Utne Blogs > Politics

Your Parents Swindled You

by David Doody


Tags: Michael O'Hare, University of California Berkeley, taxes, Politics, The Reality-Based Community, Obsidian Wings, David Doody,

Berkeley Michael O'Hare Post

In a letter to his incoming students, Michael O'Hare, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, apologizes for the fact that his (their parent’s) generation did not hold up their end of a deal made long ago by Californians: invest in California, rather than only in yourself.

Beginning about 30 years ago Californians decided to walk away from this deal, O'Hare writes, because although they had done well and prospered on the whole from the agreement, they realized they could do even better individually if they focused their spending on themselves.

An army of fake ‘leaders’ sprang up to pull the moral and fiscal wool over their eyes, and again and again, your parents and their parents lashed out at government (as though there were something else that could replace it) with tax limits, term limits, safe districts, throw-away-the-key imprisonment no matter the cost, smoke-and-mirrors budgeting, and a rule never to use the words taxes and services in the same paragraph. 

Now, your infrastructure is falling to pieces under your feet, and as citizens you are responsible for crudities like closing parks, and inhumanities like closing battered women’s shelters.

While we often hear that states simply can’t afford things like art and music in schools or more police on the force, O’Hare argues otherwise:

The budget deficit that’s paralyzing Sacramento is about $500 per person; add another $500 to get back to a public sector we don’t have to be ashamed of, and our average income is almost forty times that.  Of course we can afford a government that actually works: the fact is that your parents have simply chosen not to have it.

O’Hare’s letter is not only an apology, though.  It’s a call to action.  O’Hare pleads with his students to do better than his generation and actually work toward making a better world for the generations to come.  A novel thought.

(Thanks, Obsidian Wings.)

Source: The Reality-Based Community

Image by IAN RANSLEY DESIGN + ILLUSTRATION, licensed under Creative Commons.  

 

brianz
11/1/2010 6:20:37 PM

Obviously these are the type of stories that serve to divide and conquer the younger and the older generations and keep them fighting among themselves while the ruling class yuppies,fortunate sons and their apologist cronies keep the money and all the benefits flowing upwards into their pockets by replaying ad nauseum the old monetary scarcity rant for all but themselves. One of the easy scare tactics used over the years is to call anybody who dares buck the rich and yuppy scam system: a socialist or a communist. Those two words are enough to scare the tar out of any docile Amerikan who dares question the ruling order of the above fortunate sons and especially "shudder" the invisible hand of the get rich quick market pretending to be a dream to attain.


holly_1
9/8/2010 12:10:11 PM

Yes, so sad but true. We moved to CA three years ago, and got caught in yet another economic downturn. Here in the Central Valley, many of the better-paying jobs were in the housing industry (construction, finance, etc) and are gone now. Meanwhile, in a temp job at Fresno State, I was surprised to hear from fellow younger office workers that they did not know what Prop 13 was and why it may have led to the painful furloughs that they were now experiencing. Many of them are 'against big government,' however, humm, strange. Meanwhile, paid signature-gatherers for one proposition or another recruit students in the 'free speech' area on campus, but do not identify who they represent.. By the way, I believe that many Californians made their big money, turned their backs on community reinvestment and are now living in other areas of the West, look out!!