24 September 2014

Paying for Public Education: A Serious Proposal

America, we have a problem.  A democracy depends on an educated voting public, but obtaining a university education is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Over the last decade, tuition at four-year public institutions has increased at about 7.5% per year. This translates to a doubling of tuition in a decade. Tuition is twice as expensive as it was 10 years ago.

In addition to tuition increases, many universities have increased room and board charges and added an array of student fees, which mask total cost increases of attending college.  It appears that more affordable 2-year programs and community colleges may have had even larger increases.

Against rising costs of education, minimum wages, which many students earn while working part time, have not increased at all. Average annual wage increases for all workers have risen about 3% during the same period.

With higher costs and lower relative wages, it is not a surprise that students are accumulating higher levels of debt. There appears to be about $1 trillion in outstanding student debt in the U.S., and student loan defaults are reportedly about $146 billion.

A second problem relates to cutbacks in social services at the same time social needs are increasing. The recent financial crisis reduced revenues to Government, resulting in spending cutbacks in many state and local governments. Cutbacks were typically widespread including support for public education and social services. At the same time unemployment and underemployment were increasing, community services were decreasing.

These two issues may have a common solution. I have a proposal that will not eliminate these problems but could help mitigate them. The proposal is more fully explained on my new website (macdonaldscholars.com).

The proposal does not require any more Government funding; it is a private initiative, funded by private sources.  If implemented broadly, students will graduate with less debt, and community services will be increased, Stay tuned.

06 September 2014

A Dog's L:ife

A Dog’s Life
By Sadie MacDonald, a 2-½ year old Lab mix

The path of life takes so many unexpected turns. Take my life, for example.

I was born in Beaumont Texas in 2011. I think my mom was a yellow lab; I never met my father but he must have had floppy ears because I have little floppy ears and labs do not. I think my dad was really fast too; I can run faster than anyone. If I am not on a leash, no one can catch me.

I did not have a home as a pup and was rescued when mom and I were sitting on the side of a road. Ross adopted me and I moved to Austin. Ross raised me and I love Ross very much. I miss him.

I lived in Austin with Ross, his roommate Matt, and Matt’s dog Duke. It was a good life, but things always change and Ross had to move to an apartment in Houston, so we flew to California, and I moved in with Scott, Ross’s Dad. I now live in Del Mar, which is not bad.

I really like the new neighborhood. Coach lives down at the bottom of my street and Otis lives right behind me. I hope to go to Otis’s house next week to play.

Jake, a big Bernese Mountain dog, lives down the street and stops by every day. He was the first to welcome me to the neighborhood. And Bella, a German Shepherd, lives across from Jake. Bella is okay but has an attitude problem she needs to work on. She wants to be the dominant dog, which is fine with me so she needs to get over it and move on.

Bavie and Bodie live next door. They are little guys and bark a lot. I don’t know if we will be friends but I like walking past their house and causing them to go crazy each time I pass.

There are lots of good places to go to the bathroom. I am especially fond of a patch of dirt and bushes just up the street. No dogs live in the house and the humans are never around so many of the neighborhood dogs use this place. We like to smell each other’s scent.

There are so many new smells here. Sometimes I just put my nose in the air and take in the fresh breeze. It smells so different than Texas. When I take Scott or Patti for a walk, I like to smell everything; sometimes they are impatient and I have to move on.

Humans here like in Texas are nice but not that smart. Scott told me I am not allowed to lie on his nice soft coach in the living room, so I wait until he is gone before I hop on it and take a nap. I am really quick and can change places as soon as I hear a key in the door.

Sometimes Scott asks me if I was on the bed or couch. I guess he notices lots of dog hair. I pretend I do not know what he is talking about. Humans are pretty gullible.

I am not allowed in his bed either. Sometimes I wait until he and Patti go to sleep and then hop on the bed. Usually they wake up and push me off but yesterday I managed to sneak on and they did not notice until morning. If they push me out, I often go in the guest bedroom and hop on that bed. Human beds are far better than dog beds or the floor.

I take Scott and Patti for lots of walks. I just pretend I need to go to the bathroom, and out we go. If they are asleep, I just press my cold nose against Patti, and that usually works. I also know how to whine if I need to resort to that. Humans need exercise so they should thank me.

So life in Del Mar is pretty good. I have been to the beach, had treats at lunchtime at the local human restaurants, walked all over, been to a resort for dogs and spent the day playing with some great dogs. I miss Ross and don’t like car rides, but otherwise no complaints.

If you ever want to come visit, bring your dog or at least some treats. I like treats.

Del Mar CA