Tag Archives: obama

Thesis: Online Education’s Best Days are Behind Them

Everyone has seen advertisements for some online college campus such as University of Phoenix which strive to offer cheap affordable college classes that are convenient for anyone to take, since the classes are all online. This industry has grown tremendously over the previous 10 years as the cost of college has been rising at a much faster rate than inflation (as witnessed by the graph below).

fredgraph

The rising costs of college are one of the reasons that online university courses became such a prominent alternative to traditional colleges. These universities offered not only convenience, but huge savings when compared to other college campuses. This was due to not only saving on room and board, but as mentioned in Spencer Jakab’s article, “During the 2009-2010 academic year, one-quarter of all Pell Grants and subsidized federal loans went to students at for-profit colleges [such as Apollo Education Group], according to the College Board. That was well above their share of, say, graduates.” These subsidies for the students attending colleges like University of Phoenix even further reduced the cost and increased the savings these consumers felt.

However, this story does not end well for these for-profit online schools as enrollment, and revenue, have decreased significantly from their peak a few years ago. One potential reason for this huge decrease in the early 2010’s of these online college degrees was due to as pointed out in Kevin Carey’s article, “Over the course of a few months in early 2012, leading scientists from Harvard, Stanford and M.I.T. started three companies to provide Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. The courses were free. Millions of students signed up. Pundits called it a revolution.” These online courses are taught by some of the most prestigious teachers in the world, and all that is needed is an internet connection. While this reformation of higher education is revolutionary and is only going to keep increasing its prominence as credentials begin to become recognized by employers from taking these courses, the importance of getting an actual college degree remains significant.

A more viable reason for the decrease for-profit online education schools have felt in enrollments and revenues comes straight from the White House. President Obama announced “his new $60 billion community college initiative to provide two years of community college for free in January.” These community colleges are University of Phoenix’s biggest competitor because they both target people who cannot (or choose not too) pay the steadily rising prices to go to a traditional college. This initiative, if and when passed, will be the final crippling blow to these online for-profit schools that have gained prominence these past few years.

Effects of Immigration

The United States Department of Justice filed a request to a Texas Federal Judge to allow the Obama Administration to allow for the implementation of President Obama’s immigration plan. The plan was recently blocked by a Texas judge as many people feel the plan would cause an increase in the number of undocumented immigrants, forcing many programs in the United States to incur added costs to provide education, health care and other services to these illegal immigrants. If the Obama administration is able to continue with their plan of actioning for laying the ground work for this proposal it would positively effect some four million people. Although illegal immigrants are technically not allowed in our country, I believe that they contribute positively to the well being of citizens in the United States.

Obama’s plan, according to the article, “would allow the administration to continue laying the groundwork for its Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program, which would allow about four million people currently in the country illegally to apply for deferred deportation and work authorizations.” http://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-seeks-stay-of-ruling-on-immigration-actions-1424711188. This would allow relief for millions of illegal immigrants in the US. The fact that immigrants are already here means instead of deporting all of them, we should grant them citizenship and get them “into the system.” This would enable them to pay taxes and contribute positively to society. While there would be added costs, these costs would be largely offset by the taxes paid. Many people argue illegal immigrants are bad because they get to use public goods without paying for them or that they take jobs. The first problem would be solved by taxes. If they contributed their far share like we all do, then they would not be able to capitalize on “free” public good like parks. Regarding the second argument, I do not see many of us lining up to go work some of the worst jobs imaginable. The fact that immigrants take these jobs allow two things to happen. First, when paid, these immigrants go to local stores and spend their income in ways that positively enhance national GDP. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, illegal immigrants work jobs that must be done that no one wants, for less. This allows goods that we buy everyday to be priced cheaper. Because labor is such a large cost for any industry, employing cheap labor creates better margins for the producers, which in the end, get passed to us as consumers.

The article also states, “In its motion seeking a stay while it appeals the injunction, the Obama administration said its immigration program will allow it to focus its limited resources on deporting those who pose national security risks and threats to public safety.” This allows for the good to stay and the bad illegals to leave. The real problem lies with how far the president is allowed to go regarding his authority as president. Mr. Péndola and Ms. Benítez, two immigrants highlighted in a recent NY Times article, “now stand on two sides of a sharp divide created by disagreements over how far a president can change immigration policy by executive action.” I believe this is just another example of both parties flexing their muscles and not letting the other “win.” I hope for the sake of our country and the illegal immigrants in it, Obama is able to expand and implement this program. Because at the end of the day, we are all illegal immigrants in the United States.

 

 

Instant information for all, not just the rich and powerful

I have always been in love with the Internet every since I first came in contact with it. I loved how free it made me feel. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection could access the same information at the same rate. You could be anyone and do anything on the Internet; there were seemingly no rules or regulation for the most part. Now, I do recognize having a computer with Internet access is a privilege. However, as of 2014 there is an estimated 2,925,249,355 Internet users, which represents 40.4% of the world population (http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/#byregion).

The possibilities and potential upside seemed limitless. For centuries, information took weeks, months, or even years to span the globe. Now that information, such as scientific discoveries, epidemics, and other global issues could be made available to everyone seemingly in an instant. If a cure for a life threatening disease was discovered in France or India or basically anywhere, that information could be shared with all other nations.

I am clearly not the only one who noticed the seemingly limitless potential of the Internet, which has made it quite a controversial issue as of late. Broadband providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast just to name a few have spent a great deal of time and money trying to lobby Congress and the White House to allow them to treat internet traffic differently depending on the website (http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-white-house-thwarted-fcc-chief-on-internet-rules-1423097522?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories).

This would allow them, the broadband service provides, to build in fast lanes and slow lanes, so to speak, into the Internet. Where, for a fee, a company could make sure their information or service gets to the end user faster than those opting out of paying the fee (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/11/10/full-text-obama-statement-on-net-neutrality/). Luckily, for nearly everyone, Obama has taken a firm stance against the capitalization of the Internet and has stood up in support of keeping the Internet free and equal for everyone, saying that it should be viewed as a public utility (http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-white-house-thwarted-fcc-chief-on-internet-rules-1423097522?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories).

“An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known. “Net neutrality” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas” (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/11/10/full-text-obama-statement-on-net-neutrality/).

Internet users can let go a sigh of relief for the meantime. Obama has stood firm against lobbyists, and sided with the general public that seems to support a free and open Internet for everyone.

Infrastructure Investments: The Road to China’s Future of Growth

In light of today’s budget announcement from the White House, I have decided to explore one of the main focuses of the $478 trillion spending plan that the President has come up with to revive the economy, infrastructure spending.

According to Mark Magnier’s article for the Wall Street Journal titled “Benefits of Infrastructure Spending Not So Clear-Cut, Economists Say,” “Washington-based Progressive Policy Institute concludes that every dollar spent on U.S. roads, bridges and public transport spurs $1.50 to $2 of growth.” According to research conducted by Oxford Economics for PWC’s study titled “Capital project and infrastructure spending Outlook to 2025,” “the Asia-Pacific market, driven by China’s growth, will represent nearly 60% of global infrastructure spending by 2025”

(www.pwc.com/cpi-outlook2025). The study also predicts that Western Europe infrastructure spending will not return to pre-crisis levels until 2018, as Asia’s has been growing this entire time.

“Developing economies, most notably China and other parts of Asia, account for nearly half of all infrastructure spending, up more than 10% from 2006” (www.pwc.com/cpi-outlook2025)

How will China’s success in the race for infrastructure growth will contribute to its economic growth compared to Europe’s?

While China’s economy had been growing in double digits over the last 20 years, growth has slowed recently. This growth is still at a respectable annual growth rate of 7%. China’s economy is maturing and beginning to lose its cost-competitive advantage to other lower cost countries. As this happens, China will need to make strategic investments to sustain its growth.  Investments in infrastructure can serve this growth need. Infrastructure investments immediately create jobs in construction and related industries. Infrastructure investments also provide opportunities for longer term, more sustainable growth and development.

China should continue to make SMART infrastructure investments, especially in high speed rail, ports and airports and wireless high-speed telecommunications to continue to open markets within China and to provide a better quality of life for its citizens.

Virginia Lau discusses Chinese high speed rail in her article “Record breaker: China’s incredible north-south high-speed train line plan” for CNN as the world’s longest high-speed rail line was just proposed to run from “Inner Mongolia’s Baotou city and running through southern Shaanxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi and Guangdong, its final stop would be in Haikou city on Hainan Island, China’s southernmost province” (http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/08/travel/china-high-speed-north-south-rail/). Additionally, this project will connect rural provinces with urban areas such as Beijing. This will promote growth by providing sustainable job opportunities for those in rural areas, as discussed above.