July 1, 2005

Bizzy’s Biz Links of the Day (070105)

A quick look at items that grabbed my attention today:

Chinese censorship of blogs expands

This follows up on the first item covered at this earlier post on the topic. The evidence that more blogs are being shut out is here and here.

Here is a nearly up-to-date list:










That American technology is enabling this government censorship is a disgrace and should be illegal (perhaps it already is, if someone at DOJ will take the time to dust off the law books and hunt down the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act”).

If they are helping to enable this, which appears to be beyond dispute, what possible defense can Microsoft, whose involvement was previously noted, and Cisco, whose involvement is noted here, have? Cisco even calls the Internet monitoring service it has sold the Chinese “PoliceNet.”

Desperately Seeking Borrowers

Mortgage lenders are desperate to lend, according to Business Week (link probably requires subscription):

Why have lenders been so liberal when they run the risk that many of their marginal customers will go into default? The answer is surprising. Sure, long-term interest rates have at times continued to defy conventional wisdom and decline or hold steady even while the Fed hiked short-term rates. This gives lenders a lot of room to keep their rates to customers as low as possible.

But it turns out that’s just part of the reason lenders are offering such unbelievable deals to their customers. Many lenders are just plain desperate for business, according to some experts. In a bid for market share, mortgage lenders are offering highly favorable terms to borrowers. That’s forcing the rest of the industry to match their terms or lose customers.

The industry’s underlying problem is simple: Overcapacity and a drop in profitability from its all-time high of 2003.

In a nutshell, the lenders don’t want to have to let people go or redeploy them to other financial-service areas at institutions where such moves are possible. And both the quasi-governmental “companies” like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the private underwriters of mortgage pools, are allowing ever-riskier loans to keep the day of reckoning from arriving. Amazing.

Higher State College Spending Means LOWER Economic Growth?

An Ohio University economics professor calls college a bad investment (link requires subscription; bolds are mine), and in the process documents the absurd level of bloat that has occurred in the past quarter century:

Using data for all 50 states from 1977 and 2002, I compared the 10 states with the highest state funding for universities against the 10 states with the lowest. The result: The low-spending states had far better growth in real income per capita, a median growth of 46% compared with 32% for the states with the highest university spending. In 2000 the median per capita income level for the low-spending states was $32,777, 27% higher than the median for the 10 states where higher education got the most state money.

The results were the same when controlling for a state’s oilfields or other energy sources, the age distribution of its population, the prevalence of labor unions, the tax climate and other factors that could affect growth-even the proportion of college graduates. This despite the fact that the states that were growing most quickly tended to have a high proportion of college graduates.

How could this be? Colleges have devoted relatively little new funding over the past generation to the core mission of instruction (spending only 21 cents of each new inflation-adjusted dollar per student on it), preferring instead to assist research, hire more nonacademic staff, give generous pay increases, support athletics and build luxurious facilities. And while in the private sector companies have learned to get more work out of fewer employees, the opposite appears to have happened in higher education. In 1976 American education employed three nonfaculty professional workers (administrators, counselors, librarians, computer experts) for every 100 students; by 2001 that number had doubled.

….Yet another explanation is one Forbes readers know all too well. Taxes reduce private-sector activity. People who must pay high taxes tend to work and invest less and also tend to migrate to lower-tax areas. In other words, increasing funding to universities means transferring resources from the relatively productive private sector to higher education, which tends to be less productive and efficient.

BizzyBlog has long believed that residential universities are anachronisms that made little sense since the early 1990s, and make absolutely no sense in the 21st century. The OU economist’s work demonstrates that higher spending on higher education only leads to more top-heavy colleges.

I believe that private-sector initiatives will continue to chip away at the walled-university mindset, and that this is a very good thing.

Christine Brennan’s Title IX Nonsense

Filed under: General,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 7:08 pm

BizzyBlog is making a temporary turn to sports because of a channel-surfing happenstance a little over a week ago.

An episode of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” (OTL) covered Annika Sorenstam’s pursuit of the Grand Slam of women’s golf, and the upcoming third leg of the slam, the Women’s US Open. Having won the first two of the LPGA’s major tournaments in dominating fashion, it appeared that Sorenstam, who is certainly the best female golfer of this generation, and perhaps the best ever, might have a chance to accomplish this rare feat in 2005.

So OTL brought in Christine Brennan to comment on the relative lack of notoriety Annika’s pursuit of the slam has received, a true-to-an-extent observation.

Brennan proceeded to credit Title IX, a law passed 33 years ago to ensure equal opportunity for women in the United States to participate in intercollegiate sports, for the improvements in and visibility of women’s golf today vs. many years ago, and frankly seemed obsessed with making sure Title IX got mentioned at least a few times.

This struck me as odd, given that Sorenstam is from Sweden (though she starred at the University of Arizona in the early 1990s–more on that later).

A subsequent search of her articles in USA Today and elsewhere indicates that Title IX is at least a pet project for Brennan, and more like a lifetime crusade:

  • This column (about halfway through) ludicrously gives Title IX partial credit for Tiger Woods’ friendship with and respect for Sorenstam’s accomplishments:

    “Today, 33 years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX, we can see the kind of open-minded young men that law helps produce. (without Title IX, Tiger would be an incorrigible caveman–Ed.)

  • In this USAT piece, Brennan’s opening paragraph claims that Title IX “opened the playing fields of this country to the other 50% of our population.” Apparently women’s sports didn’t exist in America before 1974 (then who the heck were those people lapping me in swim practice in the late 1960s?). The column also equates an attempt to gauge interest in sports on the part of women as an all-out attack on Title IX’s cherished equal-numbers mandate (so does this website which screams “Title IX Under Attack!”).
  • She even takes the time to attend Title IX symposia like this one that sing the “not enough has been done” creed. It must not hurt that there’s good money in it, often from the public trough (be nice: after all, she’s a “woman legend”).

But for Brennan, equality appears to only go so far:

  • Here’s what she said when asked if prize money for men’s and women’s tennis should be equal:

    Yes, I absolutely think it should be equal. The old argument that the women play only three sets just doesn’t work for me. When we go to the movies, we pay the same amount whether the movie is two hours or 2 1/2 hours. Right now, the women are more interesting to watch, so yes they should be paid equally here at Wimbledon. (Does that mean if the women become less “interesting,” Christine will be at the front of the line demanding inequality?–Ed.)

  • Here is her response to (in my opinion) legitimate claims that football players should be excluded from the quota-like headcounting exercises because (doh) there are no female football teams: “In this world, we don’t have three genders: men, women and football players.” The inclusion of football players in the headcounting has led to the elimination of scores of minor sports programs for men at dozens of colleges (the usual victims have been gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, and track) to get the total number of men and women participating in all intercollegiate sports equal. This column notes that in May, the University of Utah disbanded its men’s track team, so it could devote more resources to….the women’s track team!

So, since Christine is so hung up on the supreme importance of Title IX, I decided to do a little test to see how relevant it is to women’s golf today.

I reviewed the top 12 finishers at the Women’s US Open, plus Sorenstam (who ended up having a very rare poor performance) and Michelle Wie (who led after the 3rd round but shot 82 on Sunday). I looked at where they were born, where they live now, and their exposure to US intercollegiate athletics. Here’s what I found:

#1 – Birdie Kim–Korea, Korea, none
#2 – Amateur Morgan Pressel–USA, USA, None
(still in high school)
#2 – Amateur Brittany Lang–USA, USA, Duke
(currently a sophomore)
#4 – Natalie Gulbis–USA, USA, Univ. of Arizona
#4 – Lorie Kane–Canada, Canada, None
#6 – Candy Kung–Taiwan, USA, Southern Cal
#6 – Lorena Ochoa–Mexico, Mexico, Univ. of Arizona
#6 – Karine Icher–France, Switzerland, None
#6 – Young Jo–South Korea, South Korea, None
#10 – Cristie Kerr–USA, USA, None
#10 – Angela Stanford–USA, USA, Texas Christian
#10 – Karen Stupples–England, USA, Florida State
(still English citizen)
#23 – Annika Sorenstam–Sweden, USA, Univ. of Arizona
(still Swedish citizen)
#23 – Michelle Wie–USA, USA, None
(still in high school)

So, of the 14 players listed, seven (Lang, Gulbis, Kung, Ochoa, Stanford, Stupples, Sorenstam) can claim to have benefitted from US intercollegiate experience. But only three of those seven (Lang, Gulbis, Stanford) were born in the US.

So based on this admittedly limited look, here is what I see with women’s golf and Title IX:

    1. Title IX has not been at all involved in the success of many US-born players (Pressel, Kerr, Wie).2. It may have led schools scrambling to meet the law’s equal-participation mandate (the inevitable result of litigation that followed the law’s passage) to bring in foreign-born players (Kung, Ochoa, Supples, Sorenstam) at taxpayers’ expense (the schools involved are state schools, and collegiate golf is either a non-revenue or money-losing sport). Although Title IX arguably helped the career progress of these women, foreign citizens were clearly not the targeted beneficiaries of the law.

    3. It certainly hasn’t contributed to anything resembling American dominance of women’s golf, even though the rest of the world is “handicapped” (excuse the pun) by not having the wonders of Title IX available to it. In fact, the high-schoolers appear to be the more likely source of the elusive dominant USA female golfer, which we really haven’t had since Nancy Lopez back in the 1980s.

So, Christine Brennan, remind me again, because I’m missing something: What in the world does Title IX have to do with Swede Annika Sorenstam’s Grand Slam pursuit more than 10 years after her graduation? And what specifically has Title IX done for American women’s golf?

UPDATE: Apparently some people have tired of Christine’s schtick:

  • This message-board poster notes that Chrstine was at this year’s men’s US Open but apparently did not attend the women’s even a week later (Hmmm).
  • Another notes that she writes ” same stuff over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.”
  • And this person accuses her of slanting USAT’s coverage of the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004 towards American women.


UPDATE 2: This post is a proud participant in the Outside the Beltway traffic jam.