I have seen this interaction take place quite a bit over the years and it usually involves a child, a parent and a purchase.
Child: “I want this and that.”
Parent: “That’s $10. You only have five. You have to choose.”
Child: “But I want them both!”
Parent: “But you don’t have enough money.”
Child: “Can’t you just give me $5 more?”
Parent: “No, but if you promise to (insert semi-painful, menial home task, like cutting the lawn or resurfacing the driveway) when we get home, I’ll give you the $5 then and you can come back and buy it.”
Child: “I don’t want to do that! I just want these two things!”
And around and around it goes until either the parent caves, the kid loses his/her mind or both of them are mauled by nearby shoppers who can no longer stand hearing the conversation.
A dozen stories caught my eye this week. There were two more “I’m-sure-it-wasn’t-the-gun’s-fault” shootings on a couple college campuses. We also had Gov. Deadeyes’ decision to wait until Patrick Crooks was buried before appointing Rebecca Bradley to replace him, thus ensuring no one could hear him spinning like a damned top in his casket. However, the two that spoke the most clearly to how state politicians view reality are linked by the essence of the above conversation:
We want what we want because we want it!
The news that the University of Wisconsin (Madison chapter) sought the right to remove a “cap” that limited the number of out-of-state students it could accept became a point of contention at the statehouse this week. State Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) complained that the university’s approach was not about bringing the best and brightest from all over the world to UW, but rather a cash grab.
The math is simple: Out-of-state students pay almost three times what in-state students pay for the same seat, he argued.
Nass isn’t wrong in this and Blank’s effort to paint this as anything more than a revenue wrangle is disingenuous at best. That said, what the hell did Nass expect would happen when he and his fellow Republicans kept cutting state funding to the UW System?
I can hear the “Trim the fat” line echoing in my head from my friends who think the U is full of gold-plated toilet seats and professors’ lounges that look like this but that’s a false echo these days.
There is no fat.
There is no meat.
There’s barely bone.
As far as higher education goes, this state isn’t the pretty girl at the dance. Professor salaries have stagnated over the past seven years at least, due in large part to diminished aid from the state. Top-notch scholars are leaving because states that aren’t run by idiots (an unfortunately diminishing minority) are giving their state U’s the funds necessary to poach them and their research grants. Even those states that aren’t flush with cash aren’t treating anyone who works on a campus like they’re VD-carrying child rapists.
The UW can’t raise tuition. It can’t raise fees. It can’t cut any more stuff and still call itself a University anything. The only option? The out-of-state cash.
In a similar vein, Scott Walker is feeling the pinch of his presidential campaign approach as he’s dealing with the state’s crumbling infrastructure. A series of road projects have been either slowed or shelved, in large part due to the cuts to the DOT’s coffers. The move looked great for Walker when he thought he would be heading out as a presidential candidate who refused to raise taxes. Now, as a guy who has to drive on these shitty swaths of road that make downtown Kabul look like the Autobahn, he’s looking for a way to not look like a pandering fool as he gets the roads back on track.
Walker asked for an additional $150 million in borrowing so that he could keep things going on various road projects, including those in Milwaukee and the Fox Valley. Democrats wouldn’t piss in his mouth to put out a fire and some Republicans are adamantly against more borrowing (he already got $500 million in borrowed revenue). Walker keeps pitching this as the only potential answer.
Actually, the answer to both of these situations is the same:
You did it to yourself and you can’t have it both ways.
You want to cut back on aid to the university to the point where calling it a “public institution” is laughable? Fine. (I doubt there is any other place out there where you can pay 17 percent into the kitty and essentially dictate all the major rules.) If we can’t get the money from you, we’ll get it where we can. So sorry if the legacy kid with a 2.5 GPA and a father who contributed heavily to your campaign can’t get in the door any more.
You want to cut back on money we need for road building? Fine. We’ll just slow the roads down and operate “within our means” until we can sneak past Oliver Twist for our next bowl of gruel. We also won’t be “fiscally irresponsible” and start projects for which we lack the funds. So sorry if we’ll be working on this for so long your kids will think a “DETOUR” sign is our state flag.
These kinds of approach infuriates Republicans because a) it limits their control in certain situations and b) it essentially undercuts their bullshit talking points about being “creative” when it comes to financial solutions and the need for “austerity” in government spending.
In short, they’re the kid in the store, getting red in the face because they aren’t getting their way. It’s essentially, “No, dammit, I didn’t mean for you to do what I told you to do in a way that is going to come back to haunt me!”
Although economics is a major that was way too difficult for me as a student, the concept behind financial viability isn’t really that hard to understand.
If you want something, you need to have the money.
If you can’t get the money from Place A, you should seek it elsewhere through an equally viable and legal option.
If you can’t get the money from any action you take, you should reconsider your spending habits.
This is the core of what these people shout at the poor when it comes to food stamps or welfare or minimum wage issues.
If you don’t have the money, you can’t eat!
If you don’t like working for minimum wage, go get a better job!
If you can’t make ends meet, you need to reconsider your lifestyle!
In this case, the University essentially got a higher-paying job and the DOT reconsidered its lifestyle. Why this is so vexing to Republicans is utterly understandable:
It’s easier to preach these things than to abide by them.