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January 09, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-09

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4

OPINION

Page 4
Eed atigan mang
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wednesday, January 9, 1985

The Michigan Daily

The failure of libi

Vol. XCV, No. 81

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Wasting time

University Vice President for
Research Alfred Sussman has
been wasting the time of 15 members
of University student and faculty
committees. By approving
Engineering Prof. Theodore Birdsall's
classified research project, Sussman
sent a message to the University
community that research guidelines
and the student and faculty commit-
tees set up to enforce them have no
authority.
Birdsall's project, which is funded
by the Office of Naval Researh, was up
for renewal last month. The guidelines
for classified research adopted in 1972
prohibit classified research "The
clearly foreseeable and probable
result of which... is to destroy human
life or incapicitate human beings."
Birdsall's work certainly qualifies.
In accordance with those guidelines,
the proposal was first taken to the
three-member Classified Research
Review Panel. Af ter reading the
proposal, researching Birdsall's
study, and interviewing the resear-
cher, a CRRP student member, Nancy
Aronoff has determined that the
proposal is in direct violation of the
classified guidelines. Specifically, she
argues that the technology Birdsall
hopes to develop has obvious ap-
plications to submarine warfare. Bir-
dsall maintains that he is doing basic
research with many applications, but
he will not rule out the possibility of the
Department of Defense using his fin-
dings for military purposes.
As a result of Aronoff's concerns, the

proposal went to the 15-member
Research Policies Committee for
review. After much discussion and
review, the panel of 11 faculty mem-
bers and four students rejected the
research project and Birdsall's work
was once again challenged.
Late last month, the proposal was
presented to vice president Sussman
who rejected the RPC's recommen-
dation and approved the research
proposal. Sussman did not violate the
letter of the guidelines, but the spirit in
which they were written. He was
within his rights to approve the resear-
ch since his office is clearly authorized
to accept or reject all research
proposals. But the question is, if the
RPC exists to establish moral
guidelines, why are those guidelines so
easily ignored by the University ad-
ministration.
The 1972 guidelines were written and
adopted to keep classified military
research, such as Birdsall's work, off
campus. Sussman ignored the ethical
considerations the guidelines address.
Perhaps he had more concern for the
nearly $2 million brought in by Bir-
dsall's classified research for the
defense department in the last ten
years. But that is to be expected. In
this case, Sussman did not give enough
weight to the ethical concerns students
and faculty members take very
seriously. Unfortunately, the ad-
ministration has made the decision
with little regard for the ethical
guidelines set up and enforced by the
rest of the University community.

By Brian Leiter
Liberalism has doomed itself to failure
from the start. It has done so as a result of its
own inability (or refusal) to question the basic
assumption of conservatism: that the essen-
tial structure of the free market-namely
private control of the main sources of capital
investment - must remain intact. As a
result, it was just a matter of time before the
inadequacies of the free market made ap-
parent the basic shortcomings of the liberal
"solution." The result of this failure, as we
are all aware, has been the phenomenal social
and political backslide of the Reagan
presidency. ,
Liberalism, in short, has never been
anything more than a stylistic alternative to
conservatism: superficially different, but
substantively the same. The stylistic
variation of liberalism is to concede the in-
dividual might be victimized by the
operation of the free market. Conservatism,
on the other hand, has always maintained
that there is no real "victimization" because
everything boils down to questions of self-help
individual initiative, and effort etc.
Programs like food stamps, job training, and
Aid to Families with Dependent Children are
seen by conservatives as acts of good will and
charity and not as responses to the fact that
1. capitalism has not and does not want to
make productive use of all individuals; 2. the
combination of demoralizing social environ-
ments and inadequate educational oppor-
tunities thwart many of the best individual ef-
forts; and 3. capitalism's premium on in-
dividuals for their real productive utility for
profit leaves no room for those lacking the
capabilites for such capitalistic production
(this includes not only the handicapped, the
unskilled, but also many poets, artists etc.).
It is dubious whether liberalism even con-
ceives of social programs in such a light; but
at the very least, liberals show some
awareness that the free market is inadequate
to the needs of all members of society. In
short: liberalism concedes that capitalism is
unable to meet all the needs and demands of

those who function within it; that is, the fault
lies with the institution (the structure within
which production and investment decisions
are made) rather than the individual. Con-
servatism, on the other hand, asserts that the
individual is primarily at fault and that these
problems can be overcome by the individual
himself.
Although liberalism is successful at
recognizing this institutional victimization, it
implicitly concedes the basic conservative
point: that capitalism must remain intact,
that any impact must be made by individuals
over and against the basic structure of the,
free-market economy. Liberalism, however,
admits that individuals cannot be expected to
make this "impact" on their own - the
government must help them. Thus, liberals
condemn themselves to eternally fulfilling the
conservative cliche of "throwing money at
the problems."
It seems absurd that liberals should
recognize that capitalism is a system that
treats people as disposable commodities, and
then proceed with policies that pacify the vic-
tims instead of confronting the system itself.
Certainly we aid the refugees of war, but we
would sooner end the war than commit our-
selves to an eternal program of relief. And
while it is nonetheless true that even in a non-
capitalist society it would probably still be
necessary to commit funds to job training,
education, and the like, in a more socially
oriented economy these programs would be
conducted in an atmosphere committed to
similar goals (the meaningful employment
and realization of human abilities and poten-
tials) rather than the current atmosphere
which is hostile to the utilization of human
resources.
Liberalism has failed, then, because it had
highlighted a set of problems - poverty,
unemployment, malnutrition, educational
backwardness - and then proceeded to ad-
dress them on the purely symptomatic level.
As a result, the problems remain, and the
liberals, who for twenty years have been
saying "We must wipe out poverty, we must
wipe out unemployment..." appear ridiculous
in the face of persisting poverty, unem-
ployment etc.

eralism
This, of course, is the very fact that Reagan
monopolized on. He said the liberal,;
program (especially since the Great Society)
had failed, and he was basically right. He ;
even went so far as to blame the economic
crises on the liberal agenda. Liberals, of.
course could not respond to such a charge
because then they would have to give up the
assumption they share with the conser;
vatives: they would have to admit that it is,-
far more disastrous for an economy when
businesses invest for short-term profit, when
corporations put their money into non",,
productive investments (the trend throughout
the '70's during which time the effective cor-
porate tax rate was cut by 30 percent while
productive investment actually declined),
and when the privated sector wastes billions A
on corporate mergers. They would have to
admit that capitalism, even before the liberal
agenda, always generated economic crises.
Conservatives and liberals are both com-
mitted to capitalism; the difference is that
the liberals are slightly more honest and quite,
a bit more guilt-ridden capitalists. Conser-'
vatives, on the other hand, rely on the up-
swings in the free-market business cycles to
obscure the fact that a substantial minority of
the population is consistently excluded fronm,,
society's wealth and that the vast majority
are subjected to the uncertainty which results,
from the whim of the private sector in its
quest for profit and "efficiency."
Liberals, finally, have shown their true
colors in the face of the Reagan onslaught
and, most recently, the Mondale defeat. In-,
stead of asserting the obvious - that trickle-,
down theory didn't have long-term success
under Kennedy or Nixon and that the free,,
market has never cured society's ills ,.
liberals, instead, have picked up on the Gary, ,A
Hart position - which, despite the hype, is ;
fundamentally a reactionary position - and
asserted that liberals must adopt a stronger ,
pro-market line. Perhaps this is the truest
measure of the impact of Ronald Reagan:,
that his "opposition" hopes to build its future
success on his assumptions.
Leiter is a graduade student in law and '
philosophy.

Wasserman

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY

Birdsall

'S

project violates guidelines:,

Remember the code

In its current form as the Rules
of the University Community, the
Student Code of Non-academic Con-
duct is awaiting recommendation from
the University Council. Although its
implementation has been delayed for
some time already, the code and the
administration's efforts to install it
remains one of the most important
issues facing students this
term.
Although the code was to have been
implemented last fall, student protests
have delayed it for at least one term,
and likely another. The ad-
ministration, however, seems as intent
as ever to see some form of the code
established.
The administration's most recent
tactic had involved making minor
revisions in the code and renaming it
the "Rules of the University Com-
munity."
The revisions themselves do little to
alter the character of the code.
Although in principle it now affects all
members of the University com-
munity, it seems unlikely that it will
apply as equally to faculty and staff as
it will to students. For example, the
rules make an exception for "An act
committed by a student repor-
ter...within the scope of his or her
journalistic responsibilities." That it
refers only to student reporters and not
reporters in general reflects that the
ndministratinn is rdirecting the code

acknowledgment of the proceedings
set forth in bylaw 7.02, students' right
to an active voice in the ammendment
process cannot be guaranteed.
The Rules of the University Com-
munity are not substantially different
from the Student Code of Non-
academic Conduct, but the ad-
ministration has pulled off a successful
public relations stunt in proposing
them.
By satisfying the entire University
community the administration has
eliminated a successful rallying cry
against the code. The Rules of the
University Community still fail to deal
equitably with all members of the
University community, but now ad-
ministrators can point to an insubstan-
tial concession which diffuses that
demand.
The act of changing the name of the
proposal from the code to the rules is
nothing more than a simple deception.
The administration hopes to remove
the successful "No Code" slogan and to
distract students from the fundamen-
tally unchanged proposal.
In order to continue successful op-
position to the code sutdents should
read the current draft of the Rules of
the University Community and
become familiar with those parts that
veil further attempts by the ad-
ministration to curtail student
liberites.
Student outrage against the code has

To the Daily:
Professor Theodore Birdsall
does classified research on Ocean
Acoustics at Cooley Electrical
Labs on North Campus. Since
1972 all classified research
projects have to be reviewed by
the Classified Research projects
Review Panel before they are ac-
cepted. Last year the studentton
the review panel rejected the
project Professor Birdsall was
submitting for review because of
its application to antisubmarine
warfare. This violates the clause
in the classified guidelines which
states, "The University will not
enter into or renew any
agreement or contract, or accept
any grant, the clearly forseeable
and probable result of which, the
direct application of which, or
any specific purpose of which is
to destroy human life or to in-
capacitate human beings."
This year two more projects of
Prof. Birdsalls have come up for
Bad dream
To the Daily :
Dreams can be frightening, of-
ten terrifying, as we all know. I
woke up the other night scared to
death from a dream about
Nuclear War. It was vivid, the
details to the very last image and
sound were very clear in my
mind.
In my dream, we knew there
was going to be a bomb dropped.
We were preparing for a stay in
the basement, including water,
canned food, blankets, books, and
medical supplies. My dream
went so far as to include a search
for a can opener. When I woke up
to a silent, dark night, I felt as if
my dream had to have been a sort
of premonition, and I lay still for

review. They are both being
rejected by the member of the
review panel because of their ap-
plication to antisubmarine war-
fare. Because of this continuing
issue of Prof. Birdsall's work we
have examined his past projects
to see how they relate to his
current work and whether this
has been.a continuous project to
develop methods of tracking
submarines for the Navy.
Since at least 1974 Birdsall has
been working for the Navy doing
research on detection, location

and classification of underwater
objects. The Navy will use this
work to improve their ability to
track submarines. The Navy is
not funding this classified
research for its civilian ap-
plications. Each project since
1974 is based on the results of the
previous year. Also, there is a
narrowing of focus as groun-
dwork is accomplished. Prof.
Birdsall has worked at Moffett
NavalAir Station inhCalifornia.
Moffett is where the Navy's
Acoustic Research Center is

located. He has been using the
Naval facility's highly advanced
computers and has participated
in a Naval Exercise titled
PANOIC-77 in the Pacific Ocean.
Considering Prof. Birdsall's
involvement with antisubmarine
warfare technology these projec-
ts clearly violate the Classified
Research Guidelines and are
inappropriate at the University of,
Michigan. -Erica Freedmat
Naomi Braine
Nancy Aronoff"S
December 11

Daily unfair to homosexuals

To the Daily:
I am writing you in response to
a general approach that the
newspaper takes concerning
lesbians and homosexuals. I am
not responding to one specific ar-
ticle, but rather a continued
misguided prose.
In your newspaper as well as
many others, the topic of lesbians
and homosexuals is many times
discussed as an abnormality or
subversive element in the
American society. I would like to
set the record straight and say
that this is completely false.
Gays and lesbians are perfectly
normal people who function like
every other person, but would
merely like to share his or her
love with another person of the
same sex. That's right, love. All
too often gays and lesbians are
thought to have sex, but without
love.
Our society is conditioned by
many things, one of which is the
media, and if it continues to per-
BLOOM COUNTY

petuate these false ideas we are
only making society worse off
than it already is. I would hope
that your writers would under-
stand that gays and lesbians are
normal people and they are not

sick, they merely want to be ui-
derstood and accepted for what
they are, perfectly normal
human beings.
-Kenneth Sherry
December10

Dangerous ideas

To the Daily:
Eric Mattson's article "Free
speech issue splits 'U' Com-
munity" (Daily, Dec. 11) quotes
Steve Austin as saying that
members of the community have
the right to bar speakers who

might present dangerous ideas.
The notion of "dangerous
ideas" is a dangerous idea.
-Peter Steiner
December 12'

Steiner is dean of LSA.

}

Unsigned editorials appearing on the left side of
this page represent a majority opinion of the
Daily's Editorial Board.

by Berke Breathed

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