Although I finished university in California this term I was still asked to write a letter sharing my thoughts and concerns about the budget process with the governor, lieutenant governor, the state senator, state assemblyman, both federal senators, and my congressman. Not having anything better to do, I wrote a brief note and decided to share it with you.
I am not by nature an activist. Frankly, the thought of going to a protest — the thought of kicking up a fuss isn’t really that appealing. There are more worthy things to expend energy on than that, mostly, the things in my own life that are within my control. Despite that, I will take this chance to share my thoughts — to tell you about my own experiences in the CSU system.
Everyone knows the economy is bad. Those of us who are realistic accept that we all must make sacrifices; community college and university students included. Budgeting is not a science, it is not an art form. It is a simple, straight-forward formula. One can only spend what one has. Ideally, one shouldn’t even spend that much. Despite the best efforts of the State Legislature to obfuscate and turn the state’s annual budget process into a burlesque show that is more suited to a sleazy Las Vegas theatre, these facts remain the same and must eventually be faced. Just ask Greece what happens when governments and society try to ignore this. Thus, it is reasonable to cut spending on education. It is reasonable to expect students to pay more. What is beyond comprehension is how badly budget cuts have been handled.
State employees, unionised and puissant, have their million-dollar pensions courtesy of our esteemed former governor, the right honourable Gray Davis. Prison unions continue to find ways to promote gaol sentences for trivial offences and ways to extract every last drop of blood out of an ever more severely blanched state purse. Getting paid well and having good working conditions is reasonable, what they want — and get — is not. Layers of administration and bureaucracy siphon off ever more precious dollars. Like placing dry sponges in a flower pot, having layers of bureaucrats often redundant at best, superfluous at worst, most of the water poured to keep the flower alive never reaches the roots.
I suppose that I have nothing further to say. I graduated this term with high honours after spending the past few years on Dean’s list, mostly with top marks. My future is brighter than my recent past, more opportunities are opening up for me — ones that I am seizing as they come. Yet one thing is certain, none of this has come because of the queer amalgamation of mendacity and incompetence that dominates state politics.