Home > Public Service > Trojans beat the Bruins. Again.

Trojans beat the Bruins. Again.

Everyone knows that the USC Trojans are better on the gridiron than the UCLA Bruins.  (42-28 overall record; 11 national titles to 1; a record of 9-1 over the past decade; etc.), but UCLA students could always point to the university rankings by the likes of U.S. News and restore a sense of superiority.

No longer.

USC has passed their crosstown rivals in the rankings for the first time after an impressive run over the last 10 years or so.  USC ended the year ranked #23, with UCLA at #25.  Berkeley landed just ahead of USC at #22.  Unfortunately for public school partisans, USC will continue to overtake, and Berkeley is just the next step.

Why?  State budget cuts have been implicated, including in the article cited above.  Similarly, a new report has come out indicating a more than $20 billion shortfall in the UC pension system.  Apparently, employees of the UC system haven’t been paying into the pension fund for 20 years(!) because they thought it was overfunded!  This is indicative of a bigger problem – not so much that UC will have to pull almost $21 billion out of  a hat, but that apparently no one at the UC system can do math.  After all, $21 billion shouldn’t be able to just sneak up on you.

That being said, the shortfall itself is not chump change, and it will certainly precipitate a further slide in the rankings.  Consider the quote from UC President Mark Yudof:

Yudof has warned of terrible consequences if the problem is not tackled quickly. “If we do nothing, in four years, the University will be spending more on retirement programs each year than we do on classroom instruction,” he wrote in a recent letter to UC employees.

What does that sound like to you?  A microcosm of what’s wrong with this country?  Why yes!

Our country’s 2010 budget is $3.55 trillion.  (It’s entitled “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise, and apparently they were totally serious and unironic when choosing that name.)  Estimates for the unfunded liability of Social Security alone run between $10 and $18 trillion.  The UC system’s total budget is roughly $20 billion, and its unfunded liability is almost $21 billion.  Of course, UC can’t monetize its debt either.

USC’s climb up the college rankings has been fairly impressive.  However, the UC schools’ coming drop in the rankings will almost certainly be more impressive.

n.b.  The unfunded liabilities of Social Security will be addressed in a future post.

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