I Hate Getting Old!

by on November 11, 2010 · 18 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Education, San Diego, The Widder Curry

getting oldI hate the idea of getting old. I hate “remembering” the way things “used to be” and comparing them with the way things are now.

For example: I remember when education used to be free. The public schools provided books, pencils, papers, crayons, glue, scissors, etc. so that we could learn without the stress of the teacher saying “we can do this if you bring in some paper and pens.”

I remember when school used to be safe for the students, the staff and anyone entering the premises.

I remember when I went to Community College I paid $5 a unit for classes I needed to better myself in this world. I usually took 12-15 units and my total tuition ran between $50-$75 for the semester. I remember buying NEW books that were about $8 and how fortunate I felt if I could buy a used book for under $5.

I remember transferring to the University and paying $12 a unit for undergraduate classes. My tuition ran between $144 and $160 a semester and my books were between $50 and $75. I remember even selling my used books back and getting back enough so that I could purchase my books for the next semester.

I remember going to graduate school and paying $20 a unit and graduating with a Master’s Degree at the cost of $1000 for the entire two years, including books.

sandiego-sdsuI remember getting angry at my mother for saying, “I remember when……..”. And here I am, angry at myself for being able to say “I remember when….” when education was so different than it is today.

Today [Wed Nov 10th]! The Regents of the CSU raised tuition in a two-tier step for those attending the CSU schools. Today, when unemployment is so high; when people are not able to pay their rent and/or mortgage; where going to college is no longer a privilege nor a right; where more and more people are living on the streets, in their cars, and under bridges; where the outlook for the future is bleak, the wealthy regents raise the price of tuition. Here is the announcement from the Regents:

“The CSU Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a plan to raise tuition for undergraduate, graduate and credential programs by 15.5 percent by next fall. A day earlier the board’s finance committee voted 6-1 for the measure.

Tuition will rise by 5 percent in the winter and spring terms and another 10 percent next fall, when California resident undergraduates will pay $4,884 annually.

Cal State students are protesting the increases in tuition, which rose more than 30 percent over the past year.

CSU trustees say they need to raise student fees again to offset deep cuts in state funding that have led to staff furloughs, fewer courses and enrollment reductions.”

It seems to me that this plan will mean that many students will need to drop out of school because they cannot afford to continue their education. Many already have student loans and cannot afford more of them. And…if students drop out, there will not be any need for “staff furloughs” because there will no longer be a need for classes.

This is somewhat akin to the NFL and their “blackout rule” re: watching football games on TV if the game is not sold out. The cost of the ticket is too high for most of us now, so we do not get the benefit of watching our team. If higher education is so expensive, then people will not be able to attend college.

The UC Regents are also meeting and probably will raise tuition to the UC campus’ within the next few days. Maybe it is time to bring back the vocational schools so that people can learn how to provide for themselves while pursuing other goals.

See… I remember when there used to be vocational schools where one could learn a trade that would provide an adequate income for the rest of that person’s life.

I remember when service stations had people that pumped your gas; checked your oil; cleaned your windshield; checked to make sure that they had the right amount of pressure in their tires, etc.

I could go on and on about those things I remember – but I won’t.

It wouldn’t help anyway.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Andy Cohen November 11, 2010 at 10:35 am

When I entered SDSU in 1988, registration fees were around $400 per semester (in state students don’t pay “tuition”). Now they’re over $2200 per semester!!! Still a bargain in the grand scheme of things, particularly when you compare the cost with other schools around the country, but when you think back, it’s a pretty shocking difference!

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avatar judicurry November 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

I have 5 grandchildren in the college/university system right now. It would be nice to be able to help them with their education, but with the financial situation what it is today there is no way I can help them. But I can sure tell you what will happen: the less motivated ones will drop out even though they might be brightest of the group. The “drop-out” history of the high schools is high; look toward the same thing happening on the college level. I agree that going to school in California, particularly through the CSU system was a bargain, but no more. One of my grandsons could not get the ONE class he needed to transfer to the UC system because the first time he tried to enroll it was full; the next semester it wasn’t even offered. He has wasted 12 months trying to get one class. Now that the “registration” is going up, he won’t be able to afford the UC classes anyway. What a sad commentary on our time!

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avatar Nancy November 11, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Another good one, Judi, and you have quite a memory. You’ve stated all the reasons’
I say “I’m glad I’m not young.” as didn’t have the problems many young people are
facing now.

I was the fifth oldest in a farm family of 12, and the first to go to college in my family, and back in ’68, went to a state college in Wisconsin, and parents could pay tuition at first, and then I had work study programs and outside jobs to help, and was able to get a professional job with the govt. as a result. Didn’t have a school loan to pay back, and seemed as if eveyone got the job they wanted. My sisters who didn’t go to
college got well-paying secretarial jobs with benefits in the family-owned paper mills or insurance companies, and my brother went in the Navy right out of high school, and was in for 7 yrs. before Viet Nam, so got the GI Bill when he got out.

The paper mills are still operating but with less workers and less pay, inflation-wise, and less benefits. My young nephews who are not college material are in and out of work. The other nieces and nephews have spouses who work, and are in a ratrace, esp. if children come in the picture.

I was with the govt. 34 yrs. before retiring, but most young college graduates today are lucky if they get their first after-college job in their chosen field. Most will have at least 5 job changes by they time they’re ready to retire.

Think there’s a lot more challenges for today’s younger generation: too many goodies to want, too many choices, tough punishments when you make one step out of line, more taxes to pay for a military budget that’s gotten way out of whack, to name a few.

So, thanks for reminding me that you and are are pretty lucky to be where we’re at.

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avatar annagrace November 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Judi & Nancy- I share so many of your observations. I took a Spanish day class at SDSU this past spring, an interesting experience on many levels- I think of it as Hello Kitty goes mano a mano with the Sexagenarian Cat Lady.

It was also a shockingly expensive experience. I paid over $600 for that 3 unit class and a used copy of the required text. That amount was more than the total cost of my undergraduate tuition at the University of Pittsburgh.

One of my classmates was a 21 year old who is putting herself through school, carrying a full class load and holding down to part time waitress jobs. At the beginning of the semester she never has enough money to buy all of the required texts. She told me that she goes to the bookstore, stands quietly off somewhere reading the class assignments. That’s one tough way to get an education.

The majority of students were pursuing a degree in business administration. Aside from two students who have chosen nursing and physical therapy there were no other interests expressed. Nada. No one expressed an interest in being a teacher/professor or librarian or artist or forensic etymologist. Most of these students will be saddled with crushing student loans. A sobering way to start out in life.

I was lucky- the first family member to go to college. My parents paid the modest tuition and I worked to pay for books and transportation to school. I graduated without any debt and completely clueless about how to parlay a degree in literature into a steady paycheck. But that’s another story….

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avatar Wireless Mike November 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

In 1971, my SDSC registration fee was $93.50 a semester for 15 1/2 units, plus books and supplies. (That was shortly before it became a university.) I was the first person in my family to earn a degree, and that education has served me well. I would not be able to do that today. Young people coming up today are facing a much more difficult time than we did.

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avatar Sunshine November 11, 2010 at 2:10 pm

thank you, judi, for the walk down memory lane … to a “simpler” time. simpler times are greatly needed again in this country. I remember when someone’s word and a handshake was all that was necessary. suing someone was out of the question. neighbors helped and looked out for each other. communities came together and integrity mattered …. you get the picture.

as i observe the Systems in place today, it appears to me that every process has become more complex. massive amounts of paper shuffling are required to complete any transaction ~ across most industries and institutions. everyone is so bogged down in massively long “to do” lists, yet very little trickles down into prominent change.

the Machine has become far too big, too cold, too removed from the human condition to impact any real change for people.

while I agree that there is no going back to those oh so simpler times of yesteryear, we can move forward. how long will humanity stay asleep and cater to their delusions? ~ by no longer following blindly the few that stand to benefit from controlling the masses, we can effect change. wake up people! we already know the process and successes of what will sustain us or drain us. Never before has it been more important for each one of us to rise up and take a stand.

at the end of my life, i would like to believe that helping others, being kind, honest, and generous actually mattered. to simpler times ahead, my friend.

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avatar Ian November 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm

If we listened to Ron Paul and the crazy “teabaggers” we wouldn’t have this problem….

The high costs of education are a direct consequence of government subsidization of student loans and the Feds inflationary policies.

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avatar Danny Morales November 12, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Ian-Thank you for exhibiting what fallacious reasoning is all about! “If we don’t listen to X then we will have Y (ad hoc fallacy) Now listen to X!” (begging the question/circular logic) No wonder why there’s a move to defund public education. Any questions? I’m open to discussion!

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avatar somewhere nob November 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

yeah I remember too

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avatar Nancy November 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

It’s so easy and simplistic to blame high costs on one thing, isn’t it, Ian, rather than looking at a more complicated picture.

I’d blame it on technology which meant computers in the classroom, and more kids of different backgrounds and languages to deal with (that was gone into in depth in a past writeup) besides other things that I’m not going to take the time to go into.
My mother taught 4 yrs. in a one-room schoolhouse that closed in the 50′s, and she was upset that she had 48 kids in the 8 grades, and her best friend taught only 24 in her one-room school. That luckily changed.

There were other changes to refer to that have changed over the yrs. than just school
expenses.

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avatar judicurry November 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Thank you to all of you that have posted comments on this topic. It is not necessary to answer you, because each of you have done a wonderful job of saying it like it is. However, I do want to make a quick response to Nancy, Anna Grace, Sunshine, Ian, Wireless Mike, Andy, Somewhere NOB:

Like getting a drivers license, it was always a privilege to get one. Like voting; it is our right to vote; and education used to be a privilege and a right. I certainly took it for granted. I can’t conceive of anyone telling me that unless I could pay I couldn’t go to school. And I was a dropout! When I “grew up” and decided to go back to school I was a mother, working full-time, and fought for the classes that I needed to take. The whole idea of the community college system – then called “junior college” – was to help prepare us for work outside of the academia. We frequently received “certificates” rather than degrees. The certificate is still being issued, but so is the AA degree. I have to agree with Sunshine – life WAS simpler back then; we didn’t have the stress that students have today. I can’t say that government was more honest – because that I don’t believe – but maybe there were more “checks and balances” then than there are now. In “those days” can you conceive of the “Bell” situation happening? And Nancy, I have to agree with you that one of the big expenses that we didn’t have is the modern technology available today. My first year as a Principal Apple computers gave each classroom throughout California computers. But they didn’t pay for the upkeep, the inks, the paper, etc. As the computer age has evolved, there is so much more available to our youth today than we ever dreamed of. Even now studies have indicated that in ten years jobs that have not even been created yet will be where the job market will need people. The jobs that we were hired for if they aren’t already obsolete will be in ten years. I asked myself this question a few days ago: “What age would I like to live over again?” I won’t tell you my answer because I find it depressing, but what age would you like to live again? Why? As Sunshine said – it was simpler. I think “back then” that we were nicer to each other; we showed more respect and we were more respected. Where do we go from here?

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avatar annagrace November 11, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Sunshine and Judi- I am incapable of looking back over my shoulder at a “simpler time.” Forgive, my esteemed women friends, but for me that is crap. There is no amount of riches in the world to lure me back to some fabricated stinking golden age of a western Pennsylvania mill town circa 1966 or 1971.

I left the fried bologna sneering up at me with little greasy gray drops pimpling its surface in a skillet. I left that place where getting pregnant at 17 meant the end of your life as a girl/woman. I got educated then tore off the rear view mirror- after my pre Sopranos boss told me that my mommy would find my head in a black plastic bag if I tried to unionize the restaurant where I worked (for 25 cents an hour less than my male counterpart. )

Do you really want to know what I miss? I miss coming home from work on a Friday, cooking dinner, jumping My Baby’s bones, taking a nap, getting a shower and going out dancing until 6 am the following morning. If I could be granted one wish, it would be to slip inside my 24 year old self in Key West- but take my 60 year old brain with me. I now I would have more fun. It wasn’t a simple life there by any stretch of the imagination, but it was juicy. I would do anything to experience a Key West tutti frutti sunrise and a Key West papaya sunset, with a side trip to bird watch on Boca Chica. And dance. And dance and dance.

Perhaps those were simpler times because we were young, bright and heeding Thoreau’s message that we should be able to carry everything we owned upon our backs. We did. We also relied upon the kindness of strangers and extended the same courtesy. There was no insurance except our belief that we could make our way in the world in the places we had chosen. We lived for decades without television and cars and even telephones! Imagine that. We paid cash.

Our lives are complex now because lives are always complex. And our lives are complex by virtue of our own choices and what is offered up to us.

Judi- you raised an interesting question about growing older that morphed into “I have seen the future and it is expensive.” Or that the past was in some way simpler and easier. I hope your question and observations receive comments from more of us. As always, you keep us thinking. Many thanks.

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avatar judicurry November 12, 2010 at 8:36 am

What a wise, beautiful and succinct comments you have made Annagrace.
You have put into descriptive words the past, the present and the future. I, too, hope that others respond. It is always interesting to see how others think and the rationale they use to come to their conclusions.

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avatar annagrace November 12, 2010 at 9:43 am

Judi- I admire your ability to write in a way that so artfully links thought to emotions. Your articles are always invitations to enter and converse.

I’m waiting for an account of your Mt. Whitney trip!

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avatar Zach on the side November 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

I wonder if people from all times have uttered those words, “Those were the days.” But it does seem now that change is on a different scale, of a different order. To me it seems that the super-rich have perfected the art of squeezing the nickels from the everyman. We all pay for it and it’s hard pinpoint unfair practices within our capitalism, but in the end everybody makes more and has less to show for it.

In particular, I question the American sacred cow of becoming as rich as one is able to be. It seems to me that obscene wealth, anything beyond, say, $200 million, is antithetical to a healthy democracy. We’ve learned the hard way that resources aren’t infinite. Capital is the same. If the top 2% own 50% of all the wealth, there really is less for everyone else. I believe deeply that people with grotesque levels of wealth should be paying a large share of it back to the society that made them so well off. Paying back even 80 or 90% of their fortunes would still leave them very, very rich.

But as a society we glorify “as rich as you can get.” That’s why athletes make millions per year for hitting a ball with a stick, or throwing a ball through a hoop. That’s why, after a court settlement, lawyers keep 30 or 40% of the settlement. That’s why CEOs collect annual bonuses, aside from their salaries, in the tens of millions. We have to be more sensible as a society. Unlimited wealth is a threat to democracy. If some few have far more than they need, then many others don’t have enough.

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avatar Danny Morales November 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Zach ots.- Unfair practices within our capitalism? That’s akin to salt water within our oceans :-P Unlimited wealth as a threat to democracy? I contend that it is the class nature of of our (capitalist) society that impedes the progress of democracy and calling for sensibility within the context of that System (sic) is akin to calling on the Pharoahs to honor thy father (and thy mother and thy sister….) and so on and so forth!

Good luck w/dat!
Danny
-
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it”.

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avatar Zach on the side November 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm

This culmination of thousands of years of honing our ability to “capitalize” is a big pile o’ crap, ain’t it? But I’m not sure capitalism can’t work successfully, given modifications. As I see it, we’ve taken the economic system and made it into a political system as well, and so, in Darwinian fashion, the weaker, slower, and less intelligent among us get destroyed, trampled underfoot, in the battle for survival of the fittest.

If we used capitalism as an economic model, while bringing politics from a more humanistic standpoint to bear – albeit we’d have to formulate that – then the benefits of capitalism in incentive and innovation could serve us, while the political system could protect us from the jungle mentality (all jokes aside!).

That, and I don’t want to make myself *persona non grata* among my compatriots by challenging capitalism wholesale.

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 12:52 am

Thanks Zach for your honest and forthright comments. I could argue w/you ’till the cows get home but that would be a take away from the spirit and intent of Judi’s post. Instead I look forward to seeing more of your comments as the blog rolls on.
All the best to you and yours-Dan

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