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November 09, 1998 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-09

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 9, 1998

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420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daylys editorial board.
All other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.


MSA should strengthen election rules

'Now I've decided I don't know a
damn thing about anything.'
-ABC Sports announcer Keith Jackson, after Michigan
scored its fourth touchdown against Penn State Saturday

n the past few years, both the federal and
state governments have faced tremen-
dous criticism and regulation regarding
campaign spending. But this issue has been
glossed over by the University's largest stu-
dent government, the Michigan Student
Assembly. With election campaigning well
under way, a menagerie of brightly hued
signs will replace the old football ticket and
mass meeting fliers that have lit up
University hallways for the past few
months. But what is amazing is not how
many people are involved with student gov-
ernment, but how much they are willing to
shell out to get a position.
This year, students running for a seat on
MSA should be reasonable with their indi-
vidual finances. In a campaign for an unpaid
position, students should not spend an exor-
bitant monetary amount for a seat on the
assembly. At the moment, MSA does have a
regulatory policy on campaign finance, but it
is not rigidly enforced. Students running for
an elected position are supposed to report
how much they spend - usually by turning
in receipts - and are not allowed to exceed
$500. By simply turning in receipts and rely-
ing on an honor system, student candidates
are bound to ignore spending caps and bend,
if not break, the rules.
This year, that practice should not con-
tinue. First, by allowing an unlimited
amount of money to be spent on a cam-
paign, the race becomes a monetary compe-
tition - as if to say the better candidate is
the one willing to shell out more cash. It
also prohibits many students who would
make good candidates from running for
office. By not doing more to prevent signif-
icant spending, MSA is effectively narrow-
ing their own capacity by barring any can-
didate who cannot afford bumper stickers

and cellular phones.
Tighter regulation on campaign finance
would open up the campaign to many more
students who may want to run for office.
Further, voters would more likely cast their
ballots for the most qualified candidate
instead of whomever spends the most on
fliers and campaign gimmicks. MSA
should do more to enforce its regulations,
and students running for office should vol-
untarily cap their spending to a reasonable
As is the case in many non-presidential
MSA elections, it is quite likely that voter
turnout will see a sharp decline from its
point last semester, when Trent Thompson
was elected president. The assembly should
do more to encourage students to take part
in its elections. Common voter turnout lev-
els are around 15 percent - hardly a man-
date from the student body. In order to
heighten its perceived legitimacy among
students, assembly members need to do
more to increase voter turnout. Allowing
students to vote on the Web is a good first
step, but the assembly should embark on a
large campus-wide campaign to increase
the number of students who vote.
Along with campaign spending regula-
tion, MSA should review and consider
revamping its election rules. Last year, the
election for MSA president resulted in bro-
ken rules, investigations and penalties. To
make MSA an effective and legitimate stu-
dent body, rules need to be clearly laid out.
Election sites, procedures and regulations
should be revamped by MSA and dissemi-
nated to the University students. By keep-
ing spending to a minimum and regulating
fair elections, MSA could gain legitimacy
with students and become a more effective
legislative body.

Out of service

A2 should not privatize city services
T hursday of last week marked the last competition to provide city servic
Ann Arbor City Council meeting for would also likely be a decline in (
member Jane Lumm (R-2nd Ward). On her wages. A number of service-provid
final day on the Council, Lumm brought panies succeed by paying minimum
forth a proposal that, if passed, would have their workers. Sadly, earners of r
most likely led to an increase in privatiza- wage are likely to fall below the
tion of services in Ann Arbor. line. Had this item passed, how
Specifically, the proposal called for the inevitable privatization of certain
establishment of a Competitiveness Steering would most likely have led to m
Committee that would assess different city working employees earning wages
services and decide which ones should go to not satisfy theirs or their families'i
private companies. Lumm claimed that other is difficult to understand why an in
cities have experienced many benefits from competition would be worth the
having the private sector provide certain ser- detrimental aspects that would resu
vices, and the increased competition is a Nevertheless, the same nun
benefit to everyone. Council members voted for the pr
Fortunately, just enough City Council did against it. Although its ultima
members disagreed, and the proposal was was ideal, it is slightly deplorable
defeated in a tie - five in favor and five many members were in support of
against. Opponents of the proposal posal. Under no circumstances shl
expressed their understanding that the neg- goals of our city services deviate fr
ative aspects of installing the committee far ity and cost-efficiency. But the{
outweigh the positive. The city of Ann drive for profit displayed so offer
Arbor would not have benefited from the private sector may eventually hav
privatization of its services, contrary to those goals downward on the prio
Lumm's claim. As Councilmember Chris der. The defeat of this proposal siE
Kolb (D-2nd Ward) mentioned, the public narrow yet significant victory for ti
sector is focused primarily on service. sector. Competition and free enter
Handing our city services over to private - healthy considerations elsewhere in
business may have resulted in more of an but should not impede on many pu
emphasis on profit, jeopardizing the quality vices. In Ann Arbor especially,c
of certain aspects of Ann Arbor most people with the services the city provide
take for granted. be dealt with by the city. Regard
Kolb cited water quality as an example, proposal called for time and mon
noting that if its management were under spent on the establishment of a co
the control of a private company, profit to explore the option of privatizat
would possibly be held in higher regard Arbor residents should be thankful
than public health. While this illustration time and money might now bes
comes across as somewhat extreme, it is a more important concerns.
good example of what privatization can The always prevalent issue of

ces, there
ing com-
n wage to
ever, the
ore hard-
s that do
needs. It
crease in
mber of
oposal as
te defeat
e that so
fthe pro-
ould the
om qual-
n by the
e shifted
ority lad-
gnifies a
he public
prise are
n society,
ublic ser-
s should
less, the
ey to be
ion. Ann
that this
spent on

letters are
I am writing in response
to the swarm of letters bash-
ing Sarah Lockyer's Oct. 27
column ("Women really do
have it all"). These letters
screaming about how
Lockyer's column is not
addressing the real feminist
issues in the world are get-
ting a little bit redundant.
Come on, it's just a column
in a college newspaper and
everyone seems to be taking
it way too seriously. I, for
one, admire Lockyer's more
light-hearted take on life.
Editorial was
Editorials are a valuable
part of The Michigani Daily,
but they need to be based on
facts and Daily staffers should
try to avoid writing sensational
pieces such as the one that
appeared on Oct. 28 ("A breath
of fresh air"). The editorial
crowed about truck makers
getting "caught" fitting their
trucks with certain emission
control settings the EPA deter-
mined were excessive, imply-
ing that the truck companies
tried to cheat. In fact, no cheat-
ing occurred at all.
The EPA tests vehicles
according to a rigidly defined
test procedure that simulates
various real-world driving con-
ditions including city and
highway usage, hill climbing,
starting the engine from cold
and many others. A vehicle
model that fails any segment
of the test is not permitted to
be sold, so every manufacturer
invests many hours and dollars
into programming the emis-
sions controls to meet every
test requirement. The fact that
the trucks were granted their
U.S. emissions certification,
permitting them to be sold, is
prima facie evidence that the
trucks complied with all EPA
regulations in place at the time
of the testing.
The EPA later discovered
that the trucks emitted compar-
atively high levels of certain
pollutants under a certain
extended-speed condition not
included in the certification
tests the trucks had to pass.
I'm not saying this is a good or
acceptable thing, but the fact is
that the trucks passed every
test they wererequired to pass,
and that was the truck makers'
only legal obligation.
These trucks alerted the
EPA to a missing test point in
their certification regimen,
one which both sides agree
needs to be included in future
tests. That is the reason for

tion tests; vehicles are pro-
grammed to comply with the
testing requirements. Let's not
play pin-the-tail-on-the-truck
company - they met their
legal requirements. Nobody
wants dirty air. We all breathe!
A response to
Galica's letter
Today, as I climbed into the
Jeep Cherokee that my daddy
bought me (gold trim, of
course) while swaddled in my
black North Face jacket and
black bootleg pants from
Banana Republic, I it a
Marlboro Light, tookta swig of
Diet Coke and suddenly real-
ized that Ken Galica can kiss
my ass. (Note: Galica wrote
the letter "Michiganders
should leave the 'U,"' which
ran on Nov. 5.)
Response did
not address
the issue
On Oct. 29, the Daily print-
ed a letter responding to my
previous letter ("Letter was
'propaganda"'). That author's
attack on me centered around
one statement: my printed
comment that "hundreds" of
Palestinians left Israel during
the War of Liberation. This
error resulted not from poor
research on my part, but due to
an error on the part of the
Daily's editors. I wish to point
out that I sent a correction to
the editors replacing "hun-
dreds" (what my original draft
of the letter stated) with "hun-
dreds of thousands" of
Palestinians left Israel. The
Daily's editors, however, did
not make this correction.
As a side note, it is inter-
esting to see what the letter
writers did not attack. They did
not dispute my claim that
Palestinians have been subject-
ed to periodic slaughter, expul-
sion and persecution by the
various Arab countries. They
did not dispute my claim that
Israeli Palestinians have the
highest standard of living of
any Palestinians in the Arab
world. They did not dispute my
claim that a roughly equal
number of Jews fled Arab
countries. They could not dis-
pute these claims because they
are the unabridged truth
(unlike their hateful propagan-
da). Furthermore, they did not
dispute my claim that they
have focused only on alleged
(and frequently false) Israeli
persecution and ignored the
much more severe treatment
Palestinians await elsewhere.
1 Intil *hsp. fnrua n n the tattr

Pfeffer' s
letter did not
help women
Reading Carla Pfeffer's let-
ter to the editor ("Lockyer did
not relieve gender inequality,"
11/5/98) made me realize how
lucky I am to be a guy. Women
must have it tougher than I
thought, being literally straw-
fed a vile sugarless carbonated
beverage and all. The horrific
treatment of women must
cease and desist at once. The
only plausible means by which
this can be achieved is the sys-
tematic, wholesale elimination
of the female gender. I see no
other way to bring the deep
bias against women to a halt.
Therefore, Ipropose that the
government institute a law
whereby all women must
undergo State-subsidized sex
change operations.
Furthermore, the very exis-
tence of women is to be out-
lawed - every newborn
female will therefore be surgi-
cally transformed into a
healthy penis-toting male
immediately following birth.
This kind undertaking
will liberate women and
allow them to live their lives
and pursue their goals on the
most equal of terms. In fact,
in order to completely
unchain women from all of
their womanly constraints,
private childbearing shall be
outlawed and all human
reproduction will take place
under the auspices of the
State. Artificial insemination
will be the law of the land,
and sex for pleasure's sake
will be punishable by 40
years of hard labor. The word
"sex" shall be eliminated
from the State lexicon alto-
gether. The institution of
marriage shall cease to exist;
indeed, women shall cease to
exist, and as such, all people
shall be grouped together as
simply "Citizens."
The Citizens will work for
the State - private industry is
to be no more. The capitalist
enterprises which now manu-
facture "Diet Coke" and other
immoral tools of capitalist
oppression shall be national-
ized and headed by the State.
A new high-calorie, sugary
drink, "Citizen Coke" will
replace Diet Coke and all other
soft drinks as the official and
only beverage of the State.
All Citizens will wear stan-
dard State-issued blue overalls
and eat standard-issue food-
stuffs, and of course, drink
standard-issue Citizen Coke.
Any Citizen caught wearing
(or even thinking of wearing) a
black shirt, tube top and stilet-
tos shall be summarily execut-
ed by the Thought Police. Any
Citizen caught reading a J.
Crew catalog, or for that mat-
ter, any catalog not issued by
the State, shall be summarily
executed as well. In fact, any

Nike, Reebok,
Kathie Lee and
There's no denying that Americans
are thoroughly obsessed with nice
clothes. Despite our better financial
judgement. most of us would dash into
Hudson's this very instant and lay down
$74.99 for a new Polo Sport something-A
or-other. Just take a look around at the
people sitting
in class with
you and then
tell me this
isn't true. thi
We all like
stylish clothes.
because, in<.
addition to get-
ting us dates,
they conjure up .w
fantastic SC T
images. When CTT
we slip on a new HUNTER
Eddie Bauer Tlft(al
sweater, for so
instance, we can just imagine all the care
that some elderly grandmother-type must
have put into stitching the garment.
But, contrary to popular belief, most
of our sweaters weren't made by gentle
old grandmothers at all. Instead,
chances are that some 12-year-old girl
in some dot-on-a-map country like
Honduras - or even Mexico or China
- whipped off about 300 copies of that
sweater during a 60-hour factory shift.
In fact, while researching this column
and attending my first labor meetings
this year, I discovered to my surprise
that just about everything I own - or
have ever bought - was made from the
blood, sweat and phlegm of sweatshop
kids. And I know I'm not alone.
That's why last week in New York, a
White House task force finished up a long
conventiontaimed at producing an agree-
ment that would protect workers
employed by U.S. companies at overseas
factories. The 18-member coalition,
which includes some of our very favorite
sweatshop owners - Nike, Reebok and
Kathie Lee Gifford - laid out a plandto
curb worker abuse by setting up a big
watchdog group called the Fair Labor
Association. The FLA will monitor U.S.-
owned factories overseas and put the
smack down on the ones found to engage
in abusive labor practices.
"(It's a) historic step toward reducing
sweatshop labor around the world,"
raved President Clinton.
"(The pact is the) foundation to elim-
inate sweatshop labor, here and abroad."
gleamed Labor secretary Alexis
But despite all the jubilation emanat-
ing from Washington, the agreement is
purely a cosmetic fix to the whole
sweatshop issue. It's made to dupe all
the Kathie Lee Gifford-haters into
thinking that all labor abuses have been
officially ended. Yet, truth be told, none
of the 12-year-old Honduran girls are
sleeping any easier.
Under the new arrangement,
American companies will have to stopW
their factories from hiring children
younger than 15 years old - unless, of
course, the factory is in a country where
it is legal for 14-year-olds to work. The
companies will also have to stop requir-
ing employees to work more than 60
hours per week. Plus, Kathie Lee and
her sweatshop cronies will have to pay
workers either the minimum wage man-
dated by local law or the industry stan-
dard - whichever is higher.
If the companies accomplish all of
these things, they can legally say that
their clothes are not made in sweat-
shops. And we can continue leafing

through our J. Crew catalogues with a
clear conscience.
Though the guidelines established by
the new agreement will improve working
conditions somewhat, they still fail to
address one minor issue: fair treatment.
While it may be perfectly legal to make a
14-year-old work 60 hours per week for a
dime minus tax in some countries, it's still
not humane. Accordingly, each -country's
laws should not be the yardstick by which
companies measure the acceptability of
labor practices.
Here's why ...
Every country has some set of mini-
mum guidelines governing the opera-
tion of factories. But many of these
codes don't ensure fair treatment.
The sweatshop nations have estab-
lished only minimal worker protections
to lure businesses -- and jobs - from
other countries. For example, your aver-
age German shoe maker earns $18.40
per hour, while the typical Mexican gets
$1.70 for the same job. Guess where all
the shoe-making jobs are.
It's not that the governments don't
care about the welfare of their workers,
but in the end, they've got to get jobs
into the country somehow. Even nations*
such as Indonesia keep minimum wages
and worker protections low in order to
attract jobs into the country.
No one expects developing countries
to enjoy working conditions as good as
ours - that'd be a little idealistic. And,
besides, it's not our place to go around


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