A crisis of courage

Pin the tail on the jackass

Yesterday the Regents of the University of California voted unanimously to raise undergraduate fees 32%, effective immediately (NOTE: the lone vote in opposition was cast by the token “student regent”, hence EPR still considers the vote unanimous).  I repeat, 32%…effective immediately.  While El Pollo Rico could carry on ad infinitum as to why this was a tragically flawed and myopic decision, EPR will limit himself at the present moment to the following comments and save further analysis for a later time and place, preferably with incriminating photos of the Regents engaging in some sort of deviant porn.  Then again, who wants to see a Regent naked?  THAT would be deviant. 

So what really gets EPR’s huevos in a supertight nudo is that by voting to increase student fees (i.e., place the burden of poor fiscal management on the students), the Regents have demonstrated they are entirely lacking in the sort of courage and imagination that is required to responsibly solve serious problems.  Rather than being heroic, innovative, and in a word “leaders”, they have chosen the most cowardly solution they could possible find: shift responsibility for their  failure of leadership to those who depend on that leadership for guidance and protection.  The Regents’ job and the job of California politicians isn’t to resolve budget crises, it is  (1) to AVERT them, and (2) to protect the fragile academic and economic interests of students while they study and train to become revenue generating members of the economy.  You don’t compound the failure of Job 1 by proceeding to abandon Job 2…!

If you don’t think the decision is morally and ethically bankrupt, imagine your reaction if your landlord increased your rent 32% mid-lease.  First, many tenants would be de facto  evicted.  Second, it would be a violation of the lease.  Third, rent control in many neighborhoods caps dooshbaggery like this at 10%…why? …because it is good public policy!  What EPR is trying to say is that under this model, the Regents are essentially criminally corrupt slumlords.  By jacking fees, they are de facto expelling low income students.  They have violated the reasonable expectation that fees will remain stable throughout the school year and have pissed on the basic tenets of public policy that dictate a steady change in fees (if any) to keep costs in line with fluctuating economic indicators such as inflation and the cost of living index.

[Have I bored you yet? Maybe. Is the landlord-tenant deal a sexy analogy?  No.  But other than the students getting totally fucked, this has nothing to do with sex, so stay with me.]

Dr. ...Yudof?

But someone  is doing something  right…   right?  Well, yes …and no.  In times of great crisis, there is nothing like a charismatic, innovative, and inspirational gesture to settle people’s growing anxiety.  It is how great leaders show their true mettle – they dig deep and provide both strategic and emotional leadership.  So no surprise that chief punk, UC President Mark Yudof, today sent out an email to all students announcing Project You Can.  Pursuant to the stated goals of Project You Can, the university will be raising ONE BILLION dollars in private funds to help students pay the costs of higher education.  Thank you Dr. Evil.  An awesome idea… if you’d done that BEFORE boosting fees 32%…!

And don’t act like this was some unforeseeable catastrophe.  By Yudof’s own account, “State per-student support has shrunk by half in the last 20 years.”  Really.  And it’s just now occurring to you and the other Regent punks to seek alternative funding.  For twenty years, the UC has been letting the goons at the Department of Corrections and other union muscle and bureaucratic turds steal its share of the pie, watching the financial support for its most precious resource – the students – shrink like Costanzas nards when he got out of the pool… but now…NOW it dawns on you to look for some loose change under the couch cushions?  That is some true vision Costa… er… Yudof.  True vision.  You and Costanza might have more in common than you think.

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~ by El Pollo Rico on November 20, 2009.

2 Responses to “A crisis of courage”

  1. Until more recently, I found myself living in a bubble – seemingly relatively unaffected by the current state of economic, social, political etc. affairs in CA and the USA. And then that bubble popped, and something clicked. I suddenly realized my dad has been unemployed for over a year and a half, money that had been set aside and saved by my parents in my name was cut in half because of the drop in stock values, next year’s tuition will be increasing, and I was no longer going to receive my 25 cent/hr raise (because my job is through the UC).
    This all sucks. I agree with everything you wrote.
    However, I believe that the larger issue at hand is not with the UC Regents, but with the lack of effective public policy throughout California. The fact that the UC system is in the middle of a crisis is merely a symptom of what has been going wrong at the state level for years. Funding for education by the government has been cut, and the regents are doing their best (arguably) to continue to provide students with the same caliber of resources – professors, facilities, etc. That said, I agree that passing the tax on to the students is wrong. Even criminal. But what is the solution?
    And how can this be achieved? I am totally in support of the activism that has been happening among the campuses, with the sit-ins, the rallies, the candle-light vigils. It is making a statement, the media is spreading the word, and demands are being heard. But again, I feel like this is not targeting the people at the top. The people who should be targeted are the people in Sacramento. And if there truly is going to be a change, then it must begin at the top, and then trickle down.
    But please, let me know what you think about these thoughts…
    and Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here in Albuquerque!

  2. Strong and brilliant words young Jedi. My only thoughts in favor of keeping pressure on the Regents are the following: Sacramento is terminally dysfunctional. Having witnessed firsthand the sad meat grinder that is California electoral politics, EPR is extremely pessimistic about the possibility of finding or demanding leadership from the capital that is driven by intelligence, vision, and integrity. Special interests are so deeply entrenched and our elected officials so easily bend to their moneyed will that change, progress, and reform from within the machine seem unlikely anytime soon. Change at the top will only happen when campaign finance reform is meaningfully implemented but because the interests that benefit from this dirty pool do and will continue to fight tooth and nail to protect the status quo, we should be wary of holding our breath — just look at Washington where a Democrat controlled executive AND legislature continues to fumble in the dark with its collective thumb up its collective arse. A once in a lifetime shot at meaningful healthcare reform that will save lives and save the economy is being pissed away because entrenched moneyed interests have both the good guys and the bad guys in a GI Joe kung fu grip on the gonad. Back home in California, this reality places a heavier burden on the stewards of the UC system – a presumably elite group of leaders, presumably more insulated from lobbyists and election cycles – to act out their fiduciary duty and protect their charge from the ravages of a barbaric and self-defeating legislature. Yudof et al. aren’t necessarily “punks” per se …but neither can they claim to have identified strategies and solutions for negotiating the current crisis that are courageous or imaginative. And courage and imagination continue to comprise the touchstone by which EPR judges great leadership. Stay strong Jack-nasty —- ¡Fuerza!

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