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Blue Civil War
New Federal Regulations Squeeze Small Colleges

Even as the Democratic Party presidential nominee campaigns on a promise to expand access to a college education, the current Democratic administration is promulgating an onerous new regulation that is likely to force costs upward, especially at smaller schools. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Colleges are worried about how to cover the costs of overtime pay that dozens of coaches, counselors, and other employees may soon become entitled to under a new federal rule designed to ensure they’re paid equitably. […]

The rule change is likely to prove especially challenging for small, private colleges, already facing tight budgets, and campuses outside major urban areas, where living costs and salaries are lower and more employees may be affected. Given how many small, rural colleges are already struggling financially, the new rule “has created some really grave concerns on the part of a number of administrators about the type of impact it’s going to have,” says James H. Newberry Jr., a lawyer who counsels colleges.

This is a case study in the self-contradictions of progressive governance that are becoming increasingly widespread as the Left becomes more assertive even as the blue social model breaks down. Affordable housing proposals are stymied by the necessity of appeasing construction workers’ unions; efforts to bring more less-skilled minorities into the workforce are at odds with radical minimum wage hikes; and now the cause of college affordability is threatened by a particularly aggressive Labor Department overtime mandate.

It may be that some or all of these tradeoffs are worth accepting. But they nonetheless illustrate the fact that the orthodox blue model agenda is struggling to remain politically coherent, and that its internal inconsistencies cannot be papered over forever.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    “It may be that some or all of these tradeoffs are worth accepting.”
    What does that mean when the purpose of the article is to oppose them? Why does it look like a mealy-mouthed disclaimer to facilitate a fence straddle? Isn’t there something weird about saying things are bad and “worth accepting” at the same time? Good grief.

    • JR

      So which side are you on? College affordability or overtime mandate that makes that affordability impossible? I’m just curious.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Overtime mandate, of course. BECAUSE it has application across all industries, not just colleges. The “creativity” which has been employed with job titles in order to make what should be hourly people into salaried people has been growing in ridiculousness for probably 30 years.

        • JR

          Why am I not surprised? Somebody who doesn’t worry about college expenses wants to make colleges even more expensive. See, FG, even you act in your own rational self-interest. Yet you are always shocked when other people act that same exact way. I never get that.
          But of course that’s not the most interesting question. Are you for bringing more less-skilled minorities into the workforce or are you for minimum wage hikes that make this impossible? My money is on minimum wage hikes, but I could be wrong…

          • FriendlyGoat

            The rules are not about “small private” colleges (which generally are affordable anyway FOR the upper classes who even send any students to them in the first place). I guess TAI “tricked” you with this focus shift FROM all employers TO the infinitesimal piece which are small rural colleges. You must be their target audience.

            As for minimum wage, it should have been indexed decades ago to GDP or to total W-2 remuneration per employee, or to taxable income of all business enterprises or some other broad economic indicators so that it rose steadily and in small increments commensurate with the economy. It should not be a political debate at all in terms of specific dollar amounts—–or—-a debate about “minorities” (as you are trying to make it).

          • JR

            No, I get it. The direct harm to colleges is just an EXAMPLE of how harmful this rule is. Because guess who ends up paying for all of this largesse? You are making an astounding leap of faith from having something fail somewhere locally be a PROOF no less of how successful it is overall. Sorry if I don’t join you on that leap.
            As for minimum wage, the question was not what you think it should have been, in an ideal universe where everything just works. But in the grubby here and now, Are you for bringing more less-skilled minorities into the workforce or are you for minimum wage hikes that make this impossible? I just copied the question verbatim. But not a bad attempt at deflection. Alas, sometimes in life we have to choose one or the other. So which one do you prefer?
            Edit: BTW, nice edit after I replied. But we’ll leave that aside for now. Answer the question or state why you don’t want to answer it. I know hard questions are hard. But so is our reality.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Sorry, JR. We’ve been here before. I DO NOT FALL FOR YOUR MENTAL TRAPS. Overtime is not just about colleges and minimum wage is not just about minorities. That and my comments above are my statements. You interrogation is irrelevant——again.

          • JR

            See, you always do that. Anytime you are asked tough questions about liberal orthodoxy you slither away. I get it, your faith is not to be questioned. You will not accept the notion that your beloved liberal policies have extremely harmful effects. So you make statements that are irrelevant to the matter at hand. Don’t worry, I never expect a Left-winger to have an ounce of integrity, so it is literally impossible to disappoint me. And the questions I asked you were asked first in the article upon which we are commenting. I didn’t just make them up to put you on the spot. Anyway, you can slither away in peace.
            P.S. Post Brexit, UK slashed it’s top marginal corporate taxes in order to retain companies. So far their economy is booming. Thank god they weren’t taking your advice, huh?

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s not about slithering away from you. It’s about standing up to you and telling you no. Just no. You cannot and do not shape my thoughts with your questions. Neither does TAI with its disclaimer double-talk.
            As for “post-Brexit”, it has not even started to occur yet.

          • Angel Martin

            Even your buddies at the Guardian have given up on the concept of the Brexit Apocalypse.

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/20/brexit-eu-referendum-economy-project-fear

          • PierrePendre

            This was an oddly realistic article to read in the Guardian which together with the BBC is so devotedly pro-EU that it has a deep masochistic investment in the failure of Brexit which will post facto vindicate all the Armageddon stuff that dominated the Remain campaign. What makes this death wish all the more bizarre is that if it comes true, it will bring down the Remainers and their media allies with it. The op-ed piece linked to is hopefully a sign that the Guardian at least is coming out of its post-defeat anger/grief phrase and moving towards a realisation that it’s in everyone’s interest – including that of the Europeans – to make Brexit a success for both Britain and the EU. Friendly Goat is stuck in an Armageddon rut which fails to recognise that all things are never equal. When problems arise, people fix them. Problems will certainly arise during the negotiation of the terms of the Brexit settlement but any hold-our Remainers hoping the British will simply succumb to eventual defeat know nothing of either the British character or British history.

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s not a matter of an Armageddon. It is a matter that the “leave” vote and monetary accommodation are all that have really occurred. The negotiations of exit and the actual future arrangements have not. So, to me, we do not yet have “post-Brexit” and no one knows whether it will end up being a sort of 1/4 exit or 1/3 exit or 1/2 exit. I suspect some sort of partial pullout will be the result—-and so, apparently, do the markets.

          • JR

            I’ve long ago stopped trying to divine what markets are telling me. As a true U of Chicago graduate, I have all my money in the lowest cost index funds I can find as a result. The fear of Armageddon was for the short term result on the UK economy of the vote. That is obviously not happening. As for predicting the future, that’s a dicey business that.

          • FriendlyGoat

            What markets “told” the world for a few days was that Brexit would cause a sell-off. Then, with cooler heads, traders realized that none of this happens overnight, that powers such as central banks will be bending over backwards to accommodate any panicky market moves, and within a short time the initial sell-off was all repurchased. It’s entirely possible that Brexit is a negative event—-BUT—-that it turns into a positive market event because of central banks printing money and manipulating interest rates too low too long—–again—-just because of Brexit.

          • JR

            Don’t even get me started on the futility of what central banks are currently doing. Japan is just straight up nationalizing the stock market. This will all end poorly. I still think there’s too much debt and we’d need to inflate out of it before any real growth can take place.

          • JR

            Agree completely. I’m old enough to remember a very similar gnashing of the teeth and rendering of clothes over UK’s decision to keep the pound and not join the euro zone. Same cries of City being abandoned, lack of foreign investment, economic isolation. None of that happen, because despite FG’s belief to the contrary, trade flows are shaped by competitive advantages not bureaucratic diktats.

          • f1b0nacc1

            The folks at the Guardian are caught in an interesting fix….many of them (the Polly Toynbee crowd) are dedicated EUnicks, and want the giant superstate as a vehicle for their statist ambitions, while a good many of their contributors (as well as a very large portion of their readers, from what I can see in CIF, though I concede that is a skewed sample) are true believers in the the socialist dream, and see the EU as nothing more than another neoliberal tool of exploitation. Then you have the political types who are more concerned with the fate of the Labour party, and are terrified of what is going to happen to them if they are seen as actively rooting for a disaster. This last group has rallied of late (I suspect the bloody civil war for the leadership in Labour is the spark for this), and has tried to stake out a position for themselves as the ‘responsible’ ones, somewhere between the UKIP crazies (which of course they define as everyone who voted for Brexit) and the Trotskyites on the far left. Given the absolute collapse of the predictions of fiscal disaster that were used by the Remainers, this isn’t a terrible strategy (they really don’t have much better, short of saying “yes, we lied, please forgive us” and hoping), but it is rather feeble nonetheless.

          • Anthony

            FG, as you pull them in (reaction against…) and one, two, three, or … articles will not an outcome be determined, here’s a Brexit consideration from another European viewpoint: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/brexit-future-of-europe-by-jean-pisani-ferry-2016-08

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. This seems to me like a good explanation of why no one should be talking about “post-Brexit” as though any details have been arranged. Five or ten years from now would be a good time to assess what “post-Brexit” looks like. I think the markets failed to “rattle” because traders assumed this is going to be long, slow, careful and perhaps not nearly as “definitive” as the “leave” voters think.

          • Anthony

            Well along with others, the author has given serious thought to his continent. So, yes, I would agree generally. As well your reply calls to mind a study (Kruger-Dunning, I think), a study I read years ago. One assertion is that people make predictions and estimations with a “level” of confidence that exceeds the accuracy rate. The probability is that a similar calibration applies regarding Brexit and prognosticators.

          • JR

            Well, I hope my mind is not as closed as yours. A mind should be shaped by questions and realities as they emerge. For some reason you think that changing one’s mind is the worst thing that can happen, proof be damned. That’s what makes you such a scary (and I’m not being sarcastic when using that word) statist. No amount of suffering, pleading from the people or empirical evidence will shape your thoughts. They are set in stone. God help us if people like you ever get real power.
            As for post-Brexit, I agree that we are yet to see the consequences. We’ll see in a decade what it actually meant. But my question was what do YOU think about British government’s decision to cut corporate tax rates in order to attract and retain businesses. You know, the exact opposite of what you always advocate. And no, I don’t expect an answer. Your mind is set, as you wrote. No amount of reality-based thinking will ever enter your echo chamber.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Decisions of individual states to cut taxes (in the USA) or individual countries to cut taxes OF COURSE can cause economic activity to come into those places—–FROM activity which might have otherwise taken place somewhere else. I don’t dispute that it happens. What I maintain is that for individual PEOPLE, this game between political subdivisions is a race to the bottom—–a situation where citizens require themselves (through their governments)—–because of the never-ending race—–to do the “competing” for benefit of incorporated entities rather than more sensibly getting the incorporated entities to do the competing for the benefit of citizens.
            Since I don’t believe that tax cuts really “create jobs”, I think we need to be finding ways to stop the race to the bottom.

  • ljgude

    First, I would require all administrators to teach a minimum of two classes and I would send those that couldn’t to the countryside for reeducation. But I think the bricks and mortar based institutions are finished and these new bureaucratic requirements will just finish them off more quickly.

  • Kevin

    These overtime rules are going to be a mess and not just for colleges.

    I also suspect that the affected workers are not going to be pleased. In my experience, quite a few employees making $35-45 K prefer to be on salary. Partly it’s a prestige and status thing, but something that has a real value nonetheless to employees. Further, not having to punch a time card also helps with flexible work arrangements that are task based (rather than time based) or work from home, etc.

    These rules are going to move us further into an adversarial employee-employer relationship rather than a cooperative one.

    The ironic thing is that colleges seem to be abusing the salary exempt classification and cracking down here seems to be justified.

  • f1b0nacc1

    This is about to become a lot more amusing now that we will see more unions cropping up among grad students.

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