Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why You should still Vote for Sanders

After Hillary Clinton’s recent victories, many pundits and political officials have argued that Senator Sanders should drop put of the race, but there are many reasons for him to continue to fight for more delegates.

The first reason he should stay in is that he still has a chance at winning the pledged delegates.  Currently, Hillary has 1,650 and Bernie has1,348, and both need 2,383 to win.  This means that Hillary leads by 302, and she still has to gain 733 to win the nomination before the convention. With 1,206 delegates still undecided, if the Sanders and Clinton split the remaining delegates, Hillary would fall short by 130 delegates, and the nomination would have to be dcided at the convention.  It is important to note that the superdelegates do not vote before the convention, and in 2008, many switched their votes from Hillary to President Obama.  

The main reason why many superdelegates might change their votes is that Sanders is a stronger candidatein the national election. Sanders strength is in part due to his popularity among independents; however, the fact that many states do not allow independents to vote in the primaries makes Hillary look stronger than she really is.   Moreover, Hillary has such a high unfavorable rating that she could actually lose to someone like Trump or Cruz. 

Even if Sanders loses the nomination, but he brings a large number of delegates to the convention, he can help shape the party platform and influence who Hillary chooses for Vice President.  If people want someone like Elizabeth Warren to be VP, they should keep on voting for Bernie. 

As Sanders has said throughout the campaign, he is trying to create a political revolution, and so it is important for people to keep on supporting him to show that establishment politics have to be transformed.  The fact that he has been able to raise most of his funds from small individual contributions shows that a different campaign finance system is possible.  In short, a vote for Sanders is a vote for a different political system, and while Hillary attacks the system, she continues to use it to her advantage. 

Unfortunately, many people are simply following the mainstream media narrative that tells them they are fools to vote for someone who is clearly going to lose.  Would the same pundits tell a basketball team that was down two games in a series to simply give up?  Why should Sanders drop out if he still has a chance of winning or at least influencing the party platform? Instead of sheepishly following the media narrative, people should vote their conscience.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

The University of Public Relations

The news that UC Davis spentat least $175,000 on public relations to clean up their reputation after pepper spraying defenseless students should not surprise anyone at this point. Universities are highly invested in their public reputation, and they will often go to great lengths to hide negative facts.  For example, in response to the state auditor’s criticism of UC’s recent admissions policies, the university spent money and time not only attacking the audit but also spinning out their owncounter-narrative. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have bought UC’s official story that state funding cuts are the only problem, and UC acted in an ethical and effective manner.  However, the reality is that the new funding and admissions model the UCproduced in response to the state budget harms students, the state, andemployees

The big takeaway according to the media was that UC replaced eligible students from California with high-paying non-resident students, but this is no longer a problem since the university has agreed to increase the number of students from California in the future.  Yet, a larger problem has not been dealt with, and this concerns how to pay for all of the new students and how funds are distributed among the campuses.  As the audit rightly pointed out, the UC has continued to fail to produce a credible way of calculating how much it costs to teach different levels of students, and this failure to comply with state legislation makes it difficult to know how the university spends state funds, tuition dollars, and other sources of income.  On a fundamental level, no one knows how much anything costs in the UC system, and the main reason why has to do with public relations.

Since the university does not believe that the state or parents want to pay for research and other non-instructional activities, the system creates fake and misleading budgets to block transparency and allow for a high level of discretionary funding.  In fact, the recent budget crisis at Berkeley is a product of the university’s refusal to produce credible budgets: no one seems to know why Berkeley has such a large budget deficit, and so the PRmachine is simply blaming the state. After all, since Berkeley has increased its funding by bringing in so many high-paying out-of-state students, we have to ask, where has all of the money gone?

This emphasis on public relations over truth and transparency can also help to explain why the current president made such a bad deal with the governor and the state.  Not only did she agree to undermine the pension plan, but she has agreed to admit many more students with a much lower level of state funding per student.  Did she accept such a bad deal because she had entered into a public fight with the governor and her only way to save face was to pretend that the austerity budget was good for the university?

The question remains of how the campuses with lower funding and fewer non-resident students will afford to educate so many more students.  Of course, no one wants to deal with this problem because they are so busy trying to put a positive spin on everything.  It would be great to know how much the UC spends each year on public relations, but of course, we can’t figure this out since we do not know how much anything costs.