights advocates have built—one in which Americans are encouraged to settle their differences with lethal force, preferably leaving as few witnesses capable of testimony as possible."
- Charles Blow worries about the follow-on effects—i.e., vigilantism. Says Blow, "Right-wing gun culture is not unlike the wellness industry, in that it requires the cultivation of a sustained insecurity in its audience, in order to facilitate the endless purchase of its products."
- Dan Friedman finds Rittenhouse's acquittal terrifying: "[M]ost reasonable people would agree that armed vigilantes facing off with armed protesters, or rioters—while police hide blocks away in armored vehicles—is, by and large, bad. But in Kenosha, and much the country, it is legal. And it is becoming normal. ... [T]he biggest failure was that the events of the trial, and the public perception of it, will not deter the kind of conduct that led to it. It seems sure to cause more right-wing vigilantism, more armed confrontations, and more political violence in the streets."
Outside of Kenosha:
Finally, Israel's government has loosened the certification process for Kashrut inspectors, to the outrage (do they express any other emotion?) of the Haredim. One possible factor? "The head of the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut division was indicted on bribery charges in 2020 after being videotaped allegedly accepting envelopes of cash from food importers." Oy gevalt!
As the last workday in October draws to a close, in all its rainy gloominess, I have once again spent all day working on actually coding stuff and not reading these articles:
Finally, a 97-year-old billionaire has given $240 million to UC Santa Barbara on the condition they build a 4500-room dormitory so awful (think Geidi Prime) the school's consulting architect resigned.
Stories from the usual suspects:
- Sweden's Prime Minister abruptly resigned Sunday, saying it's for the benefit of his center-left party.
- Following Andrew Cuomo's resignation, Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York State this morning just after midnight.
- The Capitol Police have cleared the unnamed officer who shot domestic terrorist Ashli Babbit as she tried to force her way into the Speaker's Lobby on January 6th, adding that the shooting likely saved many other lives.
- Economist Paul Krugman credits the pandemic for showing low-wage workers, particularly in the leisure and hospitality industry, they're worth more than they were paid in the past. (In other words, we should call the "labor shortage" by the more correct term "market forces" instead.)
- Josh Marshall once again points out that the evacuation from Kabul, while appearing chaotic, has actually been very successful.
- Jordan Michael Smith asks, "Twenty years after 9/11, are we any smarter?"
- Sarah Zhang frets about the new school year and hopes it won't go as badly as last year.
Finally, Whisky Advocate calls out a few lesser-known distilleries in Scotland worth visiting—or at least sampling.