CRF Blog

The Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value

by Bill Hayes

Money magazine has compiled its annual list: The Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value. It ranks more than 700 colleges.

  • 1. University of California-Irvine
  • 2. CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College
  • 3. Princeton University
  • 4. University of California-Los Angeles
  • 5. University of California-Davis
  • 6. Stanford University
  • 7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 8. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • 9. University of California-San Diego
  • 10. University of Virginia
  • 11. University of California-Berkeley
  • 12. University of California-Riverside
  • 13. California State University-Long Beach
  • 14. Harvard University
  • 15. Vanderbilt University
  • 16. California Institute of Technology
  • 17. Yale University
  • 18. Texas A & M University-College Station
  • 19. Duke University
  • 20. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 21. University of Florida
  • 22. California State University-Fullerton
  • 22. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  • 24. Rice University
  • 25. Massachusetts Maritime Academy
  • 26. Washington and Lee University
  • 27. Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 28. The University of Texas at Austin
  • 29. California State University-Northridge
  • 30. University of California-Santa Barbara [more]

The Growing Partisan Divide in Views of Higher Education

by Bill Hayes

In a public opinion study, Pew Research Center examines The Growing Partisan Divide in Views of Higher Education

Americans see value in higher education — whether they graduated from college or not. Most say a college degree is important, if not essential, in helping a young person succeed in the world, and college graduates themselves say their degree helped them grow and develop the skills they needed for the workplace. While fewer than half of today’s young adults are enrolled in a two-year or four-year college, the share has risen steadily over the past several decades. And the economic advantages college graduates have over those without a degree are clear and growing.

Even so, there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction — even suspicion — among the public about the role colleges play in society, the way admissions decisions are made and the extent to which free speech is constrained on college campuses. And these views are increasingly linked to partisanship. [more]

Trump’s Mini-Trade War with India

by Bill Hayes

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) looks at Trump’s Mini-Trade War with India.

India has long been a challenging trading partner for the United States. And in the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has wavered between a begrudging participant and a full-scale obstructionist. Successive US administrations have tried to pry open its markets by offering trade concessions to get it to play by the multilateral rules, with limited success.

President Donald Trump is now reversing course, as he has on most trade issues, seeking instead to punish India with tariffs. Since the beginning of 2018, his administration has increased duties on 14 percent of India’s exports to the United States. India has recently retaliated by slapping new tariffs on about 6 percent of US exports to India, including $600 million of almonds from California.

There are key parallels with the Trump-China trade war. The largest is skepticism that Trump’s escalation intends to fix problems in the trade relationship. Despite the obvious differences with China—that it is smaller both as a trade relationship and a tariff conflict—the worry is that this is just another excuse for the self-proclaimed “Tariff Man” to impose even more duties on yet another country. [more]

Our World in Data: World Population Growth

by Bill Hayes

Our World in Data works “to make the knowledge on the big problems accessible and understandable.” It explores World Population Growth with graphics, charts, interactive maps, facts, and insights on many aspects of population growth. Below is just a brief section of a long report on population growth.

 Our understanding of the world is often shaped by geographical maps. But this tells us nothing about where in the world people live. To understand this, we need to look at population density.

In the map below we see the number of people per square kilometer (km2) across the world.

Globally the average population density is 25 people per km2, but there are very large differences across countries.

Many of the world’s small island or isolated states have large populations for their size. Macao, Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong and Gibraltar are the five most densely populated. Singapore has nearly 8,000 people per km2 – more than 200 times as dense as the US, and 2000 times that of Australia.

Of the larger countries, Bangladesh is the most densely-populated with 1,252 people per square kilometer; this is almost three times as dense as its neighbour, India. It’s followed by Lebanon (595), South Korea (528), the Netherlands (508) and Rwanda (495 per km2) completing the top five.

If you hover the mouse on the bracket from 0 to 10 on the legend then you see the world’s least densely populated countries. Greenland is the least dense, with less than 0.2 people per square km2, followed by Mongolia, Namibia, Australia and Iceland. In our population cartogram these are the countries that take up much less space than on a standard geographical map.

If we want to understand how people are distributed across the world, another useful tool is the population cartogram: a geographical presentation of the world where the size of the countries are not drawn according to the distribution of land, but according to the distribution of people.

Here we show how the world looks in this way. When we see a standard map we tend to focus on the largest countries by area. But these are not always where the greatest number of people live. It’s this context we need if we want to understand how the lives of people around the world are changing. [more]

For balanced, free classroom lessons on population issues, see The Debate Over World Population: Was Malthus Right? from our Bill of Rights in Action Archive.

Chuck Rosenberg interviews David McCraw

by Bill Hayes

PBS’s Great Conversations features in-depth interviews of authors. In this episode, Chuck Rosenberg, who used to work for the Department of Justice, interviews David McCraw, an attorney for the New York Times, about McCraw’s book Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts.

The Deep, Uniquely American Roots of Our Affordable-Housing Crisis

by Bill Hayes

In The Deep, Uniquely American Roots of Our Affordable-Housing Crisis for The Nation, Bryce Covert explains how the crisis developed.

Nationwide, there are just 35 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income families — those who either live in poverty or earn less than 30 percent of the median income in their area. It’s a problem in every major city and in every state. Nationally, nearly half of renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

It may feel as though the country has always failed to offer an affordable home to everyone who needs one. But in 1960, only about a quarter of renters spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing. In 1970, a 300,000-unit surplus of affordable rental homes meant that nearly every American could find a place to live. “When there was an adequate supply of housing for low-income people, we did not have widespread homelessness in this country,” says Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. At the time, “the word ‘homelessness’ was relatively unknown,” says the Rev. David Bloom, a longtime advocate for the homeless, who adds that when he first used a word processor in the early 1980s, the spell-check didn’t even recognize the word. Today, there’s a deficit of more than 7.2 million rental homes inexpensive enough for the lowest-income people to afford, and nearly 554,000 Americans are homeless on any given night.

How did we get here? The mismatch between the number of people needing homes and the amount of affordable housing available isn’t unique to this moment in history, or even to the United States. Matthew G. Lasner, associate professor at Hunter College’s Urban Policy and Planning Department, describes housing shortages as a “product of industrial capitalism. The minute we see people flooding in from the countryside in search of work to cities, we see housing inequality emerging.” As their populations became urbanized, countries like Britain and Germany started to experiment with government subsidies for housing around the time of the First World War, ultimately developing programs that provided housing for many people, not just for the poorest. But despite the efforts of Progressive Era reformers, the idea failed to take root in the United States. [more]

Documents Fueling the Impeachment Inquiry

by Bill Hayes

Thus far, three primary documents have been released to the public that have fueled the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Below are the documents, which are on the New York Times website.

White House’s Reconstructed Transcript of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in July Telephone Call With President Trump

Whistle-Blower Complaint

Text Messages Between U.S. and Ukrainian Officials

The L.A. Times’ disappointing digital numbers

by Bill Hayes

In The L.A. Times’ disappointing digital numbers, Nieman Lab, a project that examines the direction news is going in the Internet age, looks at why the Los Angeles Times, once the nation’s second-leading circulation newspaper, is falling so far behind in the digital age. The chart below is just part of the lab’s analysis.

Newspaper                 2002 print circ             2019 digital subs

New York Times        1,113,000                      2.7 million

Los Angeles Times     965,633                         170,000

Washington Post        746,724                         1.7 million

NY Daily News          715,070                         27,000

Chicago Tribune        613,429                         100,000

Newsday                    578,809                          25,000

Houston Chronicle    552,052                          37,000

Dallas Morn. News   521,956                          72,000

SF Chronicle             512,129                          57,000

Politico’s Cartoons for This Week

by Bill Hayes

See Politico’s selection of this week’s political cartoons from across the country and the political spectrum.

For how to use editorial cartoons in the classroom, see Teaching With Editorial Cartoons.

Putin the Great

by Bill Hayes

In Putin the Great for Foreign Affairs, Susan B. Glasser profiles the Russian leader.

On January 27, 2018, Vladimir Putin became the longest-serving leader of Russia since Joseph Stalin. There were no parades or fireworks, no embarrassingly gilded statues unveiled or unseemly displays of nuclear missiles in Red Square. After all, Putin did not want to be compared with Leonid Brezhnev, the bushy-browed septuagenarian whose record in power he had just surpassed. Brezhnev, who ruled the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, was the leader of Putin’s gritty youth, of the long stagnation that preceded the empire’s collapse. By the end, he was the butt of a million jokes, the doddering grandfather of a doddering state, the conductor of a Russian train to nowhere. “Stalin proved that just one person could manage the country,” went one of those many jokes. “Brezhnev proved that a country doesn’t need to be managed at all.”

Putin, a ruler at a time when management, or at least the appearance thereof, is required, prefers other models. The one he has liked the longest is, immodestly, Peter the Great. In the obscurity and criminality of post-Soviet St. Petersburg in the 1990s, when Putin was deputy mayor, he chose to hang on his office wall a portrait of the modernizing tsar who built that city on the bones of a thousand serfs to be his country’s “window to the West.” By that point in his career, Putin was no Romanov, only an unknown former lieutenant colonel in the KGB who had masqueraded as a translator, a diplomat, and a university administrator, before ending up as the unlikely right-hand man of St. Petersburg’s first-ever democratically elected mayor. Putin had grown up so poor in the city’s mean postwar courtyards that his autobiography speaks of fighting off “hordes of rats” in the hallway of the communal apartment where he and his parents lived in a single room with no hot water or stove.

Peter the Great had no business being his model, but there he was, and there he has remained. Earlier this summer, in a long and boastful interview with the Financial Times in which he celebrated the decline of Western-style liberalism and the West’s “no longer tenable” embrace of multiculturalism, Putin answered unhesitatingly when asked which world leader he admired most. [more]

For a related free classroom lesson, see “Putin’s Illiberal Democracy.” It is available from  CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive. It is currently only in PDF and you will have to register (if you haven’t already), which is free.

The best books on Ancient Rome

by Bill Hayes

For Five Books, award-winning historian Tom Holland lists what he considers the five best books on Ancient Rome and is interviewed on his choices. His picks are:

1. The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius and translated by Robert Graves.

2. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.

3. The Roman Revolution by Ronald Syme.

4. The Roman Triumph by Mary Beard.

5. Pagans and Christians by Robin Lane Fox.

With all the upheavals in the world do you think there are things that we can still learn from Roman times? I think that the quality of great literature is that it contains timeless truths. It is like a kaleidoscope – our understanding of the text will change according to the way that we ourselves change. In terms of the lessons to be drawn from Roman history, of course it will always hold a mirror up to the present, for the simple reason that what is distinctive about Western civilisation, particularly compared with the other great civilisations like China or India or even the Middle East, is that in the West we have had two cracks at it. We had the first starting in BC and lasting up until the collapse of the Roman Empire and then the second, building on the ruins left by classical civilisation, continuing into the present. And all the way through our attempts to construct civilisation we are always overshadowed by the previous attempt, so we will find in Roman history what I guess we find in science fiction – that there are points of resemblance heightened and made strange by the way that they are also completely different. [more]

The rise and fall of the Mongol Empire

by Bill Hayes

A TED-ED video by Anne F. Broadbridge explores The rise and fall of the Mongol Empire.

For a related free classroom lesson, see “Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire.” Available from CRF’s Bill of Rights in Action Archive, it is currently only in PDF and you will have to register (if you haven’t already), which is free.

How much warmer is your city?

by Bill Hayes

In How much warmer is your city?, the BBC has created a database of 1,000 cities around the world. You can find any city, and the database will tell you how much the average daily temperature has risen for the months of January and July from 1900 to 2018. Then it provides four scenarios for future temperature averages in 2100.

What Are These Civil Rights Laws?

by Bill Hayes

In What Are These Civil Rights Laws? for Lapham’s Quarterly, Daniel Brook explores the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1883 decision to strike down the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

In a consolidation of five lawsuits that became known as the Civil Rights Cases, the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875 as unconstitutional. In all five cases, African Americans refused the use of public accommodations guaranteed to them by Senator Sumner’s law had pressed federal charges against the proprietors. Notably, only one of the cases originated in the South—that of a Tennessee railroad conductor who had attempted to physically push an African American woman out of a whites-only railcar. He only backed down when the fair-skinned, blue-eyed man who had boarded with the woman outed himself as her nephew and firmly requested that the conductor cease manhandling his aunt. The Midwest cases concerned a Kansas restaurateur and a Missouri innkeeper who refused to serve black patrons. The most famous of the cases came out of San Francisco and Manhattan, where recalcitrant theater owners had refused to seat black ticket holders despite the federal law. In the San Francisco case, a black man was refused a seat at a minstrel show at Maguire’s New Theater on Bush Street in 1876. In the New York case, a South Carolina transplant was denied a seat at the Grand Opera House in 1879 at a tragedy starring Edwin Booth, the brother of the man who had shot President Lincoln.

As the cases headed towards the Supreme Court, public support for civil rights continued to erode. In an 1879 editorial, the New York Times sneered that “to invoke the Civil Rights laws is becoming very fashionable. Within a few days a holder of a ticket to an uptown theater was refused his seat on account of color, and he threatens a civil rights action. Not many weeks ago a colored clergyman called for refreshments at an ice cream saloon in Jersey City; the proprietor refused to serve him, and at last reports he was consulting a lawyer about suing under the Civil Rights laws. At the South, two or three married couples have lately been prosecuted because, contrary to the law of the State, the husband was black and the wife white, and their lawyers have argued that such law amounted to nothing, because [it is] contrary to the Civil Rights laws. At the North, when the Jews are excluded from Saratoga or Coney Island hotels, they are counseled that by virtue of the Civil Rights laws they can insist on being received…What are these ‘Civil Rights laws’?…If a [businessman] does not wish to employ negroes, or…sell to negroes, there [ought be] no compulsion.” It was in this hostile climate that the Supreme Court heard the cases and issued its eight-to-one decision striking down the Civil Rights Act of 1875. [more]

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Beg to Differ

by Bill Hayes

In John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Beg to Differ for the New York Times Book Review, Richard Brookhiser reviews Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood.

Thomas Jefferson, describing John Adams in a letter, wrote, “He is so amiable, that I pronounce you will love him if you ever become acquainted with him.” The feeling was mutual. “I always loved Jefferson, and still love him,” Adams said when he was an old man. Their friendship lasted (with interruptions) for 51 years, from their meeting in 1775 in the Continental Congress to their deaths on the same day, July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Gordon S. Wood, the Alva O. Way university professor at Brown, who has been writing history as long as Jefferson and Adams knew each other, examines their relationship in “Friends Divided.”

There was ample potential for division in this romance. Jefferson was a Virginia aristocrat whose first election to the colonial legislature at age 26 was an easy trot to home plate from third base. Adams, the son of a farmer/shoemaker, thrust himself into the Massachusetts elite by unremitting application as a lawyer and activist. [more]