Interesing analysis of the American (and developed world’s) crack-up

Kenneth Anderson at the Volokh Conspiracy on The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, or, Downward Mobility. Christopher Lasch, virtueocracy, downward mobility — what people who write about post 1861 Italian history call the intellectual proletariat. You know, people with university degrees in law and philosophy who can’t find work. Having read about that sort of problem (especially in the Italian mezzogiorno — Naples has always had the largest university in the peninsula, and a low employment rate) has often made me wonder about the goal of university education for all.

The problem the New Class faces at this point is the psychological and social self-perceptions of a status group that is alienated (as we marxists say) from traditional labor by its semi-privileged upbringing. It is, for the moment, insistent not just on white-collar work as its birthright and unable to conceive of much else. It does not celebrate the dignity of labor; it conceived of itself as existing to regulate labor. So it has purified itself to the point that not just any white-collar work will do. It has to be, as Michelle Obama instructed people in what now has to be seen as another era, virtuous non-profit or government work. Those attitudes are changing, but only slowly; the university pipelines are still full of people who cannot imagine themselves in any other kind of work, unless it means working for Apple or Google. … It’s not populism versus the bankers so much as internecine warfare between two tiers of elites.

A lot of our students want to work for non-profits. They don’t even talk much about government work (though Teach For America and the Peace Corps certainly are). Luckily for the survival of the self-perpetuating institution lots of them want to become members of the 1%, too.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer example of the 1%

Besieged broker MF Global filed bankruptcy today after a frantic effort over the weekend by CEO John Corzine to strike an out-of-bankruptcy sale came up short.

Pushed out as Goldman Sachs CEO (not that he didn’t make $400 million out of it)
Paid $62 million for a senate seat – one term, Democrat.
Spent $38 million for governorship of New Jersey, Democrat. Lost re-election campaign. No word* on how much he spent on campaign #2.
Big fundraiser for Democrats.
Now the above.
And since he’s only 64, I figure Corzine’ll take whatever his severance pay from MF Global is, move on, and ruin a few more firms and associated lives of 99 percenters. Lovely.
*figures from his Wikipedia entry.
via JammieWearingFool
For lots of MF Global fun, go read the coverage at the always-cranky Zero Hedge blog. I especially like the CNBC connections.

This will be an embarrassment for the London School of Economics

Saif al-Islam, noted alumnus of the L.S.E. and one of Gadafi’s sons, survived, and may go to trial for war crimes. Professor Soltan has a number of entries on the subject — go here for a quick search of University Diaries to read about access, power, and money corrupting the university. The things people said about Saif al-Islam really are discreditable.

The S-Word

I’m happy to report that Geneva, and Central New York / Western New York in general, is snow free, and has a predicted high today of 48 and mostly sunny. I expect that students who went away for the weekend (I spoke to a number who were headed home — either Boston or downstate) won’t be back promptly for Monday classes!

At this rate, it’s going to be a long winter.

After a couple or three pretty healthy years I’ve got full-blown bronchitis. We thought we’d knocked it out at the first of the month, but it came back with a grudge. I feel worse today than I have in a good while, but at last I have big green antibiotic capsules, so by Monday I may be better. The weather is pretty demotivating, too. Luckily, not much to grade this weekend!
The board of trustees in in town — meetings yesterday and today. And even more lucky than not having much to grade is that I don’t have to observe any committee meetings today. Yesterday I went to Building & Grounds and Academic Affairs. I’ve been going to B&G for a good while now — 6 or 8 years? It was always an exciting meeting back in the days when the money was rolling in, and a very depressing meeting for about two years. I’m not saying that happy days are here again (far from it: our Performing Arts Center is starting to look like a Long-Delayed Performing Arts Center while folks try to rustle up that last $10 million). But we’re not deferring maintenance to make ends meet the way we did in 2009.
One of the nicest things about meeting trustees is that they are alumni/ae (mainly) who really, really love us and count what they did at these Colleges as what provided a foundation for their lives and (given that they’re on the Board, pretty successful) careers.
So I shouldn’t whine so much – yeah, I’m feeling poorly, but I teach at an interesting institution with good folks around me. My department has permission to hire a tenure-track replacement for a retiring member, so there’s not going to be a break in continuity.

So where does this leave poor Anne?

Sons and daughters of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne, after Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws.
The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state unanimously approved the changes at a summit in Perth, Australia.
It means a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will take precedence over younger brothers.
The ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic was also lifted.
Under the old succession laws, dating back more than 300 years, the heir to the throne is the first-born son of the monarch. Only when there are no sons, as in the case of the Queen’s father George VI, does the crown pass to the eldest daughter.
David Cameron: ”The idea a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he’s a man… is at odds with the modern countries we have become.”
. . .
On scrapping the ban on future monarchs marrying Roman Catholics, Mr Cameron said: “Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church. But it is simply wrong they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so. After all, they are already quite free to marry someone of any other faith.”

Once as high as 2nd in line, she’s now 10th.
And David Cameron, of course, does not know that Monarchy (like Laws), is like sausage. It needs mystification. But notice that they also dropped the anti-Roman law. But it only applies to the future — so all those folks down in the 20s and 30s on the list of succession are still excluded for marrying (let alone becoming!) Roman Catholics.

First Frost

I was standing here at the kitchen counter (yes, I’ve gone to using a stand-up arrangement for my computers both here and at Houghton House) when I heard an awful racket outside. It sounded like someone in the parking lot was sawing pipe. I stepped to the kitchen window to see a neighbor scraping her frosty car windows. Summer is over!

Can a presidential executive order ease student debt? Maybe not by much.

Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic is not impressed. He figures it will save the average ex-student (why does he assume they graduate?) less than $10 a month. We’ll see how his analysis hold up (there are already attacks in the comments.
And here’s a negative review of the entire concept: it treats the symptom (too much debt for individuals) rather than the disease (excessive college costs).