Scholarship Aid for Students

If you’re on the lookout for financial aid resources or comparative educational opportunities, whether for yourself, a member of your family or a student friend, consider using, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest, most accurate, and most frequently updated scholarship database online”, “recommended by over 15,500 high schools and 3,500 colleges.” Among numerous other services, Fastweb offers free scholarship searches, personalized scholarship matching, side-by-side college comparisons, financial aid and student loan tips, and a search feature for part-time jobs and internships.

Published in: on December 28, 2008 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Product Recalls

In the aftermath of the Christmas buying season, the Federal Citizen Information Center has released this handy one-page webguide to recent product recalls, arranged into categories for Automotive Products, Children’s Products, Consumer Products, Food Products, Health Products and Plant and Animal Products. There’s also a convenient link allowing you to sign up for email reports of recalled products.

Published in: on December 28, 2008 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Downside: Dismal American Education

Despite the moderately optimistic appraisal of the preceding post, the yearend edition of the Kiplinger Letter highlights the most troubling aspect of America’s global situation – the woeful state of America’s education system vis-a-vis the world. As they write, there is “one area where the US is getting left in the dust: Public education. Over the last century, US workers were the world’s best educated. That’s no longer the case. Over the past three decades or so, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Canada, Switzerland and others have overtaken the US in the portion of people who enter the workforce with a high school diploma or its local equivalent. New Zealand, Hungary and other countries are on the verge of doing so.”

But it gets worse. Without even mentioning geography, history, civics and foreign languages, the Kiplinger Letter observes that “in math, science and literacy, foreign students are outpacing Americans. The US falls in the middle or bottom of the pack in the three continuing studies to compare young people’s academic achievement in a variety of countries, though one recent report showed significant gains in US math scores since 2003.

“Because more jobs require higher education, the trend’s especially troubling. By 2016, nearly 80% of all US jobs will require more than a high school diploma, but 70 million Americans between the ages 25 and 40 haven’t gone past grade 12. In fact, the US is the only industrialized country where the generation entering the workforce is less educated than the one leaving it [my bolding added], though Germany is getting close to that point.”

Published in: on December 28, 2008 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

America in the World Economy: Global Competitiveness Report

Those who are keenly interested in the upcoming debate on how to effectively restimulate the American economy, and most especially in the broader context of the role and place of the American economy within the larger world economy, would profit from reviewing the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009 released in early October.

The Forum summarizes its analysis by reporting that “the United States tops the overall ranking . . . [while] Switzerland is in second position followed by Denmark, Sweden and Singapore. European economies continue to prevail in the top 10 with Finland, Germany and the Netherlands following suit. The United Kingdom, while remaining very competitive, has dropped by three places and out of the top 10, mainly attributable to a weakening of its financial markets.” A summary of the complete rankings is available here. To browse the contents of the document, look here.

The forum’s focused brief summary profile of America’s current status appears in the Country Profile Highlights section of the report:

“Despite the financial crisis, the United States continues to be the most competitive economy in the world. This is because it is endowed with many structural features that make its economy extremely productive and place it on a strong footing to ride out business cycle shifts and economic shocks. Thus, despite rising concerns about the soundness of the banking sector and other macroeconomic weaknesses, the country’s many other strengths continue to make it a very productive environment. The United States is ranked first for innovation, and its markets support this innovative activity through their efficient allocation of resources to their most effective use. However, the United States has built up large macroeconomic imbalances over recent years, with repeated fiscal deficits leading to rising and burgeoning levels of public indebtedness. This indicates that the country is not preparing financially for its future liabilities and is on the road to making interest payments that will increasingly restrict its fiscal policy freedom going into the future.”

As with so many other similar analyses, the World Economic Forum’s report is an excellent reminder that neither euphoria nor despair is an appropriate response to our current challenges. We have much to do, but if done wisely it can be done well.

Published in: on December 28, 2008 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment