Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Keeping people out

By Dave Anderson:

The summer of 1998 was a great time for me.  I had just graduated high school, I was in great shape as I was still lifting five days a week and swimming two or three miles a day, I had a car that (usually) got me from Point A to Point B, my friends and I had very reliably access to affordable and good beer, and chasing girls was almost always fun no matter the result.

I also had some serious cash in my pocket as I was working for the fourth year for my city.  That year, I had been promoted to water safety instructor/riverfront lifeguard.  My base pay was $12.00 an hour, and I could usually count on at least a couple of hours of overtime each week as we were short staffed because any kid with a pulse could find an above minimal wage job then. 

Most of my check was going into the bank as I was preparing to go to an elite university where the annual cost of attendance (tuition, room and board) was roughly the expected first year salary of a humanities' student.  But even with a 70% savings rate, I had a blast that summer.  My 1981 Toyota Tercel's tank could be filled for an hour of take home pay

Now, I am the referee coordinator for my school district's recreational soccer league.  I have spent most of the past week talking to my teenage referees because I need to start making the spring schedule.  I also want to push several of the better kids into doing medium level competitive games as it is an appropriate challenge and those games pay better at roughy $20/hour.

Older teens have it rough today. 

One of the kids I spoke with was interested as he is a smart kid but has not been able to find a job that pays above minimal wage for the past six months.   Filling the tank to his 1994 Mazda Protege will cost him at least two soccer games, perhaps a touch more if he does not have any grocery store loyalty/affinity points lined up.  He just got accepted to the same university I did.  Today, that university charges its freshman roughly the expected starting salary of a computer programmer with a top-3 program BS in CS.  He's hoping to make enough money between March 10 (the start of the preseason) and freshman orientation to pay his car and health insurance and then eke out a living on work study and refereeing the fall season to eat for the rest of the year. 

I'm sure he'll do fine.  He is a very smart kid with a good family able to provide a safety net, and he has both the hard skills and the softer (and far more valuable) people skills to do well for himself. But that conversation brought to mind this recent post by Ian Welsh on the economic trends of the next couple of years irregardless of who wins in November:

What has happened is that the general circle of prosperity has been reduced.  Less people now live in the �good� US economy.  When they drop out of that economy they also use a lot less oil and gas, and even electricity.

I'm just old enough that the cost of entry into the "good" US economy was not too high for most of my high school graduating class.  Tuition was rising but enough financial aid was actually grants or cheap ass fixed rate consolidation loans that college is not a complete backbreaker.  Gasoline was cheap enough that it did not constrain too many actions.  Economic life has not been golden for my high school cohort as we got out of college during the job-loss recovery of 2002-2003 and many of us spun our heels in several McJobs until something that vaguely resembles a career could be built.  And by now, most of the kids who did not attend or complete college have had enough time in their fields to actually be worth hiring due to their learning by doing as well as tacit knowledge.   

My brother is five years younger than me.  His cohort graduated high school in 2003/2004 and college just as the economy imploded from the housing bubble and Wall Street looting via the big shitpile.  Housing is too expensive anywhere the gas costs won't kill you, and student loan debt skyrocketed in just five years. 

Today's high school seniors are looking at educational bills that are ridiculous but are neccessary in order to buy the lottery ticket that might promise entry into the "good life" where even the good life means more of a paycheck goes into quasi-fixed energy costs because there is almost no place where the gasoline/time versus density trade-off favors density too strongly.  Even after they take on massive debts to get an education and probably another year or two of working/interning at subsistence wages to gain experience, there still are not jobs available for them that utilize their training.  They'll be competing for one more McJob against people who are more desperate (as they have kids/a mortage/no more student loan deferrements left) and have five years of similar McJob experience.  

The young referee who wants to do more and better games will probably scratch off an entry ticket, but more of his classmates won't.  And that trend will continue. 


  1. irregardless - not a word.

  2. Disirregardless of whether irregardless is a word, good and terrifying point.

  3. Here's an open secret that the Chinese elite have already deciphered and mastered: viable resources (the unsustainable kind we humans have become fond of abusing) are diminishing. The planet's population is exploding. Automation and computerization mean fewer hands are needed to process and package what's left.
    Do the math; the technocratic elite to whom we've handed the controls of social and financial policy know that we are all more disposable than ever before. They're taking advantage, and they're further gaming the system to protect their precarious privileges and set the rest of us to fighting to the death amongst ourselves.
    So either we all miraculously get wise and drastically reduce the global population while we work out ways to live more sustainably and equitably; or we can continue crashing down to our horrific, violent, cramped, toxic, and agonized demise.
    (Honestly, most of the world's population has already been experiencing permutations of this. It's only now that the formerly relatively privileged consumer class of the West is starting to feel the heat that we're seeing more expressed awareness. What we've dealt to the Global South for a century or two is now coming back on us, because there's nowhere else for it to go.)

  4. I started blogging in 2007 on this issue:
    "The dream seems now only to be a definite with a 2 person, college educated and working household. That combination is not far from being in the 10% group. Thus, we have raised the dream to something beyond which a large portion of the population will not reach considering only 28% have a 4 year degree even though 64% of high school students are entering college. It looks even worse with people suggesting that you need an IQ of 110 to succeed in college. I mean, can we push the dream any further out or be anymore aristocratic in our arguments? While we have done this, the median income for a bachelors has been going down from a high in 1999 of $70,925 to $68,728 in 2003. In fact, all levels of education have seen a decline and anyone with an associates degree or less has seen the median decline to less than that earned in 1991. But it does suggest that 2 people with an associates could even be in the top 10%!
    Was the American Dream based on 2 people working or 1? Was the dream that more people would obtain it or fewer as time passed and the country earn more?"
    As good as you believe you had it in 1998, you were still screwed compared to my experience in the late 70's.
    I hated school, swore I would never go back. I now have 11 years with a professional degree. After high school, I worked 80 hrs/week. Had my own apartment a year after graduation. I had an IRA started. By the time I decided to return to school realizing I could not keep up 80 hrs/week, I had $10,000 in the bank and had loaned my parent $5000 during those 3 years. Depending on how you figure it, that is today the equivalent to $27,500 to $63,300 http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/relativevalue.php
    Purchasing power puts it at #33,400.
    I attended an Dean College my first 2 years. I paid the whole tuition cash. I lived at my parents. When my daughter, who just graduated May 2011 looked into that school it was $24,000/yr. No way cold a young person attend that school as I did.
    As I continued my education, I had to take loans. Unfortunately thanks to Ronny my loan interest was pushed up to 9%. There was nothing reasonable then about that rate. It was the begining of the end, an end I had argued with my boss (a second dad to me) would happen if Ronny was elected. I'm not the only one in '80 of my generation that predicted today. I just thought it would happen sooner. Had no idea how much the game could be manipulated.