Monday, July 21, 2003

Rights & Reason: Class(room) Warfare

Nothing California's political elite thinks up should surprise us, yet this managed to catch me off-guard:
California's premier university system is considering charging rich students more tuition to offset deep funding cuts resulting from the state's $38 billion budget deficit.

The Board of Regents of the University of California examined a proposal for a surcharge on wealthy students at a meeting Thursday. The university would be the first in the country to target wealthy students with a surcharge.

The proposed fee would force undergraduate students with family incomes exceeding $90,000 to pay as much as $3,000 more to attend one of the university's nine campuses. It is expected to affect 58,194 of the university's 160,000 undergraduate students.
This is yet another byproduct of endorsing "diversity" as a compelling state interest. The supporters of this "surcharge"—in reality, a tax—claim that the state must ensure access to UC for poorer families. This in turn justifies ignoring the federal constitutional rights of wealthier families to be free of arbitrary and harmful government classifications. For those of you unschooled in constitutional niceties—which I take includes anyone at UC—the surcharge proposal runs afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause as well as the Privileges and Immunities Clause of that same amendment.

Even from a "diversity" standpoint, this is bad policy. After all, does UC really want to teach students the best way for different groups of people to get along is for one group to openly steal from another? Okay, maybe that is a message the school wants to send, but they shouldn't be allowed to do it under color of government power.

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