When UC was free; new thinking among economists; Supt. Deasy’s classroom faux pas

UC, then and now

Re “Bring back the idea of free UC,” Column, April 11

My husband and I started at UCLA in 1966; our fees were about $80 per quarter. I applied only to UCLA, where I was virtually assured a spot because of my 3.0 grade point average. I had the best education money could buy. Every time fees increased, I feared that tuition would be next and that one of the best university systems in the country would be placed out of reach of most California students.

When my daughter was ready to apply to college, UCLA was out of the question because her GPA was not over 4.0. She went to an excellent private college with sky-high tuition, and although she received a great education by today’s standards, it was not as good as the education my husband and I got almost for free.

What a loss for the people of California.

Joanne Polvy Cohen

Sherman Oaks

Somebody must be listening to Michael Hiltzik because I just found out that the University of California system picks up the full cost of tuition for all students whose family incomes are below $80,000 a year. I bet many of the protesters at marches against tuition hikes are from families with incomes under $80,000.

It would be nice if some of the instructors marching with students would teach a seminar examining where the money that should go to UC is going instead: a line-by-line examination of the state budget. A look at salaries, pensions and the workloads for UC employees might be enlightening.

Oren Grossi

Long Beach

If nonresidents are paying $36,078, how can California residents complain about paying $13,200? That seems like a heck of a bargain.

Gerry Swider

Sherman Oaks

I graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1959, thanks to the $300 annual tuition, the G.I. Bill and a couple of part-time jobs. Because I came from a family of modest means, I would not have been able to attend a UC law school today, with the tuition at Boalt Hall now $50,164 for California residents and $54,372 for nonresidents.

UC law schools are pricing themselves out of reach for many worthy students, with dire consequences for the future of this state.

Lee R. Petillon

Palos Verdes Estates

Economics in the classroom

Re “Not their fathers’ economics,” Opinion, April 11

Hooray for these Harvard students and the Institute for New Economic Thinking for confronting the hegemony of right-wing economic ideology.

I received a doctorate in economics in 1966, the heyday of “value-free” economics. My dissertation on unionization of farm workers was criticized by my department as not being economics — not because I did not learn economic theory but because I did not believe economic theology: You shall love the market your god and take no other gods before it.

I taught value-full economics for more than 20 years, exploring the benefits and shortcomings of the free market. The answers to our severe economic problems do not lie in the 18th century but in our creative ability to understand the new globalized world and to craft new responses to it.

Judith Glass

Studio City

I read Eric J. Weiner’s Op-Ed article with regret for today’s economics students.

In 1980 I enrolled in a class at USC with conservative economist Arthur Laffer, who insisted on teaching various theories, including Keynesianism, monetarism, supply-side and more. His final exam posed an issue to be addressed from all schools of thought and required a rationale for the conclusion. One class was actually conducted at a campus pub.

What a marvelous way to have studied the dismal science.

Kevin Minihan

Los Angeles

Supt. Deasy as a distraction

Re “Deasy’s teachable moment,” Column, April 10

Before speaking, L.A. Unified School District Supt. John Deasy (and everyone else, whether in authority or not) should remember that the words spoken and the manner in which they are uttered may produce negative consequences that outweigh any positive results.

Deasy has some good ideas for improving educational achievement, but his participation in the verbal exchange with teacher Petrena Shanklin in front of her class is an example of counterproductive speaking producing unnecessary negative consequences.

This episode detracts from addressing core problems in the district.

Marc Jacobson

Los Angeles

How does someone so smart trip up so grotesquely, particularly when screw-ups of this caliber in L.A. Unified are like tossing hunks of raw meat into the shark tank of the teachers union?

I refer to Deasy’s drive-by moment of thug management described by Sandy Banks. Now Deasy refuses to apologize to the teacher and students he victimized with his behavior, needlessly dulling his prior luster as a tough but fair administrator and sharpening the knives of those who, for political and contract negotiating advantage, benefit from a public impression of him as a bully.

Paul Vandeventer

Los Angeles

Forget about foie gras

Re “Enough already: No more foie gras,” Opinion, April 10

Former state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton convinced our elected officials that it is cruel to force-feed corn to a duck to create an enlarged and “diseased” liver.

If he is so concerned about force-feeding corn to diseased animals, why didn’t he ban feedlot cattle, which are force-fed antibiotics to combat the ill effects of having been force-fed corn, an unnatural part of a cow’s diet? And if Burton was serious about preventing cruelty to birds, where was his legislation banning chicken ranching in tiny cages?

If the Legislature bans all “cruelly” grown food, what’s left to eat? Vegetables with pesticides?

Randy Kemner

Signal Hill

I’ll take my chances and wish an early congratulations to Burton and all the other people who have worked so hard to ban the force-feeding of geese and ducks in California.

The foie gras industry is scrambling because it cannot find a less cruel production method. Veterinarians, consumers, chefs and grocery stores everywhere are rejecting foie gras because it causes so much animal suffering.

Traditional foie gras production is unacceptable in today’s society, and factory farming methods in general are under scrutiny. More people are choosing vegetarian and vegan diets out of kindness for animals. And fortunately for ducks, compassionate lawmakers like Burton are on their side.

Sarah Farr

Silver Spring, Md.

Free speech

Re “Gadflies may lose some buzz,” April 12

It would be a terrible mistake for the L.A. City Council to stop airing its meetings on TV in retaliation for members of the public like us who speak at meetings. Your story calls us “gadflies.” If this means we take the 1st Amendment seriously, we’re cool with that.

We’ve attended hundreds of meetings to express our grievances on important issues, but the council persists in violating our rights through countless interruptions, ejections and 30-day bans.

But the council president is not allowed to interrupt unless the speaker is making an actual threat or is not on topic. When a speaker has the floor, he has the floor.

How convenient to shut down TV coverage of the city’s business just when the public needs to see how the city is failing to provide services, issuing layoffs and dealing with an FBI investigation.

David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg and Matt Dowd


Snail train

Re “Legislators balk at pace of plans for bullet train,” April 12

Whiskey can be blended, but the idea of blending bullet trains with local trains is a no-go. It would be like having to fly a prop plane from John Wayne Airport to Los Angeles, transferring to a Boeing 737 for a flight to San Jose and then taking another prop to San Francisco.

Billions might be saved, but no one would bother taking it.

Elliot Fried

Anaheim Hills