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The search for a long-term answer for coherence in Ryan Blethen’s columns

Apparently oblivious to the reality that he has as much credibility as Tim Eyman does when it comes to talking about protecting public services, Seattle Times editorial page editor Ryan Blethen has penned yet another column lamenting the dire straits that Washington’s public universities are in.

The piece, which ran in today’s Sunday edition, does a good job of pointing out the obvious… and a great job of conveniently ignoring the Seattle Times’ role in putting lawmakers and universities in the grave position they’re in at this moment.

For instance, Blethen insensibly writes:

What makes the proposed cuts to higher ed in the House, Senate and governor’s budgets so egregious is that our state’s campuses have been neglected for years and now have to take huge cuts. By now the Legislature should have found a way to properly funnel money to the universities. They have not and now the schools face another large reduction.

If Ryan wants the Legislature to find “a way to properly funnel money to the universities”, then why did his family twice endorse unconstitutional Tim Eyman initiatives to make raising revenue more difficult? Why did his family campaign so vigorously and dishonestly against Initiative 1098, which would have dedicated more than a billion dollars annually to education funding?

Oh, that’s right… I forgot. Platitudes are the only support the Blethens are willing to offer our public schools and colleges.

As the idiom goes, talk is cheap. Sometimes it’s pointless.

Ryan’s columns on this subject, and so many others, are worthless, because when push comes to shove, he won’t put his money where his mouth is.

The Blethens have repeatedly endorsed initiatives that put the Legislature in a straitjacket, long-term, knowing the consequences. They most recently did so last November. Now, half a year later, they’re lamenting the consequences.

What gives, Ryan? Seriously. What gives? What motivates you to write these disconnected columns? If you’re even going to go near the topic, at least have the courage to admit that the paper you edit has repeatedly taken sides against schools and universities when election time has rolled around.

In leaving those details out, you pretend that your readers are ignorant, and will take what you say seriously because your intentions appear noble. Newsflash, Ryan: Your readers aren’t as stupid as you seem to think they are.

There is really nothing that you can say about this topic that would contribute to the public discourse in any meaningful way. Not after what you’ve done.

You offer no solutions or prescriptions in your column. All you do is condemn the Legislature – the democratic lawmaking body your family urged voters to make undemocratic – for not investing in our schools and universities.

Olympia does not seem willing or capable of properly funding higher education. The Legislature and the university presidents should work together and by the next biennium budget come up with a stable source of revenue for our state’s public universities.

As our readers know, there is no way our Legislature can strengthen any of our vital public services as long as I-1053 is in place. It simply isn’t going to happen. I-1053 was intentionally designed to make sure state legislators can never come up with a stable source of revenue for anything; all it takes is seventeen state senators out of forty-nine to veto any revenue idea. The Blethens surely know this, too.

Yet they continue to publish meaningless “pro-education” boilerplate.

After this budget biennium there needs to be a better, more stable and long-range answer. Students cannot keep absorbing the cost.

Because of I-1053, I-960 before it, and the rejection of I-1098, students are going to keep absorbing the cost. Well, those that can still afford to go to college in the first place. Those that can’t, won’t.

They will have been denied the opportunity to get a college education thanks to the self-centered thinking espoused by the Seattle Times.

And speaking of affordability, Ryan adds insult to injury with his claim, A public education in Washington is relatively cheap. No parents that I know of with sons or daughters in college would agree with that statement.

The truth is just the opposite: For all but the wealthiest families, a college education in Washington is a significant, if not an extreme, financial burden.

Tuition is expensive. Books are expensive. Housing is expensive. Yes, the federal government does provide financial aid, but for many families it only mitigates the costs by a fraction.

As far as the right wing is concerned, that’s the way it should be. Families that aren’t wealthy haven’t earned the privilege of sending their sons and daughters to college. They weren’t disciplined enough, and so they should be punished.

I-1053 is a right wing plot to choke our common wealth to death, so that government no longer works and income inequality reaches unthinkable proportions. Last autumn, Seattle Times aided and abetted the corporate lobbyists that worked with Tim Eyman to bring the plot to fruition, whilst fiercely denouncing I-1098, a progressive plan which would have required the already-wealthy to pay a little more in membership dues so that we as a state could get a lot more.

Not once have they apologized for their role in putting our state into a perilous position. Instead, from their offices on Fairview, they have bizarrely continued to preach the value of the very institutions of learning which they have helped stab in the back. The Blethens seem to such inflated opinions of themselves that they assume nobody is going to connect the dots.

The fastest way for them to gain goodwill from the city and region they claim to represent would be to eliminate their editorial page altogether and leave the editorializing to the columnists in their business and local sections, who actually seem to care about keeping Washington a good place to live.

One Comment

  1. mathliterate
    Posted April 28th, 2011 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been sending missives to the Seattle Times letters department ever since the paper began editorializing about our state budget.

    Of course, none have been accepted, since each one pointed out the peculiar inability of the editorialist to see any connection at all between the paper’s successful opposition to I-1098 and budgetary insufficiencies created by I-1053.

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  1. By Morning Rundown for April 18th, 2011 on April 18th, 2011 at 10:08 AM

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