Education About Education

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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education

Today a little education about education.

First I’ll crunch some numbers, as I like to do.

4,726 = the number of colleges and universities United States.

$589 billion =  the amount spent by students annually.

Of that figure,

$393 billion = tuition fees, and

$196 billion = expenses like travel and housing.

538% = the percentage increase of the cost of a college education over the past three decades.

4.5 = the number times more expensive it is to go to college today than it was back in 1985, even allowing for inflation.

So is the cost worth it?

Does the education system make sense?

The vast majority of Americans never even consider these important questions. They are fixated on their kids going to college – end of debate.

Whether they have the ability or not, or whether it is the right career path for them or not, if the parents can afford it and/or the kids can get a student loan (which they usually can) then they go to college.

But there is a heavy cost to pay, as we have just seen above. By the time they graduate 70% of students are lumbered with a loan balance averaging $28,400. Nationwide in the US, student loan debt now sits at a staggering $1.2 trillion, which is nearly 50% higher than all the outstanding auto-loan debt, and almost double credit card debt.

student loan debt

While it is true that college graduates have more opportunities to earn more than those without a degree, the number of those good paying jobs is limited. Most college graduates have to settle for a lot less that they were planning for when they started that expensive college education.

What is often forgotten is that there are many other opportunities out there in the workplace for someone who spends their time and money learning a trade or a skill. A friend of mine who is a plumber earns many times more than many of his contemporaries with college degrees and office jobs.

In fact, since more and more young Americans are turning their noses up at manual type jobs and opting for expensive colleges, there will soon be a shortage of essential trades such as plumbers, electricians and so forth, making those jobs even more lucrative than they are now.

Food for thought for the future perhaps.

FoodForThought

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Barrack Obama – You’re Fired!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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trump announcement

So he’s finally gone and done it.

He nearly did it before.

Then he thought about it, and then he didn’t do it.

But this time he has done it – for now anyway.

Love him or hate him there is one thing for sure – a Presidential campaign with Donald Trump fully committed is going to be a lot more entertaining than one with Sarah (what day of the week is it?) Palin, Jeb (not another one) Bush, or even Hillary (no, really I’m not lying) Clinton.

jeb bush

Donald Trump’s show of wealth for some may sometimes border on the vulgar, but he is the personification of the American success story. He’s made a fortune, and more than once.

But is Trump equipped to be President?

Or perhaps a more appropriate question, is Trump better equipped to be President that the other hopefuls?

Whatever way you phrase the question I think the answer has to be ‘Yes’ he is better equipped. Not that that says a lot when you look at the other contenders.

Trump has made his own way in life, done deals, hired and fired, negotiated hard, got value for his money, and done a lot of it in New York City which is not the easiest place to succeed in real estate.

trump tower

Contrast that with some of the other would-be’s who have spent much of their lives as the political mouth pieces for whoever could pay them the most.

Trump is also an entertainer and a man full of charisma – you know when he has walked into a room.

He and his name are also well known, which is a very big plus in an election. It means that he can and will appeal to conservatives like himself (tough on foreign policy, pro-NRA, pro-business and jobs, etc), but also to undecided and independent voters in much the same way as Ronald Reagan was able to do.

celebrity apprentice boardroom

He also has the money to fund his own campaign if he chooses to do so. It is a big plus both for him and for people thinking of voting for him. Trump will not have to end up in anyone’s pocket post-election and he can start his campaign right away rather than waste time accumulating vast war chests of cash.

He’ll also find that he will have to spend less than the others to get his message out there. He won’t have to pay millions to get on to TV because when the people want to hear what he has to say the media simply cannot ignore him.

Trump is also used to getting his own way and used to winning. His ego is huge and won’t allow him to approach the battle half-heartedly.

He’s also got an attractive wife, more reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy than some of the frumps we have had to put up with before and since. But I suppose that is a sexist remark these days and should be disregarded – although believe me it won’t be by the voters.

Trump’s detractors will be both vociferous and numerous. The GOP hopefuls , mostly a collection of Senators and Governors, will not like him stealing whatever little thunder they may think they have. The Democrats, especially Hillary will be cursing the fact that the GOP has someone who can cast a very big media shadow over them. And a lot of the pseudo-intellectuals who commentate on things political will poke fun at Trump, although it will be a tough job for them to find a better equipped candidate in either party.

hillary clinton

All in all then a presidential election with Trump involved is a much better prospect than one without him.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be the next President.

It doesn’t even mean he will win the nomination.

But it does mean that we have more fun finding out who will do both those things.

Trump has about another two weeks to file his papers with the Federal Elections Commission to make his candidacy official. Let’s hope he really does run this time, he’s going to look pretty silly now if he doesn’t.

As I said earlier, more than anything else Trump is an entertainer.

I’m looking forward to being entertained.

Roll on 2016.

2016 presidential election race

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Wonder When They’ll get Round To Making Blogging Illegal?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Dennis_Hastert

While he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the former Speaker, Dennis Hastert, used his political power and connections to enrich himself. No shocks there. He is just one among many politicians who routinely do likewise.

But unlike most of the others, Hastert was charged by the Feds with five felonies, each of them carrying a minimum of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

But, before you get the wrong idea and start to cheer, Hastert’s use of political leverage for personal gain has nothing to do with the charges against him.

What he did when in office was merely corruption and we live in a corrupt political system that those in charge like to call ‘democracy’.

No, Hastert has apparently committed a far worse crime than political graft. And it wasn’t anything to do with the leaks doing the rounds that he had been paying off a high school student for alleged sexual abuse decades ago. He hasn’t been charged with anything related to that either.

Instead, he has been pursued and indicted for the heinous crime of

…wait for it…

“structuring” cash withdrawals from his bank accounts so as to avoid federal bank reporting requirements, and lying to the FBI about what he was doing with his money.

handcuffs dollar

Now, I could care less what they do to a corrupt politician like Hastert. There is a certain irony that he has been caught by a law that he probably helped to create.

But the problem is that many of us could be similarly indicted simply because most of us don’t even know we are committing a crime in the first place.

Stupid bureaucrats have enacted so many laws in recent years, using misleading cover titles such as ‘money laundering’, ‘terrorist threats’, or ‘national security’, that they have turned millions of law-abiding people into de facto criminals, without them even knowing it.

The piece of invasive and unnecessary legislation that Hastert has been caught breaking is the ‘Bank Secrecy Act of 1970’, which makes it compulsory for U.S. banks to file a “currency transaction report” for deposits or withdrawals of more than $10,000 in currency. Banks suspicious of specific transactions are further required to file a “suspicious activity report.”

If the banks don’t capitulate to this government nonsense then they face penalties. This means that the banks comply, over-zealously so as not to ever infringe the regulations – which many of them don’t even understand. Now as a matter of routine they report ALL large cash transactions as suspicious, whether they really are or not.

Hastert didn’t intend or commit any money laundering, fraud or tax evasion. But the authorities don’t care about that. He had a legal and legitimate agreement in place with another individual and he withdrew his money in smaller amounts because he didn’t want this private arrangement to become public knowledge. The Justice Department even admits as much. But the authorities don’t care about that either.

So why have they charged Hastert when they know he really did nothing wrong apart from infringe on a stupid law that was never intended to catch the likes of him?

They did it to terrorize the rest of us.

Soviet control

What most western governments are about nowadays is control. The type of control that used to pervade communist states in the Soviet era. They want to criminalize ordinary people by making trivial and harmless acts into major felonies.

Woe betide you now if you want to spend you own money or transfer it to someone else. It’s your money, you earned it, you saved it up, but touch it in a way not specified by the government and you’re in Federal Court, you criminal bad person you!

All these spurious and unnecessary laws give government law enforcement agencies the ability to punish anyone at any time because there are so many regulations that everyone is in breach of something.

Wonder when they’ll get round to making blogging illegal?

Think I’m joking???

Blogging illegal? Close up of wooden gavel at the computer keyboard

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They Got Away With It AGAIN!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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banks admit forex manipulation

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Last week several of the ‘BIG’ banks – you remember, the ones that are too big to let go bust – were fined in the region of $5.7 billion for illegal manipulation of the currency markets.

The usual suspects were included, J P Morgan, Citibank, Barclays  and RBS all pleading guilty – but only after they were sure what the medicine they would be getting would be.

It’s a huge amount of money, there’s no denying that. And losing it will make the banksters hurt a bit. But only a bit.

And that’s the problem.

Yet again the United States government has failed to bring these criminals to justice after more of their deliberate fraud and theft.

In other words, they let them get away with it AGAIN!

Major Banks

Now, if I walk into a branch of, for example, Citibank and try to steal the money that their customers have deposited with them for safe-keeping, I would be videoed, photographed, and if I was lucky enough to get out of the premises, pursued by the police and even the FBI for as long as it took to capture me.

And I couldn’t have any complaints because that’s the way it should be. Thieves should be sought out, captured and after due process thrown into jail.

However, if I am a bankster, have good government contacts, and ply money and favors to those in government, then I am treated very differently.

big banks get out of jail free

I can embark on insider trading (which is essentially what the banksters were doing when they were illegally manipulating the currency markets), I can sell loans to people that clearly can’t afford them, then take their houses away or sell on their debt wrapped up in a ‘AAA’ bundle to my richer customers, and after all that steal even more of the money my customers have entrusted to me by awarding myself and my collaborators big bonuses that none of us have earned or are entitled to.

In this scenario am I pursued by the police and FBI?

Nope.

Am I thrown in jail to be the bitch of Skull-cracker Jones or Scarface Smith?

Nope.

Will I have to personally pay back the money I stole?

Nope, again.

So what will happen to me if I am a bankster?

At worst I will get a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. Even though recent history has proved that this is no deterrent and I will do it again at the first opportunity I get.

And, of course, I don’t have to personally pay the government’s fine no matter how big it may be. Instead my company has to cough up on my behalf.

Not that the company is much bothered either because when it runs out of money it goes back to the government which hands it back at least the value of the fine and usually much, much more.

Think this system is fair?

Neither do I.

jail the banksters

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What Do Creflo Dollar And Me Have In Common?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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creflo dollar

I hope there aren’t too many things that Creflo Dollar and I have in common. But the one thing that I am sure of that we do have in common is that neither of us own a $65 million private jet. (We’d probably both like to but that’s a whole different story.)

Creflo, if you don’t know already, is one of those despicable TV preachers who spend 99.9 percent of their time trying to swindle money out of gullible and stupid people who think he is really a ‘man of God’.

This pastor’s latest attempt to enrich himself at the expense of his congregation was just as blatant piece of greed and fraud as I’ve come across.

He wanted $65 million.

Nothing wrong with that, if he was going to spend it building a hospital wing, feeding the poor, housing the homeless, or some other equally good works.

But Creflo wanted the $65 million to buy himself a private jet, and a pretty swanky one come to that.

creflo-dollar-airplane

I know what you’re thinking.

I thought the same.

But it turns out that Creflo didn’t want the jet for personal gain, although he would end up owning it and using it.

Oh, dear me no, not at all.

Creflo just wanted to use the private jet to transport food to the starving peoples of the world. Oh yes, and to save the lives of Christians being persecuted in the Middle east.

Personally, if these were indeed the reasons for wanting an airplane, I’d have set my sights on something a little more modest and of the cargo, rather than the luxury passenger, variety. You can pack a heck of a lot more boxes of food into an empty cargo fuselage than you can into one crammed with plush leather reclining seats, plama TV screens, beds, drinks cabinets and all the other luxury fittings you can find in a bespoke Gulfstream private jet.

It didn’t work of course. Thankfully.

It transpired that not even the type of gullible Americans who watch this kind of TV trash fell for Creflo’s obvious display of greed and self-agrandisement. After disappointing results and adverse publicity the web page soliciting donations for the private jet disappeared – and so did Creflo.

For a while, that is.

But he came back and when he did he had the usual religious scammer’s excuses all lined up. The reason for his disappearance was because he was “talking with God” – not the real one of course, but his own personal version, the one who only told him what he wanted to hear.

And his fake god told Creflo that his scam to get himself a private jet had failed because the ‘forces of evil’ had interfered with his plans and set out to discredit him.

one of Creflo Dollar's cribs
one of Creflo Dollar’s modest little cribs

 

It’s a pity they hadn’t got to work on Creflo before now. Before he was able to scam his supporters out of enough money to buy him a million dollar home in Atlanta, another $2.5 million home in Manhattan, a Rolls-Royce motor car, and just enough money to buy one private jet back in 1999.

I wish we had heard the last from people like Creflo.

But somehow I doubt it.

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The Banksters Balls It Up Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the effect that low oil prices would have on the banks. (Click here if you want to read it.) and another the week before last about the reasons for the decline in the oil price (click here if you want to read that)

As they always do, the idiots that run these financial institutions saw something they thought was going to last forever and threw their money and their clients’ money at it without reason.

Nowhere was this type of recklessness more apparent than during the sub-prime fraud when the banksters lent money to people who clearly could not afford it and then sold on those loans as bogus ‘AAA’ securities to their wealthy customers and other buyers who mistakenly thought that the banks would not try to con them.

cartoon happy banker

Well the banks have done more or less the same today.

Banks have been lending hand over fist to oil companies and those who service the energy sector. They have lent billions of dollars that  –  now the oil price has plummeted  –  has no chance of being paid back. They have underwritten bonds, lent money on expensive fracking operations and even financed the speculative building of homes for oil workers.

It was good while it lasted. But it didn’t last long!

In the 1980s something similar happened when energy prices also slumped. Texas was particularly hard hit and many banks either collapsed or had to be rescued because of their bad loans to oil companies and to local real estate developers speculating on the oil boom.

It’s going to happen again.

The bankster’s greed and stupidity means that their banks are going to take another financial hit, they are going to lose more of their customers’ money. Time for another round of big bonuses, if the last disaster is anything to go by!

Obviously they have been too stupid to learn from the past. Not surprising really.

cartoon sad banker

But the big question is what will government do this time?

Has it learned anything?

Will the government let the banks suffer the consequences of their own stupidity, as they should have when the sub-prime catastrophe hit?

Or will they again use OUR money to bail the banks out, making some nonsense excuse that these companies “are too big to allow to go under”?

And we are talking about BIG banks. Wells Fargo, for example, a huge financial powerhouse, made approximately 15 percent of its investment banking revenue from the oil and gas industry during 2014. Another biggie, Citigroup, was much the same, with this sector accounting for around 12 percent.

And it’s not just in America that the pain is being felt this time.

In Canada, which largely avoided the worst of the sub-prime debacle, some of their leading banks could face an even sharper decline in revenues, so reliant is the whole country on the energy and resources sectors. One of Canada’s biggest banks, Scotiabank, derives approximately 35 percent of its investment banking revenue from oil and gas companies, according to 2014 figures.

wall_street_crooks

Then there’s Wall Street.

Usually they make loans like these and sell them off to unsuspecting investors, however, with the very public fall in oil prices that everyone knows about, firms that financed energy deals are now finding it harder to offload this debt.

As an example of their problems, according to a recent NYT report, Morgan Stanley, was among a group of banks that made $850 million of loans to Vine Oil and Gas, an affiliate of Blackstone, a private equity firm. They are still trying to sell on that debt, but no one is buying. Goldman Sachs and UBS led a $220 million loan last year to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy Express Energy Services. Not all that debt has been sold to other investors either so they are left holding that baby too.

That’s only loans to the oil companies and speculators. Some of the worst loans made by the banks have been to a multitude of companies that provide services to the oil industry. Some of these services companies, lured by the oil boom, are relatively new and/or small and probably under-capitalized so their debt burden can quickly drag them under when projected profits fail to materialize.

Naturally you can expect that the banksters will use all their lobbying and political power to make sure the government steps in again.

But the truth is the government really does not need to (they didn’t the last time either). The ‘to-big-to-fail’ banks may lose on their energy bets, but they will recoup a lot of that money from ordinary people like you and I.

Lower oil prices means that we need less cash to fill up our gas tanks or heat our homes, so the chances are we will feel a bit freer to use that credit card or maybe even take out a mortgage.

Of course, for the banksters that’s a slow way to riches. They want that business for sure, but they will also want the government to write off their other bad loans too.

Let’s see what happens this time.

collapsing bank sign

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Disappearing Beaches And Dead Fish – It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Two of the facts today do indeed relate to disappearing beaches and dead fish.

Rather surprisingly though, the two facts are not related.

Find out for yourself below.

And enjoy.

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did you know1

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The optic nerve,

which connects the eyes to the brain,

is too sensitive to successfully reconstruct.

 optic nerve

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The most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) weapon

in the world is the

Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP),

nicknamed “Father of All Bombs” or “FOAB’,

a Russian-made air-delivered/land-activated

thermobaric weapon whose destructive power,

according to Russian deputy chief of the general staff

Alexander Rukshin was such that,

“all that is alive merely evaporates.”

The bomb is reportedly four times as powerful as the

US military’s Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb or “MOAB”

mentioned in last week’s fasab facts.

 Father of All Bombs

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South Africa has eleven official languages,

the highest number of any country in the world.

 South Africa has eleven official languages

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Swansea Jack was a black retriever dog from Wales

with a big heart and lots of courage that became

famous in the 1930s for rescuing people from the sea.

He saved twenty-seven people and won many

awards for his heroic acts.

Swansea Jack is the only dog to have been

awarded two bronze medals

(‘the canine Victoria Cross’)

by the National Canine Defence League

(now known as Dogs Trust).

 Swansea Jack

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Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body

and supports the immune system in

fighting off bacteria and viruses.

Almonds, as well as other nuts like peanuts

and hazelnuts are high sources of vitamin E.

One ounce of dry roasted almonds

contains 6.8 mg of vitamin A,

which is 34% of the daily recommended value.

 dry roasted almonds

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The first book bought on Amazon was called

‘Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies:

Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.’

 first book bought on Amazon

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Charles Cunningham Boycott was a British

land agent living in 19th century Ireland,

who was ostracized by his local community after

he refused his tenants´ demands for reduction in rates.

His name lives on  and is synonymous with acts of

political or social protest by voluntarily abstaining from

using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country.

 Charles Cunningham Boycott

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At Porthleven in Cornwall (UK) the entire sand

volume mysteriously disappeared due to a freak tide,

but after a second high tide a few hours later,

the entire sand volume was re-deposited on the beach,

returning it to its original state.

A case of now you don’t see it, now you do!

(David Copperfield was not around at the time.)

 map Porthleven in Cornwall

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The Chevrolet Silverado is a mega-selling full-size

and heavy-duty pickup truck manufactured

by General Motors and introduced in 1999

as the successor to the long-running Chevrolet C/K line.

In 2014 Cheverolet sold 529,755 Silverados,

or almost 1 every minute.

 Chevrolet Silverado

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During the medieval period, London and Paris

each had no more than forty thousand residents.

In contrast cities, such as Constantinople and Baghdad,

had about a million people each.

 Medieval London

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The voices of Mickey & Minnie Mouse,

Wayne Allwine & Russi Taylor,

married each other in real life, too.

 Wayne Allwine & Russi Taylor wedding

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Vending machines kill more people per year

than sharks and snakes combined.

According to the available police reports

the deaths usually happen when the vending machine

steals somebody’s snack, drink, or money,

and they decide to hit it a bit too hard causing

the vending machine to fall on them.

 Vending machine

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In the German city of Hamburg in 1842,

about a quarter of the inner city was destroyed

and an estimated twenty thousand lost their property.

Surprisingly only fifty-one people lost their lives.

 Hamburg in 1842

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In Lyme Regis, a little coastal town

in West Dorset, England,

slapping people with a dead eel is prohibited.

There had been a tradition known as

“the conger-cuddling”, in which people swung

dead eels at each other but in 2006,

the game was banned by local bureaucrats not

because it might have injured the people taking

part in this activity but because

– wait for it –

an animal rights group claimed

it was disrespectful to the dead fish.

 conger_cuddling

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Wallilabou Anchorage, situated at Wallilabou Bay

on the west or leeward coast of the main island

of St Vincent on the Caribbean Sea,

was the principal Caribbean location for

Disney’s 2003 blockbuster ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.

It is still home to many of the props,

including replicas of cannons.

Many fans visit it annually.

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