Weekend Reading

Save your readings for the week(end)!

The common practice of granting class credit for completed internships has contributed to the dramatic increase of unpaid internships. According to a survey-based study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a record 63 percent of 2013 graduates had completed an internship. A similar study by the college recruiting consultancy Intern Bridge found that just under half of interns received school credit. Credits are what universities are selling. Since outsourcing the actual teaching to employers saves money — it is cheaper to certify than instruct — American universities have jumped on the intern bandwagon.

From a student’s perspective, an internship for credit, even if unpaid, is a step toward both graduation and a job in her chosen field at the same time. But as many commentators have pointed out, employers commonly use internships as a way to skirt minimum-wage laws. College administrators and employers have colluded to invent a loophole where none existed. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of students are working for free, and actually paying their schools to certify it.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest US gay organization, is going international. It’s just been given at least $3 million to spread the word of marriage equality to benighted countries that treat gays badly. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. Its chief partner and donor in this project wants the people in those countries, LGBT folk included, to starve – their economies wrecked, their incomes shipped abroad, their resources squeezed and stolen to pay off odious debt. HRC is receiving its money for gay rights in the Third World from the man who “virtually invented vulture funds”: a form of speculation that’s one of the worst contributors to Third World poverty ever.

But if you’re poor and getting poorer, look on the bright side (as long as river blindness hasn’t got you, that is). You can still have a nice white wedding; and you’ll save on the food bill if your nation has no food.

The Horatio Alger myth—that hard work and pluck will lift a person from dire circumstances to enviable success—is more than 150 years old, but it has staying power: Forty percent of Americans think it’s fairly common for someone to start off poor, work hard and eventually rise to the top of the economic heap.

In reality, however, only 4% of Americans travel the rags-to-riches path, according to new research from the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. And a great many  who are born into the poorest segments of the population are stuck there for life, a finding that suggests the U.S. has much to do to improve social mobility.

Forty-three percent of Americans raised in the bottom quintile of household income remain there a generation later (with income of less than $28,900 in 2009 dollars, adjusted for family size).

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