Peter Robinson, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week condemning the student protests in California for invoking the spirit of social justice movements from the 1960s and 70s. According to Robinson, the protests “demonstrated the entitlement mentality and self-absorption that has come to dominate much of higher education.”
We have here the vocabulary of the peace movement, of the struggle for decent conditions for migrants and other exploited workers, and of the civil-rights movement. Yet what did the protesters demand? Peace? Human rights? No. Money. And for whom? For the downtrodden and oppressed? No. For themselves. At a time when one American in 10 is unemployed and historic deficits burden both the federal government and many of the states, the protesters attempted to game the political system. They engaged in a resource grab.
Yeah, these whiny college students have it all: massive loan debt and a shrinking job market. Why should they complain about being exploited by the student loan industry or being victims of poorly managed state funds? So what if they have to spend more money to go to school longer or possibly not at all for a job that’s likely not waiting for them.
And what about the issues facing minority students that have also bubbled to the surface? I guess that doesn’t show that these protests are about more than just money or that they have something in common with the struggles of minority groups in the 60s and 70s.
It’s clear we all need a lesson in economic justice from Peter Robinson. How else are we going to understand why it’s not “entitlement mentality and self-absorption” when wealthy conservatives like Robinson and his colleagues at the Hoover Institution oppose taxing the rich?
Yup, if there’s one thing history has proven it’s that self-absorbed people love to protest, engage in nonviolent direct action, face possible arrest or even police brutality. Those are clearly the traits of people who feel a sense of entitlement, not people who feel burdened, exploited and marginalized.
A new book explores how Miss Major has persevered over six inspiring decades on the frontlines of the queer and trans liberation movement.
Humor in Native culture has never been simply about entertainment. Comedy is also used to fight cultural invisibility and structural oppression.
Waging Nonviolence is hiring a writer to interview leading movement figures and analysts and produce one Q&A-style article per week. The writer will work with our small editorial team to identify the interview subject each week. For the most part, we’ll be looking to hear from activists, organizers and scholars who can shed light on… More
For serious. I wish the title of this post could have been: “Self-absorbed writer calls CA student protesters self-absorbed.”
I went to school only ten years ago and I footed the bill entirely on my own. I worked full time, attended school full time, and lived in poverty without an iPhone, a new car, or even a set of clothes from the GAP.
Sorry, I can’t sympathize with these students demanding money from others. The WSJ writer was right to call them self-absorbed. Student loans with fed guarantees are easier than ever to get and the interest is capped at 8.5%. If they want an education so badly, they can take out the loan and pay it when they’re done.
I could care less if they think they can’t get a job when they graduate. Maybe they should quit school and get a lower-wage job and come back when it’s done. I quit school to work two or three jobs routinely during my time in and made up for the semester lost by taking extra hours when I went back. That’s how I survived and went through and came out the other end with $0 and 0 cents in debt.
They got a free public education up to graduation from high school. If they want more than that, they should figure out how to get it without fleecing the rest of us for more.
The beauty of America is opportunity. That opportunity should not be falsely created through wealth redistribution. Ever wonder why there aren’t that many jobs right now? Wonder why California is on the brink of bankruptcy? Wouldn’t have anything to do with taxing jobs and businesses out of existence, do you think?
Here’s a cookie, my friend, for being so perfect.
But seriously, just about every student is CONditioned in those twelve formative years to believe that college is “the next step.” College is also such an attractive option because the academic atmosphere (while different) is significantly less daunting than entering the “real world.” It provides structure similar to life structured by our school and parents.
(On a side note, as a recent college graduate I didn’t know a single person with an iPhone, most did not have expensive cars and those that did were given them by parents – meaning they didn’t make a poor investment. Most college students do, effectively live in poverty. There’s a reason why Ramen noodles are an iconic image of college.)
Once we get to the point where we’re “supposed” to go to college, if we don’t have enough money, we’re CONvinced to do what everyone else does: CONtend with student loans.
Lest we forget that statistically, people with a college education are far better off than those without. People with a high school diploma or less are doomed. (Yes, brave but rare examples to the contrary exist.) Students have these ideas rammed into our skulls in high school.
It reaches the point where we’re psychologically FORCED into student debt – the same way we’re we’re forced by society to wear clothes (in warm climates).
Of course I’m speaking generally – you were fortunate not to be conned or had enough intelligent influences in your life to teach you how to navigate the college system better. I have a friend with a very similar story – I wish I had been informed that that was an option.
THAT is opportunity. Bill Gates is who he is today, not only because he worked hard, but because his high school was one of the first ones to have a computer.
Don’t be deluded by the puritan work ethic that suggests people aren’t well off because they’re lazy or evil. That idea was thankfully put to rest a couple of generations ago. I helped conduct Feeding America’s 2010 Hunger Study and interviewed dozens of visitors to food pantries and soup kitchens. These are hard working people who demonstrate a lot of ingenuity, striving to make a living with FEW opportunities. The sad fact about America is that the jingoistic idea that this is the land of opportunity just isn’t true. Just because you’re a success doesn’t mean every other hard worker can be too.