In the online edition of the NYTimes, several scholars debate the value of humanities courses and degree programs in higher education. The discussion was sparked by the termination of a French language degree program at a NY state university. Get the NYT is you appreciate the range of coverage in the publication.
Economist Robert H. Frank writing in the NYTimes yesterday tackled the politically sensitive issue of income inequality and described what’s been happening the past 30 years—and the impact of it. Read his analysis here, and get the NYT if you appreciate the writing.
During the three decades after World War II, for example, incomes in the United States rose rapidly and at about the same rate — almost 3 percent a year — for people at all income levels. America had an economically vibrant middle class. Roads and bridges were well maintained, and impressive new infrastructure was being built. People were optimistic.
By contrast, during the last three decades the economy has grown much more slowly, and our infrastructure has fallen into grave disrepair. Most troubling, all significant income growth has been concentrated at the top of the scale. The share of total income going to the top 1 percent of earners, which stood at 8.9 percent in 1976, rose to 23.5 percent by 2007, but during the same period, the average inflation-adjusted hourly wage declined by more than 7 percent.
Yet many economists are reluctant to confront rising income inequality directly, saying that whether this trend is good or bad requires a value judgment that is best left to philosophers. But that disclaimer rings hollow. Economics, after all, was founded by moral philosophers, and links between the disciplines remain strong. So economists are well positioned to address this question, and the answer is very clear.
According to the Boston Herald – the State House News Service asked U. S. Representative Michael Capuano about his plans to run for the U. S. Senate seat now held by Scott Brown when it comes open again in 2012. Capuano who is the only Massachusetts Rep running unopposed by the GOP or any Independent or other party candidate on November 2nd - indicated that he’s still thinking it over -
“Talk to me in December,” said Capuano, the former mayor of Somerville. Capuano finished second to Attorney General Martha Coakley in last December’s Senate special election primary.
The Nashua Telegram reported yesterday that the Greater Hudson (NH) Chamber of Commerce is disassociating itself from the US Chamber of Commerce because of the intensely partisan political role taken by the US Chamber this election season. As anyone who watches TV can attest, the US Chamber of Commerce is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in this region running attack ads against Democratic candidates. While the Chamber is entitled to advocate positions it believes are pro-business, the Chamber’s overt political activities far surpass any that I ever remember.
The Chamber of Commerce’s involvement in right-wing politics is not new. It has even shared with us its blueprint for action. Written by soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell in 1971, the so-called Powell Manifesto was a memo from corporate lawyer Powell to the chairman of the education committee of the US Chamber of Commerce. In the memo, Powell outlined “an attack on the free enterprise system” which, had this memo been publicly available during his Court confirmation hearings, would have warranted Senators to inquire as to past treatment for paranoia. But besides describing the “attack”, Powell also outlined a response by big business, a response that seems to be peaking with this election. Here’s Powell’s prescription for fighting the opponents of capitalism:
The role of the National Chamber of Commerce is therefore vital. Other national organizations (especially those of various industrial and commercial groups) should join in the effort, but no other organizations appear to be as well situated as the Chamber. It enjoys a strategic position, with a fine reputation and a broad base of support. Also — and this is of immeasurable merit — there are hundreds of local Chambers of Commerce which can play a vital supportive role. . . While neither responsible business interests, nor the United States Chamber of Commerce, would engage in the irresponsible tactics of some pressure groups, it is essential that spokesmen for the enterprise system — at all levels and at every opportunity — be far more aggressive than in the past. . . It is time for American business — which has demonstrated the greatest capacity in all history to produce and to influence consumer decisions — to apply their great talents vigorously to the preservation of the system itself.
So as far back as 1971, the US Chamber of Commerce was urged to leverage it’s local Chambers of Commerce to become overtly involved in partisan politics. The Nashua Telegraph story makes it clear that many New Hampshire Chambers have no affiliation with their US counterpart. The Greater Lowell Chamber’s website is silent as to any affiliation it may have with the US group. I’m guessing it has none but it would be nice to know that for sure.
This week Tony Sampas brings us some signs from around the city and invites readers to suggest others that might be included.
The entry below is being cross posted from local Playwright Jack Neary’s own blog, Shards
A couple of months ago, I introduced you to Eddie and Timmy. I had just moved in with them and my brother and sister-in-law in Derry, NH, where I set up my man cave and began perpetrating whatever it is I do on society from there. Let me reacquaint you with the boys.
This is Eddie. Eddie is the shaggier of the brothers. A little lankier, a little longer than Timmy. If the two brothers walked into a doggie saloon, Eddie would be the one the girl doggies would slobber over. He’d lope up to the bar, casually order a Milk Bone (which he wouldn’t have to pay for), and fake chew on it as he eyed the doggettes up and down the bar to select which he would grace with his charm for the rest of the evening.
And this is Timmy. Timmy’s the stockier one, the fireplug. Timmy would be Eddie’s wing man as they ambled into the doggie saloon. Timmy would not be concerned that the doggettes were slobbering over his smoother-looking brother, because Timmy knows, 1. He’s the brains of the outfit and 2. Eddie’s hand-me-downs are gonna be just fine for his purposes
Eddie and Timmy, after about four months of allowing me to share their domicile, have adjusted to my presence. That is to say, they know my place in the household. I am the guy who tosses doggie treats at them all hours of the day and night. I am the guy who, when preparing his dinner in the kitchen, brings a little can of PikNik Original Shoestring Potatoes with him and who, as he stirs his soup or manages the franks in his George Foreman Grill, will sprinkle PikNik Original Shoestring Potatoes on the floor near the stove to keep Eddie and Timmy occupied while dinner is being prepared. I am the guy who, after he eats his breakfast in his man cave, will be very careless with the toast crumbs and the New Kellogg’s “Simply Cinnamon” Corn Flakes (free with rebate for a limited time), so that the carpet in the man cave is replete with bits and pieces of toast and flakes ready for the little doggie vacuums to consume.
I am…Uncle Crumbs.
There are advantages to being Uncle Crumbs. For one, it means the dogs like me. True, it’s kind of pathetic to be appreciated for your food scraps, but one takes what one can get in this life. Yes, I know that when Timmy scratches on my door mid-morning (Eddie never does the scratching. That’s the wing man’s job.), I know he’s not visiting to shoot the breeze or catch up on the latest reading of one of my plays, but rather it’s to see whether I’ve gone back to Lightly Sweetened Multi-Grain Cheerios, which he and Eddie find inferior to the new Cinnamon Corn Flakes. I mean, they will eat the discarded Cheerios, but, come on (they think), not only do the Flakes taste better, there’s the damn rebate! But it does mean they visit, which is a good thing. I fear that if I cleaned up my act and stopped spilling my breakfast on the floor, I’d never see them again. But that won’t happen. I’m something of a slob. They know it. They’ll always be back.
This video is pretty cool. The DORA or Door Opening Robotic Arm was developed right here in the Robotics Lab at UMass Lowell. Hey, why don’t I just let them describe it themselves…
Low-cost wheelchair-mounted Door Opening Robotic Arm (DORA)
This video demonstrates the final product of Erin Rapacki’s master’s thesis work at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
“Wheelchair-mounted robot arms are designed with many degrees of freedom to provide users with a general purpose device for manipulating many of the objects necessary for activities of daily living. However, these commercially available systems are quite expensive and are usually not funded by insurance. A low cost robot arm system is developed that will increase a person’s accessibility to indoor spaces by unlatching door knobs and door handles. Implemented is a minimized arm configuration for use with a wheelchair or mobile platform and a gripper design that utilizes only a single motor to turn door knobs and door handles. This proof of concept prototype demonstrates how an arm with many degrees of freedom is not required if we target the expectations for its use.”