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@Janitor fact, how many of the doctorate-wielding janitors have earned their degree abroad? Such a diploma may not be accepted in the US.

I'm curious, other than political posturing are there any other valid reasons at all for the existence of the American penny in today's world? It's more expensive to produce than it is worth, a pain to carry, a waste of cashier and customer time to exchange, and no parking meters nor vending machines will accept it. Would the loss of penny-resolution would make prices that much more illiquid? Why is it still around? Any reasons I am missing....?

@Rahul

You are seeing the influence of the zinc lobby here; specifically by the company that provides the zinc blanks to the Treasury. I'm not kidding.

@ #5 Janitor facts - If you are a janitor in nuclear power plant, you can make bank. Probably also plenty of time to read, so it might be the perfect job for almost anyone with a liberal arts PhD.

the kiwis recently ditched their penny, so there's a model to follow

@liberalarts: "So what if it costs more than a penny to make a penny? I am pretty sure that it costs more to make a credit card and send it to me than the $2 coffee that I may charge with it in the morning. But then the credit cards gets used again and again. Sort of like a coin."

No, the value of a coin is not its value times the number of times it's used. The value of a coin is the value of a coin.

Let's say it costs $10 to manufacture and ship a credit card. If you were only allowed to put $5 on that credit card, and once you used up that $5 you had to get a new credit card, then your comparison would be fair. Now, imagine that. If you were charged the manufacturing+shipping price of the card, would you buy it? Would anyone ever be able to sell it? Would it ever get manufactured?

...of course, I see nothing wrong in debating what the optimal allocation to the various majors should be. But arguing against getting a basic college-education in general seems pretty defeatist.

@Rahul
The harm of getting a college degree and then getting a job such as waiting tables or mopping floors that requires none of the skills or knowledge you learned in college is the debt that is acquired in achieving that education... only to find you can't get a job that will allow you to pay off that debt. It's an investment choice. If no college degree = janitor and college degree = janitor + $50,000 in debt, which is the better decision from the point of view of the person deciding whether or not to go to college? Having a college degree may make you a more well rounded citizen, but 1) the public education system should be preparing our youth to be citizens anyway and 2) is a lifetime of debt really worth that extra level of cultural awareness?

@Careless

My analogy shot myself in the foot... :)

@RAR

1. A typical student is only 18 or so when he leaves a high-school. That's somewhat short of a horizon to teach the skills needed to make good decisions in today's society. A high-school dropout does still have a vote. That vote can do a lot of damage if the mind behind it is not sufficiently discerning. Society gains by spending on making it a "good" vote.

2. A better solution then is to address the disproportionate-debt issue: (a) Subsidies (b) Higher paying service-sector jobs (c) Cutting the inefficiencies that make a college degree so damn expensive.

None of this is easy but a more positive approach than reaching for the low-hanging fruit of dissuading kids from going to college.

Another way to justifying to oneself a part of the $50,000 is to think of higher-ed as a luxury good. I don't need to eat steak to be a good chemical engineer but I still do because it makes me feel good: If I had listened to a policy wonk and not gone to college it might have been a better decision economically (maybe). But if I think back on the college-experience I'd missed out on it'd be a big regret. Think of some of the $50,000 as being spent on a sort of indulgence for your own mind.

Perhaps we need 2 year degrees post high-school (to repair some of the damage,haha, kidding, well, not really) and then another degree when we are old enough to know what we want to do when we grow up.

@Rahul

1) I don't think we should be discouraging people from going to college. I just don't think we should be presenting it as the ONLY option. "Go to college or you'll never amount to anything". College just isn't a fit for some people. If we present people with all of the options (vocational school, 2-year college, 4-year college, or work right out of high-school), students are more likely to find the path that works for them.

2) Again I say it is the job of the public education system to prepare students for being citizens. If it fails at this, the answer is to improve pre-college education, not make it necessary to spend yet more time in school. And they had better be ready by the time they are 18, because that's when they can vote.

3) College may be a valuable experience. But as you say, that experience may be a luxury. If I have the $50,000 to spend, then a college education may be a good way to spend that money. But if I don't, it is a luxury, not a necessity. Going into debt for a luxury is poor financial planning.

Of course, it also depends on the degree (and career) that you are pursuing. If you want to be an engineer, doctor, lawyer, etc. then a degree is a necessity. And the career ahead of you will pay enough to justify the cost (and pay off any debt). But this is not the case for all pursuits.

So,

1) Pennies are worth more than a penny.

2) Shipping containers are going to China empty

Surely it's perfectly legal to export pennies to China. It's a huge untapped market of enthusiastic numismatists and discerning connoisseurs of Americana.

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