Saturday, May 22, 2010

Excellent Frontline Program About the Effects of the Recession on New York's Upper East Side

I just finished watching the PBS Frontline documentary Close To Home. I never thought I would have an interest in watching a documentary filmed in a hair salon, but the documentary consisted of interviews with patrons at a (seemingly) upscale hair salon describing how the recession and job loss has affected them.

It isn't a profound documentary, but I think it has value in that it helps to chronicle the depression and give people a sense of its depth. Most of the people interviewed had years of experience and college educations. It thus helps serve as anecdotal evidence that, contrary to what many smug free market dogmatists who downplay the recession believe, hard-working experienced college-educated people who are seeking employment can suffer great difficulty finding employment commensurate with their education, experience, and abilities through no real fault of their own.

I enjoy debating politics on various forums and I often end up in protracted debates with people who are employed and successful. They often have difficulty believing that global labor arbitrage is bad for Americans and that it's hard to find a job. Many of these free market advocates seem to maintain the delusional belief that the unemployed are turning down jobs and mooching government benefits. (To hear them tell it, "We wouldn't have so many unemployed people if only those lazy sots would get off the dole and start working all of those jobs that are out there!") They also argue that global labor arbitrage is good for us but can never provide an intuitively convincing argument addressing the supply-and-demand of labor aspects of it. (I'll discuss this further in a long primer I am preparing about global labor arbitrage.)

I'm sure that the message of this documentary will probably fall on deaf ears in regards to the free market dogmatists, but it is still good to have a documentary anecdotal that provides evidence to hopefully rattle their confidence in their position and weaken their resolve. Perhaps it will also help laid-off free market advocates question their economic belief system. (Long-term unemployment and underemployment can go a long way towards changing a person's world view.)

NPR Aired a Ho-hum Story About Georgetown Law Grads Having Difficulty Finding Jobs.

NPR produced a rather mediocre story about the difficulties Georgetown Law School 3Ls are having with finding jobs in the legal profession. I think it aired Friday afternoon on All Things Considered. You can read a transcript and listen to the program here:

Economy Seems Bleak For Graduating Law Students

Of course, I left a number of comments at the NPR site along with links to a few other blogs and articles. It would be awesome if NPR actually did an in-depth story about the law schools reporting misleading employment statistics with the tacit approval of the ABA knowing fully-well that a great many if not most of their graduates would never find work in the legal profession and that they were impoverishing these students for their own pecuniary interests. I really wish we could educate the general public about the huge conflicts of interest that exist between universities, students, and society. I wish I could convince the public that colleges and universities are just as unethical, socially irresponsible, and self-interested as large for-profit corporations.

Here is a response someone posted to one of my comments:

John Johnson (JJ555) wrote:

Anonymous Frank, you wrote:

"NPR--if you would like to do a serious story about lawyer overproduction and whether or not law schools are providing misleading employment stats..."

Don't waste your time. I mentioned all of that during the discussion with my four co-panelists. It was all removed (or cut, or censored, however you want to say it) from the final piece.

It's actually rather surreal.
I don't know what NPR is like in other cities, but in my area NPR airs "support for NPR" ads from law schools, including one from Boston University (which airs nationally, I assume). Perhaps NPR doesn't want to risk angering its supporters. I suppose that that is a sensible policy, but it calls into question the network's journalistic independence.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Excellent 60 Minutes Report on the Causes of the Gulf Oil Spill (you can watch it online).

60 Minutes has produced an excellent report about the cause of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the subsequent oil spill in the Gulf. The report also includes a discussion and speculation about who exactly is responsible. (This is going to be a boon for lawyers.) The report is more worthwhile and informative than all of the national nightly news broadcasts combined. The heart of the report consists of a riveting interview with a crewman who was lucky to have survived and who remembers details about what led up to the failure of the blowout protector and the explosion. If you enjoy keeping up with current events and issues of legal liability you won't want to miss this. (I find the companies' maneuverings to attempt to shift liability rather entertaining.)

EDIT -- Click here for Part 2
or look for it on the page of Part 1.

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