Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Tag: Education

Starbucks, College, and Interest

I’ve seen the various articles regarding Starbucks announcement that they are going to fund their employees’ college tuition at Arizona State University.  I’ve seen the articles that are pro and con (more con than pro, I should mention).  I’m not sure how I feel, because I need to understand it better and to see what’s going on.  I was researching the subject when I came across an article on Market Watch called “Why Starbucks is right, and Obama is wrong, on Tuition“.   The article is interesting and we do need to figure out how to lower tuition costs, but the article, also, makes a wrong point about college loans and interest rates.

According to the article, the average college student leaves college with $29,400 of debt.  The argument is that a payment of $375.14 a month isn’t that much of an economic problem.  It’s merely a car payment.  See the quote below.

Numbers don’t lie. That $29,400 borrower would pay $375.14 a month for 10 years at Sallie Mae’s highest current rate of 9.17%. But if that loan commanded 0.01% interest, the payment would still be $245.12. The real average is somewhere in between and covered by the spread between a college grad’s income and a high-school grad’s. It’s a car payment, and not really the economic problem many posit.

Except the author is missing a bigger point, that $130.02 a month savings adds up to a difference of $1,560.24 over a 12 month period or $15,602.40 over a ten year life of the loan.  Perhaps, that’s not a lot of money for the author, but it is for most people.

Realistically, the average student isn’t going to pay an interest rate of less than 1% and President Obama and Senator Warren haven’t suggested one that low.  Their plan calls for an interest rate on a refinanced loan of 3.8%.  Even at that amount, the total cost of the loan works out to $35,384.90 – $9,631.54 less than $45,016.45. That’s half a car.

One more item I’d like to point out.  He mentions spending $150,000 on an education for a $42,000 position.  In his opinion, this is way too much money.  He doesn’t really say if this was tuition or the cost of a loan, but I’m assuming he means tuition.  Here’s where the 3.8% interest rate comes in handy.  At this interest rate, the total cost of the education works out to  $180,535.21 .  It makes his argument look even stronger, doesn’t it?

Except, the $42,000 isn’t going to hold as the yearly salary for the rest of the student’s working life.  They, if they’re any good, should get some raises over the next forty years (assuming they start at age 25 and work until age 65).  But, let’s say they don’t receive any raises over the next forty years.  The student will have earned $1,680,000.00 minus the education cost, that’s a profit of $1,499,464.79. That’s not such a bad return on investment.

(The author, also, set me off by knocking people who scored a 20 on their ACT. I scored a 19 – not only have I graduated from college, but I’m at the top of my field, proving that test scores mean diddly squat. But, I digress, as that is off my subject.)

My whole point is this:  tuition needs to be controlled in some manner.  However; distorting facts and not telling the whole story isn’t going to help the overall debate.

Rick Santorum is a Horse’s Ass

Here is his quote:

President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob. There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard everyday and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor that (tries) to indoctrinate them.

Don’t we all want our children to go to college? Haven’t we learned that the majority of people who are unemployed are those with less than a college education? Our manufacturing jobs have gone overseas and they’re not coming back.

And, there’s a quote I want you to read:

“The unemployment rate among (the) non-college-educated is well into the double digits in America. It’s 4 percent or 5 percent for people who have college degrees.”

Who said that? Rick Santorum – the horse’s ass of the Republican Party. Surprised? I’m not. He can’t even keep his own quotes straight. In case you’re wondering, here are the breakdowns of the unemployment rates for January, 2012 by education:

Education Level Unemployment Rate
Less than High School 13.1%
High School/No College 8.4%
Some College / Associate Degree 7.2%
Bachelor’s and Higher 7.2%

How can you think anyone that wanting all of America to be college educated is a bad thing?

House Republicans – Full of Shit

I am just too disgusted and sick to my stomach by the crap the House Republicans (and four Democrats) passed.  Give me a break!  The cut the things that actually would help this country the most. (clean energy, infrastructure, education and job training)  Do they have any idea that our infrastructure needs a trillion dollar overhaul?  And, let’s not educate or train our people!  What’s the fun in that?  And, don’t even get me started on clean energy.

Where’s the cuts to the subsidies to the corporations that are making record profits?  Oh, no, let’s not make our rich friends unhappy.

Pandering to the Tea Party isn’t going to eventually cost them elections – it’s going to cost us our country.  And, why pass something that will just get vetoed anyway?

It’s a waste of time.  Amazing – it didn’t go far enough, so Michele Bachmann didn’t vote for it.  Way to show just how extreme you are, Bachmann!

Check out this blog post, if you would like to know about how wonderful your life would be if the Tea Party ran it.

I can’t even be bothered with being nice anymore.

Let’s throw Paul Ryan out of office.  It’s time for him to go.

Walking Human Debris

This morning, I got up, put the dog out and began writing an article about how Rush Limbaugh called Obama supporters “walking human debris”.  I wrote five or six paragraphs denouncing Limbaugh and his backward, uneducated followers and then I stopped and re-read what I had written.  I decided to delete the whole thing.

I’m not going to gain anything by publicly denouncing Limbaugh.  The only thing that can come from that is I lower myself to his standards and, quite frankly, I am too old to go that low anymore.  We have really lost something in this country.  We have allowed ourselves to be led around by the lowest common denominator and that has led us to not be able to rationally debate any subject anymore.

Oh, I’m not saying that we won’t survive.  We will.  We managed to pull ourselves back together after the Civil War, so I don’t think we’ll be imploding anytime soon.  But, we are slowly and surely heading for a very much divided country.

We’re, also, heading for a very uneducated country.  I saw a post on facebook where one person mentioned the weather in Vegas and another person stated that you have to love the south.  The south?  Vegas is in the Southwest.  The south would be Louisiana or Georgia.  I suck at geography and even I know that.  I don’t write this to hurt someone’s feelings or put them down, but just to point out that we’re truly missing something.

My whole life I received two conflicting statements from my father:  One was, you need to get your college education and the other was college boys don’t know anything.

Dad was right on both counts.

We need to be an educated society.  We need to take economics classes so we can understand how the economy works.  We need to take English classes so we can read and understand our language.  We need history classes so we know from where we’ve come and, hopefully, we don’t repeat the bad stuff.

We, also, need to have some common sense.  The college boys to which my father referred were those guys fresh out of college who had no common sense.  Most of these gentlemen were Naval Officers with whom my father served.  I totally get it, because I know a lot of college graduates who just don’t seem to understand people or the ways of the world.  It seems when someone handed them a degree, their common sense left them.

I have my degree and I worked my way through school to get it.  My parents paid for a grand total of four college classes.  I paid for the rest.  I had to keep my common sense in order to work in the real world.

Somewhere along the line, we stopped respecting those people who worked their way through school.  We started calling them the elites.  Now, there are exceptions to every rule – after all, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both college dropouts – but by not making education a priority in this country, we’re setting ourselves up to fail on the International stage.  Sure, you might be able to sit in your garage and invent the next “Windows”, but chances are you’re not.  You need your college degree and we need people with math and science skills.  That’s why we’re getting our butts handed to us by China and India.

What we don’t need in this country is a man like Rush Limbaugh spouting off about people he doesn’t even know and comparing them to savages.

Let’s talk about spending

I’m going to make this quick. The comments I’ve seen on facebook and here regarding my tax cuts blog basically say the samething. We need to cut spending. I agree. We do need to cut spending. I haven’t looked at all of the spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s plan. Although, changing medicare for those under 55 to a subsidized insurance plan will most likely make the insurance companies rich. If we cut spending to the Health care plan and we don’t make sure these companies offer some federally mandated minimums, I think Ryan’s plan will save the government money by shifting costs to the parts of society that can ill afford them.

I found figures that in 2008 we spent $12 billion per month in Iraq and, in 2006, we spent $6 billion per month in Afghanistan. If those figures hold for 2011, that’s a grand total of $216 billion we’re spending somewhere else. Perhaps we could put all of this “tax cutting” talk aside and bring our troops home.

Granted, the national debt grows by 4.07 billion per day, so at the end of the year, we’re at – roughly – $1.4 trillion dollars. $216 billion isn’t going to make that large of a dent, but it would be a start. There’s an old joke I’ve heard: a million here, a million there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Anyway…

Does it really make sense to borrow money to fight two wars? I’d, also, like the government to spend a million or two and investigate just where all that money is going. But, that’s taking us in the wrong direction.

Back to the tax cuts: we can’t afford them. We can’t make a law that will add to the burden. You can’t cut your income and expect to pay off debt. It just won’t happen. Quite frankly, at our current tax levels, we’re really hurting. We should make the Bush tax cuts, which were extended by Obama, go away. The little raise won’t hurt any of us.

That said, going back to pre-Bush levels shouldn’t mean new spending, that money should go to paying off the debt and balancing the budget. Republicans love to toot their own horn and erroneously claim that they’re for the working people, the middle class. They aren’t. All of these tax cuts throughout the years have done more harm than good for this country. Reagan’s tax cuts went too far and the tax cut Republicans that have followed him don’t understand that. There are government programs that people actually don’t want touched. Truth is, if you want to keep your Social Security and your medicare, you’re going to have to pay a little more in taxes. It’s just that simple. If you don’t want to keep these programs, then we can cut taxes.

If you want a smaller government, then the only thing we should have the government pay for is defense. No federal money for roads, health care, education, farm subsidies, bailouts, green energy research, bank bailouts, unemployment, NPR, etc. The list goes on and on. If you like these things, then we have to be willing to pay for them. If we, as a nation, decide that we’re not going to pay for them, then we can cut them all, put thousands of Americans out of work and everyone of us will scramble to pay for college without government loans and grants. We will have to find a way to put enough money aside to pay for our own retirement. When we lose a job, well, you better have 8 months of savings set aside because there will be no help coming. And, you can kiss public schools goodbye because the feds give 70% of the support to our local school systems.

But, you can have a hefty tax cut for the rich people who don’t have to worry about any one of those things. They have the cash to do it all. They earned that cash on our backs. It’s our labor that makes them that money.

It’s just something to thing about this morning.

Christine O’Donnell, the US Constitution and a Random thought on Education

Christine O’Donnell – Republican Candidate for US Senate in Delaware – is correct that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution.  The phrase “right to privacy” doesn’t appear in the Constitution either.  Both are concepts based on the First  and the Fourth Amendments, respectively.  Both have been upheld by the Supreme Court.  The Constitution, also, doesn’t say anything about the government not being able to regulate health care.  Yet, many Tea Party Candidates believe the Constitution forbids it.

Back to O’Donnell…

O’Donnell believes that Intelligent Design – the new phrase for creationism – should be taught in our Public Schools.  Chris Coons – her Democratic opponent – disagrees.  I’m with Coons.  I don’t want my grandsons being taught the the world is only 6,000 years old – especially when science disagrees.  If you want your child taught Intelligent Design either teach them yourselves or send them to a private school.  When you talk about my tax dollars being spent, don’t spend it on faith based education.

And, that brings me to a thought about the education in America.

I read a few months ago (I believe in Bloomberg BusinessWeek , but it might’ve been Newsweek or Time ) that America has fallen way behind China and India in Mathematics, Science and Technology in our schools.  I have to wonder why that isn’t part of the debate in Delaware or even Wisconsin?  Why aren’t we working to make our school systems work for our young people?  How is it that people can graduate from high school and barely be able to form a cognitive sentence?  Aren’t we doing something wrong?

I have a dream – maybe a little crazy, but aren’t dreams supposed to be a little crazy? – that someday I could open a high school that centered around Business and Technology.  My dream is to call the school the Forrest Fern Caudle Totsch School of Business and Technology – named for my late grandmother who had been a school teacher before she married my grandmother.  I’d love to see the school teach students the basics: math, English and science.  Then, teach students how to run projects, design software, program computers.  I believe this would place them a head of their counterparts in other Industrialized nations.

An ex-co-worker of mine (from India) said that when her child reached school age, she planned on moving back to India.  She said that the schools in India were far superior to the schools in America.  However; she planned on sending her son back here to America to attend University, because our colleges are far superior to India’s.  I found that to be quite interesting.

But, back to the debate between O’Donnell and Coons; if you read the whole article, you’ll see this line:  “Both candidates suggested that the exchange showed the other didn’t understand the Constitution.”  I guess we still have a long way to go to find common ground.

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