Our UC?

Sunday morning started off sort of bleakly when I read an article on the front page of the LA Times about the UC and its slide into mediocrity.  Roughly, here are the figures:

In 1970, the state spent 6.9% of its budget on the University of California. Today it spends 3.2%. In 1965, the state covered 94.4% of a UC student’s education. Last year it paid 58.5%.

Students are paying more because, of course, the system is receiving less from the state: 

This year, California will spend an estimated $3.3 billion to operate UC. It will spend three times as much — $9.9 billion — to run the state’s prisons.

In 2000, 160846 people were in CA prisons.  There are more now and conditions are worse.  They are warehousing prisoners, one of top of another.  The situation is so bad the federal government is looking into “correcting” things.  What they may do is order that a bunch of prisoners be released.

And why not, the great bulk of prisoners are there for minor drug offenses and then they get stuck there 25 years to life because of the Draconian three strikes and you are in there 25 years to life laws that the state government and the people of CA passed over the last two decades in an effort I guess to make CA safe for tourism.

So who knows maybe there really is no money for those Venetian blinds in that classroom I was complaining about.  Maybe, I guess.  Surely the funding levels must be restored.  But if the UC is so damn broke why do I keep seeing buildings going up all over the place at UCSB like mushrooms.  All sorts of buildings and fancy parking structures though the number of students at UCSB has remained constant, by law, for about 20 years.

And who gets stuck with the bill for all this crap but the students.  The article is all about how the UC is deteriorating as an educational system, while it would seem, given all these buildings that it is flourishing as a research institution.  Let’s face it.  Students are getting screwed in part because of UC priorities.  The guys who set these priorities of course can argue back that they have to build these buildings to have the labs to do the research to attract private money so they can go into business with business.

So the article suggests the UC may go the way of the University of Michigan which has in effect privatized itself.  So what’s the deeper problem?

Long gone are the days when Californians were willing to pay taxes to build three new UC campuses in a five-year span and subsidize annual student fees of less than $250.

"There is this myth out there that citizens can get better roads, cleaner air, get their garbage picked up twice a week, be protected by police and fire and it won’t cost them anything," Reed said. "People have been singing that song for 20 years."

The very people who went around saying there was no such thing as a free lunch are exactly the people who don’t want to pay taxes.  They want something for nothing.

Welcome to the consumer society where you can have your cake and eat it too constantly.

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