Day: September 14, 2011

Learning to Be Critics

  Three years ago, while contemplating applying for graduate school, I asked an LBJ student about the activist climate at the school. His answer – that there weren’t any “bomb-throwing Marxists” – told me all I needed to know: LBJ was not going to be a hotbed for radical organizing. It turns out he was right. To be clear, I’m fine with the lack of bomb-throwing. And I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to grow intellectually and personally among a highly intelligent student body and faculty. Still, for all of its strengths, the LBJ School’s chief weakness is its lack of a community of critical inquiry. My own experience illustrates the meaning and necessity of such an environment. From 2006 to 2010 I worked at a dropout recovery charter high school on Austin’s east side. Our goal was to educate our students the best we could. It was soon painfully apparent, however, that social problems that had for me been mostly abstract concerns to that point – racialized poverty, family instability, food insecurity and the like – did not stop at the classroom door. This meant that what had begun as a relatively simple task soon required asking complex, far-reaching questions about the underlying nature of society. My school’s immediate goals were to raise standardized test scores and boost graduation rates, but to achieve these goals we needed to...

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Consumer Confidence Courtesy of Warren Buffett

  “Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.” This statement stood out to me as I read an op-ed written by Warren Buffett in The New York Times. I’m a poor graduate student whose consumer confidence has sunk – to minus 49.1 percent to be exact (according to Bloomberg). This drastically low number is no surprise to me with an unemployment rate of 9 percent and an unsteady stock market; the question this begs is how does this change? The radical idea that I submit is thinking like Warren Buffett. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Warren Buffet became chairman of the Federal Reserve? He is a man who has beaten the market 20 out of 24 years and whose bullish attitude calls to question the policies currently being undertaken by the Fed. How would fiscal policy be different if “The Oracle of Omaha” were running the show? A recent op-ed he published in The New York Times tells us. He insists the 12 members of Congress who have been assigned to cut the 10 year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion should have a more realistic view of what America can and...

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Ten Years of War

  Ten years ago George W. Bush was sitting in a Florida classroom with a 51 percent approval rating. When the dust had cleared at the end of the day, three buildings had collapsed into rubble and 3,000 Americans were dead. American foreign policy would never be the same. America needed a leader, and Bush was it. By 9/12 Bush’s approval rating skyrocketed to 90 percent, the highest of any president in U.S. history. Bush and Cheney were so giddy with their newfound popularity and power that they couldn’t wait to take America to war, wars which proved financially beneficial to both Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, and the Carlisle Group, a defense contractor partially owned by the Bush family. They were so eager to go to war that they did not want to waste precious time researching who attacked the United States and why. Bush had already sent troops to Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden before Bush had even assembled the 9/11 Commission in late 2002. And before the 9/11 Commission had finished their report, Bush had invaded Iraq. Both of these wars continue today. The war in Afghanistan has cost America $451 billion and the Iraq War has cost $797 billion. And these numbers do not include the future health care costs of veterans and the interest on the money borrowed from China to fund these wars. Over...

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