First a snippet from 1984:
As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a ‘categorical pledge’ were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grammes to twenty at the end of the present week.
In his novel 1984, George Orwell spelled out how governments play games with labels. Winston’s job was to rewrite the past to make it all seem like things were getting better. If the chocolate ration is to be cut, he would go back in time to rewrite the old newspapers to say that the ration was fifteen grams. Suddenly 20 big, fat grams would seem like a great gift from a Ministry truly worthy of the name `Plenty’.
This week, the Editorial Board at the Sacramento Bee does a wonderful job of exposing, for just a second, the game that Janet Napolitano is playing with the tuition. She came out with what looked like a wonderful promise of not raising tuition for one year. The board writes:
Of course, Napolitano was restating a promise made by Gov. Jerry Brown, a regent by virtue of his office, but did not go as far as Brown.
When the governor signed the 2013-14 budget earlier this year – one granting UC a 5 percent increase and promising more aid in the coming years – he said he expected that tuition would remain frozen for four years, through the 2016-17 school year. [Emphasis mine.]
And now a bit more 1984:
But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connection with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connection that is contained in a directly lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version.
That may have been true of many of the statistics that Winston adjusted. None of them really mattered much, even the amount of chocolate. But tuition is a huge number and the size of the debt is a very real number for the graduates. Adding 5% to the cost of tuition may mean that the former students must work another year or two to pay off the debt. An extra year or two of their lives. Ms. Napolitano and her club of administrators would like to believe it’s just another 5%, another small amount, but when the debt is this large even a small amount is significant. This could mean delaying child birth, staying with an unpleasant but remunerative job, living with parents, forgoing new clothes, or all of these things together.
One gets the impression that it’s all just a game for people like Napolitano. Her job is to squeeze as much cash out of the governor and the people for her constituency, the tenured radicals, the crony administrators and their feather beds. The kids are just suckers to be squeezed. Oh, I suppose she and the other administrators may feel something, whatever it means to feel, but after their done feeling and acknowledging the pain they cause, they’re still going to take the path of least resistance like the rest of us. Cutting the pensions means dealing with the screams of pain from well-educated, entitled professors who’ve got hours and hours of free time each week to scheme and plot and squawk. Squeezing the kids and the parents just a bit harder is simpler and so that’s what they’ll do There are still plenty of people who desperately want to be part of the middle class and the admins know it.