A Philosophical Proposal on Educational Spending

Rachel Melikian

How can we all keep GCC “Clean and Beautiful,” when our educational system is plagued by budget cuts? There seem to be neither limitations nor any qualifications to how much more the educational budget will be stripped. Its very first immediate effect has been felt on our campuses’ appearances. How can we help to restore it to avoid all other consequences?

Students rally, demonstrate, strike, and boycott against educational cuts, yet their pleas seemingly have no influence on a resolution “You cannot reason with a hungry belly; it has no ears,” says a Greek proverb. Finding compassion from a seemingly endless list of expenditures is equally futile, when the United States is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

Many politicians have resigned themselves to two words: “Budget Cut.” Apparently, having no plan for budget’s restoration, they derive meaning to their politics by repeating those words, every fiscal year, thus; giving rise to their actions of slashing the budget endlessly.

Sadly, this fixation on budget cuts has temporarily corrupted many politicians’ rational minds on the subject of fairness: for choosing the immediate budget’s strategy as their top priority with “nickel-and-dime saving” rationality, as an immediate solution to current crisis; while overlooking its long-term disastrous consequences.

Philosopher Immanuel Kant insists that morality is entirely a matter of pure reason with good will. For its sake, many students are victimized by lack of funding and many faculty and staff have lost their jobs.

How will this cutback able us provide with a larger tax base having lesser educated citizenry? Are we instead projecting a state with higher unemployment rates; whereas, those missing, the golden opportunity for higher education, will become unqualified for better prospects of jobs, except perhaps for minimum-wage employment? Was Pythagoras correct when he stated “The beginning of every government starts with the education of our youth?”

California currently has one of the highest unemployment rates of the nation -12.6 percent. Sadly, our state was once considered a national and worldwide model of educational excellence.

According to a 2009 report released by the California Faculty Association at Cal State Los Angeles, California ranks next to last in states where the adult population has at least a high school education, and as of 2007, California ranked 14th in the nation in terms of college-educated members of the workforce over 25 years of age, a drop from eighth place in 1981.

State tax fund investment in higher education has declined by 40 percent since 1980, according to “California at the Edge of a Cliff,” prepared by Thomas G. Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, D.C.

We hope that this unfairness is curable, but how? We wish all politicians, in support of budget cuts, would heed the advice of Zeno of Elea’s: “Nature has given us one tongue and two ears so that we would listen twice as much as we speak.” Perhaps students have something stronger to say.

I propose that politicians abide by some guidelines when establishing social spending and propose these follow what James Truslow Adams described as “The American Dream” in 1931, namely that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement,” regardless of any social or economic disadvantage – a freedom is best guaranteed by an adequate education, which promises the possibility of success and prosperity.

We need to consider education a public service. We must choose the short-term expense of education over incarceration; prioritize higher standard of jobs, for paving Californian’s future into better living conditions and economic prosperity, moreover helping decrease problems associated with poverty – namely homelessness, hunger, lack of mobility opportunity, crime, etc.

It might seem bitter to politicians at first to forego from cutbacks, however the end result is sweet. The higher tax bracket of educated citizens contributes to flourish the economy with higher expenditures; also maintains property taxes intact, through hindering foreclosures, evictions, and repossessions.

The domino effect of government supporting higher education will be felt not only in the budget’s replenishment and in its surplus by thriving economy; but also the social aspects mentioned above. Consequently, the “Budget Cut” and its disastrous consequences can become obsolete: a thing of the past.

As Aristotle says “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” This commitment of government to the people is the embodiment of the principle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Rachel Melikian, Former GCC Woman of the Year