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April 06, 1988 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-06

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OPINION

Page 6

Wednesday, April 6, 1988

The Michigan Daily

ed t antMichigan
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

VarianMisrepresents Dept.

Vol. XCVIII, No. 126

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.
Possible scenarios involving U.S. troops:
The Panama connection

YESTERDAY 300 U.S. Marines, 500
military police, an army aviation unit,
and three Air Force ground defense
units prepared to leave U.S. soil for
Panama. The official purpose of this
deployment is to safeguard the canal,
protect U.S. citizens and "shore up"
the morale of Panamanians hoping for
the ouster of General Manuel Noriega,
infamous military tyrant and drug traf-
ficker.
Panamanians and Americans alike
have grounds for concern. Sending in
the marines under the guise of safe-
guarding U.S. citizens has been a tool
to maintain U.S. military hegemony.
The Dominican Republic in 1965 and
Grenada in 1980 are just two recent
examples.
Since U.S. supertankers and air
Tprce carriers are now too large to fit
through the canal, Reagan's assertion
t at the canal zone is a geo-strategically
vital conduit, to be defended at all costs
is difficult to believe. Moreover, de-
spite Reagan's anti-drug crusade, it is
clear the CIA has known about - and
indeed participated in - Noriega's
drugs and guns games for years. The
official justifications for sending in
thvops and attempting to engineer the
deposition of Noriega are little more
than flimsy excuses.
It is important to ask what the real
tgenda is. Reagan desperately needs a
foreign policy victory during his last
tew months in office, if only to absolve
himself of his past failures. Signifi-
cantly, Reagan's State Department has
been the main instigator of the current
maneuvers, as opposed to the military
hierarchy.
The Pentagon has actually urged re-
straint - even leaking to the press a
dramatic State Department plot to kid-
nap and forcibly extradite Noriega to
the U.S. Such schemes are reminiscent
of President Carter's foiled eleventh-
hour plot to rescue the American
hostages in Lebanon via helicopter.
Safeguarding the canal may be less
important than safeguarding the U.S.
Southern Command, the military and

CIA headquarters for all of Central and
South America. Noriega has demanded
that the Southern Command abandon
its strategic position on Panamanian
soil. Sending in troops may serve to
prevent Noriega from fulfilling this
demand.
Nicaragua is a likely item on any
Reagan agenda. With the fighting fu-
ture of the contras looking dim, Reagan
may wish to flank Nicaragua with
U.S. troops. Sending combat troops to
the unglamorous and already occupied
country of Panama - with north-south
military roads through Costa Rica to
Nicaragua - may be an easy way to
break the ice.
Through his dealings with Cuba,
Nicaragua and Salvadoran rebels,
Noriega has proved himself an un-
faithful bedfellow. Exposing him to the
world as a corrupt and bloodthirsty
tyrant and forcing his ouster may well
be designed to send a blunt message to
all the other American-backed, blood-
thirsty tyrants in the hemisphere: cross
the CIA and expect to be screwed.
With Ecuador's upcoming elections
likely to yield a socialist leadership
with ideas of its own, such a message
might be, from the administration's
point of view, well-timed.
Another possible scenario is that
Reagan is hoping to discredit Noriega
and force him from power before the
next U.S. election. One of the gen-
eral's aides has already testified that
Noriega has information about high-
level involvement by certain U.S.
officials in the drug-gun-contra
connection that might influence the
Finally, however events play them-
selves out, the ongoing hearings in the
Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee
offer a rare glimpse into the secret and
macabre world of dollars, drugs, and
dictators in which members of our own
government play key roles.
The hearings should be watched
closely as they will surely indicate to
the public the actual intentions of the
Reagan administration policy in Central
and South America, both past and pre-
sent.

By Dean Baker and Mark
Greer
We were pleased to see that Professor
Varian, one of the most distinguished
members of our faculty, took the time to
reply to our criticism of the economics
profession and the department here at the
University.
Before addressing the specific issues.
raised by Varian, it is worth pointing out
the extent to which he misunderstood the
nature of our criticism. Our point was not
that economists are despicable people who
plot to make life miserable for the poor,
working people, women and minorities,
but rather that the basic assumptions held
by the mainstream within the field tend to
support world views and policies that have
this effect. Also, many well-intentioned
individuals may find themselves arguing
for such policies because of an unwilling-
ness or inability to critically examine
these basic assumptions and theories. The
fact that economics can have this effect
makes it far more pernicious than the view
of economists which Varian mocks, where
they write papers on how to exploit mi-
norities and help the rich.
Taking Varian's specific points one at a
time, we can begin with his claim that the
Economics Department has sought to fos-
ter alternative or critical views. Varian ar-
gues that two of the fields we claimed,
were under attack, Economic History and
Political Economy, actually enjoy strong
support within the department. This is a
surprise to those of us who have seen fac-
ulty attendance at the Political Economy
seminar dwindle to only one person who
will be here after this year, or who have
had our intelligence questioned for doing
work in this area. As for Economic His-
tory, the fact remains that two of the de-
partment's three economic historians have
been lost andnot replaced in recent years.
Varian says nothing about History of
Economic Thought, which recently lost
its only faculty member. He also says
nothing about the departure or marginal-
ization (not being allowed to teach gradu-
ate classes) of faculty members in other
Baker and Greer are doctoral candidates in
Economics

fields who do less orthodox work.
As to Varian's citation of work being
done to investigate the persistence of in-
equality based on race or gender, we noted
this in our original article when we said,
"Although there are some models within
the mainstream of how such inequality
could persist, for the most part they are
somewhat suspect within the discipline."
We stand by this. The material Varian
cites would be seen by a tiny fraction of
the students taking either undergraduate or
graduate level economics. The prevailing
view, one embodying strongly racist and
sexist overtones, is that a market cannot
sustain discrimination. Many mainstream
economists infer from this that the lower
average earnings of women and Blacks
compared to white men can likely be at-
tributed to the lower productivity of
women and Blacks relative to white men.
Any examination of textbooks or course
syllabii will readily bear this out.
We find it difficult to believe that Var-
ian would contend that one learns much
about the institutional structure of the
economy in graduate courses. In these
courses, money comes from "helicopter
drops" and individuals and firms are omni-
scient about everything that can ever pos-
sibly happen. Investment in plant and"
equipment is sometimes referred to as
putty-putty, which means that it can be
changed from one type of machine to an-
other. In most models it can also be eaten.
We even work with Robinson Crusoe
economies where there is one worker who
is also the economy's only employer and
consumer. Perhaps we were absent the day
institutions were discussed.
As to our comment about the right-
wing bias of funding sources in eco-
nomics, we'll acknowledge that we have
carried through no independent investiga-
tion, but rather have relied on the advice of
faculty members who have warned us of
the types of work which will not receive
funding or get us a job. The funding
sources cited by Varian certainly give no
reassurance that work outside the main-
stream will find sponsors.
As to the last point, on the numbers of
women and Black faculty, we will simply
refer to the department's most recent
handbook on graduate study in economics.
Twenty two full time faculty members are
listed. This list includes one Black and no

women. Thirty faculty members are listed
as having joint appointments. This list
includes four women and no Blacks.
We regret if our original article was in-
terpreted in any way that might denigrate
the status of faculty members with joint
appointments; this was certainly not our
intention. It does seem, however, that
something other than random chance must
account for the fact that none of the
twenty-two faculty members with full ap-
pointments are female.
The handbook also lists one woman as
an adjunct professor, three as lecturers, and
one as an assistant research scientist. Only
women are listed in these last three cate-
gories. What these categories have in
common with other jobs commonly held
by women is that they involve low pay
and little potential for advancement rela-
tive to tenure-track appointments.
It is interesting that one of Varian's
main defenses of the Economics Depart-
ment's hiring policies is to point out sev-
eral times that offers have been made to
desirable candidates (for example, to an
Economic History Ph.D. and to women
and minorities). Anyone who has been in- p
volved in the academic hiring process
knows that there are many ways of
"making an offer," some of which are sig-
nificantly more attractive than others. If
the Economics Department has been mak-
ing unsuccessful offers year after year to
women and minorities, we suggest that
they need to either make more attractive
offers, or go after candidates who would
more seriously consider coming to teach
here. After all, job candidates aren't judged
by the places they would like to work, but
by the job they land. Why should Varian
expect the Economics Department to be
judged by any less stringent a standard?
We hope that the rest of the economics
faculty do not share Varian's view that
making offers which are seldom accepted
and hiring only women to fill the Depart-
ment's least prestigious and lowest-paying
jobs fulfills their responsibility to ag-
gressively "explore diversity.".
We appreciate Varian's call for
considering arguments with skepticism.
We eagerly await the day when such skep-
ticism towards the prevailing neoclassical
economic assumptions becomes acceptable
as a basis for research in the economics
department.

Wasserman,

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rA 4

Bring back the bottles

LETTERS:
Turkish Kurds still treated unfairly

IN 1976, THE STATE of Michigan
passed the Bottle Bill, putting into effect
a ten cent deposit on cans and bottles
sold in Michigan and obligating vendors
to provide for the return of cans and
bottles. Vendors in Ann Arbor have
abused this responsibility by ma-
nipulating the law.
Stores are required by law to accept
returnables of the type which they sell
and must accept per person per day up
to 250 cans, a refund of $25.
Campus area businesses make it ex-
tremely difficult to return large numbers
of cans and bottles. Many stores set
return limits of either five or ten dollars;
a rate they arbitrarily raise or lower.
Vendors justify this by claiming they do
not have the employees or facilitiesto
handle large returns, particularly on
such "busy days" as football Saturdays.
Some vendors will not accept more
than one dollar in returnables from an
individual on these days.
The restrictions of the campus area
stores make it necessary for people to
transport their retumables to many dif-
ferent stores.
This particular practice has serious
implications for homeless people and
poor people, although it may seem an
inconvenience to customers. The Stop
and Go chain, for instance, has a store-
wide policy, asking customers to
provide their initials and phone number

themselves from employees altering
return slips and stealing funds from the
store.
This is an outrageous policy, only
serving to deny poor people and home-
less people proper access to a service
the store is compelled by law to pro-
vide. Due to economic conditions many
people in the Ann Arbor community do
not have the resources which these ar-
bitrary return policies require. They
have neither telephone services nor
homes. Further, signing one's initials
requires an ability to read and write.
Literacy should not be a requirement to
return bottles.
Though different in degree, the policy
instituted by Stop and Go is not unlike
the arbitrary rules other stores set for
themselves. These businesses are
breaking the law and in so doing are
making Ann Arbor a community inac-
cessible to people who cannot write
and who cannot afford phones, homes,
or cars to transport their retumables
from store to store.
The burden is on the vendors to pro-
vide a can and bottle return service. If
stores are understaffed and do not have
the people power to handle large re-
turns, they must hire more people. If
they do not have adequate storage
facilities, they must create them. The
motivation of vendors is profit, and
profit is an inadequate and wrong justi-

To the Daily:
Last week, on Monday March
21st, I attended a Brown Bag
talk on "The Kurdush Struggle
Against Human Rights
Abuses." The speaker, who
was an Iraqi Kurd, spoke
mainly of the atrocities com-
mitted against the Kurds in his
native Iraq, and he briefly
mentioned the treatment of the
Kurds in the Republic of
Turkey, where most of the
Near East's 16 million Kurds
live. He was very kind to the
Turkish government, merely
mentioning that the Kurds in
Turkey are not recognized as an
ethnic minority, are not al-
lowed to speak their language,
and are persecuted if they insist
on their national or cultural
rights.
However, the most amazing
aspect of the talk was not what
the Kurd speaker said, but the
manner in which some Turk-
ish students produced a propa-
ganda booklet pertaining to an
outrage committed last year in
Turkish Kurdistan by a
particular Kurdish organization,
and how the Turkish students
shouted down the speaker with

It is sad to observe such be-
havior in this University,
which ostensibly believes in
giving minorities a n d
"underdogs" a fair say. Consid-
ering that the forum was a
"Brown Bag" and not an in-
flammatory debate, I felt the

moderator of the talk did not do
her job in keeping the subject
at hand, and this was a serious
shortcoming on her part as
well as the University's. I am
personally struck by the paral-
lel between the treatment of the
Kurds today and the treatment

of the Armenians in the past at
the hands of the Turkish gov-
ernment and its supporters.
And we all know what hap-
pened to the Armenians.
-Richard Najarian
LSA Junior

A

Marijuana laws should be enforced

To the Daily:
Reading the headline today I
want to express great concern
in the Daily's editorial staff. I
am trying to figure out what
was the significance of writing
about the so-called "hash-
bash." Instead of reading about
the hash-bash in the headline, I
was looking for something
more important like, for
example, an article covering
today's election or an article
covering the progress o f
Michigan's regents.
Are we promoting civil dis-
obedience and disregard for the
law? Are we trying to idolize
criminals? People who partici-
pated in the hash-bash are vio-
lating a law, a law that was
created in the first place to

diseases related to smoking, it
is shown in all medical reports
that marijuana causes brain
damage. Banning marijuana is
within the jurisdiction of law-
makers.
We should enforce all laws
no matter how trivial some
might seem. The campus
security and the Ann Arbor
police should have been sent in
during the hash-bash to eradi-
cate the Diag of these offend-
ers. I feel a harsher penalty,

from a $5 fine to a $500 fine
and 5 days in jail, is needed to
curb the growing dependence
on this marijuana drug.
By participating in last
year's hash-bash, Perry Bullard
demonstrated how much regard
he has for laws created by the
people. As an elected public
official, I feel he should be
thrown out of office for his
lewd conduct.

* _
..#
4
'
,

-Marcus Ma
April 4

Daily Opinon Page letter policy
Due to the volume of mail, the Daily cannot print
all the letters and columns it receives, although an
s . nf ; mna t% -ri~ ,a mir. xY^fw tP--1 n

r,

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