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The Burrito Index: Consumer Prices Have Soared 160% Since 2001

Calculating the real inflation rate
Friday, July 29, 2016, 3:31 PM

In our household, we measure inflation with the "Burrito Index": How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up?

Since we keep detailed records of expenses (a necessity if you’re a self-employed free-lance writer), I can track the real-world inflation of the Burrito Index with great accuracy: the cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.

That’s a $160% increase since 2001; 15 years in which the official inflation rate reports that what $1 bought in 2001 can supposedly be bought with $1.35 today. » Read more

Step 4: Knowledge Capital

The guidance provided in this section presumes you have already read the chapter on Knowledge Capital in our book, Prosper!: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting. If you have not, we strongly recommend doing so first.

Featured Discussion

Navigating Paying For College

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Navigating Paying For College

A PP.com parent shares recent learnings from sending his first child off to college

What Should I Do?

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The Money Side of the College Experience

The growing financial monster must be fed
Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 7:02 PM

Going to college in the USA has never been cheap, but those who haven’t been in the market recently don’t realize how crazy it’s become. » Read more

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Our Era’s Definitive Dynamic: Diminishing Returns

Doing more of what doesn't work
Monday, November 4, 2013, 3:37 PM

We all intuitively grasp the meaning of diminishing returns: Either it takes more effort to maintain a project’s payoff, or the payoff declines even though the effort invested remains constant.

This dynamic leads to the final phase of doing more of what has failed spectacularly. » Read more

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The (Needed) Revolution Emerging in Education

The cartel-controlled college education model is failing
Thursday, October 3, 2013, 6:10 PM

There is a revolution underway in education that is being driven by digital technology.  Like all technologically fueled upheavals, this revolution requires creative destruction of the current industry, which is resisting the revolution even as it attempts to embrace the parts that might preserve the status quo. » Read more

Insider

The New Education Models Offering New Hope

More effective, cheaper, faster & possible today
Thursday, October 3, 2013, 6:09 PM

Executive Summary

  • The 4 higher education solutions of the Nearly Free University
  • How higher education can be both cheaper & better than today's alternatives
  • The catalytic roles played by both networking & network theory
  • Making decisions for yourself/your children in this new emerging education spectrum

If you have not yet read The (Needed) Revolution Emerging in Education, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, we surveyed the foundations of Higher Education and its obsolete Factory Model.  We described its predatory reliance on student loans to feed its bloated cost structure and its failure to provide students with the skills needed in the economy of the 2010s; i.e., the emerging economy.

In essence, the foundation of higher education has been completely upended.  Knowledge and instruction, once costly and scarce, are now abundant and nearly free. The only pricing power left to Higher Education cartel is the artificial scarcity of credentials.

That is not the power of a productive system; it is the power of a predatory system.

The Four Higher Education Solutions of the Nearly Free University

There are four broad technology-enabled solutions that would free higher education from its current cartel limitations on opportunities and accreditation... » Read more

Insider

Off the Cuff: The Social Contract Is Fraying

It favors the government over the governed
Thursday, September 26, 2013, 2:20 PM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles discuss:

  • Our Social Contract is Broken
    • Has been re-written to benefit those in power
  • Trust is Eroding
    • Faith in institutions like our justice & money systems is waning
  • New Models are Needed
    • Starting with education
Podcast

Charles Hugh Smith: The Nearly Free University

Our broken education model is ripe for creative disruption
Saturday, September 14, 2013, 12:15 PM

The cost of higher education has skyrocketed in recent decades. The average cost of tuition is up over 1,000% since the 1980s, far outstripping price inflation and most other goods and services.

Yet despite the accelerated cost, the value of a college degree has been diminishing, both in the terms of quality of education received, as well as future employment prospects. » Read more

Insider

How You Can Limit Your Exposure to the Fed's Financial Interference

There are ways to protect yourself
Thursday, August 1, 2013, 1:18 AM

Executive Summary

  • Understanding the Fed's ability to impact (or not) health & education, pensions, and inflation
  • What you can do to insulate yourself from the impacts of the Fed's financial interference
    • Mindset
    • Major expenses
    • Debt
    • Resilience
    • Income

If you have not yet read Part I: The Fed Matters Much Less Than You Think, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, we found that the supposedly omniscient Federal Reserve is irrelevant to the engine of real wealth creation (innovation) and actively inhibits the allocation of capital and labor to innovation by incentivizing speculation and malinvestment.

In Part II, we’ll look at what else matters that the Fed either negatively influences or does not control, as well as specific actions we can take as individuals to insulate ourselves from the collateral damage caused by misguided central bank policies.

Health and Education

We all know health and education are vital to individuals and the economy, and like everything else that matters, the Fed’s influence is limited to financial repression of interest rates that enables the Federal government to avoid the sort of healthy fiscal discipline that higher rates would demand. In other words, the Fed has widened the moat around government spending, protecting it from the hard choices that would accompany massive deficits and bond issuance in a free-market economy.

Public and Private Pensions

By at least one measure, the Fed’s repression of interest rates (designed to recapitalize the banks at no direct cost to the Fed or government) has cost savers $10.8 trillion in lost income. Since the majority of savings in the U.S. are in public and private pension plans, 401Ks, and IRAs (individual retirement accounts), the Fed’s repression of interest rates has pushed these income-security savings into risky speculative asset bubbles in stocks, bonds, and real estate, and critically undermined the financial health of pensions by radically reducing their low-risk, safe returns. » Read more