Drew's Views

HEADLINE: Trustees approve 6 percent tuition hike for UTC

THE RECAP: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students will have to pay 6 percent more for tuition this fall after the University of Tennessee system Board of Trustees approved a tuition hike for students at UTC, UT-Knoxville and UT-Martin on Thursday.

For an in-state undergraduate student taking at least 12 credit hours, the annual tuition would increase from $5,722 to $6,065 beginning this fall.

DREW'S VIEW: In 2004, in-state tuition to UTC topped $2,000 for the first time, coming in at $2,047 for two semesters. A decade later, students will pay almost three times that much for pretty much the very same education and experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation has increased 23 percent since 2004. Meanwhile, UTC's tuition has skyrocketed 296 percent during that same time.

It just so happens that 2004 is also the first year of Tennessee's lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship Program. The HOPE Scholarships allow almost any college-bound high school graduate in Tennessee to have their tuition to an in-state public university funded by dopes who don't understand math and waste their money on the lottery. It's no coincidence that tuition costs hit the roof when the lottery scholarships were put in place.

That's because the HOPE Scholarship program is built on flawed economics. Tennessee's public universities understand that as long as their tuition fees are less than the maximum amount of the HOPE Scholarship, most students (at least the in-state students receiving the HOPE handouts) won't complain because they're not bearing the cost -- the morons playing the lottery are.

As a result, the trustees that oversee Tennessee's universities have pushed tuition expenses to just a few dollars beyond the HOPE scholarship's $6,000 maximum. In other words, the trustees are exploiting the state and the scholarship program to snatch up every last dime they can for their universities.

For further proof that Tennessee's universities are artificially bloating their tuition fees, consider this: From 2004 to 2009, the HOPE cap was $4,000 a year. State university tuitions stayed just below the $4,000 threshold during that time. In 2009, the University of Tennessee System successfully lobbied state lawmakers to increase the value of the HOPE Scholarship to $6,000. What happened? Tuitions at Tennessee's state universities exploded past the $4,000 mark and quickly marched towards $6,000, where they are now.

How much do you want to bet that trustees beg the Tennessee General Assembly for another $2,000 increase in the value of the HOPE Scholarship when the state lawmakers resume next January? And how much do you want to bet that, if the hike occurs, every university in the state will have in-state tuitions of $8,000 before you know it?

The HOPE Scholarship program was intended to help Tennessee's deserving low-income students attend public universities in Tennessee. In reality, the scholarships have been far more successful in giving university leaders millions of extra dollars to burn through than they have been in improving the quality of education at UTC and other state universities.


HEADLINE: Franklin County aims to require cold remedy prescriptions

THE RECAP: Franklin County, Tenn., is just a few readings away from rules making pseudoephedrine-based cold medicines available only by prescription. Since pseudoephedrine is the primary ingredient in methamphetamine production, making certain cold medicines more difficult to buy is viewed as a way to battle meth.

DREW'S VIEW: By making medicine that contains pseudoephedrine -- such as Sudafed, Actifed, Contac and Claritin-D -- more difficult for its citizens to buy, Franklin County is admitting that its law enforcement agents are useless and incompetent to curb meth production. Because of the failure of area law enforcement, the county is taking away rights and conveniences from law-abiding residents.

What sense does it make to make Franklin County residents suffer for the acts of a few meth-cooking nut jobs? A government that would make laws to force people with colds and allergies to pay to see a doctor just to buy a box of Sudafed is a government that isn't doing its job.


HEADLINE: Cee Lo Green apologizes for Riverbend performance

THE RECAP: In a video posted on the celebrity news and gossip website TMZ.com, singer Cee Lo Green asked Chattanooga to forgive him for his late arrival and controversial performance at the Riverbend Festival earlier this month.

DREW'S VIEW: Great. Just what we needed. Now Chattanooga has been embarrassed on one of the biggest websites in the world by looking like a city full of tender-eared, immature, backwater ninnies who were offended by curse words.

The truth is that not everyone was actually offended by Cee Lo's foul language, apparent on-stage adult beverage consumption and brief baring of the buttocks. Those who were upset should have left immediately or shouldn't have come in the first place. After all, what did you expect from a man whose biggest song is titled "F You" and was in the group Goodie Mob, whose name means "The good die mostly over bulls"?

Further, the show wasn't scheduled to begin until after 9:30 p.m. (and famously didn't start until well after 10 p.m.). The fact that the performance started after young and impressionable kids should've been tucked in their beds and counting sheep was an indication to responsible parents not to bring youngsters along.

A bigger issue is that Friends of the Festival, the group responsible for Riverbend (and for wildly inflating the festivals' attendance figures) was working on a "gentlemen's agreement" to keep the show family friendly. Since taxpayers pay for much of the policing and most of the cleanup cost related to the festival, and publicly funded agencies including EPB and TVA financially support Riverbend, asking an artist to alter his art should raise a dialogue about censorship. This is doubly true since there is a Riverbend night devoted to Christianity. If it's OK to have a faith night, why not have a night or two that includes more adult-focused entertainment?

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.