Berkeley's Conservative Voice

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paging Protesters

This morning's Daily Cal has a story about the ASUC teaming up with Kaplan to sponsor lectures notes and green books. Sounds good - good for Kaplan, good for the ASUC.

BUT it's a private company, which of course means it must be evil. So I'm soliciting guesses, how long before someone starts a facebook group, "Stop the Privitization of the ASUC - Say no to Kaplan!" My over/under is 6pm tonight. And I'll further guess that it's started by someone in the ASUC, either a CalSERVE or Cooperative Movement senator or our lovely EAVP.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Check out this video from the ASUC Auxillary narrated by president Noah Stern. Fast forward to about 3:30. See if you can find the error.

If you guessed the claim about students paying $27.50 per year for the ASUC, you are a winner! That's actually per semester. And if you count the fee tacked on for Lower Sproul redevelopment, essentially for the sole benifit of the ASUC, you are really paying $135 per year for your student government.

Do you get $135 worth each year? It kind of makes you miss high school ASB. At least that was voluntary.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Your Professors Can be Wrong

This seems like a good post for all the new students entering Cal this week. After walking to your first 700 person class and discovering that your professor is a genius, you might be tempted to take his (or her) word as gospel. Don’t. While their arguments may sound irrefutable (and sometimes they are), occasionally they will be just as fallible as your average argument. You just have to dig through the high rhetoric to get there.

Consider this post by UC Berkeley Public Policy Professor Michael O’Hare. The jist of it is that because Californians refuse to pay higher taxes, students are being cheated. It has been widely circulated on Facebook and was even reposted by UC President Mark Yudof. It sounds great, but once broken down is highly questionable.

Welcome to Berkeley, probably still the best public university in the world.
Meet your classmates, the best group of partners you can find anywhere. The
percentages for grades on exams, papers, etc. in my courses always add up to
110% because that’s what I’ve learned to expect from you, over twenty years in
the best job in the world.

Ok, that’s probably true, I can get behind that. Go Bears! But wait…

That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have been the victims of
a terrible swindle, denied an inheritance you deserve by contract and by your
merits. And you aren’t the only ones; victims of this ripoff include the
students who were on your left and on your right in high school but didn’t get
into Cal, a whole generation stiffed by mine. This letter is an apology, and
more usefully, perhaps a signal to start demanding what’s been taken from you so
you can pass it on with interest.

I’ve been swindled? Allright, pitchforks at the ready, now go on!

Swindle – what happened? Well, before you were born, Californians now dead
or in nursing homes made a remarkable deal with the future. (Not from
California? Keep reading, lots of this applies to you, with variations.) They
agreed to invest money they could have spent on bigger houses, vacations,
clothes, and cars into the world’s greatest educational system, and into
building and operating water systems, roads, parks, and other public facilities,
an infrastructure that was the envy of the world. They didn’t get everything
right: too much highway and not enough public transportation. But they did a
pretty good job.

Young people who enjoyed these ‘loans’ grew up smarter, healthier, and
richer than they otherwise would have, and understood that they were supposed to
“pay it forward” to future generations, for example by keeping the educational
system staffed with lots of dedicated, well-trained teachers, in good buildings
and in small classes, with college counselors and up-to-date books. California
schools had physical education, art for everyone, music and theater, buildings
that looked as though people cared about them, modern languages and ancient
languages, advanced science courses with labs where the equipment worked, and
more. They were the envy of the world, and they paid off better than Microsoft
stock. Same with our parks, coastal zone protection, and social services.

This deal held until about thirty years ago, when for a variety of
reasons, California voters realized that while they had done very well from the
existing contract, they could do even better by walking away from their
obligations and spending what they had inherited on themselves. “My kids are
finished with school; why should I pay taxes for someone else’s? Posterity never
did anything for me!” An army of fake ‘leaders’ sprang up to pull the moral and
fiscal wool over their eyes, and again and again, your parents and their parents
lashed out at government (as though there were something else that could replace
it) with tax limits, term limits, safe districts, throw-away-the-key
imprisonment no matter the cost, smoke-and-mirrors budgeting, and a rule never
to use the words taxes and services in the same paragraph.

Wait, I’ve been swindled because I didn’t get what my parents got? So if, hypothetically, my grandparents were really rich and bought my father a Mercedes when he turned 16 and if I didn’t get one when I turned 16 then I was swindled? Even if my not as rich parents couldn’t afford it? But go on…

Now, your infrastructure is falling to pieces under your feet, and as citizens
you are responsible for crudities like closing parks, and inhumanities like
closing battered women’s shelters. It’s outrageous, inexcusable, that you can’t
get into the courses you need, but much worse that Oakland police have stopped
taking 911 calls for burglaries and runaway children. If you read what your
elected officials say about the state today, you’ll see things like “California
can’t afford” this or that basic government function, and that “we need to make
hard choices” to shut down one or another public service, or starve it even more
(like your university). Can’t afford? The budget deficit that’s paralyzing
Sacramento is about $500 per person; add another $500 to get back to a public
sector we don’t have to be ashamed of, and our average income is almost forty
times that. Of course we can afford a government that actually works: the fact
is that your parents have simply chosen not to have it.

Yeah old folk pay yer $500 you greedy SOBs! Never mind that about half of you are either children, on welfare, unemployed, or otherwise would never be able pay $500 more per year. So it’s actually at least $1000 per taxpayer, or $2000 per two adult household. Of course, when we take that $2000 from them the first thing they will stop spending it on is discretionary expenditures, most of which are taxable. So when you factor that the economic loss will make the deficit even worse, you are probably looking at (guesstimating) around $3000 per family, to say nothing of the deficits that local governments, most of which rely heavily on sales taxes, would still have. But still, pennies!

I’m writing this to you because you are the victims of this enormous cheat
(though your children will be even worse off if you don’t take charge of this
ship and steer it). Your education was trashed as California fell to the bottom
of US states in school spending, and the art classes, AP courses, physical
education, working toilets, and teaching generally went by the board. Every year
I come upon more and more of you who have obviously never had the chance to
learn to write plain, clear, English. Every year, fewer and fewer of you read
newspapers, speak a foreign language, understand the basics of how government
and business actually work, or have the energy to push back intellectually
against me or against each other. Or know enough about history, literature, and
science to do it effectively! You spent your school years with teachers paid
less and less, trained worse and worse, loaded up with more and more mindless
administrative duties, and given less and less real support from administrators
and staff.

Because $8564 is less than $7047, obviously.

Many of your parents took a hike as well, somehow getting the idea that the
schools had taken over their duties to keep you learning, or so beat-up working
two jobs each and commuting two hours a day to put food on the table that they
couldn’t be there for you. A quarter of your classmates didn’t finish high
school, discouraged and defeated; but they didn’t leave the planet, even if you
don’t run into them in the gated community you will be tempted to hide out in.
They have to eat just like you, and they aren’t equipped to do their share of
the work, so you will have to support them.

True, though increasing their taxes by $3000 a year isn’t going to help their situation.

You need to have a very tough talk with your parents, who are still voting;
you can’t save your children by yourselves. Equally important, you need to start
talking to each other. It’s not fair, and you have every reason (except a good
one) to keep what you can for yourselves with another couple of decades of
mean-spirited tax-cutting and public sector decline. You’re my heroes just for
surviving what we put you through and making it into my classroom, but I’m
asking for more: you can be better than my generation. Take back your state for
your kids and start the contract again. There are lots of places you can start,
for example, building a transportation system that won’t enslave you for two
decades as their chauffeur, instead of raising fares and cutting routes in a
deadly helix of mediocrity. Lots. Get to work. See you in class!

See you in class indeed. You have a lot of learning to do yourself professor.

The point here is not to rag on Professor O’Hare. Indeed, I happen to agree with him that the state’s education system is broken, but it is because of money being spent ineffectively, not a lack of it. See my last post for an example. I’m sure there are conservative professors who have made just as bad assertations. The bottom line is that even though your professors are the smartest people in the world (literally) they can still make bad arguments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where the Protests Should Be

Forget occupying Berkeley or the freeway, someone should occupy this new public school in LA. It was built - in the midst of teacher layoffs and the financial crisis - for the bargin price of $578 - million. For comparison, that's about 2% of the state's annual budget for K-12 education.

Exhibit number one of why you shouldn't believe anyone who tells you we have gotten rid of all the wasteful spending in California. Also exhibit A for why we don't need higher taxes, just smarter spending.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nanny State Wins

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the controversy concerning the completely voluntary and anonymous DNA sampling offered to incoming freshman. Well, today the state Department of Public Health put an end to the project. Apparently they were concerned freshmen might misinterpret the results.

Of course, they could have simply required the school to put a disclaimer on the results advising not to take the results as a medical diagnosis. But that wasn't enough for the nanny state. Nope, citizens, including the best and brightest who are admitted to Cal, aren't responsible enough to make their own decisions. So instead, no one gets to see the results, even if they want to.

Thank you government.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bearcardo Watch - Free Speech Only for Me

As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago we brought you the first installment of what I fear will be an ongoing series, Bearcardo Watch (not becasue we are after the guy but because he keeps giving us easy material).

As you may recall, Bearcardo is a self proclaimed radical who got himself elected External Affairs Vice President of the ASUC. Like most radicals, he believes in free speech, even if that speech interfeers with the rights of others. He has posted in support of those who occupied Wheeler Hall last spring and has complained that the university actually has a plan to deal with civil disobedience, as if there is no difference between that and lawful demonstration. He's the ultimate free speech advocate.

Or at least I thought until I recieved an invitation to this Facebook event. It is from George Beier, a candidate for Berkeley City Council. It isn't an event so much as an event within an event - he plans to meet with and register students to vote at the annual Calapalooza festival.

Scrolling down the page, Bearcardo apparently has other ideas:


I'm Ricardo Gomez, the External Affairs Vice President of the
ASUC. I appreciate that you want to engage with students at Cal. I was one of
the people in charge of voter reg in 2008 when we registered over 10,000
students on campus and the EAVP voter registration team will be registering
students as it always does a...t welcome week events. Calapalooza is a space for
students to connect to other student groups. As one of the primary points of
contact on campus in regards to both voter registration and public officials, I
don't know if it is appropriate for candidates to register students to vote at
an event that is uniquely student-to-student, and I strongly urge you to
consider different ways of engaging with students.
Uh-oh, looks like someone feel off the free speech wagon.

Seriously, how can Ricardo Gomez object to a candidate walking around and talking to students during a public event? Especially after apparently having no problem with students taking over buildings and doing things that are actually destructive? Is Calapalooza an adult free zone? What could prompt such a sudden turn against the first amendment?

It couldn't possibly have anything to do with Bearcardo's outspoken support of Mr. Beier's opponent, could it?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Same Sex Marriage Ban - Time to Give it Up

If you've been under a rock today, you might not know that a federal judge in San Francisco issued an opinion finding California's same sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The ruling itself is fairly inconsequential as it has been stayed and is expected to be appealed all the way up to the US Supreme Court.

To be clear, I don't agree with the ruling. I don't think that the right to have the label marriage applied to a relationship, especially when domestic partnership rights are almost a mirror of marriage rights, trumps the right of the people to decide how to govern their state. That said, I do believe it is time for conservatives to move on.

In the end it comes down to a simple issue: Is there any harm caused by allowing same sex couples to marry? Not is it right or wrong, but does it cause any harm? After years of gay marriage being legal in several other states (and for a few months in our own) I think we can generally say the answer is no. There may be some technical issues to work out - like making sure no entity is forced to perform such marriages, for example - but that can be done easily by statute and does not necessitate banning same sex unions alltogether.

There is great harm being done to the conservative movement, however. Young people who generally support same sex marriage rights are refusing to vote for candidates becasue of their position on this one issue. I have spoken personally with many of them. They may support our opposition to higher taxes, efforts to streamline government and create jobs, and even right to life stance but simply cannot vote for our candidates because they see opposition to same sex marriage as discriminatory and irrational. Although there are no studies on this subject, my guess is that we lose 5-10% of the youth vote based on this one issue, enough to swing some elections (and even more as those youth get older and vote more).

So it comes down to this, what do we value more? Keeping the word marriage from being applied to same sex relationship or moving our country forward? For better or worse, they do seem to be mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jerry Brown Slapped by CA Supreme Court

The California State Supreme Court yesturday rejected a frivillous challenge to California's landmark anti-Affirmative Action law by a 6-1 margin. As the constitutional officer tasked with defending the state's interests in court, you might expect Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown to be pleased with the decision. But Brown was on the other side, against the people's vote:

The city's argument was that Prop. 209 stacks the deck against minorities and women by passing restrictions that can be dislodged only by another ballot measure, while groups like veterans and local businesses remain free to lobby
lawmakers for preferential treatment.

Attorney General Jerry Brown endorsed the argument, saying in a court filing that Prop. 209 fosters the discrimination it was supposed to eliminate. But the justices were unpersuaded.

This marks at least the second time that Attorney General Brown has gone against the will of the voters. He endorsed a challenge to Proposition 8 in 2009, after previously saying he would defend the people's vote. In that case as well, his opinion was rejected by the court.

Fortunately, even without the Attorney General's cooperation, these measures have been defended by other entities. However, that might not be the case if he is elected governor. The governor has a great deal of power to affect litigation involving the state. The 1994 Proposition 187 was never implememnted not because of a federal court ruling, but becasue then Governor Gray Davis refused to appeal. As governor, Brown could kill ballot measures he disagrees with simply by refusing the defend them in court. Given his actions as Attorney General, that seems like a very real possibility.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keith Carson is a Racist

So I was reading the Old York Times over the weekend when I came to an article about the upcoming downfall of Oakland mayor Ron Dellums and the upcoming battle to see which ultra liberal will replace him. Buried towards the bottom is this quote from Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, who unfortunately also represents Berkeley:

“As an African-American, I’d like to see another African-American mayor,” said Keith Carson, an Alameda County supervisor politically aligned with Mr. Dellums.“Is there an emerging charismatic black representative? At this point, I don’tthink that I believe there is in Oakland.”

Why is the skin color of the candidate an issue, especially in Oakland? I might understand if we were dealing with a situation where the one race has been shut out of the political process. But that isn't the case in Oakland. In fact, when it comes to recent mayors, African Americans are overrepresented. Three out of the last four have been African American despite only about 30% of the population being black.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not oppopsed to another black mayor of Oakland if he or she is the best candidate. But that is what they should be judged on, their ideas and leadership skills, not the color of their skin. Apparently Keith Carson disagrees.

Supervisor Carson, Dr. Martin Luther King on line 1. He'd like to have a word with you.