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“Education Is The Key?” Assessing The Value Of A College Degree In A Tumultuous Economy
Townhall.com ^ | January 6, 2012 | Austin Hill

Posted on 01/06/2013 3:28:36 AM PST by Kaslin

Half of recent college graduates can’t find employment. Those who find a job often settle for something less than a “college level job.”

So what good is a college education, anyway, in our very unstable economy?

As 2013 launches with more federal government debt and American businesses guessing when the next punitive regulatory show will drop, most Americans are ignoring an area of societal upheaval that is poised to get more intense. Increasingly, Americans are wondering how essential it is for one to possess a college degree.

The upheaval transcends what you’ll read in the occasional “top paying” and “worst paying college degrees” articles. In fact, the presumption that a particular college degree will land one in to a particular job with a particular salary is actually part of our problem (such presumptions don’t adequately allow for the fact that our economy, and, thus, the relative value of skills and services, is always subject to change).

The most obvious manifestation of this problem is found in the pain of ever-rising tuition costs, and student loan debt. This isn’t anything new, but the recessionary conditions of the past five years have brought college degree price tags, and the debt they engender, under the microscope.

President Obama has spoken to this concern over the years, and-not surprisingly- he has proposed more “free” and reduced-rate student loans (all to be subsidized by taxpayers). His main challenger in last year’s presidential race, Mitt Romney, campaigned on policies to spur job creation as means of putting young graduates to work. Yet both candidates ignored the real problem: no matter how the economy performs or what the labor markets are doing, the price of a college education always moves in one direction-up.

So, why does this happen? Why, when the prices of other products and services either remain flat or decline, do tuition rates steadily rise? At least part of the answer is found in one very important fact. It is a consistent agenda within institutions of higher learning to offer as many low cost, and even “free” tuition programs as possible. Whether you’re examining state run colleges and universities, or private institutions, look in to the details of their budgets and the agenda becomes clear. It is a point of pride when, year after year, college and university leaders can report that they issued more “scholarship” programs that were doled-out according to ‘financial need.”

This is to say that colleges and universities are often set up to function like their own little economic re-distribution systems. And while the goal of getting lower income Americans enrolled into college is noble, the cost of it is usually balanced on the backs of middle class students and parents who are trying to earn their way through life. If a student isn’t “poor enough” to qualify for needs-based assistance, then the student will face ever-rising tuition rates.

The less obvious component to the college education dilemma directly involves changes in the nature of our American economy. Although it doesn’t fit conveniently in to the various narratives of our national political dialog, the fact is that our country may very well be – believe it or not – on the verge of a manufacturing renaissance (gasp!). And it may be happening without the permission and blessing of the AFL CIO (gasp again!).

For most of the past forty years, the U.S. has been a place where great things are invented and designed, but the actual building of those things has happened on other continents. Yet last year, the General Electric Corporation began once again to build refrigerators and dishwashers in the U.S., reversing a nearly two-decade long trend. Last fall, the Deloitte global consulting firm published a report suggesting that nearly three-quarters of a million jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector remain un-filled, because employers can’t find workers with the correct skills. And Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, even suggested that the U.S. is poised for a sizeable “in-sourcing” boom – the opposite of “out sourcing” – where manufacturing jobs that were once “sent overseas” return home.

This scenario also challenges the importance of a college degree. It suggests that we may be on a trajectory where people who know how to weld, operate a lathe, and run a drill press, could one day be in higher demand than those with accounting, engineering, and computer science degrees.

An “in sourcing” boom. A manufacturing renaissance. Some would call these things wishful thinking, yet the beginnings of such phenomena are here, right now. Americans should be preparing for it – and we should all be asking the leaders of colleges and universities why their prices only go up.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: collegetuition; educationandschools; highereducation; jobsandeconomy; manufacturing

1 posted on 01/06/2013 3:28:45 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Mainly today the ownership of a sheepskin merely says that you have been brainwashed by liberal college professors.


2 posted on 01/06/2013 3:51:20 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Kaslin

In Taiwan, high school freshmen are put on 1 of 2 educational tracks. College bound students must take college bound classes. The 2nd track is for learning trade skills. On the trade skill track, you can graduate high school with the necessary skills for working in a factory, garage, or many other blue collar positions.


3 posted on 01/06/2013 3:51:36 AM PST by Tai_Chung
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To: Tai_Chung

Not to mention it is very competitive to get into the high schools that gear toward the college bound students ( and those are even ranked ). Just because you live in the district doesn’t mean you can go to that high school.


4 posted on 01/06/2013 4:13:32 AM PST by TheCipher (Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself- Mark Twain)
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To: Venturer

Bingo. A kid with a degree in “ Peace, Love and Defense Studies” ( no joke, UNC ) is going to flip hamburgers until he is thirty and then he gets to be assistant manager - not that there is anything wrong with that!


5 posted on 01/06/2013 4:30:23 AM PST by gartrell bibberts (Remember always...MORE than 50% of Americans are of below average intelligence today.)
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To: TheCipher

Like everything else liberal, a liberal arts education raises the cost of college significantly with no visible means of usefulness.

An engineer needs college. So does a doctor, lawyer or any professional field.

Problem today is women’s studies program, minority studies programs and other programs that do not prepare a student for the real world, except to work at Starbucks.

Texas has thousands of jobs. We need professionals, not baristas.


6 posted on 01/06/2013 4:36:02 AM PST by EQAndyBuzz (Want freedom? Think WWRRD? Then do it.)
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To: Tai_Chung; All

Most European countries are similar to Taiwan.

Germany does the same....after 9 years of primary school...you go either to a trade school to learn a skill...or go to a Gymnasium...not to work out, LOL...but these are the college prep type of secondary school

The biggest problem we have with our colleges and universities is that we send people to college
/university where such an education was not needed in the position years ago....or where in other nations they are not sent to University (primary school teachers are an example...they usually go to “teaching schools”, not universitites)

Also, years ago businesses acually taught and trained their employees, even in the professional ranks. Our current college/university system is really just an extended welfare program for Multi-National Corporations. 60 years ago my uncle started with GM, and worked his way up to an upper management position, with GM training. Now, they would not consider you for any management position without an MBA


7 posted on 01/06/2013 4:38:41 AM PST by SeminoleCounty (Fiscal Conservatives are Neither)
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To: Kaslin

There are reasons for college degrees. If you want to be an engineer, you need requisted training you are not going to get in the local vo-tech. Same with medical degrees, science, etc. If you want to build houses, you could get a degree in construction management, but then you might not need those skills until you are building dozens of houses. What you really need is carpentry skills to begin with, and those can be gained on the job or in a vo-tech.

For me it was a means to a dream. You needed a degree for Air Force pilot training. That same dream still requires a degree from an insitution of higher learning. O’vomit’s opinion that everyone goes to college, is an astounding pronounement blowing a degree out of proportion to it’s value to a dream, and watering down the entire concept, so what’s new, just one more in a long logn long line of disagreements with the ONE.


8 posted on 01/06/2013 4:39:22 AM PST by wita
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To: All

Basic concept of supply and demand applies here....


9 posted on 01/06/2013 5:14:26 AM PST by CharlotteVRWC
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To: wita
You needed a degree for Air Force pilot training.

Having earned a college degree is a "marker" for reasonable intelligence, diligence, and academic skills. They could test for intelligence and use other factors to judge diligence and academic skills, but it would be much more complicated and perhaps not correlate as closely with success in pilot training as does the degree requirement.

10 posted on 01/06/2013 5:35:48 AM PST by Tax-chick (The paint is in the basket with the skulls in there. Don't tell me you can't find it!)
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To: Kaslin

The four year ‘sleep away’ liberal arts college is dying. Online education and practical skills-oriented advanced education will replace it. Thank God.


11 posted on 01/06/2013 5:45:37 AM PST by AdaGray (squi)
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To: Kaslin

It amazes me how long and how well bricks and mortar institutes of higher learning have held on to their monopoly, with escalating costs.

Eventually, you’d think the old university/college paradigm would give way to more satellite campuses and online learning options. Not for all courses of study, but for a good many.

The cost has gotten far out of reach for a middle class family and current student loan indebtedness is approaching $1 trillion. Default rate is jumping as well because many graduates with a lot of debt cannot find well paying jobs.


12 posted on 01/06/2013 5:49:29 AM PST by randita
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To: Kaslin

“Assessing The Value Of A College Degree In A Tumultuous Economy”

We still have a ways to go before we can accept that some knowledge isn’t as important as other knowledge.

Universities very existence depends upon this obvious truth being kept from a vast majority of students so they will continue to fund University bureaucracy and perks.

Universities and Governments are cannibals that feast on the souls of the young. They assign doom to whomever they choose and tell them its a privilege.

Both will perish in flames when the doomed decide not to exist in the roles assigned to them by the elite.


13 posted on 01/06/2013 5:59:43 AM PST by RFEngineer
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To: Venturer

Someone who can make a living on a single college degree majored in engineering, accounting or something with real world application, therefore they live and work in the real world. Those who majored in the soft sciences like sociology are little more than brainwashed imbeciles.


14 posted on 01/06/2013 6:12:51 AM PST by Ouderkirk (Obama has turned America into an aristocracy of the unaccomplished.)
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To: SeminoleCounty
Our current college/university system is really just an extended welfare program for Multi-National Corporations.

Not quite.... The current need to for a college degree is based on the SCOTUS case Griggs v Duke Power. In it Duke Power could no longer administer tests to prospective and current employees seeking employment or advancement and that those tests were discriminatory. Hence, to get around the Griggs case companies substitute a college degree.

15 posted on 01/06/2013 6:28:26 AM PST by Ouderkirk (Obama has turned America into an aristocracy of the unaccomplished.)
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To: Tai_Chung

We need to do more to support the middle 60%, the kids who aren’t college material but are not “slow”. They need to finish school with either a vocational degree (like hair care, phlebotomy, carpentry, childcare, first level IT certifications) or have the skills for a low skill job but more education (financial literacy, know how to fill out job applications, understand identity theft).


16 posted on 01/06/2013 6:49:28 AM PST by tbw2
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To: EQAndyBuzz
An engineer needs college.

So that's what Steve Wozniak, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi, did wrong. Someone should have told them.

17 posted on 01/06/2013 6:50:41 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Reeses

Those noted are but a very very few.

One of the most common boasts in industry or the construction site is “and I told that engineer yada yada yada”

The capable but broadly uneducated worker boasts of superior knowledge while revealing inferior intellect.


18 posted on 01/06/2013 6:54:31 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 .....The fairest Deduction to be reduced is the Standard Deduction)
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To: Reeses

The vast majority of engineers NEED college, to learn the limits of materials, the correct way to calculate stresses in loads, to document the logic behind the code they write.


19 posted on 01/06/2013 6:55:11 AM PST by tbw2
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To: Kaslin

College is not always necessary, especially for the first two years’ worth of courses.
Alternative Sources of Free College Credit and Continuing Education Classes
http://tamarawilhite.hubpages.com/hub/Alternative-Sources-of-College-Credit-and-Continuing-Education-Classes


20 posted on 01/06/2013 6:56:15 AM PST by tbw2
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To: Kaslin

Bad garbling of one widely quoted survey. It wasn’t that half of recent college grads can’t get jobs and the rest are underemployed, but that half of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed. Not a great start to an op ed piece.


21 posted on 01/06/2013 6:57:35 AM PST by 9YearLurker
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To: Ouderkirk

Great insight. Much like the mandated minority employee percentages were fought by unions not wanting the minority influx and forcing minority owned subcontracting firms to be the substitute.


22 posted on 01/06/2013 6:59:54 AM PST by KC Burke (Plain Conservative opinions and common sense correction for thirteen years. RSC)
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To: Kaslin

Today, a college degree is usually a ticket to join the college club. A club that the only requirement is to have a piece of paper (like the one the scarecrow received in Oz) that says that you are smart while those who can’t join the club due to finances or personal responsibilities are too stupid to be hired by members of the club.

Not long ago most did not attend college but had to go out and work for a living. Today, college is almost the 13-16 extended grades of public education (student loans and grants). Worse yet, a high school education back in 1965 was equal to most degrees obtained today.

What happened?

The majority of the youth of yesterday worked as children. It was thought of as a way to earn an income (rather than an allowance) and taught both a lesson in responsibility and work ethic. I started at 9 sacking groceries after school and summer. From there I worked at many different jobs and with each gained knowledge that has lasted a lifetime.

Many of my generation did the same and in the end, started and owned businesses (like myself), invented new products and procedures and prospered from it. In every case, we started at the bottom and worked ourselves to the top.

The moral of the story is that my generation started at the bottom and worked ourselves to the top. In today’s generation, all that is needed is some type of college degree (in most cases the type does not matter, what matters is that they have that piece of paper issued by the Wizard of Oz) and expect to start in the middle rather than the bottom where they gain knowledge of the actual mechanics and processes of they will have to manage at the mid-level.

We need to go back to letting the parents determine at what age their children work and we need to go back to the way it has always been done since the dawning of time...apprenticeships.

It is so bad here in the U.S. that it against the law to hire anyone younger than 17 years old unless it is a family member.

Don’t get me wrong for college is required for the “disciplines” (Technical, engineering, medical, and related fields along with the legal professions).

Most degrees handed out today are not worth the paper they are written on. No wonder these new graduates can’t find jobs. They have the education in fields that are not really important and there is no demand for them. When they graduated from the 16th grade many found employment flipping burgers and exercising the proper English phrases they learned at college like “would you like fries with that sir?”

America used to be a manufacturing giant in the world and now we are an assembly midget putting foreign parts together. Back then a college education was normally in a field that really meant something and our country flourished. Today a college education is nothing more than a ticket to the college club (with the exceptions noted earlier).

Our current dictator is one of the outstanding members of the college club...and he has the Nobel Prize too. Not only does he have a piece of paper but he has some gaudy looking round hunk of metal to show for it too.


23 posted on 01/06/2013 7:05:51 AM PST by DH (Once the tainted finger of government touches anything the rot begins)
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To: Kaslin
College degrees are being given out in the same way cargo cultists build fake runways and control towers.

Are airports valuable? Yes, sometimes, depending on if they serve a need and are properly laid out and constructed.

So it is with college degrees.

Traditionally, the degree holder was marked by a good work ethic, the ability to delay gratification, and curiosity. Those things are all associated with higher incomes. This is true, by the way, for almost all traditional degrees. I am a medical doctor, my B.A. is in English with a concentration in Shakespeare, which has proven quite valuable in my work with humanity.

The need for a good work ethic, delay of gratification, and especially curiosity are no longer required for most college degrees. This being so, it's not surprising that the correlation between a degree and employability, or any other successful outcome, is weakening.

24 posted on 01/06/2013 7:10:48 AM PST by Jim Noble (Diseases desperate grown are by desperate appliance relieved, or not at all)
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To: bert
The capable but broadly uneducated worker boasts of superior knowledge while revealing inferior intellect.

True about braggarts, but colleges don't hand out brains, only certify who has them among the questionable. A guess is around 20% of the 1% crowd did not spend 4 years in an indoctrination camp, nor pay for the privilege.

25 posted on 01/06/2013 7:15:01 AM PST by Reeses
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To: Ouderkirk

Re your post #15, you are exactly right. Most people have never heard of this case, but it was pivotal in setting up the situation we have.


26 posted on 01/06/2013 7:19:26 AM PST by OldPossum
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To: wita

You needed a degree for Air Force pilot training.


Why?

What is so technical about it that it requires a degree? Do they teach “piloting” degrees? Answer...Hell No!

An officer and a non-com have the equal ability to fly military aircraft if either has a highly rational and analytical mind. Prior education means nothing.

So, back to the question: The answer is that the officer (by virtue that he had a degree of any kind) cleared the #1 requirement to be selected for OTC. Nothing else mattered except that piece of paper. The common non-com did not have that wonderful piece of paper so he/she had no chance even though they may have run circles around the selected
one in the way of intellect.


27 posted on 01/06/2013 7:28:48 AM PST by DH (Once the tainted finger of government touches anything the rot begins)
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To: Kaslin

We, as a nation, have confused training and education. Training prepares you to do a specific job. You train to become a plumber or mechanic. Sorry to rain on some people’s parade, but you also train to become an engineer or a lawyer or a doctor. An education is meant to make you a good citizen. A citizen in the old Greek meaning of the word. The trouble with education at our universities is that it is done so poorly. An education from our universities is probably a waste of time and money, but that is because it is so poorly done, not because an education is not worthwhile. Educating people, when done well, is extremely worthwhile. The education given at our universities is like the weenies cooking at a convenience store. A good education is like lobster and prime rib at a fine restaurant.


28 posted on 01/06/2013 7:35:22 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: tbw2

We need to do more to support the middle 60%, the kids who aren’t college material but are not “slow”.


Why? I joined the Air Force in 1966 to find the field of endeavor that has paved the way to a good life and financial security.

Military is one thing, apprenticeships and vocational training and on the job training are other forms of learning a trade that will last a lifetime.

If you can’t produce something with your hands (or mind) you have never produced anything at all.


29 posted on 01/06/2013 7:36:59 AM PST by DH (Once the tainted finger of government touches anything the rot begins)
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To: Venturer

I agree with your assessment. I’ve never bought into that old liberal canard about “education” being the cure for all our ills, especially today. I don’t buy the argument that education requires more funding either. There’s really no correlation between expenditure per student and results. The late Jacques Barzun once stated that all a really great teacher needs is a blackboard, chalk, an ability to communicate and a passion for his subject. He was right. Witness our second greatest president Lincoln (sorry Licoln advocates, but Washington was the greatest). Lincoln had two years of formal schooling at a Kentucky ABC school. Other than this it was Shakespeare, the KJV of the Bible, Milton, and other greats of a bygone era. Now compare him to the cipher presently in the White House. Ridiculous! Lincoln: “With malice toward none; charity for all....” Obama: “Hope and change and forward.” What a moron, a man of the times and for the times. That says it all. And he invited Jay-Z (pimp my scenario) to the White House. My God, what a fraud! And this clod went to Harvard.


30 posted on 01/06/2013 7:47:51 AM PST by donaldo
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To: Kaslin

Why, when the prices of other products and services either remain flat or decline, do tuition rates steadily rise?
*********
I know a tenured college professor at a state university who pulls down a huge salary — over $200K. He’s a good guy but that’s just excessive IMO, especially when you consider the abundant time off he gets. Rising education costs should be a national scandal but the schools have done a good job of dumbing down the populace and protecting themseleves under the illusion of “everyone needs a college degree”.


31 posted on 01/06/2013 7:50:55 AM PST by Starboard
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To: EQAndyBuzz

Like everything else liberal, a liberal arts education raises the cost of college significantly with no visible means of usefulness.
********
Combine lack of skills with the lack of a work ethic and a distorted sense of entitlement (from having a degree) and you have a real problem. Unfortunately that is often the case as many newly minted grads have a lot of trouble fitting into the workplace.


32 posted on 01/06/2013 8:06:26 AM PST by Starboard
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To: Ouderkirk

Very interesting case. Thanks for the informative post.


33 posted on 01/06/2013 8:12:46 AM PST by Starboard
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To: Kaslin
In the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s a High School Diploma meant you could read and write and had the ability to be taught a job. In the late 70’s until the early 90’s a College Degree meant you could read, write and had the ability to learn but today hiring a College Graduate only means you have someone who thinks they are so smart they are wasting their time working for you.
34 posted on 01/06/2013 8:15:22 AM PST by when the time is right
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To: DH

so he/she had no chance even though they may have run circles around the selected one in the way of intellect.

True in many professions requiring a degree, and the wise and knowledgable freely admit the obvious. Lots of self made men in many fields of endeavor.

To include doctors of medicine. However, when discovered, those without the paperwork are usually prosecuted despite as much success as their degreed and papered competition.


35 posted on 01/06/2013 8:32:46 AM PST by wita
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To: DH

Today, college is almost the 13-16 extended grades of public education
**********
I taught at a community college about 7-8 years ago and was astounded at the inability of most students to write a coherent paragraph. Not elegant prose, just a simple development of a response to a straightforward test question. All they had to do is explain why.

Stringing a couple of sentences together was too much of an intellectual hurdle. I quickly learned there wasn’t much utility in trying to incorporate an essay type of question into the tests.


36 posted on 01/06/2013 8:38:08 AM PST by Starboard
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To: DH

It appears we both entered the AF in the same year. You beat me to FR Log in by over four months. Clearly a superior intellect. Of course I don’t remember how long I lurked, but that doesn’t count.

...and we both ended up in the electronics industry. Hmmmm?

...and I was born in TX in the forties.


37 posted on 01/06/2013 8:46:34 AM PST by wita
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To: Kaslin

Paleface Lizzy Warren was paid over $300,000 a year to teach ONE class at Harvard.


38 posted on 01/06/2013 9:04:14 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Reeses

“So that’s what Steve Wozniak, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi, did wrong. Someone should have told them.”

And you only had to go back 45 years to find someone. Wozniak was working at HP. Find a 20 year old without college working as a programmer.

The people you mentioned were inventors. For every Wozniak there are thousands if not millions who will never have a patent on anything.


39 posted on 01/06/2013 12:04:35 PM PST by EQAndyBuzz (Want freedom? Think WWRRD? Then do it.)
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To: EQAndyBuzz
Find a 20 year old without college working as a programmer.

That was me at 20. I bought a 4 bedroom house that year, had a blond/blue girlfriend to spend time with rather than lefty narcissistic professors. I've had an easy life and can retire early. I work with PhDs and am happily married to one. College is great for those that don't learn well reading books on their own, have a chunk of change and 4 years to spend, and can tolerate the indoctrination. But it's not for everyone, including about 20% of those that work in engineering.

40 posted on 01/06/2013 3:57:26 PM PST by Reeses
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