California’s drought

February 15, 2018

On reading “US state systems freeze tuition fees as enrolment falters” (News, 8 February), my thoughts turned to California.

For 100 years (from 1868 to 1967), the state’s taxpayers funded the zero-fee, world-class University of California, Berkeley, for their children. How was that possible? Today, Californians and others cannot afford to send their children to university. What happened? The lack of current funding is attributable to the fact that the electorate became fragmented (and its “sense of collective responsibility” diminished) and the state overpopulated, with the additional people lacking the economic stability and security of the population of the previous 100 years, while immigration-driven population growth put enormous pressure on resources, driving up the cost of land and derivative costs way beyond inflation and, since millions of the newcomers were poor, their taxes didn’t even begin to cover the cost of primary and secondary education, welfare and other benefits for their families.

As a consequence, and my explanation is somewhat simplified, state funds once used to support the university were diverted to fund lower level education, prisons and welfare. Given the irreversible nature of much of what has occurred, the propaganda of the California elite and the apathy of the general population in supporting an analysis of what has taken place to provide a solution, the future for students in California will be even more financially challenging than it is now.

Erik Kengaard

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