In his commencement day speech last Wednesday, President Rupp urged new graduates to help break the pattern in America that "mortgages investment in the future to consumption in the present."
Addressing thousands of graduates and their families and friends, Rupp warned, "Instead of investing in education and research that will pay dividends for generations to come, we are piling up debt that our descendants will have to redeem. Instead of rebuilding the decaying infrastructure of public services that will support a civil society in the years ahead, we are selling assets to realize short-term gains designed to fix the current budget."
"In short," he said, "we are setting a pattern that systematically mortgages investment for the future to consumption in the present. To break that pattern constitutes the central public policy challenge that confronts all of us."
In his second commencement address as Columbia's 18th president, Rupp told the new graduates that the generations preceding them have "made a mess." He lamented the "staggering" rise in the national debt, the "precipitous" decline in personal savings and the targeting of budget cuts on programs for the poor and the young.
"The main initial target of our current budget cutters is the small fraction of total governmental expenditures devoted to the poorest of our citizens," he said. "Even if every penny of those payments were eliminated, a substantial deficit would remain. Yet few of our political leaders propose similarly severe cuts in programs that affect the rest of the population."
And the young are being asked "to pay for the indulgence of their elders," said Rupp. Although today's beneficiaries of Social Security on average receive more in payments than their contributions warrant, he noted, "there is vigorous resistance to even the most modest [test missing--May 29, 1995]