Friday, October 16, 2015


I seem to remember a similar idiotic plan a very few years ago when Atlanta was only weeks away from running out of water during the severe drought in the southeast.  They wanted to raid the Great Lakes but the states bordering the Lakes told them to take a hike.  I hope Alaska says the same.

I hope this succeeds.  Nestle is a poster child for rapacious capitalism.  Although Nestle isn't the direct target of the lawsuit (the U.S. Forest Service is) any negative publicity Nestle gets is good.  I looked up the product list for Nestle and it is extensive.  But I noticed something interesting about it, or perhaps more about us.  We simply don't buy many Nestle products any more.  We cut out a lot of packaged foods because of the load of salt and sugar each contained.  Nestle products we stopped buying because the quality and flavor of the original item vanished at some point almost overnight. DiGiorno Pizza, as an example, became smaller and the flavor was not nearly as good.  We stopped buying it.

A perfect illustration of why I a) will never, ever vote for Huckabee, b) why I support even stronger separations between church and state, and c) why I am thankful my parents never had me baptized since you can't leave what you never joined or were brought into as an innocent, unsuspecting child.

Charles Hugh Smith has another blog on the "student debt problem" and what is being proposed to "fix" it.  Although he is right about costs being a major problem, those costs aren't the major problem.  We have several interlocking problems that have contributed to the mess.  First, we have a culture that has put a premium on tertiary education.  We are constantly told that a college degree is the key to getting a job and, eventually, making a salary that funds a middle class lifestyle.  We have companies that insist applicants for any job have a degree--any degree.  They don't need the degree to do the job.  It is just a way for the HR people to start weeding out the applicants.  Second, the government cut back on grants and the schools cut back on scholarships forcing students to rely on loans to fund their education.  I funded my first bachelor's degree with Veterans' Benefits, my first master's degree with work study thanks to my professor's research grants and Teaching Assistantships, my second bachelor's degree through part time jobs and a Teaching Assistantship, and my second Master's degree through Teaching assistantships.  Can't do that now because it is way too expensive.  How do I know that?  I had to take out student loans to pursue a (failed) PhD program because the Teaching Assistantships/Adjunct Teaching positions never covered the cost.  I have a loan I can't pay back and can't discharge through bankruptcy.  Third, the schools are completely unaccountable for the final product, at least until recently.  It didn't matter if the student graduated with a diploma but without any mastery of their major.  It didn't matter if the student graduated with a degree but functionally illiterate and innumerate.  They still got paid while the student was still on the hook.  What really galls me about all of the "solutions" being offered is that the basic equation remains.  The student remains on the hood for a degree which, in today's job market, is worthless financially while the colleges keep the money they raked in for doing a shitty job.  My solution would be to forgive all the student loans--every goddamned one of them--and then cancel the program entirely including (perhaps especially) the government guarantee and re-write the bankruptcy code so that student loans, like other consumer loans are dischargeable.  That re-establishes a complementary risk: students who are dumb enough to borrow such loans risk defaulting and garnering bad credit for 10+ years and the lenders who are dumb enough to give such loans risk the financial pain in case of default.  Mini rant over.

The EPA isn't taking VW at its word (which is worthless) concerning its emissions control systems.

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