Is your head spinning like mine?

A few days ago I attended my monthly meeting of the same Governmental Relations group I referenced in my previous post. Again, much of our time was spent on finance and funding of  public Higher Education in my state. I think I understood what our funding might look like in the next several years, but it took us nearly an hour to get there. The variables included how much money the state will allocate to Higher Education given our budget crisis, the amount of federal stimulus money we will receive for Higher Ed, how much our state funding can be cut without losing the federal stimulus funding, how much tuition will need to go up to cover lost allocations, how the state might divide it’s allocation between the two University Systems it supports, and whether the state can apply to be able to cut allocations further and still maintain stimulus funds.

If your head is spinning trying to make sense of all of this don’t fret. Mine was (and is) too, and I was there. The bottom line is at the end of the day this will affect folks jobs at universities, the availability of classes for students and the amount of tuition students have to pay. Most of the students going to college, and their families have no notion of all of this.. they simply want available classes and affordable, if not lower tuitions. There are other issues at the state level as well such as how much budgets for items like human services and schools will also need to be cut etc. Many different constituencies will want to have a hand in how all of this plays out. It’s probably impossible for most folks to understand the complexity of all. I can’t and I’ve had the benefit of several hours of folks trying to explain it to me.

The real issue here, it seems to me, is that we are not able to have a real national discussion on what it is that we value, and what we are willing to pay for those things. Instead of a rational discourse about what we want for our citizens we have the over heated rhetoric of socialism from the right, and “sell out” from the left. Amazingly all of this nonsense seems to be devoid of any historical understanding. I was surprised to find out this week that the maximum tax rate in the 1950 was 87% of taxable income. In the 1980’s under Reagan it came down to 50%, and the Bush tax cuts will pull it down to 33% of taxable income(the source of this information is http://treasury.gov/education/fact-sheets/taxes/ustax.shtml) Be careful when you read that information though…the bias of the site is that tax cuts lead to economic growth, and that perspective is at least debatable. We had much higher taxes well into the 80’s and we did have huge periods of economic growth during those times.

So how the heck do we get out of this mess? Frankly, I’m tired of stupid rhetoric..our governor here (and a potential presidential candidate too) says stupid things like “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem” as if the two are unrelated. He then goes on to solve the “spending” problem by cutting funding to local governments, schools, social services and Higher Education. Unfortunately, there are folks that believe that our foolish spendthrift behaviors in spending money on such trivial matters as social services, government services, health care for the poor, education really are the causes of our financial difficulties.

From what I can see, none of our politicians are brave enough to try and get at these most basic discussions of who we are. President Obama gets it from both sides for trying to walk a rational middle line and actually get something done. Frankly, I’m just plain tired of this foolishness and lack of vision. I just want to yell at the whole damn crew “Will ya shut up and listen to each other!” I used to be able to achieve something like that (with out the yelling) when I was an elementary teacher with my own classroom. But who can do that for the nation when a majority of the population is acting like a bunch of errant 3rd graders egged on by sniggering bullies like Rush and Glenn?

As for me, I’m going to take some Prozac and hide for a while..perhaps that will solve the problem.

Have a happy “whatever you celebrate this time of year.” And if you don’t celebrate anything go have some fun anyway. We’ll find a way through this one too. See you next week.

seh

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