Monday, January 7, 2013

The College Application

At the University of Michigan, one application essay talked about how local education cutbacks forced high school students to pay money to play team sports. At Pitzer College, a student used the example of the Ponzi schemer Bernard L. Madoff to take a philosophical look at how much money people truly need to be happy.

As the economy has suffered in recent years and college costs have risen, high school seniors have grappled with the fallout in their own families and channeled their feelings into an increasing number of memorable college application essays about sacrifice, social policy and affluence or its opposite.

In the past students wrote about summer adventures, internships, and the like. Times have changed. The college essay like everything else in our economy is affected by the changes going on in higher education and the economy.

Will the colleges of the future be either the rich, highly endowed research institutions or the for-profit, online juggernauts. Time will tell, but it is on the way.

THE WAY TO WIN - FORTUNE cover, "2012 Businessperson of the Year: Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO ... The Ultimate Disrupter. At meetings of his 'S-team' of senior executives, ... before any discussion begins, members of the team ... consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes. ... They scribble notes in the margins while the authors of the memos wait for Bezos and his minions to finish reading. Amazon executives call these documents 'narratives' ... Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group's undivided attention. ... 'Full sentences are harder to write [than PowerPoint bullets] ... They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.' ... 'Jeff is a manic competitor, a delightful human being, and a trusted supplier,' says Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, ... enduring a full-frontal assault from Amazon's instant-view movie-streaming service. ...

"'With Steve [Jobs]'s passing , Bezos is the epitome of the venture-backed CEO,' says Bill Gurley, [venture capitalist] and longtime Amazon watcher ... 'If you were to ask 100 startup entrepreneurs who the CEO is they admire most, he would show up on 95 of the ballots.' ... Bezos, like [Jobs], has a shrewd and even ruthless side. Executives with, now owned by drug retailer Walgreen, still recall that a decade ago Amazon started a health-and-beauty category aimed squarely at the smaller company. Never mind that Amazon owned a significant stake in at the time and that Bezos sat on its board. Years later, in 2010, Amazon launched a full-throttle push to market baby products to moms at the precise moment it was negotiating to purchase the parent of, an act that could only drive down an acquisition price by striking terror in the hearts of other buyers."

THE TAX BITE -- AP, using Tax Policy Center data: "The ... package ... will prevent one set of tax increases from hitting the vast majority of Americans, but it won't stop them all. A temporary Social Security payroll tax reduction is expiring, hitting nearly every wage earner, and income taxes on the wealthy are going up too. How the tax increases will affect households ... Annual income: $20,000 to $30,000 -- Average tax increase: $297 ... Annual income: $30,000 to $40,000 -- Average tax increase: $445 ... Annual income: $40,000 to $50,000 -- Average tax increase: $579 ... Annual income: $50,000 to $75,000 -- Average tax increase: $822 ... Annual income: $75,000 to $100,000 -- Average tax increase: $1,206 ... Annual income: $100,000 to $200,000 -- Average tax increase: $1,784 ... Annual income: $200,000 to $500,000 -- Average tax increase: $2,711 ... Annual income: $500,000 to $1 million -- Average tax increase: $14,812 ... Annual income: More than $1 million -- Average tax increase: $170,341."

FINE PRINT: WHAT THE CLIFF BILL DOES - "Extends decade-old tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6 percent, up from the current 35 percent. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000. ... Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40 percent, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35 percent.

"Capital gains, dividends : Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent. ... Alternative minimum tax: Permanently addresses the alternative minimum tax and indexes it for inflation to prevent nearly 30 million middle- and upper-middle-income taxpayers from being hit with higher tax bills averaging almost $3,000. ... Other tax changes: Extends for five years Obama-sought expansions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and an up-to-$2,500 tax credit for college tuition. Also extends for one year accelerated 'bonus' depreciation of business investments in new property and equipment, a tax credit for research and development costs and a tax credit for renewable energy such as wind-generated electricity.

"Unemployment benefits: Extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for one year. ... Cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors: Blocks a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for one year. The cut is the product of an obsolete 1997 budget formula. ... Social Security payroll tax cut: Allows a 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax first enacted two years ago to lapse, which restores the payroll tax to 6.2 percent. ... Across-the-board cuts [sequester]: Delays for two months $109 billion worth of across-the-board spending cuts set to start striking the Pentagon and domestic agencies this week. Cost of $24 billion is divided between spending cuts and new revenues from rule changes on converting traditional individual retirement accounts into Roth IRAs."

WHAT'S NEXT: FISCAL TRIPLE PLAY - Last week's vote did nothing to hike the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, which the nation hit on Dec. 31. Treasury has begun employing its "extraordinary measures" to delay a default that should buy about two months. This will coincide very closely with the end of the sequester delay. Add to that the expiration of the continuing resolution funding the government in March and you have a fiscal triple-header coming up that could make the cliff fight look like a feeble undercard bout. The White House says it won't negotiate over the debt ceiling. Republicans in the 113th Congress will presumably demand big spending cuts since they did not get any this time. Something will have to give. And markets are not likely to be as patient this time.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Pat Benatar (60), Katie Couric (56), Bob Eubanks (75), Kenny Loggins (65), Charles Osgood (80), J.K. Simmons (58).

113th CONGRESS - "Congress ushering in new members, with old divide. The 113th Congress will convened last week at the constitutionally required time of noon Thursday January 3... There are 12 newly elected senators - eight Democrats, three Republicans and one independent, former Maine Gov. Angus King, who will caucus with the Democrats. They will be joined by Rep. Tim Scott, the first black Republican in decades, who was tapped by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the remaining term of Sen. Jim DeMint. ...

"The Senate will have three Hispanics -- Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and one of the new members, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas. There will be 20 women in the 100-member chamber, the highest number yet. ... Eighty-two freshmen join the House -- 47 Democrats and 35 Republicans. Women will total 81 in the 435-member body -- 62 Democrats and 19 Republicans."

SPORTS BLINK - NFL's Black Monday - "Reid among 7 NFL coaches sacked in firing frenzy" - AP: "Andy Reid is the winningest coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. Lovie Smith led the Chicago Bears to the 2007 Super Bowl. Now they're looking for work. Seven coaches and five general managers were fired Monday in a flurry of pink slips that were delivered the day after the regular-season ended. Ken Whisenhunt is out after helping Arizona reach the Super Bowl following the 2008 season. Also gone: Norv Turner in San Diego, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Chan Gailey in Buffalo.

"Three teams made it a clean sweep, saying goodbye to the GM along with the coach - San Diego, Cleveland, Arizona. General managers also were fired in Jacksonville and New York, where Rex Ryan held onto his coaching job with the Jets despite a losing record.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Monday January 7; 8:00 PM ET, ESPN: BCS National Championship Game. #1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0) vs. #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1). Lou Saban too much for the Irish, the luck runs out tonight – Bama 32 Notre Dame 17.  Season to date (12-7)

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday January 11, 7:00 PM ET, NESN: #4 ranked New Hamsphire Wildcats (13-3-2) visit #2 ranked Boston College Eagles (12-3-2). Jerry York has another contender, UNH will give them a test in Chestnut Hill – BC 4 UNH 3.  (Season to date (2-0)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday January 12, 8:00 PM ET, Fox: Green Bay Packers (12-5) visit San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1). Another NFC shoot out, sorry Beth E. 49ers 38 The Pack 35.   Season to date (11-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Bama 32 Irish 17, BC 4 UNH 3, S.F. 38 GB 35, Kim Caldwell 3 Euro boyfriends on her trip.   Season to date (47-24)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  Posturing over the debt ceiling/sequester/government funding fiscal fiasco will continue, but drama over former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel's reportedly imminent nomination to become Defense secretary will suck up much of the D.C. political oxygen ... NFIB small business survey at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday expected to dip slightly to 87.2 from 87.5 ... Initial jobless claims on Thursday expected to dip to 360,000 from 362,000 ... Fourth-quarter earnings season kicks into gear with Alcoa reporting on Tuesday and Wells Fargo on Friday, among others ... Consumer Electronics Show begins Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Next week; back to the grind.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

January 7, 2013
#III-38, 143

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