Here we've got a NY Times article talking about the current state of the California public higher education system. Drastic budget cuts over the last decade and much higher fees & tuition have not only greatly limited who could obtain a college education, they're now very, very obviously affecting the quality of what's offered. Note the quotations from a guy from the Harold Jarvis Taxpayers' Association, who wants lower taxes regardless of the effect, but who is hiding behind seemingly-reasonable comments about demand. Look, it's hard to get a job, any job, these days without college. And an increasingly complex world needs more, not fewer, well-educated people.
How does this bear on an arts blog? Well, if UC is thinking about cutting departments and programs, we know based on what has happened in the public schools that music and art will be the first to go - because how many jobs are there in those fields? UCLA might not need that music school, and UC Berkeley might not need those doctoral programs in musicology and composition.
Much of the future of the university system rests on tax increases that are on the ballot for voter approval next fall. This is a fruit of century-ago populism, where direct democracy was considered a good counterweight to corrupt public officials. Guess what? Public officials aren't much cleaner....and the proposition system has brought us disastrous laws such as Prop. 13 (which severely limits tax increases unless there's a supermajority for the increase) and three strikes.
The California public schools - K-12 - have also suffered greatly because of Prop. 13. Real estate taxes are now based less on the value of your house than on how long you've owned it. Low taxe rates can be inherited from your parents. It's a crazy system. The California schools were the pride of the nation, as my late boss Marty O'Brien used to say in the 1980s. Prop. 13 wrecked that: out went music and art classes, out went reading specialists and teachers' aides in every classroom, class sizes increased, out went school nurses and phys ed, and on and on. Yes, I consider this to be part of the ongoing Republican war on spending money on things that, you know, help people.
Vote for the tax increase. We need it if this state isn't going to further collapse.