† The Keystone Kops Are Enforcing U.S. Immigration Laws: High-level political appointees in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service are pressuring underlings to rubber-stamp immigrants’ visa applications, in some cases “overlooking concerns about fraud, eligibility or security.” According to an unreleased draft 40-page report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, one-quarter of the 254 officers surveyed said they have been pressured to approve questionable cases, sometimes “against their will,” The Daily reports:
The report does not call out any particular officials and indicates that the agency has had a problem with valuing quantity over quality since at least the 1980s.
But high-ranking USCIS officials said the pressure has heightened after the Obama administration appointed Alejandro Mayorkas as director in August 2009 during an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, bringing with him a mantra of “get to yes.”
Internal communications provided to The Daily indicate that the new leadership seemed to fundamentally clash with career agency employees over when to afford the benefit of the doubt, culminating in a whistle-blower investigation into a senior appointee and, ultimately, the agency-wide inspector general inquiry that produced the report. …
At least five agency veterans seen as being too tough on applicants were either demoted, or given the choice between a demotion or a relocation from Southern California – where their families were – to San Francisco and Nebraska, according to sources and letters of reassignment provided to The Daily.
Those kind of threats have caused lower-level employees to fall in line, sources said.
“People are afraid,” said one longtime manager, who requested anonymity for fear of being fired. “Integrity only carries people so far because they’ve got to pay the rent.” …
These employees’ claims are reflected in the inspector general report, which found that 14 percent of respondents had “serious concerns” that employees who focused on fraud or ineligibility were evaluated unfairly. The report also found that supervisors sometimes take cases away from an unwilling officer and assign them to someone else, against agency rules.
† College Diploma Not Worth The Paper It's Written On: Over the past decade, tuition rates have skyrocketed 72 percent, and “if the current trajectory continues, getting a college degree could soon become cost-prohibitive for average Americans,” notes The Washington Times (related article, fifth item on the page):
As tuition costs skyrocket and graduates walk away saddled with ever-rising amounts of debt, American colleges now face a choice: Remain a part of the problem, or begin contributing to a solution. …
The rethinking process has already begun at several institutions. Several years ago, Colorado Mesa University eliminated all of its deans, saving more than $500,000 each year. …
Indiana's Grace College and Seminary now offers a three-year degree program, which requires more classes per semester for students, but can cut 25 percent off post-college debt. …
Dozens of public universities have embarked on "course redesigns," overhauling the structure of many classes to reduce costs. Missouri State University, for example, plans to dramatically alter its psychology classes. By using more undergraduate assistants, digital learning, online textbooks with built-in assessments for individual students and other measures, the changes are expected to cut the university's average cost per student from $73 to $60 when the updated course is rolled out next fall.
One university that is not rethinking the cost or value of its course offerings is Columbia University, which plans to offer an Occupy Wall Street class that will require upperclassmen and grad students to go out “into the field” students to become involved with the Occupy movement and will be taught by Dr. Hannah Appel, “a veteran of the Occupy movement,” CBS Radio reports:
The course will be called “Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement” it will be run by the anthropology department.
Appel is a staunch defender of the Occupy movement, in her blog she said that, ““it is important to push back against the rhetoric of ‘disorganization’ or ‘a movement without a message’ coming from left, right and center.”
And when they have their degree, the students taking this class can take their place in the unemployment line along with grads with bachelor’s degrees in the arts, humanities and architecture. A study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce based on 2009 and 2010 data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey finds that recent college graduates with the highest rates of unemployment had undergraduate degrees in architecture (13.9 percent), the arts (11.1 percent) and the humanities (9.4 percent), The Washington Post reports:
The recent college graduates with the lowest rates of unemployment had degrees in health (5.4 percent), education (5.4 percent), and agriculture and natural resources (7 percent.) Those with business and engineering degrees also fared relatively well.
“People keep telling kids to study what they love – but some loves are worth more than others,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, one of the study’s authors. “When people talk about college, there are all these high-minded ideas about it making people better citizens and participating fully in the life of their times. All that’s true, but go talk to the unemployed about that.” …
Carnevale and his team have also quantified the value of various majors in terms of wages. Over a lifetime, the earnings of workers who have majored in engineering, computer science or business were as much as 50 percent higher than the earnings of those who majored in the humanities, the arts, education and psychology.
† Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times: According to an analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey by Sentier Research the “recovery” has actually been harder on most Americans than the recession, The Weekly Standard reports:
[M]edian American household income has actually fallen during the “recovery.” Not only that, but it has fallen even more than it did during the recession. Gordon Green, former chief of the Governments Division at the U.S. Census Bureau and co-author of the report (with fellow Census veteran John Coder), says, “Real income fell by 3.2 percent during [the recession]. And during the recovery it went down by 6.7 percent.” So “income [has] declined twice as much in the recovery as in the recession itself.”
[I]n early 2000, Americans’ median annual household income was $55,836, in real (inflation-adjusted, June 2011) dollars. By the start of the recession (in December 2007), Americans’ real incomes had fallen 0.9 percent, to $55,309 – a decline of $527. During the recession (which ended in June 2009), their incomes fell an additional 3.2 percent, to $53,518 – a decline of another $1,791. During the first two years of the “recovery” (from June 2009 to June 2011), they fell an additional 6.7 percent, to $49,909 – a decline of another $3,609.
So, from the start of 2000 to mid-2011, the typical American household’s real income dropped nearly $6,000 – and more than 60 percent of that drop (over $3,600) came after the start of the “recovery” and thus squarely on Obama’s watch.