Entitlement Snobs

California: where those who do not pay what things actually cost mooch off those who pay more than what things are actually worth.

Take the U. of C. at Berkeley, for example. That’s the school that shows off its coolness on its web site’s home page with a photo of students doing high-level math on a blackboard while wearing t-shirts (at least that’s what it displayed when I visited it). But it seems that a facility for higher math doesn’t automatically lead to an appreciation for how numbers work in the real world.

Berkeley students, apparently mindful of their publicly-funded school’s place in the ’60s Free Speech Movement, decided to speak out—loudly and violently—against the latest social injustice being perpetrated against them by our “evil capitalist culture”: i.e., the fact that they now have to pay a whole 30 percent (~$10,320) of what students at the private Stanford University, about an hour and twenty minute drive south across the San Francisco Bay, have to pay (~$34,340) for a year of college.

What an outrage!

Actually, I’m thinking here of the California taxpayers who are stuck footing the bill for upwardly-mobile, opportunistic entitlement snobs who actually believe their attitude has surplus value in the tangible world outside their own little intellectual Disneyland. They should be outraged that their toil and effort is being wasted on such an ungrateful demographic.

A still-dirt-cheap Berkeley degree is often considered an education equal in worth to what one receives at Stanford (not to mention Harvard and Yale). But what is this attitude that “the world owes me” worth to the average employer nowadays? I’m not sure, but I have a pretty good idea of what it typically costs.

Yes, this new jump in student fees is a big one for the typical Berkeley student to swallow. The new annual cost is a 32 percent increase from the ~$7,800 – $8,300 per year they had been paying up to now. I understand the students’ dismay. I sympathize with those who will no longer be able to afford a Berkeley education. But if you are in such a situation, I suggest that it is not the end of the world. I understand that California has a decent community college system. Perhaps you should check into it.

Just how long did these entitlement snobs think this gravy train was going to last? If these students are as smart as they themselves seem to believe, have they not been keeping up with their home state’s current budget crisis? Did they think they were the only ones who realized that the average starting salary of a Berkeley grad these days is $59,900, while the median family income in California is $61,154? Don’t they realize that an education that ranks with Ivy League schools and yet will only cost a total of a bit over $41,000 in student fees over four years is still an incredible bargain? One might think that the students’ response to such realities would be one of immense gratitude. One would be incredibly mistaken.

Down with the system! Nationalize all universities! Invade and occupy the banks! Stick it to the man!

If there was ever a State of Entitlement, it is California. Their students are an ominous warning that society suffers when its adults do not grasp a couple of basic truths well enough to pass them on to the next generation:

  1. things are worth less to those who do not have to pay the costs, and
  2. things end up costing more when those who consume them will not pay what they are worth.

By providing publicly-funded education, the state is extending a benefit to individuals with the understanding that it will also benefit the public as a whole. It is not all about the individual any more than it is all about the people as a whole. To even have to say such a thing seems absurd in light of the fact that, in the case of publicly-funded education, the people are the benefactors and the individual is the beneficiary. How dare the individual in this case assume an attitude entitlement rather than one of deep gratitude? You think you are entitled to an average starting salary of $59,900?

The Berkeley student protests are not about need. They are about greed.

HT: George Will: Liberalism is What is Killing California | RealClearPolitics.


Comments

Entitlement Snobs — 7 Comments

  1. People from the Midwest should just never talk about the West Coast. Ever. It seems every time they do, they say something completely stupid.

    Since this is a Christian blog, I’ll put the question up: What would Jesus do? To the Jewish culture, education and literacy have been of prime importance to them since the days of the exile and possibly earlier. Jewish people were quite literally the only readers in Europe throughout the middle ages and much of the renaissance. This was certainly true in the days of Jesus, and his message may not have been understood by those he was speaking to unless they had a deep understanding of the scriptures themselves.

    From the political perspective, which the author seems to relish by slamming liberals who have traditionally taken a stand for better education for minorities and the disadvantaged, America was founded on education, and the fathers of our country were strong proponents of free libraries and schools. One of our best presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was raised in just such a free frontier school. The philosophers who shaped the minds of people who would found a democratic republic, John Locke, John Milton, Thomas Paine, and Jeremy Bentham, wrote strongly in favor of a “free marketplace of ideas” where individuals could read all things and thus have the necessary information to vote on all issues. They trust that an educated man would have the wisdom to vote for good causes and people and have the discernment to let bad causes fall by the wayside.

    Education today is a business, and that is not right. We should have free universities, supported by tax dollars because a university education open to all citizens is the key to our nation’s continued economic and social success. $10,000 a year is an enormous burden on someone who doesn’t have a degree. So students are left with no other choice but indentured servitude to enormous banks — which are, in turn, receiving billions in government welfare for their folly. Where is the bailout for students and recent graduates who can’t find a job to pay off their massive loans?

    Does this seem Christian? Does this seem to espouse charity and hope? Does this do good to the smallest of America’s people, its underprivileged youth in need of employment? Does this promote literacy and education necessary for people to understand the world, and to accurately understand all ideas — including scripture? I don’t think so. I think this is one more example of the “Christian” community demonstrating their true allegiance to the money men, the very same people whom Jesus attacked in the Temple. This article disparages the poor and libels them as ungrateful. Should this midwestern man have ever spoken to one of these students, I’m sure he would see a much different picture — someone trying to make it in a very difficult world that gives no allowance or credit to young people. Again, I have to ask: Would Jesus mock the poor? Would Jesus throw his support, as this CHRISTIAN writer does, behind a system that grinds down our young people, exploiting them to further enrich the wealthy?

    Those are my thoughts.

    Sam

  2. Unfortunately your article is burdened with some fundamental flaws. First among those is your characterization of UC Berkeley on the one pole as “public” and Stanford U on the other as “private.” Second is a consideration of the impact of tuition increases on prior taxpayer investments.

    According to charitynavigator.org, Standford receives more than $100 million in government funding annually, and it is a non-profit organization. The university had 6,759 undergraduate and 8,186 graduate students in 2007.

    By contrast, UC Berkeley received approximately $14 million in government funding in 2007, according to its own financial statement. UCB had 23,863 undergraduate and 10,070 graduate students that year. (The entire UC system, some 10 campuses, received approximately $120 million in government funding in 2007.)

    Even using these rough comparisons, you can see that dollar for dollar, UC Berkeley is more efficient than Stanford in using its government funding to educate far more students. UCB was educating four times more students using far less government aid.

    Finally, one of the things missing from the blog post (and also George Will’s essay cited at the end) is taxpayers’ lost investment when students are forced to withdraw and discontinue their education because of such a steep tuition hike. Like any investors, student (and their parents) do a budget analysis at the beginning of their education to estimate how much their program will cost. Drastic midstream changes, such as a 30% hike, cause planning disasters. The suggestion that students who can’t afford to remain at the institution simply transfer to a community college is just not practical for a junior or senior undergraduate or graduate student. Community colleges do not provide education at that level.

    There’s a real cost to education, whether public or private. The tuition does not ever cover it entirely. In the public sphere, most of the cost is borne by taxpayers. So when a student is forced out in the midst of a degree program by a tuition hike, what happens to the taxpayers’ past investment in the discontinued education of those withdrawing students?

    Are lawmakers just cutting their losses, or are they throwing the baby out with the bathwater? In my view, they’re going after a soft target by raising tuition. They seem to know that higher education is an easy place to cut for just the reasons exemplified by the Berkeley protests: it’s extremely hard for the tuition payers to do anything meaningful to protest the increases. Their complaints are not taken seriously.

    Without looking at the total expenditures in the state budget and what areas are slated for cuts, it’s not a fair argument to connect California’s overall budget problems to the choice to raise tuition in its universities.

    The greatest investment we make is in our nation’s children. If we don’t take care of this investment, where does that leave our country?

    (By way of disclosure, I do not live in California, however, I did live there 20 years ago when serving in the U.S. Army while training to be an Arabic linguist.)

  3. Unfortunately, Sam, you are sounding like one of the ‘entitlement snobs’. The “poor kids” have never been able to attend UC Berkeley, even at $7800 -$8300 a year. I could only afford community college and a few years at State Universities for my kids and that was 20 years ago. Middle income families, such as my children trying to find affordable colleges for my grandkids, have no hope at all to send their children to a UC school unless they can get scholarships. They pay lots of taxes for the those who do get into Berkeyley or UCLA or any of the other dozen campuses, but their own kids can’t go. Where is the charity and hope in that??

  4. Sam,

    You wrote:

    People from the Midwest should just never talk about the West Coast. Ever. It seems every time they do, they say something completely stupid.

    You have obviously drawn your conclusion before stating your case—and before taking a beginner’s course in comment-box etiquette, it would seem—and you have obviously stated your case before verifying the premises on which it is built, which virtually assured that you would completely miss the point of my article. In my experience, well-reasoned arguments always appear “completely stupid” to people who are moved more by emotional rhetoric than by rational presentation of relevant facts, of which your comments offer hardly any.

    You wrote:

    Since this is a Christian blog, I’ll put the question up: What would Jesus do?

    What would Jesus do? You really don’t know? You really don’t know?

    He’d make a whip out of a few stray cords, verbally kick those whining Berkeley brats in their butts, and tell them to try out things in Haiti for a few days if they don’t think they can afford a degree that promises an average starting salary of $59,900! That’s what He’d tell those spoiled rotten Americans whose “poverty line” is the envy of 80 to 90 percent of the human beings on this planet!

    John the Baptist commanded Roman soldiers to be content with their wages (Luke 3:14), and Jesus said that John was the greatest prophet who ever lived (Luke 7:28)! What makes you think that Jesus of Nazareth was some sort of populist utopian Robin Hood?

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people from vastly diverse philosophical camps seek to enlist Jesus as the mascot for their socio-economic-political agendas. Since He is not available for such a demeaning role, they virtually always end up substituting cheap, barely-two-dimensional cardboard-cutouts in His place, as you have done here. So, assuming that Jesus was merely a product of His culture (a ridiculous notion by any straightforward reading of the New Testament, but a common liberal gaffe), you wrote:

    To the Jewish culture, education and literacy have been of prime importance to them since the days of the exile and possibly earlier.

    OK, but how does this support an argument for universal, tax-payer-supported public schoools? It’s one thing to say that a culture highly valued education and literacy; it is quite another to say that the society made sure it was provided to any and all free of charge. “The truth of the matter is that we know very little about education in Intertestamental Judaism” (J. Julius Scott, Jr., Customs and Controversies: Intertestamental Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament, [Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Books, 1995], 256). We do have evidence that whatever schools Jews had were based on a Greco-Roman model (ibid.), and the earliest evidence of any community-provided schools dates to about a generation after Christ, during the time when Rabbi Gamaliel’s son, Joshua, served as high priest (A.D. 63-65)—just before the massive destruction by Roman armies in A.D. 70 following the Jewish rebellion. The only thing we know about this school system is that progress was being made in establishing these schools within the precincts of local synagogues for the purpose of training males to conduct synagogue services (ibid. 257-258).

    Incredibly, you wrote:

    Jewish people were quite literally the only readers in Europe throughout the middle ages and much of the renaissance.

    This has got to be, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most historically-ignorant statement I have ever read in my life. Jews were “quite literally the only readers in Europe” for more than 1,000 years? Do you get your history out of comic books or do you simply make it up as you’re writing?

    What about the Corpus Iuris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) by the Emperor Justinian’s (A.D. 483-565), which left a mark on medieval European culture second only to the Bible? Did it leave such a mark without any medieval Europeans actually reading it? Did only Jews read it, because they were “quite literally the only readers in Europe” at the time? How idiotic! It was required reading in all law schools of Europe during the Middle Ages. What about Bede’s (c. A.D. 673–735) Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People)? Nobody read that, either (except Jews, of course)? What about the Chronicle of Fredegar, which, with its appendices, provides for us the history of Frankish Gaul from A.D. 584 down to the time of Charlemagne and his brother Carolman in A.D. 768? What about Dante’s (1265-1321) Divine Comedy? What about William Langland’s (c. 1332-c. 1400) Piers the Ploughman? These are all significant works that are still in print today. But if it’s true that, as you say, “Jewish people were quite literally the only readers in Europe throughout the middle ages and much of the renaissance,” they must have been the most amazing readers the world has ever seen, since they would have had to have been able to read Latin, the Old Frankish tongue of Charlemagne’s time, Dante’s Italian, and Langland’s Middle English, not to mention all the other languages in which medieval literature was then being churned out, since, after all, no one writes books if there’s no one there to read them.

    The Middle Ages are generally defined as the period lasting from roughly A.D. 500 to 1500, and the Renaissance is often defined as the period lasting from roughly 1300 to 1600. This Renaissance was not the only renaissance in learning that occurred during the Middle Ages, and like the ones that preceded it it began as a literary movement. You can’t have a literary movement without readerslots of readers in fact. So Europe was filled with non-Jewish, Gentile readers, and anyone who says otherwise is making his “facts” up as he goes along. While the early Middle Ages certainly had its dark times, it is supremely ignorant to stereotype it as an age of total illiteracy as you have done.

    You wrote:

    This was certainly true in the days of Jesus, …

    It was “certainly true in the days of Jesus” that Jewish people were the only readers in Europe? How can you expect people to take statements like this seriously? First of all, Palestianian Jews such as Jesus lived in Western Asia, not Europe, and secondly, the Greeks and Romans of Jesus’ day were just as literate if not more so than the Jews. The Jewish historian Josephus (AD 37 –c. 100) wrote for a largely Gentile audience. The life of Jesus spans the final years of the Golden Age of Latin literature (think Ovid, Seneca, and Livy) and the early years of its Silver Age (think Seneca the Younger, Quintilian, and Phaedrus). The non-Jewish literary output of the period was so vast that its contemporary Jewish corpus looks positively anemic by comparison.

    You continued:

    …and his message may not have been understood by those he was speaking to unless they had a deep understanding of the scriptures themselves.

    Well, as it turns out, Christ’s message was not understood by those to whom He spoke, but it was not for any lack of education on their part. This point comes across again and again in the Gospels. As Jesus Himself declared in one of His prayers, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25, English Standard Version).

    If you try to build your philosophy of educational funding on Jesus’ actual pedagogical practices you will quickly find that they provide zero support for your ideas.

    You wrote:

    From the political perspective, which the author seems to relish by slamming liberals who have traditionally taken a stand for better education for minorities and the disadvantaged, …

    Whoa, thar, silvah! Back that pony up and let’s take a look at it!

    Show me one place in my article where I’ve “slammed liberals” for taking a stand for better education for minorities and the disadvantaged. Show me one place where I said it was a bad thing to improve the lot of those less fortunate by helping them get a better education. Just one!

    You can’t, because I never wrote anything of the sort.

    But I will tell you this: I have written grant proposals to get money for scholarships for minorities. Have you done that? I have written grant proposals to get money for people who can’t afford tuition. Have you? I’ve done something to try to help people afford higher education, and I can thankfully say that whenever foundations and corporations have been able to give, I’ve seen them do it, and often quite generously. And when students have received such private scholarships I have often been gratified to see those students write heart-felt “thank-you” letters to their benefactors, even if those gifts did not cover the entire cost of their educations. They didn’t picket for government funds and they didn’t vandalize the homes of school officials like Berkeley students have.

    If you had even the slightest clue how many billions of dollars private individuals, foundations, and companies give to education each year, even you might realize how hollow all this entitlement rhetoric rings. But you don’t, so you wrote:

    …America was founded on education, and the fathers of our country were strong proponents of free libraries and schools.

    You’re just a one-man history-revision machine, aren’t you? “America was founded on education“? What exactly does that mean? For six years I taught 8th grade U.S. History. Golly-gee: nowhere in the Prentice-Hall textbook did it say anything like that! What—did the founding fathers originally have the Department of Education as the fourth branch of government, alongside the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches? (What a crock that would have been!)

    You can scour the founding documents of our nation—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the standard commentary on the Constitution, The Federalist Papers—and not find one reference to either public schools or the public funding thereof. Benjamin Franklin’s “Franklin Academy” charged tuition, and the only founding father who appears to have given consideration to promoting the idea of universal public education at taxpayer expense was Thomas Jefferson—an idea that would not really be taken seriously until Horace Mann’s campaign for common schools in the 1840s. By then it had been kicked around as a political soccer ball for quite some time, in much the same way public health care has been kicked toward the liberal goal for the past 40 years or so today until now when they’re able to get the goal-tender removed from the game.

    You wrote:

    One of our best presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was raised in just such a free frontier school.

    Once again: this is not true. Nowadays many authorities on Lincoln assume he received a total of 18 months of education, but none of it was free; in those days families had to find various ways to compensate itinerant teachers. All of Lincoln’s formal education took place while the family lived in Indiana, and as one of Lincoln’s early biographers wrote about 20 years after his assassination: “The common free schools which now so closely follow the heels of the pioneer and settler in the western portions of the republic had not then reached Indiana” (Isaac N. Arnold, The Life of Abrahm Lincoln, [Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Company, 1885], 20).

    The means of payment was described by a later biographer as follows:

    As nearly as can be determined the aggregate of young Lincoln’s schooling was about one year, and this was divided between five teachers—an average of less than three months to each—and spread out over as many years. The branches taught were “readin’, writin’, and cipherin’ to the rule of three.” Any young man who happened along with a fair knowledge of the three great R’s —”Readin”, “Ritin”, and “Rithmetic”—was thought fit to set up a school, taking his small pay in cash and boarding around—that is, spending one day or more at a time as the guest of each of his patrons.

    [Henry Ketcham, The Life of Abrahm Lincoln, (New York: A.L. Burt, Publisher, 1901), 19-20]

    You wrote:

    The philosophers who shaped the minds of people who would found a democratic republic, John Locke, John Milton, Thomas Paine, and Jeremy Bentham, wrote strongly in favor of a “free marketplace of ideas” where individuals could read all things and thus have the necessary information to vote on all issues.

    What?! You’re citing John Locke in support of your position? Have you never heard of his “Essay on the Poor Law” in which he lamented the fact that church parish schools were wasting their time educating the children of poor laborers because such children were destined to become only laborers themselves and that taking them out of workplaces meant that their labor was “generally lost to the public till they are 12 or 14 years old”? He recommended instead setting up “working schools” for them throughout England so they could become accustomed to what society had foreordained for them as their lot in life. As a politically-conservative American, I frankly find such views offensive. You need to be more careful in picking your heroes.

    John Milton’s educational reforms were almost solely concerned with curriculum rather than with the accessibility of education to the poor. Jeremy Bentham, on the other hand, can rightfully be cited as a promoter of extending higher education to the masses in Great Britain, and his ideas eventually caught on in the U.S., but whatever influence Thomas Paine might have had for his ideas on free public education, abolition of slavery, and so on rapidly lost traction in the U.S. when he became a supporter of the French Revolution. Meanwhile, the whole “free marketplace of ideas” concept had much to do with a free press and free speech, but little or nothing to do with free education.

    You wrote:

    They trust that an educated man would have the wisdom to vote for good causes and people and have the discernment to let bad causes fall by the wayside.

    While this was a true insight of that period, your understanding of it is painfully anachronistic. Far from leading politicians to the conclusion that this principle obligated the state to pay for everyone’s education so they could vote better, it led most to a very different conclusion: that voting rights should be limited to the educated, who by coincidence also happened to be white male owners of real property (i.e., land). Fortunately it never led to an educational test for the right to vote—unless, of course, you were an African American living after the Civil War.

    You wrote:

    Education today is a business, and that is not right.

    On its face, this is an absurd statement. Education has to be a business. Instructors have to be paid. Students have to have decent classrooms, textbooks, and educational equipment. Schools require administrators to hold both students and instructors accountable, to guard student and institutional records, and to ensure the financial solvency of the institution. All this costs money, which has to come from someone’s or some group’s productivity. If you do not manage it all responsibly as a business the whole structure will eventually collapse and whatever diplomas the school awards will become worthless.

    The question here is not whether education must be a business. That question has been forever settled: it was, it is, and it always will be. The question here is whether it should be a public business (which generally means primarily funded and controlled by a government body), a private business (primarily funded and controlled by individuals or some kind of corporation, usually non-profit), or some combination of both.

    The question of what is “right” here implies that either individual or corporate rights are involved. Unfortunately for your case, you will not find a “right” to an education anywhere in the founding documents of our country. Just because some early Americans or some prominent non-American thinkers who have influenced our early culture may have believed that it was some kind of basic right does not make it part of our authentic cultural heritage.

    Now am I glad that we’ve come to a point in our economic history where we can generally afford to educate our citizens with a combination of public and private schools? Of course I am! Do I think we should dismantle the land-grant system of higher-educational institutions run by the states and turn all their keys over to private boards? Perhaps we should study the matter given my free-market tendencies, but I would certainly not rush into such radical change over night.

    But if you knew how we actually got to the point we are now in the history of education, I think you would find it sobering. If you knew some of the actual reasons given for promoting free, public, K-12 education in the early part of the 20th century, it would make your liberal hairs stand on end. Many of the most “progressive” thinkers of the time viewed it primarily as a means for ensuring a docile workforce for America’s factories, and even warned of educating the lower classes “too much” for fear that it would give them an unhealthy appetite for upward mobility that society would never be able to satisfy, leading to an American version of “peasant unrest.” The path to public education in our country was not this lily-gilded tale you seem to believe.

    You wrote:

    We should have free universities, supported by tax dollars because a university education open to all citizens is the key to our nation’s continued economic and social success.

    I’m all in favor of university educations. I have one myself, and I’m very grateful for it. I realize that whatever I paid for it did not cover the whole cost, that the university had to raise the funds for what my tuition and fees did not cover, and now every time one of their representatives calls to ask for a pledge I either give them my credit card number or feel a bit guilty if I can’t.

    But university degrees are not for everyone, and they’re not the only key to success. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year—to found Microsoft.

    Higher education is not some idol we need to appease by sacrificing tax dollars to it. Sorry, it just isn’t.

    You wrote:

    $10,000 a year is an enormous burden on someone who doesn’t have a degree. So students are left with no other choice but indentured servitude to enormous banks — which are, in turn, receiving billions in government welfare for their folly. Where is the bailout for students and recent graduates who can’t find a job to pay off their massive loans?

    This is ridiculous! Stafford Loans, for which Berkeley students are eligible, are hardly a form of “indentured servitude,” especially for students who’ve racked up a mere $40,000 over four years and can expect an average starting salary of $59,900 upon graduation. I mean, come on! With a gross income of nearly $5,000 per month, are you trying to convince me a Berkeley grad won’t be able to afford about $195 out of his weekend whoopee money? Even if he doesn’t snag a job with such a sweet paycheck, Stafford Loans now have income-based repayment plans to make things even easier. I mean, give me a break!

    You wrote:

    Does this seem Christian? Does this seem to espouse charity and hope? Does this do good to the smallest of America’s people, its underprivileged youth in need of employment?

    Stop! Stop! You’re killing me! I can’t take any more! I’m about to laugh myself to death! Stop!

    The poor “underprivileged youth in need of employment”? Who’s talking about the poor “underprivileged youth in need of employment”? I’m talking about those Bay Area whiners who are screaming bloody murder that they’ll have to pay a few lousy bucks extra each month after they land that sweet ~60K paycheck. You write as if we’re talking about some kid off the streets of Detroit who dodges bullets on his way to school. You have completely lost touch with the subject at hand, not to mention a major portion of reality.

    You wrote:

    Does this promote literacy and education necessary for people to understand the world, and to accurately understand all ideas — including scripture? I don’t think so. I think this is one more example of the “Christian” community demonstrating their true allegiance to the money men, the very same people whom Jesus attacked in the Temple.

    No, no, no: you have Jesus all wrong! He wasn’t mad at the people in the Temple because of some “allegiance to the money men” on their part. He was mad at those people in the Temple who were cheating people. That’s what Jesus actually said. Not that it would have been a good thing to live a life of “allegiance to the money men,” but you miss the whole point, and because you do, you miss it’s application to the Berkeley students. He didn’t accuse them of turning His Father’s house into a den of commerce, but a den of robbers. “And he was teaching them and saying to them, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.'” (Mark 11:17, ESV)

    The sacrificial livestock sellers and money changers were cheating people in much the same way those Berkeley students are cheating the citizens of California by distracting attention away from the major windfall profits they hope to make on cheap-but-prestigious Berkeley degrees at taxpayer expense.

    You wrote:

    This article disparages the poor and libels them as ungrateful.

    Baloney! Let’s get real here: we’re not talking about poor people here. We’re talking about people who last year had enough to pay $8,300 per year in tuition without any newsworthy complaining but this year are throwing a front-page temper tantrum because they have to pay $2,000 more. Give me a stinking break!

    You wrote:

    Should this midwestern man have ever spoken to one of these students, I’m sure he would see a much different picture — someone trying to make it in a very difficult world that gives no allowance or credit to young people.

    Well, this Midwestern man (Chicago native, to be precise), who used to work in California for a while, by the way, and who did not notice that Californians had created a perceptibly-different let alone morally-superior culture compared with the rest of the country—this Midwestern man totally understands what it’s like to make it in a difficult world in ways that I doubt you do. You are extremely unfair to assert that I do not understand it, and totally out-of-line to accuse me of not giving allowance or credit to young people. In fact, I think I give them more credit than you do. I think that if they sit down and consider their situation, they will realize that they’ve been spoon-fed a load of liberal garbage, that they don’t need government hand-outs, that if they have to take on a part-time job to get through college or extend their degree programs to five or six years (which universities now are happy to accommodate) they can happily pursue that option, and they have no reason to get their knickers in a twist. They’re not kids anymore; the law recognizes them as adults. It’s time they acted like it.

    You wrote:

    Again, I have to ask: Would Jesus mock the poor? Would Jesus throw his support, as this CHRISTIAN writer does, behind a system that grinds down our young people, exploiting them to further enrich the wealthy?

    Jesus mocked people. Jesus mocked the insolent and arrogant—the people who thought they were smarter than God. Jesus mocked people who believed they were “entitled” to God’s favor. Yessiree, Bob: He mocked them famously, up one side and down the other.

    Poor people? No, He never mocked them. Because, you have to understand one basic thing about poverty in Jesus’ day. A basically well-off person in Jesus’ day was someone who had enough to eat—for today. He or she did not always know whether there would be enough to eat tomorrow; they took that on faith. But if they had enough to eat today, they were alright. A poor person was someone who not only did not have enough to eat today, but wasn’t too optimistic about eating tomorrow either, regardless of whether that person had a roof over his or her head. That’s what poor meant back in first century Palestine. When Berkeley students in 2010 detach themselves from their iPods and put down their Starbucks lattes long enough to get an idea of what it means to be in the kind of poverty that existed in Jesus’ world, I think they’ll realize that they’re not so “poor” and “exploited” after all. And if that insight has any significant effect on their characters—which are currently a mockery of American values—then there should be no more need to mock them as there is now.

  5. Charlie,

    You wrote:

    Unfortunately your article is burdened with some fundamental flaws. First among those is your characterization of UC Berkeley on the one pole as “public” and Stanford U on the other as “private.”

    I think the fundamental flaw here lies with the person who does not grasp the distinction between public and private institutions of higher education. Having worked in private higher education, and having studied in both kinds of institutions, I think I understand it very well.

    Unless you’re using some brand new reference work that re-defines these terms in some novel way and generally-unrecognized way, the fact remains that in the lexicon of higher education “public” and “private” are nearly polar opposite terms (or, if you prefer, mutually exclusive) because they describe two completely different modes of school governance and funding. State schoools are run by and subsidized by the states in which they operate. (The only federally-chartered universities belong to the U.S. military).

    As part of the University of California system, Berkeley operates under the jurisdiction of the Regents of the University of California, who are appointed by the state governor, and the state allocates a portion of the U. of C.’s system’s $3.3 billion annual budget (3.2% of the state’s overall budget) to Berkeley. The funding for Berkeley and other U. of C. schools, therefore, is legislated by the government of the state of California.

    Stanford, on the other hand, does not operate under a body higher than its own board and must raise its own funding. Standford’s funding may come from federal and state government sources, but if it does it goes through the grant-making processes or loan-making processes of those government bodies, not their legislative processes. As long as Berkeley is part of the U. of C. system, it is virtually guaranteed that the state of California will support it financially; private schools like Stanford will never have such a guarantee.

    So contrary to your ill-informed obfuscation of this issue, Berkeley does, in fact, inhabit the public “pole” of higher education in this country, while Stanford inhabits the private “pole.”

    Even so, what can this question possibly have to do with the question of the essential fairness of the tuition and fees hike at Berkeley? So what if you, in your muddled apprehension of the distinction between public and private schools, believe that the line between the two is fuzzier than it actually is? How does any of that justify the violent temper tantrums of Berkeley students who now have to pay something a wee-bit closer to what their degree will actually be worth—especially since Stanford students pay quite a bit more than Berkeley students?

    It doesn’t. It’s a red herring. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    In the same basic vein, you wrote:

    Second is a consideration of the impact of tuition increases on prior taxpayer investments.

    This is a very high-sounding “consideration” that you set forth. But what exactly are you “considering”?

    In speaking of the impact of tuition increases on taxpayer investments, there are only three possible “impacts”: either the tuition increases have a positive, neutral, or negative effect on taxpayer investments. But by what standard do we measure such impacts? By the number of students who remain in the system after the increases are put into effect, by the quality of the students who remain in the system, or by some other criterion?

    You seem to take the position that we should judge the sucess of taxpayer investment in higher education by the number of diplomas that are passed out on graduation day. But before you make statements implying that conclusion, you write:

    According to charitynavigator.org, Standford receives more than $100 million in government funding annually, and it is a non-profit organization. The university had 6,759 undergraduate and 8,186 graduate students in 2007.

    I have no idea where you’re getting this $100 million figure, or how you are defining “government” here. I found no such line item on the financial data on the Charity Navigator page, and I even took out a free membership in the site so that I could access all the information it had.

    Simply throwing out a figure like “$100 million in government funding annually” is highly misleading, since it would seem that most of whatever federal monies Stanford received went to federally-funded research projects rather than student tuitions. This can be gleaned from Stanford’s own “2009 Financial Review.”

    As for the definition of “government”: as I made clear earlier: this is not about federal funding, but state funding.

    You wrote:

    By contrast, UC Berkeley received approximately $14 million in government funding in 2007, according to its own financial statement. UCB had 23,863 undergraduate and 10,070 graduate students that year. (The entire UC system, some 10 campuses, received approximately $120 million in government funding in 2007.)

    Again, you seem to have a penchant for citing dubious and unverifiable sources. You do not supply documentation for this $14 million figure, which, whatever it actually represents, I can guarantee you are misinterpreting.

    The fact is, according to Berkeley’s own “Statements of Revenues, Expenses and Changes in Net Assets” for the years ending June 30 2008 and 2009, U. of C. Berkeley took in $328.8 million and $347.6 million in federal funds in 2008 and 2009 respectively. It is highly doubtful that the federal funding amount for UCB jumped from $14 million to $328.8 million in one year (i.e., between 2007 and 2008), and I think with a little more digging I should be able to provide definitive proof that your $14 million figure bizarrely erroneous.

    You wrote:

    Even using these rough comparisons, you can see that dollar for dollar, UC Berkeley is more efficient than Stanford in using its government funding to educate far more students. UCB was educating four times more students using far less government aid.

    This is ludicrous. First of all, the figures you presented are horribly wrong. And secondly, most of the federal funds to Stanford went to research projects while most of the federal funds to Berkeley went operating revenues (including costs normally covered by tuition, per the previously-cited statements), so you’re comparing apples and oranges.

    So Stanford tuition and fees are higher, not because Stanford is less efficient in administering its program, but because its students are required to pay a higher percentage of what that education actually costs.

    But again, what does this bunny trail have to do with the validity of the Berkeley students’ protests? So what if Berkeley gets more bang for its taxpayer buck than Stanford? If anything, that strengthens my argument that the Berkeley students’ should just shut up and look for ways to pay for the increased tuition! If Berkeley’s administration is already doing the best possible job of squeezing every bit of value from the funds it receives—even better than Stanford, according to you! (yeah, right!)—and if the state can’t afford to send more funds, then the money’s going to have to come from somewhere, and it’s high time the students who are Berkeley’s primary beneficiaries took some responsibility to go out and look for the extra $2,000 per year they now will have to cover.

    You wrote:

    Finally, one of the things missing from the blog post (and also George Will’s essay cited at the end) is taxpayers’ lost investment when students are forced to withdraw and discontinue their education because of such a steep tuition hike. Like any investors, student (and their parents) do a budget analysis at the beginning of their education to estimate how much their program will cost. Drastic midstream changes, such as a 30% hike, cause planning disasters. The suggestion that students who can’t afford to remain at the institution simply transfer to a community college is just not practical for a junior or senior undergraduate or graduate student. Community colleges do not provide education at that level.

    Who says they have to withdraw? Who says they have to switch colleges? For years now colleges and universities around the country have been routinely quoting their five-year graduation rates with pride, realizing that a significant percentage of students can no longer afford to squeeze an undergraduate career into four years. In fact, six-year “programs” are now becoming more common.

    These aren’t “disasters.” Earthquakes in Haiti are disasters. Tsunamis in Indonesia are disasters. Get a grip! Reality is what it is. Don’t whine about it. Deal with it!

    You wrote:

    There’s a real cost to education, whether public or private. The tuition does not ever cover it entirely. In the public sphere, most of the cost is borne by taxpayers. So when a student is forced out in the midst of a degree program by a tuition hike, what happens to the taxpayers’ past investment in the discontinued education of those withdrawing students?

    Again, you’re assuming that students will be “forced out” of their degree programs. Where did you get that idea? It may happen. Students may misread the situation and cut bait. But it doesn’t have to go that way. Students can choose to cut back on their academic loads, take part-time jobs, and stretch out their programs. It happens all the time. If you truly want something, you’ll make whatever sacrifices you need to get it.

    Are lawmakers just cutting their losses, or are they throwing the baby out with the bathwater? In my view, they’re going after a soft target by raising tuition. They seem to know that higher education is an easy place to cut for just the reasons exemplified by the Berkeley protests: it’s extremely hard for the tuition payers to do anything meaningful to protest the increases. Their complaints are not taken seriously.

    Well, excuse me, but when your average starting salary at graduation is $59,900, don’t expect me to take your protest over a $2,000 per year increase (total: $8,000) seriously.

    To California’s legislators and governor who are all responsible for keeping their state solvent, I say: go for the soft target!

    You wrote:

    Without looking at the total expenditures in the state budget and what areas are slated for cuts, it’s not a fair argument to connect California’s overall budget problems to the choice to raise tuition in its universities.

    Well that’s an interesting pronouncement on your part. Highly dogmatic. More than a bit authoritarian. And yet, completely devoid of facts or rational argument. Hmmm…

    Pray tell: why not?

    You wrote:

    The greatest investment we make is in our nation’s children. If we don’t take care of this investment, where does that leave our country?

    OK, Whitney Houston: since when did 18- to 22-year-olds qualify as “children”?

    (By way of disclosure, I do not live in California, however, I did live there 20 years ago when serving in the U.S. Army while training to be an Arabic linguist.)

    So then, that means you agree with Sam that Midwesterners are always “stupid” when they comment on the West Coast? What an enlightened viewpoint!

  6. You make a compelling argument for FREE, state-sponsored colleges.

    Her argument wasn’t compelling to me. My daughter is going to have to wind up paying for about 10k of her college expenses each year she’s in school. Ie – she is paying for about 10,000 herself, and we help with the rest as we are able. She got licensed as a state tested nurse’s aide and is working her way through school, plus using the federal student loans. So she is taking care of about as much as UCLA costs (her college is almost twice that much). And we are not poor, but we did pay for private Christian high school, and there is only so much college we are willing to help with after that.

    Our philosophy is our adult offspring need to participate financially to win their own goals. They ARE, as Ron pointed out, ADULTS by that point in time.

    So I don’t agree that poor young adults could not afford 10k a year, especially if they did what so many of us did and worked to pay for our educations and take advantage of what would be for very low income families the subsidized federal student loans. Last I checked the amount awarded was $3,500 for the freshman year, $4,500 for the sophomore year, and $5,500 each for the jr. and sr. years of college, as a maximum loan amount. I admit they take out a very small origination fee, but those are basically the amounts the students get, and they have many months after college to pay it off before the interest kicks in.

    You add to that working an average of 16 hours a week at a minimum wage job (maybe less during the school year and more during the summer and breaks to average 16), take out 20% for taxes and FICA, and you are talking only a couple thousand for the freshman year, and for the sophomore year, which could easily be paid for if the prospective student had been saving and working in high school. The jr and sr. years would be paid off with the federal loan and working an average of 16 hrs. a week.

    You do what my daughter did and get in at a higher paying job, such as a nurse’s aide (or PCA, or PCT, as they are called), and the $10,000 a year is quite an attainable amount to pay off. And that’s not even touching on scholarships and other grants.

    Students at UCLA@Berkeley, get a life!

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