18.8.04

WE WANT A PIECE OF THE ACTION. (Yet another discovery from my sojourn north of the Cheddar Curtain ...)
The University of Wisconsin System would request $211 million more from the state and students for its next two-year budget — about one-third of it in tuition increases — under a plan released Monday.

The proposed budget also includes a request for $227 million in additional state-funded borrowing for a slew of maintenance and building projects.

Rep. Dean Kaufert, co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee, said the system would face a tough sell with lawmakers in asking for $227 million in additional borrowing for capital projects, especially with a budget that is expected to be tight.

“I think we’re just about tapped out as far as using the credit card and borrowing more money,” said Kaufert, R-Neenah.
Why not just request a piece of the action? What action? Oh, sorry, the supposedly objective wire services completely hide the action.
Over two decades, the income gap has steadily increased between the richest Americans, who own homes and stocks and got big tax breaks, and those at the middle and bottom of the pay scale, whose paychecks buy less.

The growing disparity is even more pronounced in this recovering economy. Wages are stagnant and the middle class is shouldering a larger tax burden. Prices for health care, housing, tuition, gas and food have soared.
(No media bias here, move along ...)

Sigh. Hasn't anybody connected the dots here? That real entry-level wages have grown only slightly suggests that what is entering the work force is still, well, in need of some seasoning. That real rewards to creativity have increased is, well, encouraging. That university officials do not say, publicly and proudly, "We are providing our graduates with talents that they will be able to cash in on in the future. We are going out of the business of providing subsidies to the future upper-middle and upper classes" is discouraging.

It might also have a salutary effect on the mind-set of the students. On this morning's radio news, a report from Florida on the cleanup after Hurricane Charley included one resident who saw less damage after the hurricane than happens during Spring Break. (Maybe the university officials do not ask for a piece of the action because it satisfies them to let ESPN and MTV set the tone.)

Not everybody is a Sitzpinkler. The editors at the Las Vegas Review-Journal get it:
So what's the problem? If we truly eliminated the opportunity for young people to find entry-level jobs, they might never find work at all. But most of those who do enter work "in the lowest quintile" work hard, save some money, and increase their skills and education as they go along, giving themselves a pretty good chance of living to be richer -- in real, constant dollars -- than their grandparents could ever have dreamed.

It's called America. No wonder people want to come here.
On the Irish Sea, Atlantic Blog has more.
These numbers suggest that students have a belief that wage growth is non-trivial, and that going into debt may be worth doing. They are not even remotely definitive, because they are not the numbers I really want. What I really want are numbers on the return to higher education. But a booming labor market is at least suggestive.

My central point remains this: why do newspapers, staffed by people who happily go into debt to buy cars and homes, write as if students are clearly worse off going into debt to pay for university education?
I suppose because it's easier to draw contrasts between this
"We're just trying to get ahead." said Debbie Reames, 49, of Raytown, Mo., whose bank job of 24 years was outsourced in February. "But it seems like we climb a few rungs and then we fall back again."

Reames has a new secretarial job, which pays $7,000 a year less than her bank job, and she works catering jobs for extra money. Her husband, Russ, can no longer work after an injury. One son is finishing college and another will start in the fall.

So the family budget tightened. That meant fewer cable channels, more meals at home, postponed doctor appointments, missed vacations, delayed credit card payments, all to "keep the wolf away from the door," she said.
and this ...
The income gap is showing up in booming sales of luxury items. Porsche Cars North America Inc. says sales are up 17 percent for the year. Strong sales at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue overshadow lackluster sales at stores such as Wal-Mart, Sears and Payless Shoes.

Real estate agent Lance Anderson, 38, of Overland Park, Kan., expects a record sales year, as homeowners upgrade to more expensive homes and commercial clients expand. He recently took his family to Disney World for a two-week Florida vacation.


SECOND SECTION: Should have checked Dan Drezner and Joanne Jacobs before hitting the publish button. Read and understand.

THIRD SECTION. King at SCSU Scholars (is it Welcome Home?) discovers that rarest life form, a university administrator that gets it:
I think there's a shift from higher education being a public good to it being a private good, that people who use it should pay for it.
That's St. Cloud State's Diana Burlison, associate vice president for student affairs, quoted in the local paper. (Are the archives screwy, King, or is Blogger's copying of links gone goofy?)

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