Occupy ELAC demands unrealistic

CN/Kien Ha

By Augustine Ugalde

We all learn that this road called life is difficult for the most part, but it can be rich and rewarding for those who dare to take a chance. The grounds of East Los Angeles College are currently playing host to a group of hardy souls who have had enough of state budget cuts and have decided to protest this injustice with a show of solidarity.

The exact number of participants is unclear, but for a guy that grew up in the’70s as myself, it is good to see some students become passionate about issues that affect their lives. Occupy ELAC brings back memories of the days Elans collected and marched in defiance of the social injustices of the ’60s and ’70s and it is encouraging to see.

Some have commented about the lack of participants and the turnout could be better, but perhaps that too shall come. The purpose of this commentary though is not to praise these protesters but to introduce some common sense into their venture. A quick scan of the Occupy ELAC list of demands has yielded three things that stand out from the rest.

The first is that the protesters want student representation whenever budgetary matters are discussed by those entrusted to make these types of decisions. Giving them the opportunity to engage in the decision making process about how state funds are to be distributed throughout the school is an excellent idea. It would give student representatives a first-hand view of what the process entails and perhaps more importantly, give those same students a taste of what a difficult process distributing limited funds can be.

Unfortunately, this is about the best the protesters have to say. The second and third demands are ludicrous at best and impossible to attain at worst.

Occupy ELAC doesn’t want affordable education.  It doesn’t want low-cost education.  It wants free education, free meaning no out-of-pocket expense to students.

Free education at the community college level is a thing of the past.  It has been almost 30 years since the last time ELAC was able to offer students a free education.

What the Occupy ELAC camp needs is a major infusion of fiscal reality as it exists today. As unbelievable as the free education demand is, it is over-shadowed by Occupy ELAC’s other outrageous demand which is complete forgiveness for outstanding student loan balances.

If I interpret this demand correctly, students who borrowed money to finance their educations in good faith, want the US Government to wipe the slate clean with a “don’t worry about paying us back,” pat on the back. Wow.

I must say, if this ploy works, it may start a financial revolution where anyone who has ever borrowed money from a financial institution can petition to have their banks say, “never mind.”  If I were to walk into my bank and demand that my outstanding debts be forgiven for no other reason other than it has become too much of a burden, I would fully expect a couple of burly, uniformed individuals to duly escort me off the premises.

Where does this impudence come from? Some might say that these demands are just the first salvo in the inevitable battle between budget committees and those who would want to negotiate with them, but I’m not so sure. I’m all for helping students get a low-cost education and maybe to grant some concessions about repaying their loans, but get real.

What kind of message would Uncle Sam be sending to students and financial institutions if it forgives all debts? Where does student responsibility come into play? The system works because people who borrow money pay that money back.  It is a symbiotic relationship where the institution earns interest, while the individual gets operating monies.

Having the government waive unpaid balances can set a dangerous precedent. Students will get the false impression that whenever they borrow, they could just turn around and demand debt forgiveness when the payments become too much of an inconvenience. Again, when will responsible financial practices be learned?

I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but this is the real world we’re living in. I think it’s time for leaders of Occupy ELAC to re-evaluate their outrageous demands.

CN/Edgar Lopez

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Occupy ELAC demands unrealistic…really Augustine Ugalde? When I attended ELAC more than 15 years ago, tuition was about $6 a unit, and there was a cap of $12. I managed to get a great education and yes, I was a reporter for C.N. Check out the prof’s archive, I was T. Mamoru Hanami…yes your prof tolerated this byline…but I digress. Yet prior to me coming to ELAC, my father in the 50s paid nothing in tuition. He too graduated and later worked for the City of Los Angeles. My mother on the other hand paid. She emigrated from Japan and she too graduated from ELAC and got her bachelors at Cal State L.A. Do you know what tuition was back in the early 60s? Zero. Still my mother had to pay the foreign student fee…which is probably a lot cheaper than what a resident is paying today. Still, how was it that schools can afford to have free tuition? Easy. Taxes. After the crash of the 30s, President Roosevelt raised the taxes on people making more than $250,000, which was equivalent to $3 million adjusted to inflation, 91%. when Kennedy came into office, he looked at the taxes, closed all the loopholes and lowered thee top-tiered tax rate to 74%. We had an abundance of income from corporations and multimillionaires, that education was very cheap.

    Yet when Reagan came into office, he dropped the 74% tax rate, (even Republicans: Ford and Nixon supported)down to 28% and fast forward to Bush Jr., the tax rate for a wealthy person dropped to 15%. Oh and Reagan raised taxes on the middle class, get this, 11 times. And guess who paid less?

    Warren Buffett Reveals ‘Billionaire Friendly’ Tax Return
    Billionaire Warren Buffett revealed he made $62,855,038 last year, though his taxable income was only $39,814,784..

    Buffet lives on dividend checks, and because of the Reagan, Bush Sr and Bush Jr. tax cuts, Buffett pocketed: $23,040,254? And Buffett believes he and multimillionaires and billionaires should be taxed more. Yet after all the tax cuts, and TARP Bush Jr. gave to the banks and corporations $14 trillion, and get this? In 2010, our GDP was: $14.58 trillion, and not all the bailout were to American corporations.

    What led to this mess? Leverage.

    Prior to the deregulation of Glass Stegall, banks were not allowed to gamble/speculate. when Phil Gramm with Jim Leach and Thomas J. Bliley, Jr helped create the Gramm Leach Bliley Act. This deregulated the banks to use the people’s money and invest in risky investment…like toxic assets. There are speculation of insider trading and derivatives of more than $1 quadrillion. Keep in mind, the world GDP is more than $60 trillion. So how did banksters make this happen? Again speculation using your money.

    Which leads me to ELAC’s tuition. The budget cuts are the byproduct of corporation paying up to 8% in taxes while smaller entrepreneur pay the loss. Because of this imbalance of funding, there are no taxes collected to pay for your schooling. Why should these corporation pay taxes? Think for a second. Wal Mart, the most powerful and wealthiest store in the U.S. (all in the thousands)

    Period Ending Jan 31, 2011 Jan 31, 2010 Jan 31, 2009
    Total Revenue 421,849,000 408,085,000 404,254,000
    Cost of Revenue 315,287,000 304,444,000 303,941,000
    Gross Profit 106,562,000 103,641,000 100,313,000

    This is the income they made. After pay their overhead

    Net Income Applicable To Common Shares
    16,389,000 14,370,000 13,381,000

    In other words, they hide their income after paying 8% in taxes. Yet Being the gigantic corporation they are, the fuel usage, the road damage, the pollution and so on, what kind of impact have they made in the world? What are the externalizations? Lets see: bridge collapsing. Hospitals full of sick people. People suffering from cancer. Yet what then are the externality of Occupiers getting and receiving a free education?

    01) An educated mass
    02) Transferring to a four-year-college
    03) Graduating
    04) Getting a good paying job
    05) Paying taxes
    06) Contributing to the commons
    07) Finding cures or designing infrastructure
    08) Building a better green project

    These things are the end-result of a well-educated society. The Occupiers or even the future engineer, photographer, journalist would contribute to our society and help our nation, our planet reduce our carbon footprint. And as a journalist Augustine, your basic tenet/philosophy is based around the founders of our country. Is it not? Well guess what one founder did:


    Jefferson was an advocate for free education. At the opening of the University of Virginia, Jefferson made sure that no one was charged to go to school…if they chose to go to school. See the importance of the movement?

  2. Oh yes and one more thing. You said, “What the Occupy ELAC camp needs is a major infusion of fiscal reality as it exists today. As unbelievable as the free education demand is, it is over-shadowed by Occupy ELAC’s other outrageous demand which is complete forgiveness for outstanding student loan balances.”

    Take a business class. When a student is not burdened with tuition, what does he or she do? They work. What happens when they work? They spend money. They spend money to buy a car. They spend money to buy a home. They spend money to keep the economy going. Banks and corporations are not the job creators. it’s the spending of money. Do you get it? No? Take economic 101.

    You work at your job. You go home. On the way home, you buy an item for $1. That dollar paid for the merchandise you bought. You just bailed out the company. How so? say that you bought a soft drink. That soft drink comes in a bottle or a can. The company you bought the soft drink from uses your $1 to buy more. The currency is used to manufacture the aluminum can or the sugar water you are consuming. The manufacture gets the $1 and builds the can from a mold that forms the shape of a can. The mold maker pays a contractor to dig the hole and extract aluminum that $1. And ultimately, you need to hire a U.S. Citizen to dig that whole.

    The fiscal reality is supply-sided economics and tax cuts as well as compromises as you request will not work. You need to spend money to make money, and if we turn back the Reagan tax cuts, and put more money into the hands of the people to spend, you will see the economy grow.

  3. I whole-heartily agree with TimfromLA. ELAC staff, cartoonist writer Ugalde, editors and Faculty advisors YOU act and sound like Fox News sellouts. Everybody exept Fox news and you know of all the Wall St. and Detroit bailouts. California has a mandate from i believe Pat Brown eras for a FREE education, that’s what made us one of the most vibrant and innovative economies. WAKE the F…ck up ELAC Campus news, why are people occupying wall st and ELAC? You are supposed to be like Fox “Fair and Impartial” yet you totally disregard ALL journalistic ethics for your own egotistical satisfaction. Shame on YOU. ELAC Campus News you SUCK.

  4. Why are students told that their thoughtful requests are unrealistic? Students hold the keys to the future. Students pave the way for those that come after them. Seems the ELAC students’ requests should be considered more seriously and not just dismissed as you would have them be Augustine. Stand with them or get out of the way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *