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March 04, 2010


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While Arizona seems sui generis in its ability to shortchange the future, we are not alone. Here's an editorial from The San Jose Mercury News:


The anti-tax revolution started in California, so we shouldn't be surprised that it is the most celebrated victim of that ideology.

Brigham Young University did plan a Phoenix campus back in the 1960s. It optioned land just east of the state hospital on Van Buren. I wish I could cite a source here but I'm relying solely on memory. I have no idea why it never materialized.

Short mention should be given to Prescott College. It was founded in 1966 after the Ford Foundation helped midwife a proposal for a new prototype of higher education. Its early promise was marred by financial problems but it still exists. Its original campus was taken over by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, which seems more attuned to Arizona's no-nonsense approach to "education".

The 1960s were probably the last decade in which resources and idealism were evenly matched. Consider how the University of California was at its peak and founded new campuses in Santa Cruz and Irvine. Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan's political career was founded on the reaction to student unrest. He also helped spawn the right-wing tax revolt, which along with his voodoo economic theories, have done grave and enduring harm to education and the public square across this country. It's interesting to see the news' stories of current student unrest about tuition hikes. This bitter harvest has resulted from a reaction to the 1960s but most will fail to make the connection.

Often, I have wondered what's the average time in the Valley for its residents. Tried to do the math but fell short. Wound up guessing that it was something around 10 years . . . certainly not long enough to appreciate the damage that our lackluster legislature has done to our revenue structure.

The funny thing about Reagan's so-called tax revolt is that he actually raised them:

"Mr. Reagan's second tax increase was also motivated by a sense of responsibility -- or at least that's the way it seemed at the time. I'm referring to the Social Security Reform Act of 1983, which followed the recommendations of a commission led by Alan Greenspan. Its key provision was an increase in the payroll tax that pays for Social Security and Medicare hospital insurance.

"For many middle- and low-income families, this tax increase more than undid any gains from Mr. Reagan's income tax cuts. In 1980, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, middle-income families with children paid 8.2 percent of their income in income taxes, and 9.5 percent in payroll taxes. By 1988 the income tax share was down to 6.6 percent -- but the payroll tax share was up to 11.8 percent, and the combined burden was up, not down."


This was the payroll tax increase that was supposedly going to "prefund" Social Security obligations -- it raised payroll taxes above the level necessary to pay the year to year cash outlay -- as if the surplus was going to be banked instead of spent on the rest of the budget. The so-called Social Security Trust Fund is of course a hoax.

Not one mention of University of Phoenix? While it is an abomination it deserves recognition if for no other reason than its erosion of what a Degree even means/worth anymore.

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