Jewish World Review March 15, 2012/ 21 Adar, 5772
Who's to blame in California?
By Victor Davis Hanson
In so-called "March in March" protests, thousands of students in
At both the
Yet against whom, exactly, are these cash-strapped students demonstrating? After all, their college faculties are unionized, largely liberal and sympathetic to their plight.
Campus administrators likewise want more state money for universities. But, unlike the beleaguered faculty, their numbers by some calculations have increased 221 percent between 1975 and 2008. At
Do the students fault the governor and the legislature for unwise spending priorities that have led to funding cuts and tuition hikes? Not really. Gov.
Are the students instead angry at the state's public employees, who on average make more and are better pensioned than their counterparts in other states? Or do protestors connect the state's escalating costs that divert money from universities with
Does state money allotted to other discretionary areas, from things like preliminary funding for envisioned high-speed rail to restoring salmon in the state rivers, come at the expense of students?
The cash-strapped protestors would probably not think so. Instead, they seem to believe that the causes of all their troubles are the proverbial "rich" who are not "paying their fair share."
Just 1 percent of
But unfortunately, in recent years the number of upper-income earners in
In short, there are no longer enough rich Californians to tax further to make up the state shortfalls. Nor can Californians explain why nearby states, with far less natural riches and without state income taxes, seem to be no worse off than
Where, then, lies the solution to the students' protests? Without a rainy-day reserve fund or a growing economy, there are only a limited number of ways to solve
The state can keep cutting its once-generous entitlements and liberal social services, as well public employees' salaries, to divert money to its colleges. Or it can keep raising fees for state services. Or it can start creating new material wealth by encouraging development of the state's vast resources in gas, oil, timber, minerals and agriculture, whose production has been curtailed in recent years. Or it can lobby the federal government to enforce immigration laws.
Yet protesting students would probably believe all those solutions were either unfair or unnecessary. The result is that we are left with mostly liberal students angry at mostly liberal policies of a mostly liberally governed state.
The once-utopian visions of 1970s
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
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