Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New York Times: White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire

Thoughtful tentative answer to the question "What the Hell went wrong?"

Thanks to a pointer from one of our gentle readers, we're pleased to link a fine New York Times tome, providing a well researched summary overview of the root causes of the current mortgage crisis. NYT contributors Jo Becker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Stephen Labaton pin much of the blame squarely where it belongs -- The White House. Read Tuesday's full article here:
White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire
It's a meaty piece, and well worth a read, we think, as we cast about for a plausible answer to the nagging question: "What the hell went wrong?"

And yes, this will be on the test.


Housing Analyst said...

In the article below, note how this downturn compares to previous ones - quite a bit worse in many respects.

Housing data

RudiZink said...

Good catch, analyst.

Thanks for the link.

Brooke said...

Thanks for the new York Times article, Rudy. I've read numerous articles on the same topic before, but this one is a classic.

The Viking said...

There is plenty of blame in both parties. The democrats blocked any move in congress last year to tighten credit rules. Ask Barney Frank and Sen Dodd, the are looking for a place to hide.

History Buff said...

Here's a site that plots the historical ratings of all U.S. Presidents.

Look at which one who shows up dead last:

Historical rankings of United States Presidents

no surprizes here at all.

Rafiki said...

I think little W's placement has more to do with the newness of his "historical" status.

But I also don't think we'll witness him flying up the ranks as decades pass.

disgusted said...

off topic and a little late but worth mentioning.
the ogden city school board has decided that 3 years of math is enough for our high school students. not more but less math. are we trying to dumb down our kids so they cant compete in the world economy. are we trying to make life harder for our kids in the long run because we want to make it easier for them in the short run. the us already lags behind the rest of the civilized world in math skills and now odgen school board wants to widen the gap. ogden could end up setting a new bottom standard for the rest of the nation.
what the hell are they thinking.

Curmudgeon said...


I agree it was not a wise move for the college-bound. But there is a larger question: are we [or should we] be devising graduation requirements for only the college-bound, if it means those not going on cannot, in significant numbers, graduate from high school? That's not a trivial question.

Some states solve it by having two HS tracks: a college prep track [that could require four years of math and science, say] and a non-college track, that would have different requirements. In the NYS system, from which I graduated, there were "Regents HS Diplomas" [college track] and non-Regents Diplomas [non-college track]. Everyone, but everyone, who was thinking of going on to college was told in no uncertain terms to take the Regents diploma track. Competitive colleges didn't even look at non-Regents graduates, and you were not eligible for state-funded college scholarships unless you had one.

The system had some real merit. Those going on had to take a more demanding schedule of classes; those not planning to go on still completed High School in large numbers, and could take more courses in areas that helped them find good jobs.

But the system created problems as well: "tracking" came to be seen as "elitist" and [sometimes justly] racially discriminatory. In many cases, the two track system was dropped as a result, and so we got the present mess which results, all but inevitably in one of two unhappy situations: (a) the HS curriculum is so dumbed down that a potted plant [provided he actually showed up for class] could complete it successfully, or (b) HS curricula so demanding that large numbers find it impossible to complete and drop out.

There may be a solution short of a two track system, but I don't know what it might look like, Disgusted. And I'm not at all sure that "four years of math for everyone, no exceptions" is a workable idea, or ever was.

Oh, one more thing: if you think Utah's requiring three years of HS math is going to establish some "new bottom standard for the rest of the nation," then I don't think you know much about the state of educational standards nationwide.

JEFF said...

I agree that a 2 tier system works since it was in effect in my private education. College prep took latin and the second tier took another language. Most in the first tier recieved scholaships and went onto college, some in the second tier also did well and college.
The others went to community college or the service.
Education is the key today and cuts in grants and other programs hurt all of us. Cutting math to 3 years seems to slight the students. How many can't add or subtract without a calculator today. How many times do we wait for the cashier to see what the register tell them before we get our change.

dan s. said...

In my view the important question is not whether students spend 3 years or 4 sitting in math classes. Rather, the question is what goes on in those classes. Too often the students are allowed to pass when all they can do is rote symbol-pushing. This "skill" is soon forgotten by the many students who never connect it to real-world situations. They then arrive at college (or real life) with no idea of when to multiply and when to divide.

Curmudgeon said...

What I suspect Dan. S. is edging toward is a much larger question, and much more politically sensitive one: are we interested in graduating students or in educating them? And it is a question that applies to colleges and universities too. I confess I get concerned every time I hear a university president talking about the need to "increase the completion [i.e. graduation] rate." Far too often that has meant in the past a dilution of requirements or rigor.

It is a sad fact that a not-inconsiderable number of students at colleges and universities are not primarily interested in acquiring a good education. They are primarily interested in acquiring a degree [or in HS, a diploma rather than a HS education].

Having been through the high school curriculum wars in another state, I know that there is great political pressure on school boards and school administrations to increase their graduation rates. There is comparatively little political pressure to increase the number or rigor of the high school educations they deliver. Ditto public universities.

disgusted said...

imho math is one of the few studies where the process of thinking is required to solve the problem and where that thinking process can actually be measured in an objective way.
dont disagree with some of the comments above as to two tiered tracks but most schools have that in the math class course options. most college bound students know what math classes the must take to be considered for college. most students not bound for college can take less requiring math courses but they still gain from the exposure. my point is the more exposure to a study that requires a student to think rather than just memorize something helps that student in the real world. not putting down the other studies of reading writing or history but saying that an elective is no substitute for basic learning that will prepare a student to function in the real world.

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