Category Archives: Academic

On American Financial Disenfranchisement: No Gift of Moral Hazard for the People

When will the American people enjoy the moral hazards conferred upon wealthy individuals and corporations?

It is so common to hear self-righteous commentary about the dangers of moral hazards that we scarcely notice it. A moral hazard occurs when someone is protected against risk, typically by the imposition of negative externalities. Typically we hear about unemployment benefits and other welfare payments imposing a moral hazard on society by enabling and encouraging freeloaders who are stealing your tax dollars. The evidence undergirding such rhetoric is dubious at best, and yet these purported moral hazards receive infinitely greater attention than enormous aid and safety nets provided to those who need and deserve them the least.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many American corporations came close to insolvency in March 2020, before being propped up by an unlimited firehose of aid from the Federal Reserve. Our central bank began to do something unprecedented, even during the Great Depression: To directly purchase corporate debt. This program is being conducted in addition to many other gifts that serve corporate interests and our nation’s arrogant, parasitic elites. The present disconnect between the American stock markets and Americans’ lived economic experiences is a product of this regime.

Typical, hard-working Americans have no mechanism by which to secure interest-free loans. They don’t have access to virtually unlimited credit lines that can be paid back whenever, with no imposition of interest or penalties. Their feet are held to the fire, if they are lucky enough to be issued credit at all.

In March, when the Federal Reserve stepped in, corporations that would otherwise have had to take loans at 15% interest, if they were lucky enough to be offered a loan at all, suddenly could secure much larger credit lines at half the interest or less. Nationwide, the value of this gift soared into the trillions, as can be seen in corporate valuations and the increase in wealth for the top 1% of Americans, the top 0.1% in particular, and the top 0.01% especially.

This gift is barely recognized. Most Americans do not even understand it. We don’t have laws to tax or regulate it. It’s a quintessential moral hazard, allowing firms to operate in a sandbox where profits are privatized but risk and losses are borne by the people. Similar, smaller moral hazards are conferred regularly upon wealthy and privileged Americans.

One is left asking: When will we confer a gift of moral hazard to the people at large?

The oppression of people of color in the United States of America is as much encapsulated by a knee on George Floyd’s neck as it is explicated in our regime of economic oppression and financial disenfranchisement. The mechanisms and tautologies of these deprivations are sweeping and manifold. One manifestation of this is the proliferation of alternative financial services—payday lenders, check cashing fees, and more. There are many others, and they affect the vast majority of Americans to varying degrees. Student loans and credit cards come to mind. Credit reports and their ramifications are part of this oppression. Bankruptcy is socioeconomically stigmatized and harshly penalized for individuals, but celebrated and rewarded for big business and American elites.

During my congressional campaign, I came to support a universal basic income of $1,000 per month to each American adult, universal healthcare (Medicare for All) for all Americans guaranteed and paid by the federal government, and assumption and forgiveness of all student loan debts public and private. Even these proposals do not nearly approach parity with the value of the benefits, gifts, and privileges afforded to those at or near the top of our economy. The American people are being economically murdered. We are being killed, put in danger, marginalized and derided, having to suffer for no just cause, and having our lives shortened by inequality, inequity, disenfranchisement, and oppression. Meanwhile, those who reap the rewards of this unjust regime have the gumption and obliviousness to believe they earned it in full.

What is the #1 predictor of entrepreneurial success? Not ingenuity, grit, or tenacity. It’s access to pre-existing wealth, such as your family’s money and connections. The United States of America isn’t a meritocracy. In fact, it is similar to aristocratic regimes we overthrew and rebuked.

American financial disenfranchisement is only getting worse, and nothing has been solved. To add insult to injury, the climate crisis has been disproportionately caused by plutocrats—and yet the brunt of the ramifications are borne by disadvantaged people. In 2020, this has become clearer than ever before. We must speak up, speak out, march, lobby, protest—and yes, run for elected office and win.

Prologue: The Financial Concerns of Future Teachers in Florida

The Financial Concerns of Future Teachers in Florida
Richard Thripp, PhD
Independent Scholar

Abstract
(To be written)

Keywords: financial literacy, preservice teachers, Florida Retirement System, retirement knowledge, financial challenges, plan preferences, investor behavior, nonwage benefits, personal finance, financial education, pensions, retirement plans, investing, risk, money management, defined contribution, financial concerns, millennials, Generation Z


I have always found personal finance interesting. Sadly, this is unusual. Most people find it dull, boring, uninteresting. This is true not just in America, but worldwide (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011). People themselves are not to be blamed—there is plenty of misinformation out there, and most financial curricula does a very poor job of capturing the student’s attention. Nevertheless, I find myself frequently lamenting that people should be motivated by self-interest. The return-on-investment for financially educating oneself is immense—perhaps thousands of dollars per hour. There are few places this is this clearer than in the financial planning of preservice teachers.

Prologue

In the fall of 2019, I completed my PhD in Education at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I majored in the Instructional Design and Technology track (one of 13 tracks offered), completing instructional design coursework, projects, comprehensive exams, and an internship, while also co-editing an academic anthology on online and blended learning (Heafner, Hartshorne, & Thripp, 2019) and teaching EME 2040: Introduction to Technology for Educators to preservice teachers for three years. My supervisor, Dr. Richard Hartshorne, also agreed to serve as my dissertation committee chair. Eventually, I settled on conducting questionnaire-based research of the financial literacy of preservice teachers.

Having dabbled in analyzing National Financial Capability Study data previously, I became friends with Dr. Gary Mottola, Research Director for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Investor Education Foundation. Gary agreed to come onboard as the lone subject-matter expert on my committee, along with famed motivational scientist Dr. Bobby Hoffman (I am an alumnus of the Applied Learning and Instruction Master of Arts program) and renowned statisticians Drs. Debbie L. Hahs-Vaughn and Shiva Jahani (we wanted the CV line item for Shiva as she may seek a tenure-track position in the future).

There was no particular reason to have three statisticians on my committee, and at times I wish this was not the case—Dr. Hahs-Vaughn was tough as nails, insisting that Likert-items be treated as ordinal rather than interval-level data, taking a specific interest in financial education research including finding publications I had overlooked, and interrogating many of my premises and assumptions in a way that may have gone unquestioned in most dissertations. Being that the ID&T track does not actually have much ID&T coursework, I was able to earn an Advanced Quantitative Methodologies in Educational and Human Sciences certificate with no additional credits using the Core and Electives portions of the ID&T program, which connected me with many statisticians as graduate students in other disciplines who flock to UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education for its exemplary statisticians and statistics courses.

Completing a PhD is an ordeal and an achievement, accomplished with the help of others but ultimately on one’s own. I often say, quite seriously, that I would have stopped at the master’s degree if I had it to do over again. My wife Kristy and I had a baby in February 2019, and I did not get my best work done on the dissertation until afterward. Laypersons are often surprised to learn that I also deprived the taxpayer of tuition along with receiving free health insurance, a $5,000 fellowship, and $60,500 of payroll disbursements. This, in fact, the norm for many PhD students, who are seen contributors to the United States’ scientific output, receiving funding that is ordinarily unavailable to seekers of professional degrees (MD, JD, PsyD, PharmD, etc.). During my master’s I applied only to this PhD program and was surprised to be accepted. I am very grateful for being given so many opportunities at the University of Central Florida. Higher education, particularly at the doctoral level, is considered by economists as an opportunity cost in and of itself, which is why being paid to go is well-advised.

My dissertation (Thripp, 2019a) was arguably three dissertations in one, involving the development of a nine-page questionnaire, the administration and analysis of responses from 314 future teachers in two modalities (print and Web) during the Summer 2019 semester and first few weeks of fall, and a concurrent comparison study of 205 American college-aged, college-attending adults on Amazon Mechanical Turk who I paid $1.00 each to complete the same questionnaire (with the removal of several items specific to preservice teachers). The questionnaire was unprecedented, attempting to measure investing acumen, preference for two types of retirement accounts, and other items in ways that had not been done before or even considered. It also included many free-response (written or typed) qualitative items, and the dataset was robust with participants consistently answering most, if not all, of the items.

Although my dissertation has already been republished as an e-book by The International Society for Technology, Education and Science, titled A Survey of Investing and Retirement Knowledge and Preferences of Preservice Teachers (Thripp, 2019b), this publication has no additions. My committee prohibited my discussion of any of the qualitative data (handwritten and typewritten responses to open-ended questions) due to the breadth of the quantitative data and my lack of time and energy to do this rigorously and comprehensively. Therefore, additional publications are required.

Following my December 2019 graduation, I made an unsuccessful bid as a Democratic candidate for the United States House of Representatives for Florida’s 6th district, which ended in my defeat by three percentage points in the August 18th, 2020 Democratic primary. Although I am profoundly disappointed, as are hundreds of donors, supporters, and volunteers for the Richard Thripp for Congress campaign, it has been a relief for Kristy, our son, and I to settle into a more leisurely pattern instead of the frenzied pace I have maintained for the past eight years.

The typical thing for me to do at this time would be to write and submit academic journal articles based on my dissertation. However, I am not all that eager to become a professor, and have taught only college students, never grades K–12 (a prerequisite for many such positions). In addition, I would prefer to present the material to a wide audience, without delay, in a less scientific manner that appeals to laypersons. This paper will attempt to do that.

(To be continued)


References

Heafner, T. L., Hartshorne, R., & Thripp, R. (Eds.). (2019). Handbook of research on emerging practices and methods of K–12 online and blended learning. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-5225-8009-6

Lusardi, A., & Mitchell, O. S. (2011b). Financial literacy around the world: An overview. Journal of Pension Economics & Finance, 10, 497–508. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1474747211000448

Thripp, R. (2019a). A survey of investing and retirement knowledge and preferences of Florida preservice teachers (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from University of Central Florida STARS database. (Accession No. CFE0007868)

Thripp, R. (2019b). A survey of investing and retirement knowledge and preferences of preservice teachers. I. Sahin & W. Wu (Eds.). Monument, CO: International Society for Technology, Education and Science.

Keynote: Investing and Retirement Knowledge and Preferences of Preservice Teachers

Keynote presentation by Dr. Richard Thripp on July 15, 2020 at the International Conference on Humanities, Social and Education Sciences (iHSES).

It was great to co-chair this conference and present on my dissertation research, which has also been published as an e-book here.

Investing and Retirement Knowledge and Preferences of Preservice Teachers

New teachers are facing lower pay and less generous retirement benefits than the prior generation, yet their financial and retirement knowledge, concerns, and preferences have received little attention. To investigate these areas, I developed a 39-item survey instrument and administered it to 314 preservice teachers in undergraduate teacher education courses at the University of Central Florida, who were primarily female elementary and early childhood education juniors and seniors ages 18–25. Florida public employees are offered an unusual choice between a traditional pension plan and a defined-contribution plan similar to a 401(k) in which they can select their own investments, and 54% of surveyed preservice teachers preferred the 401(k)-like plan structure. However, their preferences may be ill-advised, given that in a mock portfolio allocation exercise intended to assess retirement investing sophistication, preservice teachers directed more than half their retirement money to low-risk money market and bond funds, which will likely underperform stocks over several decades. Furthermore, they anticipated that low salaries will impede their ability to save for retirement. For comparison, I also administered the survey to 205 U.S. college students or graduates ages 18–25 on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform for $1.00 each. Worrisomely, preservice teachers had significantly lower financial knowledge and retirement investing sophistication. These findings suggest a need for financial education targeting Florida preservice teachers, particularly given that the Florida Retirement System substantially cut its benefits in 2011.

Here are the slides on SlideShare (below).

Click here or see the YouTube video embedded above for a recording of my presentation.

Congratulations to Dr. Vaughn M. Bradley for Publication of Book on Parents Helping Their Kids With Middle School Math

Bradley book cover

Congrats, Dr. Vaughn M. Bradley!

I co-edited his new book, Middle School Parents’ Beliefs Regarding Learning Management System Use in Mathematics, published by International Society for Technology, Education & Science, ISBN 9781952092060.

His book researched how nine middle school parents helped their kids with their math homework in their school’s learning management system, EdLine (now Blackboard).

I co-edited his book with Dr. Ismail Sahin. I edited Chapters 1 and 3, and most of the references.

This book is based on his 2018 Education PhD dissertation at Walden University, and will help his work reach a wider audience.


Dr. Bradley's Book Information Page


Reference in APA 7th edition style:

Bradley, V. M. (2020). Middle school parents’ beliefs regarding learning management system use in mathematics. The International Society for Technology, Education and Science.

Book description, written by Dr. Bradley:

Middle school is a critical time in students’ learning of mathematics, something a Learning Management System (LMS) is designed to help parents support. What remains unknown is how parents use an LMS to monitor their children’s progress in mathematics. This qualitative case study explored how parents from one midAtlantic middle school with 543 students used an LMS, EdLine, to support their children’s autonomous achievement in mathematics. Expectancy-value theory and social cognitive theory made up the conceptual framework used to evaluate study findings. A criterion-based process was used to select nine middle school parents from grades 6, 7, and 8 as participants. Data sources included structured interviews and follow-up questions, EdLine spreadsheets, and parent reflective journals. Data were analyzed through a priori codes based on the literature review. Themes that emerged from the analysis included reoccurring learner autonomy and parents benefiting from their ability to use EdLine to monitor grades, check progress, and provide strategies to support mathematical achievement. Parents indicated they could encourage their children, teach them, and expect them to use EdLine to monitor and manage their grades and achievement in mathematics. This research contributes to positive social change by explaining how administrators can help middle school parents use an LMS to become engaged with their children’s mathematics studies and set expectations for their mathematics task completion and achievement.


Dr. Bradley's Walden University Announcement


Photo of Dr. Bradley


Dr. Bradley's Book on ISTES Website

New Book: A Survey of Investing and Retirement Knowledge and Preferences of Preservice Teachers

Thripp dissertation e-book cover

In addition to being a co-editor of the academic anthology, Handbook of Research on Emerging Practices and Methods for K–12 Online and Blended Learning published by IGI Global, I am now officially a published author! Thanks to The International Society for Technology, Education and Science (ISTES) for publishing my dissertation on Florida preservice teacher retirement knowledge as a FREE e-book, titled A Survey of Investing and Retirement Knowledge and Preferences of Preservice Teachers. The e-book has an ISBN, 978-1-952092-04-6, and is offered for free under a Creative Commons Attribution–NonCommercial–ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

ISTES released this on March 2, 2020, with a back-dated publication date of December 2019. The goal is to find a wider audience for my work on financial education and retirement issues affecting our next generation of teachers.

My original dissertation is also available for free from the University of Central Florida STARS database. This version repackages my dissertation as a book, with different line spacing and page numbering. Thanks to Drs. Ismail Sahin and Wenxia Wu for their hard work formatting this as an e-book.


Reference in APA 7th edition style:

Thripp, R. (2019). A survey of investing and retirement knowledge and preferences of preservice teachers. The International Society for Technology, Education and Science.

Book description:

New teachers are facing lower pay and less generous retirement benefits than the prior generation, yet their financial and retirement knowledge, concerns, and preferences have received little attention. To investigate these areas, the author developed a 39-item survey instrument and administered it to 314 preservice teachers in undergraduate teacher education courses at the University of Central Florida, who were primarily female elementary and early childhood education juniors and seniors ages 18–25. Florida public employees are offered an unusual choice between a traditional pension plan and a defined-contribution plan similar to a 401(k) in which they can select their own investments, and 54% of surveyed preservice teachers preferred the 401(k)-like plan structure. However, their preferences may be ill-advised, given that in a mock portfolio allocation exercise intended to assess retirement investing sophistication, preservice teachers directed more than half their retirement money to low-risk money market and bond funds, which will likely underperform stocks over several decades. Furthermore, they anticipated that low salaries will impede their ability to save for retirement. For comparison, the survey was also administered to 205 U.S. college students or graduates ages 18–25 on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform for $1.00 each. Worrisomely, preservice teachers had significantly lower financial knowledge and retirement investing sophistication. These findings suggest a need for financial education targeting Florida preservice teachers, particularly given that the Florida Retirement System substantially cut its benefits in 2011.

Thripp dissertation e-book, virtual 3-D book image


ISTES has also been publishing other dissertations as e-books lately, such as Dr. Tiffany G. Edwards’s important work on homeless school children in Los Angeles, CA: Closing the Gap of the Educational Needs of Homeless Youth.