I got an email yesterday morning saying the UC Regents were meeting at UCSB, where I work, and that the union to which I belong was going to be part of a rally protesting some of the things the Regents have been doing, like changing the pension plan for the worse, and continually allowing the costs of the medical plan to go up. The pension plan is particularly irksome; they want to turn it into one of those two tier deals, with the guys in the second tier, newer hires, to get less than us old folks. Also they want us all to start paying more straight out of our checks into the plan after years of not having as do so at all.
They say the plan is in danger of going bankrupt. Now you would think that maybe they would have known there was going to be some crisis with the retirement plan what with the multitude of baby boomers, such as myself, coming down the pike. I don’t know what the hell they were thinking about. Surely, prudence would have dictated that we pay in, though in lesser amounts, over the years to insure the security of the plan. Nobody would have squawked. But the increase they now propose is enormous. What the hell ever happened to prudence—an 18th century virtue, I guess—and the Regents are all supposed to be big wigs with connections to business and money in all shapes and forms, and they didn’t know better.
So I decided—well, ok—I would go over to the noon rally the union was supposed to be part of. It was a long walk from the parking lot to the meeting place, and when I got there I couldn’t find any rally, so I wandered around the building, noticing as I did so cops every where, on the balconies, the stair wells, at every entrance to the hall where the Regents were meeting. Eight or nine cops were hanging out at the main entrance to the hall; and I mean hanging out, just doing nothing. So I went up to a group of them and asked if this is where the Regents were meeting.
They said yea, and did I want to go in since today was the public meeting. Sure, why not, I said, and was directed around a little chain link barrier and before I knew it this guy was waving a metal detector all around me and making me empty every bit of metal from my pockets. You would have thought I was a terrorist or something. So I get into this huge hall, and the regents—there are sure a lot of them—were sitting there all suited up, and every one of them with a lap top in front of him or her—and they are jawing on about something to do with academic freedom, the UC system, and whether or not UC researchers have legally or illegally taken research money from tobacco interests.
This one guy goes on forever with some sort of vague and diffuse comment/question, and then this lawyer lady goes on forever with some vague and diffuse answer, and I doubt anybody understands any of it, since they are both talking legalese about some finding—I guess it was a finding—that a judge had made about academic freedom and doing business with tobacco companies. So they talked and talked and some guy finally said maybe we should table this item, and move on to the next which was a report on the state budget for education. I listened as long as I could stand it and left.
I was there—not that long I guess—maybe 30 minutes and never once heard the words “education” or “student” spoken.