Drawn and Quoted

ROBOTS TAKING OVER CHINA? – As if labor in China wasn’t cheap enough, The New York Times is reporting that Foxconn, a company that employs 1 million Chinese workers making iPads and iPhones, is going to be deploying 1 million robot employees to do much of the work of these Chinese factory workers. Apparently the cheap labor that has been the downfall of the American economy isn’t cheap enough. Salaries for these workers are rising as these jobs move farther away from the unemployed farmers live. The Chinese system of permits that put limitations on people based on whether or not they live in urban or rural areas make it even more difficult for the 300 million unemployed Chinese to find jobs. The influx of robot workers is certainly going to help create jobs. What could be China’s loss will be America’s gain, as cheaper labor will mean more affordable products for our rabid consumption, and a slowing in the rapid development of China’s workforce. If this continues, maybe those Tea Partiers will stop crying about China taking over the world …

THE CLASS WAR BEGINS – Warren Buffett’s recent editorial for The New York Times entitled “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich” set off a maelstrom of indignation from conservatives, who claimed Buffett was trying to incite class warfare between the rich and poor in America. The reactions from FOX News pundits were ludicrous; God forbid the billionaires of America pay higher taxes instead of coasting by with their generous tax cuts. People like Buffett are willing to stand up and say “This isn’t right,” but the moneyed classes are cowering in fear as they build fortresses around their mansions to protect them from the imaginary hordes of poor, unwashed masses coming for their gold. Especially in these harsh economic times, we should already be taxing Buffett and his billionaire buddies more than the measly 17.4 percent of their annual income, which is how much Buffett pays. His editorial called for a pragmatic plan to raise taxes on the super-rich, but of course, the more narrow-minded in society saw it as a social powder keg, ready to blow at any second.

BAD TEACHER – New York City math teacher Christine Rubio is facing dismissal after posting angry updates on Facebook about her young students; in the offending post, Rubio said that she wouldn’t save one of her students if they were drowning, not even for $1 million. The case brings up the issue of free speech for teachers when they leave the classroom. Sure, it’s not exactly professional for teachers to rant about their students on the Internet, but if we penalize them for speaking out outside of the classroom, then anyone else who has ever complained about their boss or co-workers on Facebook should be fired too. People always use the Internet to let off steam when their colleagues get on their nerves after a hard day at work. The issue is a bit more sensitive when the lives of children are in the hands of these teachers, but if the posts are innocuous and the teachers are qualified and talented, then they shouldn’t be dismissed for this sort of behavior. Simply put, teachers from kindergarten through college should either stick to anonymous Tweets about idiot students or keep the snarky comments to themselves entirely.

DEBT DEAL FALLOUT FOR STUDENTS – Americans showed a wide range of emotions to the drawn-out debt limit deal recently reached by President Obama and the top leaders of Congress. A notable consequence that students should be aware of is the elimination of a federal subsidy that aids graduate students to boost funding for Pell grants, which help low-income undergraduate students. Starting in July next year, graduate students who receive federally subsidized loans will see interest on those loans accrue while they are in school instead of after graduation. Apparently, our government thinks putting more low-income students in college is worth the payoff of screwing over students looking to pursue graduate degrees, especially in a time where having a bachelor’s degree may not be enough for the few available entry-level positions.

PATENT WARS – HTC sued Apple over mobile patents on Aug. 16, 2011. Pretty soon, Apple will sue them back. While the patent war heats up, the real casualty is innovation. Small start-up businesses who attempt to improve on products in litigious areas