Skyrocketing tuition costs and out-of-control student loans are, apparently, the reality that we must deal with.
Which is why it's so shocking to hear the political right behave as though "big government" is the problem and that the size of our federal government must be shrunk. And then I found this page from the University of Texas at Austin, which just about sums everything up:
The tuition charged is in part dependent on the amount of state support received by the institution. In the early 1970s the state paid for nearly 85 percent of the cost of running the educational side of The University of Texas at Austin. Today, the state-appropriated fraction of the total budget for UT Austin is below 20 percent.So in the 1970s, when our parents were in college, the state footed 85 percent of the cost of running the university. Today, that number is 20 percent.
Is it any wonder, really, that tuition costs, even when accounting for inflation, have gone up 400 percent in that time?
And hence why you see the generational gap that's emerged in politics. Our parents' generation got to skate by on the post-New Deal big government that existed up until 1980 or so. (*I realize that there are many contributors here who were not responsible for Ronald Reagan; hell, I can't even hold my actual mother responsible for him seeing how she voted against him twice.) Then they decided that they hated the big bad government that had allowed them to go to college at a reasonable cost (or no cost, in the case of some members of our grandparents' generation who went to college on the GI Bill) and hated paying taxes.
Now, our generation is paying the price for that. While many of our parents have had nothing but hunky-dory experiences with low taxes and a shrinking government -- thanks to the fact that, by and large, they came of age when the New Deal-era big government was still in place -- Generation Y has already experienced the direct effects of small government, up close and personal. And we don't like it.
And our dislike of small government is met with nothing but pure idiocy from the right. Sean Hannity insists that we should somehow be angry with big government for the fact that we had to take out student loans (because, after all, Generation Y also has had it drilled into our heads from the time we were six years old or so that we absolutely had to go to college) in the face of the reality that tuition is out of control because of small government and low taxes. Republican politicians acting as though they're doing us a favor by slashing government spending so that we don't have to foot the bill for the tax cuts for our parents' generation down the road.
Yeah, I think Generation Y is going to be a problem for the Republican Party for some time. (Aside, of course, from those in my generation who were fortunate enough to have parents who could pick up those skyrocketing tuition costs.)