or do I mean corruption? Well, it would be corruption if I thought it was a bug in the system. But this kind of thing is a feature in the system we currently have.
I kinda think this whole thing ought to be made into a song like that Sweet Honey In The Rock tune “Are My Hands Clean“— is the fact that Richard Blum, former chair of the regents, is married to Senator Diane Feinstein (in that link, enjoy the picture of the both of them smiling behind a waving President Obama). Not only is he, a Regent of a public university, also on the boards of for-profit education companies, he has like other Regents also been on the board of construction companies. One of the main expenditures out of the UC’s recent massive explosion of student fees has been construction (perhaps not coincidentally). Of course, all this capital investment is great for UC’s bond rating, although it doesn’t do a damn thing for students or workers.
Recently the UC at Berkeley finished completing yet another capital construction project. These projects at Berkeley have, in my experience, seriously disrupted classes, made it hard to get around campus, and generally done all of the things which people say protests do. Jackhammers, dust, noise, fences, closing roads, walkways, building entrances and exits, but most of the time we are expected to suck it all up, even though oftentimes none of us will ever see the inside of these gleaming new buildings. This one is like many others, a building for “public-private partnership” with business, in which many of the employees and researchers’ work is not available to public or even owned by the people who do the work, and much of the building is not used for teaching undergrads at all. And its name? the Blum Center for Developing Economies, wherein there will be the Blum Poverty Studies program. The jokes write themselves.
Considering what he and his ilk have done for the economy of the UC, I don’t know how that bodes for the economies the Center chooses to advise. Anyway I’d start my song with the experiences of the people soon to be screwed over by that Center, tied to those currently screwed over by the Regents at UC including especially the children of immigrants, the first in their families to go to college, the employees working without a contract, and the rest of us employees with crappy contracts facing constant pressure. And although the song ends with “are my hand clean?’ i hope we are beyond that now, and instead are asking “what are we gonna do about it?”