We did something the other day that I don’t actually think we’ve ever done before. Not on purpose, anyway.
We re-ran an interview from the archives: Donald Rumsfeld, from a year or so ago, when he had a new book out that he was pushing.
We try real hard not to repeat ourselves. Real hard. Even if it’s the zillionth story on… I dunno…unemployment or something, we’re gonna try to find a fresh angle and tell you something new.
But as we were putting the show together this past Friday, it dawned on me that we had an interview with one of the key people on what the United States did in Iraq a decade ago and it was just sitting there waiting to be heard. Okay, re-heard, but you get my meaning. And with what's been happening over there the past couple of weeks, I figured airing it again would be a better service to our listeners than almost anything else we could do.
So we did.
Now, you could argue that an interview about Iraq has no business being on Marketplace. Or that I was rude and disrespectful to a former secretary of defense. Or that he's an unrepentant neo-conservative who should be in jail. All of those things – and more – were said about that interview (in the 100+ comments on our site and the hundreds of shares and links on Twitter and Facebook). Fine.
And yes, I completely get and agree with the point Jim Fallows makes -- that those who led us into Iraq, or counseled in favor of war, should do the decent thing and stay quiet right now (he also, recommends those who should be listened to right now).
But when you have the opportunity to ask pointed question, as I did with Rumsfeld, and as Erin Burnett did with Paul Bremmer Monday night on CNN, then I think the obligation is to do exactly that and let people make up their own minds.
Digital "Terms and Conditions" are the things we agree to with the click of a box and a tiny prayer that they don’t turn on us. When the same thing happens on a grand scale, it can get pretty ugly.
This week, independent artists and record labels are locked in a staring contest with Google over new terms and conditions for posting music on YouTube -- The artists are names you'd recognize, including Adele and Jack White.
Molly Wood, New York Times Tech Columnist, says, "this is a story of big companies behaving badly.”
YouTube, trying to capitalize on its status as the number one place for streaming music, is starting a subscription music service. However, it is also threatening independent labels with being blocked from uploading to You Tube if they don’t license their music.
Says Wood, "For years, they [content producers] may have been bullied by movie studios, or TV studios, or record lables, and they thought they had found a safe haven in some of these digital startups, and the reality is that the behavior is looking the same."
The Federal Reserve’s key policy-making body — the Federal Open Market Committee — wraps up its two-day meeting today with a news conference hosted by Chair Janet Yellen, and projections on economic growth going forward.
Consumer prices were up strongly in May — at around a 2 percent annual rate — for everything from food and gasoline, to rents and new cars. If that keeps up, the Fed might have to raise short-term interest rates sooner than expected, to tamp down prices. That could also tamp down consumer spending and job growth.
“You’ve still got the backdrop of this slow-growth economy with stagnant household income," says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. "Suddenly inflation’s starting to pick up, so you’re taking away what little spending power the consumer had.”
And Bernie Baumohl at the Economic Outlook Group says even though economic growth and job-creation have clearly rebounded since the dismal winter months, there are a lot of wild cards out there for the Fed — like stubbornly low wage-growth in the U.S., not to mention civil strife in Iraq, and soaring oil prices worldwide.
“The geopolitical pot is really boiling furiously," says Baumohl. "And it really greatly complicates the decision-making process on the Fed, among investors and also among CEOs.”
A new report from the Education Trust says over $15 billion a year in federal aid goes to colleges where most of the students don’t graduate. Plus, many of the students -- three out of ten -- have so much debt they can’t repay it.
Not so suprising: most of the schools on the list are for-profit institutions.
There’s some argument in academic circles as to what is a good graduation rate -- some students transfer, some take longer to graduate, and not everyone finishes. Judith Scott-Clayton, a professor of economics and education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, says while that is the case, it's still easy to spot problematically low rates.
“I think most people could agree that 15 percent is probably too low," Scott-Clayton says.
But over a six year period at a group of schools (many of which are for-profit), the report found that 15 percent is exactly how few students are graduating.
Michael Dannenburg, Director of Higher Education Policy with Education Trust cites the University of Phoenix, a for-profit that he says receives $4 billion a year in federal student aid and has a lot of campuses on the low graduation list. The school points out that many of its students work on top of their studies, so of course it takes them longer to graduate.
But Dannenburg notes the average college graduation rate from four year colleges after six years of enrollment is 59 percent. He also says you can’t pin low rates on low income students.
Says Dannenburg, "We’ve looked at scores of institutions that are serving similar students with similar characteristics that get very different results. In other words, demography is not destiny in higher education."