Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day of Action/Reaction: A Reflection about Statism

Yesterday at lunch, I had a very interesting discussion about different political parties in the States with my friends. When lunchtime was about to end, a friend suddenly posed the question - "Why do we need a government anyway?"

As we all laughed at the seemingly jocular comment, I could somehow see the reason why my friend would say this. It is the constant disatisfication that people always possess toward their higher authorities. Everyone has his own utopian world in their heart. The mothers want their sons to return home from wars. The immigrants want their citizenship to come earlier. The professors want more budget for their programs. But the higher authorities cannot possibly satisfy everyone's wish. When they fail to make their people content, disagreement and resentment occur. As a result, some want a say for their issues. They want to communicate with their higher authorities to let their voice be heard. So then it comes protests, riots, rebellions or revolutions. These are all means for pressuring the high authorities to make desirable changes.

UC Berkeley is a very liberal school in a very democratic country. On last Thursday, a protest against budget cuts and the UC school system occurred on campus. From what I have heard about this protest, it was chaotic and unorganized. I personally think it was a very unnecessary event that only led to inconvenience for staff and students. In spite of the disorganization of the event, the protest itself is very meaningless. Of course, budget cuts can take away education opportunities for some students and sports teams for some athletes. However, in such a poor economy, almost every individual and every system has to tighten the budget. I truly believe that all of the administrators in UC Berkeley want to provide more fund for their staff and students - they just don't have the resource. A protest is not going to let money fall off from the sky. That is why I think a protest against an issue that the higher authority wants to solve but cannot solve, is totally meaningless.

As for the question my friend poses, I think indeed we need higher authorities. Humans are selfish in nature. So higher authorities make the society safe, organized and fair. Especially when some people have totally wrong moral values, the higher authorities have to take a step in and remove the weed for the common good. Resistance against higher authorities is only meaningful when the issue is addressed by the majority, and only when the higher authorities possess the power the solve it.



  1. Hey Tiffany :)

    Indeed we need the government. I hate to say this but the vast majority of the US population is not very well informed. The fact that Sarah Palin somehow was the candidate for VP is a proof of this sad fact. ;)
    I don't quite agree with you that the issue is only meaningful when it is addressed by the majority however. The majority of the people, as I said earlier, is not very well informed. They are easily misled.
    I think what the protesters and the silent objectors of budget cuts are concerned about the way the California government is spending the money, and the way they are trying to amend for the current budget crisis. The money doesn't fall from the sky, but the money can be better distributed.
    I'm not very politically savvy, so I don't know all details, but I think there are some alternative ways to generate money for the state rather than cutting down the education. Like raising tax for alcohol and cigarettes, and taxing the production of oil.

    Jennifer Kim

  2. Meaningless? Are we supposed to just accept the fee increase? Are we just supposed to submit to the authority, that is the UC Regents? When is enough, enough? How high does tuition have to reach before people get motivated to do something?
    I have friends who specifically chose Berkeley over private schools because it was more affordable for them. With the increase in tuition, they realized they would've actually saved money by going to an "out of state" university.
    The people who protested on March 4th and October 7th were passionate about changing the UC system with hopes for affordable public education for everyone. How do the Regents respond? They've asked GSIs to take a paycut, and come November, they will vote on another proposed fee increase.
    While October 7th was somewhat unsuccessful, it was still meaningful to show resistance in the fight for public education. Every little bit towards change helps.