Friday, May 31, 2019

About free college and other idealistic things

Some reservations I would have about Bernie Sanders tho I would vote for him, or any of the Democratic candidates who get the nomination.

Ideas, like free college seem far fetched unless the bulk of grass roots people get behind it. Back in my college days, college was, at least more affordable. Most of the cost of college was paid for by state taxpayers. At least at state run colleges where (I think) most students go. Around 70% of the cost was covered by the state. Today, the taxpayers pay only around 40% of the cost (here in Washington State at least) so tuition is much higher.

Washington is a "blue state," but we still have trouble raising taxes. Washington voters have turned down several initiatives to have a progressive income tax in this state.

Another problem is that the cost of college has gone way up since my college years. Much of that has to due with a growing gap of incomes between upper middle class "professionals" and average working people.

As for the salaries of upper income professionals, various institutions, including colleges, government agencies, private businesses and non profits have been in a bidding war to raise top level salaries as they strive to attract and retain what they consider to be their most talented staff. This bidding war drives up costs.

Spiraling property values for residential property has also driven up the need for the higher salaries due to rising costs of living.

We may be able to make college more affordable, but free college is a bit of a stretch.

Part of the problem is that people, like Bernie Sanders, try and blame everything on the 1%. The 1% may be the most to blame, but part of that money is tied up in the capital that runs business. A much bigger group of people is the top 20%, or so. Upper middle class. The gap between upper middle class and average workers has grown higher as well.

Upper middle class can be blamed for a lot of things like the NIMByism that makes it harder to build affordable housing.

It's true that the 1% is especially culpable in basically buying Congress. This has been made worse after the Citizen's United ruling.

Politicians don't like to blame upper middle class since that group has a lot of voters. In some ways, it seems more politically smart to blame the 1% because 99% can logically out vote 1%. The problem is, that logic has not worked. Much of the 99% still supports Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Not only is there big income gaps in our society, but there is also a cultural divide. Some of the 1% is liberal, culturally, while quite a lot of the 99% remain conservative.

Think of the liberal billionaires such as George Soros who support environmental causes. Think of what people often refer to as the "Hollywood elite." The cultural divide cuts differently than the income divide. We are dealing with both a cultural divide as well as the income divide, but they are somewhat different phenomenon.

Changes need to happen at the grassroots level. For things like free, or even just affordable college to work, the people have to be willing to pay for this.

Some say, just cut the military and pay for it via federal, rather than state government.

I am for cutting the military, but that is difficult to do also. It only takes a band of well organized criminals to create something like a 911. If that were to happen, fear would drive politics toward the military again. Even if a big military is not the best solution to the 911 problem (such as sending hundreds of tanks into Baghdad), people vote with their emotions all too often.

I hate to say it, but I think fear is a more powerful emotion than love. When it comes to emotions, fear trumps love. That could be a pun also.

I would say more head and probably less heart is needed in human culture. That may sound counter intuitive. We all have emotions (heart), but they don't often go in good directions. Greed, fear and so forth often prevail. Logic may not be perfect, but I think it is too often underrated.

More idealistic thinking is definitely possible, but it has to come from big cultural changes at the grassroots level.