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December 05, 1984 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-12-05

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, December 5, 1984

The Michigan Doily

Real solutions lie far beyond cha

By Brian Leiter
900,000 will be dead of starvation in
Ethiopia alone by the end of this year.
Millions more may die next year or be
crippled for life by malnutrition.
Around the world, hundreds of millions
barely survive on inadequate nourish-
ment - and, of course, many don't sur-
vive at all. Yet we read recently in The
Daily that "As a gesture of solidarity
with the world's hungry people, studen-
ts living in dorms, co-ops, and sororities
signed away their meals and donated
the money to...hunger programs."
They raised $4,500. It is almost a sick
joke.
d Each year hundreds of millions face
t death due to starvation. Meanwhile,
college students sign away one meal in
this year for which the University
donates $1.50rto a hunger program.
Even if all two to three million college
students in the country participated,
this would only generate three to five
million dollars. And as it is, hardly
that many do participate.
LET US BE clear on what makes this
a sick joke. It is not a "sick joke" that
students are concerned with the world's
hungry. It is a sick joke that people
think that ceremonial affairs such as
foregoing a meal constitute a serious
contribution to relieving starvation. It
is a sick joke that people devote time
and energy to what is a frivolous and
fleeting response to a problem of enor-
mous proportions.
In point of fact, this is a charac-
teristic difficulty of all charity: it ap-
proaches problems on the most super-
ficial level. Why else would it be that
charitable efforts appear eternal, that

they return year after year doing the
same fundraising for the same
problems? It is because they do not,
because they cannot, come to terms
with the problems they address in a
serious way.
In a sense, it is really quite sad that
charitable efforts are so frivolous. It is
sad because one suspects that those
who launch them and many of those
who become involved really do feel
strongly that there is something bad
that needs correcting - whether it be
hunger, poverty, and the like.
BUT THIS IS the great irony of
charity: for if there is something
"bad" that needs correcting, then why
not proceed to correct it in a way that is
permanent? Why not look for solutions
that are really solutions and not just
pacifiers? "Charity" has consistently
shown itself inadequate to that task,
even though such a goal is implicit in
what it is trying to achieve.
No doubt such a strong remark will
prick the sensibilities of many liber-
tarians and conservatives. "Wait a
moment," they shall retort. "If people
feel strongly about something, then
they should as private individuals do
something voluntarily about it. That is
the right way."
But that is a fantasy for children (and
need I add, Reaganites), not a proposal
for those who really are concerned
about world hunger. Problems like
world hunger, or even poverty at home,
are problems of enormous proportions.
They are problems which, if we want to
deal with them, require systematic and
farsighted redress - not the come-
what-may approach of various private
efforts.
THINK.OF IT this way. We do not

expect private individuals to come
together of their own volition for the
purpose of generating a national defen-
se. No doubt this is because we regard
a strong, or at least adequate defense
as a priority item. If we regard world
hunger or poverty as a comparably
high-priority matter - and the existen-
ce of charities testifies to this sentiment
among many - then we should not

bred by the free market have, on the
whole, been superficial and conser-
vative. Our government's social
policies have reflected more of a con-
cern with pacifying the outcast in order
to preserve the status quo than a con-
cern with restructuring power,
privilege, and opportunity so that all
might participate in the life of the
nation. Part of the problem then, for

'It is a sick joke1

that people think that

ceremonial affairs such as foregoing
meal constitute a serious contribution
relieving starvation.'

a
to

nation's political priorities, the poten-
tial for combatting these problems
would be tremendous.
Perhaps, though, some are puzzled
by this talk of "systematic redress"
and by my indictment of our gover-
nment's current lack of commitment to
such solutions. A remark by a Deputy
Administrator of the Agency for Inter-
national Development (made in a
Congressional hearing in the '60s)
might illuminate the issue:
Our basic, broadest goal is a long-
range political one. It is not
development for the sake of sheer
development...An important ob-
jective is to open up the maximum
opportunity for domestic private
initiative and enterprise and to
insure that foreign private in-
vestment, particularly from the
United States is welcomed and
well treated.
In short, American response to the
world's problems is conducted
primarily with an eye to what
American capitalism can reap. It is not
"development for the sake of develop-
ment" but "development for the sake of
capitalism." (Maybe this explains
America's lackluster response to the
Ethiopian situation.) Yet it is by now a
well-known fact that capitalism does
not eliminate poverty, malnutrition,
poor health care etc. (look at the ex-
perience in Central America
throughout this century). Perhaps the
first task, then, will be to elect a gover-
nment whose foreign policy actually
matches its moralistic and
humanitarian rhetoric.
Some may still feel that while these

IntI
irit
may be good long-range goals, charity
is a worthwhile goal for the short run.
But, again, I would disagree. In fact, 1
would venture that charity is quite
harmful in two respects.
First, charity tends to make people
complacent - once they've given ,up
their meal they feel that they've done-
their part and that no more systematic
changes in American policy and world
order are required. Until charities
dispel the illusion that they are making
serious contributions to the world's
problems, their existence will be an ob-
stacle to the political momentum which
might yield lasting solutions.
Second, I sometimes wonder about
the real value and humanity of
prolonging people's misery with biti
contributions without holding out any
possibility of a secureand healthy way
of life. Since most charities do no more
than this, one should ask whether that is
really a worthy goal? (There are ex-
ceptions: Save the Children
generally pursues community
development projects with the goal of
self-sufficiency in mind; but Save the
Children's impact in numbers of people
is quite small.)
In sum: the existence of charities
speaks to the reality of the problems.
But if the problems are real then they
should be treated in a real way with an
eye toward doing away with the need
for any charity. Our world is huge and
complex; holding out fantasies about
private efforts in such an environment
is truly perverse against a backdrop of
problems of such magnitude and
severity.

throw the burden of providing a solution
on the fortuitous coming-together of
concerned individuals. These matters,
too, should be redressed through
unified and far-reaching policies - the
sort of policies for which government is
suited and capable.
Once again, though, the conservative
will rear on his hind legs and yelp, "But
government has not shown itself
capable of dealing with problems!"
That now famous Reagan cry has both
truth and lie in it.
The truth is that our government's ef-
forts to confront the societal problems

those determined to eliminate hunger
will be to compel the government to
bring its full abilites to the problem.
THE LIE implicit in the conservative
cry is twofold. First, the government
has shown itself, on occasion, capable
of more far-sighted programs: Head
Start comes to mind. Second, there is
no doubt that government could deal
with these problems in a thorough way
- the Scandanavian governments do it
and they do not even have our wealth
and technology. If all the energy
devoted to charitable efforts were
rechannelled to restructuring the

IN

Leiter is a graduate student in law
and philosophy.

I

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

Vol. XCV, No: 74

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Tampering with civil rights

Nicaragua

'S

place in the Soviet 500

6

The Reagan Justice Department
has been slowly chipping away at
the foundations of the 1964 Civil Rights
Act. This week federal officials an-
nounced that they are considering
revamping the heart of U.S. civil rights
policies, the guidelines used to detect
patterns of discrimination in em-
ployment. In order to go about disman-
tling landmark civil rights legislation,
the Reagan-appointed officials need an
excuse and they think they have found
one. But they are not fooling those who
really want to see that women and
members of minority groups have the
same employment opportunities as the
rest of the population.
Clarence Thomas, chairman of the
Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, claims that the
guidelines need to be changed because
they encourage the use of statistics in
determining employment
discrimination. He argues statistical
disparities can be explained by factors
other than discrimination.
What Thomas is saying is not untrue.
But it is simply an excuse to tamper
with the existing rules. Statistics can
often be used incorrectly to distort fin-
dings. The Reagan administration
knows this well. But the use of
statistics is also one of the more con-
crete ways of proving that an em-
ployer has a history of discriminatory
practices. In most cases, statistics
alone are not sufficient evidence to
prove discrimination. They are,
nonetheless, one of the key factors,
among many, that can point to em-
ployment patterns which tend to have
an "adverse impact" on a particular
race, sex, or ethnic group.

Discrimination is never easy to
prove. Already the current guidelines
allow employers to disregard any
"adverse impact" a job selection
procedure might have on the grounds
that it is justified by "business
necessity." Any alterations in these
rules would make it even easier for
employers to discriminate.
Thomas says that he would like to
see more reliance on evidence of ac-
tual conduct, such as oral testimony
from witnesses who describe
discriminatory practices. This is, of
course, the most damning proof of
discrimination. It is, however, also the
most subjective and difficult to
corroborate. Because it is by nature
subjective, in some cases such eviden-
ce may be viewed as less substantial
than statistics.
Recent Supreme Court decisions
have interpreted anti-discrimination
laws loosely. In the case of Memphis,
Tenn. firefighters, the Supreme Court
ruled out preferential treatment for
those who are not found to be "actual
victims" of discrimination. The
Reagan administration has jumped on
this change in the tide of court rulings
to support its laissez-faire civil rights
positions and to prove that quotas and
other practices to insure women and
minorities are granted equal oppor-
tunities, are destroyed.
A change in the current guidelines
would mean that the Reagan ad-
ministration could effectively subvert
the principles in the 1964 Civil Rights
Act. In the last twenty years, this coun-
try has come too far toward achieving
the goal of equal opportunity to let one
administration do that.

By Michael Klare
Although that Soviet freighter
did not unload MiG-12 jet fighters
in Nicaragua, the Reagan ad-
ministration has stepped up its
charges that Moscow is providing
the Nicaraguans with large quan-
tities of advanced military
equipment.
Yet even a casual look at Soviet
arms transfers reveals that
Nicaragua receives only the
barest fraction ofsthe Soviet
Union's total arms exports-and
not the best at that. Indeed, In-
dia, Jordan, Nigeria, Peru, and
North Yemen, all generally
aligned with the West on inter-
national affairs, apparently
receive more Soviet arms than
Nicaragua.
ADMINISTRATION officials
have made their position clear.
"The fact is," Defense Secretary
Caspar Weinberger claimed Nov.
11, "that the Soviets are sup-
plying a great deal of heavy of-
fensive arms to Nicaragua."
Pentagon officials have further
charged that Moscow sees
Nicaragua as a "platform" for
attacks on other Central American
countries. For example, Gen.
Paul Gorman, chief of the U.S.
Southern Command, testified
recently that Soviet arms ship-
ments are intended to provide
Nicaragua with "an unmatched
offensive capability in the
region."~
These charges have sparked
considerable debate among the
experts. For some, Nicaragua's
tanks-an estimated 60 to 100
Soviet medium tanks, more than
any other country in the
region-gives it a decisive edge.
Others point to Nicaragua's
disadvantage in air power-Hon-
duras has some 30 combat jets
while Nicaragua has none, and El
Salvador, with 17 U.S.-supplied
A-37 jets and a large helicopter

should be clear that none of these
countries enjoys a superiority
sufficient to allow it to invade one
of the others with a sure expec-
tation of success.
If the Nicaraguans havebno
particular edge, then what about
the charge that the Soviets are
trying to convert them into a
major regional power? While it is
impossible to know what Soviet
leaders say in private about Cen-
tral America, one can get some
idea of their outlook by com-
paring the Soviet arms program
in Nicaragua with its programs
in other countries.
Along with the United States
and France, the Soviet Union, is a
leading arms supplier to Third
World countries. According to the
U.S. Arms Control and Disar-
mament Agency (ACDA), the
Soviets delivered $44.5 billion
worth of arms to developing
countries between 1978 and 1982,
or 37 percent of all such arms
transfers. This included tanks,
armored troop carriers, helicop-
ters and combat aircraft
delivered to some 50 countries,
mostly in Africa and the Middle
East.
IN THAT SAME period-the
last for which ACDA has ac-
curate statistics-Nicaragua
received $70 million worth of
Soviet arms, less than two-
thousandths of all Soviet arms
transfers in the Third World.
Pentagon officials say more
recent deliveries would bring the
total shipped to Nicaragua up to
some $250 to $300 million, but
even this would leave Nicaragua
behind 16 or so other Third World
nations including Peru and Cuba
in this hemisphere. In some

cases, the gap is truly immense.
Syria received $8.2 billion in
Soviet arms between 1978 and
1982, or 117 times the Nicaraguan
total, while Libya received $6
billion worth or 86 times the
Nicaraguan amount.
Nicaragua also be been ex-
cluded from that select group of
countries supplied with the most
advanced equipment. These
favored clients regularly receive
more advanced MiG jets, main
battle tanks, and surface-to-air
missiles, but not the
Nicaraguans. According to the
London-based International In-
stitute for Strategic Studies, no
jet aircraft of any sort have been
delivered and the country has
received only relatively obsolete
tanks.
COMPARE THE Soviet treat-
ment of roughly comparable
recipients. South Yemen, with 2
million people (to Nicaragua's 2.8
million), has received some 450
tanks, 48 MiG aircraft, and a
quantity of surface-to-surface
missiles. Libya, with 3.2 million
people, has received 2,800 tanks,
including 200 I-72s, 230 of the most
advanced MiGs, and a wide
variety of other modern systems.
Clearly, the Soviets have sup-
plied only small quantities of
relatively unsophisticated
equipment to Nicaragua-tran-
sfers which have given the
Nicaraguans a small advantage
on the ground but have not
changed its disadvantage in air
power.
This is consistent with the
belief, widely held by Western
observers, that the Soviets are
extremely reluctant to become

deeply involved in a regional con-
flict far from their borders.
"The Soviets have taken a good
look at the map and decided that
they couldn't sustain a regime
like Nicaragua, which is plagued
by serious security problems and
located in the wrong
hemisphere," says Prof. Rajan
Menon of Vanderbilt University,0
an expert on Soviet arms
transfers. Given their experien-
ces in Afghanistan, Angola, and
Ethiopia, he explained, the
Soviets have become very reluc-
tant to take on new military
commitments-especially within
Washington's sphere of influence
This reluctance is "a general
theme in Soviet foreign policy,"
says Menon. "They make vague
statements about international
solidarity, but they are generally
unwilling to take on any new
military commitments."
There are exceptions, of cour
se-longtime allies like Vietnam,
Cuba, and North Vietnam-but inm
general, the Soviets seem willing
to supply only cash customers,
like Libya and Syria, or
strategically situated neighbors.
And there is no reason to believe
that Moscow will jeopardize its
slowly thawing relations with
Washington by changing its ar-
ms-supply behavior.

Klare wrote this article for
the Pacific News Service.

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