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Letter to the editor

Seasoned student evaluates differences between tuition costs, way of life across three generations

October 14, 2014

Tonight I enjoyed a fine dinner and reflected on political power in America.

I had salmon with a maple sauce, parmesan risotto, and perfectly seared root vegetables.

My dinner was served on real china plates, my imported beer came with a glass, the silverware was polished and the napkin linen.

Other students were eating in the University Center. Their dinner of the same pizza and pasta seen every meal was served on stained plastic plates, the silverware looked like it was punched out of sheet metal, there was no beer, and the napkins were the cheapest that could be sourced at the lowest bid. They paid just about as much for this dining experience as I paid for mine.

When my parents graduated school they could afford to buy a house that year. I bought a house after a couple years working on towboats. The current generation of students will probably be able to afford a house on the fifth of never.

My parents could work a summer and pay for a full year of living and school expenses. When I first attended college twenty years ago it was still possible to work part time and graduate with no debt.

Your generation will graduate will personal debt in the tens if not hundreds
of thousands, and about the same amount of war debt per person.

I am going to let you in on a little secret: Resources, and money are distributed based on political power. The person working for minimum wage is quite certainly working harder than the billionaire who inherited their wealth. And the person working for minimum wage is quite likely paying more taxes.

So how, in a democracy, can a group of individuals without political power compete for resources against established interests? The big hint there is Democracy. As much as the billionaire can buy a lot of ads, they can only vote once. The students, workers, and everyday Joes that make up America can’t buy a lot of ads. But each can vote once. And there are a lot of members of the general public in America.

There are a lot of students. Once students begin voting in mass their political interests get attention.

The actions of past UW-River Falls students were enough to bring a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Congressman to campus. Once a person starts voting they become what’s known as a likely voter. Political decision are based on likely voters, this is how things work in a Democracy.

My generation, my parents generation, and my grandparents generation are getting the gold mine in terms of government money. Your generation is getting the shaft.

Last day to vote in the Elections is November 4. If you have not voted in your home state this election and live here during the school year you may be allowed to be a voter.

Go to myvote.wi.gov to find when and where you can vote, and what you will need to bring with you. Your presence at the polls will be a vote for resources for your generation.

Or if you want to give your fellow students the shaft, stay home and don’t vote.

Ben Plunkett
UW-River Falls student