Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Investing in '14: Coping with 100 Years of Fed Blundering

On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Federal Reserve Bank, the coming year's investment climate is complicated by the residue of historical interest rate policy.  The low interest rates that have been favored from Nixon through Obama subsidize asset holders, business interests, and the wealthy, and they penalize savers, pensioners, and workers. The Obama bailout of 2008-10 has pushed real interest rates to historically low levels; such levels are unlikely in market-based economic systems.  They have resulted in misallocation of wealth, increased income inequality, excessive risk seeking by the elderly, bullishness in the stock market, and volatility in the gold market.

Gold 

I pulled out of gold in April 2013 because the gold market was reacting to the tripling of the nation's money supply much as it reacted to the monetary expansion of the Volcker-and-Greenspan Fed.  As the Fed pushed down interest rates in both periods (1983-2000 and 2008-2010) gold production expanded.  In both periods production also expanded in response to rising gold prices.  Paradoxically, though, increased commodity exploration and production  cause lower prices. Declines  in the gold price occurred in 1983-2000 and 2012 even though both were periods of monetary expansion. The 2008-2011 period was still riding the prior cycle, but the monetary expansion of 2008-2013 has been so large as to create an entirely new cycle in a short period of time.


As gold producers collapse during the current period, the scene is set for a new increase in commodity prices.  Nevertheless, the gold market has yet to capitulate. That might occur in 2014.  I currently have a small short position in gold and am otherwise out of gold and silver.  I am hoping for a sharp downturn in gold prices sometime in 2014. 

MLPs

The recent past has seen advances in energy technology, notably hydraulic fracturing or fracking. That has led to a sharp decline in natural gas prices for the past few years (see chart, courtesy of Google):

15 Years Later Natural Gas Prices at 1999 Level


As fracking proceeds, the price can fall even further, leading to the potential for exports of energy from America.  Hence, natural gas infrastructure investments through Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) have an intriguing outlook, except for the matter of interest rates.  MLPs, the vehicles by which investors invest in natural gas pipelines, tankers, and depots, are leveraged. That creates interest-rate risk. However, the good-quality MLPs have pricing flexibility and earn significantly more than their interest cost.  As a result,the long-term risk is limited.  When the stock market tanks, so will the MLPs, though.

I listened to a conference call for Legg Mason's Clearbridge American MLP Fund.  The price had fallen sharply, ostensibly in reaction to concern about rising interest rates in response to the Fed's tapering of its monetary expansion program.  The fund's representatives made a convincing case that the underlying MLPs have good coverage ratios and that they have flexibility to increase payouts in case interest rates rise.  The fund's managers claimed that part of the recent declines have been due to end-of-year, tax-loss selling.  Within a few days  after the conference call the price has risen several percent.I am eager to see the fund's performance in January.  If it continues to rise, then the representatives' point is proven.

For now, I am still positive about MLPs.  I am also positive about tech stocks and health care stocks, at least for the beginning of 2014.  I am also bullish about real estate into 2014. The information about interest rates is already built into the stock market, and the monetary expansion that has already occurred contributes to bullishness.  Of course, the bailout and quantitative easing will result in unhappy monetary results, but who cares if the average American goes hungry?  The stock market is going up!

Hedging Rising Real Interest Rates

At the same time, low real interest rates give me pause about stocks, MLPs, and real estate because rates are going to rise, which causes declines in financial markets.  Princeton economist, Nobel prize winner, and former ethics consultant to Enron, Paul Krugman, did a quick-and-dirty pictorial estimate of historical real interest rates in his column in The Times:











Enron Consultant Paul Krugman's Quick Estimate of Real Interest Rates




 Notice a few things:  First, there was a slight increase in real rate volatility following Nixon's election in 1968.  Second, when the international gold standard was eliminated in 1971, the volatility in real interest rates heated up.  Nixon was manipulating rates by influencing Columbia economist and Fed chief Arthur Burns.  Third, there was a sharp downturn in rates in response to Nixon's reelection bid.  Fourth, there was a sharp upturn as the Fed under Paul Volcker raised rates (tightened the money supply) to squeeze out inflation. That resulted in an economic downturn, but by 1983 Volcker reopened the monetary spigot, initiating a 30-year decline in real rates, the modestly high inflation rate of 1983-2008 (see chart), the impetus for military aggression in the Middle East in the millennial period, the rising stock market of the 1983-2000 period, the millennial bubbles, and current economic volatility.

Real rates are at historically low levels.  According to the chart, there was a brief period in the early-to-mid 1970s when Nixon and Burns pushed them lower, but by the late 1970s inflation was in the teens.  It is the monetary expansion rather than the interest rate that potentially causes inflation. An uptick in inflation will motivate the Fed to raise interest rates.  That will probably harm the MLPs I mention above as well as bonds, fixed income securities, and likely the stock and real estate markets.  In other words, there is a narrow course of tapering that the Fed has outlined, but if there is an uptick in inflation, then there can be a spike in rates.  That will be unpleasant for people holding financial assets.

There is reason to be concerned about the financial markets as 2014 winds down and 2015 begins.  In a 2010 blog, the colorful Larry McDonald, author of A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, blogged about how to bet on rising rates. 

McDonald suggests these funds, which are mostly at all-time lows:

RRPIX  Profunds Rising Rates Opportunity Fund

RTPIX Profunds Rising Rates Opportunity Fund 10 Investor

RYJUX Rydex Inverse Government Long Bond Stratgegy

TBT Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury Proshares

Ultrashort 7-10 Year Treasury Proshares PST

Horizon BetaPro 30 year Bond Bear HTD (on the TSX, not HTD on the American exchanges)


It seems to me that a partial hedge with one or two of these funds is a good idea at this point or in the near future.










Friday, December 20, 2013

Earl Key Calls for April Jones's Freedom, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's Impeachment



I previously wrote about April Jones's battle with authoritarian public health officials in Indiana.  Earl Key has filed for a stay in federal court.  He sent me the following email:

Due to the drugging and injuries, April's capabilities have declined significantly since she spoke to you on the phone, but now the U.S. Court of Appeals has ordered her to prove she is competent to continue to proceed. Back in front of the same federal judge who took 8 months to rule on her case and would not stop the drugging when she could. This is so unfair, so wrong, that I simply had to take a long shot at getting Justice Kagan to stop it.

I have attached the Application for Stay. It's not perfect, and I understand that you may not understand some of the legal jargon, but the first 12 pages are primarily factual, so I hope you get an opportunity to read it.

Thank you for listening and for your writings on April.

This is Key's pro se motion:              

Three weeks ago Key had sent this message:

What a long struggle this has been. April's case has now been thrown back to the district court, to determine April's"capacity". This is grotesquely unfair to her because her capacity is deteriorating due to her disease, the length of the proceedings, and the drugging and injuries incurred during her captivity. So I am preparing to ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay and writ of mandamus to force the lower courts to follow the law. This case will not remain under the public's radar much longer.
Additionally, I will send a letter tomorrow to the U.S. Congress asking for the impeachment of federal district court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. That letter is attached and should explain why I feel so strongly about how the federal courts have abused April's right to liberty. Feel free to use it as you see fit.

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Cc: Representative Eric Cantor, House Republican Leader
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 224-3121
November 30th, 2013

Dear Senator McConnell:

This letter is to ask for impeachment proceedings against U.S. District Court Judge
Tanya Walton Pratt.

Judge Pratt, an appointee of President Obama, sits on the bench of the Southern District of Indiana. This request is being made due to Judge Pratt’s violations of Indiana state law and federal law, and because she has usurped the will of the U.S.Congress and the common law of the U.S. Supreme Court. This request is pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

On January 20th and January 27th, 2012, Judge Pratt, a citizen and resident of the State of Indiana, was notified of injuries due to the drugging and neglect of a disabled adult, April Dawn Jones. Ms. Jones is in the custody of an unlawful guardianship mill being run by one of Judge Pratt’s Democratic colleagues on the state bench of Indiana. The state judge has openly admitted to a reporter that he is running a “team” of Democrats that ensnare disabled persons and hand them off to a so-called guardian. Although this clearly violates separation of powers, Judge Pratt has gone out of her way to “validate” this unlawful and unholy team of actors.Included within the verified reports submitted to Judge Pratt were photos of the injuries to Ms. Jones (a 38-year old woman who I had been assisting for many years across State lines before she was “granny-napped” by the Indiana guardianship team).  

Instead of taking injunctive action or notifying Indiana authorities as required by Indiana state law, Ind. Code 12-10-3-9, Judge Pratt sat on the reports for another 4months then attempted to cover up the scheme and the neglect by dismissing the case containing the verified facts and exhibits. Within the dismissal opinion, Judge Pratt attempted to intimidate me from assisting Ms. Jones by disparaging me to the public and the higher courts with the language “whether well-intentioned or not.” The willful delay, cover up, and the disparagement are all contrary to the will of  Congress in passing 42 U.S.C. § 12203 (part of the ADA), which protects those who assist disabled persons in defending their rights, by providing that:It shall be unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any individual... on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by this chapter.

As part of her opinion, Judge Pratt falsified the parties involved in the suit, by revising the caption to make me the real party in interest and then by relabeling the respondent as “Lamar”. Were these two issues taken separately from the opinion as a whole, one might see them as mere typographical mistakes.Regardless, this is a specific violation of 18 U.S.C. 2071 (b): (b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map,book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.

Also within the dismissal opinion, Judge Pratt usurped the common law of the U.S.Supreme Court by steering around significant Supreme Court case law, all in an obvious but misguided attempt to cover up for the malfeasance of a fellow state judge in Indiana (Judge Pratt is also a 20-year veteran of the Indiana state trial court bench).

Upon seeing the convoluted manner in which Judge Pratt’s opinion misstates theparties and steers around controlling law, one who was familiar with the applicablefederal statutory and common law in this case would come only to the conclusionthat she is not qualified to sit on the federal bench, neither by temperament norability. I cannot prove but do believe that Judge Pratt initiated or used ex parte communications with other Democratic members of Indiana’s legal community to make her decision, all in violation of the Code of Conduct for federal judges.From the research of all of Judge Pratt’s cases over a 2-year span, Judge Pratt’s writings show a particular interest and bias in cases involving abortion rights cases(of which she favors), with bias against white persons, males, and against disabled persons, all contrary to federal law and the U.S. Constitution. (While Ms. Jones was dying awaiting Judge Pratt’s decision, Judge Pratt was instead working to approvemore of Planned Parenthood’s agenda, e.g., Planned Parenthood of Ind., Inc. v. Comm'r of Ind. State Dep't of Health, 794 F. Supp. 2d 892 (S.D. Ind. 2011).)

One might draw the conclusion that Judge Pratt favors the death of the unborn and the disabled. Judge Pratt’s techniques in implementing her agenda is not the “good behavior” required of an Article III judge, particularly one whose obsequious writings in finance cases appears to point to higher aspirations.The guardian and judge in control of Ms. Jones have allowed fraud to be committed against the United States by allowing the nursing home to bill the Medicaid and Medicare programs for Ms. Jones care and rehabilitation, when that care and rehabilitation had not been provided to Ms. Jones. Judge Pratt, herself an attorney as well as judge, could not have been unaware that her failure to report the injuriesto Ms. Jones might be aiding and abetting a fraud being perpetrated against the United States of America, contrary to the will of Congress in passing the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733.

Due to Judge Pratt’s incompetent, unlawful, and neglectful handling, Ms. Jones’ case has been drawn out for more than two years and she now faces an accelerated death while being drugged and injured at the hands of an unlawful guardianship team.

This request is not in any way to ask the U.S. Congress to intervene in the legal proceedings of the underlying case but rather to take action against Judge Pratt for her violations of Indiana law, federal law, and for usurping the will of the U.S.Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ms. Jones case is now pending before the Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, case no. 12-2094, and may be used to independently verify the lower court documents, exhibits, and chronology of events discussed in this letter.From discussing this case with my fellow coworkers and neighbors, I can assure you that reasonable Americans are aghast at this behavior by a federal judge. I I thankyou for your assistance in this matter.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Brick in the Wall: Why the Common Core Won't Give No Education



I just submitted this piece for the January issue of The Lincoln Eagle in Kingston, NY.

Another Brick in the Wall: Why the Common Core Won't Give No Education
Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.

In the early 2000s the Bush administration adopted the No Child Left behind Act (NCLBA), which established state-and-standards-based testing.  The approach failed, and for years educators, especially in inner cities, complained about teaching to the test. 

The National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), two private, not-for-profit organizations, have, with Bill Gates's $147 million and President Obama's multibillion dollar grant support, introduced a solution to NCLBA's failure:  a more standardized and more centralized testing system with higher-level standards. It is called the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Libertarian conservatives are suspicious of the common core's increased centralization.   Dean Kalahar of the conservative American Thinker blog, for example, claims that the common core will encourage textbook manufacturers to introduce Bill Ayer's ideology about race, class, and gender. 

It was, however, President George Bush who encouraged standardization of curricula and testing through his NCLBA.  As Diane Ravitch wrote in her 2004 book The Language Police, political correctness began decades ago; textbooks have been politically correct and watered down for years.  

There are three common core debates.  The first is educational.  It pits advocates of higher-level standards against advocates of easier and more specific ones.  Mothers in the Hudson Valley have vehemently complained about the difficulty of the new standards. In contrast, neoconservative City Journal columnist Sol Stern and liberal former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein hail the more difficult common core standards.   

The second is the political debate between advocates of decentralization and centralization.   Stern and Klein claim that the common core results from healthy federalism because 46 states have adopted it voluntarily (four have not adopted it), but many are skeptical that $4 billion in federal grant money amounts to a true division of powers.  The Tenth Amendment does not say that powers that the United States can buy are delegated to it by the Constitution.  

The third debate concerns Bill Gates's economic power.  Blogger Mercedes Schneider notes that in addition to $147 million that the Gates Foundation paid to the NGA, CCSSO, and the Student Achievement Partners (SAP) consulting firm that led the drafting of the common core, his foundation has paid more than $10 million to education think tanks.  The common core reflects one of the most expensive exercises of lobbying influence in the nation's history. 

Moreover, textbook firms that produce both the standards-linked textbooks and the tests that the states will administer will benefit financially.  The lead authors, David Coleman and Jason Zimba, are linked to McGraw Hill through their sale of their business, Grow Network.  Their SAP seeks paid consulting work with schools that aim to implement the common core.  That is on top of grant money it has already received from the Gates Foundation.

Despite Bill Gates's fascination with testing, there is little evidence that it works.  In offering rationales for the common core, NGA, CCSSO, and SAP claim that national competitiveness depends on students' test performance.  For instance, Jason Zimba claims that the common core offers a way to improve American students' scores on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.

Two professors, Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall and Michael Apple of the University of Wisconsin, question testing. In their views it will not improve outcomes.  

Professor Tienken notes that economic well-being and poverty have stronger correlations with student performance than does any other variable.  Moreover, there are biases that invalidate international tests. In America virtually all students take the tests, but in other countries only select students do.  For instance, "Switzerland included only students in 15 of 26 cantons, representing their highest performing regions."  Tienken adds that in spite of these biases, taken alone, American white students ranked 2nd out of 29 countries in reading, 7th out of 30 in math, and 4th out of 30 in science. 

Gates, Zimba, and other centralizers claim that centralization of control will increase objective test scores, resulting in increased national competitiveness. Tienken shows that their claim is false.  There is no link between having centralized educational standards and having a competitive economy.
  
Professor Michael Apple of the University of Wisconsin has written a book, Democratic Schools, in which he argues for decentralization and local control.  In an interview, Professor Apple pointed out that the common core is a response to the NCLBA.  He says that on paper the common core encourages a more creative curriculum and establishes higher-level testing standards than did the NCLBA.  In practice, it falters for the same reasons the NCLBA did:  The test tail wags the teacher dog. Because poorer children have less preparation, their teachers will continue to spend more time teaching to the test than will teachers of affluent children. Their writing will suffer, and they will suffer on the job market.   

Professor Apple advocates empowering teachers and encouraging their creativity. The opposite is occurring now:  "The job of teaching has gotten worse. The average teacher's work week is 58 hours. The common core could have offered a better curriculum, but the teachers don't have the time to put it into practice.  The result is a focus on accountability and a lack of focus on higher-level skills like writing.  Although the states do not say that the teachers' performance will be appraised by test scores, the administrators don't have time to handle performance appraisal any other way."

If Professor Tienken is right, the arguments for both the NCLBA and the common core are unfounded. The ideals of education and democracy have been sacrificed for a pseudoscientific testing system that happens to tickle Bill Gates's fancy.  The end result is a betrayal of what education should be.  

Conservatives, libertarians, liberals, and social democrats should question the claims of standardizers and centralizers.  The best education requires on-the-spot imagination that cannot be captured with a test. 


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Barbarous Noise of Televised News


Bill O'Reilly

Chris Mathews

















I was in the health club this evening, and the Turner Classic Movies channel, which I usually watch, wasn't working. I haven't watched TV News since the '08 presidential election, so I gave it a try. O'Reilly was on Fox. These lines from John Milton's "Sonnet 12" came to mind:

I did but prompt the age to quit their cloggs*
By the known rules of antient libertie,
When strait a barbarous noise environs me
Of Owles and Cuckoes, Asses, Apes and Doggs.

Watching O'Reilly deliver the news made me feel as though I was in a zoo, watching a gorilla explain current events to me.I then switched to MSNBC.  Chimpanzees, like gorillas, have near-human intelligence.  Chris Matthews almost reaches the chimpanzee level.   Milton doesn't mention gorillas and chimps, but he died more than three centuries before the advent of cable television news.

*restraints

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Problem Is Government, Not Income Inequality

For the past 30 years American progressives have complained about income inequality. Nevertheless, the chief source of income inequality has been the policies that progressives advocate: Keyensian economics and government expansion. The expansion of government leads to government borrowing, which facilitates monetary expansion, lower real wages due to inflation, and higher stock-and-bond prices; the results are lower inflation-adjusted wages and higher wealth for wealthy stockholders.

In advocating their low-real-wage, high-stock-price policies, progressives have relied on deceptive argument. They say that more government spending is needed to reduce income inequality in order to bring us back to a 1950s level.  In 1950, it is true, income inequality was lower, but government spending was one third of what it is now.  Tripling government spending has led to higher income inequality.   They also claim that income inequality has been the result of Reagan's policies, which Clinton and Obama have been unable to overturn despite the Democrats' intent to do so.  Reagan's policies were more or less the same as Clinton's and Obama's.  The real hourly wage stopped growing around 1970, ten years before Reagan.  Reagan did not reduce government spending, nor did he overturn the inflationary policies of Johnson and Nixon. In fact, he reinstated them.  The tripling of government spending during the 1960s and 1970s did not lead to lower income inequality now.  It led to declining real hourly wages and higher income inequality.

The New York Times wrote an article that stated that most Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings and that a 65 year old who has saved one million dollars, which puts him at the top 10 percent of the wealth distribution, does not have enough money to retire.  Assuming this sorry depiction of the outcome of a century of Progressivism is true, the American economy in its current form has failed.

The expansion of government has prevented expanding life expectancy from being supported by expanding real hourly wages and incomes. The wealth has been transferred to the stock-and-real estate-holding wealthy, to government employees, and to beneficiaries of the welfare state at the expense of wage earners, small manufacturers, innovators, and pensioners.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why Jane and Joe College Cannot Write



The Brazilian student said that the bank was under the impression that Brooklyn College would help her learn to write, and they told her to take writing here. They are probably paying her tuition, and they think that we have the capacity to teach skills that they need in their employees.

I have had similar experiences with other students.  In 2006 a senior invited a large insurance company to come to Brooklyn for a Students in Free Enterprise recruiting event.  They agreed to come, but when the student sent them an email, they backed out. They told him that a campus and a faculty that allow students to write like him (his words to me) is not one that they will consider visiting.   This is an EFL, not ESL, student. Often my ESL students are better writers than my EFL students.  I showed you a paper a few weeks ago, John, which you assumed was written by a ESL student but in fact had been written by an EFL student.  My two best writers this semester are ESL students.

John, Diane Ravitch’s book Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform outlines a history in which  education experts have turned a simple process of learning to write into a mystical belief system.  Studies are done and educators procure large grants to solve an imaginary problem.  Educators will do everything, including sitting on the floor with the students, except the hard work of teaching grammar and grading papers.

The result is our students’ writing, which is in part the fault of progressive education theories that fetishize ignorance about grammar and the multiplication tables and which is in part due to teachers’ and professors’ laziness about grading writing, which Benno Schmidt mentioned at an American Council of Trustees and Alumni colloquium last April.  We don’t need to turn writing into a philosophical exercise.  There are a number of significant components of the problem: The students aren’t taught the rules; they aren’t given enough practice; they aren’t motivated; they don’t read.  The solution needs to address all of those concerns, including grammar.  

Our students don’t read enough, but do our faculty assign difficult readings that challenge them, or do they use easy textbooks acceptable to the AACSB’s standardized quality assurance process?  Our students don’t write enough, either.  This is what a student wrote in an online discussion about a New York Times article about the failure of business schools:

A part that I found interesting was when Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college on a national test of writing and reasoning skills. I believe this statement is 100% accurate. This is my second semester at Brooklyn College and i have only written 2 papers and i will accrued 25 credits by the end of this semesters, with one of those papers being from this class. Some of the classes that are taken as part of your major for business do not necessarily require you to write papers, and with it being like that we will tend to forgot certain grammatical rules. College standards have dropped but yet there is nothing being done about it from what i see. One of the problems i find is professor who teach the same course who teach two completely different ways one can be extremely easy and the other extremely difficult and it shouldn't be like that.

Lack of grammatical knowledge is a component. If the students had been repeatedly taught grammar, and if they continued to make errors like these, then your point that grammar is the least of the problems might have traction.   The reverse is true: Few of them have been taught grammar, and their writing is dismal.  The chief exceptions are ESL students who have been well trained in English grammar and students who have received grammatical instruction at home because their parents are knowledgeable enough to teach them.  

John, your recommendation is more of the same: Not teaching grammar in the public schools and at Kingsborough Community has failed for 14 years, so let’s continue to not to teach it.  As for your wife’s experiences, my 10 years of business experience were in the New York region, at Johnson and Johnson and Inco (now Vale).  My father-in-law, who cofounded an S&P Small Cap 600-listed firm with 5,000 Chinese employees, read a research report by one of my students (who works at a large money center bank) and said that the young man is illiterate, and he wouldn’t consider his investment recommendations because of it. The young man was one of my brightest students and an EFL student.

The problem goes for both EFL and ESL students. Both groups' educations are byproducts of a dismal, progressive education-based system whose primary fixations have been on failed theories and easy lifestyles for teachers and professors.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Support Illiteracy: Vote

I have been teaching at Brooklyn College, a campus of the City University of New York, for 16 years. Our students are at the average for college students nationally.  When I first arrived at Brooklyn in 1998, the students' writing was dismal.  I don't think it's unfair to say that the governance of New York City, hence the school system, has largely been that of the Democratic Party.  It is fair, then, to attribute my students' dismal writing to the Democratic Party. A little less than five years after I started, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act.  Eleven or so years later, I can see the effects. The Republicans took a dismal educational system and made it worse.  My students' writing now is so bad that it is virtually unintelligible. Their writing went from semi-literate to illiterate. This is occurring at a time when the desirable jobs are going to those with the best skills. Sending your child to a school that is under the control of Democrats or Republicans is a form of child neglect.

The  saddest thing is to see students who think that they are studying business but lack rudimentary writing skills necessary to pursue a career in business. I have fought to improve the writing program at CUNY for several years, and I have gotten nowhere. The college simply denies the problem.  The students write at the mean, so there is no problem.  The trouble is that the mean American is in for a rough treatment from the global economy.