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April 18, 2011

Quoth the Raven: DOOM!

DOOOOM

Another signpost on the way to DOOM!: student-loan debt, at $1 trillion, overtakes credit-card debt. Instapundit has been writing about the higher-education bubble for a while now. I suspect that this is another kind of "magical thinking" at work -- the notion that getting a degree in, e.g., sociology or women's studies or medieval French poetry or even "business" is a sure path to success in the workplace. But this boils down to basic questions of supply and demand, as do so many things: if the supply of college grads goes up while the demand for those graduates goes down, the value of the college degree drops.

There is also the problem that an undergraduate degree is no longer a sure sign of knowledge or accomplishment -- the relentless grade-inflation and watering-down of the curriculum has debased the college-education coin. If we achieve the cherished dream of nearly every child having a college degree, then what real value would a college degree have? It's like that line from The Incredibles where Mom says, "Everyone is special, Dash," and Dash says, "That's just another way of saying that no one is." (Chuckit sends this little bit of gallows humor on the subject.)

E. J. Dionne, the reliably-ridiculous leftist hack at the Washington Post, asserts that the rich have a "duty" to the rest of us. This kind of nonsense fills me with a positively Randian outrage. Savor the stupid:

An enlightened ruling class understands that it can get richer and its riches will be more secure if prosperity is broadly shared, if government is investing in productive projects that lift the whole society and if social mobility allows some circulation of the elites. A ruling class closed to new talent doesn’t remain a ruling class for long.
Somehow, the rich bastards are keeping the poor folk down! The government tries to open the doors (notice the fawning "government investing in productive projects" line) but the rich bastards keep slamming it! Dionne is an Alpha fool among the legions of lesser fools, and deserves heaps of ridicule for this festering carbuncle of an essay. But Dionne, as a well-heeled pet of his Democrat overlords, does neatly encapsulate the hypocrisy of so many rich lefties who opine for higher taxes: it's not that they want to pay higher taxes (they could simply write a check to the Treasury if that were the case); they want everyone else to pay higher taxes.

And as far as American companies paying their "fair share" (how I hate that term!) in taxes: American companies pay the 6th-highest effective tax rate. (Via Insty.)

If you try to regulate the risk away from many enterprises, you tend to drive away the risk-takers. Anything worthwhile in life carries risk; a risk-free life is a boring, narrow, impoverished, and colorless life. Success implies the possibility of failure.

Greece denies that a "debt restructuring" (read: default) is in the works. Translation: a debt-restructuring is imminent. Given Greece's recent history, once something has been officially denied it's almost certain to happen.

The newest inductee into the Loyal Order of the Terminally Boned (LOTB): Maine! Let's give them a big hand! California looks on approvingly, and hands Maine the LOTB's official WELCOME TO THE RANKS OF THE BONED! lapel pin.

[UPDATE 1]: S&P changes US debt ratings to "negative outlook". I have to say that I'm not particularly fond of the ratings agencies, given their miserable performance over the years. They've been rating stuff at investment-grade for years that I wouldn't use as bung-wipe. The ratings agencies are the C- students of the finance world. Still...it'll be interesting to see what kind of pressure this puts on Geithner and Bernanke. Their "We'll print more!" plan to end the Great Recession is encountering some pushback from the bond vigilantes. [Thanks to Andy and Guy Fawkes.]

[UPDATE 2]: China on the verge of a banking crisis? Chinese finance (being government-controlled to a large degree) is so opaque that the only answer is, "Who knows?" It's obvious that Chinese banks are carrying enormous amounts of bad loans on their books, but since Chinese banks are de facto owned by the government, they can continue to do this kind of thing indefinitely.

[UPDATE 2]: I'll just let this quote speak for itself.

For the first time since the Great Depression, households are receiving more income from the government than they are paying the government in taxes.
I don't call him "Uncle Sugar" because he's stingy!


No, that's all right. Humiliate me. Dress me in a stupid little wizard outfit and let the whole world see my shame. No problem. Later on tonight while you're sleeping, I'll cast a little "spell" on that priceless Persian rug downstairs. I can change it from a priceless valuable to a yard-sale relic in thirty seconds flat! Alla-ka-ZAM!


digg this
posted by Monty at 09:08 AM

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