TS: CA Budget Crisis Killing State’s Future

CA State Flag

CA State Flag

There’s fifty, sixty, sometimes seventy kids in the room. Get here late by five minutes – hell, get to class on time, even – and there won’t be a seat left for you. It’s unruly, it’s loud, and the professor’s clearly out of his league.

This isn’t the first day of the new quarter. This isn’t even the first week. Hell, until this quarter, this wasn’t even that popular a class, usually getting thirty-odd people before the drops start happening.

But this is the present, and this is now the face of California’s college education.

It’s no dread secret that the state of California’s facing a budget crisis, and a deficit to the tune of $41bn. Quite the opposite, actually – for the last few months, there’s been a new article a day about our lawmaker’s continued inability to make ends meet.

The consequences of this has already been felt. Counties are suing the state to get access to much-needed infrastructural cash. State employees have been threatened with the furlough of their paychecks – payment for services withheld. And as discussed, schools have been getting hit by this continued crisis for months. Vital infrastructure projects – less like Alaska’s infamous “bridge to nowhere” and far more like a much-needed highway extension to alleviate traffic pressures and increase accessibility – are left as piles of dirt on the side of the road, untouched.

The consequences we see now aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. Rather than the tip, they’re the trickle of snowfall on the tip. The neglect to education, especially, is the most alarming of the ongoing legislative foul-up – because, cliché as it may sound, it is education that is the foundation and guideline for California’s future.

We are the tenth largest economy in the world, making us the entire nation’s primary breadwinner. Our wealth isn’t just generated off the back of our historically dominant agricultural industry – in fact, said industry is so matured it might as well be considered stagnant. Barring a technical revolution, or a radical shift to “green” agriculture stemming from the political top and trickling down, Californian agriculture’s going to continue performing at its slow and steady rate. It hasn’t any reason to do otherwise, either, as barring a devastatingly bad winter or summer, we tend to generate surplus. Lots of surplus, as it were, as at least California can claim that we’re not to blame for the continued US trade deficit.

I may or may not be eyeballing our lesser cousins in the Deep South at this point – but the mongrels that paradoxically take up the most of our social welfare services and still vote for the party that wants to shut it down, is a rant, a bloodthirsty, venomous and spiteful rant, for another day.

Okay, so I’m pretty much solidly eyeballing them.

At any rate, the point I was attempting to make was that California cannot expect agriculture to be anything more than a foundation in which we build the rest of our growth. And grow we must. Our population is expanding, driven by immigrants who are, in turn, driven by the altogether American dream of having food on the table for their families tomorrow, and maybe some fresh water to drink. Some medicine for their ailing grandmothers would be nice too. Our current economic crisis cannot be solved with anything but economic growth, to generate more revenue, more money, more wealth, and float us out of the ditch we dug ourselves into.

California needs money, and it isn’t going to get it by hoping that the next harvest’s a whopper.

Notably, California’s second-biggest industry does have the solution. Our tech industry is famously hot, having not only survived its own bubble collapse, but thrived in its aftermath. Also notable – the tech industry suffers no fools. This isn’t an industry that thrives off unskilled, basic labor, and the knowledge of of where and when to apply a wrench or hammer is insufficient when the minimum skillset includes the mastery of abstract machinery – artifices of imagination and electrons.

Basically, you need a fucking positive IQ to deal in tech, and trying to stymie our education system from producing individuals in which to compete in the brain-heavy tech industry of our own damn state is an exercise in fail.

Let’s face it. CA education sucks already. We used to have not just the best college system in the nation – which we still do, despite the cuts – but also one of the most competent secondary and primary education systems too. Yet, these days, we consider ourselves lucky to be 40th in a nation of 50 states! Knowing all this, the Governator still wants to cut education funding? Further, even? Yes, yes – we spend an almost disproportionate amount on education, compared to more successful states. But the answer to fixing CA education isn’t to make it harder to teach, it’s in making sure that it isn’t on its fucking deathbed while we experiment with alternate teaching models.

We need our students to be competitive. We need them, because this isn’t an economic crisis that will resolve itself within a short handful of months – or even whole years. The problem afflicting California, and the US at large, is so damn big, no short-term solution for it exists! We’re left with only hard work, hard labor, and the slow accumulation of wealth over time, not get-rich-quick schemes, as a viable means of getting out of this mess. And these days, it’s the sweat of the brow from excess thought , not that of straining arm muscles, that generate the most reliable growth.

California education has become rooted in the brains standard, and relying on the old arithmetics of the industrial, or, worse, agricultural standard is no longer a viable means of survival. And our government’s inability to recognize this – nay, its insistence on being an antagonist to this era of the brain – has, is, and will do naught but aggravate the standing economic conditions more.

In another month, my community college will be leading a joint effort to protest the immaturity of our state legislative and executive policies – to protest the increased cuts to our state education budget, to demand that some of that bailout money be used to alleviate the educational burdens of the Union’s biggest damn moneymaker, and to ensure that our future prosperity is accounted for. That the people we put in charge of setting the plan of action for our state’s future remember that they’re not just here to make everything pretty for the present- that there’s a long-term investment at stake here that cannot, under any circumstances, go neglected.

Rumor has it that my colleague in the La Voz Weekly, one Ernest Chavez, with years of experience as an activist under his belt, despite his youthful age, will be leading the charge on Sacramento. I can only hope that he can get them to yell loud enough to penetrate the decidedly soundproof, the decidedly exclusive, walls of the Legislature, and remind them that they were upheld with the task of making sure that there’s a California for the sun to rise over in the future.

And that they can’t do it by selling us students off to do so.


~ by Gonzo Mehum on February 17, 2009.

4 Responses to “TS: CA Budget Crisis Killing State’s Future”

  1. […] Title: TS: CA Budget Crisis Killing State?s Future « THE THOUGHTSCREAM […]

  2. REVOLUTION!! What are we waiting for??!! Have the schools failed us so badly that we are unable to take control and demand a resolution? The economic crisis is the 21st century’s version of the Nazi concentration camp.

  3. You’re not the only state that’s been cutting education and demanding geniuses appear on reduced funding. I’d say that NCLB has done most of that across the nation, but education cuts were always something on the top of the line in Michigan whenever someone came up short in the budgets.

  4. To: REVOLUTION!! poster.

    Actually, our Nazi Concentration Camps are maintained by FEMA as part of an emergency wartime plan to relocate undesirable persons to areas of the country where their impact is minimized and their chances of escape are limited by environmental hazards.

    You should really read some of the million or so executive orders out there. There are some pretty impressive ones that require simple presidential authority to implement. Like, say, martial law and the total suspension of the Constitution.

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