Economy needs more attention

David Taintor

Called “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” by historians and politicians, the year 2008 was definitely hard on the economy.

Unemployment continues to rise, wages continue to fall, foreclosures increase, banks fail and 2009 has not shown many signs of improvement. The status of our economy has affected every citizen in some way, and college students are feeling overwhelmed, now more than ever, with paying college tuition costs.

Every college student faces tuition payments. Whether the student, legal guardians, college loans, scholarships, or a combination of those pays tuition, it is an expensive fee to pay. With the economy so unstable, it is hard not to feel extra anxious about these payments as a college student.

A few weeks ago, all UW-Eau Claire students received an e-mail informing them of the likelihood that a revenue shortfall would take place in the Wisconsin state budget. Because of this, Eau Claire will most likely be facing budget cuts, which could result in the layoffs of faculty members as well as a tuition hike for students.

According to Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, colleges are “entering into very difficult financial times, and access and quality are likely to remain at great risk.”

As a college student, I definitely have felt an extra tug on my wallet this semester. With my dad out of a job due to cutbacks at his work and my mom experiencing a pay cut from her job at a bank, this semester’s tuition was tough to come by.

Other Eau Claire students are in similar situations. When asked how the economic crisis has affected her as a college student, junior Linnea Leighton said, “It has affected my food choices a lot.”

As far as how the economic recession has affected her, sophomore Lindsay Nelson said, “It is making living arrangements, paying for college, and finding a job – that is going to help me out of college – more difficult”.

Things are even tougher for those living in the Eau Claire community searching for jobs, most of which were lost because of layoffs and pay cuts; a problem directly caused by our country’s failing economy. It is extremely difficult for those individuals; most employers are not looking to hire new workers, and if they are, the job market is extremely competitive.

Our country’s economic recession will have an impact on every Wisconsin resident in some way.

However, even though almost all college students are aware of the basic facts regarding the issue of our economy, most do not understand the overwhelming importance of it, as well as the impact decisions are currently being made in the White House will have on the lives of college students, young adults entering the workforce and the Eau Claire community.

If any of you have been following the news lately, you may have heard about President Obama’s recently proposed stimulus plan, which he swears will be, “a major milestone on our road to recovery.”

Last Friday, the House of Representatives approved a $787 billion economic stimulus package, a bill that President Obama and the Democrats promise will save and create 3.5 million jobs within the next two years. With this stimulus bill, Barack Obama promises the United States will soon be able to turn itself around financially.

According to The New York Times, only three moderate Republicans joined the Democrats in support of the bill. This raises concern in many people who wonder if this bill is being rushed or is not well thought-out.

“I have mixed feelings about the bill,” Leighton said about the stimulus. “It is the bigger corporations that will benefit from it more than the smaller corporations.”

Nelson disagrees with Obama’s decisions regarding the bill, saying, “It is not going to help the middle class people that need it. It is only going to benefit the upper class.”

Once the stimulus bill is approved by the Senate, which is predicted to happen this week, President Obama will be able to put it into action.

The stimulus plan is only one of the many things we need to follow closely in the coming months. Many other decisions made in the White House will impact us tremendously, and they will hopefully help fix our failing economy.

Only time will tell whether the implementation of the stimulus plan will help or hinder our economy. All we can really do is hope for the best.

While waiting, it is important to do our part in helping our country through the economic disaster it faces today and the enormous hurdle it must overcome for a better tomorrow.

There are many things we can do, the first and most important being gaining awareness on the issue. We must try to fully understand what it was that caused this economic recession and what the recession means to our country and to us as individuals.

If we do not take responsibility for the financial state of our country, then how can we be sure that this economic catastrophe will be our last?

The blame for the state of our country’s economy lies not only in past decisions made by the White House, but in each and every one of us. It is important that we recognize and take responsibility for this, but also that we have faith in the leadership of our country. We bounced back from the Great Depression; I have faith that we can bounce back from this.

Campbell is a sophomore print journalism major and guest columnist for The Spectator.