Monday, January 25, 2010

Fighting for taxpayers

The University of California has engaged me in an effort to lobby California legislators to spend taxpayer money on higher education.  At least in my case, their plan backfired.  They created a system through which letters could be sent, along with some sample text to use.  I edited it for the cause of freedom and independence:

I write to you today as an advocate for the taxpayers of California and the United States and to encourage you to move the UC system toward independence from the state, if that is possible.  The University is requesting that $913 million be restored to its budget in order to sustain its commitment to students and families and all the residents of California, but this is money which must be taken directly out of the pockets of taxpayers in one way or another, and that kind of thing has been destroying this country bit by bit.

It is vital that the State reinvest in the taxpayers rather than the UC System which could easily survive independently by  leveraging the intelligence of its students.

UC is a powerful engine of economic growth and social advancement and will be essential in the knowledge economy of the future.  Any money spent on the University by the state of California should be viewed as a crutch that is allowing the best parts of this engine to atrophy.

I hope you appreciate the magnitude of the State's budget gap and the difficult choices you will face.  It's imperative to our long-term prosperity that you look beyond the immediate fiscal crisis and unburden taxpayers not only in CA but, as Arnold's efforts to get federal money start succeeding, across the country so they can develop new industries and spur job creation - two essential elements to our economic recovery. It's true that CA is a net exporter of tax revenue to the federal government, but that money should not be redirected to the state government, it should be sent back to the taxpayers from whom it was taken.

In addition to pushing the University to stand on its inherent strengths, I urge you to engage in serious discussions about exercising California's 10th amendment rights to nullify federal laws in the best interest of its citizens.  While I recognize that you and your colleagues in the Legislature will develop the details, I believe it is critical to establish independence from Washington DC and the IRS which are increasingly becoming tools of oppression and even slavery.

I thank you for your time and attention and appreciate your consideration of my views.


clwriter said...

Hhhmmm... I'm not sure how letting UC alumni somehow pay for the system would actually work. Since I graduated from a UC school in 1978, do you mean I should have paid a portion of my state taxes to the UC system for the last 32 years? Intriguing... I've been giving the alumni association $250 a year since 1985 or so, but I guess we'd need to collect a lot more than that. Maybe that wasn't what you meant? Maybe when my daughter gets her PhD from UCLA this spring, her future employer has to pay UC a recruitment fee or something? I just am not sure what you meant by "leverage" -- I'm assuming it has something to do with the higher lifetime earnings of UC grads compared to the rest of the population. Or perhaps the value of the research grants and other corporate contributions that keep research going?

Dave Scotese said...

Alumni should only provide as much as they are willing, or as much as they have agreed to provide. I don't know if the Alumni Association provides any support to the UC system itself, and I guess it would be good if alumni were informed either way.

I was writing about leveraging the intelligence of the current students. Much of what they do is repetitive coursework that is of little value to anyone but themselves in their efforts to learn. Learning, however, is what professional scientists and researchers do - and they get paid for it. Since UC students are green, their work will show it, and be of less value than that of seasoned professionals, but it would still be of great value if the motivation was there - and they'd learn faster and more practically because their work would be in demand.

As far as research grants and corporate contributions - you've hit the nail on the head. The trouble is that "grants" can come from public money, which inverts their effect. Normally, a grant is given by an institution that earns money (some of which is the money being granted) by catering to its customers' demands - pleasing society, as it were - and the grant is an investment that the institution makes in order to improve its ability to provide its goods and services. But when it's public money, it isn't earned through demanded work, but rather taken through taxes and justified (or, really, rationalized) after the fact through government services.

"Public money" is really oxymoronic, with emphasis on the moronic part. Money is a placeholder for favors, and I don't think anyone nowadays thinks the government does favors or should do favors. Its job is to rule because people think they need that. Makes me sad.

Thanks for reading!