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Social Networking: Letters and Other Responses to Past Stories

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Nick Gillespie, the editor-in-chief of the libertarian magazine Reason, weighs in on Michael Fitzgerald’s feature on for-profit colleges at the Hit & Run blog at

This type of story always leaves me wondering: So what’s the next step, really? Is it denying student loans and easy credit to people who don’t need them? A recent New York Federal Reserve study shows pretty conclusively what basic theory suggests: Large amounts of free and reduced-price money in the form of grants and loans and financial aid simply drives up the cost of higher education. Figuring out how to help folks who can’t afford college out of pocket without making school more expensive for everyone is no easy matter. But killing credit for poor folks is not much of an answer. And the answer isn’t to dwell on the relatively few people who always show up in college-debt horror stories. The vast majority of student borrowers are pretty smart and pretty responsible. According to an Urban Institute study released earlier this year, only about 10 percent of recent B.A. grads had borrowed $50,000 or more. Thirty percent didn’t borrow at all and the average amount is closer to $25,000, with the median lower still.

There are many problems with the government heavily subsidizing college tuition. But there’s relatively little to complain about from the borrower’s side. Indeed, if your main complaint is that it’s too easy for you to get money, that’s gonna fall on mostly deaf ears. And it should. And for god’s sake, if you’re not wealthy, go to the cheapest school you can afford.

Reddit user urnbabyurn, with the top comment on a subreddit devoted to Fitzgerald’s story:

Yup. People like to decry student debt as a crisis and systemic bad choices by too many people going to college. But if you take for-profit colleges out of the equation, not only does college have a high return for its price, the worries of default and high debt are way overblown.

Most of the concern over college costs and debt could be solved by simply removing the college loan subsidies from for-profit schools.

Twitter user @drakejenn tweeted a link to the story, commenting:

Oh nothing, just reading this and sobbing into a Chipotle burrito bowl that I cannot afford.


I have lived my entire 58-plus years in Arkansas and drove through Dumas one week after the tornado in 2007. The author tried to convey the conditions of the town, but unless you witnessed it first-hand, it is almost impossible to imagine. While the agriculture industry and related businesses in Dumas were certainly impacted by the tornado, the truth is that the disaster just accelerated the issues that were coming anyway. You can travel throughout the delta and see one ghost town after another. While not everyone wants help, at least Samasource is putting an opportunity in front of a few.
—Jason Nemec, Rogers, Arkansas


The underlying question is how to quantify the value of usage of our public lands. A herd of cattle can be valued, but what is the value of a seeing a herd of wild horses in a sunset? Is the answer “capitalist economics”? Should the use go to the highest bidder? Who accounts for man’s shortsighted, self-centered use weighed against the long-term value?
—James Moffett


Thanks for publishing this excellent article. I am sure that I have mirror-touch synesthesia as part of my enormous empathy with all others and the world. Many people notice this on meeting me and they use my mirror-touch synesthesia to abuse me. Even now it is being used by the man in the flat next to mine; he can literally force me to feel his sexual activity in his bathroom next to my bedroom when he creaks his floorboard. Dr. Salinas is very lucky to be male. If he was female, he would be in a very, very vulnerable and dangerous position among normal people who do not have this ability.
—Rachel Jones, Cardiff, United Kingdom


Excellent article by Kate Wheeling, “The Justice Department Is Freeing Thousands of Non-Violent Drug Offenders,” particularly since the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been experiencing over 9,000 acts of inmate misconduct per month on average for the past 25 years.
—Richard H. Noah, Federal Bureau of Prisons (Retired)


A coalition of 72 feminist and civil rights groups—including the Human Rights Campaign and the National Organization for Women—wrote a letter to the Obama Administration’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, asking his Education Department to issue clearer guidelines regarding colleges’ obligations under the Civil Rights Act to address gender-based harassment of students on the Internet. The letter specifically cited Amanda Hess’ National Magazine Award-winning cover story from our January/February 2014 issue, “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.”

Students who have been targeted by anonymous cyber harassment and assault—especially through Yik Yak, where the perpetrators, because of the geo-location feature of the application, are within the campus community—have reported that the harassment has interfered with their academic studies and that they have had to seek therapy, change their extracurricular activities, and even take extra security precautions.

Nonetheless, academic institutions, many mistakenly citing the First Amendment, have not been quick to take action to properly investigate anonymous online harassment and cyber-violence. Many schools have taken the stance that they have no recourse for students experiencing harassment on these sites. Students are therefore left to fend for themselves against vicious threats and harassment simply because it is conducted on a new platform.


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