Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Little Good News

I forgot to mention here, though I did say it on my Global Cal blog, that the problem of declining public funding for the University of California had a really nice write-up in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. Hats off to Rick Paddock for the best daily newspaper story on public higher ed funding in world history.

We'll see what it does. But at least the idea is out there that privatization can't save public universities: the amount of the donations aren't enough, and the money comes for specific purposes, including, in the case of sponsored research, for a return on investment and not for general social development. For doing the latter, general taxation is far more efficient than cutting taxes and then hoping companies give a small percentage of their tax savings back to the public sector in the form of targeted research that may or may not have social spillovers. Read the original report if you want more on this topic. And who wouldn't want more? Take your medicine! It will help you to keep from getting screwed.

There was some good coverage here in France of the insider trading scandal at the Airbus parent company. The story is that a number of politically-connected insiders at the company sold much of their stock right before it plunged on news of Airbus 380 delays. One piece of the problem is that they appeared to profit from knowledge they had as insiders that the public did not. Another piece is that a government financial institution, la Caisse des dépôts, bought the stock high with public funds, bailed out the insiders, and thus took the loss out of the public till. Did the Caisse directors have a deal with the insiders to help them out? No proof, they deny it, and so it goes.

The only good news here was that the mainstream radio coverage I heard (Europe 1) said if one side sells at a good price (high), another buys at a bad price (high and about to fall). They noted that the government's losses, 180 million Euro, meant that the insiders in effect gained 3 Euro per man, woman, and child in France. It's helpful to think about who pays when others gain, rather than living in the magical world of Anglo-Saxon market talk in which everyone wins, and the big wins are allotted simply to those who are best.

I have a few thoughts about le Jogger's trip to see his fellow strongman Putin and to have a virile dialog of mutual respect, but I'll spare you. Better news elsewhere - including TV criticism - where people are seeing how it really is.

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