Thursday, May 30, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Omens, Signals And Events

In only seven months the 2014 national midterm election
campaign will be at full bore, as they say, and although
there will probably be a few more retirements and incumbents
defeated in their own party primaries, the roster of candidates
and races is now emerging clearer and clearer.

So far, the omens, signals and events of the pre-campaign
period indicate a tide forming more to the patterns of the
2010 midterm elections than to the ones which occurred
in 2012.

Primarily, the number of U.S. senate retirements in
potentially key races supports this assessment. Eight
incumbent Democratic senators have retired, died or
resigned, and in all but one (Hawaii) there appears to be
Republican takeovers or highly competitive races ahead.
One of them, in Massachusetts, will have special election
in a month, and the GOP nominee, Gabriel Gomez, appears
surprisingly to have a chance against the usually favored
Democrat in this state. Three Republican senators have
retired or resigned, but those seats are expected to easily
remain on the GOP side.

In addition, several incumbent Democratic senators are in
political trouble, including Mary Landrieu in Lousiana,
Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Kay Hagan in North Carolina,and
Mike Begich in Alaska. Moreover, Al Franken in Minnesota,
Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and Christopher Coons
in Delaware could be in trouble next year if the GOP finds
formidable opponents for them (which so far has not
happened). Two potentially vulnerable Republicans, Mitch
McConnell of Kentucky and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee,
are now looking more secure, and Susan Collins will likely
win in Maine if she runs. (If she does not, the Democrats
would likely pick up that seat.)

A recent development in the U.S. house races demonstrate
the Republican trend as well. Incumbent Republican
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in Minnesota has
announced her retirement. A controversial and outspoken
conservative, Mrs. Bachmann almost lost her seat in 2012
in spite of the fact that her district is the most conservative
in the state. She faced a very competitive race in 2014, and
Democrats were planning to go all out to defeat her. This
seat now reverts to “safe” Republican.

In fact, so far there are indications that, in spite of having a
healthy majority now in the U.S. house of representatives,
the GOP might actually pick up 4-10 seats net in 2014.

What are the reasons so many recent developments signal
GOP gains in 2014? First of all, it will not be a presidential
election year. President Obama’s campaign effectively
turned out their voter base in 2012 while making their GOP
opponent a greater issue than any dissatisfaction with the
economy. Second, as was true in 2010, but not in 2012, there
are clear signs of voter anger about economic issues,
primarily the implementation of Obamacare that might
highly motivate voters at the polls. In addition, recent
“scandals” and controversies regarding the Obama
administration have not helped the Democratic “brand,”
and have put the liberal party on the defensive.

Nontheless, it is still early, and events could turn more
favorable to the Democrats. The stock market is at recent
highs, official (but not actual) unemployment figures are
trending more positively, housing sales and prices seem to
be moving upward, and our main international trading
competitors, primarily China, Europe and Japan have
perhaps even more faltering economies than the U.S. does.

The “rational” analysis of the 2012 election, before the
fact, was that the weak economy and high unemployment,
coupled with oncoming Obamacare, would produce a
Republican victory. But in order to defeat an incumbent
president, there needs to be widespread voter anger and
dissatisfaction. In order to defeat incumbent senators, the
opposition needs to field strong candidates. The Obama
campaign effectively defused voter emotions with reports
of slightly better employment figures, delaying Obamacare
implementation, and creating doubt about Mitt Romney.
Republican grass roots efforts, furthermore, produced
ideological candidates in some key races who turned out
to be disastrous nominees.

Even with these circumstances, the presidential race was
ultimately close, and the GOP had only minimal losses in
U.S. house races, keeping their majority. Only in the U.S.
senate races were the results clearly punishing for the GOP.

Anger, so far, seems to have returned to voter sentiment
in 2013, with prospects for more of it in then next 18 months.
Having stumbled in their recruitment of senate candidates
in 2010 and 2012, Republican leaders seems more engaged
in their own nominating process for 2014.

Minnesota was one of the most unadulterated triumphs
for the Democrats in 2012. Called the Democratic-Farmer-
Labor Party (DFL) in this state, they won back control of
both houses of the state legislature after Republicans
over-reached by introducing controversial constitutional
amendments on the 2012 ballot. With a DFL governor and
DFL-controlled legislature, the 2013 session produced much
higher income taxes, many more regulations, and an
unpopular measure to force day care workers to join a
union. Recent polls suggest that 2014 might not go well for
the DFL, but the state Republican Party, in heavy debt, is
demoralized, and so far does not have first-rank candidates
for governor and U.S. senator (even though recent polls
and controversies  indicate both could be vulnerable). As a
result, first-time untested conservative candidates are
moving into these races.

Elsewhere, however, the prospects for Republicans continue
to shine brighter and brighter. But it’s too soon to make useful
predictions, as we learned so well in 2012. The Democrats still
retain their superb registration and get-out-the-vote machinery,
and the domestic economy and world affairs remain volatile
and provisional.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Age Of Global Ambivalence?

We have now entered a new era, one with extraordinary
if not unprecedented ambivalence. Previous eras were
usually characterized by a singular phenomenon, e.g.
anxiety, optimism, fear, violence, hope, terror, confidence,
doubt, and so on.

Our new age, however, is complicated by off-setting
opposites and contradictions.  On the one hand, daily
headlines based on incidents of brutal attacks and
bombings are juxtaposed with headlines reporting new
medical discoveries that save and prolong lives.
Headlines based on major natural disasters of floods,
earthquakes and tornados are juxtaposed with satellite-taken
photographs, videos and data from space probes and
human flights to outer space. Headlines of epidemics and
potential pandemics from viral and biological diseases
without known treatment and cure are juxtaposed with
news stories of predictions of future human life spans
that will end disease as we know it, and routinely exceed
one hundred or more years. Headlines of human suffering
and deprivation in some continents are juxtaposed with
headlines proclaiming the arrival of more and more
sophisticated robots and other devices that will replace
much of what humanity now does as work and toil.
Headlines of imminent  and widespread food, energy
and raw materials shortages are juxtaposed with new
discoveries of large deposits of gas, oil and needed
mineral resources. Headlines that proclaim problematic
and totalitarian prospects for future generations are
juxtaposed with sanguine predictions of international
cooperation and the continued rise of democracies.

What is a person living now to make of these ubiquitous

Human life, at any of its stages, has faced mixed messages,
but it would seem that the potential real prospect of
accidental species suicide (one extreme) and limitless life
spans (the other extreme) is producing a new kind of
subconscious ambivalence in our daily lives, especially in
the new era of internet communications and ultra-fast
transportation which gives life an unprecedented provisional

Pessimists, of course, dwell on the negative and frightening
side of this new age, while optimists focus of positive and
reassuring side, but a new psychology might be in formation
for most of us, that is, a psychology of daily ambivalence.
Should this be so, we might expect some new modes of
behavior and relationships.

It perhaps accounts for, as well, the new phenomena and
alteration of institutions now arising here and there in the
various human communities spread over our little planet.

The future, when it arrives, is always a surprise.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Following the revelations of back-to back political
“scandals” in Washington, DC   --- the revived Benghazi
affair, the revelation and admission that the IRS has
gone after conservative groups (and not liberal ones),
and the administration wiretapping of the Associated
Press, the question arises: What will be their impact on
U.S. politics?

Liberal pro-Obama commentators, for the most part
(there have been some notable defections), have been
furiously attempting to rationalize and defend the Obama
administration, while most conservative commentators,
noting blood in the water, have been furiously on the attack.

One set of national polls, Gallup, indicate no decline in the
president’s popularity while another set, Rasmussen, shows
a steady decline with Mr. Obama now slightly under 50%.

A few critics have called for impeachment, although most
conservatives, remembering the Clinton impeachment experience,
have little or no interest in such an outcome.

Whether or not two gubernatorial elections (New Jersey and
Virginia) and a special U.S. senate election (Massachusetts) this
year will be changed by the scandals is unclear.

Most of all, the facts about who did what in these scandals
have not yet been fully disclosed.

The Benghazi affair, perhaps the most troubling involving the
president (and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton)
directly, is the least likely to change public opinion, with what
we know now. Most Americans have a limited interest in
foreign policy. Attempts to intimidate the media likewise
will not likely affect public opinion significantly, although it
could have enormous impact of previously Obama-favorable
reporters, broadcasters and editorialists. The IRS scandal,
however, is something that touches every American, and could
prove the most damaging politically. The administration is
actively seeking to localize the malfeasance to local IRS offices
and “rogue” IRS agents.

If further disclosures dry up, it is possible that the president,
with three years to go in his final term, will suffer only minor
damage. The Democratic Party liberal brand, on the other hand,
even if no more is disclosed, has probably suffered a blow in its
efforts for success in the 2014 midterm congressional elections.

The real “scandal” which could change U.S. politics, in my
opinion, lies ahead as the impact of Obamacare hits the
consciousness of almost every American. Already, health
insurance rates are rising, with significant increases almost
certainly ahead in the next several months. A bureacratic
tangle with insurance exchanges, regulations and a backlash
from physicians and other health care providers is quite
likely, and has already begun. Not only will individuals be
affected, the whole economy could be pushed into a tailspin

Already prominent Democratic U.S. senators and congressmen
are openly criticizing the anticipated Obamacare crisis, including
those who led the effort for its passage and voted for it. A number
of Democratic incumbents have already decided not to run for
re-election. The 2500-page bill, which Nancy Pelosi so proudly said
should not be read before it was passed, is now being read and

This might be the scandal that is the political gamechanger in 2014.
The allegations in the other (aforementioned) scandals are
quite serious if true, but it is alas probably fair to say that most
Americans are most likely to change their minds only when they
themselves have to pay the bills for what the politicians have
done to them.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Scandals Everywhere

There are now so many serious Obama administration
scandals in front of the American public that it is, for
the moment, difficult to assess their full impact.

I am reluctant to make final judgments until more of the
facts are known, but since the Obama administration
has conceded that most of the allegations of wrongdoing
are true, there can be no reasonable question that the
political damage, not to mention the damage to the
credibility of government itself, will be enormous.

Typical of Mr. Obama’s stewardship of the White House
and the executive branch, we are now engulfed with
finger-pointing to minor officials, laughable rationalizations,
virtual total avoidance of responsibility, and a dismissive
tone about some of the most serious breaches of federal
intrusion on the citizenry in memory. It would appear that
Mr. Obama and his associates regard much of the U.S.
constitution as an “impediment” to running the country.

Among the charges in just one scandal, the IRS intimidation
of conservative organizations and individuals, is the allegation
that information obtained by the IRS was, in turn, used against
the 2012 Romney campaign. That is not yet proven, but if it is,
that allegation alone raises the case to the level of Watergate
(when President Nixon attempted to obtain information to be
used against his Democratic opponent in the 1972 presidential

But that seems to be only the tip of the iceberg. Singling out
conservative organizations and others potentially hostile to
the Obama administration, while ignoring any improprieties
of liberal organizations and other friends of the president,
represents a naked attempt at imposing illegal and totalitarian
government. (As noted, it was a Republican president, Richard
Nixon, who brought us the scandal of Watergate. Malfeasance
in office is not something which happens with only one
political party.)

But the IRS scandal is only one of many now before us. In the
case of the tragedy in Benghazi, the administration has been
accused of a massive cover-up directly related to helping
President Obama’s re-election in 2012. Testimony in recent
hearings by diplomats and public officials with first-hand
information about Benghazi directly contradict the
administration’s explanation of events. Both President Obama
and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have adamantly
denied responsibility for what happened in Benghazi. The
testimony of those present and involved so far indicate they
are not telling the truth.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
has been attempting to induce private donors, including
large insurance companies, to pay for part of the
establishment of Obamacare (which the Congress has
deliberately refused to pay for). Newt Gingrich has described
her actions as a “shakedown” of the private healthcare
industry. He also points out that one has to go back to the
notorious administration of Warren Harding for something even
similar. Her actions would appear on their face to be close to a
blunt form of illegal intimidation by the federal government.

As if the above were not enough, it has been admitted by the
administration that it placed wiretaps on the Associated Press
(AP), presumably in order to track down “leaks” of a political
nature. What makes this so remarkable and devastating is
that AP is part of the Old Media establishment which has been
so favorable to Mr. Obama for the past five years, so uncritical
of him while at the same time so critical of his opponents.
However despicable it is for a government to use its power
to go after its political “enemies,” it is bewildering to
observe a government to go after its “friends” in the media.
(It is important to remember that these wiretaps are not
allegations, they have been admitted to by the Obama

Those are the four major scandals unfolding in front of the
American public at this time, but there is at least one more
major scandal soon to come to light. This is the scandal of
Obamacare itself, its full regulatory details, its true insurance
costs to individual Americans, and its ultimately “scandalous”
future impact on an already struggling economy.

Although Watergate rightly aroused profound anger, and by
both Democrats and Republicans, it might prove ultimately
an “amateur” government trespass compared to what has
already occurred, and is even now occurring, under the
administration of President Obama.

“Obamaismo” is no longer sitting safely on its “royal” wall.
All “King” Obama’s (media) horses, and all the king’s men
might not be able to put this administration back together

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


There are a number of current news stories that merit
at least some comment, so here are some quick notes:

The facts in this story are not altogether clear yet, but
the responses of the Obama administration are very
revealing. These include former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton saying “What difference does it make
anyway?” and an Obama spokesman saying, “It
was so long ago.” Further, we have U.S. diplomats who
were there contradicting under oath the administration’s
version of events in Benghazi, and allegations that
whistleblowers have been, and are being, silenced.
Finally, we have the president’s own press secretary
unable to give any cogent answer to questions about
the matter, even though it has been in the news for months.
If it looks like a cover-up, smells like a cover-up and
sounds like a cover up, perhaps it is not unreasonable to
suggest it’s a cover-up........

Having won control of both houses of the state legislature
for the first time in many years, Democrats (called DFLers
in the Gopher State) are sending bill after bill with higher
taxes to liberal DFL Governor Mark Dayton for his signature.
Mr. Dayton narrowly won election in 2010 promising, it
must be said, to tax the rich in Minnesota. The problem
with this higher tax orgy is that most of the burden of the
new taxes falls on middle class voters who are in for a big
surprise when they fill out their 2013 and 2014 state returns
(not to mention their surprise when they receive next year’s
health insurance premium bills). Taxes are going up, it’s
fair to say, for the local rich, too, but as a thoughtful essay
by Peter Nelson at the conservative Center for the American
Experiment think tank points out, many of these folks are,
and will be, taking a hike to a low-tax state.....

With most of their best hitters, including Derek Jeter, Curtis
Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, and Mark
Teixera out with injuries, the Yankees, currently sending up
to bat mostly replacement players, just went into first place
in the AL East, perhaps the toughest division in baseball (the
Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles have very good
teams this year).  Yankee starting pitchers, mostly aging,
past-their-prime veteran hurlers, backed up by (it must be
noted) the greatest closer in baseball history (himself over
40), Mo Rivera, are doing much better than expected. What
will happen when the presumably healed sluggers return
to the line-up after the All Star game? Can a replacement
team go to the World Series?......

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is an American classic, but
despite of several attempts over the years, it has not been
made into a successful film. In spite a lot of money
spent on it, and gigantic hype, the latest version just
premiered, is apparently (says major critic Rex Reed) a
colossal artistic flop. As in the case of Steven Spielberg’s
recent film “Lincoln,” the Hollywood direction and media
ballyhooing weigh down further an already overwrought
production. Critics and audiences don’t always agree, but
this much hype probably tells all you need to know.

The coldest winter in memory in many places, following
contradictory trends worldwide, has seemed to close the
book on the alleged global warming theories. “Warmistas,”
including many scientists, have rushed to change their
terminology to “global climate change.” The only problem
with this new branding is that climate change is one of the
constants of planetary history, and nothing new. A few
hardliners think the warming scam still holds up, but,
like those who believe Alger Hiss was innocent, their
numbers are evaporating.....

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: From Here On Once Again

My readers know I am both a skeptic and an optimist
most of the time, but there are also moments, especially
when surveying the history of our little and brief human
civilization, that darker thoughts arise to give another
view of what lies ahead for our impertinent and curious

One of my favorite historians is the late Barbara Tuchman
(whose The Proud Tower, an immensely rich compendium
of pre-World War I life, I prefer most from her many
books) quotes from a 1909 essay by English sociologist
William Trotter, later published in his book Instincts of the 
Herd in Peace and War:

“The probability is very great that, after all, man will
prove to be but one more of Nature’s failures.”

That’s about as pessimistic a statement about the future
that could be made, and it is interesting that Trotter wrote
it before the outbreak of World War I and the most violent
and destructive century in history.

Since 1909, humanity has not only sunk into moments of
unprecedented depravity and self-destruction, but has, at the
same time, made extraordinary advances in medicine,
communications, transportation, chemistry and physics that
even the self-styled prophets of the turn to the 20th century
 (Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Nietszche, et al) could not imagine.

But I write about politics and culture, and I am struck by the
awareness that, despite so many amazing advances in human
knowledge, science and technology, we seem to have made
such little advance in how we live together sharing our
modest planet. In fact, there are now many more of us, and
in terms of our civilization, we may have, on balance, gone
somehow backwards.

Moreover, depending on how you interpret our available
resources of food and energy, the immediate future could
be increasingly problematic, not even considering the
socio-political challenges and threats we face.

The primary reassuring realization I have, which mostly
comes from reading about the pre-world war eras
(1890-1914) and (1920-1939), is that American and European
generations of those eras seemed to feel about the future
in ways analogous to the ways many of us feel today, that
is to say, with a sense of great impending change and
turmoil.  The change and turmoil did happen, but we survived.

The two pre-world war eras previously cited were also
times when the inner and spiritual lives of men and women
were confronted by hitherto unprecedented forces on a
large scale, violent political anarchism/nihilism and militant
anti-religious secularism. I am not equating the two, but the
former began in the pre-World War I period, and the latter
began in the pre-World War II period, and each of them were
traumatic and disillusioning. I must note that they continue
in our own time.

A civilization without a spiritual underpinning, as the Spanish
philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote presciently in 1929,
is capable of anything. I would add, in light of our recent
technology advances, that includes even the suicide of our

Fortunately, I am naturally skeptical, and that includes
skepticism about the self-destruction of civilization any time
soon; and I am naturally optimistic, knowing that even the
words we write and say to each other mean nothing if there
is no hope.

Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Is Gabriel Gomez The Next Scott Brown?

Gabriel Gomez, the Republican nominee for the U.S. senate
seat special election in Massachusetts on June 25, 2013,
is suddenly being taken seriously as a Democratic poll
shows him trailing the Democratic nominee, Congressman
Ed Markey, by only 44-40  (16% undecided). That’s an
ominous sign for the Democrats who initially thought this
race would be a no-contest in the heavily Democratic Bay

When a special election was held in this state in January, 2010,
to fill the seat of the late Edward Kennedy, Democrats also
assumed the seat was automatically theirs, and were stunned
when Republican newcomer Scott Brown won. This time, the
seat was vacated by John Kerry when he resigned to become
U.S. secretary of state.

Incumbent Brown was defeated last year in a bitter contest,
and despite being well-liked by Massachusetts voters, he could
not overcome the huge Democratic turnout caused by the
presidential election. But 2013 is not a presidential year, and
Mr. Markey, although a long-time U.S. house veteran, is
considered aloof and a relatively weak statewide candidate.

Mr. Gomez’s political personality, on the other hand, has not
yet been widely established, and that represents an
opportunity for both the Republicans and his Democratic
opponent. Cash will thus play a large role in this race,
as political advertising is a major component of creating
or denigrating a new political figure. It should be no surprise
that Mr. Markey has challenged Mr. Gomez to sign a pledge
not to accept campaign contributions from outside the state.
Mr. Markey is already well-funded from within the state, and
greatly fears that GOP donors from around the country
could equalize the race financially.

This is, in my opinion, a major test of how seriously the
national Republican Party will contest the 2014 midterm
U.S. senate elections to regain control of the Congress.
Mr. Gomez is reportedly a bit more moderate on social
issues than some southern and midwestern GOP senators,
and funding for his campaign has reportedly been slow so

The national Republican Party is a conservative party,
particularly on economic, entitlement and defense issues.
But certain regions in the nation, particularly the northeast,
produce a different kind of conservative. Senator Susan
Collins of Maine and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
are cases in point. There are Democratic incumbent
senators who are vulnerable in 2014, but they could only be
defeated by GOP opponents who reflect the general views
of their states on social issues, and that means a willingness
by Republican donors and officials to support their
strongest candidate in each race, notwithstanding their
“purity” or 100% “orthodoxy” on individual issues.

My calculation is that there are now about nine or ten
Democratic-held senate seats that could be won by
Republicans in 2014, but only about four or five that now
appear likely to change hands (even that, as we learned in
2012, is no certainty). Republicans need to regain at least
six senate seats to win control.

Scott Brown demonstrated that even in an overwhelmingly
liberal Democratic state such as Massachusetts an attractive
Republican candidate can win statewide office.  When Brown
won a special election to succeed the late Ted Kennedy, it
portended the 2010 GOP midterm landslide later that year.

But the issue is larger than one special election. The real
question is whether or not Republicans are prepared to
govern again. While it is true that the nation is now rather
polarized between conservatives and liberals, the regional
and urban/rural demographics most accurately define the
American voter, and make many political issues more complex.

Grover Norquist, a favorite target of Democrats and liberals
for demonization, has recently been speaking about a more
pragmatic GOP approach to the elections of 2013-14.
Associated with the hard-line lower taxes issue, he has now,
without compromising his primary issue, argued that the
first function of a political party is to win elections. He
knows that any Republican majority is far more likely to
respond to his issue than any Democratic majority. If more
conservative leaders approach 2014 as Mr Norquist has, the
GOP has much brighter prospects than if those self-styled
conservative leaders  who want GOP candidates to reflect
their own views 100% would prevail.

That is why the special U.S. senate election in Massachusetts
this year is so important.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 3, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Finis The College Campus?

The picture of modern college and university campuses
has become so indelible in American minds for the past
century, and the trillions of dollars spent to create and expand
them is so great, that it is preposterous to suggest that they
might become virtually empty and unused for their present
purposes in the foreseeable future.

Or is it?

A recent study of an allegedly top-rated liberal arts college,
Bowdoin in Maine, (“What Does Bowdoin Teach?) has
produced a firestorm of concern and controversy
about the state of undergraduate education in America,
particularly at its top schools. This study, written by Dr. Peter
Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars (NAS),
and Michael Toscano, is so thorough and so devastating that it
raises anew whether college age American men and women,
sometimes paying up to $60,000 per year to attend the nation’s
leading public and private college and universities, are getting
even a minimally respectable and useful higher education.

I have raised this question in this space recently (cf. THE
PRAIRIE EDITOR: “To The Last Degree” March 5, 2013) in a
general format, citing my own alma mater, the University of
Pennsylvania, and the University of Minnesota, as examples of
prestigious schools in decline. The NAS study exhaustively and, in
my opinion, irrefutably documents a similar phenomenon at
Bowdoin, with direct implications for so many other institutions of
higher learning across the nation. Many others, educators and other
commentators, most of whom know more about the subject than
I do, have similarly indicted the leadership and faculties of many
colleges and universities for the narrowness and triviality of their
programs, and their preoccupations with issues of “diversity,”
“sustainability,” and “political correctness.”

Considering the extremely high costs of higher education in
most schools in America today, the lack of credibility of many of
their curricula, and the extremist politicizing of so many
college and university communities, I don’t think there is much
question that the whole institution is in a grave crisis.

So what will happen next?

Dr. Wood recently spoke to the Minnesota Association of Scholars,
and following his remarks, was asked a question about the future of
higher education. His answer included a comment about the
possibility that the new institution of online higher education might
be the only way to circumvent the entrenched faculty and
administrative establishment, and restore higher education in
America to its intended purpose and high standards.

As I listened to Dr. Woods remarks, it occurred to me that he might
be right. Initially, I had reservations about online education. Part of
this response, I must admit, came from the bias that I received my
entire education --- secondary, undergraduate and graduate schools ---
before the modern use of the computer.  Another part of this response,
I must also admit, probably came from a residual attitude that I had
attended the “best” schools on major campuses, and that no off-campus
educational experience could match them (even though I had, over time,
become critical of those same schools).  But the present crisis in higher
education, and its astronomical rise in costs, I now believe could bring
about radical change. If college and university presidents, boards of
trustees and faculties do not quickly adapt or change in the face of this
crisis, I think parents and students, the customers after all, will force a
change by turning to online higher education, more technical community
colleges and other new institutions to prepare them for their adult careers.

It won’t happen overnight. The “prestige” of the colleges and universities
now at the highest level will persist, especially as long as employers pay
attention to them. But as these same institutions continue to turn out
poorly-prepared graduates, albeit intelligent ones, American business and
professional employers will adjust their criteria and procedures for
locating and hiring the best and the brightest.

Online higher education in the U.S.has just gone through a shake-up,
as it is in the process of upgrading its standards and overcoming
widespread past attitudes that online colleges and universities were
“diploma mills.” But the best and some of the largest of these online
institutions are surviving and growing. Able to provide quality
undergraduate and technical higher education at much lower cost,
and without the contemporary issues of “diversity,” “sustainability,”
and political correctness now so out of control on so many of today’s
college campuses, the online education industry is poised to grow
exponentially and change the physical character of higher education in

In the past, the college campus offered a student an”experience” beyond
just book learning. But today, the college campus has lost its balance and
its economy in so many ways. The tyranny of political domination of the
campus, grown unabated  for the past 50 years, is about to be upended.
This educational revolt is not going away.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman.   All rights reserved.