Cuts to Education Smack of False Economy

In a letter addressed to faculty and staff union leaders dated September 23, 2020, Ben Barnes, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities chief financial officer, requested help in identifying savings from current collective bargaining agreements. Barnes’ letter followed a September 17 directive from the CSCU Board of Regents. The Regents asked Barnes to find cuts that would resolve a projected $91 million deficit. If there is one lesson we should take from 2020 it is that predicting the future is not easy. The prediction of a deficit was conjured by Barnes himself. I studied forecasting in graduate school. Even after

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Cunningham: FEMA Money Intended for Boardwalk, No Free Lunch for East Lyme Taxpayers

One of the most important lessons in an introductory economics class is the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch. It was with interest, then, that I read reports which suggested East Lyme was in the process of receiving just such a free lunch in the form of $1.73 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A headline described these funds as a “windfall.” They’ve also been described as a “reimbursement” for money spent to repair the damage from two hurricanes. The record shows that these are not accurate descriptions of this money, at least from

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Lessons from the Collapse

We are obviously living history that no one in the future would like to repeat.  So, what are the lessons to be learned? There are many small-scale lessons.  Wash your hands more often.  Don’t touch your face so much.  But what are the lessons we can learn from the big policies which have been implemented in the run up to this catastrophe?  At the federal level it is fair to say that, at least when it comes to economics, the policy has been to cut taxes, run deficits, and slash most non-military spending.  Apparently, this was supposed to result in

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Opinion: Vanishing Inequality, the Devil’s Greatest Trick

One of my favorite movies is the 1995 whodunit “The Usual Suspects.”  The last line of the film has always stuck with me: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”  This line originated in a book on Quakerism from 1834 in which John Wikinson wrote, “One of the artifices of Satan is, to induce men to believe that he does not exist.” Phil Gramm and John Early have apparently decided to ape this trick.  Their recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal includes “author’s calculations” implying that our country isn’t really very unequal

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Opinion: Board of Regents Lacks Accountability, Siphons Funds from Students

This year marks my second decade as a college faculty member. I know I’m getting older now because students don’t recognize many, if not most, of the cultural references I offer in class. When it comes to cartoons I don’t even try. For example, Mr. J. Wellington Wimpy was a secondary character in the comic Popeye. He was famously ravenous when it came to hamburgers, even when he didn’t have the funds to pay for them. His catch phrase was “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” While my students might not recognize J. Wellington Wimpy, I think they and everyone

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