We find ourselves in the middle of one of the greatest wealth transfer periods of all time. Those with wealth must decide whether they want to make transfers, and if they do, they must decide how much, to whom, when and in what structure?
Apple Inc. not only has more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury, it was briefly the most valuable company on the planet, at least on the madly gyrating stock market. Banks are stuffed with cash they won’t lend to companies that have work but are hesitant to hire anyone to do it.
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Warren Buffet, worth about $50 billion himself, thinks wealthy individuals and corporations should pay more taxes for the good of the nation. The response from thought-leaders in the Tea Party: Write us a check, sucker.
And budgets at every level of government continue to be slashed not according to financially prudent principles but to score points for the next election. The national and state unemployment rates are stuck just shy of 10 percent, even as the private sector cautiously adds jobs, because government layoffs continue.
That includes the 34 positions cut from Colorado State University, on the heels of an overall 20 percent tuition hike. Yet the incoming freshman class set records for its size again this year.
Just as we’re about to turn the Colorado Paradox around – our well-educated residents are increasingly educating their children here in the state – a professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder has suggested balancing the state budget by setting in-state and out-of-state tuition at the same level. Let’s see: That would make college even less affordable for Colorado kids but a real deal for folks likely to return to New Jersey.
At least he doesn’t teach in the business school.
The state’s education funding woes start in pre-kindergarten. We already spend upwards of $1,800 less per pupil than the national average, and every year the Legislature cuts more. The Lobato lawsuit currently being heard in a Denver courtroom contends that the politically charged financing system is so inadequate that it denies our children the fundamental education guaranteed under the state constitution.
State Sen. Rollie Heath’s ballot measure to raise taxes specifically for education has been endorsed by the Colorado Education Association. The Poudre School District, where voters approved tax increases last year, produced a graduating class that earned a combined total of $40 million in scholarships this year, including five of the state’s 40 full-ride Boettcher Scholarships.
Charles Boettcher was a classic entrepreneur who used his fortune to ensure the bright future he saw for Colorado. That future will dim considerably if we are the generation that eats the seed corn for short-term political gain.