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Letters to the editor

The value of a pricier UC education; corruption in Kabul; CalPERS ethics

November 23, 2009

Paying for UC

Re “UC ready to raise student fees by 32%,” Nov. 19, and “Regents OK hike in UC fees,” Nov. 20

When I was a student activist at Fresno State in the late 1960s, we fought for the concept of "student power" -- the fundamental belief that students had a right to shape and participate in decisions that affect them and the quality of their education. Now is a good time for students on all California college campuses to embrace that concept. The alternative is to remain powerless while those in power continue to make it more and more difficult for students to remain in school and receive the education they need and deserve.

Burton Russell Swope
Thousand Oaks

How sad that tuition is increasing 32% on UC campuses. I still have the button that I wore proudly on my lapel back in 1967 -- "OUR POSITION NO TUITION."

Boy, the times they sure are changing.

Karen Berrenson
Woodland Hills

Evidently a UC education isn't what it used to be.

Aren't these protesting students smart enough to realize that the regents have no control over how much money the UC system gets from the state? They would be much better off protesting the current state government by voting the existing politicians out of office. Put that energy to a better use.

Catherine Wirtz
Westlake Village

This is outrageous. The students are being asked to pay for the perks and lack of diligence of their professors, who only teach two or three classes a term and have the summers off. They get hired to publish, which does the students no good.

If the students are being asked to pay 32% more, the staff should be asked to take 32% pay cuts.

I hope the profligacy of the UC system is now going to be exposed.

Norman Berger
Menlo Park, Calif.

There is great irony in the student protests against increased fees.

Fees are being raised because the state is in debt. And why is it in debt? Because it spends more than it takes in. And why does it spend more than it takes in? Because it refuses to cut spending. And why does it refuse to cut spending? Because of entitlements -- i.e., the belief that people have a right to the wealth of others in the form of education, healthcare, etc.

And what's the source of the altruist morality of entitlements? The university classrooms.

Michael Berliner

Los Angeles

What was once the most prestigious public university system in the United States has now become an overpriced, overcrowded institution affordable only to those who can pay a 32% increase in yearly tuition rates.

As a graduate of the University of California, I am outraged by the Board of Regents' decision to raise tuition rates to unprecedented levels. I attended graduate school at UC Irvine. It was the only possible option for someone like myself who could not afford a private university tuition and did not want to be strapped with exorbitant student loans after graduation.

I fear for the effect this decision will have on brilliant and hard-working students who will possibly forgo a UC education simply for costs. Where are our state's priorities?

Elizabeth Luppi
Laguna Niguel

What do the UC regents think they are, a health insurance company?

Gregory Mohr
Santa Barbara

On CalPERS and ethics

Re “Are CalPERS’ hands clean?,” Editorial, Nov. 15

A Times editorial questions donations by financial firms doing business with the state pension system to my union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, while I served as a member of the CalPERS board.

Newspapers can get the facts right but not include enough of them to offer a balanced view. All of these donations went for leukemia research, for which the UFCW has raised millions, or for encouraging workers to participate in civic affairs.

I fought hard on CalPERS' board, from 2000 to 2005, championing corporate accountability, shareholder participation, transparency and limits on executive pay.

I pushed to select money managers only after extensive due diligence and through an open process.

The editorial's suggestion that these donations amounted to corruption or kickbacks is absurd. I support reforms too.

Trustees must abide by high standards. But they should not be chastised for not abiding by an imaginary higher standard that may, at some later date and due to changing circumstances, be deemed appropriate.

Sean Harrigan
Los Angeles
The writer is a former CALPERS board member and a former UFCW officer.

Afghanistan's corruption

Re “Under pressure, Afghanistan unveils anti-corruption plans,” and “No easy cure for Afghan ‘sickness’ of corruption,” Nov. 18

Concerning corruption in Afghanistan, the U.S. ambassador to that country, Karl Eikenberry, said: "Ordinary Afghans must be convinced that the powerful can no longer exploit their positions to make themselves wealthy while the less fortunate in this country struggle to find work and to feed their families."

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