Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today’s Lesson: Reality 101

Great editorial in the Wall Street Journal today on the rising cost of college education in California.

Hundreds of University of California students rallied against a 32% tuition hike last week. Let's hope their future employers get a better work product. With just a little research, the students could have discovered that compensation packages won from the state by unions were a big reason for the hike.

Last year, the state cut funding to the 10-campus system to $2.6 billion from $3.25 billion. To make up for the reduction in state funding, the UC Board of Regents increased tuition to $10,300, about triple 1999's cost.

The news has been filled with reports of college students across the country pitching a fit because they are being asked to pay more for their own college education, an education that is going to benefit them in the long run in the form of higher wages but that apparently is their sacred right to receive cheaply and our solemn duty as tax payers to subsidize at a level they find acceptable. The brazen arrogance of these students is breathtaking. They are the ones who will benefit but not the ones who will pay, yet they are demanding that the taxpayers of the state pony up more money so that they can take Anthropology 101 at a sharp discount.

The irony here is that the “progressive” college students in California are the ones who are being hurt the most by the liberal policies of their state. By making hugely expensive promises with no way of funding them, California’s legislature has backed itself into a corner. Either they vote to slash benefits for unionized state employees/retiress (which is not going to happen) or they cut services. Combined with the incredibly anti-business policies of the state that is driving employers and tax-payers out of the state, California is in a world of hurt. They are the worst but they aren’t the only state in that situation.

The ugly reality? States are cash strapped. Revenues are way down (having huge unemployment numbers will do that). Costs have exploded for college education. The unfunded liabilities in states are crippling and getting far worse by the day. No one wants to pay more or have their services reduced but if something isn’t done at both the Federal and state level we are going to careen headlong into bankruptcy. We are all going to have to swallow hard and give up our pet programs. We cannot operate our governments at the same level of taxation and services indefinitely. Joe and Suzie might have to go to community colleges or get their degrees online instead of paying $100,000 for a degree from the University of California. The taxpayers are not mom and dad and you can’t keep going back looking for more money.
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