IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS

By Davey D
Updated: July 2, 2012

Practicing Lunacy

Practicing Lunacy

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN)-–Ya gotta love America and the constant mind tricks she plays on an increasingly uninformed, 30 second sound bite, dumbed down, non-critical thinking society.. We see our collective lack of awareness playing out around the son of Sean P-Diddy Combs and his son Justin Combs who was just awarded an athletic scholarship worth 54 thousand dollars.

When the story first surfaced it was framed simplistically, Justin, the son of a rich rap mogul worth half a billion dollars has just accepted a scholarship to a school that is ‘struggling financially‘. The narrative points out that in recent years tuition has damn near tripled with more fee hikes on the way…On top of that, Governor Jerry Brown is pushing for more massive educations cuts.

Justin Combs who was famously given an expensive 300k Maybach car on his 16th birthday from his dad is now being depicted as the poster child for rich kids stealing from the poor…He’s being criticized for taking a scholarship he earned.

Diddy who has never been shy at flaunting his wealth is also seen as an evil villan who should ante up and ‘pay his fair share’..The popular narrative has led to headlines reading; Taxpayers Want Justin to Give Back His Scholarship..juxtaposed with images of students marching demanding lower tuition.Justin and his dad Diddy shouldn’t be the poster child for tax payer angst

Understandably many have jumped on this story in reaction to Diddy and Justin. Some have framed this as an attack on Hip Hop or an attack on rich Black men and there’s no doubt there’s some of that going on. Others have viewed this as an attack on student athletes.. I’m sure there’s some of that as well..

But really at the end of the day all this is just a smoke screen to distract everyone from the real problems at hand, which is the systemic attacks and massive defunding over the past 5 years of what was once deemed one of the best and most efficient higher public education systems in the world..

Many have focused on Justin’s scholarship instead of asking how and why did we have a tripling of tuition in the past 5 years? What was behind that?Why does it cost 54 thousand dollars to go to school? Many saw that figure and didn’t bat an eye, that’s how far gone we are….

When I went to school, I was paying 200-500 per semester, 15-20 years later tuition easily eclipse 12k, not including housing or other expenses. This doesn’t include the 6% fee hike coming down the pipe, which may double mid-semester if the Millionaires Tax doesn’t pass in the November elections

Is Diddy and his son the cause of the UC system being financial unstable or some rich banker types sitting on the UC Board of Regents looking to gut and privatize the UC system? Let’s talk about that. 40 years ago Cali came up with what was known as the Master Plan for Education with the goal of making education accessible to what they anticipated would be a surging population caused by baby boomers having kids. Under this plan came three major university / college systems including; the University of California, UC system,which is home to UCLA where Justin received his scholarship. UC has 10 campuses throughout the state..Next we have Cal State University system.. CSU which has 23 campuses including San Francisco State where I teach..And lastly we have the California Community College system CCCS which has over 100 campuses around the state..

Combined these 3 systems serve more than 3 million students and for decades set the standard for public higher education.This Master Plan for Education was crafted so that all Cali residents no matter their income could attend college, hence these schools were either free or very low-cost to attend. How and why did that change is the question at hand?http://hiphopandpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/richard-blum.jpg

Richard Blum

It’s interesting to note that some of the rich banker/CEO types who sit on the Board of Regents have been pushing to gut the UC system and raise tuition even though they went to UC for free.. How ironic is that? Forget Justin Combs, let’s talk about some of them. For example, take real estate baron and UC Regent, Richard Blum, whose company Blum Capital Partners is worth 7-8 billion dollars. What Diddy has is pennies compared to him.

Blum who is the husband to US Senator Diane Feinstein, is one of those regents who attended UC for free, but now is leading the charge to raise tuition and privatize the UC system. If thats not bad enough he’s come under fire because of all the money he and his firm have made by investments he has had UC make to companies he and his firm own or have a controlling interest..

You can also peep the in depth investigative reports about how Blum and his companies have profited off of UC pensions http://hiphopandpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/uc-regents-protest.jpg

Conflict of interest doesn’t even began to describe what Blum’s about, but that’s been all but ignored by many of the same folks who wanna go on and on about Diddy’s son. One might suggest that if Justin Combs should give back scholarship because his father has more than enough money to pay, then perhaps Richard Blum should refrain from making any more investments that have ties to UC, because with a company worth 7 billion, he has more than enough money.. How much more does he need to make?

There would be no outcry over Justin’s scholarship if folks doing the crying looked at the half a billion dollars spent on renovating Cal’s football stadium. It’s the most expensive renovation in college history and sadly that stadium still sits on a major earthquake faultline..We all should be asking, who in the UC system or on the Board of Regents benefited from that? Certainly not the students who marched, protested and even sat in trees for almost a year to try and stop the rebuilding of that stadium..

While this stadium was still being built and struggling to raise additional money for its completion, the Board of Regents proposed to raise tuition almost a whooping 80% over the next 2-3 years.. This outraged students and led to huge protests throughout the UC system..Where thousands of students led walkouts, teach-ins and marches etc.. The first glimpse many around the country got of these protests was last fall when they saw disturbing footage of peaceful students being peppered sprayed at UC Davis and police beating peaceful students at Cal

Sadly as these students were getting peppered sprayed and beaten up you heard some of the pundits who are now attacking Combs, implying the students who were protesting were lazy bums who needed to get a job.

Is Justin Combs and his father Diddy the culprit here? Not by a long shot..That young man earned an athletic scholarship. I’d rather have the medias focus on guys like Richard Blum and his Board of Regent 1% cohorts.. Yeah I know it’s not sexy and easily packaged, but that’s where the money really is..

I’d rather we focus on the Millionaires Tax of 2012 which will help turn back some of the budget shortfall impacting the UC system. Let’s talk about all the big banks that have lined up to oppose it. Perhaps they’re upset about losing out on some of the trillion plus dollars students wind owing in school tuition loans..

Should Justin give back the money? Only if Richard Blum and his fellow Regents give back the obscene money they made off of UC and they resign from the regents.. At that point we can call it even Steven.