Support SF BayView
Donate or Subscribe to SF Bay View
Follow Us Twitter Facebook

The higher education fiscal crisis protects the wealthy

November 25, 2009

‘Censored 2010’ Book Release and Awards Ceremony is Saturday, Dec. 5, 6-9:30 p.m., Odd Fellows Hall, Santa Rosa

by Peter Phillips

Many students will be priced out of higher education by the 32 percent fee hike. As Peter Phillips writes, “Students will now have to pay over $10,000 in tuition annually for a public university education that was free only a few decades ago.” – Photo: Doug Oakley
Many students will be priced out of higher education by the 32 percent fee hike. As Peter Phillips writes, “Students will now have to pay over $10,000 in tuition annually for a public university education that was free only a few decades ago.” – Photo: Doug Oakley
Police are arresting and attacking student protesters on University of California (UC) campuses again. “Why did he beat me? I wasn’t doing anything,” screamed a young Cal Berkeley women student over KPFA radio on Friday evening, Nov. 20. Students are protesting the 32 percent increase in tuition imposed by the UC regents in a time of severe state deficits. The Board of Regents claims that they have no choice. Students will now have to pay over $10,000 in tuition annually for a public university education that was free only a few decades ago.

The corporate media spins the tuition protests as if we are all suffering during the recession. For example, the San Diego Union Tribune writes Nov. 20, “These students need a course in Reality 101. And the reality is that there is virtually no segment of American society that is not straining with the economic recession. With UC facing a $535 million budget gap due to state cuts, the regents have to confront reality and make tough choices. So should students.”

Yet, the reality is something quite different. Our current budget crisis in California and the rest of the country has been artificially created by cutting taxes on the wealthiest people and corporations. The corporate elites in the U.S., the top 1 percent who own close to half the wealth, are the beneficiaries of massive tax cuts over the past few decades. At the same time working people are paying more through increased sales and use taxes and higher public college tuition.

The student strike at UC Berkeley mobilized thousands of students. – Video: Brandon Jourdan
The student strike at UC Berkeley mobilized thousands of students. – Video: Brandon Jourdan
The wealthy hide their money abroad. Rachel Keeler with Dollars & Sense reports that over the years, trillions of dollars in both corporate profits and personal wealth have migrated offshore in search of rock-bottom tax rates and the comfort of no questions asked. Offshore banks now harbor an estimated $11.5 trillion in individual wealth alone, and were a significant contributing factor to the international economic downturn in 2008.

According to the California Budget Project, tax cuts enacted in California since 1993 cost the state $11.3 billion annually. Had the state continued taxing corporations and the wealthy at rates equal to those 15 years ago, there would not be a budget crisis in California. Even though a budget deficit was evident last year, California income tax laws were changed in February of 2009 to provide corporations with even greater tax savings — equal to over $2 billion per year. California is similar to the rest of the country, where the wealthy and corporate elites enjoy economic protection through increased costs to working people.

Although the students were simply exercising their constitutional rights to assemble and speak out, police moved in and attacked them viciously, breaking bones with their batons. – Photo: Daily Cal
Although the students were simply exercising their constitutional rights to assemble and speak out, police moved in and attacked them viciously, breaking bones with their batons. – Photo: Daily Cal
Higher education has been cut in 28 states in the 2009-10 school year and further, even more drastic cuts are likely in the years ahead. The California State University (CSU) system is planning to reduce enrollments by 40,000 students in the fall of 2010. The CSU trustees have imposed steep tuition hikes and forced faculty and staff to take non-paid furlough days equal to 10 percent of salaries.

The wealthy and corporate elites enjoy economic protection through increased costs to working people.

The students who are protesting tuition increases know they are being ripped off. They know that we are bailing out the rich with hundreds of billions dollars for Wall Street and massive budget cuts for the rest of us. The corporate media doesn’t explain to over-taxed working families how they are paying more while the rich sock it away.

We need higher taxes on the corporations and the top 1 percent, combined with free public college education and tax breaks for working families.

As if to celebrate their “victory,” police line up outside Wheeler Hall after extracting the occupying students. – Photo: Daily Cal
As if to celebrate their “victory,” police line up outside Wheeler Hall after extracting the occupying students. – Photo: Daily Cal
The current economic crisis is a shock and awe process designed to undermine low-cost higher education, force labor concessions from working people and protect the wealthy. We need higher taxes on the corporations and the top 1 percent, combined with free public college education and tax breaks for working families. And, we must have a media that tells us the truth about inequality and wealth. A true economic stimulus increases spending from the bottom up, not the top down.

Peter Phillips is a professor of sociology at Sonoma State University, president of Media Freedom Foundation and recent past director of Project Censored. He can be reached at Peter.phillips@sonoma.edu. This story first appeared at The Daily Censored.

‘Censored 2010’ Book Release and Awards Ceremony

Saturday, Dec. 5, 6-9:30 p.m., Odd Fellows Hall, Santa Rosa

Project Censored and Media Freedom Foundation will host a celebration party honoring the release of the “Censored 2010” yearbook Saturday, Dec., 5, starting at 6 p.m. at the Odd Fellows Hall, 535 Pacific Ave., Santa Rosa. Tickets at the door are $20 for general admission, $10 for low-income people and students and $35 includes an autographed copy of “Censored 2010.”

Project Censored and Media Freedom Foundation will be giving lifetime achievement awards for Media Freedom to Michael Parenti, Bruce Brugmann of the San Francisco Bay Guardian and to the Flashpoints radio team on KPFA: Dennis Bernstein, Miguel Molina and Nora Borrows-Friedman. Speakers will include the award recipients, Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, co-editors of “Censored 2010.” Ben Frymer, director of Project Censored, Carl Jensen, founder of Project Censored, and Dave Mathison, author of “Be the Media.” Former Sonoma State University Project Censored student Lew Brown will serve as master of ceremonies.

Project Censored, in its 34th year of operations at Sonoma State University, is where over 200 students and faculty research and publish an annual list of the most important censored news stories of the year. The “Censored 2010” yearbook included research from nine other colleges and universities through out the United States.

Michael-David Vineyards, Lagunitas Brewing and Oliver’s Market have provided food and drink for the evening.

For more information, call (707) 664-2588 or email Peter.phillips@sonoma.edu.

One thought on “The higher education fiscal crisis protects the wealthy

  1. whathappened

    I like these stories about cutting taxes on the so called rich. People that have money buy expensive things, like rolex watches, nice cars, swimming pools, big houses, etc. Should we take away every thing they have so they cannot afford them. Here is the real story No sysyem can survive that taxes, spends the money, and taxes again it is nothing more than a ponzi scheem

    Reply

Leave a Reply

BayView Classifieds - ads, opportunities, announcements
San Francisco Comcast
Advertisement