Rice University, University of Houston rank among best value schools in Texas, analysis shows

SmartAsset's annual "Best Value Colleges" analysis incorporates five categories: tuition, student living costs, scholarship and grant offerings, student retention rate, and starting salary for new graduates......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 13th, 2022

34 high school graduation gifts he"ll actually use all the time, from a quality speaker to space-saving dorm essentials

The next life stage can be daunting, but these high school graduation gifts come in handy, from office-appropriate clothes to money for takeout food. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.The next life stage can be daunting, but these high school graduation gifts come in handy, from office-appropriate clothes to money for takeout food.Bellroy; AmazonGraduating from high school is one of the first major life events that feels appropriately "major."It's also a time when the requirements for the scary and exciting years to come likely outstrip his budget. When I graduated high school, the money I made at the upscale pizza restaurant in town didn't seem adequate for textbooks and the simple pleasures, like nice headphones to block out noise in the library, or more adult accessories like a nice messenger bag, presentable blazer, or office-appropriate backpack.The good news is that gifts for recent high school graduates can solve a lot of problems (or just offer a fun way to celebrate a big milestone). With that in mind, we rounded up 40 thoughtful and practical high school graduation gifts for him below.The 34 best high school graduation gifts for him in 2022:A coffee maker for their morning cupAmazonGift the Kitchenaid Showerhead Coffee Maker, $109.63If his future includes work or study (or, honestly, just everyday life), he'll probably love a brand-new coffee maker that makes an excellent cup of drip coffee in the morning. This one is the best version you can buy on a budget, but you can read more about it — and other models we like — in our buying guide to the best drip coffee makers in 2022.A packable blanket for hanging in the quadPeter ArmendGift the Rumpl Blanket, $249If he's headed to college, he will probably be spending a fair share of Saturdays sprawled out on the quad's grass. This blanket is perfect for the occasion — it's packable, machine- and dryer-safe, and water-resistant. It's also one of the Insider Reviews All-Time Best Products.Read our full review here.School spirit merch for game daysFanaticsGift Fanatics merchandise, prices varyIf your graduate is headed to college, give him the college gear he'll wear on game days, like a sweatshirt, tee, or baseball cap. We recommend browsing Fanatics — it's full of clothing, hats, bags, balls, games, and drinkware for NCAA schools. A backpack they can carry work or schoolwork inBellroyGift the Bellroy Transit Workpack, $199Gift them a comfortable, no-nonsense backpack they can take from school to an internship.Money for ordering takeoutSeamlessGift a GrubHub Gift Card, prices varyNo one wants to cook a well-rounded meal every night after work or schoolwork. Give him the gift of takeout every once in a while. A great streaming deviceAmazonGift the Roku Ultra, $90The Roku Ultra stands out from other streaming device options thanks to its 4K and HDR support, speed, reliability, and large library of streaming services (Netflix, HBO Max, Rakuten Viki, and more.). Plus, if your graduate wants to watch TV on the big screen without disturbing anyone, it comes with headphones for private listening.Read the full review of the Roku Ultra here.A cozy fleece pulloverPatagoniaGift the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover, $119Upgrade his old hoodie or sweatshirt with this ultra-comfortable Patagonia fleece. This pullover is perfect for lounging around or even layering under a coat in colder climates, plus it comes in an array of colors and patterns.A Bluetooth speaker his friends will appreciateAmazonGift the Sonos Move, $399The Sonos Move is the best Bluetooth speaker you can buy, according to our experts. It has excellent sound quality, a good battery life that can last up to 11 hours on the go, and convenient smart features such as connecting to smart assistants from Amazon and Google. It'll be useful for hosting friends at their place.A convenient bedside caddyAmazonGift the Za fit Five Pockets Bedside Caddy, $13.99An ideal gift for the graduate who loves to lounge in bed. This five-pocket bedside caddy keeps his computer, water, snacks, and more within arm's reach. A multicookerAmazonGift the Instant Pot DUO 60 7-in-1 Multicooker, $89.99The Instant Pot is great because it makes delicious meals accessible to anyone, no matter their experience or space constraints. Plus, it comes with an app that features 100s of easy-to-follow step-by-step recipes, including roast chicken and mac-and-cheese. And, don't worry: today's pressure cookers are much safer than the old-fashioned stovetop models.Check out our guide to the best electric pressure cookers.A Disney Plus subscriptionDisney PlusSign up for Disney Plus, $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year ($5.83/month)Moving on to college is all about academics and socializing, but he'll definitely have some downtime in the dorm room. With everything from classic Disney movies and shows to "Star Wars" and Marvel movies, a Disney Plus subscription is a sure way to stay entertained.Learn more about Disney Plus here. Comfortable pants for loungingMeUndiesGift the MeUndies Lounge Pant, $68No matter if he's living at home and commuting to college or living in a dorm room on campus, MeUndies Lounge Pants have a place in every man's wardrobe. When he's not caught up in the rigors of schoolwork, he can wear these to relax.An iPad for easy, lightweight note-taking or watching showsAmazonGift an Apple iPad, $329It's up to his personal preference if he wants to use a laptop in class or not, but it can be a huge blessing to only need to lug around an iPad. A nice watch as an adult accessoryMVMTGift a MVMT men's watch, from $108Traditional watches can be expensive, but startups are changing that. MVMT is probably the best-known watch industry disruptor. If you'd like to read more about the company, we've covered them here. You can get this classic, work-appropriate accessory that makes outfits look a bit more competent and established for as little as $95, and he'll be happy he didn't have to shell out for this small but meaningful luxury. It'll likely come in handy for his first internship.An Amazon Prime membershipAmazonGift an Amazon Prime membership, $139An annual Amazon Prime membership is one of those things that immediately makes life easier. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping; access to the Prime Now app, which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items; Prime Video, Amazon's streaming video service; Prime Music; the Kindle Lending Library; Prime Reading; Prime Audible Channels; unlimited photo storage, and more. If you want to see how Amazon Prime actually gives you a lot more than free shipping, you can read our overview of the service here. Especially if he's planning on ordering anything for his dorm on Amazon (or books for school) he's going to save a lot of money in shipping just by using this. A pair of the world's most comfortable shoesAllbirdsGift the Allbirds Wool Runner, $110We've covered Allbirds many times at Insider Reviews, and for good reason: they might actually be the most comfortable shoes in the world. The originals are all made from Merino Wool, which is not only sustainable but also temperature regulating and unusually soft. He'll probably wear these until the day they finally give out on him, but until then, they're machine-washable and easy to clean.A smart suitcase that charges devices and has 360° wheelsAway InstagramGift the Away Carry On, $275The Away suitcase has become extremely popular for a few good reasons. It's lightweight, comes in a variety of colors, and has both an ejectable battery built-in to charge all devices and 360° wheels. Especially if he's headed more than a car's drive away after high school, he'll be extremely grateful for a nice suitcase. It'll also come in handy when the time comes to travel.  Stylish button-up dress shirtsThe Tie BarGift the Tie Bar Dress Shirts, $55 each or $150 for threeWhile graphic T-shirts and hoodies are perfectly fine for wearing every day in high school, a new graduate is going to need some fresh button-up shirts. The Tie Bar makes it very affordable to stock up on different colors and styles — and you'll find troves of other accessories for him, too. A yearlong membership to boutique audio fitness classes and certified personal trainersAaptivGift a 12-month Aaptiv membership, $49.99If he's headed to college, he'll likely get access to the university gym automatically as a student, but anything guided or more arduous might come with a big added expense or tricky logistics. Aaptiv is a popular app that lets users listen in on thousands of workout classes led by certified personal trainers so they can get the same workout as in a class without paying the exorbitant entry prices or figuring out how to get there without a car on a Sunday afternoon. Especially if he's adjusting to college after playing sports in high school, this is a nice way to have the best of both worlds and get a really great workout.Apple AirPod Bluetooth earphonesHollis Johnson/Business InsiderGift Apple AirPods with charging case, from $179Whether he commutes or is heading back to school and therefore the library, he's bound to use Bluetooth earbuds a fair amount (especially now that all the new iPhones more or less require them). The Apple AirPods are a popular choice he's likely to love.A microwave-safe ramen cooker for the most rushed nightsAmazonGift the Rapid Ramen Cooker, $11.99There will be plenty of late nights filled with cheap and tasty ramen. If they're going to eat it anyway, at least let them make it quickly and perfectly every time.A custom ramblerYetiGift the College Logo Custom Yeti Rambler, from $35Yeti makes the kind of powerfully insulated mugs built for cold mornings outdoors, and they hold up exceptionally well around campus. They also offer just over 180 colleges to choose from to help him show some collegiate spirit. A nice toiletry bag, which you can monogram for himLeatherologyGift the Leatherology Double Zip Toiletry Bag, from $115If he's heading to college, his freshman year will almost undoubtedly feature many trips from his dorm room to a communal bathroom. A nice toiletry bag makes it easier to schlep everything at once, and it looks a lot nicer than one of those plastic caddies. If you're not looking to spend that much, consider this less expensive unisex option ($35) made by another one of our favorite companies to watch. A custom map print to remind him of homeGrafomapGift a Grafomap Custom Map Print, from $49If your high school grad is leaving home for a new place, it doesn't hurt to give him some cool, low-key decorations for his dorm that will remind him of his hometown (or another special place). It can be tough to find the right decor for a teen's room, but this is one you can feel confident about giving.You can find the full review here.A blazer he can wear to interviews and internshipsBonobosGift the Bonobos Italian Knit Blazer, $298Most college students probably don't have a wealth of professional clothing to pull from for high-pressure situations like interviews and a big internship. Help him make a good impression, and see your money go to good use, with a blazer he can use repeatedly and for years to come. A card game they can share with friendsAmazonGift Cards Against Humanity, $25An easy way to make friends in college (or anywhere) and the best way to pass a snow day, he'll get more use out of this classic and irreverent card game than you probably think.An extra-long charging cable for his phoneAmazonGift the Anker PowerLine+ Lightning Cable, 6 ft, $20.99It might seem like an add-on gift (and maybe it will be for you) but I guarantee he'll appreciate an extra-long, extra-durable lightning cable to charge his phone with. No matter if he ends up on the bottom or top bunk at the dorm, he won't have to inconvenience himself or buy a new charger every month.An external batteryAmazonGift the Anker PowerCore 10000 External Battery, $24.99Perhaps the most convenient gift is as simple as a solid external battery. He's bound to use this countless times, and it might even keep him safer. This one comes with over 8,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, and it'll charge an iPhone 8 three-and-a-half times and a Galaxy S8 two-and-a-half times. A waterproof speaker that's built to be durableJBLGift the JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $89.95This rugged, portable Bluetooth speaker should be able to take whatever is thrown at it or, perhaps more accurately, spilled on it in the years to come. He'll be thankful for something convenient, compact, highly-rated, and durable.A nice leather wallet, which you can monogram for himLeatherologyGift the Leatherology Bifold Wallet, from $90He's probably outgrown the scuffed wallet he has now — and anyway, Velcro doesn't transfer as well to 19 as it did to 12. You can gift him a nice new leather wallet to enter adulthood with, and you can even monogram it for him for added personalization.A Kindle for lightweight, cost-effective readingAmazonGift a Kindle Paperwhite, $109.99Whether he loves to read or might appreciate the lightness and compactness of an e-reader, a Kindle is a great gift for recent graduates. He can read in broad daylight without a glare with the Paperwhite version, and store thousands of books for the same forgettable weight. Framed memories he'll appreciate seeing and owningFramebridgeGift a Framebridge custom-framed art or photo gift, from $49It doesn't hurt to have a photo of the family or a few of their favorite memories from high school, especially since those are the artifacts that gain importance and value the older we get. This service will take care of printing, matting, and framing for you so you can spend as little time as necessary on the task itself. A toolkit, which he'll definitely need in the next four years and beyondAmazonGift a 148-Piece Tool Kit, $29.99Whether he's moving out right away or not, his future will almost certainly include putting together furniture and Googling how to fix a leaky faucet when his landlord avoids his calls. He'll be glad he has the tools to handle whatever life throws at him confidently, and this is one gift he may not immediately buy for himself, but which he'll really want to have before the very second he needs it. He's also going to be a huge help to his friends.Gift cards for every needAmazonCash is always good, especially if the recent grad in your life is trying to furnish a new place and take on other adult responsibilities with minimal funds. But, if money seems like too much of a cop-out, consider gift cards for a variety of needs.Travel: Southwest Airlines Gift CardGroceries and food: Chipotle Gift Card / Whole Foods Gift CardMusic: Spotify Gift CardTransportation: Uber Gift CardCoffee: Starbucks Gift CardGaming: Steam Gift Card / Twitch Gift CardTech: Best Buy Gift CardFurniture: Wayfair Gift Card / Amazon Gift CardEntertainment: StubHub Gift Card / Hulu Gift Card / Sling Gift Card / Netflix Gift CardEverything else: Visa Gift CardRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 18th, 2022

Today’s "Diversity" Oaths Resemble 1950s "Loyalty" Oaths

Today’s 'Diversity' Oaths Resemble 1950s 'Loyalty' Oaths Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClear Politics (emphasis ours), It is rare to meet someone with true moral courage, someone who risks everything to do what he knows is right. I was privileged to know such a man, George Anastaplo. His story, set during the Red Scare of the 1950s, needs to be told because it applies today, when political zealots again demand rigid conformity. George, a boy from rural Illinois, refused to bow down to the most powerful lawyers in his home state. He knew their demands were wrong, even though he could have easily and truthfully said “yes” to their substance. He refused solely because he thought asking him violated basic guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. The time was the early 1950s, and the demands came from ideological crusaders on the right, who insisted on anti-communist loyalty oaths. Today’s crusaders come from the left, demanding pledges of support for “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI). More on today’s ideological frenzy in a moment, but first, George’s story. Born in downstate Illinois, the son of Greek immigrants, George’s most formative experience was serving in World War II, where he was a navigator on B-17 and B-29 bombers. In the service, he told me, he met soldiers with backgrounds and life experiences far different from anyone he had known growing up. For someone as bright and curious as George, that experience opened up a wider world. After the war, George moved to the big city and went to the University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate and law degree (top of his class, 1951). He passed the bar exam and had only one more step before pursuing his chosen profession. Like all applicants, he had to answer a few questions from the Illinois State Bar Association. The examination began with some standard questions about communism. Those should have been easy since George abhorred Marxism. Still, George’s answers, focused on civil liberties, were not what the bar association wanted to hear. First, he noted that dissent and even revolution were integral features of America’s constitutional history. Then, the hapless members asked George the big question: “Are you now or have you ever been … ?” George Anastaplo refused to answer. He could have truthfully said, “No.” End of story. He could have noted that his parents’ homeland was fighting a brutal civil war to prevent communists from seizing control. He could have done all that, but he refused. His three-fold reply was that (1) the Constitution guaranteed freedom of association; (2) it was not illegal to belong to the Communist Party; and, most important, (3) it was totally improper for the Illinois Bar Association to ask him that question – or any question about an applicant’s political affiliation. His application to practice law was promptly denied. So, George and the Illinois Bar Association then did what all good American attorneys do: they sued each other. The constitutional challenge, in which George represented himself, took a full decade to reach the Supreme Court. It was the only case George ever argued, and he lost it despite a powerful dissent from Justice Hugo Black. “Too many men are being driven to become government-fearing and time-serving because the Government is being permitted to strike out at those who are fearless enough to think as they please and say what they think,” Justice Black wrote. “This trend must be halted if we are to keep faith with the Founders of our Nation and pass on to future generations of Americans the great heritage of freedom which they sacrificed so much to leave to us.” George also received strong support from Leo Strauss, the great political philosopher and a seminal figure in conservative thought. He congratulated George for his “brave and just action” and added, “If the American Bench and Bar have any sense of shame, they must come on their knees to apologize to you." Of course, they never did. George was never admitted to the bar. Instead, he taught political philosophy for six decades, wrote multiple books on political thought and civil liberties, eventually teaching at Loyola University’s law school. He was also our neighborhood Socrates, walking the streets of Hyde Park (near the University of Chicago) into his mid-80s, meeting friends and engaging in the kind of rigorous conversations recounted in Plato’s Dialogues. Why does George Anastaplo’s moral courage matter for us today? Because we are enduring another age of ideological zealotry, coupled with demands to “sign or resign.” Or never be hired in the first place. Today’s clearest analogy to anti-communist oaths are those demanding adherence to statements of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The crucial point here is not the specific content of DEI statements. You might agree or disagree with them. The crucial point is that it is improper to make these demands for political conformity. Such demands are, unfortunately, commonplace on university campuses. So are the bureaucracies that enforce them. Those demands and those bureaucracies are antithetical to the basic mission of a university, where freedom of expression and diversity of viewpoint should be core values, vigorously protected. Instead, every university has its burgeoning DEI bureaucracy, which writes these statements, runs seminars to indoctrinate students, staff, and faculty, and punishes the recalcitrant. Many departments won’t even consider hiring someone who refuses to kneel in obedience. Here, for example, is Berkeley’s “Rubric for Assessing Candidate Contributions to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging,” which it urges departmental search committees to use. (“Belonging” is a nice additional touch, isn’t it?) Note that voters in Deep Blue California strongly favor “merit” and have twice rejected any racial advantages in admissions. They are clearly opposed to what the university administrators are trying to impose here. No matter. Being a bureaucrat means never having to say you are sorry – or paying any attention to the desires of the taxpayers who pay your salary. Another recent example comes from George Anastaplo’s home state, from one of the country’s great research institutions, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The top academic officer there, Provost Andreas Cangellaris, recently announced that the university “will soon require all faculty members to submit a diversity statement to be considered for tenure or promotion.” So, if you study quantum physics, organic chemistry, statistics, or artificial intelligence, you must pledge allegiance to an ideological statement far removed from your field of academic excellence. Until now, the university had been requiring DEI statements on a “voluntary basis.” Yeah, sure. Imagine refusing and trying to get hired? I know what my friend George Anastaplo would do because he already did it. He would refuse to buckle to the DEI bureaucrats. He would fight the good fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, where today’s justices might listen more closely to Hugo Black’s powerful dissent: The entire course of [George Anastaplo’s] life, as disclosed by the record, has been one of devotion and service to his country-first, in his willingness to defend its security at the risk of his own life in time of war and, later, in his willingness to defend its freedoms at the risk of his professional career in time of peace. The one and only time in which he has come into conflict with the Government is when he refused to answer the questions put to him by the Committee about his beliefs and associations. And I think the record clearly shows that conflict resulted, not from any fear on Anastaplo's part to divulge his own political activities, but from a sincere, and in my judgment correct, conviction that the preservation of this country's freedom depends upon adherence to our Bill of Rights. We need a lot more people like George Anastaplo, and a lot fewer like Andreas Cangellaris and his heavy-handed cadre of DEI enforcers. We need a lot more people with George Anastaplo’s integrity in public and private universities, in K-12 schools, and in private businesses and nonprofits. His courage and his reverence for America’s Constitution are an enduring model. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 22:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 14th, 2022

Rice University, University of Houston rank among best value schools in Texas, analysis shows

SmartAsset's annual "Best Value Colleges" analysis incorporates five categories: tuition, student living costs, scholarship and grant offerings, student retention rate, and starting salary for new graduates......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsMay 13th, 2022

How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals

How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals Authored by Preston Cooper via RealClear Education (emphasis ours), A whistleblower lawsuit filed last month alleges that Rutgers University’s business school artificially boosted its rankings by using a temp agency to hire MBA graduates and place them into “sham positions at the university itself,” according to, which first reported the news. Though shocking, the scandal is the natural result of the incentives the federal government has set up for schools through uncapped student loan subsidies for graduate programs. Photo: Ekrulila Rutgers has denied the charges. But the allegations are credible when considering the source: the lawsuit was filed by Deidre White, the human resources manager at Rutgers’ business school. Days later, a separate class-action lawsuit was filed by one of Rutgers’ MBA students. Last year Rutgers was ranked first among public business schools in the northeast by Bloomberg Businessweek. One wonders how many students, hoping for a degree that would boost their employability, may have been deceived by that rosy statistic. The scandal follows similar incidents at other universities. The University of Southern California withdrew from the U.S. News & World Report graduate education school rankings due to “inaccuracies” in its reported data stretching back for years. And earlier this year, the dean of Temple University’s business school was sentenced to more than a year in prison for submitting false data to U.S. News. Why would university officials risk prison time to manipulate their rankings? The answer is that graduate degrees—especially master’s degrees—are increasingly becoming a cash cow for universities. Though federal loans to dependent undergraduate students are capped at $31,000, loans to graduate students are effectively unlimited. Many schools have vastly expanded their graduate school offerings to soak up this stream of cash. The number of master’s degrees conferred annually has risen 41% since 2006, when unlimited loans for graduate students were introduced. Over the past decade, universities have added more than 9,000 new master’s degree programs. The master’s-degree bonanza shows no sign of tapering off. While the number of students pursuing higher education has dropped 6% overall since the beginning of the pandemic, enrollment in master’s degree programs has moved in the opposite direction, surging by nearly 6%. Predictably, this has led to a surge in graduate student debt. In 2019-20, 43% of all federal student loans issued were for graduate education, up from 33% at the beginning of the decade. Rutgers itself gets over half of its federal student loan funding from graduate programs. For many prominent universities, undergraduate education is old news—graduate programs are where the real money is. Unfortunately, much of this federal largesse finances programs of questionable financial value. According to my estimates of return on investment, 40% of master’s degrees do not provide their students with an increase in earnings large enough to justify their costs. Among MBAs and other business-related master’s degrees, the share of nonperforming programs rises to 62%. Perhaps that reality is a reason that so many graduate schools feel the need to fudge rankings data. Many graduate borrowers will strain under the weight of debt that the federal government so freely gave out. But taxpayers will pick up a large share of the burden as well. Most graduate borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment programs which limit their monthly payments and grant loan cancelations after a set period of time. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than half of graduate loans issued in 2022 and repaid on income-based plans will eventually be discharged. The student loan payment pause has also transferred many of the costs of graduate school from borrowers to taxpayers. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the average master’s degree holder has already received over $13,000 of effective loan forgiveness through canceled interest payments and excess inflation during the pause. These factors, plus the possibility of additional loan forgiveness in the future, allow universities to hint that students might not have to pay the full cost of their education—and makes it easier to sell them on expensive master’s degrees. The Education Department has the tools to put a stop to this racket. A regulation known as borrower defense to repayment allows students defrauded by their institutions to have their federal student loans canceled; the institution must make taxpayers whole in the event of a successful loan discharge. Initially developed by the Obama administration, the rule was aimed at for-profit colleges, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be used against a public flagship university like Rutgers. If the Education Department forced a school with provably falsified rankings data to pay off the loans of defrauded students, it would send a firm signal that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated. But borrower defense to repayment isn’t enough. There are plenty of federally funded master’s degree programs where institutions are not guilty of fraud, but outcomes are abysmal nonetheless. Therefore, it is also necessary for Congress to remove the incentive for universities to market bad master’s degrees in the first place: their unlimited federal funding. The prevalence of master’s degrees that offer little to no return on investment can be chalked up to uncapped federal student loans, which are handed out in an undiscriminating fashion, and the repayment regime that forces taxpayers to pick up the tab for unpaid loans. Universities push low-quality master’s degrees to capture the federal dollars, while students are willing to borrow thanks to the federal government’s implicit stamp of approval. End federal loans for graduate school, and most low-quality master’s degrees will vanish. Private lenders would be able to meet demand for the financing of quality graduate degrees, such as medicine. Reliable financial returns for these degrees mean that private lenders will jump at the chance to lend to medical students attending reputable institutions, but will be far more hesitant to pony up $180,000 for a master’s degree in film. A thriving private market for graduate student loans existed before Congress uncapped federal loans in 2006. There is no need for a federal graduate loan program when the private sector can adequately fill the role. The brewing scandal at Rutgers is a sign that many universities will do anything for a piece of the federal government’s unlimited graduate loan offerings. By ending federal loan subsidies for graduate programs, Congress can fix the bad incentives that led to this mess, protect students from low-quality master’s degrees, and save taxpayers a heap of money along the way. Preston Cooper is a research fellow in higher education at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/10/2022 - 20:05.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 10th, 2022

Obama, Biden Largely To Blame For $1.6 Trillion Student Debt Crisis: Author

Obama, Biden Largely To Blame For $1.6 Trillion Student Debt Crisis: Author By John Ransom of The Epoch Times As President Joe Biden considers some form of loan forgiveness for college borrowers, student loans in America have been a slow-boiling crisis for almost a decade now. U.S. President Joe Biden gives remarks before meeting with small business owners in the South Court Auditorium of the White House in Washington on April 28, 2022. One expert critic who has been following the crisis lays much of the blame for the $1.6 trillion loan debacle at the feet of two men at the very top of the U.S. government: former President Barrack Obama and Biden. “This is far worse than the Savings and Loan crisis, or the sub-prime auto crisis and even the subprime mortgage crisis,” Allen Collinge, author of the book “The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History and How We Can Fight Back,” told the Epoch Times. “These two guys are some of the people most responsible for permanently saddling so many Americans with debt for which they have no way out but dying,” Collinge added. Two factors have come together, said Collinge, to create what he calls the biggest loan crisis in U.S. history. The first was the removal of bankruptcy protections that people enjoy from all other debt in America. “Among all living, serving elected officials, Biden literally is most culpable for removing bankruptcy protections from these loans, which really is the core of this problem,” said Collinge, who runs an organization called Student Loan Justice, which is seeking cancellation of all student loan debt in return for the end of the federal student loan program. Serving as a member, and then eventually, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden was instrumental in removing bankruptcy protection from, at first, government-backed student loans, and then, from privately-made student loans. “Joe Biden bears a large amount of responsibility for passage of the bankruptcy bill,” Ed Boltz, president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, told International Business Times in 2015. Then Came Obama Those pieces of legislation that denied students bankruptcy protection dove-tailed into the rapid expansion of student loans for which then-President Obama stumped in 2010 as he federalized the student loan program To get students to borrow more, Obama pulled out all the stops, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) claimed the move to federalization would save the country $60 billion. “This is great for the country,” Then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan told NPR in an interview at the time the measure was approved. “It’s one of these sort of miraculous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and we could put $60 billion minimum there behind students simply by removing subsidies to banks and not going back to taxpayers for another dime,” Duncan added. Source: Congressional Budget Office, using data from the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System. Then the president sent out First Lady Michelle Obama as the face of an effort which the Obama White House called “Reaching the ‘North Star’ by 2020,” which encouraged everybody to go back to some sort of higher education institution and get another degree, financed of course, by the U.S. government. Students were encouraged to take out student loans that were termed by the White House “financial aid eligibility that can make college affordability a reality.” During the Obama years, student loans climbed from about $700 billion to nearly $1.4 trillion, edging out credit card debt by 2012. Prospective students were told to host their own “signing-day” party where they signed up with a college, university, or vocational school for higher education, just like college football players and basketball players do when they signed on with schools. The signing day came with its own 16-page instruction booklet from the White House that told students “an education is worth way more than just a higher paycheck—it’s the most valuable asset a person can ever have. It is something they will have their entire life.” One question that remained unanswered in those books, however, was how students would pay off their debt. But Obama’s efforts paid off as student debt rose from $12,434, per student debtor in 1992, according to the Pew Research Center, to the $40,904 that’s owed per student debtor today, according to Increasingly, it looks like student loan debt is debt that will follow students their entire life; a debt that has turned that “asset” the White House told them to prize, into a millstone around students’ necks. And that $60 billion in savings that was forecasted by the CBO that then-Education Secretary Duncan was touting? It turns out that instead of saving the country $60 billion, it cost $400 billion, not including any loan forgiveness. “CBO miscalculated the cost of the Healthcare and Reconciliation Act [that federalized student loans] by $503 billion, before factoring in President Biden’s student loan bailouts. Congress may not have passed this bill had CBO appropriately scored it,” House Republicans wrote in a letter this week to CBO Director Philip Swagel, demanding to know how the CBO got the figures so wrong. The Epoch Times has reached out to the White House, CBO, and Obama for comment. The Obama-Biden Legacy Comes Due According to figures gathered by Collinge that he gleaned from the Department of Education (DOE), 63 percent of all money borrowed in student loans are from people over the age of 35, who on average owe $41,900 worth of debt. That compares to the under-35 crowd which has an average debt of $25,300. “The big growth in loans has been in graduate schools,” Jason Delisle, now a research fellow at the Urban Institute think tank, told PBS in 2017, sounding an early alarm bell. “Yet there’s just no heat on what are people getting for these degrees. On the undergraduate side, there are loan limits and concern around defaults and earnings. On the graduate school side, there’s none of that,” added Delisle. And graduate studies are big money makers for schools, often making the difference between being profitable and closing down, say some experts. Slate recently called Master’s degree programs “the biggest scam in higher education,” citing one expert who called schools’ Master’s programs “largely unregulated cash cows that help shore up their bottom line.” Even before the pandemic hit, the DOE said only one in four borrowers were paying down both principal and interest on loans. While it’s bad in every state, especially hard hit by student borrowing are the states of the Deep South. The worst-hit is Mississippi where the debt to income for student loans is nearly 1:1. According to Collinge, what makes this loan crisis different than, say, the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s or the subprime mortgage crisis of the 2000s is the unlimited collection powers of the federal government, the lack of any statute of limitations on the debt and the fact that the debtors have no recourse to bankruptcy protections that our Founders intended them to have. He cited one documented case where he shows a debtor who borrowed $26,000 as a student loan has paid $93,593.54 in interest payments and less than $1.00 of principal. As of today, the principal balance is still $132,174 for this 59-year-old woman facing retirement shortly. Screenshots showing the loan repayments and debt outstanding on a 59-year-old woman’s student loan. (Provided to The Epoch Times) “The harm caused by this predatory lending system created by Biden—and others—and exacerbated by Obama, is particularly acute for seniors, who are seeing their social security and disability income garnished, often despite having repaid far, far more than they originally borrowed,” said Collinge. This failure to disclose the actual terms upon which borrowers are taking out loans was a great concern to the federal government during the subprime mortgage crisis that saw the government take action against mortgage lenders who paid fines of over $234 billion for actions that are essentially fraudulent, with at least 59 bankers going to jail. But somehow, when the federal government started loaning the money to students, those same rules stopped applying. “If any other lending system did this, it would be criminal, people would be in handcuffs,” concluded Collinge. So as the argument rages in Congress about whether student loans should be forgiven, or go into collection, Collinge wants people to remember one simple thing: Stop listening to the people who actually caused the problem to begin with. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/05/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 5th, 2022

California"s Vanished Dream, By The Numbers

California's Vanished Dream, By The Numbers Authored by Joel Kotkin via RealClear Investigations, Even today amid a mounting exodus among those who can afford it, and with its appeal diminished to businesses and newcomers, California, legendary state of American dreams, continues to inspire optimism among progressive boosters. Laura Tyson, the longtime Democratic economist now at the University of California at Berkeley, praises the state for creating “the way forward” to a more enlightened “market capitalism.” Like-minded analysts tout Silicon Valley’s massive wealth generation as evidence of progressivism’s promise. The Los Angeles Times suggested approvingly that the Biden administration’s goal is to “make America California again.” And, despite dark prospects in November’s midterm elections, the President and his party still seem intent on proving it. But most Californians, according to recent surveys, see things differently. They point to rising poverty and inequality, believe the state is in recession and that it is headed in the wrong direction. Parting with the state’s cheerleaders, the New York Times’ Ezra Klein, a reliable progressive and native Californian, says the Golden State’s failures are “making liberals squirm.” Reality may well be worse than even Klein admits. In a new report for Chapman University, my colleagues and I find California in a state of existential crisis, losing both its middle-aged and middle class, while its poor population faces dimming prospects. Despite the state’s myriad advantages, research shows it plagued by economic immobility and inequality, crushing housing and energy costs, and a failing education system. Worse than just a case of progressive policies creating regressive outcomes, it appears California is descending into something resembling modern-day feudalism, with the poor and weak trapped by policies subsidized by taxes paid by the rich and powerful. California may conjure images of Rodeo Drive and Malibu mansions in the public imagination, but today the state suffers the highest cost-adjusted poverty rate in the U.S. The poor and near-poor constitute over one third – well over 10 million – of the state’s residents according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Los Angeles, by far the state’s largest metropolitan area, and once a magnet for middle class aspirations, has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. A United Way of California analysis shows that over 30 percent of residents lack sufficient income to cover basic living costs even after accounting for public-assistance programs; this includes half of Latino and 40 percent of black residents. Some two-thirds of noncitizen Latinos live at or below the poverty line. While many Californians are fleeing, some are decidedly less bearish. “In California, there is this idea of ‘Oh, we care about the poor,’ but on this metric, we are literally the worst,” Stanford’s University’s Mark Duggan, principal author of an economic comparison of California with Texas, told the San Francisco Chronicle. The state’s poverty and associated dysfunction are on full display in leading cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where a large underclass now inhabits the streets – the once-iconic locales having become poster children for urban dysfunction. Beyond massive homeless camps, crime has become so bad that the LAPD has warned tourists it can no longer protect them. San Francisco, meanwhile, suffers the highest property crime rate in the country. Businesses like Walgreens have shut down numerous Bay Area locations due to “rampant burglaries.” Homelessness and crime increasingly dominate the state’s political discourse, particularly in these two deep blue bastions. California also faces growing inequality. By the Gini index, a measure of the distribution of income across a population, California has the third-highest inequality behind New York and Louisiana, and has experienced the fifth largest expansion of inequality since 2010, according to American Community Survey data. California also suffers the widest gap between middle- and upper-middle-income earners of any state. In leading cities, homeless encampments line streets such as San Francisco's Golden Gate Avenue. AP Once among the most egalitarian regions in the country, Silicon Valley has become among the most segregated places in the country. CityLab has described the technology hub as “a region of segregated innovation,” a trend becoming more pronounced, according to recent research. Silicon Valley now boasts its own underclass of those who clean its buildings and provide food service. Nearly 30 percent of its residents rely on public or private financial assistance. Similarly, according to the Brookings Institution, San Francisco, the technology industry’s most important urban center, has experienced the most rapid growth in inequality among the nation’s large cities in the last decade. The California Budget and Policy Center has named the city first in California for economic inequality; the average income of the top one percent of households in the city averages $3.6 million, forty-four times the average income of the bottom 99 percent, which stands at $81,094 in a city and state with a high cost of living. The situation is worse elsewhere in the state. Over the past decade more than 80 percent of California jobs paid under the median income, and most under $40,000 annually, a poverty wage in California. Worse yet, as demonstrated in our analysis, California lags all peer competitors – Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada, Washington and Colorado – in creating high wage jobs in fields like business and professional services, as even tech growth begins to shift elsewhere. The biggest losers in California have been those industries that historically provided the best opportunities for working-class people – manufacturing, construction, energy – as well as agriculture, the state’s historic economic powerhouse. On a per capita basis, California builds only a fraction of the housing compared to its main rivals, while corporate new investment, suggests a new Hoover Institution study, has shriveled to a rate one-tenth Texas and one-sixteenth that of Ohio. The state’s climate change policies, however well-intentioned, have had a particularly devastating impact on manufacturing. California’s “renewable energy” push has generated high energy prices and the nation’s least-reliable power grid, crippling an industry reliant on fossil fuels and a stable electric supply. The state fell to 44th in the country in manufacturing sector employment growth last year; its industrial new job creation has lagged competitors such as Nevada, Kentucky, Michigan and Florida. Even without adjusting for costs, no California metro ranks in the U.S. top ten in terms of offering well-paying blue-collar jobs, notes The New York Times. But four – Ventura, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego – sit among the bottom ten. Under California’s green agenda, electricity has skyrocketed while its grid has become less stable. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity As the environmentalist Breakthrough Institute summarizes it, the state’s climate agenda has created a “new Green Jim Crow era” keeping more people, particularly minorities, in poverty. Housing policy has also hurt most those who can least afford it. California’s state planning policies aim to reduce urban sprawl – the shift to locales where costs are lower and the state is gaining migrants. The heavily minority Inland Empire, which has little political influence, now has more people than the San Francisco metropolitan area, which dominates state politics, but the former is unable to reverse any of these policies. Despite expectations by planners that limiting suburban growth would reduce prices for the masses and greenhouse emissions by encouraging density, studies in Vancouver, Canada and several other locations have shown the opposite; they associate densification with higher land and housing prices. California has the highest urban density of any state, yet suffers the second highest housing costs and rents of any state except Hawaii. On this issue, some media coverage appears to have been influenced by the pro-density preferences of tech titans like Mark Zuckerberg. Striving, largely minority middle- and working-class families bear the brunt of such policies. According to a recent American Enterprise Institute survey, California is home to six of the nation’s worst markets for first-time homebuyers. It would take more than 100 years for the median-income household to save for a mortgage on a median-priced home in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Jose. The state now ranks 49th in homeownership rate, producing far less new housing than competitive regions like Arizona, Texas or Florida. A recent study by economist John Husing found not one unionized construction worker can afford a median-priced home in any coastal California county. Unable to buy their own home, many working class families find themselves paying extraordinarily high rents, with more than half of all renters shelling out in excess of 30% of household income, the traditional definition of an outsized housing burden. Nearly four in ten California households meet or exceed this level. Not surprisingly, one quarter are contemplating a move elsewhere. High rents and house prices, along with low wages, also have produced the nation’s highest level of overcrowding. Nor has densification brought the purported environmental benefits cited by California’s champions at Brookings and in the Biden Administration; the pro-density Terner Center projects that if California’s cities followed the density guidelines, at best the state would see a 1% reduction in emissions. Manifest Education Failures Historically education was seen – particularly among traditional liberals – as critical to upward mobility for poor and working-class people. Yet for decades the state’s schools have underperformed national norms, particularly for poor students. Since 1998, California has ranked, on average, 46th in 8th-grade reading and mathematics subject-area performance on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), the only comparable assessment between states nationwide. This includes comparisons with demographically similar states like Texas, which spends less money per student. Today, almost three of five California high schoolers are not prepared for either college or a career; the percentages are far higher for Latinos, African Americans, and the economically disadvantaged. Among the 50 states, California ranked 49th in the performance of poor, largely minority, students. San Francisco, the epicenter of California’s woke culture, and site of the recent recall of several far-left school board members, suffers the worst scores for African Americans of any county in the state. These students are often unprepared for college. At California State University – where ethnic studies programs are now mandated – the need for remedial courses or 40 percent of freshmen demonstrates a low level of preparedness in such basic skills as reading comprehension, writing and mathematics. Some educators have decided to eliminate this problem by eliminating remedial classes. California’s model curriculum, which focuses on how to “build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance,” may only exacerbate these problems by inculcating attitudes antithetical to those necessary to succeed in a highly competitive capitalist economy. Many California educators from the highest reaches of academia down to the grade school level champion “equity” in education over developing hard math skills and fostering excellence. Even basic life skills such as being on time are eschewed: The San Diego Unified School District will no longer count such scruples as turning in work on time in grading and evaluation. It may reduce the penalties for cheating. This is justified as a way of redressing racial issues, as many of the malefactors (like most California students) are from disadvantaged minority groups. Most Californians support charter schools, including nearly half of all Democrats, and three chapters of the Southern California NAACP – San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside. The state’s powerful teachers unions, and the Democrats they back, oppose such education alternatives. Tech titans, once focused on improving schools, now seem less engaged. This may make sense given the extent to which tech relies on global talent rather than recruiting locally. In 2018, three-quarters of the tech workforce in the Bay Area was foreign-born, a majority on short-term non-immigrant visas. The answer to many of the problems plaguing California’s struggling lower classes has been to throw more of the upper class’s money at them. Michael Bernick, a former director of the state’s Employment Development Department, says “The culture for much of California, driven by state politics, is one of benefits (and now guaranteed income), not a jobs strategy or expectation.” California is unlikely to be devoting the state’s surplus –driven largely by stock and property gains among the wealth – as Texas and other states do, to attracting businesses. Instead, as Bernick suggests, the preference has been to boost the welfare state, as it did in initiating record-setting stimulus payments during the pandemic. It is now contemplating handing out debit cards to cope with high energy prices created by the state’s environmental policies. California’s technology industry consists of staunch funders of the states’ progressive Democrats. They may themselves be obsessed workaholics and living testaments to entrepreneurial capitalism, but Greg Ferenstein, who interviewed 147 digital company founders, says most believe that “an increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will increasingly subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial ’gig work ‘and government aid.” Many prominent business people, including those who made their fortunes in California such as Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, Elon Musk, and Sam Altman, founder of the Y Combinator, have embraced the notion of a "guaranteed wage," that would cover most critical bills. Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign was built around this concept. In the interim, people are fleeing the state. Demographer Wendell Cox notes that since 2000, California has lost 2.6 million net domestic migrants, more than the current populations of San Diego, San Francisco and Anaheim combined. In 2020, California accounted for 28 percent of all net domestic outmigration in the nation, about 50 percent more than its share of the US population. California’s population growth has fallen below the national average for the first time, and the state appears to have even possibly lost population the last two years. The pandemic seems to have accelerated this movement. Last year California was home to three of the five large regions over one million with the highest percentage population loss – San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles school districts face large decreases in enrollment; the LA district, the state’s largest, projects a 20% cut in this decade. This outmigration trend cannot be dismissed as “white flight.” An analysis of minority population flows shows that Latinos and African Americans are settling increasingly west of the Sierra, particularly in the south, Texas, and parts of the Midwest. Similarly, the foreign-born population – so critical to the state’s economy – has declined in Los Angeles over the past decade, and stagnated in the Bay Area while swelling in places like Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, Houston, Nashville and even midwestern cities like Columbus, Des Moines and Indianapolis. Simply put, California is in danger of losing its youthful mojo. Many of those leaving, according to IRS data, come from young, middle and working class families. When these people leave, birthrates plummet. Los Angeles and San Francisco rank last and second-to-last in birthrates among the 53 U.S. major metropolitan areas. Among California's big metros, only Riverside/San Bernardino exceeds the national average in women aged between 15 and 50 with births. California’s total fertility rate, long above the national average, is now the nation’s 10th lowest. Los Angeles County alone has lost three quarters of a million people under 25 over the past twenty years. California today is as old as the rest of the country and aging 50 percent faster than the national norm. It is rapidly replacing the surfboard with a walker. *  *  * Joel Kotkin is a Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. Tyler Durden Fri, 04/15/2022 - 22:15.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 15th, 2022

How college athletes are getting paid from brand sponsorships as NIL marketing takes off

Insider is tracking student-athlete marketing after the NCAA changed its name, image, and likeness rule. Here's a breakdown of our coverage. Wide receiver Treylon Burks of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the ball during a game against the Auburn Tigers on October 16, 2021.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. In 2021, student-athletes gained the right to make money from their names, images, and likenesses. Athletes, universities, startups, and brands have spent months learning how to best navigate the new NIL world. Here's a breakdown of Insider's recent coverage on student-athlete marketing and NIL activity. On July 1, after a decades-long fight, student-athletes across the country gained the right to make money from their names, images, and likenesses (NIL) thanks to a flurry of new state laws and an NCAA policy change.What happened next was a mad rush of student-athletes, small businesses, national brands, and startups looking to cash in.Some athletes in widely followed sports scored deals worth five or six figures. But many of the 460,000-plus student-athletes across the US ended up working with local businesses, like restaurants, or participating in one-off marketing campaigns with bigger brands, receiving free products, gift cards, or smaller cash payments, rather than big pay days, for their NIL promotions.University of Nebraska football players pose with burritos in a brand partnership with local restaurant Muchachos.Nick Maestas.In addition to brand deals, student-athletes have run branded training clinics and have been paid for appearances and autograph signings.Unlike professional influencers, college athletes tend to have small audiences on social media. In the influencer world, these athletes would be classified as "micro" (generally under 100,000 followers) or "nano" (generally under 10,000) influencers — an area of increasing focus for marketers."You don't have to have 40,000 followers or even 10,000, 5,000 followers to take advantage of these [NIL] rules," Christopher Aumueller, the CEO of the athlete-marketing and brand development upstart FanWord, told Insider. "Those small deals, while they may be small in monetary value, they may go a very long ways for these student-athletes. A couple hundred dollars here and there can make a big impact for some of these young men and women."Read more about how student-athletes with small social-media followings are cashing in on the NIL gold rushOne company that leaned into nano-influencer marketing for its first student-athlete campaign was The Vitamin Shoppe, which hired 14 college players for a campaign.The company worked with sports-marketing company OpenSponsorship to identify 14 student-athletes across a wide range of sports, from golf and cross country to volleyball and cheerleading. All of the athletes had under 10,000 Instagram followers.Each athlete was given about $100 worth of free products, including a set of whey and plant protein, a True Athlete performance supplement, and a shake bottle, in exchange for promoting the brand on social media."The micro-influencer trend has become popular because when you get people with smaller followings, with smaller networks, the things that they promote or suggest come off as more genuine," Dustin Elliott, a senior brand manager at The Vitamin Shoppe, told Insider.Read more about how the company boosted its social-media engagement by hiring college athletes from niche sports like golf and cheerleadingIn a few states, even high school athletes are starting to get in on the NIL action. Jaden Rashada, a quarterback for Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California, signed a sponsorship deal with the recruiting app AIR in December."Who better to talk about recruiting from a marketing perspective than someone that has just gone through it or someone that is actively going through it currently," AIR's founder James Sackville told Insider. Read more about how a high school football star landed his first brand sponsorship dealLSU golfer Hayden White recently worked on an NIL campaign for The Vitamin Shoppe.LSU Athletics.How much student-athletes are earning from NILWhile many schools are being tight-lipped about how much their student-athletes are earning from NIL activities, in November, the University of Arkansas released data on how much its student-athletes had earned since July 1.It reported that 140 of its student-athletes had participated in some type of NIL activity, working with over 170 companies on at least 300 agreements and earning an average of $4,102. Football, basketball, softball, and baseball players saw the highest volume of NIL deals at Arkansas, according to the university.Read more about how student-athletes at the University of Arkansas have taken advantage of NIL opportunitiesThose earnings could increase next year, as some brands are already making spending bets on the category for 2022.Over half of the 300 brand, agency, and retail professionals surveyed by retail analytics firm Inmar Intelligence in November said they planned to spend between $50,000 and $500,000 on student-athletes next year. Only 15% of respondents said they either don't plan to invest in the category or weren't sure yet what their budget would be. Read a breakdown of responses from Inmar's survey, including how marketers think student-athletes will perform in ad campaigns compared to traditional influencersStudent-athlete growing painsAlthough some marketers are bullish to run student-athlete campaigns in 2022, the category comes with logistical challenges.Colleges, student-athletes, and brands are still trying to figure out how to navigate a web of state laws and university guidelines around what players are and aren't allowed to do with their names, images, and likenesses. Some colleges and universities have developed policies to stop student-athletes from making brand deals that would interfere with their own lucrative sponsorship contracts. A deal requiring an athlete to "wear products competitive to Nike during team activities – ex. practices, competitions, media, team travel, community service, photo sessions, team-building activities, etc." could violate Ohio State's rules, for example. The university also said that students should not "promote beverages competitive to Coca-Cola on-campus.""It is messy," Blake Lawrence, CEO of sports-marketing platform Opendorse, told Insider in August. "If a student athlete at an Adidas school that signs a deal with, let's say, Lululemon shows up to a press conference with a Lululemon hat and shirt on, is that a violation of the team's contract with Adidas? Those are the things that people are trying to figure out."Other universities have pushed back against Barstool Sports' student-athlete ambassador program, telling Insider the company did not have approval to use their trademarks and logos.Read more about how colleges are taking steps to limit the deals student-athletes make with brands, as they look to protect their own sponsorshipsBrands tested their first campaigns with student-athletes during March Madness 2022Doug Edert and the Saint Peter's University Peacocks were the Cinderella team of the NCAA Tournament.Seth Wenig/AP ImagesOne of the first marquee marketing events for student-athletes after the NIL rule change was the 2022 March Madness tournament, which put NCAA men's and women's basketball players in the spotlight.Some players, like Saint Peter's University guard Doug Edert and University of Connecticut's Paige Bueckers, were able to capitalize on the attention by scoring deals with brands like Buffalo Wild Wings and Chegg. But industry insiders said the real payoff for student-athletes who gained social-media followings during the tournament could be still to come. "If you have a really successful March Madness, you're increasing the value of your NIL," Nicholas Lord, CEO of the NIL deal-making platform NOCAP Sports, told Insider. "Then you're able to capitalize on it more in the future because you have more eyes on your social media and your persona in general."Here's a full breakdown of what brands learned from the first March Madness when they could hire student-athletes as influencersAs with any new industry that has a variety of regulations, a wave of startups and established companies have rushed in to help universities, student-athletes, and brands both succeed in the field and avoid missteps.Some companies, like Athliance, are focused on helping universities and players handle NIL education and compliance. Others, like MOGL, are interested in building marketplaces to connect brands with student-athletes.Learfield, a nearly 50-year-old firm that helps schools monetize their IP in categories like digital media and stadium signage, launched a series of features over the past few months to support student-athlete NIL activities."People keep saying it's the wild west," said Chase Garrett, CEO of the athlete-marketing platform Icon Source. "But I think 2022 is gonna be the year of adoption. People have built-in marketing budgets. They've started to find the athletes that they think they would wanna work with. They've started to learn what's market value."Here's Insider's list of 13 top companies helping student-athletes make money and shaping the future of NIL marketingRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 13th, 2022

Oil Climate Disclosures Riddled With ‘Questionable Claims,’ Study Finds

Facing mounting pressure to divest from fossil fuels, investors want reliable emissions disclosures from the industry Environmental disclosures by some of the biggest U.S. oil and gas companies contain “questionable claims” about climate risks and greenhouse-gas emissions, frustrating investors under pressure to divest from fossil fuels, Columbia University researchers found. Emissions data reported by oil companies are “awash with unsubstantiated claims,” according to an analysis of 15 publicly traded oil companies and a dozen major oil investors in the U.S. by the university’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Facing mounting pressure to divest from oil and gas, investors are increasingly demanding more standardized and robust climate and emissions disclosures from the industry. Some of the largest firms are already voluntarily divulging their greenhouse-gas emissions, but the lack of government regulation and unified reporting underscores the challenges investors face when comparing inconsistent data across companies. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] For example, Columbia researchers found that shale gas producer EQT Corp. disclosed zero emissions from flaring, but defined flaring based on the American Exploration Petroleum Council’s definition, which includes only the flaring of wellhead gas at company-operated assets. EQT’s report omits gas flared from other sources downstream from the well and flaring from emergency incidents, the report published Tuesday said. “The definition used is neither questionable, as it is an industry standard as noted, nor does it detract from or impact the data included in our ESG report, which shows that EQT has among the lowest methane intensities within the oil and gas space,’’ an EQT spokesperson said in response to the study. Oil investors “noted with frustration the difficulty in trusting numbers self-reported by companies and rarely verified by independent third parties, even though the way U.S. oil and gas companies report emissions is in line with existing Environmental Protection Agency regulations,” according to Columbia researchers who interviewed investors representing major banks, insurers, asset managers and private equity funds. The Securities and Exchange Commission last month put forth new guidelines that would mandate U.S. publicly traded companies report climate risks and greenhouse-gas emissions from operations. If adopted, the proposed rules are expected to come into effect in the coming years. “It is evident that a regulatory push is likewise necessary to incentivize all operators in the U.S. oil and gas sector to apply these innovations and better measure and reduce GHG emissions,” the researchers said. “Most operators are hesitant to embrace emissions-reduction efforts if they will increase operational costs—costs that may not always be recoverable.” Although they expressed divergent views on the future of fossil fuels, investors surveyed by the researchers agreed that oil companies should reduce emissions from their operations by eliminating routine flaring. The oil and gas sector accounts for 9% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and indirectly another 33% when its products are consumed. Some investors went even farther, saying oil companies should report so-called Scope 3 emissions, or those greenhouse gasses emitted by customers of petroleum products. However, other investors said companies should not take responsibility for those emissions, believing instead that it’s the role of end-users. Only five companies—Chevron Corp., Hess Corp., ConocoPhillips, EQT and Occidental Petroleum Corp.—reported Scope 3 emissions. “Considering the robust demand for oil and gas, a case can be made that engagement with the sector can accomplish more to improve practices and meaningfully impact GHG emissions”—instead of divesting from fossil fuels, the researchers said......»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 12th, 2022

China"s Belt-And-Road Comes To America"s Heartland, Part 2: This Is Not The End

China's Belt-And-Road Comes To America's Heartland, Part 2: This Is Not The End Authored by Fortis Analysis via Human Terrain, Earlier this year, Fortis Analysis released details on the proposal by Fufeng Group, a CCP-connected company, to build a wet corn mill and amino acid production facility in Grand Forks, ND. In conducting further research, interviewing local residents, and working with recognized experts in national security and United States trade law, it is more and more clear that the Grand Forks city council and mayor Brandon Bochenski are both economically and constitutionally illiterate. Pictured: Fufeng USA Chief Operating Officer Eric Chutorash, speaking to Grand Forks City Council A single line of inquiry into this project is impossible, so we will work to highlight a range of domains where this project falls short of both good sense and the law of the land. To that end, let’s first explore the FAQ on this project released by the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Council. There are numerous claims so easily rebutted that making them is either knowingly spreading false information, or an inexcusable lack of attention (or ability) to performing due diligence. A selection: CLAIM: ”Fufeng USA is a global leading bio-fermentation company manufacturing products that serve fast-growing animal nutrition. Their headquarters is in Chicago, Ill. Fufeng USA has chosen to invest in Grand Forks to establish a wet corn mill processing plant in the United States.” FACT: Fufeng USA Incorporated was established in the United States at the address of a private residence in Wheaton, IL. As of this writing, Fufeng USA Incorporated imports to the United States using the same Wheaton location as its official consignee address registered with US Customs and Border Protection. Another Fufeng USA corporate address noted on the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce website (under the “Manufacturers” section) is located inside a multi-tenant office building in Oak Brook, IL. This entity is wholly-owned by Fufeng USA Holdings Limited, which is domiciled in Hong Kong, and is itself wholly-owned by Trans-Asia Capital Resources Ltd., also domiciled in Hong Kong. Trans-Asia Capital Resources Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fufeng Group, which has its principal place of business in Junan in the Shandong Province of China. It is beyond a stretch to say that Fufeng USA is anything more than a shell company to facilitate Fufeng Group’s ability to do business in the United States. This information comes directly from Fufeng Group’s annual report for 2020, published in 2021. CLAIM: “The North Dakota Trade Office has done a search for illegal import/export activity for Fufeng USA and its principles. No red flags or areas of concern were found. NDTO resources include access to 30 federal databases. Fufeng USA has been operating in the United States since 2020. Also, First Biotech, Inc., a Fufeng USA subsidiary, has been doing business in the US for over 10 years. Both have filed federal taxes in the US and have established international banking accounts with large financial institutions that have significant federal oversight. The company will be subject to all the same US laws, regulations, and oversight and any US company. Fufeng USA Group is publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has a supervisory oversight relationship with the Exchange. Fufeng USA Group has many US and European institutional investors including TreeTop Management, Vanguard, Fidelity, Mellon, and Blackrock, all heavily regulated.” FACT: This is, quite simply, a word salad intended to obscure the real issue at stake here - the absence of correct and proper due diligence. The United States has multiple layers of regulatory oversight beyond basic financial oversight, few if any of which have been notified by GFREDC, the city, or Fufeng, let alone conducted formal inquiries. One other point that must be noted is that “Fufeng USA Group” is not a real entity, nor is any Fufeng USA entity “publicly traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange”. The publicly-traded entity is the ultimate parent company, Fufeng Group Limited. More detailed explorations of these points follow further in this analysis. In short, the absurd and incorrect statement that a cursory review of trade databases and some correctly-filed taxes is sufficient proof of Fufeng’s safety to national security should embarrass all involved in this process. CLAIM: “The development of the Fufeng USA plant will create a local market for corn and improve pricing. Regional farmers will have the option to sell to elevators or Fufeng USA. The North Dakota Corn Growers Association, a farmer led membership organization focused on policy that impacts North Dakota corn producers, were pleased with the announcement that Fufeng USA will establish a wet corn mill in Grand Forks. They issued a press release indicating the project will have tremendous value to regional farmers.” FACT: The claim made elsewhere by the city about the economic impact to farmers betrays a startling ignorance about the mechanisms of grain production and sales. The estimate of $.20 to $.40 per bushel of corn in premium versus current market conditions was not derived from careful analysis conducted by third-party experts. When pressed on the matter by Shaun Beauclair, himself a farmer and former board member of a regional corn processing facility, the GFREDC admitted that the premium assumption was given by a single farmer. In a February interview with AgWeek about the Fufeng project, Dr. Frayne Olson of North Dakota State University said that he believes the $.40 per bushel claim is only realistic for the first year or two to incentivize sales to the corn mill. Once the market settles back in future years, the realistic premium is closer to $.10 to $.20 per bushel. In practice, the grain elevators in the area who do not have direct interest in a value-added market for their purchased corn will quickly be faced with the choice of becoming a de facto origination and storage facility for Fufeng, or closing their doors. As one can see from this selection of “facts”, the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Council has not done its best work to provide complete or accurate information to its stakeholders. Now, if this was the only vector of misinformation and all others involved were honest brokers, one might understand how an economic development group would choose to shade the truth a bit in order to bring a splashy, high-revenue project to town. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Multiple other individuals in positions of city leadership have also willingly promoted dishonest talking points, or chosen unscrupulous partners for the city, all in the interest of pushing the project forward. Let’s examine a few of these. Fufeng Group Has No Financial Connection to the Chinese Government On November 17, 2021, in a publicly-posted comment on his official Facebook account, Grand Forks mayor Brandon Bochenski stated that: “…the company is an American subsidiary of a publicly traded company that has zero govt. ownership. They are investing in an American facility built by American contractors, using American corn stock to produce products sold in America and manufactured by American workers. The company is more American than Apple, Nike and Amazon quite frankly in the global economy of today.” Members of the city council have used similar talking points in publicly-available council discussions. Now, this particular formulation of the zero-affiliation claim is intended to reassure listeners that as Fufeng Group Limited is a publicly-traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (a subsidiary of HKEx, or Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing), it is not reasonable to believe that the firm or any of its subsidiaries would choose (or be forced) to act in any way outside the direct fiduciary interests of its global shareholders. A complete overview of the complicated (and compromised) relationship between the HKEx and the Chinese Communist Party is beyond the scope of this piece, but for now, the following data will more than suffice to rebut this talking point. HKEx’s largest single shareholder is the Hong Kong Government, which also has the right to appoint six of thirteen directors to HKEx’s board. This matters for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is the Hong Kong national security law unanimously passed by China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 30 June 2020 in the wake of widespread pro-democracy protests throughout Hong Kong. Among the various deeply anti-democratic provisions of the law are the requirement that companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange act in accordance with the security directives of a secret body called the Committee for Safeguarding National Security. This entity has the ability to at any time investigate, indict, prosecute, or ruin any non-compliant company who has any business interest in Hong Kong - and extend these enforcement protocols anywhere in the world in violation of sovereign law and international norms. It is impossible to believe that HKEx will push back in any way if the Chinese Communist Party directs Fufeng Group to perform certain actions or disclose confidential business, community, or employee information in any of its subsidiaries - including Fufeng USA Incorporated. In simplified form, if the secret national security entity in mainland China or Hong Kong creates any pretext whatsoever, it will be able to force Fufeng USA to reveal all personal details of any employee, contractor, or even guests of the corn mill, regardless of the laws of the United States. This is an extremely important detail that as of yet, has not been properly addressed by Fufeng or city officials. Moreover, it is not even accurate to say that Fufeng Group does not have a financial connection to the Chinese government. In the same annual report referenced earlier, Fufeng Group Limited lists an interesting disclosure: a 30% ownership stake in Jilin COFCO Biomaterial Co Ltd. This joint venture between Fufeng Group and China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) is notable because COFCO is the largest agribusiness in China, and is a 100% state-owned enterprise under the management of the hyperpowerful State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC). Note that SASAC manages numerous entities that are currently sanctioned by the United States for espionage activities, use of forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere, and violation of international treaties or laws. Though COFCO has as yet not been similarly sanctioned, it is important to note that its sister companies under SASAC were penalized for carrying out the will of the Chinese Communist Party, and that COFCO can at any time be similarly leveraged by the CCP to perform illegal activities against the United States. As with numerous other claims made by the North Dakota Trade Office, Mayor Bochenski, GFREDC, and the Grand Forks city council, one cannot help but wonder how much due diligence has actually been put into this project. The City Is Taking All Appropriate Steps to Examine the Impact on U.S. National Security Interests This omnibus talking point, used repeatedly by city officials, is also completely inaccurate. There are numerous checks and balances that exist at the federal level concerning real estate acquisitions and foreign investments into the U.S. economy. The most well-known of these, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), is a multi-agency group under the Executive Branch that has the mandate of reviewing transactions by foreign entities into companies or technologies designated as “critical” to national security, and/or real estate transactions located within 100 miles of designated military installations. An examination of the facts shows that the Fufeng project may fall into the category of a “covered real estate transaction”, which means CFIUS expects voluntary disclosure of the project’s details. The risk is that if stakeholders do not disclose and CFIUS chooses to open an inquiry at some point, then an adverse finding from CFIUS will result in significant penalties for all involved, up to and including the forced sale of the property and assets to an approved third party. That the city and county have been courting Fufeng Group since mid-2020 and as of yet have not sought out independent legal review for compliance with FIRRMA (the law governing CFIUS’ activities), or submitted for a free voluntary review with CFIUS since the public reveal of this project in November 2021, does not argue well for the city council’s competence or motives in continuing to ignore public outcry and push the process forward at a breakneck pace. Another talking point used by the city and GFREDC is that the county and city’s “base retention” consultant, retired USAF General David Deptula, has reviewed the proposal and discussed it with the leadership at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The claim is that no one has issued an objection to the Fufeng proposal. There are a few things about this, however, that raise red flags. First, Deptula was the subject of a multi-year investigation by Department of Defense into illicit contracting activities and fraud while he was in uniform. In February 2015, Deptula agreed with the Department of Justice to pay a fine of $125,000, and was barred by the Air Force from conducting business with the federal government from November 2014 to February 2016. Despite this, the Grand Forks city council continues to authorize a $5,000 per month direct payment to The Deptula Group (Deptula’s lobbying and consulting firm) for base retention activities. When questioned about this, city council president Dana Sande initially insisted that Grand Forks County employs Deptula, not the city. After being reminded of the monthly expense approved by Sande and the rest of the city council, Sande admitted that the city pays a portion of the funding for base retention activities, but the county is in charge of selecting and coordinating with Deptula. However, a review of the county’s 2021 budget does not show a request or approval for funding to be allocated under the Base Retention line item, nor do county minutes throughout 2021 show approvals to remit any funds to Deptula, his company, or for base retention activities. It is possible that the county has allocated funding under a different line item to pay for Deptula’s services, but such is not noted. However, if the county is indeed not contributing to paying Deptula, then the city of Grand Forks appears to be willingly carrying the cost of Mr. Deptula for “base retention” activities, even as the Air Force already publicly committed in 2021 to expanding the base’s role and increasing its footprint in Grand Forks. Regardless, the ongoing payment of Deptula for at least $5,000 per month from city funds reflects the council’s comfort with employing fixers who have a questionable at best code of ethics when it comes to personal enrichment at the expense of taxpayers. Moreover, it is not for the leadership of the local military installation to make a determination on if a particular project is compliant with national security regulations. Thus, the constant talking points by city officials that Grand Forks Air Force Base has reviewed the project and not issued a complaint is misleading and wholly incorrect. The base leadership cannot review and rule on the Fufeng project, or any other potential commercial investment by foreign entities in the area of the base. The fact that city officials have continuously asserted that the Grand Forks Air Force Base commander has done so is incorrect, and jeopardizes the careers of both the commanding officer and any active duty personnel so connected to the claim. It also opens the door to civilian law enforcement involvement, as active duty military personnel allegedly issuing inappropriate and unauthorized statements in support of foreign investment may also entangle the civilians making such claims into criminal or civil charges. This is a tightrope for city officials to publicly walk, and it would seem from the outside that they have created a fiasco in the making in their haste to justify a lack of responsible and legal due diligence. There Are No Other Conflicts of Interest on the City Council with This Project Before each City Council vote on this project, the council brings up councilmember Jeannie Mock’s conflict of interest in the project and votes to force her to abstain. Mock’s company, AE2S, was involved in the preparation of land-use and infrastructure data before the project was publicly revealed, as can be seen on Slide 12 of the city’s pitch deck for the project. It is not known for certain how Mock would vote on the project, but it is proper for her to abstain on the basis of conflicts of interests and good ethics. However, there are other potential future conflicts of interest on the council not discussed or considered as exclusionary by the council. Kyle Kvamme is employed by ICON Architectural Group, a regional commercial project design firm headquartered in Grand Forks. Kvamme is the Director of Community Engagement and Project Development. He also recently became an owner in the firm. ICON is an obvious potential beneficiary of such a massive development as Fufeng’s, being a prominent local firm specializing in the design of buildings and layouts for large-scope projects. Bret Weber, who has been one of the most supportive voices on the council for the Fufeng project, is employed by the University of North Dakota as Department Chair and Professor of Social Work. Also employed by UND is Danny Weigel, who is the Investigations Commander and Public Information Officer for the UND Police force. Both have disclaimed any conflicts of interest. However, neither has disclosed that Fufeng USA is a tenant of the UND Center for Innovation, the university’s on-campus “entrepreneurial incubator”. Nor has Weigel shared if he has conducted any background checks on Fufeng Group or its representatives prior to them establishing occupancy in campus facilities. It is currently unknown if Fufeng USA is simply paying rent for part of the Center’s co-working office space in order to have a local presence, or if the company is a more integrated user of Center resources, such as the wet lab. The Center touts the wet lab as such: “High tech, bioscience, and scientific companies are all welcome at the UND Center for Innovation. Our state of the art wet lab makes innovations happen.” Given that Fufeng USA is, fundamentally, a biotech company that must cultivate and maintain various strains of bacteria to manufacture amino acids, it is not unreasonable to assume that the company has been, or will be, a major stakeholder in the Center. As the university already financially benefits from Fufeng’s presence in Grand Forks, the full scope of UND’s interest in current and future projects involving Fufeng should be disclosed. So, too, should it be considered a potential conflict of interest for university employees to vote as city council members on favorable considerations for a company that is an active revenue stream for the entity that cuts their paychecks. The obvious rebuttal of “it’s a drop in the bucket in the university’s overall revenue stream” is beside the point, and frankly, is an inappropriate attitude for a public official to hold. Just as with the city utilizing a disgraced former general to help gain Department of Defense approval for the project, or Weber indicating in the March 7th city council meeting that he feels public concerns about the project’s impact to national security are overblown, it seems that a number of city officials involved with this project are willing to excuse impropriety and ethical lapses as the cost of doing business with Chinese companies. Fufeng USA and Its Parent Companies Have No Known Connection to Forced Labor or Human Rights Crimes In China This is the murkiest and most troubling of all the accusations Fortis Analysis and other groups have leveled against Fufeng, yet has been hand-waived away by project proponents as unfounded innuendo because the firm has not been sanctioned specifically by U.S. authorities. But like most of the complex issues involved with this project, such casual dismissals betray a malignant ignorance of how and why sanctions law functions as it does in our nation. Fortunately for the Grand Forks city officials, we are here to provide accurate and detailed information that can help those officials make informed decisions in line with their sworn duty to their offices. The United States takes very seriously the issue of China’s human rights abuses, particularly in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China. In fact, the devastating suppression of non-Han ethnic groups in Xinjiang has been so intense that on 13 July 2021, the U.S. State Department issued its “Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory”, with the summary reading as such: The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government continues to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), China. The PRC’s crimes against humanity include imprisonment, torture, rape, forced sterilization, and persecution, including through forced labor and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement. Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including but not limited to investors, consultants, labor brokers, academic institutions, and research service providers (hereafter “businesses and individuals”) with potential exposure to or connection with operations, supply chains, or laborers from the Xinjiang-region, should be aware of the significant reputational, economic, and legal risks of involvement with entities or individuals in or linked to Xinjiang that engage in human rights abuses, including but not limited to forced labor and intrusive surveillance. Given the severity and extent of these abuses, including widespread, state-sponsored forced labor and intrusive surveillance taking place amid ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, businesses and individuals that do not exit supply chains, ventures, and/or investments connected to Xinjiang could run a high risk of violating U.S. law. Potential legal risks include: violation of statutes criminalizing forced labor including knowingly benefitting from participation in a venture, while knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the venture has engaged in forced labor; sanctions violations if dealing with designated persons; export control violations; and violation of the prohibition of importations of goods produced in whole or in part with forced labor or convict labor. Now, given how adept Chinese companies are at masking their participation in, or benefit derived in part from, these evil activities, the U.S. will utilize a standard called “rebuttable presumption” when investigating abuses and issuing sanctions under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and future similar laws. What this means is that a company accused of connection to human rights abuses in Xinjiang (or other provinces) in China are treated by U.S. authorities as essentially being guilty until proven innocent. Importantly, this does not just mean that the company in question is directly employing forced laborers. Any company that uses raw materials, goods, or labor at any point in its supply chain where forced labor is involved is considered just as guilty of the abuse - a presumption of illegal benefit that extends to every single subsidiary, wherever it may be located. As just one example of the new risk to American stakeholders from this expanded enforcement against China’s human rights abuse, Fufeng Group lists in its annual report that coal is the primary energy feedstock for its corn mills in China. Coal is one of the sectors most heavily targeted for enforcement and sanctions due to Chinese coal mining companies making extensive use of forced labor to keep production costs low. Fufeng Group specifically notes that it strategically locates its facilities close to coal-fired power plants, and that such practice is “instrumental in strengthening the Group’s pricing power.” Even more so than coal, Fufeng consumes corn at enormous rates. Thus, it makes sense that Fufeng tends to locate its operations not only close to coal power production, but also major agriculture regions. Here, too, Fufeng should be assumed to benefit substantially from lower raw material prices derived from the involvement of forced labor. In Heilongjiang province, Fufeng’s subsidiary Qiqihar Fufeng is located less than 50 miles from the sprawling Liusan Prison farm, managed by the Communist Party Committee Deputy Secretary of Liusan. Only a few miles further southwest from Liusan inside Inner Mongolia, there are numerous other farms at Wutaqi, Ulan, and the notorious Bao’anzhao Prison. Hulunbeier Northeast Fufeng Biotechnologies is located approximately 200 miles from the large prison farm at “Genghis Kahn Ranch” in Zalantun City. One of Fufeng’s largest plants, Neimenggu Fufeng Biotechnologies, is located in Hohhot City in Inner Mongolia. The entire administrative apparatus for the corporation that sells forced prison labor goods to Chinese and international consumers is called Inner Mongolia Hengzheng Industrial Group Co., Ltd., and also happens to be located in Hohhot City. As of October 2019, the company was run by Xu Hongguang, a CCP member and the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Justice of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Among the company’s primary goods produced in the prisons and sold to companies in China are grains, processed agriculture commodities, and food ingredients. Notably, the company was sanctioned by the United States in October of 2020 for use of forced labor in manufacturing stevia sweetener, which like Fufeng’s products, are a derivative of biological processing. [Edit, 21 March 2022 - The original comment that stevia sweetener is a derivative of corn processing is not correct. The author has corrected the article.] It would require an absurd leap of faith to state that Fufeng has no plausible connections to, or benefit from, the expansive use of forced labor in agriculture production so logistically close to Fufeng’s major corn- and coal-consuming plants in Xingang, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia. Should an investigation be raised by Commerce, State, or Treasury into the activities of any Fufeng Group subsidiary in connection to forced labor, it is highly likely that Fufeng would be unable to satisfy the rebuttable presumption of participation in the forced labor and abusive regimes in place in China. This would trigger automatic sanctions not only against Fufeng Group in China, but also their international subsidiaries such as First Biotech and Fufeng USA. Such sanctions would make it impossible for banks to lend to any of the affected entities in the United States or conduct normal business operations, shutting down the entire project in Grand Forks and invalidating the letter of credit the city proclaims as providing a no-risk guarantee to local taxpayers the city has not wasted money chasing a pot of gold at the end of the CCP’s genocidal rainbow. This Is Not the End As one can see, there is not much more that needs to be said about the Fufeng Group’s bid to purchase 370 acres of land in Grand Forks and build its wet corn mill. Nearly every single major talking point used by city officials and Fufeng USA is provably false or shaded with just enough truth to pass scrutiny of low-information voters. This is how it works when one chooses to do business with CCP-aligned entities who deliberately target local and state officials to circumvent the United States’ federal national security countermeasures. The officials, craving a big win to build their next campaign on, or perhaps finding some compelling self-interest in the economic aspects of the project, suspend all good sense and dive headfirst into extreme legal and moral hazard at the expense of their communities, their state, and their nation. Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, City Council president Dana Sande, and their grasping enablers have (to this point) made the choice to do just that. And at least for now, we know that the most powerful weapon in the CCP’s gray zone war against the United States is not hypersonic missiles, cyberespionage, or theft of intellectual property. It’s 30 pieces of silver wrapped in a box of false promises to our elected officials. Addendum A number of Grand Forks residents and concerned stakeholders around the nation have expressed to this author their alarm and despair at the ease with which the Chinese Communist Party continues to corrupt and undermine the United States. That it all feels hopeless, and that our collapse as a nation is both certain and imminent. I will share this, then - Winston Churchill’s words to the Harrow School on 29 October 1941, in the midst of the darkest hours of Great Britain’s seemingly hopeless defense against the mighty Nazi war machine. “…Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy… Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Dum spiro spero. Subscribe to Human Terrain Tyler Durden Fri, 03/25/2022 - 23:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 25th, 2022

"Follow The Data", They Said, And Then They Hid It

'Follow The Data', They Said, And Then They Hid It Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute, Never before has the public had access to so much data on a virus and its effects. For two years, data festooned the daily papers. Dozens of websites assembled it. We were all invited to follow the data, follow the science, and observe as scientists became our new overlords, instructing us how to feel, think, and behave in order to “flatten the curve,” “drive down cases,” “preserve capacity,” “stay safe,” and otherwise deploy all the powers of human will to respond to and manipulate disease outcomes. We could watch it all in real time. How beautiful were the waves, the curves, the bar charts, the sheer power of the technology. We can look at all the variations and the trajectories, assemble them by country, click here and click there to compare, see new cases, total cases, unvaccinated and vaccinations, infections and hospitalizations, deaths in total or death per capita, and we could even make a game out of it: which country is doing better at the great task, which group is better at complying, which region has the best outcomes. It was all quite dazzling, the power of the personal computer combined with data collection techniques, universal testing, instant transmission, and the democratization of science. We were all invited to participate from our laptops to bone up on statistics, download and look, assemble and draw, manipulate and observe, and be in awe of the masters of the numbers and their capacity for responding to every trend as it was captured and chronicled in real time. Then one day, writing at the New York Times, reporter Apoorva Mandavilli revealed the following: For more than a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collected data on hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the United States and broken it down by age, race and vaccination status. But it has not made most of the information public …. Two full years into the pandemic, the agency leading the country’s response to the public health emergency has published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected, several people familiar with the data said. Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C., said the agency has been slow to release the different streams of data “because basically, at the end of the day, it’s not yet ready for prime time.” She said the agency’s “priority when gathering any data is to ensure that it’s accurate and actionable.” Another reason is fear that the information might be misinterpreted, Ms. Nordlund said. At the appearance of this story, my data science friends who have been digging through the databases for nearly two years all let a collective: argh! They knew something was very wrong and had been complaining about it for more than a year. These are sophisticated people at Rational Ground who keep their own charts and host data programs of their own. They have been curious all along about the exaggerations, the poor communication regarding the gradients of risk, the lags and holes in the demographic data on hospitalization and death, to say nothing of the strange way in which the CDC has been manipulating presentations on everything from masking to vaccination status and much more. It’s been a strange experience for them, especially since other countries in the world have been absolutely scrupulous about collecting and distributing data, even when the results do not comport with policy priorities. There can be little doubt, for example, that the missing data bears on the issue of vaccine effectiveness and very likely demonstrates that the claim that this was a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” is completely unsustainable, even from the time when it was first made. In the New York Times story, many top epidemiologists were quoted expressing everything from frustration to outrage. “We have been begging for that sort of granularity of data for two years,” said Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist and part of the team that ran Covid Tracking Project, an independent effort that compiled data on the pandemic till March 2021. A detailed analysis, she said, “builds public trust, and it paints a much clearer picture of what’s actually going on.” Well, if public trust is the goal, it’s not going so well. In addition to the failings revealed here, there are many other questions concerning cases and whether and to what extent the PCR testing can really tell us what we need to know, to what degree did the misclassification problem affect death attribution, and so much more. It seems that with each month that has gone by, what seemed to be these beautiful pictures of reality have faded into a murky data quagmire in which we don’t know what is real and what is not. And ever more, the CDC itself has urged us to ignore what we do see (VAERS data, for example). Dr. Robert Malone makes an interesting point. If a scientist at a university or a lab is found to have deliberately buried relevant data because they contradict a preset conclusion, the results are professional ruin. The CDC, however, has legal privileges that allows it to get away with actions that would otherwise be considered fraud in academia. There are many analogies between economics and epidemiology, as many have noticed over the last two years. The attempt to plan the economy in the past has suffered from many of the same failures as the attempt to plan a pandemic. There are collection problems, unintended consequences, knowledge problems, issues of mission creep, uncertainties over causal inference, a presumption that all agents obey the plan when in fact they do not, and a wild pretense that planners have the necessary knowledge, skill, and coordination required to presume to replace the decentralized and dispersed knowledge base that makes society work. Murray Rothbard called statistics the Achilles heel of economic planning. Without the data, economists and bureaucrats couldn’t even begin to believe they could achieve their far-flung dreams, much less put them into practice. For this reason, he favored leaving all economic data collection to the private sector so that it is actually useful for enterprise rather than abused by government. In addition, there is simply no way that data alone can provide a genuine full picture of reality. There will always be holes. It will always be late. There will always be mistakes. There will always be uncertainties over causality. Moreover, all data represents a snapshot in time and can prove extremely misleading with changes over time. And these can be fatal for decision making. We are seeing this play itself out in epidemiological planning too. The endless streams of data over two years have created what Sunetra Gupta calls “the illusion of control” when in fact the world of pathogens and its interaction with the human experience is infinitely complex. That illusion also creates dangerous habits on the part of planners, which we’ve seen. There was never a reason to close schools, lock people in their homes, block travel, shut businesses, mask kids, mandate vaccines, and so on. It’s almost as if they wanted human beings to behave in ways that better fit their own modeling techniques rather than allow their knowledge base to defer to the complexity of the human experience. And now we know that we’ve been denied information that the CDC has kept in hiding for the better part of a year, undoubtedly to serve the purpose of forcing the appearance of reality to more closely conform to a political narrative. We only have a fraction of what has been accumulated. What we thought we knew was only a glimpse of what was actually known on the inside. There is no shortage of scandals associated with pandemic policy over two years. For those who are interested in finding out precisely what caused the lights to be dimmed or even turned out on modern civilization, we can add another scandal to the list. Tyler Durden Thu, 02/24/2022 - 18:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytFeb 24th, 2022

Social Justice Slams Into Europe, Part 2: In Scotland, They"ll Take the Woke Road

Social Justice Slams Into Europe, Part 2: In Scotland, They'll Take the Woke Road Authored by Richard Bernstein, submitted by RealClearInvestigations, Read Part 1 here... The online class on gender, feminism, and the law was underway when Lisa Keogh, a 29-year-old student and mother of two, introduced a note of unwoke contention into the discussion. “We were talking about equal rights for women, and I said I don't believe a trans woman is really a woman,” said Keogh, then attending Abertay University Law School here. “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” Keogh, disagreeing with another point of view expressed in the same meeting, also voiced the apparently retrograde opinion that not all men are rapists. Lisa Keogh, law student who endured investigation: “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” In response, some students accused Keogh of “making offensive comments and behaving in a disrespectful manner during class discussion.” Abertay undertook a formal investigation, claiming, as a university spokesman told the media, that the school was “legally obliged to investigate all complaints.”  After two months and two sessions before the investigating committee, Keogh was exonerated. Still, her supporters say her ordeal took its toll — and sent a chilling message to other students about the risk of expressing opinions that contradict the tenets of the campus radical left. “The process is the punishment,” Stuart Waiton, a sociology and criminology lecturer at Abertay, told me over lunch in Dundee. Keogh has filed suit against the university for the stress, anxiety, and the loss of sleep while also claiming the process has hurt her chances of getting a job. “I'm quite a controversial figure,” Keogh said. “Somebody in a law firm told me, 'We can't even be seen publicly agreeing with what you said.’ A friend told me, 'There's no point in you even looking for work in Dundee.'” Instead, Keogh said, she's considering going elsewhere in Scotland where, she hopes, her notoriety won't follow her. Scotland illustrates how American-style “wokeness,” complete with its identity-politics, victim-culture assumptions and lexicon, has seeped across the Atlantic to Europe. While the U.S. media has given broad coverage to the rise of far-right anti-immigrant parties in countries like France, Germany, Hungary and Poland, it has paid less attention to the emergence of a mirror-image phenomenon on the left, which demands an orthodoxy of opinion and punishes dissenting ideas, like those expressed by Keogh.  But wokeness is a hot topic in Europe. As in Scotland, its flare-ups and the arguments about it take place mostly in elite circles, the universities, and the press. It usually surfaces in incidents, sometimes so small and geographically scattered as to seem isolated and unimportant. Nevertheless, they have a cumulative effect. They show the contagious, globalized power of a rising leftist ideology whose adherents are convinced of their own assumptions – chiefly the supposedly pervasive evils of white-dominated societies, the vulnerability of minority groups disadvantaged by the structures of oppressive power, and on the need to protect those groups from insult and slight, even unintended. And taxpayers are underwriting it. Earlier this year, the European Commission, the main administrative body of the 27-member European Union, created a Gender Equality Strategy aimed at “eliminating the inequalities between the sexes and the socio-economic intersectionality of inequality throughout research and innovation.” The effort is to be funded by a program called Horizon Europe with a budget of more than $100 billion for 2021-2027. “Sexual equality and openness to the question of inclusion are our priorities,” a Horizon mission statement says.  To further that mission, Horizon Europe requires that any governmental or private entity applying for a grant present as part of the application a “Gender Equality Plan” that, among other things, shows the hiring of “equality officers” to help “tackle unconscious gender bias among staff, leaders and decision makers.” “Don't think that woke ideology is a delirium limited to certain American universities,” the right-of-center French magazine Causeur wrote of these requirements, noting the deployment of a vocabulary that seems to come straight from the gender and sexuality studies departments of U.S. academe. In Europe, the magazine continued, these assumptions are based on an “imaginary sexism, ideological submission, and coercion in the academic world.” Each country seems to have its woke eruptions, and in many places they have prompted spirited counterreactions. In Germany over the course of this year, some 600 people, mostly university professors, have become members of a Scientific Freedom Network, the stated purpose of which is “to help victims of cancel culture” — that phrase “cancel culture” having entered the German vocabulary in its original English form. “More and more academics feel they are restricted in the research questions they can address without feeling any fear of being professionally sidelined,” Sandra Kostner, a specialist on migration at the Schwãbisch Gmünd University of Education who founded the group earlier this year, told me in a Zoom conversation. “I wrote an article two years ago expressing the idea that something is going wrong at German universities,” she continued. “Within a day or so I got about 800 emails agreeing with me, but in many cases, the last sentence was 'This is just between the two of us.' There were university presidents and vice presidents saying, 'Please don't tell anybody what I've told you.'” Some of the incidents cited by members of the new group seem almost trivial when taken individually, but reflect a widespread and growing trend. For instance, a report on the Freedom Network describes an incident in Cologne when a professor asked a dark-skinned student and German citizen where she was from. The student took the question as an insult, stemming from “institutional racism,” and complained about it both to the local government and on social media, where she got 50,000 responses. Commenting on the incident, Kostner pointed out that up until a decade or so ago, teachers were encouraged “to ask the questions about one's origins because it was a sign of politeness, signaling interest.” But now, under the pressure of the new victim-culture ideology, such questions are seen “as a denial of belonging, even as a sign of racism.” Behind this shift, the report on the incident noted, is the view of the West as first and foremost having “a history of colonialism, racism, misogyny, and white domination,” all of which has, until the new awakening came along, been “obscured by Eurocentrism and patriarchal rule.” A 2021 survey of a thousand academics carried out by the Allensbach Institute, a leading German social research organization, found that 40% of respondents feel restricted by formal or informal political correctness rules, mostly due to gender guidelines. This compares to 32% two years ago. More than half of respondents in the arts and social sciences said they feel restricted in the topics they can research, compared to 35% two years ago. “Only representatives of certain groups are allowed to talk about certain topics,” the German journalist Thomas Thiel wrote in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “and the value of a statement is based on the origin of a speaker, not on the plausibility of the argument.” As the complaint about Lisa Keogh and the subsequent investigation shows, no corner of Europe is immune from these kinds of incidents, seemingly isolated and yet illustrating the spread and influence of a rising victim-culture ideology.  Earlier this year in Edinburgh, the government-funded James Gillespie High School made national headlines when it dropped the American classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men” from its reading lists, saying that “Mockingbird” was flawed because of its “white savior” theme (a white lawyer defends a falsely accused black man) and that John Steinbeck’s novel was flawed because none of the main characters were people of color. British newspapers quoted Allan Crosbie, the English Department head at James Gillespie, telling a school meeting, “Those novels are dated and problematical in terms of decolonizing the curriculum.” Replacing the books removed from reading lists, Crosbie said, would be “The Hate U Give” by the American writer Angie Thomas, which tells the story of an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white policeman. (An email sent to James Gillespie High School asking for an interview went unanswered.)  St. Stephen’s University, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the United Kingdom, now requires matriculating students to pass a test in “sustainability, diversity, consent, and good academic practice.” The test asks, for example, whether a student agrees or disagrees with the statement, “Acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful starting point in overcoming unconscious bias.” The embrace of such ideas might seem strange in a nation like Scotland with its homogeneous population — 96% white; only 4% African, Caribbean, Asian, or mixed — and its Scottish Enlightenment heritage. The stomping ground of classical “Great Books” figures like David Hume and Adam Smith wouldn't seem to present fertile ground for critical race theory or Black Lives Matter. In contrast with the U.S. – or European countries with long colonial pasts such as France, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom — Scotland has no history of domestic slavery and very little of the kind of racial tensions or racial obsessions that are central to American history. Yet Scottish “wokeness” exemplifies the broad appeal of a globalized demand that the West in general engage in an apologetic self-examination, one predicated on the idea of some previously unacknowledged fault lying at the heart of Western civilization, and only at the heart of Western civilization. “Nothing is more Western,” the French essayist and novelist Pascal Bruckner has written on this phenomenon, “than hatred of the West.” The spread of “woke” ideas in this sense also demonstrates a negative power of the American example and its globalization. America, in this view, being the most powerful Western country, is therefore the one with the gravest intrinsic fault. “When Black Lives Matter happened in America, it was almost as if the incident that incited it happened here, Stuart Waiton, the Abertay lecturer, told me. “It wasn't a British policeman who killed a black man. The killing didn't happen here. And yet, everyone became a participant in BLM. People formed racial awareness groups. There were massive demonstrations. If it's happening in America, it will probably happen in Scotland as well.” Pyramid themes: types of racism according to a government body advising Scotland's public schools Consider Education Scotland, a governmental entity that provides advice to the country's centralized public school system and has in recent times created and promoted a program aimed at “decolonizing the curriculum” through “anti-racist education.” A booklet titled “Promoting and Developing Race Equality and Anti-Racism Education” describes “race” as “a concept that tried to justify exploitation, domination, and violence against people who were deemed non-white” and “made it easier for Britain to downplay the brutality of slavery and colonization.” But if there's mention of British colonialism as a kind of original sin, the program is certainly heavily influenced by similar “diversity and inclusion” programs formulated in the United States.  Another booklet posted on the Education Scotland website, titled “Anti-Racist Praxis,” is written by Titilayo Farukuoye, who, according to the booklet's introduction, “aspires to dismantle oppressive structures and to transcend race and gender constructs.” It lays out a full anti-racist program, with, for example, instructions to teachers on how to handle “white fragility.” “Teachers will,” the booklet says: Define white fragility Identify white fragility Practice overcoming white fragility Practice how to centre the person who has experienced harm. But perhaps the greatest acrimony arising out of a “woke” ideology, illustrated by the case of Lisa Keogh, has another powerful American echo. It has to do with trans rights, and the battle over gender definition, much of it spurred by leglislation being considered by the Scottish parliament that would reform the UK's Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which enabled people throughout Great Britain to legally change their gender.  The reform would make the process much easier, essentially by what's called “self-identification,” enabling people to change their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis. Worried that men could simply declare themselves to be women and thereby gain access to such women's spaces as girls’ sports teams, bathrooms, and shelters, some people, including some leading Scottish feminists, either outright opposed the change or at least urged a discussion of it. The reaction from the transgender lobby has been swift and harsh. An example is an ongoing incident that started three years ago when Ann Henderson, only the second woman in 170 years to be elected rector of the University of Edinburgh, another of Scotland's renowned institutions of higher learning, retweeted a message from a feminist group that opposes the move to allow people to identify their own gender. Harassment for what she called “repeated, unfounded accusations” continued for her entire three-year term; it was led by student groups, against which, Henderson says, she got very little support from the university. Ann Henderson, university rector: Harassed for years for retweeting a message from a feminist group that opposes Scotland's move to allow people to identify their own gender. The acrimony over trans rights has a political dimension in Scotland, where the majority group in the Scottish parliament, the Scottish National Party, has avidly supported the proposed reform, to the point of excluding party members who expressed doubts. The most widely known such case involves Joan McAlpine, a former member of the parliament with impeccable feminist credentials. But because of her dissenting ideas about trans self-identification, McAlpine was placed so far down on the SNP's election list that she was effectively removed from office. Among her offenses was her opposition to adding a “non-binary” option to the British census form, on the grounds that it would weaken protections for women. Earlier this year, she was uninvited from a meeting on climate change because, as the organizers of the meeting put it, “We do not believe her views on transgender rights align with our views on equality.” “It's been incredibly toxic,” Mandy Rhodes, the editor of Holyrood, a biweekly publication focused on Scottish politics, told me at a meeting in her office in Edinburgh. “I've been a campaigning journalist my whole career, over three decades, always focused on equality and social justice issues, but I find myself in the ridiculous position of being accused of being anti-trans and siding with the right-wing press when all I've really done is understand that human rights can conflict with each other and we always need to question and explore the consequences, however unintended, of that." Recently, a senior police officer in Scotland caused a stir when he said that the police could record a suspected rapist as a woman in cases involving “a person born male but who identifies as female and does not have a gender recognition certificate.” “This would potentially mean that a woman who has been raped would have to address her alleged assailant as ‘she,’” Rhodes said. “In Scots law, rape can only be committed by someone with a penis, and so the absurdity and potential harms to women victims of sexual assault have been exposed by this line of discussion, where proponents of self-identification for trans people basically have to defend the rights of rapists against the rights of women who have been raped.” Some critics of Scottish wokeness in general identify it as part of a broad cultural shift toward what they call a therapeutic society, as opposed to a society of individual agency, with a strong emphasis on the idea that vulnerable groups need state protection. A couple of years ago, the courts required the government to scrap a planned program by which every child in Scotland under 18 years of age would be assigned a “named person” who would have responsibility for that child's welfare, which its critics construed as an effort to take authority out of the hands of parents and give it to the government. “More and more we feel like we're living in a one-party regime ruled over by a bunch of managers and where what's been decided is now in process and you have to comply with it,” Penny Lewis, a lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Dundee, told me. “It's not people in jackboots marching down the street,” she continued.  “It's all wrapped up in this ideology of caring.”  According to Lewis and others who share her views, the Scottish government, led by the SNP, sees itself as a kind of world leader in bringing about a kind of therapeutic state. “The SNP barely existed before the referendum on independence,” she said, referring to the 2014 vote that defeated a move for Scottish independence from Great Britain. “A lot of them actually have very limited political experience, so it's easier for them to take these supposedly virtuous ideas off the shelf, than it is to figure out what to do in a country that's got serious problems.” “The new authoritarianism isn't about authorities imposing their will, but protecting supposedly vulnerable groups,” Waiton said.  And if there are no truly vulnerable groups desperately in need of state protection, it's necessary to invent them.  “We've moved from people as a social subject to people as the vulnerable subject,” Waiton said, “and if you think people are vulnerable, then they have to be protected.” Tyler Durden Sat, 01/22/2022 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 22nd, 2022

BOMA New York Seminar – Living with Covid

BOMA New York’s year-end blockbuster event, “LIVING WITH COVID,” featured a captivating two-hour presentation by Deborah Birx, M.D., former White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, and Amy Carenza, chief commercial officer at ActivePure  – a Texas-based company offering a 21st Century remedy to neutralize airborne and surface pathogens in interior spaces.... The post BOMA New York Seminar – Living with Covid appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. BOMA New York’s year-end blockbuster event, “LIVING WITH COVID,” featured a captivating two-hour presentation by Deborah Birx, M.D., former White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, and Amy Carenza, chief commercial officer at ActivePure  – a Texas-based company offering a 21st Century remedy to neutralize airborne and surface pathogens in interior spaces. In a new auditorium located at 30 Hudson Yards, BOMA New York Chair Hani Salama welcomed the room filled with executive level operational professionals from the largest and most influential owners in New York City. The power duo was introduced by Tom Krol, a Fitwel® Ambassador and VP at M&S Mechanical. They immediately got into COVID-19 data since March 2020 and the science of mitigating a virus. As of Dec. 25, COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than 800,000 Americans. Hospitals across the country are again struggling with increasing caseloads. Dr. Birx said the recent uptick was largely a result of the Delta variant and people gathering for Thanksgiving and would soon be followed by the Omicron variant. “When did the NFL players have the biggest number of positives? After Thanksgiving and social gatherings, not when they were on the field playing or in the locker room.” Birx noted that the data used in her presentation was up to date, and at the time, it was still too early for precise forecasts for the Omicron variant, which is 3-5 times more infectious than the original variant (Delta is 2½ times more infectious than the original). A CRE executive in the audience asked, “Is Omicron the beginning of the virus transitioning to something more like the flu?” Dr. Birx reminded attendees that while many people get sick from the flu and some die, the flu never overwhelmed our hospitals the way COVID did. She said, “We can’t have this level of hospitalizations and sustain healthcare in this country.” Answering another question roughly phrased as “So, who’s doing it better?” Birx immediately replied, “Bahrain.” In that nation, she reported there is universal antibody testing, and residents carry vaccination cards with their antibody score, as well. Birx followed her reply with, “When you don’t test, you’re flying blind.” She continued, “The U.S. is under-testing and additionally needs an antibody-based strategy to know the protective level of our immunity and individualized boosting not national boosting in the future.” Dr. Birx, who is one of the world’s foremost immunologists, explained that the United States is fortunate to have both a significant number of brilliant minds and innovative technology. One of the major points in her presentation is that America, moving forward, must develop a mindset that leverages our unique medical talent, the private sector and existing technology. A case in point is that for more than 40 years, we have had the ability to test for discrete respiratory illnesses. For some reason, however, our collective medical community decided not to test for discrete viral pathologies and instead diagnosed viral respiratory disease based on symptoms or a clinical exam. For example, unique tests exist today for the flu and Respiratory syncytial virus. Dr. Birx said that if testing for every common viral respiratory illness were routine in the United States, we would have recognized something different when COVID-19 came upon our shores. She said, “We would have seen COVID and have been ready for it sooner. We also could have had 30% less deaths if we aggressively mitigated and tested.”  Birx further explained that testing asymptomatic people is equally important since they could spread the disease without knowing it. Dr. Birx brought the audience back to the initial outbreak, saying that she was impressed with the private sector’s immediate and positive response to the White House’s call for assistance. She said, “I’m used to walking into a room filled with scientists. This time, I was pleasantly surprised to have been joined by a room filled with CEOs, and there was immediate progress.” As Dr. Birx praised the private sector for its efforts almost two years ago, she added that the present-day situation will require the private sector to step up again and lead by example with a commitment to improve the frequency of testing throughout the nation. Both Dr. Birx and Carenza emphasized that people are far less likely to be infected in the workplace, where people mask and mitigate. Shared data illustrates that most infections occur in homes and indoor gatherings where people are in very close contact with each other. Accordingly, Dr. Birx noted the effectiveness of wearing masks in public spaces, and was disappointed that America has not “layered on” access to testing, as did universities and professional sports teams to find the early spread. Both presenters praised educational institutions that were willing to share data from their experiences with the pandemic. Dr. Birx cited Boston University, which re-opened its doors in 2020. By mandating weekly COVID testing, the university never experienced more than 20-50 cases per day in a student body numbering in the tens of thousands – except after the Thanksgiving surge, when everyone went home. ActivePure has been engaged more by schools than office buildings. Carenza said, “Schools are great case studies for office buildings,” since they exhibit how ‘active’ technologies are effective in the built environment. Carenza addressed the room by saying, “We want people back in the office enthusiastically.” She continued, “What is happening now is C-suites across America are saying, ‘If we stay home, we’ll be home forever.’ I think there is a lot of introspection happening across C-suites, but it’s happening from a standpoint of No. 1, we’re going to have to learn to live with this, and then No. 2, If we’re going to live with this, how do we live with it safely’?” Like most infectious disease, Coronavirus is spread on surfaces and in the air. Surfaces can be regularly and proactively cleaned, but how do you clean the air, especially when you can’t see it? Carenza continued with a review of some of the operational strategies in place to date, coupled with a deep dive on active remedies for all buildings. She explained that while indoor air exchanges occur to variable degrees, these systems cannot bring in enough fresh air to mitigate the effects of people exhaling every few seconds into enclosed rooms. Carenza noted that upgrading existing filtration systems, such as using a MERV-14 filter, is only effective to a point. However, upgrading from a MERV-8 filter to a MERV-14 filter both taxes legacy systems and increases a building’s carbon footprint as the equipment requires more energy. Added material costs and amplified energy costs are unwelcomed budgetary increases. She added that some systems were not designed to handle MERV-14 filters, and those systems will actually allow air to bypass the thicker filtration. She called the aggregate situation “The MERV-14 blues.” Carenza outlined how ActivePure’s science-based system assesses indoor spaces to be protected before installing any mechanical equipment. Technicians will take air samples using a portable system that casts the samples onto Petri dish-like plates for laboratory analysis. Based on those analyses, a benchmark is established. The test is repeated once the active systems are installed to measure the remedy’s effectiveness. The system works by replicating the same filtration process that occurs in the atmosphere with sunlight and natural air. By recreating this process indoors, the technology adds back to the built environment the same therapeutic molecules found outdoors, which in turn “find the pathogens in the air and neutralizes them. Carenza praised the school districts who have been early adopters and validators of active technologies. In one case study, a school compared airborne pathogen levels under two scenarios. They used a higher filter efficiency and compared it to utilizing their former filter (MERV-8) together with ActivePure. The latter setting reduced airborne bacteria in the high school and elementary school 72.97% and 79.45%, respectively. In another deployment of ActivePure’s technology, this time in a private school, absenteeism dropped 53% from the historical baseline established over the prior three years. Carenza’s primary message with these case studies, “passive measures are not enough.” Carenza said, “We thought when the vaccine came out, that would be the end. We’d all get vaccinated, and everything would go back to normal. It doesn’t look like that. It looks like we’re in this for the long haul.” In conclusion, both presenters made it clear that COVID is here to stay, just as is the flu, strep and other contagious diseases. They stressed that if we embrace the lessons learned about the mitigation of COVID, we will also be able to mitigate other viruses indoors, which in turn will reduce sick days and absenteeism in the workplace. Dr. Birx urged building owners and managers to “get testing for your building,” or at least provide access to testing. She said, “testing regularly is essential to the fight and is the best way to be ‘present’ versus being ‘concerned’.” One thing is for sure – it’s a new world – and we will need collective participation to mitigate viruses and ultimately realize our mutual goal of getting people back to the office, enthusiastically. The post BOMA New York Seminar – Living with Covid appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyJan 1st, 2022

China"s "social credit" system ranks citizens and punishes them with throttled internet speeds and flight bans if the Communist Party deems them untrustworthy

Chinese people are being introduced to a program that monitors their behavior, scores them, and doles out punishments and rewards. China's property sector is central to its economy.Getty Images China has been rolling out a system that ranks its citizens based on their "social credit." People can be punished if they drive badly, buy too many video games, or steal. It's not a unified, nationwide system, but China plans on eventually making it mandatory for everyone. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Chinese Communist Party has been constructing a moral ranking system for years that will monitor the behavior of its enormous population — and rank them all based on their "social credit."The "social credit system," first announced in 2014, is "an important component part of the Socialist market economy system and the social governance system" and aims to reinforce the idea that "keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful," according to a 2015 government document.The rankings are decided by China's economics planning team, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the People's Bank of China, and the Chinese court system, according to the South China Morning Post.The system can be used for individual people, but also for companies and government organizations. The private sector, including the burgeoning tech world in China, has their own non-governmental scoring systems that they implement, as Wired reported.For example, Sesame Credit, which is owned by Jack Ma's Ant Group, uses its own unofficial scoring system for its employees, such as studying shopping habits, according to the think tank Merics.The program has been piloted for millions across the country in recent years, as CNBC reported, and was expected to become fully operational and integrated by 2020.But at the moment the system is piecemeal and voluntary, though the plan is for it to eventually be mandatory and unified across the nation, with each person given their own unique code used to measure their social credit score in real-time, per Wired.Bad driving and debt could get you downgraded in the social ranking systemBeijing, China.Donat SorokinbackslashTASS via Getty ImagesLike private credit scores, a person's social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games, and posting fake news online, specifically about terrorist attacks or airport security.Other potential punishable offenses include spending too long playing video games, wasting money on frivolous purchases, and posting on social media.Punishments include travel bans and slow internetChina has already started punishing people by restricting their travel, including banning them from flights. Authorities banned people from purchasing flights 17.5 million times by the end of 2018, according to the National Public Credit Information Centre, as the Guardian reported.They can also clamp down on luxury options — many are barred from getting business-class train tickets, and some are kept out of the best hotels.A train station in China.Yang Bo/China News Service via Getty ImagesThe eventual system will punish bad passengers specifically. Potential misdeeds include trying to ride with no ticket, loitering in front of boarding gates, or smoking in non-smoking areas.According to Rachel Botsman, an author who published part of her book on tech security on Wired in 2017, the government will throttle your internet speeds as a punishment, though the exact mechanics still haven't been made clear.According to Foreign Policy, credit systems monitor whether people pay bills on time, much like financial credit trackers — but also ascribe a moral dimension.You or your kids could also miss out on the best jobs and schools — seventeen people who refused to carry out military service in 2017 were barred from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies, Beijing News reported.And in July of 2018, a Chinese university denied an incoming student his spot because the student's father had a bad social credit score for failing to repay a loan.You could also get your dog taken away. The eastern Chinese city of Jinan started enforcing a social credit system for dog owners in 2017, whereby pet owners get points deducted if the dog is walked without a leash or causes public disturbances.A man with his dogs in Jinan in 2016.Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty ImagesThose who lost all their points had their dogs confiscated and had to take a test on regulations required for pet ownership.Naming and public shaming are other tactics. A 2016 government notice encourages companies to consult the blacklist before hiring people or giving them contracts.People will be notified by the courts before they are added to the list, and are allowed to appeal against the decision within 10 days of receiving the notification.Li Xiaolin, a lawyer who was deemed "untrustworthy" after not fulfilling a court order in 2015, was placed on the list and was unable to purchase plane tickets home while on a work trip, Human Rights Watch reported. He also couldn't apply for credit cards.This video, posted by freelance journalist James O'Malley, includes an example of an announcement on a bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai warning people not to misbehave — or else their "behavior will be recorded in individual credit information system."—James O'Malley (@Psythor) October 29, 2018'Bad' citizens are punished, but the system also rewards 'good' citizensPeople with good scores can speed up travel applications to places like Europe, Botsman said.An unidentified woman in Beijing told the BBC in 2015 that she was able to book a hotel without having to pay a cash deposit because she had a good score.The outlet also reported that Baihe, China's biggest dating site now owned by Jiayuan, is boosting the profiles of good citizens.Citizens with good social credit can also get discounts on energy bills, rent things without deposits, and get better interest rates at banks.These perks were available to people in Rongcheng, in Eastern China, where the city council rolled out a social credit system for its citizens featured in Foreign Policy in 2018.The system has been likened to dystopian science fictionChina's social credit system incorporates a moral edge into the program, which is why many have compared it to some level of dystopian governance, such as in George Orwell's "1984" in which the state heavily controls every aspect of a citizen's life.But despite that — Human Rights Watch called the system "chilling," while Botsman called it "a futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control" — some citizens say it's making them better people already.A 32-year-old entrepreneur, who only gave his name as Chen, told Foreign Policy in 2018 that "I feel like in the past six months, people's behavior has gotten better and better. For example, when we drive, now we always stop in front of crosswalks. If you don't stop, you will lose your points. At first, we just worried about losing points, but now we got used to it."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 24th, 2021

13 careers to consider if you"re interested in environmental science and the skills you need to succeed

There are dozens of career options in environmental science. Wildlife biologist, conservation officer, or science editor could be your perfect fit. A career in environmental science can help you make a difference in the world.CasarsaGuru/Getty Images Jobs in environmental science are viable career paths and crucial for the future of our planet.  If you studied environmental science, you probably have more transferable skills than you realize. Consider one option, environmental engineering, where you can make an average of $57,685 a year. You might be the kid who loved being outdoors, exploring the nearby woods, and collecting bugs in a jar or taking samples from the local pond to look at under your most prized possession: a microscope (you know, the one you'd never let your little brother so much as breathe near). Or maybe you were that, umm, let's say spirited, high school volunteer who led an effort to clean up a state park after you realized what all that litter was doing to the poor animals. Perhaps you watched in horror — in person or on TV — as a wildfire consumed a West Coast town or as Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, killing so many that we still don't have an exact death toll.Whatever drove you to study — or consider studying — environmental science, you're well aware that the world needs you right now. Environmental science majors are prepared to take on our climate crisis, conserve natural resources and environments, lead the charge on renewable energy, and — not to be dramatic — literally save the planet.But as you're sitting in class, doing your labs, and trying to imagine your next steps, you might start to feel overwhelmed. "Can I really make a difference in a world that's burning and melting and only getting worse?" you might wonder. "There's so much to do, where would I even start?" The great thing is: There are so many options open to environmental science majors. But the problem is: There are so many options open to environmental science majors.You don't need a list of 734 possible jobs. But what you probably could use is a tailored list that digs into a few particularly promising career options — and maybe a quick look at some of the skills you've gained that will help you thrive in the workplace and what types of organizations and industries are looking to hire former amateur pond sleuths like you.Skills environmental science grads already haveAnybody who's completed college already has valuable skills for the workplace. And "environmental science degrees specifically provide an abundance of transferable skills," Alaina G. Levine, a STEM career coach, writer covering environmental science topics, and president of Quantum Success Solutions, LLC, a career consultancy focused on engineering and the sciences, said. Your degree has prepared you to work in basically any field you'd like, Levine said, whether you want to pursue a career related to environmental science or go in another direction.Here are a few of the transferable skills you likely gained:Communication and storytelling: Throughout your coursework, you learned to communicate by writing research proposals and reports, essays, and emails; discussing information with others in classes or group projects; and giving presentations. Environmental science majors often need to take complex topics and translate them into a compelling story that convinces people they need to care about something and take action, Levine said. You learn how to "mine data and distill it in a way your 'constituents' will understand," whether your constituents are your classmates, teachers, colleagues, managers, executives, policymakers, or the public.Marketing: Most environmental science programs won't mention that you're learning marketing skills, Levine said, but any time you're explaining the value of a project or even a natural resource, you're using marketing skills. "Marketing" might feel like a dirty word in the context of our planet, but it simply means crafting a message that convinces someone to take action. In environmental science, you might be persuading a company to put money or time into a new process that's more sustainable or writing a grant proposal where you're communicating the value of your research.Leadership: Many employers are looking for leadership skills in employees at all levels. Leadership "isn't just being appointed or anointed a leader," Levine said. It's any time you take ownership or initiative. Individuals have to lead "a team of one every day," and decide how to do their work productively and efficiently, Levine said. You'll also have to lead your own initiatives, programs, and/or research even as an early-career employee. You already got practice with these skills whenever you led a group project, coordinated resources to meet deadlines or budgets, or made decisions based on new information or data. Research: "Environmental science programs turn out students who are excellent in conducting research," Sara Hutchison, a career coach who's advised environmental science majors and has a degree in sustainable development herself, said. Students often have to study primary sources, read through compliance and legal documentation, collect their own data in the field, employ the scientific method, and write about their findings, all of which teach them strong research practices, such as how to select reliable sources and data. Even if you're not working in a research setting, these skills help you collect the information you need to solve problems. Speaking of which...Problem-solving: In addition to gathering the data they need and making autonomous decisions, environmental science students learn how to look at a problem from multiple perspectives, which "is an extremely valuable asset, both in scientific careers and less 'traditional' careers," Dr. Gemma Cassidy, who's hired and advised environmental science majors and is currently the senior journals publishing manager for Wiley, a large scientific-publishing company, said. For example, they may need to look at how an issue with air quality might be affecting different parts of an ecosystem and evaluate the economic costs of various solutions. Or in a very different context, they might consider how proposed upgrades to a software product might affect users.Risk assessment/management: Since environmental science students often need to conduct field research, they're practiced in risk assessment and management, Levine said. They may have to shift priorities or adjust plans either before going out in the field or on the fly due to risks like weather, wildlife, environmental conditions, or even other humans. For example, a dangerous storm may compromise your ability to safely collect water samples, so maybe you have to analyze the nearby soil instead or adjust your research timelines. You may also specifically study the possible risks to a certain population of frogs as the climate changes, for example. Risk assessment and management is useful whenever you're evaluating the best course of action for a given project or initiative.Computer skills: Like most fields, environmental science is increasingly relying on technology. During your coursework, you likely learned the computing skills needed to analyze and visualize data, build models or projections to predict outcomes, and possibly utilize AI and machine learning. These computer skills are highly sought after both inside and outside of the environmental science field."As a final point, graduates from an environmental sciences background likely have a passion for our planet, and how best to protect it," Cassidy said. Employers are always looking for workers who care deeply and are knowledgeable about what they'll be doing — and many organizations are hiring workers to help fight the climate crisis in particular.Where can environmental science majors work?When you're deciding where you'd like to work — whether that's a type of organization or a certain industry — Levine suggests thinking about your values and what drives you. "Do you want to protect the coastlines because you grew up in a seaside area?" Levine asked. Or would you like to help decrease the negative effects big companies have on our environment? Are there certain animals or plant life you want to protect? Are you interested in maintaining and improving public health? Do you want to directly affect policy?Here are some of the common industries and types of organizations where environmental science majors work:Local, city, state, and federal governmentMunicipalities and utilitiesNonprofit organizationsEducationMuseumsEnergy (both renewable energy companies and traditional fossil fuels companies looking to decrease their environmental impact)Manufacturing and safetyFood productionReal estate developmentPublishing and mediaPublic healthZoos, aquariums, national parks, and other conservation centersBut this list is far from exhaustive. More and more organizations are prioritizing sustainability in their day-to-day operations, Cassidy said. As a result, those with environmental science degrees are needed "across the board." Many environmental science careers might feel "hidden," Levine said, but you can find them through networking and environmental professional organizations such as the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP).Even if you don't want a career in environmental science, "​​The degree you pick to complete in college does not define the career you will pursue," Hutchison said. So don't feel boxed in.13 jobs and careers for environmental science majorsBelow you'll find 13 jobs and careers you can pursue with an environmental science degree (and you can click on the links to search for current openings on The Muse). Many of these jobs can be found in multiple or all of the above industries or types of organizations and you can specialize according to your area of focus or interest. For example, you can be an environmental science technician for a real estate company that studies the effects different developments may have on the water in a local ecosystem or you might be an environmental consultant who specializes in helping manufacturers decrease the air pollutants produced by their work.Unless otherwise noted, all salary information is from (Note that PayScale's database is updated nightly; the numbers below reflect figures as of November 2021.)1. Environmental educator or environmental science teacherAverage educator salary: $51,316Average secondary school teacher salary: $50,038Environmental educators come in multiple forms. You may choose to become a secondary school teacher in either environmental science or a smaller subset of the subject such as oceanography, or you might work for a museum, national park, zoo, or other conservation center or program.Regardless, environmental educators teach others about the environment and issues facing it — plus how they as individuals can help. For example, Hutchison once worked as a tour guide for a local cavern. "Sharing my passion for the environment with children and tourists was amazing," Hutchison said. "I loved how it opened their eyes to why they should clean up their pet waste or not pollute waters because all that goes downstream into a cave like ours."The qualifications you'll need to be an environmental educator depend on exactly where you'd like to work. If you'd like to be a secondary school teacher, you may need to take education classes or obtain a master's degree depending on which state you'd like to teach in.Find environmental educator or teacher jobs on The Muse2. Environmental engineer or environmental engineering technicianAverage environmental engineer salary: $66,621Average engineering technician salary: $57,685Environmental engineers design, plan, and build systems that improve or monitor the environment. They also collect and/or analyze scientific data and conduct quality control tests to inform or adjust their plans. For example an environmental engineer may be responsible for designing a new water treatment center, equipment that reduces the pollution a factory releases, a sustainable recreational attraction, or a building that minimally disrupts the environment. Meanwhile, environmental engineering technicians and technologists carry out the plans that environmental engineers create."If you really like building things, deploying applications, and seeing the work you do transform people's lives directly," you might consider one of these careers, Levine said.If you haven't already completed substantial engineering coursework alongside or as part of your major, you may need to complete a master's in engineering — but it depends where you'd like to work. However, engineering technician jobs often don't require engineering-specific degrees (though you may still need an OSHA certification).Find environmental engineer and environmental engineering technician jobs on The Muse3. Environmental scientist and environmental science and protection techniciansAverage environmental scientist salary: $52,680Average environmental technician salary: $43,485These professionals conduct research, experiments, field work, and tests to monitor or discover more about the environment. Environmental scientists may propose new research and design experiments with the goal of evaluating, preventing, controlling, or fixing environmental problems.Environmental science and protection technicians are often responsible for conducting tests in the field and reporting findings to a scientist, municipality, or any other entity that's monitoring environmental conditions. For example, you may be responsible for gathering and testing water samples to make sure a nearby company is not compromising the ecosystem or you might work for a city government, continuously monitoring air quality.You can focus in a myriad of areas in environmental science such as microbiology, ecology, oceanography, or geology. In order to become an environmental scientist, you'll need a master's degree or PhD in your chosen area of focus, but technicians can often land jobs with bachelor's degrees in environmental science.Find environmental scientist, environmental science technician, and other environmental science jobs on The Muse4. Wildlife biologistAverage salary: $50,186Wildlife biologists are a subset of environmental scientists that focus specifically on animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their environments. They may conduct studies on animals in their natural habitat or in zoo or sanctuary environments and/or monitor threats to populations and come up with ways to mitigate them. Wildlife biologists often focus on specific types of animals or plants.Depending on where you'd like to work, you can often find an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree in environmental science, but to advance and/or conduct independent research you'll need to obtain a PhD.Find wildlife biologist jobs on The Muse5. Environmental health and safety specialistAverage salary: $64,210Environmental health and safety (EHS) specialists study how different environmental conditions affect human health, protect the health and safety of individuals and ecosystems by setting regulations and guidelines, and ensure compliance with these regulations and guidelines. They may work for governments or other oversight organizations to set and enforce safety and environmental standards for geographic areas or industries, or they might work for individual companies to ensure the safety of work processes and the company's overall sustainability.You can often get these jobs with a bachelor's degree, though some employers will require that you obtain relevant safety certifications for their industry.Find environmental health and safety specialist jobs on The Muse6. Conservation officerAverage salary: $44,667Conservation officers, also known as park rangers, manage state and national parks, forests, and other wildlife areas. They are responsible for the safety of guests and wildlife as well as the conservation of the area. Conservation officers may also maintain campgrounds, trails, and other facilities; manage programs for the public; answer questions; and address and correct possible risks to the environment or guests. If you love being outside and interacting with the public, this could be the job for you. You can land a job as a conservation officer with a bachelor's degree in environmental science.Find conservation officer and park ranger jobs on The Muse7. Recycling coordinatorAverage salary: $53,705Recycling coordinators and officers oversee the way recyclables are handled by an organization or municipality. For smaller companies or schools, this might be part of a broader role, but for larger entities, overseeing recycling efforts could be your full-time job."It's no longer about making signs for the recycling cans," Hutchison, who was previously a recycling coordinator for a university, said. "It's about waste trucks, dumpster pulls, procurement of containers, writing [requests for proposals to] vendors, endless spreadsheets on waste to create baselines for reduction goals, and hosting field trips for the local classrooms." Basically, you need to make sure all the recycling gets sorted properly, picked up, and transferred to the appropriate facility so that the material can be reused, all while advocating for the program and encouraging individuals to participate.If you're super organized and want to help decrease the amount of waste going to landfills, this could be a job for you. Hutchison snagged her role right out of college — so there are entry-level opportunities.Find recycling coordinator and other recycling positions on The Muse8. Environmental consultantAverage salary: $58,387In general, consultants evaluate client companies and their departments and processes; analyze their findings; and propose solutions to solve problems, save money, or increase efficiency. Environmental consultants specifically focus on sustainability and environmental impact. For example, they might suggest ways for companies to reduce their carbon footprints or advise them on how to better use and dispose of hazardous materials.Consultants often work for consultancies or as freelancers. If you want to help companies increase their sustainability and curb emissions or waste, this career could be a great fit. You can often get these jobs with a bachelor's degree.Find environmental consultant jobs on The Muse9. Environmental policy analystAverage policy analyst salary: $60,216Environmental policy analysts research, analyze, and evaluate the effects an existing or proposed law, regulation, or program will have on the environment, people, wildlife, or any other facet of society. These jobs involve "packaging research in a way that can be used in policy to make laws and regulations that will make a difference," Levine said. So if you want to have a direct effect on what companies and individuals need to do to curb climate change, for example, a career in environmental policy may be for you.You may be able to find an entry-level position with a bachelor's degree in environmental science (look for federal, state, and local government fellowships and programs specifically designed for this) — but you could need further education to progress in your career.Find environmental policy analyst jobs on The Muse10. Science editorAverage salary: $60,499Science editors put together academic journals or textbooks consisting of science information and new discoveries, research, and studies. Depending on your role and career level, you may be responsible for copyediting and formatting articles, assigning and editing articles or book sections, or assessing original research and coordinating peer reviews of it. Scientific publishing "is a great career for those who feel passionately about the science but want to step away from being the ones doing the research themselves," Cassidy said. "Working on academic journals gives you a front-row seat to new, cutting-edge research, and working with editors and academic societies can be very inspiring."While an environmental science degree will give you the scientific background you need to understand the research, you'll also need strong writing and editing skills to pursue this career.Find science editor and other editing jobs on The Muse11. Science communications specialistAverage communications specialist salary: $54,008While this might sound like a similar role to science editor, science communicators work across industries and mediums. No matter what your focus is, though, all science communications specialists have the same goal: sharing often complex information about science (or the environment) in a way that the intended audience understands it, cares about it, and knows what to do about it. Depending on where you work, you may write press releases, website or social copy, TV, radio, or online video scripts, or reported and researched articles; create infographics, videos, pamphlets, and other presentations; or produce educational materials for schools, museums, and other programs.Your background in environmental science will give you the technical know-how you'll need and lend you credibility, Levine said. You may also need strong writing skills, social media savvy, video production knowledge, or graphic design chops, depending on the roles you'd like to pursue. You may find jobs for science or environmental nonprofits, departments, or organizations labeled "communications specialist," "communications coordinator," or similar, but you should also search for roles that describe the specific work you'd like to do, such as "copywriter," "video editor," or "social media manager" at companies that focus on an area of the environment or science you're passionate about.Find science communications specialist jobs and science communication jobs on The Muse12. Data analystAverage salary: $61,881Data analysts collect, organize, and interpret large amounts of information in order to solve problems or make recommendations. They may also be responsible for creating projections, models, or data visualizations.You can find these roles at companies across many industries, so if you'd like to work for a company focused on some aspect of the environment, you can. For example, you might analyze the data from a large number of water samples taken along a coastline to look for patterns for a clean water–focused nonprofit.But as an environmental science graduate, you likely have the data knowledge you need to seek a position in a different field entirely — particularly if you can demonstrate coding experience, which employers are increasingly looking for in data professionals. You can also take online classes or look into a data science bootcamp to boost your skills. A bachelor's degree is usually the only education requirement for entry-level roles, but you may need a master's degree for more senior roles.Find data analyst and other data jobs on The Muse13. Marketing analystAverage salary: $57,134Marketing analysts evaluate data, prices, markets, strategies, and customer bases to answer marketing questions or solve issues either for the company they work for or for a client company. If you have an environmental science degree but you're interested in something outside of that field, marketing analysts are needed in every industry. For example, you could find a marketing analyst job for a renewable energy company that sells solar panels to individual homes or you can find a position for a tech company working on a productivity app.With the storytelling, data analysis, research, and marketing skills you gained from your coursework, you can likely find an entry-level marketing analyst job right out of undergrad.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 12th, 2021

The Student Debt Crisis is Increasingly About Graduate School Debt

When the media talks about the student debt crisis, they tend to focus on six-figure sums, as if the typical student borrows $100,000 or more to fund their college education. Yet, those sums are outliers, or they reflect the experience of graduate students who have accrued more debt by getting into graduate school. The average […] When the media talks about the student debt crisis, they tend to focus on six-figure sums, as if the typical student borrows $100,000 or more to fund their college education. Yet, those sums are outliers, or they reflect the experience of graduate students who have accrued more debt by getting into graduate school. The average undergraduate student seldom borrows more than $100,000. America’s student debt crisis is a $1.7 trillion problem and has doubled in the last decade. The fastest-growing segment of the loan market is graduate student loans. According to Brookings, although only 25% of those who take student loans are in graduate school, around half of outstanding student debt is held by graduate students. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, the issuance of federal loans for graduate school rose from $35.1 billion in 2010 to $37.4 billion in 2017. In that time, new undergraduate borrowing declined from $70.2 billion to $55.3 billion. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Graduate Students Take On More Debt In Anticipation Of Greater Earnings The chart below shows the difference between the typical debt of a person with a bachelor’s degree and a person with a graduate degree: Bachelor’s degree $28,950 Masters in Business Administration (MBA) $66,300 Master’s degree $71,000 Law degree $145,500 Medical degree $201,490 Source: Nerdwallet The typical argument is that graduate school students take on more debt because their future earnings will increase by having a graduate degree. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that a person with a master’s degree typically earns $1,545 a week, and a person with a professional degree such as an MD or JD earns $1,893 a week. A person who only has a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn $1,305 a week, and a person who only has a high school degree will earn $781 a week. People with an advanced degree also have a lower unemployment rate compared to those without, as the BLS chart below shows: Not All Graduate Degrees Are Worth The Student Debt It Takes To Get Them However, a Wall Street Journal report suggests some complacency about the idea that graduate school debt is justified by future earnings power. The Wall Street Journal found that certain graduate school programs left students with debt levels that were more than what their estimated future annual earnings would be able to support. For instance, a film school graduate from Columbia University who takes out a federal student loan has a median debt of $181,000. Yet, two years after attaining their degrees, half of those borrowers were earning less than $30,000 a year. Considering that federal guidelines are that debt should be paid off between 10 and 20 years after it has been taken out, these film school graduates would need an enormous increase in their incomes to be able to repay that debt within a 10 to 20-year framework. The reality for many such students is that student debt leaves them “financially hobbled for life”, as one of the ex-students interviewed by the Wall Street Journal described themselves. The reality is that much of this debt will be left unpaid, and taxpayers will be left on the hook. Source: Wall Street Journal Although Columbia University is an extreme example, many private universities, especially elite ones, have awarded thousands of master’s degrees whose earnings potential does not allow graduate students to pay down their federal student loans. Although undergraduates have been at the brunt of growing loan balances for years, universities have realized that the federal Grad Plus program provides them with an opportunity to earn enormous sums of money. The Grad Plus loan program does not have a cap on how much debt a student can take to pay for their tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses. So, a university can charge whatever they like, knowing that a student will take out a loan to foot the bill. In contrast, undergraduates can only borrow up to $12,500 a year, and the total debt is capped at $55,700, although this depends on the individual’s circumstances. The Grad Plus program has an outstanding loan portfolio of $82.8 billion, spread out across 1.5 million people. Not only are loan amounts and interest rates higher than undergraduate loans, but the federal government will also cover any unpaid balances after 20 years. Universities realized that they could ramp up their prices with impunity and focus mainly on master’s programs because of the enormous demand for them. By 2017, graduate programs, including business schools, had enrolled 49% of all Grad Plus borrowers, according to the Government Accountability Office report. The program is now the fastest-growing federal student loan program, and interest rates have touched 7.9% in the last few years. At present, Grad Plus loans have an interest rate of 6.28%. This is at a time of declining and historically low borrowing rates. Graduate degrees are an essential tool toward attaining higher incomes. Still, that reality must be balanced against the fact that not all graduate programs lead to earnings that can support the student debt taken on to get them. A person has to consider their career prospects and potential earnings and weigh that against the costs of paying down graduate school debt. A career as a lawyer or doctor can, for instance, support a graduate school debt, whereas one in film can hobble a person for life. It is also important to look for alternative graduate school loan programs to avoid the near-punitive rates charged by programs such as the Grad Plus loan program. The Race For Graduate Degrees Master’s programs have become incredibly important in the jobs market as bachelor’s degrees have become widely attainable. A person now needs a graduate degree to have a hope of standing out in the job market. Census data shows that in the 2000 to 2018 period, those who earned a graduate degree (either master’s or doctorate) and aged 25 years and over, doubled in number. In 2000, just 8.6% of adults had a graduate degree, but today, around 13.1% have one. Job competition is not the only reason people have increasingly turned to graduate degrees. Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that the wage gap motivates women to earn a degree more than men in order for them to bridge gender-based wage disparities. The typical woman with a bachelor’s degree earns $61,000, which is just about what a man with an associate’s degree makeshope to standAs a result, a The same rule applies right through the ladder of educational achievement. Understanding that graduate degrees are not necessarily tickets to above-average future earnings if graduate students are to be taken as a constituency that is seriously in need of wholesale debt relief. Established in 2005 by Congress, the Grad Plus program has led to a situation in which graduates are on track to surpass the loans taken on by undergraduates in the 2020-2021 academic year. 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Category: blogSource: valuewalkDec 8th, 2021

Ohio State wants to wipe out its student debt and just launched an $800 million program to do it within 10 years

Ohio State, one of the largest state schools, will offer all undergrads a mix of scholarships and grants to ensure they graduate debt free. This May 8, 2019 photo shows a sign for Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. On FridayAP Photo/Angie Wang Ohio State University launched a ten-year plan to get rid of student loans from its financial aid packages. The state school is raising $800 million to ensure its undergraduates can be debt-free in the future. Other schools, like Harvard and Amherst, have replaced loans with grants that don't have to be repaid. Graduating from college in the US without student debt is a luxury many literally cannot afford. But for students at one of the largest public state schools in the country, it could soon be a reality.Ohio State University (OSU) last week launched a ten-year plan to raise $800 million to get rid of student loans from all undergraduate financial aid packages. The plan, dubbed Scarlet and Gray Advantage, will be open to all undergraduate students once formally launched. It will provide a mix of scholarships and grants, along with paid work opportunities on campus, to ensure all who partake graduate debt-free.Efforts will be kicked off in fall 2022 with a pilot program of 125 low- and middle-income students to develop strategies and identify opportunities to make the program operate at its fullest capacity."It's not free college, it's not free tuition," Kristina Johnson, the president of Ohio State, told NPR, "but can we take one of the largest universities in the country and develop pathways for our students so that they can graduate debt-free?"OSU enrolled nearly 47,000 undergraduate students, per its 2021 enrollment report, and the average graduate owes about $27,000 in student debt. Johnson said that of the students with debt, their experiences post-grad are financially restricted and shut them out from opportunities, like pursuing graduate school."We want people to follow their passions, what they're really interested in, because we know when they do that, they're going to be most successful, satisfied, happy and fulfilled," Johnson said.OSU is one of the largest schools to join efforts of universities across the country in working to eliminate student debt from financial aid packages. As Insider reported last month, Princeton became the first university in the US to replace loans with grants that do not need to be repaid in 2001, with schools like Amherst, Harvard, and Yale launching similar initiatives in the following years. Smaller schools, like Colgate University and Smith College, recently launched similar efforts based on income. Colgate's initiative, for example, would grant tuition-free education to students with an annual family income of less than $80,000, and for students with family incomes of up to $15o,000, they will not have to take out student loans to pay for their education — they will be offered grants, instead.The growing movement across the country to stop offering student loans has the potential to make a significant dent in the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis. During the pandemic, some colleges used President Joe Biden's stimulus money to wipe out student debt for their students, and lawmakers are continuing to push for broad student-debt cancellation, along with free community college, to tackle the affordability issue long-term.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 23rd, 2021

Medical Research Rapidly Adopts "Systemic Racism" As Truth, Risking Scientific Credibility, Part 1

Medical Research Rapidly Adopts "Systemic Racism" As Truth, Risking Scientific Credibility, Part 1 By John Murawski of RealClearInvestigations, Part 1 of 2 Rejection used to be common for medical sociologist Thomas LaVeist when he tried to get his research published on the effects of racism on the health of black people. “Now,” said the 60-year-old dean of Tulane University’s School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, “I have those same journals asking me to write articles for them.” LaVeist’s experience illustrates the dramatic transformation in medical research, accelerating in the past few years. While few would dispute that black Americans are more prone to chronic health problems and have shorter life expectancies than whites, the medical community generally sought answers in biology, genetics and lifestyle. Research, like LaVeist’s, that focused on racism was frowned upon as lacking rigor or relevance, an amateurish detour from serious intellectual inquiry. Thomas LaVeist: His work focused on racism was once frowned upon as lacking rigor or relevance. Not any more. Today medical journal editors are clamoring for a racial lens and apologizing for what they call their past moral blindness. In recent years, and especially since Black Lives Matter protests erupted last year, systemic racism has been transformed from a fringe theory to a canonical truth. Medical researchers are now able to offer a sweeping socio-political explanation for racial health disparities by citing the hundreds of peer-reviewed articles authored by LaVeist and a host of others, thus conferring upon the study of systemic racism the imprimatur of scholarly authority and even settled science. This year, top officials at the National Institutes of Health issued an apology to all who have suffered from structural racism in biomedical research. The NIH, the nation’s largest funder of biomedical research, announced that it is dedicating $90 million to the study of health disparities and structural racism, engaging in more than 60 diversity and inclusion initiatives, and committing “every tool at our disposal to remediate the chronic problem of structural racism.” In an August special issue dedicated to racial health disparities, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association stated that systemic racism is a scientific fact beyond dispute, and disagreeing on this point is “wrong,” “misguided” and “uninformed.” Systemic racism is a reality to be assumed in medical research rather than a sociological hypothesis to be tested by skeptical researchers.  Deemed incontestable, systemic racism provides the political rationale for “dismantling” — in the words of no less an authority than the National Institutes of Health — the social institutions and cultural standards that, according to the framework’s advocates, were constructed and are maintained to uphold white supremacy.  The consequences of ignoring this new prime directive for racially focused research were made abundantly clear this year when the top two editors of JAMA were pressured to resign after the organization ran a podcast that questioned whether systemic racism explains health disparities between blacks and other Americans. “When JAMA sends a call for paper on structural racism, when the NIH director sends out an apology letter for racism in the NIH and when the CDC for the first time uses the term ‘racism,’ these are highest-level determinants of what research will be done in coming years in this country,” said Shervin Assari, an associate professor of family medicine and urban public health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, one of four historically black medical schools in the nation. Shervin Assari: Now the feds are "paying good money to the best researchers in this country who are competing to understand how structural racism works, rather than if it exists.” “This is the first time the NIH has issued a call for research on structural racism. This is the first time JAMA fires an editor who said something wrong about racism,” said Assari, who has published more than 350 papers on race, social determinants and health equity. “Now NIH is paying good money to the best researchers in this country who are competing to understand how structural racism works, rather than if it exists.” Systemic racism, generally unseen but known by its perceived effects, doesn’t directly cause diabetes, hypertension or depression, but it purportedly creates the living conditions in which chronic conditions opportunistically thrive, advocates say. Such living conditions include unsafe neighborhoods, aggressive policing, substandard schools, discriminatory workplaces, inferior medical care and the resulting stress, despair and self-destructive behavior, the theory states.  To institutionalize its new policy, JAMA is revising its peer review standards and diversifying its ranks to advance health care equity, a term that refers to narrowing or even eliminating racial health disparities in chronic conditions and life expectancies. Similar steps are being adopted throughout the medical profession — by the cluster-hiring of minority applicants, hiring of diversity and equity officers, and training staff on “white privilege,” implicit bias, microaggressions, and allyship. A lead editorial in the August special issue, co-signed by 15 people, including JAMA’s newly installed executive editor and executive managing editor, along with other JAMA leaders, said all medical journals are morally obligated to assume systemic racism as a fact and document this fact in their research. “At this point in the arc of medicine and scientific publication,” JAMA stated, “it is crucial for all journals to fulfill renewed editorial and journal missions that include a heightened and appropriate emphasis on equity and publication of information that addresses structural racism with the goal of overcoming its effects in medicine and health care.” This rapid turn of events has blindsided traditional doctors, who are put off by the intense focus on race and the strong rhetoric. “The spectacle of the gatekeepers of medical publications announcing a political blueprint that medical authors must follow — or else — is pretty breathtaking,” Thomas Huddle, who retired this year as professor at the medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said by email. Thomas Huddle, dissenter: “The medical gatekeepers are in the grip of a moral panic.” “The medical gatekeepers are in the grip of a moral panic,” said Huddle, who has published on medical ethics and edited several medical journals. “The JAMA convulsion over the podcast was positively Maoist in its fervor for achieving moral correctness and purging the impure.” It's an open secret that some find the systemic explanation to be nothing more than leftist polemic, while others are skeptical it convincingly explains everything it claims to explain. These skeptics worry about the career implications of publicly dissenting from the new orthodoxy, but it's not inconceivable that blaming an entire national culture for racial disparities will prompt independent scholars and conservative think tanks to produce opposing research that explores black-on-black murder, racial disparities in IQ testing and other taboo subjects.  The dramatic transformation sweeping through the health care profession is not happening in a vacuum. It mirrors social justice movements committed to exposing structural racism that allegedly pervades education, criminal justice, the arts, hard sciences and other domains of U.S. society. Activists in those fields, as well as medicine, talk of dismantling white supremacy and other “structures” that operate by means of race-neutral laws and colorblind norms that cause racial and gender power imbalances and harm non-white groups. Skeptical physicians say that medical journal editors are essentially replacing the scientific method with a political ideology, namely critical race theory, and leaving little room for alternative explanations — such as personal agency or cultural differences. “There’s a tremendous amount of groupthink,” said Stanley Goldfarb, a former dean for curriculum who taught about kidney disease at the University of Pennsylvania medical school before retiring this summer. “If you don’t agree with all that, you’re a bad person.” “This is an argument that you’re not allowed to have — that’s the problem here,” said Goldfarb, who has served on the editorial boards of three medical journals and was editor-in-chief of a nephrology journal. Racial health disparities underlie the four-year gap in black-white life expectancy in the United States. The factors that contribute to this disparity include chronic conditions, unintentional injuries, suicide and homicide, which is the leading cause of death for black males aged 44 and younger. Scholars committed to the systemic racism explanation blame the disproportionately high crime rates in poor black neighborhoods on discrimination, substandard schools and other manifestations of systemic racism.  The body of research into racial health disparities has broken into the mainstream after establishing credibility through the time-honored system of academic citations and referrals. Since LaVeist began his work in the 1990s, a small stream of articles has swelled into a critical mass that now allows medical researchers to assume systemic racism as a proven fact and cite the evidence in footnotes, as established knowledge, instead of arguing the case each time. “When the weight of the evidence becomes so overwhelming that we reach consensus, we no longer continue to question whether or not [it is true],” LaVeist said. “We don’t question gravity anymore because the consensus is that gravity is a thing.” One of the JAMA articles in the August special issue found that the major health care spending disparity is that whites spend more on dental, pharmaceutical, and outpatient care, while blacks spend more on emergency room and inpatient hospital care, suggesting that black people are more likely to be uninsured and otherwise lack access to routine medical care. Instead of detailing the precise reasons that may explain this gap, the authors invoke previous articles: “There are many mechanisms that have already been identified that explain how structural racism shapes health and healthcare.” In a phone interview, the lead author, Joseph Dieleman, associate professor of health metric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said: “These are taken as a given by us. These are not to be debated, or being tested, in our analysis.”  Health Affairs, dubbed by a Washington Post columnist as “the bible of health policy,” is redoubling its focus on systemic racism, anti-racism, and equity, not only in its published content but also in attending to the racial makeup of its published authors and reviewers. “We acknowledge that the dominant voices in our work are those with power and privilege,” Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil wrote in January. “Even as we have dramatically increased the volume of our content focused on equity, the narrative has primarily been written by those in power. We vow to change this.” Weil, who was trained in critical legal theory, a precursor to critical race theory, as a Harvard law student in the 1980s, said in a phone interview that the concepts of merit and quality are often used to maintain power and privilege, and these structures must be examined for bias. “We’re just talking about — forgive the language that is used by the believers — interrogating ourselves,” Weil said. Systemic racism, a core tenet of critical race theory, doesn’t have a settled definition but it has broad applicability. One of the peculiar features of systemic racism is that the mechanism is not evident to those who are not initiated into the theory, but ubiquitous to its acolytes. For best-selling and award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi, whose writings are considered essential reading at some medical schools, any disparity can signify racism. The concept can refer to all manner of disparate outcomes —  in murder rates, arrest rates, life expectancies, education levels, school discipline, household income, standardized tests scores and grades — even in the fact that black people are nowhere to be seen in the corridor portraits of medical school dignitaries and are underrepresented in symphony orchestras. Ibram X Kendi: Any disparity can signify racism. “There is no ‘official’ definition of structural racism,” states a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine.  “All definitions make clear that racism is not simply the result of private prejudices held by individuals, but is also produced and reproduced by laws, rules, and practices, sanctioned and even implemented by various levels of government, and embedded in the economic system as well as in cultural and societal norms.” One line of attack against the status quo is the movement to eliminate long-accepted practices to promote merit and excellence that, according to activists, operate as colorblind mechanisms to produce unequal outcomes: gifted and talented programs, gifted schools, and admissions tests for elite high schools, as well as standardized test scores for university admission. In medicine, the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination test is changing from a graded score to pass/fail to help minority students, while Northwestern University and its Feinberg School of Medicine are promoting diversity by eliminating a six-decade-old Honors Program in Medical Education. Still, the concept provides special challenges for medicine. Unlike bacteria, for instance, systemic racism is an invisible force that can only be measured indirectly, by its perceived effects. Nevertheless, LaVeist is convinced that systemic racism is the best explanation for racial health disparities because the correlation of race and health is consistent across numerous studies for multiple chronic conditions. “We cannot make direct causal inferences. The best we can do is look at plausible causality,” LaVeist said. “What we have is a case where once you’ve ruled out all of the plausible explanations, the only thing left is systemic racism.” LaVeist and Weil agree that health and other disparities can have other causes than systemic racism, and good scholarship should be cognizant of other potential variables. LaVeist said that without allowing for other factors, people of color would have no free will, but it is important to note that African American culture is also shaped by white racism. One of LaVeist’s early co-authored papers that was rejected by several journals before finding a publisher concluded that black people who experience rudeness at the hands of white people have longer life expectancies if they blame systemic racism, or some other external factor, for being treated disrespectfully. An implication of the study: Even if the rude behavior by the white person isn’t caused by racism or an external factor, it’s strategically beneficial for black people to attribute the rudeness to someone else’s racism, boorishness or insensitivity, rather than blaming themselves. “Yes — racism, or some other external attribution,” LaVeist said. “If you make an external attribution, that is going to be healthier than you thinking, ‘Oh they’re right, I am a bad person, I deserve to be mistreated.’” Assari specializes in the study of “diminished returns” in quality of life and health that black people and other marginalized groups experience as they gain education and income in U.S. society. His research contends that black people reap fewer benefits — such as income and health — as they rise in education, compared to white people, which he attributes to structural racism. He has written half of the 300-some academic papers on that subject cited by the National Library of Medicine. He makes connections that would not be self-evident to someone who lacks training in his specialty. One of his recent papers, published in the Journal of Health Economics, says that Americans are less likely to smoke as their income level rises. But that rule doesn’t hold for high-income Chinese Americans, who are more likely to smoke as they generate more income.  So Assari postulates that upwardly mobile Chinese Americans resort to nicotine as a means of coping with the anti-Asian bias they encounter in this country’s elite institutions.   Yet, he also said that even though the anti-racist movement seems invincible now, overweening claims about systemic racism will eventually invite scholarly criticism, especially if equity policies and interventions now being implemented fail to deliver results. “I think there will be a very strong backlash against critical race theory very soon,” Assari said. “I don’t think it is sustainable. And it is falsifiable. So there would be an anti-CRT movement among other group of social scientists.” Nevertheless, Assari said systemic racism is a reliable theoretical framework because it parsimoniously explains the marginalization of many racial groups. “This is one model which explains many of our observations,” Assari said. “A theory is [reliable] when an observation or assumption holds regardless of the context, setting, place, population, design, sample. It is replicated many times across a diverse group of settings, age groups, resources, and outcomes.” LaVeist said segregation, much of it rooted in historical practices such as redlining and Jim Crow, is the primary driver of disparities. Poor neighborhoods are generally more polluted, closer to highways and industrial zones, and have less access to quality restaurants, grocery stores, public schools, and green spaces. Such environments tend to breed despair, which leads to crime and an overly aggressive police response. The constant stress of dealing with these hassles and micro-aggressions wears on the body, research into health disparities says, echoing arguments made by critical race theorists in the 1980s. One medical paper, published in The Lancet in 2017 and cited more than 1,500 times as of November, says that residential segregation is the foundation of structural racism, and notes that “growing research is linking interpersonal racism to various biomarkers of disease and well-being, including allostatic load, inflammatory markers, and hormonal dysregulation.” There are those who say the medical establishment is not going far enough in this research direction. The STAT News health information website reported in September that anti-racism and equity have become so trendy that “white scholars are colonizing research on health disparities.” According to the STAT investigation, white researchers are caught up in “a gold rush mentality” and “rushing to scoop up grants and publish papers.” The white scholars are replicating work done by black researchers without giving sufficient credit, a new form of exploitation practiced by “health equity tourists” and “opportunistic scientific carpetbaggers.” One of the worst offenders: JAMA’s August special issue on health disparities. “Not one of the five research papers published in the issue included a Black lead or corresponding author, and just one lead author was Hispanic,” STAT reported. Weil sympathizes with these concerns and said Health Affairs is creating a mentorship program to help scholars of color get their papers published in the journal. Weil, who said about 5% of submitted papers are accepted for publication at Health Affairs, is confident that dismantling power and privilege won’t necessitate compromising standards of excellence, and he considers such criticisms to be “generally false and intentionally inflammatory.” “Equitable representation should be the outcome of an equitable process, not the jerry-rigged result of a change of standards for one group — that is not where we want to be,” Weil said. “So if the fix here is an equitable outcome by lowering standards for a certain group, our readers will notice, and that’s not the end point I’m looking for.” Weil’s biggest concern is not that the anti-racist movement in medical research will go too far, but that the momentum and resolve will fizzle out. “I think it’s very hard to tell where you are on a swinging pendulum when you’re in the middle of it,” he said. “I am much more concerned that this will become a rote exercise where everyone genuflects to anti-racism but does nothing about it, than I am that this is an overcorrection.” Tyler Durden Fri, 11/12/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 12th, 2021

Transcript: Soraya Darabi

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This… Read More The post Transcript: Soraya Darabi appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Soraya Darabi, TMV, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have an extra special guest. Her name is Soraya Darabi. She is a venture capital and impact investor who has an absolutely fascinating background working for, first with the New York Times Social Media Group then with a startup that eventually gets purchased by OpenTable, and then becoming a venture investor that focuses on women and people of color-led startups which is not merely a way to, quote-unquote, “do good” but it’s a broad area that is wildly underserved by the venture community and therefore is very inefficient. Meaning, there’s a lot of upside in this. You can both do well and do good by investing in these areas. I found this to be absolutely fascinating and I think you will also, if you’re at all interested in entrepreneurship, social media startups, deal flow, how funds identify who they want to invest in, what it’s like to actually experience an exit as an entrepreneur, I think you’ll find this to be quite fascinating. So with no further ado, my conversation with TMV’s Soraya Darabi. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. My special guest this week is Soraya Darabi. She is the Co-Founder and General Partner of TMV, a venture capital firm that has had a number of that exits despite being relatively young, 65 percent of TMV’s startups are led by women or people of color. Previously, she was the cofounder of Foodspotting, an app named App of the Year by Apple and Wire that was eventually purchased by OpenTable. Soraya Darabi, welcome to Bloomberg. SORAYA DARABI; GENERAL PARTNER & FOUNDER; TMV: My goodness, Barry, thank you for having me. RITHOLTZ: I’ve been looking forward to this conversation since our previous discussion. We were on a Zoom call with a number of people discussing blockchain and crypto when it was really quite fascinating and I thought you had such an unusual and interesting background, I thought you would make a perfect guest for the show. Let’s start with your Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media at the “New York Times” when social media was really just ramping up. Tell us about what that was like. Tell us what you did in the late aughts at The Times. DARABI: Absolutely. I was fresh faced out of a university. I had recently graduated with mostly a journalism concentration from Georgetown and did a small stint in Condé Nast right around the time they acquired Reddit for what will soon be nothing because Reddit’s expecting to IPO at around 15 billion. And that experience at Reddit really offered me a deep understanding of convergence, what was happening to digital media properties as they partnered for the first time when nascent but scaling social media platforms. And so the “New York Times” generously offered me a role that was originally called manager of buzz marketing. I think that’s what they called social media in 2006 and then that eventually evolved into manager of digital partnerships and social media which, in essence, meant that we were aiming to be the first media property in the world to partner with companies that are household names today but back in the they were fairly unbalanced to Facebook and Twitters, of course, but also platforms that really took off for a while and then plateaued potentially. The Tumblers of the world. And it was responsibility to understand how we could effectively generate an understanding of the burgeoning demographics of this platform and how we could potentially bring income into The Times for working with them, but more importantly have a journalist that could authentically represent themselves on new media. And so, that was a really wonderful role to have directly out of University and then introduce me to folks with whom I still work today. DARABI: That’s quite interesting. So when you’re looking at a lot of these companies, you mentioned Facebook and Twitter and Tumbler, how do you know if something’s going to be a Facebook or a MySpace, so Twitter or a Tumbler, what’s going to survive or not, when you’re cutting deals with these companies on behalf of The Times, are you thinking in terms of hey, who’s going to stick around, wasn’t that much earlier that the dot-com implosion took place prior to you starting with The Times? DARABI: It’s true, although I don’t remember the dot-com implosion. So, maybe that naivete helped because all I had was enthusiasm, unbridled enthusiasm for these new companies and I operated then and now still with a beta approach to business. Testing out new platforms and trying to track the data, what’s scaling, what velocity is this platform scaling and can we hitch a ride on the rochet ship if they will so allow. But a lot of our partnerships then and now, as an investor, are predicated upon relationships. And so, as most, I think terrific investors that I listen to, who I listen to in your show, at least, will talk to you about the importance of believing and the founder and the founder’s vision and that was the case back then and remains the case today. RITHOLTZ: So, when you were at The Times, your tenure there very much overlapped the great financial crisis. You’re looking at social media, how did that manifest the world of social media when it looked like the world of finance was imploding at that time? DARABI: Well, it was a very interesting time. I remember having, quite literally, 30-second meetings with Sorkin as he would run upstairs to my floor, in the eighth floor, to talk about a deal book app that we wanted to launch and then he’d ran back down to his desk to do much more important work, I think, and — between the financial crisis to the world. So, 30-second meetings aside, it was considered to be, in some ways, a great awakening for the Web 2.0 era as the economy was bottoming out, like a recession, it also offered a really interesting opportunity for entrepreneurs, many of whom had just been laid off or we’re looking at this as a sizeable moment to begin to work on a side hustle or a life pursuit. And so, there’s — it’s unsettling, of course, any recession or any great awakening, but lemonade-lemons, when the opening door closing, there was a — there was a true opportunity as well for social media founders, founders focusing on convergence in any industry, really, many of which are predicated in New York. But again, tinkering on an idea that could ultimately become quite powerful because if you’re in the earliest stage of the riskiest asset class, big venture, there’s always going to be seed funding for a great founder with a great idea. And so, I think some of the smartest people I’d ever met in my life, I met at the onset of the aftermath of that particular era in time. RITHOLTZ: So you mentioned side hustle. Let’s talk a little bit about Foodspotting which is described as a visual geolocal guide to dishes instead of restaurants which sounds appealing to me. And it was named App of the Year by both Apple and Wired. How do you go from working at a giant organization like The Times to a startup with you and a cofounder and a handful of other coders working with you? DARABI: Well, five to six nights a week after my day job at the “New York Times,” I would go to networking events with technologists and entrepreneurs after hours. I saw that a priority to be able to partner from the earliest infancy with interesting companies for that media entity. I need to at least know who these founders were in New York and Silicon Valley. And so, without a true agenda other than keen curiosity to learn what this business were all about, I would go to New York tech meetup which Scott Heiferman of who’s now in charge LP in my fund would create. And back then, the New York Tech Meetup was fewer than 40 people. I believe it’s been the tens of thousands now. RITHOLTZ: Wow, that’s … DARABI: In New York City alone. And so, it was there that I met some really brilliant people. And in particular, a gentleman my age who’s building a cloud-computing company that was essentially arbitraging AWS to repopulate consumer-facing cloud data services for enterprises, B2B2C play. And we all thought it would be Dropbox. The company ultimately wasn’t, but I will tell you the people with whom I worked with that startup because I left the “New York Times” to join that startup, to this day remain some of the most successful people in Silicon Valley and Alley. And actually, one of those persons is a partner at our firm now, Darshan. He was the cofounder of that particular company which is called but I stayed there very quickly. I was there for about six months. But at that startup, I observed how a young person my age could build a business, raise VC, he was the son of a VC and so he was exceptionally attuned to the changing landscape of venture and how to position the company so that it would be attractive to the RREs of the world and then the DFJs. And I … RITHOLTZ: Define those for us. RREs and BFJs. DARABI: Sorry. Still, today, very relevant and very successful venture capital firms. And in particular, they were backing a lot of the most interesting ideas in Web 2.0 era when I joined this particular startup in 2010. Well, that startup was acquired by Facebook and I often say, no, thanks to me. But the mafia that left that particular startup continues to this day to coinvest with one another and help one another’s ideas to exceed. And it was there that I began to build the confidence, I think, that I really needed to explore my own entrepreneurial ideas or to help accelerate ideas. And Foodspotting was a company that I was advising while at that particular startup, that was really taking off. This was in the early days of when Instagram was still in beta and we observed that the most commonly posted photos on Instagram were of food. And so, by following that lead, we basically built an app as well that activity that continues to take place every single day. I still see food photos on Twitter every time I open up my stream. And decided to match that with an algorithm that showed folks wherever they were in the world, say in Greece, that might want spanakopita or if I’m in Japan, Okinawa, we help people to discover not just the Michelin-rated restaurants or the most popular local hunt in New York but rather what’s the dish that they should be ordering. And then the app was extremely good was populating beautiful photos of that particular dish and then mirroring them with accredited reviews from the Zagats of the world but also popular celebrity shots like Marcus Samuelsson in New York. And that’s why we took off because it was a cult-beloved app of its time back when there were only three geolocation apps in the iTunes apparently store. It was we and Twitter and Foursquare. So, there was a first-mover advantage. Looking back in hindsight, I think we sold that company too soon. OpenTable bought the business. A year and a half later, Priceline bought OpenTable. Both were generous liquidity events for the founders that enabled us to become angel investors. But sometimes I wish that that app still existed today because I could see it being still incredibly handy in my day-to-day life. RITHOLTZ: To say the least. So did you have to raise money for Foodspotting or did you just bootstrapped it and how did that experience compare with what that exit was like? DARABI: We did. We raised from tremendous investors like Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures whom I think of as being one of the best angel investors of the world. He was on the board. But we didn’t raise that much capital before the business is ultimately sold and what I learned in some of those early conversations, I would say, that may have ultimately led to LOIs and term sheets was that so much of M&As about wining and dining and as a young person, particularly for me, you and I discussed before the show, Barry, we’re both from New York, I’m not from a business-oriented family to say the least. My mom’s an academic, my father was a cab driver in New York City. And so, there are certain elements of this game, raising venture and ultimately trying to exit your company, that you don’t learn from a business book. And I think navigating that as a young person was complicated if I had to speak economically. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. What is purposeful change? DARABI: Well, the world purpose, I suppose, especially in the VC game could come across as somewhat of a cliché. But we try to be as specific as possible when we allude to the impact that our investment could potentially make. And so, specifically, we invest in five verticals at our early stage New York City-based venture fund. We invest in what we call the care economy, just companies making all forms of care, elder care to pet care to health care, more accessible and equitable. We invest in financial inclusion. So this is a spin on fintech. These are companies enabling wealth creation, education, and most importantly literacy for all, that I think is really important to democratization of finance. We invest in the future of work which are companies creating better outcomes for workers and employees alike. We invest in the future of work which are companies creating better outcomes for workers and employers alike. We invest in purpose as it pertains to transportation. So, not immediately intuitive but companies creating transparency and efficiency around global supply chain and mobility. I’m going to talk about why we pick that category in a bit. And sustainability. So, tech-enabled sustainable solutions. These are companies optimizing for sustainability from process to product. With these five verticals combined, we have a subspecies which is that diverse founders and diverse employee bases and diverse cap table. It is not charity, it’s simply good for business. And so, in addition to being hyper specific about the impact in which we invest, we also make it a priority and a mandate at our firm to invest in the way the world truly look. And when we say that on our website, we link to census data. And so, we invest in man and women equally. We invest in diverse founders, almost all of the time. And we track this with data and precious to make sure that our investments reflect not just one zip code in California but rather America at large. RITHOLTZ: And you have described this as non-obvious founders. Tell us a little bit about that phrase. DARABI: Well, not obvious is a term you hear a lot when you go out to Silicon Valley. And I don’t know, I think it was coined by a well-known early PayPal employee turned billionaire turned investor who actually have a conference centered around non-obvious ideas. And I love the phrase. I love thinking about investment PC that are contrary because we have a contrary point of view, contrarian point of view, you often have outlier results because if you’re right, you’re taking the risk and your capturing the reward. When you’re investing in non-obvious founders, it should be that is the exact same outcome. And so, it almost sort of befuddled me as a person with a hard to pronounce name in Silicon Valley, why it was that we’re an industry that prides itself on investing in innovation and groundbreaking ideas and the next frontier of X, Y, and Z and yet all of those founders in which we were investing, collectively, tended to kind of look the same. They were coming from the same schools and the same types of families. And so, to me, there was nothing innovative at all about backing that Wharton, PSB, HBS guy who is second or third-generation finance. And what really excites me about venture is capturing a moment in time that’s young but also the energy is palpable around not only the idea in which the founder is building but the categories of which they’re tackling and that sounded big. I’ll be a little bit more speficic. And so, at TMV, we tried to see things before they’re even coming around the bend. For instance, we were early investors in a company called Cityblock Health which is offering best in class health care specifically for low income Americans. So they focus on the most vulnerable population which are underserved with health care and they’re offering them best in class health care access at affordable pricing because it’s predominantly covered through a payer relationship. And this company is so powerful to us for three reasons because it’s not simply offering health care to the elite. It’s democratizing access to care which I think is absolutely necessary in term out for success of any kind. We thought this was profoundly interesting because the population which they serve is also incredibly diverse. And so when you look at that investment over, say, a comparable company, I won’t name names, that offers for-profit health care, out-of-pocket, you can see why this is an opportunity that excites us as impact investors but we don’t see the diversity of the team it’s impact. We actually see that as their unfair advantage because they are accessing a population authentically that others might ignore. RITHOLTZ: Let me see if I understand this correctly. When you talk about non-obvious find — founders and spaces like this, what I’m hearing from you is you’re looking at areas where the market has been very inefficient with how it allocates capital … DARABI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: … that these areas are just overlooked and ignored, hey, if you want to go on to silicon valley and compete with everybody else and pay up for what looks like the same old startup, maybe it will successful and maybe it won’t, that’s hypercompetitive and hyper efficient, these are areas that are just overlooked and there is — this is more than just do-goodery for lack of a better word. There are genuine economic opportunities here with lots of potential upside. DARABI: Absolutely. So, my business partner and I, she and I found each other 20 years ago as undergrads at Georgetown but we went in to business after she was successful and being one of the only women in the world to take a shipping business public with her family, and we got together and we said we have a really unique access, she and I. And the first SPV that we collaborated on back in 2016 was a young business at the time, started by two women, that was focused on medical apparel predominantly for nurses. Now it’s nurses and doctors. And they were offering a solution to make medical apparel, so scrubs, more comfortable and more fashionable for nurses. I happen to have nurses and doctors in my family so doing due diligence for this business is relatively simple. I called my aunt who’s a nurse practitioner, a nurse her life, and she said, absolutely. When you’re working in a uniform at the hospital, you want something comfortable with extra pockets that makes you look and feel good. The VCs that they spoke to at the time, and they’ve been very public about this, in the beginning, anyway, were less excited because they correlated this particular business for the fashion company. But if you look back at our original memo which I saved, it says, FIGS, now public on the New York Stock Exchange is a utility business. It’s a uniform company that can verticalize beyond just medical apparel. And so, we helped value that company at 15 million back in 2016. And this year, in 2021, they went public at a $7 billion market cap. RITHOLTZ: Wow. DARABI: And so, what is particularly exciting for us going back to that conversation on non-obvious founders is that particular business, FIGS, was the first company in history to have two female co-founders go public. And when we think of success at TMV, we don’t just think about financial success and IRR and cash on cash return for our LPs, of course we think about that. But we also think who are we cheerleading and with whom do we want to go into business. I went to the story on the other side of the fence that we want to help and we measure non-obvious not just based on gender or race because I think that’s a little too precise in some ways. Sometimes, for us non-obvious, is around geography, I would say. I’m calling you from Athens, as you know, and in Greece, yesterday, I got together with a fund manager. I’m lucky enough to be an LP in her fund and she was talking about the average size of a seed round in Silicon Valley these days, hovering around 30 million. And I was scratching my head because at our fund, TMV, we don’t see that. We’re investing in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Austin, Texas and the average price for us to invest in the seed round is closer to 5 million or 6 million. And so, we actually can capture larger ownership of the pie early on and then develop a very close-knit relationship with these founders but might not be as networked in the Valley where there’s 30 VC funds to everyone that exist in Austin, Texas. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And so, yes, I think you’re right to say that it’s about inefficiencies in market but also just around — about being persistent and looking where others are not. RITHOLTZ: That’s quite intriguing. Your team is female-led. You have a portfolio of companies that’s about 65 percent women and people of color. Tell us how you go about finding these non-obvious startups? DARABI: It’s a good question. TMV celebrates its five-year anniversary this year. So the way we go about funding companies now is a bit different than the way we began five years ago. Now, it’s systematic. We collectively, as a partnership, there are many of us take over 50 calls a month with Tier 1 venture capital firms that have known us for a while like the work that we do, believe in our value-add because the partnership comprised of four more operators. So, we really roll up our sleeves to help. And when you’ve invested at this firms, enough time, they will write to you and say I found a company that’s a little too early for us, for XYZ reason, but it resonates and I think it might be for you. So we found some of our best deals that way. But other times, we found our deal flow through building our own communities. And so, when I first started visit as an EM, an emerging manager of a VC firm. And roughly 30 percent of LP capital goes to EM each year but that’s sort of an outsized percentage because when you think about the w-fix-solve (ph) addition capital, taking 1.3 billion of that pie, then you recognize the definition of emerging manager might need to change a bit. So, when I was starting as an EM, I recognize that the landscape wasn’t necessarily leveled. If you weren’t, what’s called the spinout, somebody that has spent a few years at a traditional established blue-chip firm, then it’s harder to develop and cultivate relationships with institutional LPs who will give you a shot even though the data absolutely points to there being a real opportunity in capturing lightning in a bottle if you find a right EM with the right idea in the right market conditions which is certainly what we’re in right now. And so, I decided to start a network specifically tailored around helping women fund managers, connecting one another and it began as a WhatsApp group and a weekly Google Meet that has now blown into something that requires a lot of dedicated time. And so we’re hiring an executive director for this group. They’re called Transact Global, 250 women ex-fund managers globally, from Hong Kong, to Luxembourg, to Venezuela, Canada, Nigeria, you name it. There are women fund managers in our group and we have one of the most active deal flow channels in the world. And so two of our TMV deals over the last year, a fintech combatting student debt and helping young Americans save for retirement at the same time, as an example, came from this WhatsApp deal flow channel. So, I think creating the community, being the change, so to speak, has been incredibly effective for us a proprietary deal flow mechanism. And then last but not least, I think that having some sort of media presence really has helped. And so, I’ve hosted a podcast and I’ve worked on building up what I think to be a fairly organic Twitter following over the years and we surprise ourselves by getting some really exceptional founders cold pitching us on LinkedIn and on Twitter because we make ourselves available as next gen EMs. So, that’s a sort of long-winded answer to your question. But it’s not the traditional means by any means. RITHOLTZ: To say the least. Are you — the companies you’re investing in, are they — and I’ll try and keep this simple for people who are not all that well-versed in the world of venture, is it seed stage, is it the A round, the B round? How far into their growth process do you put money in? DARABI: So it is a predominantly seed fund. We call our investments core investments. So, these are checks that average, 1 and 1.5 million. So for about 1.25 million, on average, we’re capturing 10-15% of a cap payable. And in this area, that’s called a seed round. It will probably be called a Series A 10 years ago. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And then we follow on through the Series A and it max around, I think, our pro rata at the B. So, our goal via Series B is to have, on average, 10% by the cap. And then we give ourselves a little bit of wiggle room with our modeling. We take mars and moonshot investments with smaller checks so we call these initial interest checks. And initial interest means I’m interested but your idea is still audacious, they won’t prove itself out for three or four years or to be very honest, we weren’t the first to get into this cap or you’re picking Sequoia over us, so we understand but let’s see if we can just promise you a bit of value add to edge our way into your business. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And oftentimes, when you speak as a former founder yourself with a high level of compassion and you promise with integrity that you’re going to work very hard for that company, they will increase the size of their round and they will carve out space for you. And so, we do those types of investments rarely, 10 times, in any given portfolio. But what’s interesting in looking back at some of our outliers from found one, it came from those initial interest checks. So that’s our model in a nutshell. We’re pretty transparent about it. What we like about this model is that it doesn’t make us tigers, we’re off the board by the B, so we’re still owning enough of the cap table to be a meaningful presence in the founder’s lives and in their business and it allows us to feel like we’re not spraying and praying. RITHOLTZ: Spraying and praying is an amusing term but I’m kind of intrigued by the fact that we use to call it smart money but you’re really describing it as value-added capital when a founder takes money from TMV, they’re getting more than just a check, they’re getting the involvement from entrepreneurs who have been through the process from startup to capital raise to exit, tell us a li bit about how that works its way into the deals you end up doing, who you look at, and what the sort of deal flow you see is like. DARABI: Well, years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a world-class advertiser and I was at his incredibly fancy office down in Wall Street, his ad agency. And he described to me with pride how he basically bartered his marketing services for one percent of a unicorn. And he was sort of showing off of it about how, from very little time and effort, a few months, he walked away with a relatively large portion of a business. And I thought, yes, that’s clever. But for the founder, they gave up too much of their business too soon. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And I came up with an idea that I floated by Marina back in the day where our original for TMV Fund I began with the slide marketing as the future of venture and venture is the future of marketing. Meaning, it’s a VC fund where the position itself more like an ad agency but rather than charging for its services, it’s go-to-market services. You offer them free of charge but then you were paid in equity and you could quantify the value that you were offering to these businesses. And back then, people laughed us even though all around New York City, ad agencies were really doing incredible work and benefiting from the startups in that ecosystem. And so, we sort of changed the positioning a bit. And now, we say to our LPs and to our founders, your both clients of our firm. So, we do think of ourselves as an agency. But one set of our marketplace, you have LPs and what they want is crystal clear. The value that they derive from us is through a community and connectivity and co-investment and that’s it. It’s pretty kind of dry. Call me up once a year where you have an exceptional opportunity. Let me invest alongside you. Invite me to dinners four times a year, give me some information and a point of view that I can’t get elsewhere. Thank you for your time. And I love that. It’s a great relationship to have with incredibly smart people. It’s cut and dry but it’s so different. What founders want is something more like family. They want a VC on their board that they can turn to during critical moments. Two a.m. on a Saturday is not an uncommon time for me to get a text message from a founder saying what do I do. So what they want is more like 24/7 services for a period of time. And they want to know when that relationship should start and finish. So it’s sort of the Montessori approach to venture. We’re going to tell them what we’re going to tell them. Tell them what they’re telling them. Tell them what we told them. We say to founders with a reverse pitch deck. So we pitch them as they’re pitching us. Here’s what we promise to deliver for you for the first — each of the 24 months of your infancy and then we promise you we’ll mostly get lost. You can come back to use when your business is growing if you want to do it tender and we’ll operate an SPV for you for you or if you simply want advice, we’re never going to ignore you but our specialty, our black belt, if you will, Barry, is in those first 24 months of your business, that go-to-market. And so, we staffed up TMV to include, well, it’s punching above our weight but the cofounder of an exceptionally successful consumer marketing business, a gross marketer, a recruiter who helps one of our portfolio companies hire 40 of their earliest employees. We have a PR woman. You’ve met Viyash (ph), she’s exceptional with whom, I don’t know, how we would function sometimes because she’s constantly writing and re-editing press releases for the founders with which we work. And then Anna, our copywriter who came from IAC and Sean, our creative director, used to be the design director for Rolling Stone, and I can go on and on. So, some firms called us a platform team but we call it the go-to-market team. And then we promise a set number of hours for ever company that we invest into. RITHOLTZ: That’s … DARABI: And then the results — go ahead. RITHOLTZ: No, that’s just — I’m completely fascinated by that. But I have to ask maybe this is an obvious question or maybe it’s not, so you — you sound very much like a non-traditional venture capital firm. DARABI: Yes. RITHOLTZ: Who are your limited partners, who are your clients, and what motivates them to be involved with TMV because it sounds so different than what has been a pretty standard model in the world of venture, one that’s been tremendous successful for the top-tier firms? DARABI: Our LP set is crafted with intention. And so, 50% of our investors are institutional. This concludes institutional-sized family offices and family offices in a multibillions. We work with three major banks, Fortune 500 banks. We work with a couple of corporate Fortune 500 as investors or LPs and a couple of fund to funds. So that’s really run of the mill. But 50 percent of our investors and that’s why I’m in Athens today are family offices, global family offices, that I think are reinventing with ventures like, to look like in the future because wealth has never been greater globally. There’s a trillion dollars of assets that are passing to the hands of one generation to the next and what’s super interesting to me, as a woman, is that historically, a lot of that asset transferred was from father to son, but actually, for the first time in history, over 50 percent, so 51% of those asset inheritors are actually women. And so, as my business partner could tell because she herself is a next gen, in prior generations, women were encouraged to go into the philanthropic or nonprofit side of the family business … RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And the sons were expected to take over the business or the family office and all of that is completely turned around in the last 10 years. And so, my anchor investor is actually a young woman. She’s under the age of 35. There’s a little bit of our firm that’s in the rocks because we’re not playing by the same rules that the establishment has played by. But certainly, we’re posturing ourselves to be able to grow in to a blue-chip firm which is why we want to maintain that balance, so 50 percent institutional and 50 percent, I would call it bespoke capital. And so, the LPs that are bespoke, we work at an Australian family office and Venezuelan family office and the Chilean family office and the Mexican family office and so on. For those family offices, we come to them, we invite them to events in New York City, we give them personalized introductions to our founders and we get on the phone with them. Whenever they’d like, we host Zooms. We call them the future of everything series. They can learn from us. And we get to know them as human beings and I think that there’s a reason why two thirds of our Fund I LPs converted over into Fund II because they like that level of access, it’s what the modern LP is really looking for. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the areas that you find intriguing. What sectors are really capturing your attention these days? What are you most excited about? DARABI: Well, Barry, I’m most excited about five categories for which we’ve been investing for quite some time, but they’re really being accelerated due to the 2020 pandemic and a looming recession. And so, we’re particularly fascinated by not just health care investing as has been called in the past but rather the care economy. I’m not a huge fan of the term femtech, it always sounds like fembot to me. But care as it pertains to women alone is a multitrillion dollar opportunity. And so, when we think of the care economy, we think of health care, pet care, elder care, community care, personal care as it pertains to young people, old people, men, women, children, we bifurcate and we look for interesting opportunities that don’t exist because they’ve been undercapitalized, undervalued for so long. Case in point, we were early investors Kindbody, a reproductive health care company focused on women who want to preserve their fertility because if you look at 2010 census data, you can see that the data has been there for some time that women, in particular, were delaying marriage and childbirth and there are a lot of world-famous economists who will tell you this, the global population will decline because we’re aging and we’re not necessarily having as many children as we would have in the past plus it’s expensive. And so, we saw that as investors as a really interesting opportunity and jumped on the chance to ask Gina Bartasi who’s incredible when she came to us with a way to make fertility preservation plus expenses. So she followed the B2C playbook and she started with the mobile clinic that helps women freeze their eggs extensively. That company has gone on to raise hundreds — pardon me — and that company is now valued in the hundreds of million and for us, it was as simple as following our intuition as women fund managers, we know what our peers are thinking about because we talk to them all the time and I think the fact that we’re bringing a new perspective to venture means that we’re also bringing a new perspective to what has previously been called femtech. We invest in financial inclusion. Everyone in the world that’s investing fintech, the self-directed financial mobile apps are always going to be capitalized especially in a post Robin Hood era but we’re specifically interested in the democratization of access to financial information and we’re specifically interested in student debt and alleviating student debt in America because not only is it going to be one of the greatest challenges our generation will have to overcome, but it’s also prohibiting us from living out the American dream, $1.7 trillion of student debt in America that needs to be alleviated. And then we’re interested in the future of work, and long have been, that certainly was very much accelerated during the pandemic but we’ve been investing in the 1099 and remote work for quite some time. And so, really proud to have been the first check into a company called Bravely which is an HR chatbot that helps employees inside of a company chat a anonymously with HR representatives outside of that company, that’s 1099. That issue is like DEI, an inclusion and upward mobility and culture setting and what to do when you’re all of a sudden working for home. So that’s an example of a future of work business. And then in the tech-enabled sustainable solutions category, it’s a mouthful, let’s call that sustainability, we are proud to have been early investors of a company called Ridwell, out of Seattle Washington, focused on not just private — privatized recycling but upcycling and reconnaissance. Where are our things going when we recycle them? For me, it always been a pretty big question. And so, Ridwell allows you to re and upcycle things that are hard to get rid of out of your home like children’s eyeglasses and paints and battery, single-use plastic. And it shows you where those things are going which I think is super cool and there’s good reason why it has one of the highest NPS scores, Net Promoter Scores, of any company I’ve ever worked with. People are craving this kind of modern solution. And last but not least, we invest in transportation and part because of the unfair advantage my partner, Marina, brings to TMV as she comes from a maritime family. And so, we can pile it, transportation technology, within her own ecosystem. That’s pretty great. But also, because we’re just fascinated by the fact that 90 percent of the world commodities move on ship and the biggest contributor to emissions in the world outside of corporate is coming from transportation. SO, if we can sort of figure out this industry, we can solve a lot of the problems that our generation are inheriting. Now, these categories might sound massive and we do consider ourselves a generalist firm but we stick to five-course sectors that we truly believe in and we give ourselves room to kick out a sector or to add a new one with any given new fund. For the most part, we haven’t needed to because this remain the categories that are not only most appealing to us as investors but I think paramount to our generation. RITHOLTZ: That’s really intriguing. Give us an example of moonshot or what you called earlier, a Mars shot technology or a company that can really be a gamechanger but may not pay off for quite a while. DARABI: We’ve just backed a company that is focusing on food science. Gosh, I can’t give away too much because they haven’t truly launched in the U.S. But maybe I’ll kind of allude to it. They use crushed produce, like, crush potato skins to make plastic but biodegrades. And so, it’s a Mars shot because it’s a materials business and it’s a food science business rolled off into both the CPG business and an enterprise business. This particular material can wrap itself around industrial pellets. Even though it’s audacious, it’s not really a Mars shot when you think about the way the world is headed. Everybody wants to figure out how do we consume less plastic and recycle plastic better. And so, if there are new materials out there that will not only disintegrate but also, in some ways, feed the environment, it will be a no-brainer and then if you add to the equation the fact that it could be maybe not less expensive but of comparable pricing to the alternative, I can’t think of a company in the world that wouldn’t switch to this solution. RITHOLTZ: Right. So this is plastic that you don’t throw away. You just toss in the garden and it becomes compost? DARABI: Yes, exactly. Exactly. It should help your garden grow. So, yes, so that’s what I would call a Mars shot in some ways. But in other ways, it’s just common sense, right? RITHOLTZ: So let’s talk a little bit about your investment vehicles. You guys run, I want to make sure I get this right, two funds and three vehicles, is that right? DARABI: We have two funds. They’re both considered micro funds because they’re both under 100 million and then we operate in parallel for SPVs that are relatively evergreen and they serve as opportunistic investments to continue to double down on our winners. RITHOLTZ: SPV is special purpose investment … DARABI: Vehicles. Yes. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And the PE world, they’re called sidecars. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. So how do these gets structured? Does everything look very similar when you have a fund? How quickly do you deploy the capital and typically how long you locked for or investors locked up for? DARABI: Well investors are usually in private equity are VC funds locked up for 10 years. That’s not usual. We have shown liquidity faster, certainly, for Fund I. It’s well in the black and it’s only five years old less, four and a half years old. So, how do we make money? We charge standard fees, 2 on 20 is the rubric of it, we operate by. And then lesser fees for sidecars or direct investments. So that’s kind of how we stay on business. When you think about an emerging manager starting their first fund, management fees are certainly not so we can live a lavish rock and roll life on a $10 million fund with a two percent management fee, we’re talking about 200K for the entire business to operate. RITHOLTZ: Wow. DARABI: So Marina and I, not only anchored our first fund with their own capital but we didn’t pay ourselves for four years. It’s not glamorous. I mean, there’s some friends of mine that thing the venture capital life is glam and it is if you’re on Sand Hill Road. But if you’re an EM, it’s a lot more like a startup where you’re burning the midnight oil, you are bartering favors with your friends, and you are begging the smartest people you know to take a chance on you to invite you on to their cap table. But it somehow works out because we do put in that extra effort, I think, the metrics, certainly for Fund I have shown us that we’re in this for the long haul now. RITHOLTZ: So your fund 1 and Fund 2, are there any plans of launching Fund III? DARABI: Yes. I think that given the proof points between Fund I and Fund II and a conversation that my partner and I recently had, five years out, are we in this? Do we love this? We do. OK. This is our life’s work. So you can see larger and more demonstrable sized funds but not in an outsized way, not just because we can raise more capital now but because we want to build out a partnership and the kind of culture that we always dreamed of working for back when we were employees, so we have a very diverse set of colleagues with whom we couldn’t operate and we’ll be adding to the partnership in the next two or three years which is really exciting to say. So, yes, the TMV will be around for a while. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. I want to ask you the question I ask any venture capitalist that I interview. Tell us about your best and worst investments and what did you pass on that perhaps you wish you didn’t? DARABI: Gosh. The FOMO list is so long and so embarrassing. Let me start with what I passed on that I regret. Well, I don’t know she really would have invited me to invest, but certainly, I had a wonderful conversation a peer from high school, Katrina Lake, when she was in beta mode for Stitch Fix. I think she was still at HBS at the time or had just recently graduated from Harvard. When Katrina and I had coffee in Minneapolis were we went to high school and she was telling me about the Netflix for clothing that she was building and certainly I regret not really picking up on the clues that she was offering in that conversation. Stitch Fix had an incredible IPO and I’m a proud shareholder today. And similarly, when my friend for starting Cloudflare which luckily they did bring me in to pre-IPO and I’m grateful for that, but when they were starting Cloudflare, I really should have jumped on that moment or when my buddy Ryan Graves whom I still chat with pretty frequently was starting out Uber in beta with Travis and Garrett, that’s another opportunity that I definitely missed. I was in Ireland when the Series A term sheet assigned. So there’s such a long laundry list of namedropped, namedropped, missed, missed, missed. But in terms of what I’m proud of, I’d say far more. I don’t like Sophie’s Choice. I don’t like to cherry pick the certain investments to just brag about them. But we’ve talked about someone to call today, I’d rather kind of shine a light — look at my track record, right? There’s a large realized IRR that I’m very proud of. But more on the opportunity of the companies that we more recently backed that prevent damages (ph) of CRM for oncology patient that help them navigate through the most strenuous time of their life. And by doing so, get better access to health care. And we get to wrote that check a couple of months ago. But already, it’s becoming a company that I couldn’t be more excited about because if they execute the way I think Shirley and Victor will, that has the power to help so many people in a profound way, not just in the Silicon Valley cliché way of this could change the world but this could actually help people receive better care. So, yes, I’m proud of having been an early investor in the Caspers of the world. Certainly, we’re all getting better sleep. There’s no shame there. But I’m really excited now today at investing in financial inclusion in the care economy and so on. RITHOLTZ: And let’s talk a little bit about impactful companies. Is there any different when you’re making a seed stage investment in a potentially impactful company versus traditional startup investing? DARABI: Well, pre-seed and seed investing isn’t a science and it’s certainly not a science that anyone has perfected. There are people who are incredibly good at it because they have a combination of luck and access. But if you’re a disciplined investor in any asset class and I talk to my friends who run hedge funds and work for hedge funds about 10 bets that they take a day and I think that’s a lot trickier than what I do because our do due diligence process, on average, takes an entire quarter of the year. We’re not making that many investments each year. So even though it sounds sort of fruity, when you look at a Y Combinator Demo Day, Y Comb is the biggest accelerator in Silicon Valley and they produce over 300 companies, three or four times a year. When you look at the outsized valuations coming out of Y Comb, it’s easy to think that starting company is as simple as sort of downloading a company in a Box Excel and running with it. But from where we sit, we’re scorching the earth for really compelling ideas in areas that have yet to converge and we’re looking for businesses that may have never pitched the VC before. Maybe they’re not even seeking capital. Maybe it’s a company that isn’t so interested in raising a penny eventually because they don’t need to. They’re profitable from day one. Those are the companies that we find most exciting because as former operators, we know how to appeal to them and then we also know how to work with them. RITHOLTZ: That’s really interesting. Before I get to my favorite question, let me just throw you’re a curveball, tell me a little bit about Business Schooled, the podcast you hosted for quite a while. DARABI: So, Synchrony, Sync, came to me a few years ago with a very compelling and exciting opportunity to host a podcast with them that allowed me a fortunate opportunity to travel the country and I went to just under a dozen cities to meet with founders who have persevered past their startup phase. And what I loved about the concept of business school is that the cities that I hosted were really focused on founders who didn’t have access to VC capital, they put money on credit card. So I took SBA loans or asked friends and family to give them starter capital and then they made their business work through trying times and when you pass the five-year mark for any business, I’m passing it right now for TMV, there’s a moment of reflection where you can say, wow, I did it. it’s incredibly difficult to be a startup founder, more than 60 percent of companies fail and probably for good reason. And so, yes, I hosted business school, Seasons 2 and 3 and potentially there will be more seasons and I’m very proud of the fact that at one point we cracked the top 20 business podcasts and people seem to be really entertained through these conversations with insightful founders who are vulnerable with me about what it was like to build their business and I like to think they were vulnerable because I have a good amount of compassion for the experience of being founder and also because I’m a New Yorker and I just like to talk. RITHOLTZ: You’re also a founder so there’s going to be some empathy that’s genuine. You went through what they’re going through. DARABI: Exactly. Exactly. And so, what you do, Barry, is quite similar. You’re — you host an exceptionally successful business podcast and you’re also an allocator. You know that it’s interesting to do both because I think that being an investor is a lot like being a journalist. In both professions, you won’t succeed unless you are constantly curious and if you are having conversations to listen more than you speak. DARABI: Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret since it’s so late in the podcast and fewer people will be hearing this, the people I invite on the show are essentially just conversations I want to have. If other people come along and listen, that’s fantastic. But honestly, it’s for an audience of one, namely me, the reason I wanted to have you on is because I’m intrigued by the world of venture and alternatives and impact. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people have been somewhat disappointed in the results of ESG investing and impact investing that for — it’s captured a lot more mindshare than it has captured capital although we’re seeing signs that’s starting to shift. But then the real question becomes, all right, so I’m investing less in oil companies and more in other companies that just happen to consume fossil fuels, what’s the genuine impact of my ESG investing? It feels like it’s sort of de minimis whereas what you do really feels like it has a major impact for people who are interested in having their capital make a positive difference. DARABI: Thank you for saying that. And I will return the compliment by saying that I really enjoyed getting to know you on our one key economist Zoom and I think that you’re right. I think that ESG investing, certainly in the public markets has had diminished returns historically because the definition has been so bizarre and so all over the place. RITHOLTZ: Right. DARABI: And I read incredible books from people like Antony Bugg-Levine who helps coin the term the Rockefeller Foundation, who originally coined the term you read about, mortgage, IRR and IRS plus measurement and it’s so hard to have just standardization of what it means to be an impact investor and so it can be bothered but we bother. Rather, we kind of come up with our own subjective point of view of the world and we say what does impact mean to us? Certainly, it means not investing in sin stocks but then those sin stocks have to begin somewhere, has to begin with an idea that somebody had once upon a time. And so, whether we are investing in the way the world should look from our perspective. And with that in mind, it doesn’t have to be impact by your grandpa’s VC, it can be impact from modern generation but simply things that behave differently. Some folks with their dollars. People often say, well, my ESG portfolio is underperforming. But then if you dig in to the specifics, are you investing in Tesla? It’s not a pretty good year. Did you back Beyond Meat? Had a great year. And so, when you kind of redefine the public market not by a sleeve and a bank’s version of a portfolio, but rather by company that you think are making demonstrable change in the world, then you can walk away, realizing had I only invested in these companies that are purpose driven, I would have had outsized returns and that’s what we’re trying to deliver on at TMV. That’s the promise. RITHOLTZ: Really, really very, very intriguing. I know I only have you for a few minutes so let’s jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of our guests starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days. Give us your favorite, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any podcast that are keeping you entertained during the pandemic. DARABI: Well, my family has been binging on 100 Foot Wave on HBO Max which is the story of big wave surfer Garrett McNamara who is constantly surfing the world’s largest waves and I’m fascinated by people who have a mission that’s sort of bigger than success or fame but they’re driven by something and part of that something is curiosity and part of it is insanity. And so not only is it visually stunning to kind of watch these big wave surfers in Portugal, but it’s also a mind trip. What motivates them to get out of bed every day and potentially risk their lives doing something so dangerous and so bananas but also at the same time so brave and heroic. So, highly recommend. I am listening to too many podcasts. I listen to, I don’t know, a stream of things. I’m a Kara Swisher fan, Ezra Klein fan, so they’re both part of the “New York Times” these days. And of course, your podcast, Barry. RITHOLTZ: Well, thank you so much. Well, thank you so much. Let’s talk a little bit about who your early mentors were and who helped shape you career? DARABI: It’s going to sound ungrateful but I don’t think, in like a post lean in definition of the word, I ever truly had a mentor or a sponsor. Now, having said that, I’ve had people who really looked at for me and been incredibly gracious with their time and capital. And so, I would absolutely like to acknowledge that first and foremost. I think about how generous Adam Grant has been with his time and his investments for TMV in Fund I and Fund II and he’s a best-selling author and worked on highest-rated business school professor. So shout out to Adam, if he’s listening or Beth Comstock, the former Vice Chair of GE who has been instrumental in my career for about a decade and a half now. And she is also really leaning in to the TMV portfolio and has become a patient of Parsley Health, an early investment of ours and also an official adviser to the business. So, people like Adam and Beth certainly come to mind. But I don’t know, I just — I’m not sure mentors really exist outside of corporate America anymore and part of the reason why we started Transact Global is to kind of foster the concept of the peer mentor, people who are going through the same thing as you at the same time and allowing that hive mentality with an abundance mentality to catalyze people to kind of go further and faster. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about some of your favorite books and what you might reading right now. DARABI: OK, so in the biz book world, because I know your listeners as craving, I’m a big fan of “Negotiation Genius.” I took a crash course with one of the authors, Max Bazerman at the Kennedy School and it was illuminating. I mean, he’s one of the most captivating professors I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing lecture and this book has really helped me understand the concept of the ZOPA, the Zone of Possible Agreement, and how to really negotiate well. And then for Adam whom I just referenced, of all of his incredible books, my favorite is Give and Take because I try to operate with that approach of business. Give more than you take and maybe in the short term, you’ll feel depleted but in the long term, karma pays off. But mostly, Barry, I read fiction. I think the most interesting people in the world or at least the most entertaining at dinner parties are all avoid readers of fiction and history. So I recently reread, for instance, all of my favorite short stories from college, from Dostoyevsky’s “A Gentle Creature” to “Drown” Junot Diaz. “Passing” by Nella Larsen, “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz” by Fitzgerald. Those are some of my very favorite stories of all time. And my retirement dream is to write a book of short stories. RITHOLTZ: Really, really quite intriguing. Are they all available in a single collection or these just, going back to your favorites and just plowing through them for fun? DARABI: Those are just going back to my favorites. I try to re-read “Passing” every few years which is somehow seems to be more and more relevant as I get older and Junot Diaz has become so incredibly famous when I first read “Drown” about 20 years ago which is an original collection of short stories that broadened my perspective of why it’s important to think about a broader definition of America, I guess. And, yes, no, that’s just — that was just sort of off the top of my head as the offering of a few stories that I really love, no collection. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good collection. And we’re down to our final two questions. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was interested in a career in either venture capital or entrepreneurship? DARABI: Venture capital or entrepreneurship. Well, I would say, learn as early as possible how to trust your gut. So, this could mean a myriad of things. As an entrepreneur, it could mean under the halo effect of an institution, university or high school or maybe having a comfortable day job, tinker with ideas, get feedback on that idea, don’t be afraid of looking or sounding dumb and build that peer network that I described. People who are rooting you on and are also insatiably curious about wonky things. And I would say that for venture capital, similar play on the same theme, but whether it’s putting small amounts of money into new concept, blockchain investing, or whether it’s meeting with entrepreneurs and saying maybe I only have $3,000 save up but I believe in you enough to bet amongst friends in Brooklyn on your concept if you’ll have me as an investor. So, play with your own money because what it’s really teaching you in return is how to follow instincts and to base pattern recognition off your own judgement. And if you do that early on, overtime, these all become datapoints that you can point to and these are lessons that you can glean while not taking the risk of portfolio management. So, I guess the real advice to your listeners is more action, please. RITHOLTZ: Really very, very intriguing. And our final question, what do you know about the world of venture investing today that you wish you knew 15 or 20 years ago when you first getting started? DARABI: Twenty years ago, I was a bit of a Pollyanna and I thought every wonderful idea that simply is built by smart people and has timed the market correctly will work out. And I will say that I’m slightly more jaded today because of the capital structure that is systematically allowing the biggest firms in the world to kind of eat up a generous portion of, let’s call it the LP pie, which leaves less capital available to the young upstart VC firms, and of course I’m biased because I run one, that are taking outsized risks on those non-obvious ideas that we referenced. And so, what I wish for the future is that institutional capital kind of reprioritizes what it’s looking for. And in addition to having a bottom line of reliable and demonstrable return on any given investment, there are new standards put into play saying we want to make sure that a portion of our portfolio goes to diverse managers. Because in turn, we recognize that they are three times more likely to invest in diverse founders or we believe in impact investing can be broader than the ESG definitely of a decade ago, so we’re coming up with our own way to measure on sustainability or what impact means to us. And if they go through those exercises which I know is hard because, certainly, I’m not trying to add work to anyone’s plate, I do think that the results will more than make up for it. RITHOLTZ: Quite intriguing. Thank you, Soraya, for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with Soraya Darabi who is the Co-Founder and General Partner at TMV Investments. If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the prior 376 conversations we’ve had before. You can find those at iTunes or Spotify, wherever you buy your favorite podcast. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at MIB You can sign up for my daily reads at Check out my weekly column at Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps me put these conversations together each week. Tim Harrow is my audio engineer. Paris Walt (ph) is my producer. Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Michael Batnick is my head of research. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~     The post Transcript: Soraya Darabi appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 20th, 2021

Weiss: We Got Here Because Of Cowardice, We Get Out With Courage

Weiss: We Got Here Because Of Cowardice, We Get Out With Courage Authored by Bari Weiss via, A lot of people want to convince you that you need a Ph.D. or a law degree or dozens of hours of free time to read dense texts about critical theory to understand the woke movement and its worldview. You do not. You simply need to believe your own eyes and ears.  Let me offer the briefest overview of the core beliefs of the Woke Revolution, which are abundantly clear to anyone willing to look past the hashtags and the jargon. It begins by stipulating that the forces of justice and progress are in a war against backwardness and tyranny. And in a war, the normal rules of the game must be suspended. Indeed, this ideology would argue that those rules are not just obstacles to justice, but tools of oppression. They are the master’s tools.  And the master’s tools cannot dismantle the master’s house. So the tools themselves are not just replaced but repudiated. And in so doing, persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings. Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion, with exclusion. In this ideology, speech is violence. But violence, when carried out by the right people in pursuit of a just cause, is not violence at all. In this ideology, bullying is wrong, unless you are bullying the right people, in which case it’s very, very good. In this ideology, education is not about teaching people how to think, it’s about reeducating them in what to think. In this ideology, the need to feel safe trumps the need to speak truthfully.  In this ideology, if you do not tweet the right tweet or share the right slogan, your whole life can be ruined. Just ask Tiffany Riley, a Vermont school principal who was fired—fired—because she said she supports black lives but not the organization Black Lives Matter. In this ideology, the past cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be judged through the morals and mores of the present. It is why statues of Grant and Washington are being torn down. And it is why William Peris, a UCLA lecturer and an Air Force veteran, was investigated for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” out loud in class. In this ideology, intentions don’t matter. That is why Emmanuel Cafferty, a Hispanic utility worker at San Diego Gas and Electric, was fired for making what someone said he thought was a white-supremacist hand gesture—when in fact he was cracking his knuckles out of his car window. In this ideology, the equality of opportunity is replaced with equality of outcome as a measure of fairness. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, the course must have been defective. Thus, the argument to get rid of the SAT. Or the admissions tests for public schools like Stuyvesant in New York or Lowell in San Francisco.  In this ideology, you are guilty for the sins of your fathers. In other words: You are not you. You are only a mere avatar of your race or your religion or your class. That is why third-graders in Cupertino, California, were asked to rate themselves in terms of their power and privilege. In third grade.  In this system, we are all placed neatly on a spectrum of “privileged” to “oppressed.” We are ranked somewhere on this spectrum in different categories: race, gender, sexual orientation, and class. Then we are given an overall score, based on the sum of these rankings. Having privilege means that your character and your ideas are tainted. This is why, one high-schooler in New York tells me, students in his school are told, “If you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power. Racism has been redefined. It is no longer about discrimination based on the color of someone’s skin. Racism is any system that allows for disparate outcomes between racial groups. If disparity is present, as the high priest of this ideology, Ibram X. Kendi, has explained, racism is present. According to this totalizing new view, we are all either racist or anti-racist. To be a Good Person and not a Bad Person, you must be an “anti-racist.” There is no neutrality. There is no such thing as “not racist.”  Most important: In this revolution, skeptics of any part of this radical ideology are recast as heretics. Those who do not abide by every single aspect of its creed are tarnished as bigots, subjected to boycotts and their work to political litmus tests. The Enlightenment, as the critic Edward Rothstein has put it, has been replaced by the exorcism.  What we call “cancel culture” is really the justice system of this revolution. And the goal of the cancellations is not merely to punish the person being cancelled. The goal is to send a message to everyone else: Step out of line and you are next.  It has worked. A recent CATO study found that 62 percent of Americans are afraid to voice their true views. Nearly a quarter of American academics endorse ousting a colleague for having a wrong opinion about hot-button issues such as immigration or gender differences. And nearly 70 percent of students favor reporting professors if the professor says something that students find offensive, according to a Challey Institute for Global Innovation survey. Why are so many, especially so many young people, drawn to this ideology? It’s not because they are dumb. Or because they are snowflakes, or whatever Fox talking points would have you believe. All of this has taken place against the backdrop of major changes in American life—the tearing apart of our social fabric; the loss of religion and the decline of civic organizations; the opioid crisis; the collapse of American industries; the rise of big tech; successive financial crises; a toxic public discourse; crushing student debt. An epidemic of loneliness. A crisis of meaning. A pandemic of distrust. It has taken place against the backdrop of the American dream’s decline into what feels like a punchline, the inequalities of our supposedly fair, liberal meritocracy clearly rigged in favor of some people and against others. And so on. “I became converted because I was ripe for it and lived in a disintegrating society thrusting for faith.” That was Arthur Koestler writing in 1949 about his love affair with Communism. The same might be said of this new revolutionary faith. And like other religions at their inception, this one has lit on fire the souls of true believers, eager to burn down anything or anyone that stands in its way.  If you have ever tried to build something, even something small, you know how hard it is. It takes time. It takes tremendous effort. But tearing things down? That’s quick work.  The Woke Revolution has been exceptionally effective. It has successfully captured the most important sense-making institutions of American life: our newspapers. Our magazines. Our Hollywood studios. Our publishing houses. Many of our tech companies. And, increasingly, corporate America.  Just as in China under Chairman Mao, the seeds of our own cultural revolution can be traced to the academy, the first of our institutions to be overtaken by it. And our schools—public, private, parochial—are increasingly the recruiting grounds for this ideological army.  A few stories are worth recounting: David Peterson is an art professor at Skidmore College in upstate New York. He stood accused in the fevered summer of 2020 of “engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.” What was that hateful conduct? David and his wife, Andrea, went to watch a rally for police officers. “Given the painful events that continue to unfold across this nation, I guess we just felt compelled to see first-hand how all of this was playing out in our own community,” he told the Skidmore student newspaper. David and his wife stayed for 20 minutes on the edge of the event. They held no signs, participated in no chants. They just watched. Then they left for dinner. For the crime of listening, David Peterson’s class was boycotted. A sign appeared on his classroom door: “STOP. By entering this class you are crossing a campus-wide picket line and breaking the boycott against Professor David Peterson. This is not a safe environment for marginalized students.” Then the university opened an investigation into accusations of bias in the classroom. Across the country from Skidmore, at the University of Southern California, a man named Greg Patton is a professor of business communication. In 2020, Patton was teaching a class on “filler words”—such as “um” and “like” and so forth for his master’s-level course on communication for management. It turns out that the Chinese word for “like” sounds like the n-word. Students wrote the school’s staff and administration accusing their professor of “negligence and disregard.” They added: “We are burdened to fight with our existence in society, in the workplace, and in America. We should not be made to fight for our sense of peace and mental well-being” at school. In a normal, reality-based world, there is only one response to such a claim: You misheard. But that was not the response. This was: “It is simply unacceptable for faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” the dean, Geoffrey Garrett wrote. “Understandably, this caused great pain and upset among students, and for that I am deeply sorry.”  This rot hasn’t been contained to higher education. At a mandatory training earlier this year in the San Diego Unified School District, Bettina Love, an education professor who believes that children learn better from teachers of the same race, accused white teachers of “spirit murdering black and brown children” and urged them to undergo “antiracist therapy for White educators.”  San Francisco’s public schools didn’t manage to open their schools during the pandemic, but the board decided to rename 44 schools—including those named for George Washington and John Muir—before suspending the plan. Meantime, one of the board members declared merit “racist” and “Trumpian.”  A recent educational program for sixth to eighth grade teachers called “a pathway to equitable math instruction”—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—was recently sent to Oregon teachers by the state’s Department of Education. The program’s literature informs teachers that white supremacy shows up in math instruction when “rigor is expressed only in difficulty,” and “contrived word problems are valued over the math in students’ lived experiences.”  Serious education is the antidote to such ignorance. Frederick Douglass said, “Education means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light only by which men can be free.” Soaring words that feel as if they are a report from a distant galaxy. Education is increasingly where debate, dissent, and discovery go to die. It’s also very bad for kids.  For those deemed “privileged,” it creates a hostile environment where kids are too intimidated to participate. For those deemed “oppressed,” it inculcates an extraordinarily pessimistic view of the world, where students are trained to perceive malice and bigotry in everything they see. They are denied the dignity of equal standards and expectations. They are denied the belief in their own agency and ability to succeed. As Zaid Jilani had put it: “You cannot have power without responsibility. Denying minorities responsibility for their own actions, both good and bad, will only deny us the power we rightly deserve.” How did we get here? There are a lot of factors that are relevant to the answer: institutional decay; the tech revolution and the monopolies it created; the arrogance of our elites; poverty; the death of trust. And all of these must be examined, because without them we would have neither the far right nor the cultural revolutionaries now clamoring at America’s gates.  But there is one word we should linger on, because every moment of radical victory turned on it. The word is cowardice. The revolution has been met with almost no resistance by those who have the title CEO or leader or president or principal in front of their names. The refusal of the adults in the room to speak the truth, their refusal to say no to efforts to undermine the mission of their institutions, their fear of being called a bad name and that fear trumping their responsibility—that is how we got here. Allan Bloom had the radicals of the 1960s in mind when he wrote that “a few students discovered that pompous teachers who catechized them about academic freedom could, with a little shove, be made into dancing bears.” Now, a half-century later, those dancing bears hold named chairs at every important elite, sense-making institution in the country.  As Douglas Murray has put it: “The problem is not that the sacrificial victim is selected. The problem is that the people who destroy his reputation are permitted to do so by the complicity, silence and slinking away of everybody else.” Each surely thought: These protestors have some merit! This institution, this university, this school, hasn’t lived up to all of its principles at all times! We have been racist! We have been sexist! We haven’t always been enlightened! I’ll give a bit and we’ll find a way to compromise. This turned out to be as naive as Robespierre thinking that he could avoid the guillotine.  Think about each of the anecdotes I’ve shared here and all the rest you already know. All that had to change for the entire story to turn out differently was for the person in charge, the person tasked with being a steward for the newspaper or the magazine or the college or the school district or the private high school or the kindergarten, to say: No. If cowardice is the thing that has allowed for all of this, the force that stops this cultural revolution can also be summed up by one word: courage. And courage often comes from people you would not expect. Consider Maud Maron. Maron is a lifelong liberal who has always walked the walk. She was an escort for Planned Parenthood; a law-school research assistant to Kathleen Cleaver, the former Black Panther; and a poll watcher for John Kerry in Pennsylvania during the 2004 presidential election. In 2016, she was a regular contributor to Bernie Sanders’s campaign. Maron dedicated her career to Legal Aid: “For me, being a public defender is more than a job,” she told me. “It’s who I am.” But things took a turn when, this past year, Maron spoke out passionately and publicly about the illiberalism that has gripped the New York City public schools attended by her four children.  “I am very open about what I stand for,” she told me. “I am pro-integration. I am pro-diversity. And also I reject the narrative that white parents are to blame for the failures of our school system. I object to the mayor’s proposal to get rid of specialized admissions tests to schools like Stuyvesant. And I believe that racial essentialism is racist and should not be taught in school.” What followed this apparent thought crime was a 21st-century witch hunt. Maron was smeared publicly by her colleagues. They called her “racist, and openly so.” They said, “We’re ashamed that she works for the Legal Aid Society.”  Most people would have walked away and quietly found a new job. Not Maud Maron. This summer, she filed suit against the organization, claiming that she was forced out of Legal Aid because of her political views and her race, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  “The reason they went after me is that I have a different point of view,” she said. “These ideologues have tried to ruin my name and my career, and they are going after other good people. Not enough people stand up and say: It is totally wrong to do this to a person. And this is not going to stop unless people stand up to it.” That’s courage. Courage also looks like Paul Rossi, the math teacher at Grace Church High School in New York who raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. A few days later, all the school’s advisers were required to read a public reprimand of his conduct out loud to every student in the school. Unwilling to disavow his beliefs, Rossi blew the whistle: “I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.” That’s courage.  Courage is Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom who endured Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a child and spoke up to the Loudoun County School Board at a public meeting in June. “You are training our children to loathe our country and our history,” she said in front of the school board. “Growing up in Mao’s China, all of this feels very familiar…. The only difference is that they used class instead of race.” Gordon Klein, a professor at UCLA, recently filed suit against his own university. Why? A student asked him to grade black students with “greater leniency.” He refused, given that such a racial preference would violate UCLA’s anti-discrimination policies (and maybe even the law). But the people in charge of UCLA’s Anderson School launched a racial-discrimination complaint into him. They denounced him, banned him from campus, appointed a monitor to look at his emails, and suspended him. He eventually was reinstated—because he had done absolutely nothing wrong—but not before his reputation and career were severely damaged. “I don’t want to see anyone else’s life destroyed as they attempted to do to me,” Klein told me. “Few have the intestinal fortitude to fight cancel culture. I do. This is about sending a message to every petty tyrant out there.” Courage is Peter Boghossian. He recently resigned his post at Portland State University, writing in a letter to his provost: “The university transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a social justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender and victimhood and whose only output was grievance and division…. I feel morally obligated to make this choice. For ten years, I have taught my students the importance of living by your principles. One of mine is to defend our system of liberal education from those who seek to destroy it. Who would I be if I didn’t?” Who would I be if I didn’t? George Orwell said that “the further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” In an age of lies, telling the truth is high risk. It comes with a cost. But it is our moral obligation. It is our duty to resist the crowd in this age of mob thinking. It is our duty to think freely in an age of conformity. It is our duty to speak truth in an age of lies.  This bravery isn’t the last or only step in opposing this revolution—it’s just the first. After that must come honest assessments of why America was vulnerable to start with, and an aggressive commitment to rebuilding the economy and society in ways that once again offer life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the greatest number of Americans. But let’s start with a little courage. Courage means, first off, the unqualified rejection of lies. Do not speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob. And do not genially accept the lies told to you. If possible, be vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false. Courage can be contagious, and your example may serve as a means of transmission. When you’re told that traits such as industriousness and punctuality are the legacy of white supremacy, don’t hesitate to reject it. When you’re told that statues of figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are offensive, explain that they are national heroes. When you’re told that “nothing has changed” in this country for minorities, don’t dishonor the memory of civil-rights pioneers by agreeing. And when you’re told that America was founded in order to perpetuate slavery, don’t take part in rewriting the country’s history. America is imperfect. I always knew it, as we all do—and the past few years have rocked my faith like no others in my lifetime. But America and we Americans are far from irredeemable.  The motto of Frederick Douglass’s anti-slavery paper, the North Star—“The Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and all we are brethren”—must remain all of ours. We can still feel the pull of that electric cord Lincoln talked about 163 years ago—the one “in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.” Every day I hear from people who are living in fear in the freest society humankind has ever known. Dissidents in a democracy, practicing doublespeak. That is what is happening right now. What happens five, 10, 20 years from now if we don’t speak up and defend the ideas that have made all of our lives possible? Liberty. Equality. Freedom. Dignity. These are ideas worth fighting for. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/17/2021 - 23:05.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 18th, 2021

One Ring To Rule Us All: A Global Digital Fiat Currency

One Ring To Rule Us All: A Global Digital Fiat Currency Via, We’ve written extensively about the “war on cash.” In a nutshell, governments would love to do away with cash in order to better track and control their citizens. There have been numerous moves closer to a cashless society in recent years, from capping ATM withdrawals to doing away with large-denomination bills. Last year, China launched a digital yuan pilot program and the US has floated moving toward a digital dollar. We got a first-hand look at what happens when governments restrict access to cash when India plunged into a cash crisis after the country’s government enacted a policy of demonetization in November 2016. It’s bad enough that various countries are exploring ways to move toward cashlessness, but there’s an even worse scenario - a global digital currency. Economist Thorsten Polleit compares it to the “master ring” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings. The following article was originally published by the Mises Wire. 1. Human history can be viewed from many angles. One of them is to see it as a struggle for power and domination, as a struggle for freedom and against oppression, as a struggle of good against evil. That is how Karl Marx (1818–83) saw it, and Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) judged similarly. Mises wrote: The history of the West, from the age of the Greek Polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders. But unlike Marx, Mises recognized that human history does not follow predetermined laws of societal development but ultimately depends on ideas that drive human action. From Mises’s point of view, human history can be understood as a battle of good ideas against bad ideas. Ideas are good if the actions they recommend bring results that are beneficial for everyone and lead the actors to their desired goals; At the same time, good ideas are ethically justifiable, they apply to everyone, anytime and anywhere, and ensure that people who act upon them can survive. On the other hand, bad ideas lead to actions that do not benefit everyone, that do not cause all actors to achieve their goals and/or are unethical. Good ideas are, for example, people accepting “mine and yours”; or entering into exchange relationships with one another voluntarily. Bad ideas are coercion, deception, embezzlement, theft. Evil ideas are very bad ideas, ideas through which whoever puts them into practice is consciously harming others. Evil ideas are, for example, physical attacks, murder, tyranny. 2. With Lord of the Rings, J. J. R. Tolkien (1892–1973) wrote a literary monument about the epic battle between good and evil. His fantasy novel, published in 1954, was a worldwide success, not least because of the movie trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. What is Lord of the Rings about? In the First Age, the deeply evil Sauron—the demon, the hideous horror, the necromancer—had rings of power made by the elven forges. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. But Sauron secretly forges an additional ring into which he pours all his darkness and cruelty, and this one ring, the master ring, rules all the other rings. When Sauron puts the master ring on his finger, he can read and control the minds of everyone wearing one of the other rings. The elves see through the dark plan and hide their three rings. The seven rings of the dwarves also fail to subjugate their bearers. But the nine rings of men proved to be effective: Sauron enslaved nine human kings, who were to serve him. Then, however, in the Third Age, in the battle before Mount Doom, Isildur, the eldest son of King Elendils, severed Sauron’s ring finger with a sword blow. Sauron is defeated and loses his physical form, but he survives. Now Isildur has the ring of power, and it takes possession of him. He does not destroy the master ring when he has the opportunity, and it costs him his life. When Isildur is killed, the ring sinks to the bottom of a river and remains there for twenty-five hundred years. Then the ring is found by Smeagol, who is captivated by its power. The ring remains with its finder for nearly five hundred years, hidden from the world. Over time, Sauron’s power grows again, and he wants the Ring of Power back. Then the ring is found, and for sixty years, it remains in the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, a friendly, well-meaning being who does not allow himself to be seduced by the power of the One Ring. Years later, the wizard Gandalf the Gray learns that Sauron’s rise has begun, and that the Ring of Power is held by Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf knows that there is only one way to defeat the ring and its evil: it must be destroyed where it was created, in Mordor. Bilbo Baggins’s nephew, Frodo Baggins, agrees to take the task upon himself. He and his companions—a total of four hobbits, two humans, a dwarf, and an elf—embark on the dangerous journey. They endure hardship, adversity, and battles against the dark forces, and in the end, they succeed at what seemed impossible: the destruction of the ring of power in the fires of Mount Doom. Good triumphs over evil. 3. The ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is not just a piece of forged gold. It embodies Sauron’s evil, corrupting everyone who lays hands or eyes on it, poisons their soul, and makes them willing helpers of evil. No one can wield the cruel power of the One Ring and use it for good; no human, no dwarf, no elf. Can an equivalent for Tolkien’s literary portrait of the evil ring be found in the here and now? Yes, I believe so, and in the following, I would like to offer you what I hope is a startling, but in any case, entertaining, interpretation. Tolkien’s Rings of Power embody evil ideas. The nineteen rings represent the idea that the ring bearers should have power over others and rule over them. And the One Ring, to which all other rings are subject, embodies an even darker idea, namely that the bearer of this master ring has power over all other ring bearers and those ruled by them; that he is the sole and absolute ruler of all. The nineteen rings symbolize the idea of establishing and maintaining a state (as we know it today), namely a state understood as a territorial, coercive monopoly with the ultimate power of decision-making over all conflicts. However, the One Ring of power stands for the particularly evil idea of creating a state of states, a world government, a world state; and the creation of a single world fiat currency controlled by the states would pave the way toward this outcome. 4. To explain this, let us begin with the state as we know it today. The state is the idea of the rule of one over the other. This is how the German economist, sociologist, and doctor Franz Oppenheimer (1864–1946) sees it: The state … is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad…. This dominion had no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors. Joseph Stalin (1878–1953) defined the state quite similarly: The state is a machine in the hands of the ruling class to suppress the resistance of its class opponents. The modern state in the Western world no longer uses coercion and violence as obviously as many of its predecessors. But it, too, is, of course, built on coercion and violence, asserts itself through them, and most importantly, it divides society into a class of the rulers and a class of the ruled. How does the state manage to create and maintain such a two-class society of rulers and ruled? In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, nine men, all of them kings, wished to wield power, and so they became bearers of the rings, and because of that, they were inescapably bound to Sauron’s One Ring of power. This is quite similar to the idea of the state. To seize, maintain, and expand power, the state seduces its followers to do what is necessary, to resort to all sorts of techniques: propaganda, carrot and stick, fear, and even terror. The state lets the people know that it is good, indispensable, inevitable. Without it, the state whispers, a civilized coexistence of people would not be possible. Most people succumb to this kind of propaganda, and the state gets carte blanche to effectively infiltrate all economic and societal matters—kindergarten, school, university, transport, media, health, pensions, law, security, money and credit, the environment—and thereby gains power. The state rewards its followers with jobs, rewarding business contracts, and transfer payments. Those who resist will end up in prison or lose their livelihood or even their lives. The state spreads fear and terror to make people compliant—as people who are afraid are easy to control, especially if they have been led to believe that the state will protect them against any evil. Lately, the topics of climate change and coronavirus have been used for fear-mongering, primarily by the state, which is skillfully using them to increase its omnipotence: it destroys the economy and jobs, makes many people financially dependent on it, clamps down on civil and entrepreneurial freedoms. However, it is of the utmost importance for the state to win the battle of ideas and be the authority to say what are good ideas and what are bad ideas. Because it is ideas that determine people’s actions. The task of winning over the general public for the state traditionally falls to the so-called intellectuals—the people whose opinions are widely heard, such as teachers, doctors, university professors, researchers, actors, comedians, musicians, writers, journalists, and others. The state provides a critical number of them with income, influence, prestige, and status in a variety of ways—which most of them would not have been able to achieve without the state. In gratitude for this, the intellectuals spread the message that the state is good, indispensable, inevitable. Among the intellectuals, there tend to be quite a few who willingly submit to the rings of power, helping—consciously or unconsciously—to bring their fellow men and women under the spell of the rings or simply to walk over, subjugate, dominate them. Anyone who thinks that the state (as we know it today) is acceptable, a justifiable solution, as long as it does not exceed certain power limits, is seriously mistaken. Just as the One Ring of power tries to find its way back to its lord and master, an initially limited state inevitably strives towards its logical endpoint: absolute power. The state (as we know it today) is pushing for expansion both internally and externally. This is a well-known fact derived from the logic of human action. George Orwell put it succinctly: “The object of power is power.”  Or, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe nails it, “[E]very minimal government has the inherent tendency to become a maximal government.” Inwardly, the state is expanding through all sorts of interventions in economic and social life, through regulations, ordinances, laws, and taxes. Outwardly, the economically and militarily strongest state will seek to expand its sphere of influence. In the most primitive form, this happens through aggressive campaigns of conquest and war, in a more sophisticated form, by pursuing political ideological supremacy. In recent decades the latter has taken the form of democratic socialism. To put it casually, democratic socialism means allowing and doing what the majority wants. Under democratic socialism, private property is formally upheld, but it is declared that no one is the rightful owner of 100 percent of the income from their property. People no longer strive for freedom from being ruled but rather to participate in the rule. The result is not people pushing back the state, but rather coming to terms and cooperating with it. The practical consequence of democratic socialism is interventionism: the state intervenes in the economy and society on a case-by-case basis to gradually make socialist ideals a reality. All societies of the Western world have embraced democratic socialism, some with more authority than others, and all of them use interventionism. Seen in this light, all Western states are now acting in concert. What they also have in common is their disdain for competition, because competition sets undesirable limits to the state’s expansive nature. Therefore, larger states often form a cartel. Smaller, less powerful states are compelled to join—and if they refuse, they will suffer political and economic disadvantages. But the cartel of states is only an intermediate step. The logical endpoint that democratic socialism is striving for is the creation of a central authority, something like a world government, a world state. 5. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the One Ring, the ring of power, embodies this very dark idea: to rule them all, to create a world state. To get closer to this goal, democracy (as we understand it today) is proving to be an ideal trailblazer, and that’s most likely the reason why it is praised to the skies by socialists. Sooner or later, a democracy will mutate into an oligarchy, as the German-Italian sociologist Robert Michels pointed out in 1911. According to Michels, parties emerge in democracies. These parties are organizations that need strict leadership, which is handed to the most power-hungry, ruthless people. They will represent the party elite. The party elite can break away from the will of the party members and pursue their own goals and agendas. For example, they can form coalitions or cartels with elites of other parties. As a result, there will be an oligarchization of democracy, in which the elected party elites or the cartel of the party elites will be the kings of the castle. It is not the voters who will call the tune but oligarchic elites that will rule over the voters. The oligarchization of democracy will not only afflict individual states but will also affect the international relations of democracies. Oligarchical elites from different countries will join together and strengthen each other, primarily by creating supranational institutions. Democratic socialism evolves into “political globalism”: the idea that people should not be allowed to shape their own destiny in a system of free markets but that it should be assigned and directed by a global central authority. The One Ring of power drives those who have already been seduced by the common rings to long for absolute power, to elevate themselves above the rest of humanity. Who comes to mind? Well, various politicians, high-level bureaucrats, court intellectuals, representatives of big banking, big business, Big Pharma and Big Tech and, of course, big media—together they are often called the “Davos elite” or the “establishment.” Whether it is about combating financial and economic crises, climate change, or viral diseases—the one ring of power ensures that supranational, state-orchestrated solutions are propagated; that centralization is placed above decentralization; that the state, not the free market, is empowered. Calls for the “new world order,” the “Great Transformation,” the “Great Reset” are the results of this poisonous mindset inspired by the one ring of power. National borders are called into question, property is relativized or declared dispensable, and even a merging of people’s physical, digital, and biological identities—transhumanism—is declared the goal of the self-empowered globalist establishment. But how can political globalism be promoted at a time when there are (still) social democratic nation-states that insist on their independence? And where people are separated by different languages, values, and religions? How do the political globalists get closer to their badly desired end of world domination, their world state? 6. Sauron is the undisputed tyrant and dictator in his realm of darkness. He operates something like a command economy, forcing his subjects to clear forests, build military equipment, and breed Orcs. There are neither markets nor money in Sauron’s sinister kingdom. Sauron takes whatever he wants; he has overcome exchange and money, so to speak. Today’s state is not quite that powerful, and it finds itself in economies characterized by property, division of labor, and monetary exchange. The state wants to control money—because this is one of the most effective ways to gain ultimate power. To this end, the modern state has already acquired the monopoly of money production; and it has replaced gold with its own fiat money. Over time, fiat money destroys the free market system and thus the free society. Ludwig von Mises saw this as early 1912. He wrote: It would be a mistake to assume that the modern organization of exchange is bound to continue to exist. It carries within itself the germ of its own destruction; the development of the fiduciary medium must necessarily lead to its breakdown. (6) Indeed, fiat money not only causes inflation, economic crises, and an unsocial redistribution of income and wealth. Above all, it is a growth elixir for the state, making it ever larger and more powerful at the expense of the freedom of its citizens and entrepreneurs. Against this backdrop, it should be quite understandable why the political globalists see creating a single world currency as an important step toward seizing absolute power. In Europe, what the political globalists want “on a large scale” has already been achieved “on a small scale”: merging many national currencies into one. In 1999, eleven European nation-states gave up their currencies and merged them into a single currency, the euro, which is produced by a supranational authority, the European Central Bank. The creation of the euro provides the blueprint by which the world’s major currencies can be converted into a single world currency. This is what the 1999 Canadian Nobel laureate in economics, Robert Mundell, recommends: Fixing the exchange rates between the US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound against each other and also fixing them against a new unit of account, the INTOR. And hocus pocus: here is the world fiat currency, controlled by a cartel of central banks or a world central bank. 7. Admittedly, creating a single world fiat currency seems to have little chance of being realized at first glance. But maybe at second glance. First of all, there is a good economic reason for having a single world currency: if all people do business with the same money, the productive power of money is optimized. From an economic standpoint, the optimal number of monies in the world is one. What is more, nation-states have the monopoly of money within their respective territory, and since they all adhere to democratic socialism, they also have an interest in ensuring that there is no currency competition—not even between different state fiat currencies. This makes them susceptible to the idea of reducing the pluralism of currencies. Furthermore, one should not misinterpret the so-called rivalry between the big states such as the US and China and between China and Europe, which is being discussed in the mainstream media on a regular basis. No doubt that there is a rivalry between the national rulers: they do not want to give up the power they have gained in their respective countries; they want to become even more powerful. But the rivalry between the oligarchic democracies of the West has already weakened significantly, and there are great incentives for the oligarchic party elites to work together across borders. In fact, it is the oligarchization of democracy in the Western world that allowed for the rapprochement with a socialist-communist regime: the state increasingly taking control of the economic and societal system. This development could be called “the Chinacization of the West.” The way the Western world has dealt with the coronavirus—the suspension, perhaps the termination of constitutional rights and freedoms—undoubtedly shows where the journey is headed: to the authoritarian state that is beyond the control of the people—as is the case in Communist China. The proper slogan for this might be “One System, Many Countries.” Is it too farfetched to assume that the Western world will make common cause with Communist China not only on health issues but also on the world currency issue? The democratic socialists in the West and the Chinese Communist Party have a great deal of common ground and common interest, I would think. It is certainly no coincidence that China has pushed hard for the Chinese renminbi to be included in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights, and that the IMF already agreed in November 2015. 8. The issue of digital central bank money, something the world’s major central banks are working on, could be a catalyst in the creation of a single world currency. The issue of digital central bank money not only heralds the end of cash—the anonymous payment option for citizens and entrepreneurs. Once people start using digital central bank money, it will be easy for the central bank and the state to spy on people’s transactions. The state will not only know who pays what, when, where, and what for. It will also be in a position to determine who gets access to the deposits: who gets them and who doesn’t. China is blazing the trail with its “social credit system”: behavior conforming to the Communist regime is rewarded, behavior that does not is punished. Against this backdrop, digital central bank money would be particularly effective at stifling unwanted political opposition. Digital central bank money will not only replace cash, but it will also increasingly compete with money from commercial banks. Why should you keep your money with banks that are exposed to the risk of default when you can keep it safe with the central bank that never goes bankrupt? Once commercial bank deposits can be exchanged one to one for digital central bank money—and this is to be expected—the credit and monetary system is de facto fully nationalized. Because under these conditions, the central bank transfers its unlimited solvency to the commercial banking sector. This completely deprives the financial markets of their function of determining the cost of capital—and the state-planned economy becomes a reality. In fact, this is the type of command and control economy that emerged in National Socialist Germany in the 1930s. The state formally retained ownership of the means of production. But with commands, prohibitions, laws, taxes, and control, the state determines who is allowed to produce what, when, and under what conditions, and who is allowed to consume what, when, and how much. In such a command and control economy, it is quite conceivable that the form of money production will change—away from money creation through lending toward the issue of helicopter money. The central bank determines who gets how much new money and when. The amount of money in people’s bank accounts no longer reflects their economic success. From now on, it is the result of arbitrary political decisions by the central banks, i.e., the rulers. The prospect of being supplied with new money by the state and its central bank—that is, receiving an unconditional basic income—will presumably drive hosts of people into the arms of the state and bring any resistance to its machinations to a shrieking halt. 9. Will the people, the general public, really subscribe to all of this? Well, government-sponsored economists, in particular, will do their very best to inform us about the benefits of having a globally coordinated monetary policy; that stabilizing the exchange rates between national currencies is beneficial; that if a supranational controlled currency—with the name INTOR or GLOBAL—is created, we will achieve the best of all worlds. And as the issuance of digital central bank money has shut down the last remnants of a free capital market, the merging of different national currencies into one will be relatively easy. The single world currency creature that the political globalists want to create will be a fiat money, certainly not a commodity money. Such a single world fiat currency will not only suffer from all the economic and ethical defects which weigh on national fiat currencies. It will also exacerbate and exponentiate the damages a national fiat currency causes. The door to a high inflation policy would be pushed wide open—as nobody could escape the inflationary single world fiat currency. The states are the main beneficiaries: they can get money from the world central bank at any time, provided they adhere to the rules set out by the world central bank and the special interest groups that govern it. This creates the incentive for national states to relinquish sovereignty rights and to submit to supranational rules—for example, in taxation and financial market regulation. It is therefore the incentive resulting from a single world currency that paves the way toward a world government and a world state. In this context, please note what happened in the euro area: the starting point was not the creation of the EU superstate, which was to be followed by the introduction of the euro. It was exactly the opposite: the euro was introduced to overcome national sovereignty and ultimately establish the United Nations of Europe. One has good reason to fear that the idea of issuing a world fiat currency—which the master ring relentlessly pushes for—would bring totalitarianism—that would most likely dwarf the regimes established by Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and other criminals. 10. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, evil is eventually defeated. The story has a happy ending. Will it be that easy in our world? The ideas of having a state (as we know it today), of tolerating it, of cooperating with it, of giving the state total control over our money, of accepting fiat money, are deeply rooted in people’s minds as good ideas. Where are the forces supposed to come from that will enlighten people about the evil that the state (as we know it today) brings to humanity? Particularly when in kindergartens, schools, and universities—which are all in the hands of the state—the teachings of collectivism-socialism-Marxism are systematically drummed into people’s (especially impressionable children’s) heads, when the teachings of freedom, free market and free society, and capitalism are hardly or not at all imparted to the younger generation? Who will explain to people the uncomfortable truth that even a minimal state will become a maximal state? That states’ monopolies over money will lead to a single world currency and thus world tyranny? It does not take much to become bleak when it comes to the future of the free economic and social order. However, it would be rather shortsighted to get pessimistic. Those who believe in Jesus Christ can trust that God will not fail them. If we cannot think of a solution to the problems at hand, the believers can trust God. Because “[e]ven in the darkest night, there is a bright light shining somewhere.” Or: please remember the Enlightenment movement in the eighteenth century. At that time, the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant explained the “unheard of” to the people, namely that there is such a thing as “autonomy of reason.” It means that you and I have the indisputable right to lead our lives independently; that we should handle it according to self-imposed rules, rules that we determine ourselves based on good reason. People back then understood Kant’s message. Why should such an intellectual revolution—triggered by the writings and words of a free thinker—not be able to repeat itself in the future? Or: the fact that people have not yet learned from bad experience does not mean that they won’t eventually learn from it. When it comes to thinking about changes for the better, it is important to note that it is not the mass of people that matters, but the individual. Applied to the conditions in today’s world, among those thinkers who can defeat evil and help the good make a breakthrough are Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe—and all those following their teachings and fearlessly disseminating them—as scholars or as fans. They are—in terms of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings—the companions. They give us the intellectual firepower and the courage to fight and defeat evil. I don’t know if Ludwig von Mises knew Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But he was certainly well aware of the struggle between good and evil that continues throughout human history. In fact, the knowledge of this struggle shaped Mises’s maxim of life, which he took from the verse of the Roman poet Virgil (70 to 19 BC): “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito,” which means “Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.” I want to close my interpretation with a quote from Samwise Gamgee, the loyal friend and companion of Frodo Baggins. In a really hopeless situation, Sam says to Frodo: “There is something good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” So if we want to fight for the good in this world, we know what we have to do: we have to fight for property and freedom and against the darkness that the state (as we know it today) wishes to bring upon us, especially with its fiat money. In fact, we must fight steadfastly for a society of property and freedom! Tyler Durden Sat, 10/09/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 9th, 2021