Opinion

The Great Debate

Health care degree leads to higher earnings

diana-furchtgott-roth_great_debate– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.  The opinions expressed are her own. —

The economic outlook is bleak. Unemployment is rising.  Credit markets are dysfunctional.  Students are worried about job prospects, for good reason.

If you’re a young person choosing a career path, forget banking, forget autos, and forget Wall Street.  A new study coming out from the Hudson Institute in January, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shows that enrolling in a community college and earning a two-year degree or certificate in a health-related profession—the only field that showed significant job gains in November, and the one with the most jobs openings—can open a pathway to higher earnings.

These findings demonstrate that the role of community colleges in American higher education has been expanding for good reason: they are cost effective.

The study, by economists Louis Jacobson and Christine Mokher of CNA in Alexandria, Virginia, examines 145,000 students in Florida from 1996 to 2007, using individual data on education and earnings.

A Christmas wish: End traffic congestion in 2009

diana-furchtgott-roth_great_debate– Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. The opinions expressed are her own. —

Christmas Day in most cities will be serene, free of weekday traffic jams as workers enjoy a Thursday that is free of normal routines.  Many commuters wish that the free-flowing driving could last all year long. Traffic congestion wastes drivers’ time and gasoline, pollutes, reduces employment, and pushes businesses and shoppers away from cities.

There is hope. New global positioning system technology and congestion pricing can reduce traffic jams.  In mid-January, 10,000 transportation professionals, including people from the incoming Obama administration, will convene in Washington D.C. at meetings of the Transportation Research Board, part of the National Academy of Sciences, to discuss solutions.

Electric cars will not cure environmental woes

diana-furchtgott-roth_great_debate

– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

The world is falling in love with plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. President-elect Obama wants to put 1 million on the road by 2015. GM features them, particularly the Chevy Volt, in its new business plan for a debut in 2010. The EU wants them to shrink greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 by 20% from 1990 levels. This week the Chinese auto company BYD began selling the world’s first commercially-available plug-in hybrid sedan.

No matter that these cars are not widely available; that they are priced far above traditional models; that many have a short range, making them useful only for local trips; that batteries may be prone to catching fire; and that many motorists park on the street, where charging is impractical.

The right way to spend billions on infrastructure

diana-furchtgott-roth1– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.  The opinions expressed are her own. —

With President-elect Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership both viewing infrastructure spending as a magic stimulus that will end the recession, such spending will happen.  But will Congress write a sensible, well-targeted bill—or will timeliness and efficiency lose out to old-time politics?

Obama declared in his December 6 radio address that he wants “the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.”  Moreover, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota, has outlined plans to spend $45 billion on transportation projects alone, never mind the schools, computers, and other public facilities listed hopefully by Obama.

Bail out the car buyers

diana-furchtgott-roth1– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

As disastrous auto sales figures for November were reported this week, the Big Three auto companies–GM, Ford, and Chrysler–told Congress that they want government loans to keep from going bankrupt.

The pleas of General Motors and Chrysler were the most urgent.  Ford allowed that its cash position was better and that it might get through 2009 without tapping the federal line of credit it seeks.

Fix immigration by next Thanksgiving

diana-furchtgott-roth1– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

The first Thanksgiving festival was celebrated in 1621 in Massachusetts by the Pilgrims, immigrants to America, out of gratitude for a plentiful harvest.

As we sit around our Thanksgiving tables this Thursday, almost all of us immigrants or their descendants, we’re reminded that one of President-elect Obama’s most important challenges will be to mend our broken immigration policy.

Obama’s family-friendly agenda will hurt job growth

diana-furchtgott-roth–Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own.–

Everyone knows Marisa. She may be your next door neighbor or former colleague. She’s unemployed and looking for a job, or just wants to change jobs. She’s highly motivated, well-credentialed, and experienced.

But these are tough times. The unemployment rate, now 6.5%, will likely rise further as plunging retail sales lead to cutbacks in production and more layoffs. The economy is contracting now and is unlikely to resume expanding before summer 2009—if then.

The U.S. won’t stomach a new Bretton Woods

diana-furchtgott-roth1 — Diana Furchtgott-Roth,former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

Leaders of the Group of 20 countries meeting in Washington on Nov. 15 are hoping that America’s role in the global financial crisis will shame President George W. Bush, or maybe President-elect Barack Obama, into supporting greater international financial regulation, diminishing America’s role in international financial institutions.

But America is unlikely to give up control over its financial sector, certainly not under Bush, and probably not even under the internationally-popular Obama.

After victory, a reality check for Obama

diana-furchtgott-roth– Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

By Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Pity President-elect Barack Obama. Today, only three days after his historic victory as the first African-American elected president, the Labor Department announced that the economy lost 240,000 jobs from payrolls in October and that the unemployment rate rose to 6.5%. This underscores the difficulties he faces in raising taxes on “the rich” to fund new spending.

Obama must recognize that his campaign promises are impossible to implement without making the economy sicker. The economy is weak and getting weaker, probably contracting now at an annual rate of 3-4 percent.

Moving beyond conventional remedies

diana-furchtgott-roth1Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed here are her own.

WASHINGTON (Reuters.com) – The stock market is falling, retail sales are down, GM and Xerox announce layoffs, and economists predict GDP declines in the 3rd and 4th quarters.  Even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has called for a stimulus package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prescription for economic stimulus centers on more infrastructure spending, as well as more aid to states, Food Stamps, rebate checks, and unemployment benefits, a package that could cost up to $300 billion.

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