Back from the Ivory Tower

by James & Miel on January 28, 2008 · 0 comments

Hello All,

One thing you learn about being a graduate student is that the isolated culture of academia is alive and well in America’s universities. After several weeks of study, I took my first set of comprehensive examinations a day ago. The results aren’t in yet, but comprehensive exams are a rite of passage that graduate students have to go through – a bit like a Bar Mitzvah for Jewish people or a tribal initiation rite for African bushmen – so I’m glad to have them behind me.

At any rate, while my nose has been stuck in a book, the real world has been moving fitfully onward.

The recession bells are ringing: The major US domestic stock market indicator, the Standard & Poors 500, has taken a hard beating with the ugly stick. Similarly, the down jones industrial average has been in decline. The NY times is reporting that major retailers are emphasizing low prices in their advertising and the federal reserve recently cut interest rates by .75 basis points to stimulate economic growth. Basically folks, the consensus seems to be that tough economic times are on the way.

“Stimulus” and free money: After surveying the blogsphere yesterday, the chatter seems to be about the proposed stimulus plan that’s being discussed in congress. The bill is currently in the senate, but whats on the table is a tax rebate up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples. Both the Democrats and the Republicans support the stimulus package and everyone seems to want it done fast, so its probably going to happen.

Personally, there may some cause for concern about the stimulus package. Coming up with another $150 billion is likely to add to the federal deficit. In case you haven’t been paying attention the feds have been spending way over their budget for the last twenty years. Another $150 billion in debt can’t be good for the deficit, even in a titanic economy like America’s. I sometimes wonder if maybe we shouldn’t elect our politicians for terms longer than 4 years, that way there might be less pressure for this kind of hasty legislation.

Thanks,

James

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