Friday, 22 March 2013

College in the Old Days

I had a curiosity about what was really required of a college student in the 1800s.  So I went out to research this.  From the University of Pennsylvania  there is a publication left over from 1851.  There were two semesters each year.

Freshmen were required to take English composition and declamation (classic speech), ancient history and geography, algebra, geometry, Horace, Homer, Xenophon (Greek studies).

Sophomores were required to take modern history, English composition and declamation, trigonometry (with applications for surveying and navigation), elements of mechanics and chemistry, Livy (second Punic War), Horace, logic, rhetoric, and Demosthenes (a Greek orator).

Juniors were required to take general principals of equilibrium and motion of solids and liquids, Plato, chemistry with experimental lectures, machinery, evidence of Christianity, moral and intellectual philosophy, English composition and declamation, general theory of equations, Greek tragedy, Juvenal (a Roman poet), Constitutional history of the US, and international law (lectures).

Seniors were required to take lectures on geology and mineralogy, Aristotle, Cicero, optics, astronomy, heat-electricity, physical geography, magnetism-sound, moral and intellectual philosophy, English composition and declamation, analytical mechanics, elements of integral calculus, lectures on English literature, history, and Constitutional law (lectures).

Now, some observations.

First, you did a light class schedule even on Saturdays....which might shock some students today.

Second, as you gaze across the spectrum here, there was a good bit of Greek and Roman reading.  Logic and philosophy were a major part of your degree.

Third, speaking and orator skills were a standard requirement.

Fourth, what you generally left with....was a very developed mind to expand and take on more in life.

Fifth, you actually took a class in Christianity.

Sixth, you had a lot of basic skills in science.

Seventh, English was required each and every single year of the four years.

Eighth, declamation?  It's a speech activity that you give with strong feeling.  You say what you mean, and practice it....yearly.

Ninth, imagine trying to teach moral and intellectual philosophy today.

Finally, in an entire county of sixty young men graduating from school....if you had just one of them go off to this university...it was a big deal.  You didn't borrow money or ask the government for a loan.  You either paid or you worked your way through the program.

I don't think many kids today could make it with this list of topics.

The Leno Solution

Jay Leno is being let go, finally, by NBC.  What they will admit is that the numbers aren't there.  Young Americans aren't watching Jay.  And the older Americans, in pretty hefty numbers, are watching mostly Fox News.

Jay would kinda like to keep working but things aren't looking that way.

I would suggest that Fox go out and find two individuals to team up with Jay....in southern California of course, and run an 11PM one-hour show.  The studio would be laid out in a fashion that would make a grown man cry.

I would envision the studio having an entire area with car jacks and Jay might invite a guy onto the show and just spend thirty minutes talking cars, or motorcycles, or even go-carts.  Toss in someone who does interviews with the Hollywood elite, and finally a third Fox person who talks up the latest in gossip.

After a couple of months, the numbers would be significant, and Jay would be smiling most of the time because his magic was still working.

The Little Bill

The Republicans have worked up a bill in the House...which basically says if you owe back taxes, and you have a lien now on your or your assets, and you work for the US government....then we want to terminate you.  And if you apply for a government job....we want you to be disqualified.

The numbers?  312k employees fall into this lien category.  There roughly three billion dollars involved in the amount owed.

Chances of passing the Senate?  I'd give it less than twenty percent chance.  The Democrats don't appear to be interested.

The problem?  A bunch of guys are doing a lousy job, with their tax consultant, in estimating the monthly amounts to deduct.  They sit in shock after the accountant has added up the numbers, and they are anywhere from a thousand short, to forty thousand short.

How you get into such a mess?  Well....some guys did contractor work in Afghanistan and then got into a government job.  The overseas work is $82k free of taxes, but if they paid you $175k for twelve months of pay....it'd be a big mess if you did ten months in one year, and then two months in the next.  The government did a little game of changing the rules back several years ago.  The deal worked out great for the government in getting more taxes, but most guys really didn't structure themselves to pay less taxes.  No one wanted to pay some tax consultant $1,500 to manage their money.

I'm guessing the numbers will only increase in 2013, and this whole bill deal will come back in 2014 (an election year).  It might pass then, and you'd watch a bunch of guys run off to banks to beg for loans of $20k....to pay IRS immediately or get laid off.

That three billion owed?  It's simply going to grow....if you ask me.  By 2016, it could be eight billion owed by government employees.