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September 19, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-19

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Utie Sibigtt urIg

The economy is booming; it may still be the worst of times0

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

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

A pril 20, 1999 - the day the Columbine
massacre happened - was a terrific day.
Okay, so a teacher and few teenagers died -
but look at it this way: If it weren't for Eric Har-
ris and Dylan Klebold, 15 funerals probably

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

wouldn't have hap-
pened; several Denver-
area undertakers and
florists would have
missed out.
More significantly,
think about all the peo-
ple that bought news
magazines or watched
television on April 20
and the following days
- this meant that more
people saw more adver-
tisements than usual and
presumably bought
more products as a
result. The subsequent
increase in demand for
advertised products
meant that more people
had to be hired - thus1

Lab courses deserve more credit hours

C lasses have once again started and
students renew their quest toward
degree completion. As the student
marches steadily along, progress is
marked by the credits completed. One
would think that credits would be intrin-
sically related the amount of knowledge
the student has attained.
The University does not assign credit
based on content or difficulty and work-
l<ad; rather an archaically obsolete
"equation" turns the hours spent in class
into the amount of progress one makes
toward graduation. This equation simply
take s te number of
hours one spends week- The Univ4
ly in class and awards a
like amount of credit to does not
the student upon com-
pletion of the course - credit ba:
unless one is enrolled in
a laboratory section. content (
Here the University
has deemed that the difficulty
practical work done in
the laboratory is worthy Workload
of only one-half of the
credits as its lecture
counterparts. As many science concen-
trators know, laboratory courses are
often among the most valuable courses a
student takes during their tenure at the
University. Despite their practicality, an
eight hour lab is often awarded only two
The skills learned in laboratory
classes are often of more value than
those taught in a lecture. The University
should not impart a sense of inferiority
upon this practical component of educa-
Lest one might deem the inappropri-
ate assignment of credit a trivial com-
plaint raised by disgruntled chemistry
majors, one should remember that facul-
ty and laboratory instructors have also
expressed concern regarding the allot-


ment of credit.
Laboratory instructors often warn
students that the course they are
instructing involves more work than the
class' credit is worth. Perhaps if the
University does not acknowledge the
concerns of students, it should adere to
the suggestions of its faculty.
The University utilizes a credit sys-
tem to measure the progress of a student
toward the completion of a degree. The
College of Literature Science and the
Arts' mission statement also claims that
it wishes "To achieve pre-eminence in
Wj creating,ypreserving
rsiy and applying knowl-
edge and academic val-
ssign. ues and to transform
them into leaders and
ed on citizens who challenge
the present and illumi-
r nate the future." The
current credit structure
ind does not properly value
laboratory education.
Although it is a sep-
arate issue, it could be
argued that qualitative
course credit value would too-quickly
push students' credits past the 18 credits
per semester limit. Students pay more
tuition for taking more than 18 credits
and this would lead to undue financial
strain for students trying to graduate
early. Raising the credits per semester
threshold could easily circumvent this
Credit allocation to upper-level class-
es is also a point of contention. While
most upper-level classes are three cred-
its, theydinvolve more work than many
four credit introductory courses.
The University should reexamine its
assi nment of laboratory and discussion
creit, with the hope of adopting a sys-
tem which reflects the effort and knowl-
edge content of the course.

lowering all-around

We hear about how we're currently enjoying
the longest period of sustained economic
growth in the nation's history; this is taken to be
evidence that if other countries want to be as
prosperous as the United States, they should
also adopt pro-business economic policies.
Just how great have things been? In 1950, the
U.S.'s Gross Domestic Product (the total value
of all the goods and services produced) was
S1,611 billion (in 1992 dollars) and by 1998,
the GDP was $7,552 billion (in 1992 dollars).
But that isn't just wealth generated by good
things (i.e. elbow grease and innovation), that's
all wealth.
It is possible, then, that the rosy picture paint-
ed by many economists and policy makers (one
that they so often attribute to the U.S. govern-
ment's laissez-faire economic policies) could
actually be hiding things that aren't so peachy.
Economists call these "externalities," the things
that don't get considered in those elegant mod-
els that keep indicating so much growth and
happiness - things like pollution, racism,
crime and alcoholism.
A more comprehensive approach to econom-
ics - that is, one that takes a good look at all
the externalities - might yield a very different
picture of the overall well-being of the country.
Suppose a causal relationship between laissez-
faire capitalism and many of those externalities
can be established. Suppose further that those
externalities create enough all-around suffering
to outweigh the benefits stemming from what-
ever wealth is generated by the current system,
in that case we ought to adopt more progressive
(and perhaps even radical) economic reforms.
The problems with traditional economic indi-
cators like the GDP have led to the development
of other measures. The think-tank Redefining

In short, the economic benefits of the
Columbine massacre are incalculable. Econom-
ically speaking, the Columbine massacre wasn't
just good - it was great! But are we, as a soci-
ety, really better off because 15 are dead? No. In
fact the very notion that 13 brutal murders could
be good isn't just absurd, it's repugnant.
Yet almost every day we allow ourselves to
be tricked by that exact same reasoning. The
context in which it's presented to us is different
of course, but the facts remain the same - bad
things can often generate wealth, a lot of wealth.

Progress has tried to do this through what they
call the Genuine Progress Indicator, an attempt
to establish a quantifiable value for things like
volunteer work, parenting and leisure time
(activities that are worthless in GDP terms).
Likewise, things like the costs of cleaning up
toxic waste, going through a divorce and wreck-
ing your car in an accident (which are good for
the GDP) count against the GPI. Researchers at
the Fordham (University) Institute for Innova-
tion in Social Policy have made a similar
attempt - the Index of Social Health (the
results of their study are published in The Social
Health of the Nation: How America is Really
Doing by Marc Miringoff and Marque-Luisa
Miringoff). In other words, these scholars are
trying to measure the things that really matter to
The results of these two studies are telling.
Despite the "explosive" economic growth the
United States has experienced in recent
decades, both the GPI and the Index of Social
Health have decreased over the years. Whereas
the Social Health Index peaked in 1973 at 76.9
(out of a possible 100), in 1996 it was down to
43. The GPI, which is measured in dollars, was
at $1,982 billion (in 1992 dollars) in 1980 but
decreased to $1,770 billion (in 1992 dollars) by
Naturally, the general trends measured by the
GPI and the Index of Social Health don't prove
anything. What these two indicators do tell us is
that (at the very least) grandiose claims of pre-
viously unthinkable prosperity (and therefore
the successfulness of the policies that supposed-
ly instigated it) are dubious at best when exam-
ined in any meaningful way.
--Nick Roomer can be reached
via e-mail at nwoomer@umich.edu.

'I firmly believe that the genome and genetics hold
within it the possibility of improving lives.'
- University Prof, and head of the National
Genome Project, Francis Collins.

Campus is not

smell a RAT?
Campaign finance issues cloud elections

A nyone who watches television
probably can't help but be
annoyed with the barrage of political
ads inundating the airwaves at this
time of year. It seems every break in
every show is filled with candidates
denouncing one another in terms that
are generally less than accurate.
Indeed, the problem is so bad that
many advertisements have become
more newsworthy than the campaign
itself. A case in point is the recent
Republican commercial attacking
Vice President Al Gore's health-care
plan, which flashes the word "rats"
on the screen at the
end of the ad for one Manyad
frame. Critics of the adv
accuse the GOP of e
inserting subliminal
messages into their
commercial, while the wswoI
Bush camp says it was the cam
completely uninten-
tional (a claim which, itself*
given the excruciating
detail put into the
process of creating computer graph-
ics, is dubious). If there are sublimi-
nal messages in the ad, Bush's
campaign team has definitely crossed
the line.
The infamous RATS ad is also not
the only commercial to have created a
stir recently. Oather ads have taken
potshots at Gore's credibility, his
fund-raising campaigns and his sup-
posed reluctance to debate Bush (to
say nothing of his supposed claim to
have invented the Internet). This last
point has been proven particularly
inaccurate by now, as Bush was the
candidate refusing to debate on the
terms set forth by the Commission on
Presidential Debates.
The controversy over advertising,
of course, does not stop on the
national level. In its first set of paid
television commercials, the American
Civil Liberties Union has taken
Republican Senator Spence Abraham
to task for not taking a position on a
bill that would provide police agen-
cies with federal funds to coltect data
on racial profiling. This is a worthy
cause, but the fact that the ads have


been making so much news points to
the overblown role of advertising in
The influx of soft money contribu-
tions that floods the two major par-
ties with untraceable funds from
business and special interest groups
alike makes smaller organizations
have to compete on the same terms.
The ACLU ads themselves are not
dirty and have their benefit in this
senatorial campaign, but it is unfortu-
nate that this organization is forced to
play the same ad money game as
politicians. The only parties benefit-
ing from this propa-
'have gandizing of the
aeoti~anc process
IOre are those with the
money to fund the
h tan advertising machines
creating this road-
block in the political
The problem of
rampant inaccurate
advertising is offset
by the fact that the candidates have
recently agreed on the structure and
format of the debates. These three
debates are scheduled to take place in
October and will introduce some
changes to the traditional format of a
presidential debate. For instance, the
candidates will be granted more time
to address one another after each
question. Debates are a far better way
for the candidates to bring issues and
viewpoints into the public eye - and
they have the added bonus of not
being marred by soft money contribu-
The best solution to the advertis-
ing question, though, is to reform the
campaign finance laws. As it stands
now, candidates of all party affilia-
tions are using money donated to the
party as a whole to finance advertise-
ments that are quite clearly meant as
campaign ads rather than issue ads,
even if they do not specifically say
so. Overhauling campaign finance in
order to change this could cut down
on the number of overblown or even
blatantl untruthful claims that fill
every television commercial break.

Emily Achenbaum's column ("Men's
Health says boys cry at 'U.' Need a tissue?"
9/18/00) on the 21st Century "phenom" of
anti-male environments at major universities
is on target. Needless to say. the emperor is
not wearing any clothes in this supposedly
scientific study.
The last time I checked, males were
doing pretty well at the University. Universi-
ty presidents have always been male. Most
department heads are male. There are more
tenured male faculty than females and they
earn substantially more than their female
counterparts. The biggest source of revenue
for the University outside of tuition depends
on male participation - athletics.
Even though "Men's Health" asserts that
males don't feel welcome at the University, it
has not affected their desire to apply to the
University and be involved in whatever
males do for four years. Anti-male sentiment
has not prevented men from capturing the
best internships for law clerks, engineering,
medicine and so forth. Either they're weath-
ering the male resistance really well or
maybe there is no male resistance. At least
not like the kind that affects women, racial
minorities and the handicapped on campus.
Resistance to the latter groups doesn't allow
the same kind of success.
So what's a closet feminist to do (assum-
ing that's where they all are these days)?
Maybe while the genome experts are in
town, women should investigate what feature
of male DNA will give us that same type of
smug sense of ownership of not succumbing
to any discomfort or criticism - and clone
it, sell it, and buy up Wall Street - another
example of the terrible effects of anti-male
sentiment on campuses or anywhere. Isn't it
women who give birth to men in the first



s-3 rt ' A w

place? Or at least they used to. Frankenstein
didn't like his creator either.
Napster letter was
I read Brooke Sweet's Sept. 15th letter
("Napster use violates constitution") and shook
my head at her profound ignorance of our basic
governmental structures.
Sweet claims that using Napster is a viola-
tion of the Constitution because what is taking

place is copyright infringement.
Sweet may be correct that use of Napster is
copyright infringement (the courts will deter-
mine), but there is no violation of the Constitu-
The Constitution says nothing about copy-
right law, or any other law for that matter
(except treason). The Constitution establishes
the powers that each branch of the federal gov-
ernments has, and by default, what powers are
reserved to the states. Copyright law are laws
passed by Congress under its authority granted
to it by the Constitution.
I think Sweet's viewpoint is one that is not
heard enough on college campuses, but please
be aware of what you are writing.

, :.
: ,
. '

TO 0CUS104Al iY SL~df P0V4.


l ' 'I

Scale anonymity: Meet the press


Scale anonymity. Breach statistical
oblivion. Meet the press.
No, not the starting lyrics to some trance
musical escapade by some Urb magazine sub-
scribing DJ. Just good, solid advice to the
5,000 strong horde which has recently started
calling Ann Arbor home. Still confused ...
Let's start from ground zero.
You are at a big school, yes. You've gotten
off to a decent start, socially speaking. Your
classes, if you have
bothered to observe aca-
demic ritual, are stimu-
lating. Your dorm room's
got the best posters in ,
the hall. Your bike still
has two tires. You think
we might take the Rose
Bowl. Confident of your
abilities, your major has
started taking shape in
your strategically chis-
eled and career savvy Waj
cranium. You are closed
to getting laid, getting a Syed
4.0, getting it done. Con- The Karach

simmer for four years of quasi-academic
eclecticism with a study abroad adventure in
the middle, your sides include mashed inspira-
tions and sauteed views about affirmative
action, global warming or some other shit-
laced, over-debated debacle. You're a thunder-
ing piece of T-bone, weighing in at $80,000 of
out-of-state tuition mom and dad will dole out
of their Merrill Lynch Preferred and Preferably
White Family Joint AccountTM.
In essence, you are an entree and are about
to be served to the gluttonous, man-eating
demon called graduation in no time. Your per-
manent place will be in the bowels of this
beast, also called the 'real' or the 'profession-
al' world by Fox primetime inclined sub-
humans who use monotonously hip dictum
and sport capri pants by Versace; this will be
your last stop in the intestinal passageway of
reality. Sustaining middle age through GQish
remedies and Fortune 500 mutual fund forni-
cation, you will, essentially and eventually, die.
Millionaire, Masochist, Michigan alum and
Malevolent golfer, the legends of your fall will
be morbid memories professed through the
Medicare-sponsored dentures of your other
buddies at the retirement home. If you're

of this college, and you'd better play ball or
start reading the Michigan Review. He's not
going to apologize because he's ticked.
Ticked at this University/Michigan/Maize
and Blue/globalized academic circus you all
have come to love, respect and fondle. Ticked
'cause he's barely paid to write this. Ticked
'cause the only reason he does this is out of
unadulterated, naked, pathos ridden frustration.
Mystical, economical, sexual frustration. Bald-
ing-at-21, Wolverine Access not working and
not knowing how to ask out the waitress at the
Cafe Felix frustration.
Q) How do you get over a beautiful, beauti-
ful ex-girlfriend who's gotten over you? How
do you perfect your veal piccatte? How do you
deal with starting every semester by being
picked out in section as the foreign kid and
thus getting the exotic terra-fauna sign stapled
to your sense of being? How do you explain to
some innocently raunchy in-stater that Karachi
is not in Pennsylvania but in Pakistan, that it's
home to 15 million angry souls, that naivete
like his will probably be rewarded there by a
bullet in the head or a scar on the mind?
How do you pacify prejudice? How do you
remember a dead father? How do you change

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