Special Report

Soak the Middle Class

The University of California devises a new way to speed its demise.

By 7.23.03

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The egalitarian dreams of the University of California grow increasingly elaborate and absurd. In its quest to engineer "equality," it is busy creating new inequities. Last year the UC regents asked Californians to subsidize the tuition rates of illegal aliens. "Fairness" required that they pay the in-state rate, though this meant illegal aliens would get to pay roughly $10,000 less than out-of-state Americans. This year the UC regents are batting around another lunatic scheme, this one to charge students from so-called wealthy families a "surcharge," reports the Washington Times. The proposal could amount to a $3,000 tax on students deemed rich.

"Given the ridiculous nature of the budget situation and the limited options the university has, I think it is wise to pursue the idea," Regent Matt Murray, a student who ludicrously sits on the board, told the Times. "The goal is to make sure the university is accessible to all kinds of students of all kinds of backgrounds."

The plan isn't even a soak-the-rich scheme. It is more like a soak-the-middle-class one. The surcharge would hit any student from a family earning more than $90,000. "It is expected to affect 58,194 of the university's 160,000 undergraduate students," reports the Times.

The UC system was once known for good higher education at cheap rates. Now it is cheap education at higher and higher rates. The cheapening of admittance and academic standards is turning it into a glorified high school. Why should Californians shell out more money for less and less real education?

Perhaps it is time to shut down a few of these mills of political correctness. They operate mainly as jobs programs for tenured frauds and bureaucrats. The Times says it costs California taxpayers $16,900 "to educate each student per year." What are we getting in return for this, besides waves and waves of badly-educated graduates, babbling out their professors' latest destructive doctrines? We are just financing our own nihilists.

Students at UC Berkeley last year, sizing up the UC system as a joke and racket, organized a "Blackjack" class for credit and conducted field trips to strip clubs. The students were taking advantage of a student-taught curriculum UC officials had blessed.

The UC regents are about as serious as their students. Haim Saban, known as Hollywood's "cartoon baron," sits on the board. Gray Davis tapped him to monitor higher education in the state after a dizzying array of successes that include "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

A cartoon baron overseeing Caribbean literature professors teaching illiterates admitted through de facto quotas is the UC system's formula for education -- a formula that guarantees no one will get a real one. Given the choice between fake equality and real education, the UC system always chooses the former.

Woe to those who do not conform to its egalitarian dream. The Wall Street Journal reported a few months ago that Dania Medina, who "scored just 410 out of 800 on her verbal SAT," was off to UCLA, thanks to her last name and an admissions essay about having a sister with Down syndrome." Under the direction of a UC "outreach" official, Rosaura Novelo also wowed UCLA with an application essay in which she observed that her Mexican immigrant father gets "only minimum wage."

"Life challenges" impress UCLA admissions officials, according to the Journal, such as: "immigration hardships, living in a high-crime neighborhood, having been a victim of a shooting and having long-term psychological difficulties."

In this arbitrary atmosphere, why not levy a $3,000 tax on "rich" students? Having divided the races, the UC system can now divide the classes, progressing towards that glorious day when empty education is accessible to all.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.