Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2013

student loan debt and net-worth gap by race

There's another study that shows how the gap in net worth grew by race in America; whereas a previous study demonstrated that African Americans own about a nickel for every dollar whites have secured in Roth IRAs, houses, cars, or collectible baseball cards, this one focuses on families and has the net-worth gap rising to $236,500 in 2009. Here's a paragraph from The Washington Post's article on the study:

Despite that progress, the wealth gap between whites and blacks nearly tripled among study participants, going from $85,000 per family in 1985 to $236,500 in 2009. Overall, the median net worth of whites in the study was $265,000 in 2009, compared with $28,500 for blacks. A broader survey done by federal officials has found even larger disparities, with blacks having a nickel of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by the median white family.

Although the article focuses on how real estate and employment opportunities, or lack thereof, have exacerbated this discrepancy…

those were the days

Here's a good follow-up blog to a recent New York Times piece on paying one's way through college. The author of the original article is also the author of this blog, and he notes that many readers accused him of glamorizing paying for college on one's own without realizing how unrealistic this is in 2013.

One of the first commenters from the blog notes with enthusiasm just how out of touch our political leaders may be, even if they serve on our national committees on education:

The national conversation is completely uninformed and unrealistic. Colleges sit on the sidelines tut-tutting while legislators (esp. GOP) shake their heads at the spendthrifts who borrow way too much for college and then go home to live with their parents. Rep. Foxx, a key member of the education committee in the House, boasts about having "paid her way" through UNC in the 1960s when it cost $1,000 for room, board, and tuition.

no degree, no job

In my life, we've had roughly five to seven different "recessionary economies," depending on how one counts the downturns, and I remember well the one into which I was graduated and gained my "entry-level experience" in the early nineties.

Once I walked into a retail computer "environment," and inquired about work, and in a brief bit of a conversation a guy my age behind the counter exclaimed in anguish, "It's retail," as if that were the worst kind of work possible and not, as a job hunter could see it, a boon opportunity in lean times, a chance to earn a steady check.

Ten years later, talking about the labor market of the early twenty-first century, 2002 to 2003ish, a family member said simply, "You need a college degree to get any job." And now here's the 2013 version of that statement, one of those articles about how you need a college degree to get a foot in the door (i.e. file clerk). It's worth noting that I…

college class

This article has some interesting tidbits on transparency and economic class in higher education. I understand and relate to these issues, particularly the way in which lower income white students face enormous obstacles when seeking to gain admittance to elite universities although this is a contested issue, too, and we need to recognize the "enormous obstacles" experienced by everyone these days, or most everyone save for the economic elites.

And smack in the middle of the article, the author acknowledges clearly why, most likely, little or nothing, will be done about it:

"Addressing class inequality is more expensive than addressing racial and gender inequities because low-income students need financial aid, which may mean smaller budgets for libraries or faculty salaries."

And this anecdote pretty much sums up why recent American Presidents have avoided the topic entirely:

"Class issues popped up periodically in public discussion but never gained traction.…

#pdftribute redux

So the highlight of giving the story away at amazon, smashwords, and everywhere else e-books are downloaded has been watching it move as high as #15 in the amazon "coming of age" free-e-book category where it remains at #30. It may not even be "coming of age," but I'll take anything I can get. Within literary fiction, #30 or so was the high, and it's currently #53, just behind a cool-sounding Concrete Underground by one Moxie Mezcal.

There's a chance I'll break out of my rut and publish one all by myself although the usual factors seem to be impeding my march in this direction.


the poetics of pensions

Dow 14,000 or not, according to plenty of sources, we're in a persistent recession for black Americans, older workers, and more or less, the rest of the country.

With an impending sequester and the promise of a million or more job cuts, things could get even worse before they get better, or possibly, they won't ever get better for most human beings on the planet. So to recap, that'd be worse and then worse again. . . maybe a meandering, a lull between worses upon occasion, but we'll see.

Somehow it all reminded me of this Kevin Varrone poem posted on the homepage of the Pennsylvania Book Center. I'll be sure to hit him up for some cash if I ever run into him in Philly.

market update

Bond-bookie Bill Gross wades into the waters of inflation-protected literature and is decidedly unamused about recent strength in the markets. He resorts to quoting T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men," (and not Yeats!) to insist the center, as in the bond market, cannot hold. After the bang, the whimper, and all that, his blog post's first rather pedestrian suggestion is to purchase TIPs if you're among the many who can't purchase land in New Zealand. Later in his list of suggestions, he does offer meatier bits such as, "Be cognizant of property rights and confiscatory policies in all governments."

And yet, despite Gross's glooming over the monetary system and unemployment inching higher (enough other positive indicators to send the curious off the couch and back into the job market), the Dow Jones Industrial Average appears to have closed above 14,000 for only the ninth time in its history. According to Christina Rexrode in The Huffington Post,

If the…