Friday, November 28, 2014

I Doubt She's A Budding Conservative, Though Her Second Sentence Sounds Like One Here

From an article on the temper tantrums thrown recently at UC Davis over increased tuition and fees, brought to you by the big government of the Democrat-run state of California:
“We’re sick and tired of balancing work and homework. We’re sick and tired of giving money we don’t have to UC regents,” Mina Arasteh, a second-year environmental policy student from Moraga, shouted from a bullhorn.
You know what, Mina?  I could say the exact same thing.  I, too, am tired of balancing work and homework, but I do it because I chose this path for myself.  I'm also tired of paying for your education when I don't see how it benefits me or the people of California when your behavior is so puerile.  It's true that my education was paid for by taxpayers, but there was a contract involved in how I'd pay that debt to the taxpayers, and the requirements were specific.  The taxpayer and I both fulfilled our ends of the bargain.  What is it that you're doing for the taxpayer who funds your education?  What, specifically, does the taxpayer get out of funding higher education? 

I'll tell you this:  watching you protest is not making this particular taxpayer excited about paying more for your education.  Staging a walkout?  How can I take you seriously when you walk out on the very education whose cost you're complaining about?  Why not protest the dining commons when you're hungry, it's the same thing.  It's a temper tantrum.  Are you going to hold your breath until someone gives in?

As Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of Education, used to say, "Put your big-girl panties on."  Start acting like you're not the center of the universe and that everyone owes you everything.

And then consider if people with your major might be part of the problem with both government and the economy in this state.


maxutils said...

First, you got to go to West Point, one of the best schools in the country at taxpayer expense; you got to pay back that cost by guaranteeing a certain number of years of service in the army, for which I am grateful. But -- presumably (do correct me if I'm wrong) you were being paid for those years of service, at taxpayer expense as well, and as an officer you made more than anyone who would have just come into a recruitment station.

So, back to our UCD student with the 'ridiculous' environmental policy major (which I think is probably an interpretation of what it actually is, but I don't know). Clearly, the tax payer has not created a deal with such students to have a UC education with such a ridiculous major? Well … yes, they have. The state of CA has dictated that any student in the top 9% of high school students, based on a somewhat arcane combination of GPA and test scores, is entitled to a UC education … somewhere. But surely not for ridiculous majors that weren't useful to the taxpayer, right? Which got me thinking… what could you have majored in at West Point, had you wished to? So I looked it up:
Among those? Environmental Engineering, Environmental Geography, Environmental Science, along with other uber-employable majors like History, Psychology, and Sociology. Why should I want my tax dollars going to pay for someone to become a military sociologist? What would that even look like?

If you believe that higher education is useful, and that a public system has merit, which clearly you do because you took advantage of it -- you should be willing to fund it at some reasonable level, which we aren't, and you shouldn't nit pick over majors which this very same student could have gone through at your own alma mater.

Darren said...

I actually signed a contract. Did she? Must she stay in California and do something specific to pay back the taxpayer for the degree she's getting? No.

As for environmental engineering and the like, there's nothing wrong with the degree per se, but you and I both know that extreme environmentalism damages California's economy for no *true* environmental good. There's plenty of oil off our coast, and there are plenty of trees that the spotted owl can live in, and the snail darter just isn't as important as the project it was used to stop.

Add to these what I wrote in another post today, about California's gas prices going up in January because of a silly cap-and-trade scheme.

Extreme environmentalism is damaging the state, and I believe that damage is willful.

maxutils said...

We don't disagree about extreme environmentalism, but I think you missed my point … just having that major doesn't make her an extreme environmentalist; she could just as easily be learning how to balance economic efficiency and environmentalism. Maybe not; but we don't know. As to your signing a contract? Well, yes, but you went to school free of tuition; she is merely receiving subsidized tuition, and given the rise in tuition costs … not very heavily subsidized at all. She's paying at least 10 times what I did. And, while you paid back your commitment with time of service, you were also compensated at the same time. I'm not trying to bash West Point or any of the service academies. I know how difficult it is to get in and think it's a pretty good idea to have highly educated officers. But the majority of UC students will wind up helping pay for their education by being better educated, better paid, and therefore more highly taxed citizens.

As to cap and trade? I haven't studied the numbers enough to offer an even remotely informed opinion, but what I CAN say is that it isn't silly. It's a way of internalizing the external cost of pollution, which makes tremendous economic sense and is absolutely a sound economic model. If you are penalized for driving a car which gets poor mileage, and less penalized for driving one that gets better mileage, two good things happen: people are more likely to buy car which get better mileage; car manufacturers are more likely to find ways to improve mileage. A really silly idea is the one where the CA legislature to change from a per gallon gas tax to a per mile driven tax …which does exactly the opposite, and highlights the fact that a gasoline tax is effective at reducing pollution and waste.

PeggyU said...

Like we need more environmentalists anyhow. If this discourages them, I say ratchet up the tuition some more! That's what I call a silver lining.

Darren said...

The difference between young Mina and me is that she has to do *nothing* in order to get *my* financial support. I had to do a lot in order for my education.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Come on max, trying to draw an equivalence between the conceits of some over-indulged little girl and a crucial, governmental function? Sometimes I wonder whether you're engaged in the intellectual equivalent of weight lifting, i.e. exercising faculties to develop them or you really are on the side of the utterly self-indulgent.

Even if she's not dreaming about a future in which she chains herself to a spotted owl, the better to provide a shining example for her moral inferiors, and she does want to learn how to balance economic efficiency and environmentalism how can it be determined what the value of the degree is in an environment of market-indifferent demand created by environmentalist legislation?

With regard to cap and trade, it is silly.

The basis of cap and trade is hand-waving about "externalities" which are always presented as huge, accurate and incontestable. The first is certainly true but externalities wouldn't be politically useful if they weren't. So the question is, are externalities the size they are because of political utility or because the evidence is incontestable they are huge? And accurate.

That's where the scam falls apart. Those externalities are always based on statistical relationships of dubious accuracy/validity and even more dubiously defended by attacking all critics. If you're not on board you're working for the petroleum industry and probably washing the Koch brothers' limousines on the weekend.

maxutils said...

Anytime you involve government, inefficiency is introduced. I would be foolish to argue otherwise… that's why, just like when unions negotiate wages, compromise is needed. Sometimes, externalities are huge; sometimes they aren't. But that doesn't mean we should ignore them: It does mean we should try to get our best option at the lowest cost, and to expect that it will not be optimal unless we're exceptionally lucky...