Failed (Golden) State

Recently, our friends at the Cornell Insider linked to George Will’s excellent column about California. Cornell Insider blogger Oliver Renick makes a good point:

George Will writes about how liberalism is killing California (not an unfamiliar subject for him), and slowly devouring the once great school system.  The irony, of course, being that increased liberalism is what UC schools have always been demanding.

It is indeed ironic that, while California’s public university system suffers from a crisis of government overspending, Cal students (not the sharpest tools in the shed) demand that the state makes no cuts in spending. This attitude perfectly encapsulates California’s culture of entitlement.

A reminder of the numbers, courtesy of Will:

So the University of California system’s budget was cut 20 percent. Then the system increased in-state student fees 32 percent to . . . $10,302. But that is still 70 percent below student costs at Stanford and other private institutions in California that Berkeley considers no better than it is.

Cal’s response to the cuts is reminiscent of the Stanford Community Centers’ response last year, when they threw a collective tantrum about a painstakingly minor budget adjustment.

How did California get so out of whack as whole?

It was a long, slow descent with many factors. For a sobering autopsy of how California got here (from a conservative point of view), check out William Voegeli’s Claremont Review of Bookspiece. As Voegeli discusses at length, the California crisis has no single cause, but several general factors. One of these factors is a mercurial activist liberal tradition that shaped much of California’s recent political history. A century ago this year, the Progressive Party drafters of the California constitution established referendums and initiatives, student activists of the 1960s and 1970s pressured Sacramento to the left and finally a menagerie of unions codified their own interests into the state Constitution. (A la Prop 98 in 1988, which stipulates that 40% of the state budget be spent on education, regardless of the state’s fiscal situation).

As of 2010, California is a sad state of affairs.

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