What a difference a generation makes. While their 1960s-era parents rallied for free love at home and against the Vietnam War half a world away, California students pitched a fit last week over a pocketbook issue - college tuition increases. This is the consequence of the irresponsible overspending of former flower children that has tarnished opportunities for achieving the American dream.
About 300 protesters gathered last week on the campus of the University of California at San Francisco, where the state Board of Regents was meeting to consider a systemwide tuition increase of 8 percent. Thirteen were arrested, and protests spread to other campuses. The board nonetheless approved the increase in student fees to $11,124 for the 2011-12 school year. "I think the people who aren't protesting have a myopic view. This will increase their debt, and it will [affect] their children's education in the future," Nina Mautner, a UC-Santa Cruz junior, told the San Jose Mercury News.
Like clockwork, unrest breaks out when the Ponzi schemes of statist governments begin to unravel. This year, the world has witnessed the outbreak of violence in Greece, France and Britain over whose ox gets gored as those redistributionist nations struggle to cut spending and fend off economic collapse. Turbulence is regrettable, but it sends a clear message to the political class: The party's over, and someone has to pick up the tab.
Many Americans used Election Day to repudiate the profligate spending policies of Democrats in statehouses across the nation and on Capitol Hill, bringing expectation for better fiscal responsibility from Republicans. But while much of the nation turned right, California stayed left and re-elected Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer, both charter members of the liberal establishment that has brought both state and federal governments to the brink of insolvency.
For Americans, the Golden State and the West once embodied freedom, but no more. College graduates face a hostile job market where the unemployment rate persistently exceeds 12 percent. The Tax Foundation currently ranks California 49th in its state business-tax climate index; residents spent 204 days in 2008 working to pay off the cost of their government, according to Americans for Tax Reform.
The prospect of a lifetime of labor under a heavy tax burden with no relief in sight represents anything but freedom. Young Californians dreaming of prosperity cannot be blamed for concluding that the only way to secure their financial future is to do what residents of other high-tax states are doing: leave.
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