Angelica Malik, Director of Discourse, Young Americans for Liberty at UCSD
Tonight I accidentally spent $15.95 on “fine dining” at Café Ventanas. This preposterously overpriced meal consisted of a dry wafer of Ahi tuna, lentils and 4 partially charred asparagus. So I know what you’re thinking. How does one “accidentally” spend that much money on such a meal? That question is what got me thinking. After all, I am a prudent and often borderline frugal college student trying to get out of school before being bankrupted. I came to the conclusion that people in general are alienated from what money in actuality represents: labor.
This detachment from what money is symbolic of is why most people are willing to throw it away on the most frivolous expenses. Everything from the $1.49 bottle of water to the $3.89 cup of mocha late with crème which is essentially nothing more than a glorified coffee with foam. Thus far I have remained vigilant about what I spend money on. When I buy a shirt that costs $28 dollars after tax I think to myself, “ I had to work nearly 4 hours to pay for that shirt. Is it really worth it?” Suddenly when thinking of money in that context it becomes much more personal to me and substantially harder to part with. Yet when the school forces me to pay more $1500 dollars for two quarters worth of food (which I must use because I will never get back) I lose a grasp on the value of what I am buying. The convenience of having my “dining dollars” on my I.D. serves as a filter to further distance me from my own money. So when it’s half past seven and I’m starving, I head to the nearest dining hall, which of course because of the school’s monopoly over my dining dollars forces me to pay excessive prices for mass produced food with sub standard taste and poor service.
If the school would give me the freedom to refrain from buying into their domination over dining and hospitality, I could put that money to better use in a grocery store with competitive prices or one of the many vendors at Price Center where the prices are low and the options are endless. So now I’m left with knowing that if I had taken my 15.95 to a nearby restaurant off campus I could have gotten twice the food with twice the quality, some fast and friendly service a huge helping of piece of mind that my money was well spent.