Carol Platt Liebau: ISO: A Graduation Speaker

Friday, May 19, 2006

ISO: A Graduation Speaker

The University of California-Berkeley keeps losings its commencement speakers, because they keep refusing to cross a picket line for a strike that's taking place there. First it was Howard Dean, now it's Al Gore.

It's easy for Cal to solve its problem: Just find someone who's willing to cross the picket line, that is, someone who's not a lefty or a Democratic politician. The problem is that few in Berkeley are interested in hearing from anyone who doesn't fall in that category. (In fairness, as I pointed out some time ago, the vast majority of graduation speakers are liberal.)

It would be amusing to find out how celebrated a Republican or conservative would have to be to win an invitation from Berkeley. Would Ken Mehlman do the trick? Would they demand Condoleezza Rice -- or reject her? How 'bout the President himself -- doubtful that they were even "tolerate" his presence on campus.

Well, sometimes maintaining the purity of one's principles requiress sacrifice. And so it looks like the grads will have to do without a speaker, since it's unlikely that they're willing to have one with whom they disagree.


Blogger wrabkin said...

Here's another idea: Why doesn't UC stop paying it's administrators hundreds of thousands of dollars more than other universities, stop their administrators from creating phony, high-priced jobs for their friends and relatives, and actually pay the janitors and gardeners a living wage? That way, the picket lines would go away.

(And before people start screaming about the outrageous "average" wage of $12/hour given at the end of the article, let me first suggest you visit the Bay Area and find out what it costs to live there. Especially once you consider that to get a $12 average, it's a good bet a lot of people make less than that.)

10:05 AM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

Wow, there's hope for you yet. The beginning of your comment sounds down right conservative!

Of course, it's all the liberal policies and regulations surrounding the Bay Area that make it too expensive for people to live there.

A good bet a lot of people make $12/hour and don't pay taxes.

Unionism continues to decline. It served a useful purpose earlier in the 20th century, but it's lost sight of it's purpose. They've mainly become liberal lobbying groups, simple as that.

11:15 AM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

Copioneer --

Have you ever been to the Bay Area? It's not the "liberal policies and regulations" that make it so expensive to live there -- it's the basics of market economy. It is one of the great places in the world, and lots of people want to live there.

It is true that there are zoning regulations that keep, say, 9,000 until apartment buildings out of neighborhoods dedicated to single-family homes, but I don't think you let me allow the liberals credit for zoning regulations, which are universally popular, at least in the general. People enact laws like those to make sure that the qualities they're paying for don't disappear because of high demand. (Just as the Napa Valley could probably sell every square inch of vineyard for housing developments right now, but zones against that because people are wise enough to know that would destroy the unique quality of the valley, and trade what they hope is long-term future prosperity for immediate short-term gain.)

That being said, I don't see how you can claim the beginning of my comment as conservative, unless you think I hate academia. The entire economic policy of the Bush administration has been aimed at taking money away from the people who do the work and allocating it to the handfull of owners and executives. It is probably the biggest transfer of wealth in American history, and the fact that a few creeps at the top of universities are doing the same thing as a lot of creeps at the top of corporations doesn't mean that universities are evil.

I have no idea why you bring up the ludicrous notion that people who earn $12 an hour don't pay taxes. I believe that 24K a year is above the income tax cut-off; even if it isn't, they pay a lot of payroll taxes. There's this cool Republican mantra that the poor don't pay taxes, when what they mean factually is that they don't pay income taxes. You might want to see just how much comes out of a poor worker's check.

As for unionism, it's the same people who would have called unions communist front organizations in the 30s who now talk about how they were once wonderful things. The fact is, 30 years of Republican AND Democratic government have eroded workers' rights and labor's power. But if you think labor has lost sight of its purpose, you should check out the 60 Minutes interview with Andy Stern of the SEIU. You may hate him -- and you certainly wouldn't be alone -- but he has a very clear view of his purpose, and it's unionizing workers for better wages and benefits. Which is why janitors in Manhattan are now getting $50K a year, enough to live a life with dignity, even in a city more expensive than the Bay Area.

And so back to the Bay Area, if we might. Which policies and regulations, exactly, do make it too expensive for people to live there in your mind?

12:26 PM  

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