Protesting Budget Cuts, Or, How To Be Completely Ineffective
By: Barry Belmont

Oh public higher education…the trouble you get yourself into. Rather than embracing the streamlining of a bloated and inefficient system, rather than planning reasonably for the future, rather than shouldering responsibility, we had yet another ‘budget cuts’ protest up here at the northern end of the state. A short video of how it all went down can be seen:

What these protestors seem to not understand is how utterly and pointlessly ineffective their protesting is. Singing, dancing, drumming, humming, chanting, shouting, holding up hand drawn signs, and taking eight hour bus rides is not how you convince anybody of anything. Sure it may be fun, but if you think it does one single thing in your favor you’re absolutely wrong.

In fact, imagine if you had been effective, if somehow the governor was convinced by hearing a drum circle singing songs about Nevada’s higher education: Is this really the type of person you want in charge of a state government? Do you really want your governor, the person at the helm, to be so fickle and easily persuaded of the falsity of his opinions, methods, and approaches, that he would drop them immediately after hearing something that rhymed shouted over a megaphone? It would be insulting if such a protest worked.

Now consider the converse, the fact the protest didn’t (and won’t ever) work simply highlights how ridiculous the whole approach is. These protestors are supposed to represent the best and brightest that Nevada has to offer. Nevada’s future if you will. If this really is the case, then it is indeed a bleak future. People with the time to waste drawing signs and sitting on the steps of the state congress are not the people I trust to be paving the road to the future.

And hence, we can only conclude that protesting the budget cuts is (has been, and will forever be) a waste of precious time. If you want to go and sing and dance and have a good time with your friends shouting at politicians and making pretty signs and walking in lines to show how much your education counts for something, by all means, be my guest. Have fun, that’s a good enough reason to do anything. But don’t pretend like you’re making a damn bit of difference.

The rest of us will attend our classes, do our homework, study for our tests, get our jobs, and shape the world.

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3 Comments Posted in Local/Nevada
  • Chelsea

    Sometimes people need to feel like they are making a difference because if they believe that they can make a difference then they will continue to work to make a difference and eventually some way some how they will. If, however, no one felt like they could make a difference and no one tried to make a difference then where would we be? Protesting may not be the most effective way to try to make a difference but certainly it is better than sitting and accepting as God’s words how the Governor and the legislature decide to dictate our lives. If you never tell someone you are unhappy then how are they to know? I am a student, I went to the protests but I too attend classes, do homework, study for tests and will get a job and shape the world. Don’t make fun of people who want to make a difference, because you too want to make a difference.

    • Barry Belmont

      So you’re suggesting that people who feel like they are making a difference might one day make a difference and hence should continue a practice whose actual efficacy is supremely suspect. That sounds a bit like taking a placebo to cure your ails.

      And it seems like what you would rather do is continue to take your placebo than merely cut back on bad habits and moderately implement new ones.

      You should embrace these budget cuts because they represent the stemming of bad habits (namely overconsumption of public goods) and the promotion of good ones (particularly the idea that the State should not be called upon simply because you want a higher education).

      These protests are really nothing more than people who don’t like the taste of medicine, they would rather opt for the sugar pill. Unfortunately, if you actually want to see a better state, if you actually want to have a better system of higher education, then you have little recourse than to swallow the red pill and realize these budget cuts really are a good thing for the vast majority of people involved.

  • Issa

    Nice article but it seems like you only nitpick rather than offer a sensible alternative