Saturday, June 29, 2019

ANS -- The Case for Combining Tuition-Free College with Debt Relief

Another invitation to  thinking things through from Benjamin Studebaker.  It's about how to handle all that student debt.  


Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

The Case for Combining Tuition-Free College with Debt Relief

by Benjamin Studebaker

This week, Bernie Sanders launched his campaign to annihilate all $1.6 trillion in student debt. This far exceeds the amount Elizabeth Warren promises to alleviate ($640 billion). Warren pledges to eliminate up to $50,000 in debts for those making less than $100,000 per year. Those who owe more than $50,000 would still have to pay the remaining balance, and those earning more than $100,000 would receive smaller reductions. By contrast, Sanders vows to eliminate all outstanding debt. Sanders also promises to use federal money to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Warren's policy on tuition relies on state governments to provide a large percentage of the funding, and that means that Republican governors and state legislators would be able to refuse to participate, in much the same way that they refused to participate in Barack Obama's Medicaid expansion. This would create a two-tier system, in which Americans living in blue states would enjoy educational rights denied to Americans living in red states. The Sanders plan is the only plan predicated on the principle that further education ought to be a universal right of all Americans, regardless of where they live or how much money they earn.

But there are those who resist the Sanders plan, arguing that cancelling student debt and providing tuition-free college subsidises economically inefficient behaviour and rewards people who made mistakes. Others argue that debt relief is regressive, because college-educated Americans tend to be higher income than those who did not go to college. I think both of these arguments are wrong. Here's why.

Image result for sanders tuition

On student debt, there are three groups:

  1. Those who went to school and borrowed heavily to do so.
  2. Those who went to school, but had the resources to avoid borrowing or pursued lucrative careers that enabled to pay off any debts incurred quickly.
  3. Those who did not go to school because they could not afford to do so or could not find an alternative form of further education (e.g. apprenticeships) that suited their skill-set.

Tuition-free college helps group #3. Debt relief helps group #1. Most of the people objecting to the Sanders plan from the right are in group #2. Their argument is predicated on the idea that the people in group #2 earned it, that they deserve to be there, and that the people in groups #1 or #3 do not merit assistance.

I'm in group #2. When it came time for me to go to college, I had a lot of financial help from my professional class parents. They ensured I never went to debt, even though I went to expensive universities and undertook multiple degrees. I picked up a bachelors in politics from the University of Warwick, then a masters in the social sciences at the University of Chicago, and I am most of the way through a PhD in politics at the University of Cambridge.

If I came from a poorer background, this would have been extraordinarily difficult. It would have required borrowing an immense pile of money. I have a friend who has pursued an undergraduate degree and a masters, with no help from family. Even with considerable financial assistance, she's more than $70,000 in debt. Elizabeth Warren's plan would still leave her with $20,000 left to pay. If you're poor and interested in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, there are only two things you can do:

  1. Borrow a huge pile of money and pray you are one of the lucky ones who finds a good job afterwards.
  2. Dump your dreams, learn to code, and spend years working a miserable STEM job to earn the money necessary to return to school and pursue what you love.

Those who borrow huge piles of money have to take whatever jobs are available to them to start repayment. They don't get a free choice about what to do when they finish college–they are compelled to take whatever the economy will offer. Only a few will be lucky enough to find something that genuinely aligns with the degree they pursued. Most will be stuck doing something else. They may have resisted the fear of poverty at the start of their degrees, but they are subjugated by the power of the debt burden that follows from their bravery.

Those who do the "responsible" thing and pursue the sensible STEM degree to fund a return to education are rendered indentured servants, forced to surrender a decade or more of their early adulthoods pursuing the resources others are given as a birthright. They say that they worked hard and that others should have to do the same, and are thereby roped into defending the very system which stole their 20s from them.

Worse, many of the people who abandon their dreams never return to them. Immiserated in work they hate, they cope by buying lattes, taking trips, and sinking money into cars, apartments, and homes. Some of them throw themselves into the dating scene, hoping that a partner and some kids will fill the void. All of these things are expensive and all of these things come with responsibility, and the further down this path they tread, the harder it is to squirrel away enough money to escape their horrible jobs. Time passes, and they get old, and returning to school increasingly becomes unthinkable. The decision must be rationalised. They tell themselves it was the responsible thing. They say that those who took out loans and went into debt were silly dreamers. They say that those who didn't go to school were stupid, lazy, or drug-addled.

In all of these cases, people who were themselves victims of the system become its defenders, alleging that others should have to submit to the same hardships they faced. They rationalise its failures because to do otherwise is to admit that they were unable to live free lives, that they submitted to the yoke of slavery because they were afraid. They resent the idea that others might have the good fortune to be free, simply because they were born later under different laws. And so they fight tuition-free college and debt-free college, because they are in pain. They know on some level, deep down, that they have not lived free, authentic lives, and the only way they can make this okay is by naturalizing and valorizing their own subjugation, foisting it upon those who follow.

The truth is that those who pursued the sensible STEM degree or already paid their extortionate debts are also victims of this system, albeit victims who are now beyond our help. The only real winners are those who, like me, were lucky enough to have the family resources necessary to do exactly what we wanted right from the start. If we're honest, we know we did nothing to earn this. We are lucky to have parents who have resources and are willing to deploy them on our behalf. Of course, even we exist with some level of fear–what if our parents stopped helping? What if they cut us off? We have to keep them happy, because without them we are just like everyone else.

What about the other objection, from the left, which claims that these policies are regressive? If we were merely discussing debt relief, they might have an argument–most low-income Americans have never been to college and have no student debt to cancel. But by adding Sanders' tuition-free plan to the debt relief plan, these concerns can be allayed. By offering to cover tuition for new students, Sanders ensures that those who don't have debt to relieve can still benefit from the plan. What's more, the Sanders plan extends tuition-free status to "tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs", leaving Americans with no interest in 4-year colleges many alternative ways to access its benefits.

Alone, debt relief might appear to give special treatment to those with outstanding debts. But in combination with the tuition-free plan, debt relief helps to instantiate a universal right to further education. The tuition-free component looks forward, protecting the right for those who are yet to pass through the education system, protecting the freedom of future generations and ensuring they will always get to make meaningful choices in early life, without fear of economic coercion. Meanwhile, the debt relief component looks backward, emancipating those who have been enslaved by debt and freeing them up to make new choices. Without tuition-free college, debt relief would be special dispensation. Without debt relief, tuition-free college would leave a generation feeling betrayed and isolated. Only together can the policies create a new universal, basic right. Only together can they expand the realm of freedom in America.

And that really is what we're talking about–an expansion of freedom. When you must spend your time studying a subject you don't care about or working a job you can't stand because you fear poverty and deprivation, you aren't free. Your time is not your own. In America we have grown accustomed to the idea that people in their 20s can and should be economically controlled, and we use the mechanisms of tuition and debt to control them. We let it happen because the cost of tuition crept up slowly, so slowly that no one noticed, that everyone treated it as natural and unremarkable. Yet, gradually, they have encroached, bit by bit. This is an opportunity to stop it, and if we do nothing it will go on and on and on and on.

We must get it for everyone. We cannot, as Elizabeth Warren proposes to do, abandon the people of the red states to torment at the hands of merciless Republican governors who see the university system as nothing more than state-subsidised job training, a means of serving up a whole generation of young Americans to their corporate masters on a stick. Every American must be free to choose their own path at 18, unimpeded by the grand designs of parents, firms, and their pet politicians. It must be the Sanders plan.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

ANS -- Why the Anglo World is Collapsing -- How the Dunces of Modern History Ended Up Being Us

Here is Umair Haque saying it again, another way.  (Referring to previous article here:  )

I think he is exaggerating the ubiquity of this attitude, but not its self-destructiveness.  It is the classic adolescent male attitude, on steroids.  It is the "independence" that we pride ourselves on, the "rugged individualism" that we laud in our movies and TV programs. It is the "Argument Culture" that Deborah Tannen wrote about in the book of the same name.  It is the immature human denying culture and science and going by his infant "gut feelings". It is the fact that our country's idea of a mature man has become what used to be a silly adolescent instead of actual maturity.  This is also explained in the article I sent you about the two Moral Modes.  
This makes me think of the old Union song, "Which Side are You On?"  Why can't we get the people who are on the other side, the one that considers all of us worth respecting and helping, to get out and vote the ones out who don't believe that way?  Why won't they vote?

Why the Anglo World is Collapsing

How the Dunces of Modern History Ended Up Being Us

Every age has a dunce. A society, or set of societies, that just don't get it. They don't learn history's lessons. They don't progress — they stagnate, and then regress, clinging desperately to failing ideologies, grasping at dead, obsolete ideas like a drowning person grasps at flotsam. But history's tide is unforgiving. It cares little for the fool who clings to the driftwood, instead of swims for the shore.

Every age has a dunce, and the dunces of this age, my friends, are us. You and me. The Anglos. I think that we have to confront a difficult truth. One that's especially difficult for me, as an Anglo, an English-speaker, and maybe for you, too. Our societies are not looking like they are going to make it.

Take a hard look at America and Britain. Do these seem like sane, enlightened, thinking societies to you anymore? Or just places where the most aggressively ignorant, cruel, and abusive rise to the top — cheered on by people who wish they were the most aggressively ignorant, cruel, and abusive?

Let's do a quick reality check about the state of Anglo societies. Britain and America are the only two societies in the world where the following things are true. Life expectancy is falling. Income is stagnant. People can barely make ends meet. I could go on. The point is very simple. Outside perhaps North Korea, these three things are true nowhere else in the world.

Anglo societies are collapsing, my friends. At light speed. Against all the odds — having become rich and powerful and even a little respected. Anglo societies are having the fastest, hardest, most ruinous collapse since the fall of the Soviet Union. The world is laughing in astonishment, glee, horror, and satisfaction. ("Build that wall!" Hey, dummy — don't you need healthcare?)

Do you need more "indicators"? Are you one of those people that needs "statistics" to tell you what is true about you are already living? Very well. Anglo societies are also the ones in which depression and suicide are soaring, in which trust has evaporated, between institutions and among people, in which social structures have collapsed, middle classes becoming a minority, a wave of new poor rising.

That is because Anglo societies were the only ones cutting investment in themselves. Did you know that schools in Britain are closing one day a week…because there's "no money"? Hospitals shuttering emergency rooms, for the same reason? Wait — how come there's always money for bank bailouts?

But at least Britain spent a few decades investing in itself. America never did — and the ruinous results are all too plain to see. America is a "rich" country in name only. Americans will never have the following things: rising incomes, savings, retirements, decent healthcare, a quality of life that the rest of the rich world takes for granted — just travel across an imaginary border to Canada and see how much better life is, in every imaginable way, from less crime, to no "medical bankruptcy", to a distinct lack of fascists in media and politics.

It's no surprise, then, that Anglo societies are also the ones in which extremism has raged to the very top of democracy, rendering it not really democracy at all anymore. Is Trumpism "democracy"? How about Brexit? Of course they are not. They are crude majoritarianism, self-inflicted catastrophe, the undoing of the pillars of democracy, as the enraged cry: "burn it all down! If I cannot have mine, I will take you down with me!" But why did Anglo societies make this mistake — austerity, nobody investing in anyone else, which then led to vicious extremism surging to the very top, destabilizing society?

Because Anglo societies have never really understood what democracy is.

Democracy is not me controlling, hurting, harming, or injuring you. It is me freeing you. Liberating you. To be, do, enjoy what? Greater happiness, trust, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, worth.

Now, this is the point at which I probably lose you. Anglos are trained to be so dumb, so uneducated, so dispirited, so Soviet, that by now, all that they can talk about is money. Shift to the ideas behind it, and bang! The Anglo mind shuts down. Hey, did you know Uber's about to go public!!111 No dollar signs — help! I don't know how to think! So I encourage you to read on—if only to challenge yourself. You can judge for yourself if anything I have to say matters.

That idea of democracy — me liberating you, expanding your freedom — might sound trivial to you. But the simple fact — the unfortunate fact — is that Anglo societies think and believe exactly the opposite. Maybe you don't — good for you. But you, like me, are in a distinct minority. How else would Britain have ended up…closing schools and hospitals? How else would Americans have ended up without healthcare and retirement? You see, if Anglo societies genuinely understood that democracy is me liberating you to achieve more happiness, security, meaning — more eudaimonia, in short, more of a truly good life — they wouldn't have denied each other precisely that.

But Anglo societies don't understand any of this. Their logic is as brutal as it is foolish as it is backwards. My goal in life is to maximize my own money, power, and control. And if that means taking away your happiness, purpose, worth, value, security — very well, so be it. In fact, all the better that way — me preying on you — because it proves how worthy I really am (but I'll get to that).

In other words, Anglo societies see eudaimonia itself as zero-sum — for me to have a good life, I must take it away from you. If I am to be happy, you must be unhappy. If I am to feel secure, you must be insecure. If I am to have worth, you must be worthless.

Where do we see that happening? Where don't we see it happening is the better question. Why else would a rich country close..schools and hospitals? Every aspect of Anglo life is shaped by the moral illogic of zero-sum gain now. That is why the crudest forms of social climbing have come to dominate culture wholesale — think of the false smile of the professional Instagrammer. It's the perfect example. I must establish my superiority. Look at my perfect life! But for me to feel the thrill of dominance in this way, I must make you depressed, envious, unhappy. Who is better off this way? Precisely no one is the answer — which is why depression has spiraled out of control in Anglo societies.

(I've given you a trivial example so far — Instagram envy. Now just extend it. What do our "best and brightest" — that tiresome, Social Darwinist phrase, do? The Ivy Leaguer and Oxbridge graduate go off to Wall St, or maybe Big Tech. There, they proceed to do absolutely nothing of real value, purpose, meaning, or worth. Maybe they become executives, or hedge fund managers. So what? They are hardly making great discoveries. They are selling ads. The only goal of this grim charade of progress is to pile up profit in fewer and fewer hands, by taking it, looting, extracting it from others. Hence, the Yale or Harvard graduate soon enough finds himself "raiding" pension funds, which is a polite way of saying: stealing peoples' life savings.

What the? Why are Harvard grads stealing people's life savings in broad daylight — and being celebrated for it? Because precisely the same moral illogic is at work. For me to have more, you must have less. You must have less than me — in every regard, power, money, worth, value — for me to have more. We cannot both have more — only one of us can win. And the one of us that is the strongest, the cruellest, the most abusive — he should be applauded, cheered, and adulated.)

Where does this insane, bizarre, upside down illogic come from? I'll answer that in just a moment. First let me spell it out a little more clearly at root, and then its roots will naturally reveal themselves.

Anglo thinking, the moral illogic which is , goes like this: I must be above you. Superior. Only then am I worth something. Then I am powerful. Then I can be valued. I am only worthy in precise proportion to my superiority — because no one has intrinsic worth. But if I am not above anybody, then I am nobody. If I am not in control of anyone, then I am not anyone. The only people I am better than are those who I have more money and power than.

Now see the flip side of this moral logic, which is where collapse comes from. If I do not dominate you, I myself am weak. You have dominated me. Life is either dominate or be dominated, predator or prey, control or be controlled, have power over or be powerless. Only the strong survive.

Thus, Anglos deny one another the most basic things of life — now, right down to schools and hospitals. Why would any sane person do that? The answer can only really be — because such people are seeking dominance over their neighbours. I must have more — therefore, you must have less. But that is not democracy, my friends. It is something just a shade away from the hatred that has come to rule these broken societies of idiots. It is tribalism and authoritarianism by any other name.

Hence, the only governing principle left in Anglos society is cruelty, abuse, violence. The most cruel, abusive, and violent win — and they win everything, taking more than 100% of the economy's gains, rendering life more or less unlivable for everyone else, who then rebel by wanting to burn it all down. The supreme are the ones who take what is theirs — and they can be no other way, because zero-sum moral logic dictates that I must take from you to have more for me. I must be a predator — or else I will be prey.

Do you see the roots of all this stupidity yet? They are the direct result of the moral logic of supremacy. Anglo societies invented supremacy — which then and today we call "white supremacy."

But they are being undone by the logic of supremacy applied to themselves too, now. You see, supremacy was not just the idea that the white man was superior — it was the idea that he was superior because he was the most rational, clever, ruthless, and strong. White supremacy, therefore, is a deeper idea in itself. Supremacy, period.

You can see supremacy very simply and clearly in two telling examples. Brexit — in which the Brexiter cannot be equal to the German or the French person or the Spaniard — but must rise above them. And in America's white middle class becoming a minority for the first time — and a tidal wave of racism, bigotry, and hate rising. Why? Because the American cannot be equal, you see. He must have someone to dominate, control, abuse. The problem is that today, that person is his neighbour, just as it is for Britain. Bang! Collapse — as a society eats itself.

Supremacy says that life is a battle, and the human being's job is to rise above the rest. But to rise above the rest — because they are all climbing, too — means pulling as many others as you can down. Because the higher you rise, the less room there is on the pyramid. Supremacy therefore selects for the most ruthless, immoral, indecent — the violent, abusive, and cruel — and calls them the "best and brightest." But they are not. They are just the most violent, abusive, and cruel. They are the "fittest", to be sure, in supremacy's terms — the ones who can do the most injury to others, and therefore reign supreme over them. But that is all they are.

Supremacy, in other words, creates predators — and then selects for the greatest, hungriest, and most vicious predators among them. You don't have to look much further than America's halls of power to see that. You don't have to look much further than Anglo culture to see it, whether work or play. You don't have to look much further than the concepts Anglo society's endlessly regurgitates — "grit", "reslience", today's latest codewords for being able to simultaneously receive pain, and give cruelty — to see it.

Anglos are inheritors of one of history's greatest mistakes. One of the human mind's most fatally foolish ideas. Supremacy. Supremacy was applied to white men, it's true. But as an idea, it has never really left Anglo society. They are still obsessed with, controlled by, governed by the idea of supremacy — that people are locked in mortal combat for meaning, purpose, happiness, worth, value, and nobody has any worth at all if they cannot dominate anyone else.

The reason that this idea is a mistake — why it has led to Anglo collapse — should be painfully obvious. If I am trying to pull you down, and you me — where can we go? If I am trying to take your happiness and meaning and worth away — and you mine — where do we end up? We end up racing to the bottom. We end up degenerating and atrophying, socially, culturally, politically. We end up stagnating economically, since all predators do is take — not create, build, imagine.

Anglo societies are in the predator's trap. Everyone in them is taught to contest everyone else for supremacy — but the result of this moral illogic, which is precisely equivalent to saying that no one has any inherent worth, no one deserves anything, everything in life is zero-sum — is that we waste our lives trying to kill one another, basically. No, really. What else does it mean when I take away your healthcare? Your kids' education? I'm denying him life, in the purest sense, am I not?

The rest of the rich world has learned the great lesson of history. That cooperative nonviolence is the hand of progress. Social democracy is based on that principle. And it's not a coincidence that social democracies are all forging ahead, whether Sweden or Canada, even in troubled times — while us Anglos are collapsing into the abyss. The abyss of what supremacy must lead to. Extremism, fascism, authoritarianism. All the things that are the opposite of democracy.

Democracy is me liberating you to enjoy more eudaimonia — more happiness, meaning, purpose, trust, belonging, intimacy, truth, grace.But Anglos don't understand that, and they never have. They seem incapable of understanding this beautiful and vital lesson of history, so true and full of grace. They don't to give one another more eudaimonia. They just want to give one another less, by taking it from each other, in an endless cycle of brutish, stupid violence. That is what supremacy demands, because that is how one proves one is superior. And the result of that can only be collapse, my friends.

Hence, our countries — English-speaking ones — have become global laughingstocks. Bad jokes, which the world gasps at, incredulous. We stand caught between an impossibility: humiliated by our worst, and embarrassed by our best. People do not respect us, nor should they. All that is why the world is torn between two responses to the self-inflicted collapse of the Anglo world. A kind of jaw-dropped laughter, at the sheer stupidity of us. And a kind of vengeful, satisfied gloating — after all, we are the ones who have kept them down for so long, toppling governments and poisoning their democracies. Only now we are doing it to ourselves. If I was them, I'd gloat, too — and call it karma, justice, retribution. Those Anglos have finally got theirs!

The world see the lessons of Anglo collapse that we ourselves don't and can't seeSupremacy, its desperate insecurity, its terrible folly, dividing the world into predator and prey, leads to collapse. Because if everyone's a predator, society eats itself. The world is beginning to learn this. But us? We are still the same old stupid, stupid supremacists — only now we are fighting to dominate and demean and destroy ourselves. That is why we are humiliated. Yet nobody has humiliated us but us. We are the idiots of history now, my friends.

March 2019

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ANS -- America's Real Economy: It Isn't Booming

Here's a fairly short article from Forbes -- a pretty conservative magazine.  Apparently even the moneyed class is starting to realize that the current state of our economy is unsustainable.  Their suggestions for fixing it, however, are amusing, but probably not viable.  

EDITOR'S PICK493,234 viewsAug 22, 2018, 10:58am

America's Real Economy: It Isn't Booming

Walter Holm, age 67, a Vietnam veteran is living at Transitions, a homeless recovery center in Columbia, SC in 2016. There are other aging veterans who are homeless and looking for work, but not finding it.  (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Holm, age 67, a Vietnam veteran is living at Transitions, a homeless recovery center in Columbia, SC in 2016. There are other aging veterans who are homeless and looking for work, but not finding it.  (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Ostensibly, for the past ten years, our economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we're back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.

The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn't exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That's 45 million people.

At that level of income, there's almost no way to pay for food and shelter in any sizeable American city. That means people now can both be employed and homeless. Rajon Menon writes, for The Nation:

In America's big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.

Fewer and fewer people have savings to weather time between jobs or an emergency expense. A third of the U.S. population has no savings and another third has saved less than $1,000. Two-thirds of American households, by this measure, are desperately scrambling to make ends meet from check to check. Nearly half the American population earns too little to live on comfortably:

One-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That's $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.

Even in households that combine income from two wage-earners, it's rarely enough to live on without anxieties about money. It takes an average of a little more than $100,000 per year now for a household to be able to live without anxieties about money.

Slow and steady inflation has eroded buying power over the past decade. According to The Nation, the minimum wage rose to $7.25 by 2009, but since then inflation has eroded 10% of its buying power. So this year, someone will have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.

  • Healthcare costs are projected to go up 20% in the coming year.
  • Credit card debt has crested at a trillion dollars and is projected to increase at 4.7% by 2020.
  • Wages have been increasing by only 2.9% per year.
  • For the young, education debt has reached a record $1.52 trillion.

How long is this sustainable?

What's genuinely astonishing to me is that the private sector doesn't see the immense danger in all this—not simply the prospect of a collapse from enormous household debt loads, but the prospect of civil unrest after another huge correction like the one in 2008. Our current course is unsustainable. And for all the proposals for changes in public policy to ameliorate income inequality, only the private sector can get the nation on a better track by raising wages, increasing benefits and investing in new ventures and expanded markets.

There are numerous ways in which our wealthiest companies could help change the course of our economy. Here are some suggestions from Larry Thompson, former executive VP for PepsiCo, and his coauthors writing for Fortune magazine:

  • Get involved in early education for children of employees. Programs that start at birth can lift their earnings by up to 26%. At PNC Financial Services Group, their Grow Up Great program has served over 2 million children throughout the U.S., through grants to organizations that support early learning in math, science, and the arts.
  • Fund higher education for existing employees. In collaboration with Southern New Hampshire University, Anthem Insurance (ANTM, -0.06%) recently began making associate's or bachelor's degrees available at no cost for 50,000 eligible workers. Another company, FedEx, partners with nearly 20 higher education institutions including Western Governors University.
  • Businesses also should look to re-employ the long-term unemployed, Frontier Communications has hired more than 250 of the long-term unemployed in 2014 alone by eliminating most qualifications and simply observing how well applicants communicated.

These initiatives only scratch the surface, but they are exactly what all companies need to be thinking of doing. If every employer in America came up with even just one modest step—higher wages, regular profit sharing, tuition reimbursement—to help workers spend and save more, the nation would begin to right itself economically. It needs to happen now. We're running out of time.

Monday, June 17, 2019

ANS -- Humans will perish in 31 years, warns latest climate change study

short article on how dire our situation is.  I think there is some truth to the idea that most of what you hear is sticking with the most optimistic estimates of when we are doomed.  

Humans will perish in 31 years, warns latest climate change study

Cities like Mumbai, Florida, Shanghai will be reduced to swamps, 90% of mankind will be annihilated, says report released ahead of World Environment Day

Instances of extreme heatwaves could increase. Photo: VALERIE GACHE / Getty Images

We've got till 2050. That's it—just another 31 years before 90% of mankind is annihilated by climate change, says Australia's Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration. The BNCCR is an independent think-tank that aims to inform the conversation around climate emergency in Australia. Its recent report reinterprets existing data to arrive at this dire conclusion.


Should we take this report seriously?

The findings may seem alarmist, but the cause for alarm is genuine, the report says. It argues that though the data is there for all to see, bodies like the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are not projecting the doomsday scenario realistically enough—that they are "erring on the side of least drama".

"We must never forget that we are in a unique situation with no precise historic analogue. The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is now greater, and the Earth warmer than what human beings have ever experienced. And there are almost eight billion of us now living on this planet." (This corroborates with the recent decision by a body of scientists to formally declare our era as the Anthropocene—a time when humans have a disproportionate impact on the environment)

According to the study, we are marching towards an existential crisis at a much quicker trot than previously thought. It even questions the efficacy of the Paris Agreement that aims to cap global temperature rise to 3-5°C. That's bad enough for disaster, the BNCCR says. "…3°C of warming already constitutes an existential risk," says the study.

Mumbai, Shanghai and other cities at risk

A 3°C rise in temperatures would correspond to a 0.5m rise in sea levels endangering coastal areas around the world. "If climate change was to reach 3°C, most of Bangladesh and Florida would drown, while major coastal cities — ShanghaiLagosMumbai — would be swamped, likely creating large flows of climate refugees," says the study.

Besides, when temperatures rise more than 3°C, the domino effect that will be hard to roll back. Think no more polar ice caps to reflect the sun's rays and heat, Arctic permafrost defrosting to release methane into the atmosphere and other such horrendous things that will only make the Earth hotter still. A 4°C rise could annihilate up to 80-90% of the global human population, say the study.

The think-tank estimates that if nothing is done, by 2050 up to 1 billion people currently residing in West Africa and the Middle East will have to relocate because the climate conditions there will make these places unliveable. Other parts of the world will experience more than 20 days of "record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes" every year. (Puts the recent heatwave that India is experiencing in perspective.)

"Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon, humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences." On the eve of World Environment Day, that's a chilling warning.