December 14th: What's On Today's Show : Blog Of The Nation In the first hour of Talk of the Nation, the Political Junkie, and financial fraud scams against baby boomers. In the second hour, the high cost of higher education, and the giving through microphilanthropy.
NPR logo December 14th: What's On Today's Show

December 14th: What's On Today's Show

In our second hour, guests discuss the high price of higher education and what colleges should do to reduce the cost. hide caption

toggle caption

The Political Junkie: Ad Wars
The GOP presidential hopefuls have begun airing ads in nearly all of the early voting states. Front-runner Newt Gingrich continues to stay positive, focusing on his own strengths and accomplishments. Others, including former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and Rep. Ron Paul, have focused attack ads on the candidates in the lead. Political Junkie Ken Rudin and host Neal Conan talk with political ad expert Ken Goldstein about the latest political ads in the primary season. Former press secretary Robert Mann also talks about his new book, Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad that Changed American Politics. Ken and Neal will also recap the week in politics, from the return of Christine O'Donnell to the fight in Congress over a payroll tax cut.

Scams Target Baby Boomers
The holidays are often a peak season for scams. This year, those swindles go far beyond the suspicious email asking for a helping hand or the bogus charity organization pleading for help. Regulators report a significant rise in the number of baby boomers who are targeted in investment scams — Ponzi schemes, fraudulent promissory notes and worthless investment funds. Many older investors suffered major financial hits during the economic downturn and officials say they pursued these risky investments to try to restore their ravaged retirement portfolios. Host Neal Conan talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Kelly Greene about the growing number of cases of financial fraud against baby boomers and what you need to know to avoid becoming a victim yourself.

Why College Costs So Much
The cost of college has risen faster than personal income in recent years, a trend some experts warn can not continue. Higher education, they say, has grown much too expensive. According to Ohio University economist Richard Vedder, schools have no incentive to reduce costs. Many students now graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, he says, and those subsidies only work to encourage colleges and universities to become even less efficient and further raise prices. Vedder argues it's time for administrators to answer to their customers — students and parents. Neal Conan talks with Richard Vedder of Ohio University and Stephen Trachtenberg of George Washington University about the high price of college and what colleges should do to reduce those costs.

Microphilanthropy Changes Giving
Crowd funding websites like Kickstarter, Kiva, and Giving Tree are changing the way people donate money. With what's known as microphilanthropy, individuals, non-profits, and even small businesses raise money directly from individual donors. Many of those donors can then see who's using their money and for what reasons. The growth in crowd funding sites has been driven, in part, by the challenging economy which has made it more difficult for some to get grants from foundations and other organizations. Host Neal Conan speaks with journalist and author Laura Vanderkam about the popularity of microphilanthropy.