GEORGE WILL, MAKING SENSE. Say what you want about George Will, he's always taken a rational approach to analyzing the business side of sports, and his column today on college football is no exception. Will beats the usual dead horses about what's wrong with Division I-A men's college football and basketball: they're run for business rather than educational purposes, with their high television revenues and coaches salaries, and their low graduation rates. But he comes at it from a fresher angle, asking if universities should lose their tax-exempt status for these commercial rather than educational activities(George Will favors more taxes?
NOT EVEN SIX DEGREES. While Brother Pierceexpounded on the absurdity of the Heaton-Caviezel-Suppan (et al) television spot thrown together in response to Michael J. Fox's latest star turn as an advocate for stem-cell research, my ears pricked up at the mention of the name of Patricia Heaton, whose face graces the misleading Feminists for Life ad that has run on this web site off and on for the last month. As I reported here last week, Feminists for Life is closely allied with the U.S.
FALLING OUT OF LOVE. Back when The New York Times endorsed Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary, I wondered whether the Times would break from their tradition of high-minded endorsements for moderate Republicans this fall. It would seem strange, after all, if the same page that opposed Joe Lieberman on the grounds that Congress must be a watchdog rather than an enabler of the Bush presidency run-amok, endorsed, as it always had in the past, the more conservative (and actual Republican) Rep. Chris Shays, also of Connecticut.
MORE ON THE COLLEGE BOARD REPORT. Just to add a bit to Ezra's post: As James Surowiecki recently explained in The New Yorker, the cost of college rises faster than inflation because it is so labor intensive that the technological advances that reduce the costs of production in other industries do not have nearly the same cost-saving effect on higher education. And government subsidies of higher education and tuition, like the Pell Grant, have failed to keep pace, when they should be increasing in response to this problem.
THE ECONOMY ROCKS. According The College Board, tuition costs are far outpacing inflation this year. In fact, "[i]n the report, the board also found that in the past five years, tuition and fees at public institutions rose more than at any other time in the past 30, increasing by 35 percent to $5,836 this academic year." Yikes. The report attributed the cost increases to declining state and federal support. Unsurprisingly, when you cut taxes, you just end up paying more elsewhere. With the tax cuts, however, the rich got far more back than the poor or the middle class. So far as tuition costs go, the prices fall equally (or get transferred to students in the form of loans).
President Bush has repeatedly said in the last two weeks that he wants to push his plan for privatizing Social Security again after the election. This presumably means that it will be back on the table if the Republicans keep control of Congress. This means that Social Security should be a major issue in every Congressional and Senate race. The media should asking candidates where they stand and telling the voters.
BUSINESS FOR SPITZER. Speaking of business, this endorsement of Elliot Spitzer, on the Wall Street Journaleditorial page, by a former executive vice president of Morgan Stanley, is interesting stuff. The argument, which others have made from the outside but Donald Kempf makes from experience, is that Spitzer's style of anti-corporate populism is a boon, rather than a threat, to capitalism in general and business in particular:
I know everyone wants to find something to celebrate these days, but record stock market highs really should not be on the list. While the Dow has passed its 2000 bubble peaks, as everyone should be aware, it's still well below its 2000 level after adjusting for inflation. That is the only serious basis for a comparison. Furthermore, the Dow index is comprised of 30 large companies, the S&P 500 index is far more representative of the larger stock market, consisting of companies that account for close to half of the market's capitalization. The S&P 500 is still almost 10 percent below its 2000 peak in nominal terms. It is down more than 25 percent after adjusting for inflation.