Liberal columnist Paslov: Give higher-ed subsidies or civilization will end

Victor Joecks

I know that headline sounds like a joke, but it’s not. That’s the theme in Eugene Paslov’s latest column, titled “The loss of civilization.”

Chris Bayer’s letter to the governor (Nevada Appeal on May 28) charged the chief executive, “Please stand up for civilization, including funding for the arts, the schools, the libraries and museums. There is no good future, no economic growth, no advancement by individuals, no shared dreams without these things.” Mr. Bayer’s voice is one to which we should all pay attention. It is the voice of rationality, of reason, of survival.

One can imagine there was such a voice among Loren Eiseley’s ancient humanoids [referencing an anecdote earlier in the piece] – a voice that spoke out to preserve its teachers and artists. But that voice was silenced by a dull, arching club, destroying forever a piece of civilizations’ future.

A discouraging incident occurred recently in Carson City. A 34-year experienced professor, who created and operates one of the most successful musical theater programs in the nation, was told that her contract would end in 2012. Stephanie Arrigotti is an exceptional artist. She is an extraordinary teacher. Her program is an economic driver for the community. Imagine, if you will, the vacant, dull eyes of those who are only concerned about cutting budgets, mindlessly swinging a symbolic club to crush the artistic life out of our community. This decision must be reconsidered. …

Our future is at risk. Let’s not symbolically “club to death” our teachers and artists, our voice for a civilized community.

Apparently, Paslov missed the memo from Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich that NSHE is trying to cut down on the hyperbole, because this claim is so laughable, it’s embarrassing.

While the subsidy NSHE gets from the state did get reduced in the recent budget agreement, total spending on NSHE is going back to the level it had in the pre-historic days of … 2008. Or, if you’re just comparing the state subsidy, you end up in the land-before-time days of … 2003.

I remember those days. We didn’t have the iPhone 4, the Cosmopolitan hotel, flying cars or anything.

I can’t go back. Please, no … save civilization. How did we ever have the Declaration of Independence, aqueducts or Shakespeare without Nevada’s higher-education subsidizes?

The real sham here is Paslov’s form of argumentation. If you don’t agree with him on the amount of higher-education subsidies, you aren’t a thoughtful person with a respectful disagreement. No, you’re a barbaric, club-wielding zombie – with ” vacant, dull eyes” – trying to “symbolically ‘club to death'” teachers and artists.

You can’t debate someone like Paslov, because his argument isn’t about debate. It’s about demonizing his opponents – fiscal conservatives – with accusations so ridiculous that even intellectually honest leftists should be embarrassed.

Lest you think I’m being too harsh, Paslov isn’t just a random citizen. Along with being a regular columnist, he’s also a former Nevada state superintendent of schools. Indirectly, this does help explain exactly how Nevada tripled its inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending over the past 50 years, while still getting the same results.

And if you don’t agree with me, you must be a club-wielding barbarian who wants civilization to end.