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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Paying tuition with a summer job is no longer feasible

Taxes should be raised

Middle-income students are often squeezed the hardest by tuition increases. Left to right front, Ruth Ferguson, Elizabeth Pring, Michael Kutz (arms crossed), Christina Ziao, Josh Grandinetti. Rear, left to right, Lucas Barash (with W on shirt), Miles Fernandez and Stephan Yhann. [Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times.]

Middle-income students are often squeezed the hardest by tuition increases.
Left to right front, Ruth Ferguson, Elizabeth Pring, Michael Kutz (arms crossed), Christina Ziao, Josh Grandinetti. Rear, left to right, Lucas Barash (with W on shirt), Miles Fernandez and Stephan Yhann. [Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times.]

I appreciate Danny Westneat’s candor in exposing the myth of the self-made man in this country. [“Yes, we paid tuition with summer job,” NW Sunday, June 23.]

He has rightly pointed out that his generation and the one before him were able to work their way through college because back then, college tuition was cheap. It was cheap because we as a society were willing to pay taxes to support public universities.

Where he fails, however, is throwing his hands up in despair and telling the current generation that we are on our own. Why should we be? We could put more money into the public universities at any moment. The capacity is there. The only thing that is lacking is the will.

The selfishness of Westneat’s generation and the generation before him is still alive and well, even if Westneat and his peers and elders have enough decency to be ashamed of it. They took the ladder up with them, though they say they are sorry.

A better apology would be raising taxes on themselves, as their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did, to finance the colleges and universities that are the lifeblood of our democracy and the engine of our economy.

We are faced with a choice between socialism and barbarism. We’ve had a kind of creeping barbarism that has been growing, like a cancer, for more than twenty years. It is time to reject this barbarism, this age of diminished expectations.

Right now, the forces of barbarism hold the upper hand. We are lectured about deficits when people are out of work and students shoulder massive debts to pay for their education. We are told we cannot raise taxes when a select few have become unimaginably wealthy, often without performing any useful labor or producing any useful product. In the fight between socialism and barbarism, whose side are you on?

Michael Epton, Seattle

Lack of funding is not baby boomers’ fault

Danny Westneat’s Sunday column is demagoguery that has no place in a major metropolitan newspaper.

Westneat says, “how we milked the public university system in this state and then starved it will go down as the great badge of shame of my generation and the one before mine, the baby boomers.”

Funding for public universities in Washington is determined by the state Legislature, and not by his generation nor by baby boomers. Singling specific generations out for shame and blame is not helpful to this process, nor is it accurate.

The Legislature is currently having a difficult time just funding state government, including, no doubt, public universities. This is not the fault of baby boomers or anyone else, but is due rather to exploding medical costs for state employees and the disadvantaged, reduced tax revenues due to a weak economy, and more spending by the Department of Social and Health Services.

David Johnson, Issaquah

Cost of schooling is a terrible burden

Hear, hear! Danny Westneat’s column regarding the state Legislature’s desertion of the University of Washington’s primary mission.

Going back even further, when I graduated from high school in 1951, in-state tuition and fees at the UW was $81 for a 45-credit year.

It was widely understood in those days that, as a publicly funded state institution, a key part of the UW’s mission was to keep costs low enough that any citizen of the state could afford to attend and graduate, without incurring major debts.

I consider it disgraceful that the Legislature has little by little withdrawn support of that mission, until my grandchildren are either being burdened with staggering debts or simply shut out of the learned professions, left with minimal qualification for decent-paying and fulfilling work in an increasingly complex world.

David Harris, Wenatchee

0 Comments | More in Economy, Education | Topics: baby boomers, blame, college

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