Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Skip class to work for the Obamessiah!

Barack Obama is asking students to skip class (ask your professors first!) in order to volunteer for him on election day. Just yet another example of a man whose ego seems to know no bounds.

Heck why not skip class!? Consider it an investment in your future. Under the Obama-Biden plan anyone can get a fully refundable $4000 tax credit, i.e. the first $4000 of your tuition every year can be wealth confiscated from someone else and handed to you in the form of a check. Can someone please explain to me, if a college education is supposed to be such a wonderful investment, why liberals think it needs to be so heavily subsidized by the government.

At the state colleges in New York, tuition is $4350 a year, with room and board expect $13,000/year. Even if a student borrows every penny of this money he leaves with a debt of $52,000. For a 10-year loan this works out to around $600/month in payments. Annoying, sure? Affordable for someone with a college degree? Absolutely! Even with a starting salary of only $30K this leaves $23K to live on in the first year, way more than our Ph.D. students are living on and way more than I lived on for 5 years of graduate school. And this assumes the student doesn't work during the year or in the summers, which can easily cut that debt figure in half.


levee guy said...

Where does it say that he is "asking students to skip class"? And how is this another example of a man whose ego knows no bounds? His campaign staff and advisors do this stuff. Get a grip RWP.

Anonymous said...

The YouTube from Obama's campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UFzkO5OhKY says:

Take Election Day off from work or school and volunteer to help get out the vote for Barack. Sign up to join fellow supporters on Tuesday, November 4th: http://www.barackobama.com/...

Do you think Obama is letting his staff run wild and he doesn't see this stuff? Wow--and you think he'd make a good manager of the country?

right-wing prof said...

levee guy,

Click on the link and watch the little 30 second video It suggests skipping work and/or school because you "can't make history" from those places. And I'm sure you don't think it unfair to hold Obama responsible for the things posted on Obama's website do you? Actually something like this asking people to skip work was most likely approved by the Messiah himself.

Anonymous said...

and if The One wins, he'll order that you be paid for not working that day.

levee guy said...

No 30-sec video appears for me, despite repeated tries and poking around. Never mind, I'll take your word for it. The One and Messiah, eh? Only nervous Cons say that. And yes, I do hold Obama accountable for anything that appears on his website. If a kid skips school for one day to work for Obama, and he wins, that kid will talk about it for the rest of his/her life and probably learn a helluva lot more than the school lesson missed. And indeed it will be major-league history made-- a black president of the United States of America. A very smart, charismatic black president. Deal with it guys; time moves forward. Maybe only half-plus-a-little of America will cheer, but most of the rest of the world will cheer along with them.

RWP, I've been reading your tax arguments. I'll predict here and now--- if Obama wins, you and your family will see little or no changes in your tax liabilities. Remember, all of his plans have to go through Congress first, and even if the Dems control both houses, most of them will want to be re-elected someday. Nuff said.

dave3544 said...


As a grad union organizer, I completely support your implicit call for higher wages for graduate employees.

We do, however, differ in our opinion of the value of higher education. You refer to it as an "investment." You seem to be working form the assumption that the "investment" is made by the individual in the interest of the individual. Is there also not a benefit to society from having a highly educated citizenry and workforce? If so, then I believe it is the interests of society to "invest" in higher education for as many people as possible, making as cheap as possible. I believe this is why we have a public education system in the first place, is it not.

of course, you're worried about the forced redistribution of wealth from those earning over $250K a year to help people attend college. Couldn't it be argued that those earning over $250K a year have an interest in maintaining a stable, peaceful populace? Isn't a tiny slice of the income worth it to provide them with, not only a highly educated workforce, but a society not given to the ravages of poverty?

Isn't that what "society" is all about?

levee guy said...

Dave, I very much agree with you--- education at all levels is an investment in a society and should be valued as such. I once taught at a public urban university where most students were commuters from working class families, many of them products of inner city schools. Tuition, even as low as it was, was nevertheless a major obstacle for large number of them who had to take part-time and even full-time jobs to continue their education. The drop-out rate was very high for a variety of reasons, but having to work jobs, take night classes, buy books and make tuition payments all contributed. A similar issue (value of education) comes up for foreign graduate students who seek green cards and permanent residence after completing graduate degrees. Thomas Friedman once said that the USA should attach a green card onto every diploma of a foreign grad student to encourage them to stay, but instead our recent immigration policy makers have made it increasingly difficult for them to remain here. I had a Russian PhD student who finally gave up and moved to Canada because the green card never came. I know of other examples like this, mostly since 9/11.

right-wing prof said...

You guys are both right that there is societal benefit to having people educated. However I think it is clear that the vast majority of the benefit goes to the individual, I'd rate it at least 95% of the marginal benefit of an additional person getting a degree accrues to the person, there are actual studies about this. Type words like education benefit society and externalities into google and you'll find them. The state tuition I referenced above is already heavily subsidized by the taxpaper, I think the student should make up the rest.

I'm well under $100K in family income, if Obama gets elected he damn well better give me the tax cut he promised!

dave3544 said...


Two quick points:

One, you say that public education is "heavily subsidized by the taxpayer." Surely, you are aware that there have been a massive divestment in public education in this country. Our parents and their parents paid very little for their educations and had very few loans. Although it varies by state, estimates are that the public subsidizes about 50% of the cost of higher education with their taxes. Maybe you still think this too high, which leads to my second point.

If you think that taxes for public education is confiscating wealth from those who earned and giving it to those that earn nothing, then do you oppose the elimination of taxes for public higher ed and therefore the elimination of public higher education altogether?

If not, why not? How much confiscation of wealth is good and how much is bad? Our parents certainly enjoyed it. Was it bad then? Isn't Obama advocating a return to a balance between taxpayers and student enjoyed by earlier generations?

And isn't he stipulating a community service requirement? How would this change your 95/5% balance?

levee guy said...

Dave, I've taught at two large public universities in two different states. The taxpayer's percentage of contribution to higher ed has been steadily declining for many years owing to numerous and complex factors, but ultimately because the rising costs of higher ed have continually exceeded the rate of increased tax revenue. That's the national trend, though it varies among states. The universities have responded in various ways, e.g. raising tuition, aggressively seeking donations and endowments from alumni, pressuring faculty to obtain patents, research and teaching grants. It is not likely to return to the good old days of your parents. Keeping tuition to affordable rates is a continual battle but of high priority for both the U and the state legislatures. The balance between state (= taxpayers) and tuition contributions is rather finely tuned and strongly governed by enrollments because many students shop around for lowest costs. For the most part it works OK. In my opinion, students should pay part of the way for higher ed, but tuition costs must be maintained at affordable rates for working and lower middle class families, thus the need for taxpayer subsidies. If those subsidies should dramatically decrease, RWP and I might find ourselves out of work. In any case, Obama/McCain and the feds should and will stay out of it. This is a matter for the states, and there is remarkable similarity among them as to how they support higher ed.

Anonymous said...

Even if a student borrows every penny of this money he leaves with a debt of $52,000. For a 10-year loan this works out to around $600/month in payments. Annoying, sure? Affordable for someone with a college degree? Absolutely! Even with a starting salary of only $30K this leaves $23K to live on in the first year..."

Your calculations (or your beliefs about tax law) are inaccurate.

Only student loan interest can be tax deductible; the principal payments come from after-tax dollars. So a $7200-a-year student loan bill does not "leave" $23K to live on.


right-wing prof said...

My calculations are not incorrect, he has $23,000 to "live on" where "live on" means pay all one's expenses, including taxes. Just like I lived on $15,000/year graduate student stipend and paid federal income taxes every year, around $1K some years.

Leni said...

I am pursuing higher education in Canada because the international tuition and fees were equivalent to my in-state tuition at the state university. While I do not dispute that I could probably be surviving my four years of university without completely ruining my future prospects, and I find it hella funny when my in-province friends complain about and engage in protests against the lifting of their $2k CAD tuition cap, something about that comparison of figures just rankles.