Saturday, December 29, 2012

College Loans

Teaching our kids about debt is an important lesson we can provide them.  It is especially important that we coach our kids about college loans.  The laws were changed so that kids cannot shed college loans.  Heavy debt can follow a child throughout his life.  I remember reading one story of a lady who went through college and medical school on borrowed money and would not be free of college debt until she was in her 70's.  She said she would never be able to buy a house.  I did not save that article, but the theme is still around, as described in Student Loans: Debt for Life By Peter Coy, September 18, 2012 Businessweek.

Debt is dangerous and we need to inform and guide our children through the process of borrowing for college.  The truly wealthy can pay for college out of their regular cash flow, but even families with incomes in the top 5 percent cannot do that.  There is a huge difference between the top 5 percent and the top 1 percent.  Google for the Wall Street Journal article College Debt Hits Well-Off By RUTH SIMON and ROB BARRY, August 9, 2012 and you can read how the upper middle class is being squeezed out of the top tier schools by high tuition costs.  The financially astute can tell when the cost is excessive.

People in the middle income ranges sometimes cannot understand the consequences of the college loans made available to them and end up being crushed by the debt, as described in To Pay Off Loans, Grads Put Off Marriage, Children by SUE SHELLENBARGER, Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2012.  You need to Google for this article.

The poor often cannot understand the consequences of large college loans and are also crushed by heavy debt, as described in For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall by JASON DePARLE, New York Times, Sunday December 23, 2012, pages 1, 28, and 29.  (You can read it online by Googling for it.)  In this story, an expensive private college tells a poor student that she would be provided with enough grants and financial aid to put this private college within her reach.  But then the process of financial aid was too complicated for the poor girl and by bungling the financial aid process she ended up with large loans instead of large grants.  Three girls are profiled in this in-depth article.

We need to explain to our children how much debt they can afford to incur for college and to steer them towards good interest rates and safe loan programs.  There are a lot of bad loans looking for suckers.  It is heartbreaking to read about the plight of the poor and the uninformed.  And our children will be uninformed if we do not help them through the process.


PS: An explanation of why college tuition has sky-rocketed can be found in Deans List: Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy - And Tuition by By DOUGLAS BELKIN and SCOTT THURM, Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2012, pages A1 and A10. You can read this article by Googling for it.  The online date is usually a day earlier than the newspaper date.  The gist of this article is that colleges have hired hoards of highly paid managers.

Microsoft Mathematics Instead of MATLAB

I tried to buy a student version of MATLAB for my son, but could not.  You have to go through a sales department and that process did not work when I tried it.  Maybe that company is not interested in single item sales of student versions.

Microsoft Mathematics is available for a free download.  You might want to google for the download site. Here is the URL for today:

You will want to read the system requirements. Microsoft Mathematics is nice.  You can help with math without having to learn to use your child's calculator, or to borrow it, or to look around for it. Microsoft Math will do linear algebra and solve equations.  Here is a review of it on the internet:

Here is a screen shot of the equation solver with an equation input:
Next, you hit the solve button.  This tool solves for x automatically.  You have to click next on the link that says "solve for y."
Next, you can click on the link that says "plot this equation in 2D."
Now you have the graph, but the equations seem to be gone.  They are still available on the "Worksheet" tab, to the left of the "Graphing" tab.  If your child is doing a science project, the graph can be exported as a picture file (I chose JPEG):
It is not a pretty graph for reports, but it is free and I don't believe you can export graphs to a computer from a handheld calculator.  I think if you want pretty graphs for reports, you will want a different tool.

Microsoft Mathematics is a nice tool to use for education, and you cannot beat the price.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Where Can Our Children Go?

If there are not enough jobs in Texas for our children, where can they go to find employment?  If the rest of America is in no better shape than Texas, do they have to leave America?  The economy all around the world is in bad shape, so if our children have to leave America to find employment, where can they go?

I have read that engineers from Spain are finding work in Germany.  Perhaps our children who are trained in engineering and computers can find work in Europe.  I have heard that in America McDonald's pays higher wages to their managers than trained machinists can make running numerically controlled machines.  American companies have given up on manufacturing, but some of the European countries have not.  Where in Europe can our children go?  Certainly not Greece or Spain.  Maybe Germany, or maybe the Scandinavian countries:  Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

Norway is prosperous according to the Wall Street Journal article, They All Scream for Edvard Munch, but Oslo Can't Satisfy Demand by Saleha Mohsin, November 28, 2012, page A1.  Yet it seems that Norway is the most expensive country to live in  amongst the Scandinavians.  Sweden is much more affordable according to  Scandinavian On $125 a Day by Seth Kugel, New York Times, Sunday December 2, 2012.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of unemployment in Sweden, as described in the Wall Street Journal, Saturday December 22, 2012, p. A10, Jobless Swedes Heed Call From Booming Norway by Charles Duxbury and Kjetil Malkenes Hovland.

England is not a place for our children.  The English are moving out, as described in the book Time to Emigrate? by George Walden, one of whose children left Great Britain for Canada.  Australia and New Zealand might have opportunities for our children if they have the skills that are sought.  I did read of a skilled welder who left America and did well in Australia, although it did take years to get the paperwork approved to emigrate to Australia.

Technically, the American welder is a boilermaker.  You can read about his experiences by googling for this Wall Street Journal article: American Fills a Jobs Shortage in the Aussie Outback by JOHN W. MILLER, October 23, 2012

Of course, the best recourse is to provide good opportunities here in Texas for our children, which is why I have started the Texas Ascendant Campaign.  We need to work together to help our children have a prosperous future in America, in Texas.

Robert Canright

The December 8, 2013 Wall Street Journal ran an article called, "A Move to New Zealand" by Susanne Ames (p. R7).  The on-line version is entitled "A New Life in New Zealand."  You can read the article by Googling on the title an author..  Don't ask my why the same article has two titles (print and on-line).  Ms. Susanne Ames moved to New Zealand from Washington state and enjoys life in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Tuesday February 11, 2014  Wall Street Journal ran an article called, "Badly Raised Kids? Sweden has a Word for That" by Jens Hansegard.  You can read it by using Google to find it.  The online edition of WSJ has a slightly different title:  "Is Sweden Raising a Generation of Brats?" by Jens Hansegard.  This article says that Sweden is a bad country to raise a family because the government has undermined the authority of parents and teachers.  So Sweden might be a fine country to work in, but you would not want to settle there to raise a family.