Month Archives: January 2013

Community College Can Be a Better Deal than Four-Year Options

by Chris Gacek

January 2, 2013

There is some surprising news regarding post-graduation earnings of community college grads.  Martha C. White, in her article for NBC’s “Today Show” website, discusses findings from CollegeMeasures, an organization that analyzes earnings and education data.  The data indicates that community college graduates can earn a good bit more after graduation than some with four-year degrees. 

The key is that the community college degree must be in a technical or occupational field like nursing.  (The analysis is discussed by Mark Schneider, president of College Measures and a vice-president at the American Institutes for Research.)

Strolling Along the Fiscal Cliff

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 2, 2013

Of all the onerous provisions of the just-passed “fiscal cliff” legislation, one of the most aggravating is the lifting of the “tax holiday” on the payroll tax. This tax is used to supply daily infusions of cash into the Social Security system.

The Social Security program is badly broken. Instead of even discussing how to remedy the program’s devastating fiscal maladies, Congress and the Administration instead have given it another emergency transfusion that briefly forestalls urgently needed change.

As of October 2012, median household income in the United States was $51,378. Households with this income will be paying more than $1,000 in new taxes as the payroll tax. Whatever your income is, the payroll tax hike means you will realize two percent less of it in the coming year (find your own payroll tax hit courtesy of the Wall Street Journal here.

Additionally, the new law will result in a severe penalty on marriage and massively higher deficits, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It will impose new burdens on families and businesses of all types.

America’s political leaders did not punt on the economy – they drop-kicked fiscal integrity, sustained economic growth, and fairness to taxpayers far out of sight, employing their legislative might not to fix problems but to propel them down the road. They did not address how to improve our collapsing entitlement programs or even breathe a word about a question that requires true political courage: What should the federal government be doing, according to the U.S. Constitution?

Until this is answered definitively, we will continue to tax and spend our way into oblivion. If we cannot have an honest national debate about government’s role and what it should fund, how can we determine what revenues are needed?

As FRC President Tony Perkins put it, “President Obama and Congress have had months to take care of what has been dubbed the fiscal cliff of massive tax increases, the looming debt crisis and devastating cuts to our U.S. military. This dysfunctional Congress literally waited until the last minutes of 2012 to propose a deal that fails to address these real concerns.”

For a brief but thorough review of the whole “American Taxpayer Relief Act” – who needs George Orwell when you have the U.S. Congress, right? – read my colleague Tom McClusky’s assessment here.

Leroy’s Holiday Adventure

by Robert Morrison

January 2, 2013

The stockings were hung by the fireplace with care, the grandchildren were abed. We had just come from Naval Academy Chapel services, with visions of the “Silent Night” candles reflected in the little one’s eyes. No snow fell, but a freezing rain fell in the bleak midwinter’s lowering darkness. It made us all grateful for hot cider by the fire.

Leroy the Boxer had finally been released from his cage to join the grown ups around the glowing tree. Then, the doorbell rang. Good Neighbor had arrived with his big Brother to pick up his son’s Christmas tool bench.

In a flash, Leroy made it out the door. The 85-pound dog was in hot pursuit of a car circling the cul-de-sac. The mystery car didn’t slow down, even when son Jim and girlfriend Heather joined the chase, crying out for him to stop.

Instead, the unknown driver stepped on it. Leroy, wearing his padded jacket, incredibly kept pace. Jim jumped in the family SUV to tail the disappearing dog and driver. Jim turned on his emergency flashing lights and beeped the horn to get the car to stop. Heather, Good Neighbor, and Brother dashed behind on foot, while I brought up the rear.

Jim and the pace car were soon out of sight. Out on the main road, Jim flashed his high beams and laid on the horn, hoping to stop a second oncoming vehicle that was bearing down on Leroy. Too late. The second car hit Leroy and passed over him, never stopping, never even slowing down. Leroy’s chased car too disappeared from view. Distraught, Jim saw blood on the road.

But Leroy was still up and racing. Homeward. Right into big Brother’s powerful arms. I caught up with them, stopping to pick up Heather’s shoes. She had lost them in the scramble.

Neighbor carried Heather piggy-back while Brother held Leroy’s harness in a vice grip and walked him home.

Halfway home, Brother observes mildly what the scene must look like: “Two large black men in black leather jackets, chasing a barefoot white woman through a middle class neighborhood. On Christmas Eve. And she’s crying out for her dog…”

We all laugh heartily at the scene, as Brother says: “the ‘Supe’ [Superintendent] would not be pleased.” At once, we are reminded that both our rescuers are service Academy graduates.

Back home, the Christmas tool bench is retrieved and Leroy is examined in the light. Miraculously, he’s suffered only slight abrasions and a little blood from his stump of a tail. His thick padded jacket seems to have absorbed the shock of impact.

May we never forget the fervent prayers of our daughter and son-in-law that night or how close we came to tragedy. Not just the danger of losing a beloved animal, but the possibility of a head-on collision for Jim, or a head-on collision with mistaken identity for Good Neighbor and his Brother.

So we settled in for a long winter’s nap under the eye of Him who superintends all. In our little cul-de-sac, we had peace on earth and we experienced a renewed love of neighbor. God blessed us every one.

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