Writing and Research: Aaron M. Weis
In this last month, California, and more specifically, the city of Sacramento has seen some pretty monumental developments of unprecedented proportions in the realm of academia. What’s more, is the fact that in one way or another, that the changes in question seem to address various educational concerns that have been highlighted in political circles, in terms of doing something about the colossal amount of debt that students face in this day and age; colossal being an extreme understatement to describe the situation at large. On a rudimentary level, this article will provide a brief overview of the tremendous collegiate events taking place in the Sacramento area that are tackling not only statewide issues but global ones as well. In that capacity, it is worth mentioning that while there are many colleges and universities in the state’s capital city, that those worth mentioning, at least in this post, are those that are usually in the spotlight, which are that of Sacramento State University and UC Davis in specific, as well as those that will affect universities on a statewide level as well.
To begin this discussion, I will start with a point that, at first glance, may seem completely unrelated to the previously mentioned notion; one that at its heart is both economic and political in nature. Not that long ago, following the near collapse of the housing market, American’s saw the economy absolutely tank, and it irrevocably affected families across the nation in one capacity or another. Now in the aftermath of what was perceived as a type of recession, or arguably a depression even, popular culture saw the production of a film by the name of The Big Short go into circulation, which told the true story of a group of gentlemen, that profited off this event by predicting the collapse and essentially betting against the American economy.
As the feature film documented this period of our history, perhaps the biggest take away from the movie is at the very end with a statement issued by Steve Carroll’s character. He is on the phone with one of his business colleagues and they are discussing exactly how much money they made on their venture. One would expect that he would be enthralled by the fact that each individual had made a profit ranging in the millions of dollars, but nonetheless, he is completely distraught, and picking up on this, his partner asks him what is wrong, to which he responded, “I am afraid that they are going to do what they have always done, and blame the poor and immigrants.”
Now at this point, I can just imagine hearing the reader saying, “Well, it’s just a movie. It’s not real, and you’re reading too much into things.” True as that may be, art in any capacity holds its value in its ability to document the history of the zeitgeist of a people. To illustrate this point, fast forward several years to the 2016 election, and closely analyze the platform that we saw on a grand scale. One vastly criticized the immigrants of this nation, to the extent that we ostensibly need a wall in order to mitigate the problem, while other candidates focused on taxes, most of which benefit the wealthy, providing free education, free health care, and increasing wages for those in the socioeconomic class ranging up to teachers. The result? Essentially, what you have is a presidential campaign that did precisely that, it pitted the immigrants against the poor. Ironic right?
Bearing this in mind, and tying it back to the main issue here, in the Democratic spotlight, Bernie Sanders, and other potential Democratic candidates for the upcoming election are pushing a strong agenda that includes eliminating student debt through the allocation of differing monetary resources, such as the revenue created by those in Wall Street. Not only that but the Democratic party, especially that of Bernie Sanders, is proposing that we as a nation take after many other developed nations and offer the people free higher education and healthcare.
This seemingly radical proposition couldn’t come at a better time in our history. Currently, it is estimated that approximately $1,531, 914, 822, 000 is owed in total in student loan debt. Coupled with various inflation models, this is a horrifying subjective reality that we find ourselves apart of. On average, that means that the typical college student owes an estimated $30,000 plus in college debt, and that doesn’t keep into consideration that this is on a compounded interest that the student cannot declare bankruptcy on. It’s even more terrifying when considering how America is notoriously known for pushing a kind of pedagogy that the average individual needs higher education, as if it was their very savior, comparable to the likes of the churches of old, and that we pay into them, hoping that we find out salvation through them, when the reality may be so much further from the truth. And believe me, there are absolute horror stories of people that went on to obtain their masters or further and are in millions of dollars worth of student loan debt. I personally knew a couple like this where the wife was a doctor that graduated from UCLA and then went on to further educated herself, and yet owed her schools some 2.5 million plus dollars.
With everything kept into consideration, it seems that the first move that the city of Sacramento and California at large has done in this last month is to show their support towards this measure with an action that apparently backs such an ideology. To be specific, California just moved to eliminate over $58.6 million dollars under various conditions. Beyond this movement seems to be the aim to assist poor individuals to get access to doctors, which closely ties into the correlation between affordable education and healthcare.
To be clear, in the state of California, the most vulnerable patients in a strict manner of speaking, are that of those on Medi/Medi or Medi-Cal, who are constantly bringing up the fact that it is darn near impossible for them to find clinicians that will accept their insurance coverage due to the fact that it simply does not fit the bill in covering all of their expenses.
This financial award is being granted to some 247 plus physicians who agree to take on a caseload that includes at least 30 percent of patients with Medi-Cal insurance over a five year course, in hopes that this will become a standard across the board, and that in the removal of this debt, that it will give clinicians the opportunity to make different decisions pertaining to their clients.
On a similar note, there was a recent capital alert in that California has additionally spent around $280 million dollars of its budget towards education to ensure that is more affordable, top-to-bottom, including everything from savings to grants. A quick breakdown of this financial move illustrates that it was executed to cover four primary areas, with one clear objective goal in mind. This expenditure creates for new competitive Cal Grant awards, provides certain individuals with two free years of community colleges, providing certain parents with child savings accounts, and issuing new summer Cal grants to see to it that students graduate on time, as only a small percentage of students graduate on time, in four years to be exact.
As for more local news, a report issued from Sacramento State University that in the attempt to raise money for lobbying and funding for tuition managed to secrete a sum total of over 1.5 billion dollars outside of the state treasury. Meanwhile, the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis has gained noticeable attention as of late for the great strides that they are making in circumventing one of the greatest causes for greenhouse gases, which is a matter of methane produced by cattle. The primary solution offered by the school is to change the cattle’s diet with strong-fiber supplements that are easy for them to digest. What is an example you might ask? Well, funny as it may sound, they are starting by feeding them seaweed.
At any rate, it is a proud month so to speak for Sacramento and the state of California in the sense that the educational departments there within are putting into effect great changes that speak to the growing concerns that we face not only as a nation, with the issue of affordable schooling, but on a global level as well, in finding new viable solutions to combat climate change. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what the next couple of months have to bring in this respect.