#CollegeGrads #employment #jobs #StudentDebt
It may be the best time to graduate college since the Great Recession. But they are still not great.
So writes Ruth Serven of The Kansas City Star. Her story was published July 3, 2016, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The unemployment rate for college grads is less than 5 percent, and job prospects are getting brighter, Serven writes. But 45 percent of those recent grads have jobs that don’t require their degrees, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Serven writes.
Though there is more work available, grads still face stagnant wages and the highest debt load ever, the article says.
In fact, 42 million people owe $1.3 trillion in student debt, according to the cover story in the August 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, which condensed and reprinted an article by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
“I feel I kind of ruined my life by going to college,” the CR article quotes Jackie Krowen, 32, of Portland, Ore., who owes $162,000 in student debt.
We’ve recently discussed this topic in this space, but it bears hearing another perspective.
Many graduates are coming out of college with debt the size of a home mortgage. How can they be expected to 1) buy a house? 2) begin saving for retirement? or 3) buy some of the essential things they need to live a decent life?
On top of the debt, the students’ expensive education is not giving them work that would be worth the investment, in many cases.
Also, some students are getting calls at all hours with prods, if not threats, to make payments on that debt.
Though most consider a home mortgage not just productive debt, but an actual financial vehicle, college debt, without having a commensurate job to make its burden light, is not productive debt.
Certainly, all education has value. But some education has more value than others. If a student goes on to be a doctor, for example, and goes into debt to make that happen, that’s, more or less, expected.
A medical practice can be lucrative and usually, before the doctor gets too old, it is usually paid off. Some even practice medicine in less lucrative places, in exchange for some eventual debt relief, among other inducements.
But if one studies, say, the liberal arts, and goes into debt to pay for that education, it’s very possible, even likely, that, if he gets a job at all, it will not be terribly lucrative. The student debt, therefore, becomes perhaps a lifelong burden. As that student ages, the burden may be so great that he will retire with little or nothing to help him get through old age.
Fortunately, there are solutions that don’t involve stiffing one’s debtor. There are ways to earn an extra income for a few part-time hours a week that might not only pay better than the job you are doing, but has the potential to make you financially free eventually. For one of the best, visit
By all means, before a student decides to go to college, sit down with parents and other advisers and do the math. If you have to borrow money to cover most of the costs, think about how you would pay it back. If you don’t have a good answer, reconsider your future.
Colleges and universities, too, should contemplate their futures. How good would it look to produce thousands, even millions, of graduates that are so crushed with debt, they’ll be paying on it forever? Someone needs to retool education to prevent this.
We have a love-hate relationship with education. We may love it while we’re in school, but, when we graduate, often we don’t love it nearly as much.


#cloning #HumanGenome #BuildingAPersonFromScratch
A couple decades ago, there was talk of cloning, or making an exact copy of an animal, person etc. Dolly, the cloned sheep, became a household name.
Now, scientists are beginning a 10-year program that will re-create the human genome which, if successful, could lead to creating people without the help of parents.
The proposal was published June 2, 2016, in the journal Science, and was the subject of an article by New York Times reporter Andrew Pollack. Pollack’s article was republished in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The idea of building people in a lab is fraught with moral considerations. The potential for huge advancements in medical science is intriguing. Still, Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health — the main funder of medical research in the United States – said that while the NIH is interested in encouraging advances in DNA synthesis, it “has not considered the time to be right for funding a large-scale, production-oriented” project like this one, according to Pollack’s article.
Collins also said such a project immediately raises “numerous ethical and philosophical red flags,” according to Pollack’s article.
The nonprofit Center of Excellence for Engineering Biology, which will run the project, intends to get funding from several public and private sources, according to Pollack’s article.
It’s fairly easy to see the medical advancement potential here. “It might be possible to make organisms resistant to all viruses, for instance, or make pig organs suitable for transplant into people,” Pollack writes.
But to make a whole person, piece by piece, in a lab? That’s delving into areas that will challenge ethics, potentially alter population mix and a host of other things that could change mankind as we know it.
We live in a diverse world. We celebrate that diversity. We work with, and live with, nature, while allowing it to be natural. We certainly like to manufacture things that will benefit us, but manufacturing people may be beyond what we should be doing.
Instead, if we don’t like our situation, or we don’t like whom we’ve become, let’s remake ourselves without making a new person from scratch. We all have the ability to change, to become better people, without changing our DNA, or becoming artificial.
One of the ways we can change is to help others more. To check out one of the best ways to do that, visit You can see how people helping people potentially can help make all involved prosperous.
There are many things we, as smart humans, can do to make the world a better place. There are diseases to fight, physical, economic and other challenges to overcome.
But creating people in labs potentially will dehumanize us as a whole. Imagine a person created in a lab being asked where he or she came from, what his or her family background is etc. Those are all things that make us who we are. How does adding to an already overpopulated world from a lab enhance the world experience?
If this project remains limited in scope, much good could come from it. The danger lies in carrying it out to its fullest potential.
Let’s hope the researchers, presuming they get the funding to do this, will be mindful of all ramifications of their research as they conduct it. Just because something CAN be done, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done.


#hope #NewEconomy #manufacturing
It’s been said that where there’s life, there’s hope.
We can debate whether that idea holds true in a medical sense, but let’s look at it from a societal sense.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett tackled this idea, in connection with Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, in a June 28, 2016, column.
He talks about those who appeal to those who’ve been aggrieved by the new economy.
From the end of World War II through the mid-2000s, America saw, mostly, great prosperity.
Most everyone, from factory worker to CEO, benefited. America made things and shipped them worldwide. Now, we don’t make as many things here as we used to, though reports indicate that manufacturing is coming back.
After that prosperous period came the gradual downsizing and exporting of manufacturing. Then, financial collapse came around 2008. To this day, many have never recovered. Therefore, they have lost hope and are using immigrants and others not like them as scapegoats for their predicament.
“Retrenchment, nativism, nationalism, isolationism, exclusion and reactionary politics – history tells us those tempting and emotional reactions not only don’t work, but prove corrosive and dangerous,“ Brummett writes.
So why should you feel hopeful when you’ve been so wronged?
There are many solutions out there to economic distress. For one of the best, visit You will find lots of hope, optimism and success among average people, who’ve taken a step, and made the effort, to solve problems in their lives.
Certainly, there are naysayers who will, for their own purposes, want you to stay in your angry rut. But strong people will not listen.
Strong people will find what it takes to move out of economic hardship and into prosperity.
It will require work, and perhaps an exit (not a Brexit) from one’s comfort zone. After all, many experts tell us that success was not born in comfort.
How can one pull himself up by the bootstraps if he has no boots?
Sometimes he has to look for boots, or conceive of boots, to achieve boots. Once the boots appear, he can kick off his new life, with a new mind-set and plenty of hope.
“Democracy, a socially conscious capitalism, international alliance, economic evolution and ethnic and racial tolerance – we need to stay on the ship in service to those principles, not jump overboard in fear of them,” Bruummett writes.
The world is not what it was. Every day – every minute – it changes. Things we used to do for ourselves are being done for us. Ideas that were once ideal are becoming obsolete.
Change should not be feared, but embraced. We should approach new things the way a child approaches a wrapped gift at Christmas. Perhaps we can vent our anger by tearing off the paper. But then, it’s time to see the gift for what it is and learn how it will change our, and perhaps others’, lives for the better.


#MiddleClass #MedianIncome #population
“The widening wealth gap is moving more households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major metro areas, with fewer remaining in the middle.”
So writes Christopher Rugaber of the Associated Press. His article was published in the May 12, 2016, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Rugaber based his article on a Pew Research Center analysis and report. Pew defines the middle class as households with incomes between two-thirds and twice the median income, adjusted for household size and local cost of living, according to Rugaber’s article.
Middle-class adults now make up less than half the population in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston.
“(The shrinking of the middle class) has increased the polarization of incomes,” Rugaber quotes Rakesh Kochhar, associate research director at Pew and lead author of the report.
Nationally, the proportion of middle class adults shrank to 51 percent in 2014 from 55 percent in 2000, Rugaber quotes the report. Upper-income adults now constitute 20 percent of the population, up from 17 percent. The lower-income share has risen to 29 percent from 28 percent, the article says.
So what happened? People who lost jobs in the Great Recession, if they have found new ones, are now working for less money. The article tells of a Detroit man, age 52, who was earning $28 an hour as a factory worker, but now works for $17 an hour in another company’s shipping department.
That’s pretty close to half of his salary gone.
The good jobs that had been available, whether unionized or not, are disappearing. Make no mistake. Regardless of how you feel about labor unions, they helped build the middle class. As their power wanes, so does the middle class. Many of those who rail against unions today either once belonged to a union, or had a close family member who did. Many today have unions to thank for whatever life they have built or inherited.
Not only have people lost good jobs only to take lesser paying ones, many have lost good benefits. What their good jobs used to pay for, i.e. health insurance, their new jobs probably do not.
So many are making less, and paying more out of pocket for life’s necessities. Fortunately for them, the price of oil has dropped significantly, so they are saving lots at the pump.
It’s easy to look at the downside of a shrinking middle class. But let’s check out the reverse: some people are actually making more than middle-class wages.
That could be the result of one of several things. Some may be getting highly educated, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Skills in those areas can bring someone a big-paying job.
Still, companies often have to look outside the United States to find people with those skills. Apparently, America is not producing those highly educated people in large numbers.
Some could be boosting their net worth by investing well in the markets. One could start relatively poor, save a little each week out of his meager paycheck, put it away and watch it grow. Then, that person must stay disciplined enough to manage it, but not touch it, until his or her elder years.
Finally, there are ways other than a traditional job that one can earn extra income. For one of the best, visit You’ll see people who started in a variety of financial positions – low, middle or high income – and worked part time on something that made them a fortune. There are no guarantees, of course, but a few people saw something special and worked with it.
The lesson here is that to improve one’s financial position, he may have to look for something that may not be readily apparent. Stick with a job, even a lower-paying one, if you must, but always be on the lookout for something better. There are good things out there for those who look for them.


#BoringSchools #education #HappyStudents
A graduate from an affluent New York high school told a panel of education experts that school was like a prison.
“The only difference,” said Nikhil Goyal, “is that in schools, students are paroled at the same time every day. Does school really have to be this horrible, this boring and monotonous thing that you have to wake up every day at 7 a.m. and go to?” he asked.
Goyal was quoted in a June 13, 2016, column by Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Goyal, now 21, has written a book titled, “Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice,” Downey writes.
Schools should bend to accommodate students rather than forcing children to learn in lockstep and labeling them as failures if they fall out of step, Downey writes, attributing the statement to Goyal.
Why can’t we design schools “where kids are happy and excited to be there?” Downey quotes Goyal.
As we’ve learned, particularly in recent years, it’s difficult to absolutely quantify learning.
Couple that with the advancing technology, in which information is readily available, and we begin to wonder what we are teaching kids, and whether those things are going to actually help them.
The best way we know to quantify learning is through test scores, term papers and the like. In many instances, the students are merely spitting back information they might not ever use – not to mention how easy it will be to find if they do use it.
Employers may not be looking for what a person knows, but how he thinks and whether his way of thinking will mesh with what the company wants to accomplish.
We want to teach kids how to think, but exactly how to do that, in a way that is quantifiable, is a real challenge for educators.
Perhaps, as the educators perfect that, students will feel more excited in school.
Downey says Goyal told her that students measured their self-worth by the number of Advanced Placement classes they took and the academic honors they received. Most were sleep-deprived and some depended on prescription drugs, like Adder-all and Ritalin, to survive, Downey writes.
Certainly, some independent schools, with less emphasis on quantifying learning, let students rely on their own innate curiosity and creativity to lead them to what they should learn, Downey writes. That, she attributes to Goyal, will allow students to learn with enthusiasm and joy.
As the debate continues on how best to educate children, and how much that education should cost, it’s important for children to know that education of any type is valuable, though not all education will make one a living.
There are many ways out there to earn money, regardless of education. For one of the best, visit
Meanwhile, as a society, we need to find the best way to educate children for today’s world. We also know that education that creates enthusiasm among students can only benefit them in the long run.