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May 7, 2015

corinthian college is a blatant scam

There's a little story in the National section earlier this week that I think buries the lede a little bit.  The actual news contained therein is that the Department of Education forced Corinthian Colleges, a sketchy-but-formerly-enormous operator of for-profit colleges out of business, and the students want forgiveness on their student loans, considering that, even before Corinthian went belly-up it was basically fleecing the student body:
"The rep I talked to told me how great it would be, how they'd help me find a job when I graduated, and how their grads were highly sought after," [Corinthian alum Brittany Prock] said.

But when she graduated in 2010, Ms. Prock said, the only career help she got was a listing of jobs from sites like Craigslist -- and one call about a job with a janitorial service. Now 36, she o wes $83,542 in federal and private debt, and is no closer to a criminal justice job.

And this is not a bit of lefty bellyaching about how the free market is a big mean old bully — for the last decade Corinthian has been dancing with not just Education but also state regulators and a passel of Attorneys General.  Corinthian was a bad actor.

And the article does dip its toe into why the Education Department is in a bit of a sticky wicket, considering that it's gonna be on the hook for a lot of student loans issued under fraudulent conditions (by the Department) that it now has to either collect or forgive, but it does not go far enough in explaining exactly why Corinthian was such a bad actor.

Sure Corinthian engaged in dishonest practices, promising job placement that would never come, inflating graduation figure and its own stature as an institution of higher learning, and targeting the type of student least likely to ever be able to pay back the loans.  But, the article does not get to the motive for all this foolishness.  Corinthian is not just looking to trick students into enrolling for the sake of bragging rights.  Schools like Corinthian want students, especially poor students, because of the the federal student aid that is underwritten by the Education Department.

Basically, they dangle a bootstrap story of life improvement, help filling out FAFSA forms (and by help I mean falsify), then provide a bare-bones education and a piss poor job placement program because the grift has taken place — they've taken twenty or thirty thousand of Education's money and left they student holding the bag.

It's not just galling.  It's fraudulent.  And articles like this shouldn't have the tone of, Private Industry Under Scrutiny.  They should be more like, Private Industry Revealed To Be Criminal Enterprise.

(And credit as usual to Maria Bustillos for lighting the fire under my ass on this with this great Awl piece from a few years ago.)

Posted by mrbrent at 2:17 PM

the uk elections

Happy election day United Kingdom!  And instead of me bloviating on the impact and likely outcomes, I'm going to turn it over to my friend Kevan, who lives in London and is very astute on these sorts of things (as well as military history and British comedy and punk rock).  Kev:

**

Remember that Scottish referendum, the one where the loyalists only just lost?

Well, it just hasn't gone away and the loyalists are back, using the National Election to further the cause.

Basically, until five years ago, the British electorate preferred to vote for one of two parties, Tory or Labour. Before Labour emerged as a force in the 1920s it was Tory v. Liberal, but always a two-party system.

Then, after 13 years of Labour rule, tainted by entering a war on George Bush's behalf, the public wanted out, but still didn't trust the Tories, and so the 2010 election brought a stalemate. Although the Tories had won the most seats, they had not won enough for a majority government, and so they unexpectedly did a deal with the Liberal Democrats to form a majority coalition, which survived the length of the parliament.

Five years on, and the public is still undecided and we face another coalition, and the prospect that this may become the norm.

Why? Probably from the growing apathy with the professional class, and the disintegration of the old political tribes.

Regardless, the nation faces an election where no-one dares call the result, as, even though there is consensus that it's almost certainly going to be a "hung parliament", it's impossible to tell what form of coalition will emerge from the vote.

The focus of this scenario has been Labour's inability to make up ground and the stark reality that they face the potential decimation in Scotland where the Scottish National Party (SNP) could actually take every seat from the Labour Party. (Note: the Tories have as much chance of winning a seat in Scotland as (add punch-line here).

This is serious shit because: a) Labour rely on those Scottish seats to maintain their core vote, without which, Labour could never achieve a majority at Westminster, and b) an SNP landslide north of the border would be the launch of a return of the referendum, and the Nationalists push to have a second, rapidly held, attempt at breaking with rule from Westminster.

Once the SNP ascendancy over Labour was recognised, the pundits commentated how Labour would need to form a coalition with the SNP in order to form a parliament. This seemingly pragmatic approach to keeping the Tories out became vehemently dismissed by the Labour leadership, as they were unwilling to encourage the Scots to abandon Labour as their default representatives, as conceding defeat north of the border would not only presage the break up of the union, but would signal the end of any future Labour majority at Westminster.

For the Tories, their vote is being diminished by the far less credible, but potentially damaging in marginal constituencies, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) home to the bigoted unhinged that believe that they are entitled to say anything they wish about the poor and foreigners. The Tories therefore equally need to ally with someone, other than UKIP, yet, aside from the Liberals, none of the minority parties can make up the numbers to create a majority government and keep a Labour coalition out.

As for the Liberals? Siding with the Tories in the previous coalition damaged the brand gravely, and even the Liberals know that they'll lose a shit-load of seats. In fact, their plight is marked by the Liberals optimism that they'll defy the polls and win around 30 seats, despite having previously won 57 seats in the 2010 campaign. Without those 57 seats, the Liberals lose a lot of clout with the others as an attractive coalition partner.

So what are the predictions?

i) whichever of the two large parties that lucks out with the highest number of seats will declare themselves in a minority government and take their chances by wheeling and dealing with other parties, and dissent members of the opposition to get their policies through.

ii) either of them form a coalition with the ragbag of outsider parties, which, majority or not, is the most attractive to Parliament. That is, the line-up least likely to implode in the eyes of the House of Commons. This could be one party with lower votes than their rival, outmanoeuvring the larger by better use of the parliamentary apparatus.

Does anyone know what will happen? No.

Will British politics change as a result? Very probably. This may well be the unfolding of 21st century politics in the UK.

**

Hey that sounds dire!  Thanks, Kevan!

Posted by mrbrent at 11:27 AM