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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA cooking without rice: Budget lacks key ingredients

    Financial problems require immediate attention whether at home, at the workplace or on the national level. There is a Chinese saying, “”Even a clever housewife cannot cook a meal without rice.”” Another Chinese proverb says, “”The word poverty (qiong) has a hole and it has buried countless heroes.”” Many CEOs at big companies are sweating over how to turn red into black. If they cannot fill up the hole they’ll be in the hole.

    The most serious problem at the UA is the continuous budget cut. It has been done many times in the last decade and there is still a big hole. Now the administration wants to reorganize the whole university in a short time frame. There is no estimate on how much could be saved while destabilizing the whole campus.

    I agree with Condoleezza Rice that to every problem there is a solution. But where is it?

    Some have suggested that we should issue bonds to take care of the deficit. This is not a good solution because we would have a heavy burden to pay back the interest plus principal for years to come. Some have suggested that the university should sweep all vacant lines rather than cutting every unit on campus. That is also not a good idea because the university will soon lose its Research I status.

    Let’s look at how Chinese emperors in the past solved their money problems.

    Several hundred years ago the Chinese government solved financial problems by selling invented official titles. China is the country where Plato’s dream of rule by philosophers had been realized. Scholars studied hard for 15 years or more to struggle through several levels of civil service examinations in order to get into the officialdom. Because the number of successful candidates always outnumbered the official positions, they could not all be appointed into offices. However, official-scholars were the most respected among the populace.

    The emperors ruling such a big empire sometimes would find the treasury depleted because of military campaigns, rebellions, natural calamities and public work programs. In the Qing Dynasty we find that in the year 1798 alone, 1,437 central offices and 3,095 provincial and local offices were sold, not including numerous lowly offices with the lowest rank of 9b. The largest category was the position of assistant county magistrate which amounted to 1,258 sold, averaging 3.4 per day. There was a case where someone bought an office for his 10-year old boy.

    There lies the solution to the university’s pressing problem. One department head told me he would be willing to step down if his position could bring in $2 million. There is no need for him to step down. We could create another title for the wealthy candidate such as “”Department Head de jure”” and the present department head could continue to serve as “”Department Head de facto.”” In case the wealthy candidate dislikes these Latin affixations they can be changed into Left Department Head and Right Department Head, following the imperial Chinese practice. For the wealthy candidate this is a much more attractive deal than just leaving the money to the UA Foundation with nothing in return.

    “”President de jure”” or “”Vice President de jure”” can sell for even more. We can follow the American way of auction and sell them to the highest bidders. If Bill Gates wants it, we can even give it to him even though he was a Harvard dropout. He can leave the money, take the position and continue to be busy with his philanthropy work. If Donald Trump wants it, he can find apprentices here instead of going through so much trouble to find just one. The young Yahoo boss Jerry Yang donated several millions to Stanford in a “”give and go”” kind of donation. Wouldn’t it be more attractive to give away the same amount of money and receive an honorific title from our university in return? If he disagrees, we can always convince his parents to persuade him to do so. Asian parents seem to have more influence over their kids.

    It is important that we adhere to the principle of affirmative action, so that rich sons and daughters can buy those titles for their mothers as a Mother’s Day gift, birthday gift or Christmas gift.

    Some colleagues might have doubts about having those less educated individuals become our bosses. After all, are they the ones solving our most pressing problem? Do they deserve our respect for that? They are not supposed to interfere with the operation of the university or the department. Even if they want to interfere we already have the rules of faculty governance in place.

    We can easily become one of the richest state universities in this country while maintaining our “”world class”” status. We are behind Arizona State University in the reorganization already and we can beat ASU in this creative project. Arizona’s first university can also become Arizona’s richest university.

    – Chia-lin Pao Tao is a UA professor of East Asia Studies.

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