Friday, September 28, 2012

Six Terrible Justifications for Wasting Money on College

1) If you want to make a lot of money you need to go to college.
This is absurd, and real life experiences of tens of thousands, if not hundreds, if not millions of Americans show that this is absolutely not a given. If you want to have a decent living you need to develop marketable skills and/or find a need and fill it. If you want to be wealthy you need to be an entrepreneur, and unlike so many management classes and college programs, you cannot teach entrepreneurship. It's something you either have innately, or nurture throughout your life. What can be taught though is self reliance, which is one of the foundations of successful entrepreneurs.
2) Follow you dream.
How many temples and shrines to the demi-god of misery could be built with the number of lives broken like so much tinder that resulted from following your dream. It's okay to dream of touching the sky, but one can never live outside the realm of reality, lest you end up like broken and burned like Icarus. Even Walt Whitman worked a normal day job as a clerk.
3) College is a great experience
This is one of the fall back defenses, the Maginot line of dilettantes if you will, from where they can unleash one last barrage against the armies of prudence and reason. However, rather than being a fiercely fought defense by highly trained and skilled soldiers like the GIs in Bastogne, it is more like the cobbled together volksstrum army of children, convicts, and the infirm sent to be slaughtered against the red army. If experience is the big reason to go to college, by experience it is generally understood to mean going to a new location, most often a big city, meeting new people, and studying abroad. Then why shell out a total of $ 50,000, though it can easily balloon to over $100,000, over four, more like five, years on 'experiences' when for a fraction of the cost you could simply move to a new city, join a few clubs, and travel around the world on the cheap. Far more memorable 'experiences' could be gained if someone simply took that college tuition and toured the world for a few months.
4) If you want to be a humanistic/well rounded person/critical thinker you should get a liberal arts education.
This is the other fall back defence that is used. I mean who doesn't want to be a well rounded individual with the ability to critically think? Critical thinking is paramount to success in life so it must stand to reason then that you need a liberal arts education to succeed? Unfortunately this pretty little butterfly cannot escape the web of those who have had the misfortune to earn a liberal arts education, yet hold it with utter contempt. I am such a person. And it isn't liberal arts education that I have a problem with, or rather it wasn't liberal arts education I have a problem with, its the horribly dogmatic and insular education that passes for liberal arts today. Let this be known, I have two degrees, one is in finance, and the other is the humanities, and I will tell you know that this line is nothing more than that, a line. A liberal arts education doesn't make you a well rounded person if its nothing more an anti-capitalist socialist apologist self loathing agenda. I was forced to take a class that was little more than a Castro apologist seminar using the defense that while Castro is a dictator its America's fault because America used and abused that nation for its own end. Yes America backed up Batista, a dictator and thug in his own right, but that is no reason to give thugs like Castro, or murders like Che, a pass. And as for liberal arts education teaching you critical thinking; what a joke! Want to know how to be a critical thinker? It simply entails that question you question your ideas and beliefs and actively try to see where they are wrong. That is it, nothing more, nothing less. Socrates dissertations on critical thinking boils down to simply questioning ideas, yours and others, in an effort to eventually find the truth.
5) I studied Asian American Transgender Studies and did just fine.
This is aggravating because what is true individually doesn't mean it is true in aggregate. Just because you, who studied a degree with no real marketable skills, became a successful vice president of a multi-national doesn't mean that it was the degree that is responsible. If could very well have been that you are simply a competent individual. Take a cousin of mine for example, she studied English and ended up touring around Europe for a year or so. She continued studying, doing the normal track that one does with a degree like English, when eventually found herself in a sales position for a major video game publisher. She know manages large accounts and pulls a salary in excess of six figures. Was it the degree that did it for her? No, it was her ability to socialize with individuals and her innate competence that got her to where she was. Your degree is nothing more than a slip of paper whose value varies from industry to industry and company to company.
6) But you meet new people in college!
A variance of the experience argument. If you want to meet new people, move to a new city, join a club, or do online dating. A lot of that can be done for free even.
Any other poorly thought out justifications for an overpriced slip of toilet paper anyone else would like to add?

How high will retirement age go?

A mainstream media outlet ponders how high the retirement age will go given the ever decreasing economic situation of the United States and financial strength of the average American.  While the writer of the article does says that the retirement age will rise, which is like saying a rock will fall when pushed off a building, the real answer is that there will be no retirement at all; at least not in the traditional sense or for most Americans.  Most silver haired Americans will find traditional retirement an increasingly difficult option, and will either push out their careers as long as possible, or simply move on to a secondary post-career job.  Has anyone noticed, in a field traditionally dominated by high school and college age kids, the increasing age of supermarket tellers and baggers?

Now what the article also doesn't increasingly tell you, and this isn't surprising given that it is a financial periodical, is that the concept of retirement is decidedly modern.  The simple reality is that for almost the entirety of humanities existence from whatever date B.C to the early 20th century there was no retirement.  Yes many elderly individuals stopped doing physical labor, but then they often became community leaders and advisers for their villages, essentially low stress jobs where their age gave them a decided advantage.  It wasn't until the scam that is social security, and it is very much a scam like any other except it has the official seal of approval from our government, that the retirement concept came about.  Perhaps what is most galling, and one of the biggest reasons why I have a visceral hate for the social security program, is that when it was enacted the average life expectancy was less  than the date when you could start collections.  So, not only does social security take funds from those who are working and disperse them to those that don't, and some would argue that there is nothing morally wrong with this, but it also is a program that wants you to crock before you can collect.

The true nature of social security should be readily apparent to anyone who spends  a moment to think about that.  The fact that the program was based by congress, who full well knew the age of collection was greater than the what many Americans could be expected to live too, should expose the program as nothing more than a money grab to fund government coffers.  And yes I am aware that the average life expectancy is a rolling metric with it increasing as an individual ages.  But one must keep in mind that workplace deaths were far higher then than they are today.  Your chances dying on the job, and therefore never acquiring your promised social security as promised, was much higher than it is today.

Now, many of us millenials and generation xers complain about how the baby boomers are going to leech us dry in order to fund their retirements.  But unfortunately for the boomers the current administration has eaten up the rest of the pie that the boomers could have consumed themselves.  If it were not for the stimulus program that massive increase in Federal debt would have been accrued by the boomers as they retired and drew on their government promised retirement checks.  The fact that we are now at, or exceeding, 100% debt levels has made accruing any additional debt that much more difficult.  Yes our debt will continue to increase, perhaps the next financial crisis, but the outcry from fiscally minded individuals will become greater, moreover, as millenials and xers start moving into positions of power the boomers will have greater difficulty accruing debt?

And that is why the boomers, along with millenials and xers, will probably never retire.  Modern retirement could only exist while the younger generations were willing to pay for it.  Boomers were willing to pay for the greatest and silent generations, however, millenials and xers will be much more resistant to the idea.  After all the youth has already seen much of their future earning potential cannibalized, why would we want to lose what we have left to a generation that could have, if they had exercised economic and financial wisdom, never needed social security in the first place?  So to summerize, there will be no retirement.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stratfor: Japan and China's Battle For the Pacific

Another good article from Stratfor concerning the increasing number of disputes between Japan and China over ownership of islands in the East China sea.  But perhaps the most fascinating part is the shortest.  Everyone is fully aware of the dispute between the two nations.  However, what many don't realize is that since the 1930s the US has been alternating support for which ever party is considered weaker. From the 1930s to the end of World War II that was China.  Once the nationalists in China were defeated, and moved to Taiwan, the US spent time and resources strengthening Japan to counter the communist power bloc.  Currently, the US is trying to maintain a balance between a rising but internally fracturing China and a slumped but internally cohesive Japan.

 While the US doesn't want outright conflict between the two nations; it does want to make sure no one power can become strong enough to become a regional hegemon.  The US is the top dog in the pacific and it intends to remain so.  Ultimately US interests and positioning determines the actions of our government. With the economic and social situation starting to deteriorate in China the US may slowly become more conciliatory towards China; eventually. There is a chance that China may lose control of its state encourage protests and the resulting chaos could result in a more militarily bellicose nation.  China doesn't want to risk its trade relationships, but before the health of the nation comes the primacy of the party.

Either way, expect to see Washington becoming more involved in these types of disputes.  The US is slowly reengaging the western pacific, which is a reintroduction of our foreign policy focus shift since the end of the cold war that was temporarily halted due to 9/11. Along with the introduction of China's first carrier into active service, though it still does not compare to a US Navy carrier, and the that region of the world will become more tense.  Both the US and China are ultimately playing a chess game to determine who will be the hegemon in the pacific. The US has the advantage currently, an advantage I expect them to maintain, however, things could move in unexpected ways.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Media Slowly Waking Up to College Bubble

The media is starting to waken up to the college bubble that will soon explode in America.   Now the realization that it is the government, for using college attendance as a means for vote buying, and colleges, foisting certificates in worthlessness, still hasn't dawned on them. The author blames private lending institutions and the fact that there is not more government oversight.  I can't say I entirely disagree since allowing student loans to be dischargeable after so many years would restore some sort of monetary balance.

As it stands now the media, and most Americans, will see this simply as a lending bubble.  They aren't wrong, however, as is all too often the case, they fail to see the college lending bubble is simply a manifestation of a deeper problem. That problem being the degradation of traditional college education for the sake of votes, college administrations, and teachers who teach classes on the sexual habits of aboriginal peoples.  The college lending bubble only exists because it is politically unpopular to take an honest look at the value of most college degrees and college in general in the age of free information.

More Data Showing That Texas is Beating California

According to the Milking Institute, 4 of the top 5 economically performing large MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) are all in Texas. California on the other hand only has 1 MSA in the top fifty, Bakersfield. Not only does California do rather poorly but New York and Illinois come up short to Texas as well. Illinois only has 2 MSAs in the top 100 economically performing areas while New York can at least claim 5 large MSAs in the top 100.

 Now it isn't surprising that Texas is doing better than California since their populations are not too far apart and considering that Texas isn't trying to run their state into the ground. I also don't want it to look like this is simply blue state bashing because even though there are plenty of blue states that are sucking fumes, there are some performing pretty well.  Just look at Washington, which is considered a blue state, but outside of the Seattle area it is had a healthy red core.  Washington, a state with about 20% of the population of California boasts 1 MSA (the  Tri-Cities as it is known in Washington) in the top 25, which California doesn't have, and another in the top 50, which California also doesn't have.

Clearly California, and Illinois for that matter, are doing something wrong. Yes Chicago is clean, on the north side at least, and is bustling; though the city has hemorrhaged about a third of its population form its peak almost 50 years ago, but its easy to confuse the health of a single city with that of a state or larger body.  The Soviets, and now the Chinese and many other developing nations, did this well. Construct gleaming modern metropolises that give the appearance of a healthy and vibrant state; all the while the countryside sits in near abject poverty.  I haven't been to the suburbs of Illinois but I have seen them in California around LA, and let me tell you, it isn't pretty.
It should also be interesting to note that of all the states I have thought about moving too outside of my own, New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and the like, all seem to be doing pretty well according to the milkeninstitute.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chicago Teachers Strike Continues

Once again the teachers union in the city of Chicago have decided to put their own interests above their own interests above their students. If these teachers made below the median wage and had trouble making ends meet on a normal salary then I would be slightly more sympathetic.  But the Chicago teachers make more than the median salary of the average Chicago resident, hell they make more than most Americans.

A city, whose government allowed these unions to get so powerful in exchange for votes, and whose judicial system lacks the back bone to put down a strike that has shouldn't be happening; then is it any surprise then that when a city is so cooped by special interests that their city has lost over 25% of its population in the last 50 years.  Is it any wonder that their crime rate is much higher than the national average. Shouldn't the fact that Illinois, and by extension Chicago, is ranked the most corrupt city in America, with the third most convicted former politicians in the last 40 years

It is a shame really since I enjoyed my recent trip to Chicago; despite that fact that they force Taxis to collect a arrival and departure tax. The food and music are good. The nightlife is pretty cool; never knew bars could stay open to 2 AM. The architecture is top notch; loaded my camera with pictures of some great pictures since Chicago was one of the leading pioneers in modern urban building styles at the turn of the century.  

But it serves as a reminder that just because a city appears to be vibrant and doing well, doesn't mean that it is performing as optimally as it should.  Chicagos' vibrant past and large size helps mask the fact that it has declined much like Detroit has declined; Chicago was once the 2nd American city outside New York not only in terms of size but economic and cultural clout, but has since fallen to third behind Los Angeles and will probably be overtaken by Houston within the next 20 years. Chicago survives now because of its size and ability to milk the political graft machine, but that cannot last. The Windy City will reap what it has unwittingly sown sometime in the future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Degree Alone Is Not Enough

There has been a lot of talk all over the manosphere about what degrees an individual should or shouldn't take.  Now it doesn't take much reasoning to see that a degree in most forms of engineering, accounting, hard sciences, or programming will yield far greater returns than anything with the 'word studies'.  But even then there is a lot more to degrees than just that.  It behooves you to do a lot of homework into what you will study, or better yet, develop of variety of skills that will help you along your goals.  Because even getting a 'good' degree isn't yielding the returns it once did.

I say this because I know plenty of individuals who have educations, and the required skill sets that in the past would easily have earned them a salary far in excess of the median income of the United States, but are now earning little more than many HR desk jockeys.  Yes an entry level civil engineer has a median salary between 50,000 to 60,000, but that is if you beat out the dozens of individuals for a full time position. There is also the chance that you might only end up in a contract or part time gig, which means you could be earning half of what you expected.

Now you could rightly say that civil engineering is a profession highly dependent on government projects and spending on roads, bridges, and the like.  I have never meet a civil engineer that said that the government spent too much on road work projects or light rail.  However, even though such work is government based it, the maintenance and building of roads, in arguably has a higher utility than the vast majority of government jobs.  And it isn't jobs like this that are having trouble finding good full time and decent paying work.

I know mechanical and electrical engineers that are still stuck as technicians, even though the experience they have acquired would more than qualify them for any entry level engineering job in their filed, and because of it are earning less than $ 40,000 a year in a city that has one of the highest cost of living scores in the nation.  Even programmers are facing this difficulty; and believe me I have met many individuals that talk about their cousin or brother who programs and makes 80,000 to 100,000 a year.  Unfortunately for them they often fail to realize that their is a significant age gape, meaning that they most likely have a skill set that is rare at the moment, but will not be rare when their younger siblings have the opportunity to try for those very positions.

Ultimately the problem isn't really the level of pay for those jobs, rather, it is the exorbitant cost that is accrued while earning certification that allows them to do those jobs.  The fact that programming, engineering, and even accounting jobs are paying less, relatively, than what they used too simply signifies that information is becoming cheaper and skillets becoming less scarce.  At the same time many cost of living items, such as cars, electronics, clothing and the like have all followed suit by dropping in price.

If this nation is able to figure out the absurdity that is our education system, that charges a premium for information that can be found for virtually no cost, then we could fix this problem.  Imagine if it only cost $ 5,000, or better yet $ 500, over the course of four years to get an equivalent education in real degrees that cost $50,000 to  $ 100,000 today.  But that is another post.

The fact is that much more is required for good employment than a degree. The educational system that exists in America, and throughout the world, has sown its own demise by trying to expand 'education' to all. And by education I simply mean accreditation. Little real knowledge or academic growth is gained from a university education today.  Your grandparents and parents will not accept this, and cannot because the system worked for them in their youth, but like the Captain I can speak the truth. The cold hard reality is that individuals with no formal education in the field that you are learning their degree in can do the very same job with supplementary training.

It should be very telling that a person with no financial experience can do the same job that in banking that someone with a degree can after only a few months of training. It should be very telling when someone can fake it till they make it as an engineer. What it should tell you is that the degree means nothing, it is the person that makes the job.  Take the time to develop unique skillets and look for opportunities for yourself.  Your university will not do that for you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Can Progressives Talk About How Evil America Is When

It is one of the only nations in the world that has a green card lottery solely for the purpose of increasing immigration from nations that we don't get enough immigrants from.  Now I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing, though many cultural conservatives and members of the manosphere have legitimate concerns about immigration, and I personally would increase immigration for those that have skills that we deem necessary.  However, I do have to laugh at the idea that somehow a nation that extends green cards for no other reason than for progressive multicultural mores is somehow a racist and bigoted nation.

Kids Missing Out on School in Chicago

Chicago students are up a creek and will miss out on school because their teachers striked, unless they go to a charter school that is.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Texas Gets Just a Bit Faster

Texas recently has moved to increase their maximum speed limit on select highways to 85 miles per hour. Now is it any surprise that Texas is beating the pants off of California?  They have lower unemployment, no income tax, and its more business friendly. The only real downside I can think of is that the weather isn't quite as nice and Texans have egos as big as Californians. But considering that the first priority for anyone when contemplating a place to live is the ability to find a job; is it any wander that Texas is topping the charts as one of the fastest growing states?  

Yes California is still growing, but coupled the crowded enviroment with infrastructural decay, a bankrupt state, corrupt politicians, and the overall domination of politics by leftist ideologues and is it any wonder that Texas is surpasing California? California should really take notes lest they run the risk of becoming like detriot because Baja California in Mexico has much the same climate and people aren't exactly clarming to stay in Tijuana when San Diego is right next door.

US Drops in Global Competitiveness

Despite the many issues that a lot of us see with the economic system the United States has had for the last few decades; it has ranked one of the most competitive in the world, according to the world economic forum.  Even as recently as 2008 with the election of a president who openly vowed to drastically change how the US operated, and amidst a financial crisis, the US still took the top spot.

Now we can rightfully be skeptical of subjective reports and tests such as this. Yet when you consider the state of much of the world, then yes, it can be argued that the US is one of the most competitive nations in the world. Until now, when the United States has dropped from first to seventh in three years.  Now there will be pundits out there who will blame Obama, though the president really has very little control over the economy.  The real problem is that the political elites have simply chosen to forgo economic vibrancy and competitiveness for trying to protect their little economic fiefdoms.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stratfor Video: Forecasting Geopolitics

This video by Stratfor is a long one, and a good one.  Two very knowledgeable, educated, and expert geopolitical analysts talk about their views on geopolitical forecasting.  For those of you who do not know Stratfor, a private intelligence gathering company, operates under two premises.  One is that all nations are ration actors, even if occasionally lead or beholden to by irrational men, the other is that there are constraints, demographics, resources, and geographical, that limit the number of moves a nation makes.

This means that while knowing what nations will do in the short term can be very difficult to forecast accurately, in the longer term you can see what a nation will do.  Economics alone doesn't dictate the actions of a nation, something we libertarian minded individuals forget.  There are also cultural, historical, and geographic causes for the events that we experience in the world, however, given the uniqueness of the United States relative to most older nations and nation states we often forget about these causes and think of it purely in economic terms. However, just because a nation has prosperous economic ties to another doesn't mean that the chance of future armed conflict is off the table.

  Just look at Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, both having extensive trade relations with one another, yet war broke out.  The theory has also been restated as the Golden Arches theory of war, the idea that having a McDonalds represents an economic development level were war becomes increasingly unpalatable between the two nations, which has been dis proven multiple times. 

A nation's foreign policy is shaped by externalities around it. Switzerland and Canada aren't neutral nations militarily out of the kindness of their national character; no, they do so because they can achieve their ends via other means and because it would be difficult for them to use military means to achieve their ends.  France, for all its bluster about American warmongering in Iraq and Kosovo, had no problem joining a conflict in Libya when it thought that she had something to gain from it. China and Russia's calls for caution in Syria, and opposition to the invasion of Iraq, have nothing to do with respecting the sovereignty of nation states, and everything to do with their own interests.

Either way I have rambled long enough when Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Friedman do a much better job explaining the theory of geopolitical forecasting and their own ideas on it.

Organics Shmorganics

Most bloggers I have read have multiple interests outside of economics and politics.  One of my other hobbies is physical culture, or the fitness culture sans the bullshit supplements and unhelpful body building mags.  Due to participating in sports throughout my life from being a tot in diapers while playing t-ball to competing in NCAA college athletics I have developed a healthy interest in kinesiology and nutrition. 

One of the first things I have learned is that you should never ever listen to anything that appears on any major news publication or even your doctor when it comes to nutrition.  These are the main proponents of 'fad' diets, factually erroneous information, and out of date information.  Remember when eggs were considered 'junk food?' When eating copious amounts of whole grains was heart healthy?  The list goes on, and in fact even some good ideas get taken too far like the paleo-diet, eating more lean meats and vegetables over processed grains is a great idea, nonsense, forgoing any grain substance whatsoever as if it is some poison is absurd, is doubly so if your a competitive athlete, that has become the rage.  Don't even get me started on cross fit.

But I am not here to write about generally good eating and workout ideas that invariably get taken to far. No. I am here to actually post an article by a source that I say you should rarely listen to when it comes to health, mass media.  The reason why is that the article finally says something that I have long known from both observation and reading actually nutritional studies.  Organic produce is so no more healthier than conventional produce produced by the evil capitalist machine.  This shouldn't come to a surprise for those that have had their ear to the ground for the last decade but for those that can string to thoughts together. 

For example, if the world is as polluted as many environmentalists say it is, then organic farming wouldn't make a difference due to environmental contamination.  Secondly, farmers aren't using pesticides as strong as DDT any more, even the nattiest chemicals they are using today are more environmentally sound and healthy, but this is rarely reported on by the media.

Of course people will spin their wheels and say that the data is still too new to come to a firm conclusion. Or that there are other benefits to organic food over conventional.  So be it. If you buy organic because you don't want produce that was sprayed with pesticide that's a completely personale decision I can't fault you for.  The same goes for self growing food, which I admire because it shows dedication and paitence. But for those of you who buy organic food only because of its supposed health benefits, and not because you want to feel good because your being a good earth child to your earth mother, then you are wasting your money. The fact is this. Get your vegetables, get your meats, and if you lift weights, run, swim, play sports, or are generally physically active, work in some carbohydrates and your body will take care of itself.  This isn't rocket science. There isn't a secret diet or routine. It just takes discipline and paitence.  If people like Eugene Sandow, Steeve Reeves, Vince Gironda, or Reg Park could develop robust and healthy bodies 50 to 100 years ago; before the invention of powdered creatine*, protein powder*, steriods, organic foods, or any other bullshit health idea of the last 50 years, then you can too.

*These two items actually have long term scientific studies that show the benefits of taking these prodcuts; if your a serious competitive athlete. If your simply a gym junkie then you generally don't need these products.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.