Category Archives: History

What America Must Do: Step 6 – Reinvent Higher Education

Sans Students: Is this what university classrooms will look like in 2020?

Higher Education is an unmovable object with an unstoppable force heading straight for it and universities are at ground zero. Classrooms as we know them may be doomed and the question is whether our country will lead the world in adapting to a new model, or whether we will be the last ones to accept reality.

The Value of the College Degree
The unmovable object in Higher Education is importance of the college degree in American commerce. Business lives or dies on information. The person who can access, filter, analyze, organize, and explain information tends to be valuable in a company.

High schools are tasked to help students graduate with basic competencies, but they are dealing with children who are still maturing into adulthood and that process needs to be complete before they are morphed into business men and women.

Those who believe high schools should be vocational schools are assuming that all children will become a construction laborer or office drone, so why bother with college prep? The concept of education as a training ground for corporate zombies is too simple-minded to apply in a country that encourages all citizens to reach their maximum potential.

College is where young adults are given the tools to become valued business leaders. College classes require a student to learn how to access and report information, which is central in business competitiveness. The business that can out think its competition always wins, which may be why many top businesses are more concerned about the degree, not the major. A college degree is more than a piece of paper, it is a badge of achievement that says this person is ready for the business world.

The Relentless Rise in the Cost of College
The unstoppable force is the rising cost of a college education. With cuts in federal and state budgets a greater share of the burden is being heaped on those who are least able to avoid it. In Mitt Romney’s failed bid to be President he suggested that students should borrow from their parents to pay for college. That was one telling sign that Romney is out of touch with the real world the rest of us live in.

March 2012 protest in Sacramento over tuition hikes

In 1991 the annual average cost for a university education was at $7,602 or over $30,000 for four years of college. In 2001, that annual cost had risen to $12,922 or over $50,000 in four years. In 2011, the annual cost had risen to $22,092, which meant it cost over $88,000 for the average college four-year degree. That is the equivalent of buying a new car every year a student attends college. If the trend continues it will cost a student an average of over $41,000/year for college by 2021, which means a four-year college degree in 2021 may cost over $167,000.

Students and their parents are already outraged by the rising costs, but it is universities who control the expenses, and therefore control the costs.

Based on current trends, the average annual cost for college may exceed $40,000 by 2021

Students want to be competitive for careers that will lead them to higher paying jobs, but they have no means to afford college and the list of parents who CAN pay over $22,000 a year for four years are on a first name basis with Mitt Romney.

The Other Unmovable Object – Faculty
Teachers at the college level have traditionally been considered the most important asset to a university and for centuries they were treated with dignity and respect by administrators, but financial pressures have made them a target for saving money. While students face escalating tuition and fees, university faculty are also a target of the unstoppable force. Professors have been constantly asked to accept budget cuts and teach more students for the same, or lower pay. 

Some universities have replaced expensive tenured professors with temporary faculty employed by contract on a semester by semester basis. Temporary faculty make a fraction of a full, tenured professor. Not surprisingly, a teacher that may not be offered a contract the next semester tends to be more accepting of increased class sizes, or other cost-cutting measures.

What may be surprising is that a college teacher is likely not receiving a significant portion of the tuition paid by the students in his or her classes. A temporary professor may bring in $100,000 or more in revenue each year for the university, but a temporary professor is often paid less than $4,000 per class with no benefits. Low pay and increased pressure to do more for no additional money makes the teaching environment unpleasant for the student and professor.

A Revolution Caused by the Internet
Ironically, the Internet was originally intended to allow one university to have quick access to the knowledge database at other universities and research laboratories. As it expanded and became commercially available in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the public began to have access to a vast storage of on and off-campus knowledge without a student ID. Within a decade homes across the world were linked into a mass of dynamic information via business and personal websites, blogs, chat rooms, and other social media sites.

Suddenly anyone could access information and share ideas and they didn’t have to pay tuition to have easy access to it. Certainly some of the information was in error, but often people found information that outpaced the knowledge produced in books. Universities no longer held the monopoly on information.

Government Must Change
State governments and Higher Education face these problems:

  1. A college degree is still a valuable achievement and desired by the public and business.
  2. Tuition and fees are too high and the public can no longer afford them.
  3. Professors have been devalued in a system where more and more of the revenue is channeled away from the them.
  4. University administrators and government legislators have created a paradigm for Higher Education that is unsustainable.

Social media has changed the expectations of the public. People expect to be able to have ready access to anyone to whom they are paying for a service.

Controlling advanced knowledge within ivy covered walls is no longer possible in a world where anyone can do a Google search and know as much or more about the most current knowledge on any topic. However, just doing a Google search does not teach a person how to filter, analyze, organize, and report that information.

State-run universities have a unique opportunity to reinvent Higher Education. The challenge is that they are the most unlikely to do it. Administrators have Accreditation organizations that are established to dictate what Higher Education is and will be today and tomorrow based on the best practices of yesterday. That doesn’t work in a world where today is already history that was recorded by over 340 million tweets a day (March 2012 data.)

When the unstoppable force hits the unmovable objects (value of a degree and the need for faculty) few things about Higher Education will remain unchanged. Now is the time for State-run universities to dodge the upcoming annihilation and take the lead in reinventing Higher Education. They can start considering the following guidelines:

  • Tuition must stabilize and regress. Fees should be eliminated. Universities can assume that there will be no money available to siphon off for student activities, the football program, or any other money-absorbing entity. 
  • Support materials (textbooks, etc.) will be digital only and the cost will be pennies on the dollar of what students have been paying. Goodbye, McGraw-Hill. Hello, Faculty Publishing.
  • Classrooms will be more like Boardrooms with fewer students where the Professor is the CEO of knowledge and students must bring their best or beg for a second chance with someone else. Much of the lecture and information gathering will be done via webcasts and/or outside of class time. ‘Class’ will be where the work outside the classroom is brought in for discussion and idea sharing.
  • Class schedules will not follow a semester system and will be on a schedule that is more like a project team.
  • Faculty will lead students while at the same time work toward advancing knowledge on the subject matter.
  • The most important person to the student will be the educational coordinator (i.e. Counselor or Adviser in the old paradigm) who will create an individualized degree that is based on achieving a level of mastery information handling, not a number of credit hours.

The framework in which this happens must be within a government structure. Private enterprise has proven that when they try to create a system of higher learning they fail. It solves nothing to make Higher Education a profit-based program that is a poor imitation of the old, outdated model. If government can successfully create a new model it will make the United States of America the leader of advanced knowledge. If not, we can expect to be exporters of our future.

Links to:

What America Must Do:  Step 1 – Silence the Wackos in Politics
What America Must Do:  Step 2 – An Extreme Makeover of Government at All Levels
What America Must Do:  Step 3 – Restore Government Revenue and Fair Taxation
What America Must Do:  Step 4 – Balanced Budget By 2015, Debt under 50% of GDP by 2020
What America Must Do:  Step 5 – Restart a Federally Run Space Program

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Filed under College, Communication, Education, Generational, Government, Higher Education, History, Information Technology, Internet, Opinion, Politics, Public Relations, Taxes, Technology, The Tipping Point, Traditional Media, Universities, US History

What America Must Do: Step 5 – Restart a Federally Run Space Program

USSR scared America into the space race and it led to our prosperity

Fifty years ago America was scared. The USSR had sent a man into space and he had orbited the Earth. The Soviet Union was also threatening to plant their ballistic missile weaponry in Cuba. The United States entry into the space race was out of a fear that if we didn’t respond quickly, it might be too late.

This dire situation caused a crisis-type response that defined who we are as a people. Ignoring profit or ROI (return on investment) we established our space program and became proficient at churning out new technologies. Almost overnight we had a new breed of people who literally became rocket scientists.

And then it happened. We discovered that space technology had terrestrial applications. That wasn’t the justification for it, but our space program suddenly pushed the United States of America into the role as the go-to nation for space technology applied to terrestrial application. For decades Americans and the world reaped the benefits of the new materials, equipment and knowledge that came from our effort to go beyond the safety and protection of Earth’s womb.

Young people became excited about the space program and suddenly universities had applicants knocking down their doors to become a scientist, mathematician, or engineer that would go on to shape tomorrow’s world. Space ignited learning and research at colleges that shook up their dusty libraries and ivy covered walls. Philosophy, religion, arts, economics, and literature were blindsided in the 1960’s and 70’s by new questions that challenged our old beliefs and standards.

In 2008, USA space competitiveness was dominant, but today it wanes

Meanwhile, in Russia, scientists were put under extreme pressure to be successful on an accelerated space program. Behaving more like a mega-corporation that pushed for immediate results, Russia’s government forced scientists to try to take major risks in a dangerous environment where failure meant loss of life. When the scientist did have a new breakthrough they became state secrets and the larger population did not benefit. For the Soviets, the space race showcased the failure of running a government like a business.

Fifty years later America can look around at our computers, cell phones, medical devices and almost everything we touch, consume, or use and know that the space program had a direct or indirect impact on its development.

Yet, today America is stagnant. We are desperately trying to be competitive in a global market that spends most of its time figuring out how to make things cheaper, but not better. We say we want young people to pursue careers as engineers and scientists, but there is no burning reason for a high school graduate to pursue those careers. Instead we have university Psychology programs that are filled to overflowing with students who are more inspired to collect a salary by listening to other people’s problems than in designing the transportation and living habitats for a colony on Mars.

The United States is desperate for water in the South and West, but everyday we waste it

For decades the western United States has been battling with a growing population and a dwindling fresh water supply. We also face aging community water and sewer systems that are in need of major updating and repairs. We face global climate change because the we have been filling the air with energy absorbing carbon from burning coal, gasoline and natural gas.

The concept of transporting power, water, and waste is based on 19th and 20th century engineering. Power has to be generated hundreds of miles away and then delivered to homes via power lines that can fail in a major storm. Expensive and overburdened water treatment plants transport fresh, clean water through miles of pipeline and is only used once and then it becomes waste. Purified water that would be the envy of many people in Africa and the Middle East is mindlessly sprayed on our lawns and used to flush our toilets. 

In space water has to be recycled, air must be purified, and power must be generated efficiently on a micro scale. That means focusing on self-sustaining habitats built that will face extreme conditions. On Earth, these technologies will pave the way to a shift from macro water, sewer and power systems (power plants and water and sewage treatment facilities) to cost-effective micro systems that free families from relying on expensive, polluting, and wasteful systems that are unsustainable. Everything we need to solve America’s terrestrial problems can be found by solving the  problems of extended human living in space. In addition, a renewed public space program will inspire High School graduates to pursue careers in engineering and science.

Space X Falcon 9 Engine Array – Redefining space technology

America needs to be pushed into using new technologies that break down the paradigms of the past. In the 1960’s we were pushed by the Soviets and the result was prosperity.  Today we need to push ourselves, not out of fear, but out of pride and courage. I have nothing against Space X or any other private or commercial space program, but prosperity doesn’t happen out of the pursuit of profit. Prosperity happens when everyone sacrifices from the board room to the break room for the good of the United States.  

Space X has made new breakthroughs in the bureaucracies and waste built up over five decades by NASA and its private contractors and they should be the model of a new public space program, but investors and ROI are not the reason America needs to take back the leadership in space exploration.

If the last 50 years have taught us anything it is that raising ships to the stars, we will raise all ships on Earth. It’s time to reclaim our space program.

Links to:

What America Must Do:  Step 1 – Silence the Wackos in Politics
What America Must Do:  Step 2 – An Extreme Makeover of Government at All Levels
What America Must Do:  Step 3 – Restore Government Revenue and Fair Taxation
What America Must Do:  Step 4 – Balanced Budget By 2015, Debt under 50% of GDP by 2020
What America Must Do:  Step 6 – Reinvent Higher Education

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Filed under College, Crisis Management, Ethics, Government, Health, Higher Education, History, Information Technology, Opinion, Passionate People, Politics, Pride, Re-Imagine!, Religion, Science, Space, Taxes, Technology, Universities, US History

Romney’s Concession Speech

November 6, 2012  4:34 PM EDT

I know the polls have not closed in…well, anywhere, but the results of this election are obvious, even to a multi-millionaire like myself. We’ve lost…again.

Many complained that we lied and deceived the voters in an attempt to be elected. What were we supposed to do? Our choice was to acknowledge that President Obama did a great job in tackling the mess we created and began rebuilding the country, OR lie. We were not going to win any elections by telling the truth!

This campaign was built on the idea that we could fool people long enough to be elected President. As I said in May, 47% of Americans are too smart to be tricked by our twisting of facts, and we knew that 30% of Americans would vote for me no matter how bad we ran our campaign. So this campaign came down to sucking in less than 23% of the electorate. Unfortunately for us most of the citizens of this country are not as stupid as we had hoped. 

But you have to credit us for our bravado in our attempt to buy and lie our way into the White House:

GOP Success: Stopping America’s Recovery

  • The Economy:  Our fault, but that didn’t stop us from blaming President Obama. We almost convinced America that President Obama failed because he didn’t create full employment, didn’t pave streets in gold, nor had honey flow out of our taps in four years. 
  • Unemployment:  This one is funny, You’ll laugh. We told people that the wealthy are …ready for this..THE job creators! I know, I know. How stupid do you have to be to know that private business loves high employment. Low unemployment means employees can demand better pay, better benefits, better working schedules and all those other headaches that come when too many people have a good job. Employers now have employees by the short hairs and we’re never letting go.
  • The Recovery:  It was remarkable under the circumstances, and conservatives fought hard to keep it from happening. There are no liberals in Big Oil and they worked with us to keep prices high this year. Still, no joy.
  • The Debt:  The truth is that the Bush-era tax cuts cut knees out of the federal budget. That and two mega-wars, plus the devastation caused when my conservative banking friends wrecked the economy. Sure the stimulus and bailouts increased the nation’s debt, but none of that would have been necessary if conservative policies hadn’t put all the ingredients together for an economic disaster.
  • Big Government:  We made it sound like President Obama made massive increases in government, and yet it was George Bush that created the TSA, and other massive increases in the size of federal government. Still, we just have to say ‘big government’ to stupid people and they start to sweat. It’s kind of fun.
  • Obamacare:  We were blessed to have a major Democratic lead program that wouldn’t be effective until 2014. We could paint it to be anything we wanted and we wanted it to be evil. Who could argue with me?
  • Foreign Policy:  Conservatives are warmongers. We love a good fight. We love a bad fight. We love it anytime we can send our young adults and technology to overseas to beat somebody up. I thought we had President Obama beat on foreign policy, but I sort of screwed it up in London…and Israel….and Poland. If you don’t like my foreign policy you can kiss my ass!

We also did a good job of ignoring what we didn’t want to talk about.

  • The Past:   We had a Republican National Convention and we didn’t even invite either of the Bush’s. We didn’t need to highlight the past and good riddance to both of them.
  • Taxes:   We didn’t want to talk about my taxes. As Ann said, if we let people see our taxes, “they will attack us!” Sure a President should have a thick skin, but who needs that when we can deny and  hide? Richard Nixon taught me that.
  • Family History:  I don’t want to discuss this, even now.
  • My First Name:  Seriously, who would vote for someone named Willard?
  • Women:  We probably should have been more sensitive to women’s issues, but really, who cares? Right Ann?
  • Education:  Smart people don’t vote for idiots. Why did you think we didn’t want to talk about education?
  • Crime:  We conservatives have always pushed a ‘lock’em up and throw away the key’ policy on crime. The problem is that it cost $30,000/year to house one inmate, and after they reach 55 years old, inmate costs go up to $60,000/year because of increasing medical issues. More inmates, higher costs. Who knew?

I know my mouth got this campaign into a lot of trouble, but honestly how can you only blame me for failed policies that are the very definition of being a conservative. Like everything else, it was the fault of the Democrats that I didn’t get elected as President.

Well, I guess I should end this before I say something stupid. I hope all of you feel better now that you won’t have Ann and I to kick around anymore. 

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Netanyahu Pushes America To Another War, Romney Eager To Oblige

Netanyahu to US: “Isn’t it time for another Middle East war?”

On Tuesday Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goaded the United States into a war with Iran. Demanding that the United States set conditions for war by establishing a ‘red line’ for which the United States would begin another war in the Middle East if Iran crossed it. Conservative Presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney seems eager to appease Netanyahu by whining about President Obama’s work to end the existing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and assuring voters that if he is elected he will move quickly to send America’s young adults back into war.

Netanyahu used unilateral actions at Jewish/Christian/Muslim holy sites in 1996 and 2010 to insult and spark riots by Muslims

Netanyahu is no stranger to goading people into violence. In 1996, while throwing roadblocks into the peace process with Palestine, he authorized work in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem that was guaranteed to anger the Palestinians. His ‘in-your-face’ act caused three days of riots and took 80 lives. Like the brother who knows how to get his sibling into trouble, Netanyahu modus operandi is to push others into violent acts by doing something that seems innocent, but is actually extremely insulting.

By stimulating violence, Netanyahu was able to justify moving Israeli forces in to Palestinian-occupied Hebron in January of 1997. Eventually he was able to stop the peace process by refusing to compromise on any significant issue. Netanyahu has a consistent history of being the naysayer to any peace effort between Israel and Palestine since 1996. He also has pushed for issues that are designed to irritate Arabs, such as continue settlement of Israelis in Arab-controlled lands. Netanyahu’s provocation of Palestinians and other Arab countries has left the Middle East in turmoil and set the stage for violent groups in the Arab world to fester and grow.

The interesting coincidence is that just as Netanyahu is pushing America to go to war with Iran, Arabs are once again goaded with a mysterious film¹ on YouTube that mocks Mohammad. Riots in Muslim countries have resulted in attacks on American consulates in Libya and Yemen, killing J. Christopher Stevens, America’s Ambassador in Libya, and three other U.S. diplomats. The cast and crew of the film were misled as to the purpose of the film and the producer’s name has turned out to be fictitious. No one seems to be able to determine who actually produced the film, but it is clear it was intended to incite violence.

In addition, Romney’s reaction to the attack on America’s consulate was so rapid that one has to question if Romney’s campaign was anticipating a significant foreign anti-American event and pulled the trigger on condemning President Obama’s even before there was a reaction from the administration. Romney’s campaign misfired by citing a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo from Tuesday morning that condemned to provocation of the mysterious film prior to the attacks on the American consulate in Libya.

Romney’s campaign is citing America’s “freedom of speech” as the excuse for provoking Muslims with this film; however, conservatives are the first to react with rage over burning the American flag or defacing a Bible. American conservative anti-Muslim groups have now been connected to the latest efforts to promote the film on YouTube, and these groups are known to be rabid anti-President Obama groups.

The timing of this film, Netanyahu’s provocation, conservative promotion of the film, and Romney’s quick, albeit inappropriate, response to the violence seem to indicate that a connection is possible as part of an effort to motivate conservatives to support Romney’s sputtering campaign and his inept foreign policy efforts with allies and foes.

(¹The name of the film and a link to the film are intentionally absent in this article.)

 NOTE: The acts of violence toward United States Embassies and personnel cannot be excused regardless of the provocation. This article is not overlooking the shameful thugs who are taking an opportunity to injure and kill innocent people. They should be identified and punished for what they have done. However, just like the person who enters into a theater and yells fire just to create a panic, the person(s) behind this inexcusable film that incited the outrage should be held responsible for lighting the fuse that caused the social bomb to explode.

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Time To Talk About Willard Mitt Romney’s Birth Certificate

Miles Park Romney and His 5 Wives

Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947. His birth certificate says he was born in Detroit, Michigan. There is no dispute to these facts. The question is why was Mitt Romney born in Michigan? Mitt’s father was born in Mexico and his grandfather, Gaskell Samuel Romney was born in 76 years earlier in St. George, Utah. How did Mitt Romney end up in Michigan rather than in Utah or Mexico? Mitt Romney refrains from discussing his family history during his campaign to become the President of the United States; however, the journey from Utah to Michigan is as dramatic as any 19th century account of settling the American West. 

Mitt’s great-great grandfather, Miles Romney, was born in Lancashire (now Cumbria,) England in 1806. In 1837, he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons) and in 1841, he moved his family to the United States (Illinois) to join a Mormon colony. Mile’s son (Mitt’s great-grandfather,) Miles Park Romney was born in Illinois in 1843, but the Mormons were driven out of their community in 1846. The family drifted for several years and finally settled in the Territory of Utah around 1850, a few years after the United States took the northern third of Mexico away at gunpoint following after the Mexican-American War.

Miles Park Romney – 5 Wives, 31 Children

It was Miles Park Romney who first embraced polygamy and married five wives and fathered 31 children during the course of his life, including Mitt’s grandfather, Gaskill, in 1871. Miles Park Romney was enlisted in the effort to make the new American West territory a mega-Mormon colony. He moved to Arizona in 1881, to establish a Mormon presence there; however, existing settlers were not agreeable to a religious takeover of their community. 

At about the same time the United States passed the Edmund’s Act (¹) that made polygamy a felony. After attempts to challenge the law failed and law enforcement began arresting polygamists, Miles Park Romney took at least one of his families (he had two wives at the time) and fled to Mexico in 1885. Miles Park Romney settled at Colonia Juarez in the State of Chihuahua, Mexico along with other Mormons attempting to avoid arrest in the United States. Miles Park Romney never returned to the United States as he died in Mexico in 1904.

A contemporary image of Colonia Juarez, the Mormon Polygamist Colony in Mexico.

While still living in Mexico, young Gaskill Romney became an adult and married Anna Amelia Pratt in 1895. In 1907, Anna gave birth to Mitt’s father, George Wilcken Romney. A few years later the Mexican Revolution began and by 1912, the Romney’s were on the run back to the United States when violence threatened to involve their Mormon community. After living as refugees in Texas, California, and Idaho, the Gaskill finally settled his family back in Utah where they lived out much of the Great Depression.

As a young adult Mitt’s father, George W. Romney, completed a mission to Great Britain and then unsuccessfully attended several colleges in the United States. He married in 1931, and eventually moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1939, where Willard Mitt Romney was born in 1947.

That is how the person who will be nominated as the Republican Presidential candidate came to Michigan, via Mexico.

¹A Mormon account of the Edmund’s Act and the Polygamist’s flight to Mexico. (From OrsonPrattBrown.com – The Life and Times of Orson Pratt Brown)

The United States Congress on March 14, 1882, passed the Edmund’s Bill which gave new cause and impetus to Mormon interest in Mexico. The bill made illegal the Mormon practice of having more than one wife. The concept of plural marriage was one of the cardinal doctrines of the Mormon Church and its members believed it to be a divine principle as set forth in revelation to the founding prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1843.

In 1884, the United States government began active prosecution of the new law. The penalty for polygamy was set at $500,000 or five years imprisonment, or both. Cohabitation was punishable by a fine not to exceed $300.00 and imprisonment not to exceed six months. Federal marshals hunted down violators in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and New Mexico….

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Why Ryan, Why Now: Romney Repeats Mistakes of McCain & Nixon

Mitt Romney follows McCain and Nixon to failure

Mitt Romney had over two weeks before he had to reveal his choice for Vice President and it would have been advantageous for him to wait. Keeping the Vice President choice a secret would have built up anticipation and the pundits would not have been able to resist continued speculation on the selection. All this would have climaxed with the announcement of the choice on August 29, in prime time on center stage of the Republican National Convention.

Instead the announcement was handled with all the grace of an engagement announcement of a pregnant daughter. The news leaked on a Friday night during the final week of the Olympics and announced before most of the country was awake on Saturday morning. A Vice President choice should reflect the wisdom of the campaign, so why was this one handled as badly or worse than the McCain/Palin fiasco?

Simple. It was desperation.

In 2008, John McCain was desperate to shake up the campaign and re-energize it. Unfortunately, Romney has the same type of desperation, but for different reasons. Romney certainly needs to re-energize his campaign, but what is more critical is the need to shift the focus off the charges that he hasn’t paid taxes for ten years. Romney has his back up against the wall on this issue. If it turns out to be true his campaign is over.

Romney selected Paul Ryan, who seeks to control, not serve Americans, and is a no-compromise, anti-government, right-wing extremist similar to McCain’s Palin choice. Ryan will deliver the voters who are sworn to hate Obama and liberals under the idea that the ticket can be elected by 25% of voters. It didn’t work for McCain in 2008, and it will not work in 2012. It is not a smart choice, but at this point Romney needed something, anything to change the subject of the campaign. 

Romney is operating like Richard Nixon in the belief that he can keep his worst secrets hidden through denial, lying, and non-cooperation. Instead he’s put a spotlight on the issue. His tactic of challenging people to ‘prove’ he didn’t pay taxes when he holds all the proof only makes him to looking guilty. It’s obvious he is hiding something in his financial past and if it is not about paying any taxes for ten years, then it must be something as damning.

Romney’s campaign is within hours, days, or weeks of imploding. If he fails to make his tax returns public then it will dominate the conversation about whether he is fit to be President. If he releases them then the truth must be bad enough to destroy his campaign. The only question is how Romney’s right-wing shift followed by complete collapse will carry over to other politicians who have embraced the extreme right.

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Nevada Newspaper Goes Behind the Wall…to Die

RGJ’s main bunker…entrance in Reno

The Reno Gazette-Journal (RGJ) recently decided to lock themselves behind a wall and it will cost you at least $12/month to see what they have hidden. Does anyone else see the problem with this business model?

Allow me to reconstruct the history of news media in America to understand why this is a death sentence to the RGJ.

In the 1800’s newspapers owned the information world

1700-1900
In the 1700’s, newspapers became the source of community news. These newspapers often portrayed a political view, but were THE source of information in a society where travel was limited and information scarce. Writers and editors often became key figures in the social and political structure as the gatekeepers of what would be printed.

Radio was faster, but newspapers were corporeal

1900’s
The invention of radio and television gave new options to the public on how they accessed news. The radio offered broadcast news that reached more people faster; however, newspapers remained the source of news because it existed in corporeal form. News transmitted on radio waves disappeared if a person wasn’t in front of the radio during the broadcast. Newspapers; however, almost always gave more a more in-depth account of the events.

Television came shortly after radio and added the exciting features of seeing the reporter and moving images of events; however, newspapers continued to be the best source of significant events.

CNN was to newspapers what Wal-Mart was to Mom & Pop stores

1980
CNN was the first real threat to newspapers. It offered news 24/7/365 and it often relayed events in progress. People no longer had to wait for a newspaper’s version that would come the next day. The newspaper still had the corporeal advantage because CNN would eventually move on to the other news while newspapers could be read anytime. Newspapers also still gave more in-depth reporting on local news issues.

1995
It wasn’t until the creation of the Internet that newspapers faced a challenge that would threaten their existence. The public use of the Internet stripped newspapers of almost every advantage they held. News was not only reported, it was discussed and people reacted in real-time. With the development of the Google search engine topics could be accessed and researched at any time anywhere there was Internet access. The news was no longer filtered and limited to what an editor thought people should know, but rather raw information reached individuals who made their own decisions on what was significant to them.

Reporters who spent years in college and thousands of dollars in tuition and books now found themselves competing against bloggers who had no editors to please. Reporters might get the story and accurately report it to their community but in a real-time world their information was just following up to what people already knew. Newspapers have adapted by presenting an online version of the information that will be in the next day’s paper and that has helped writers compete and be read; however, investors want profit and that is the heart of the dilemma.

The Reno Gazette-Journal has decided that they will create demand and increase revenue by limiting access. That is a rational position to take if you have a product that has significant value and demand, but newspapers and their value appeals to a diminishing demographic. Older white males are dying off at an incredibly rapid pace and newspapers have little demand or value to younger, non-white, non-male demographics. How does RGJ expect to gain new readers by charging for access who have free access to local online news through three Reno television news station’s webpages?

There is another problem with RGJ’s decision that may impact the quality of writing. A writer for RGJ has to accept that their audience will be extremely limited. Blogs will exist for decades and are be searchable to anyone in the world. An RGJ reporters work is locked away behind a wall forever. Who wants to dedicate their life to writing and have it unread? Over time writers will have to decide how much damage RGJ is doing to their career by locking their work behind a pay wall. Once the good writers are gone, what value will the Reno Gazette-Journal have to anyone, paying or otherwise?

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