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January 16, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-01-16

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Gfe £ibigan &tilg

Don't cut taxes, give everyone an unconditional income

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily. letters@umich.edu
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 Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Phelps should be confronted peacefully

Should everyone be entitled to receive an
income from the government that would
allow him or her to live a semi-comfortable
life regardless of whether he/she chooses to
This idea isn't as ridiculous as it sounds on
face and it is currently
the subject of an acad-
emic dialogue.
A few months ago,
the Boston Review's z:
website (boston
re v ie w. m i t e d u ,
/BR25.5/) published
numerous responses to
an article written for
the Review by
Catholic University of
Louvain Prof. Philippe
Van Parijs. Van Pari- Nick
js' article, "A Basic Woomer
Income for All," Back O the
argued for the resur-
rection of political WV-
debate on a very old
socialist proposal he calls "Universal Basic
Essentially, the proposal calls for the state
to pay every individual an income that would
allow him or her to have a tolerable standard
of living. The payment would be made to
everyone unconditionally, regardless of his
or her financial status, his or her living
arrangement or whether he or she chooses to
work or not. People would be free to earn
extra "discretionary" income on top of the
The economic feasibility of instituting a
sustainable Universal Basic Income program
hinges on an empirical question: Since such
a proposal would probably be financed by a.
heavy progressive income tax, enough peo-
ple would have to want to pursue work that

would generate an income that could be
taxed so that the system could be perpetuat-
ed. If too many people decided to pursue
non-income-generating work or decided to
watch the E! network and use drugs every
day, a Universal Basic Income program
could not be sustained.
For the sake of argument, let's make the
only semi-problematic assumption that,
ceteris paribus, the economy could sustain
the gradual implementation of a Universal
Basic Income program. What social benefits
could possibly come out of a proposal that
would literally pay some people (if they so
chose) to waste their lives away on the
One benefit of instituting Universal Basic
Income would be that more people would
have what Van Parijs calls "real freedom,"
since "the worth or real value of a person's
liberty depends on the resources the person
has at her command to make use of her liber-
ty." Capitalism is inherently coercive since
just about everyone (who isn't lucky enough
to have a sizable trust fund or some other
source of income he or she didn't work for)
has to sell his or her labor for a wage that
allows him or her to survive. By giving
everyone the option of not working, the coer-
cive aspects of a free market system are sig-
nificantly mitigated.
Universal Basic Income would also com-
pensate people who perform socially benefi-
cial (but unpaid) labor and give people who
might be more useful volunteering the
opportunity to share their valuable skills with
society. Women would benefit significantly
from the flexibility offered by Universal
Basic Income since it is often women who
perform unpaid domestic labor or have to
juggle their careers with domestic duties.
Universal Basic Income would also erode the
coercive aspects of marriages where only

one partner is the "bread-winner." When one
person controls the income two people li
on, that person potentially has more contro
over the relationship than the other.
Van Parijs also argues that instituting Uni-
versal Basic Income is a way for advanced
welfare states to reduce unemployment (rede-
fined within certain parameters) without
reducing the general living standard via cuts
in entitlement programs. Having Universal
Basic Income would give workers an incen-
tive to seek jobs that might not necessarily
full-time or take time off to get more training.
The rationale works like this: Suppose person
X works 40 hours a week in the status quo
but that Universal Basic Income allows X to
maintain his or her standard of living by
working only 20 hours a week. X's employer
will have to find a someone who will work
the remaining 20 hours of X's original work
day, thereby creating another job.
Universal Basic Income has the potential
to change the workplace in other ways - by
forcing employers to pay workers more to
lousy jobs and less to do cushy, enjoyab
jobs. And because fewer people will want to
do terrible and/or degrading jobs, employers
will have to develop technology that will
make those jobs easier as well as technology
that makes workers more efficient.
Certainly there are downsides to Universal
Basic Income - it has the potential to pro-
mote a culture of idleness and high taxes
could lead to massive divestment that col
ultimately prove ruinous, Still, it is difficu
to see how merely tweaking capitalism could
solve the problems Universal Basic Income
could possibly solve. Instead of simply
focusing on tax cuts, contemporary political
dialogues need to examine more radical pro-
posals like Universal Basic Income.
- Nick Woomer can be reached via e-mail
at nwoomer@umich.edu.

L ast week, Rev. Fred Phelps of the
Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka,
Kan. announced his plans to protest the
University's gay-friendly policies, as well
as Gay Pride Week, which falls around
his Feb. 16 visit.
Phelps, who is not affiliated with any
mainstream church, is adamantly and
intolerantly opposed to homosexuals,
claiming that they will burn in hell and
ruin the moral character of the nation. He
has gone too far in his Kansas-based,
"God Hates Fags" campaign, often picket-
ing at the funerals of homosexuals with
signs that read, "Fags Die, God Laughs,"
"Sin and Shame, Not Pride," "No Special
Laws for Fags" and "AIDS Cures Fags."
His website offensively contains a picture
of Matthew Shepard, a University of
Wyoming student who was beaten and
killed because of his homosexuality, sur-
rounded by flames, as if burning in hell.
The site also contains a list of fraudulent
statistics about homosexuals, claiming that
they "live filthy, unhealthy, dangerous,
unhappy and in many cases, violent lives,"
that they prey on children and should not
be a protected class of people because
they do not experience discrimination.
The University community must make
it clear that his intolerant rhetoric is not
welcome in Ann Arbor. Even the evangel-
ical Campus Crusade for Christ finds
Phelps' means hateful and misleading.
Conservative and liberal groups should
Waft 'il
First-year student
T he start of each term here at the Uni-
versity brings with it long textbook
lines, new names to remember and con-
stant complaints about Wolverine
Access. However, there is an aspect of
campus life that needs to be restricted to
winter term - at least for first-year stu-
dents experiencing all of the staples and
headaches of college life for the first
time: Greek rush.
The recent $100,000 settlement of the
lawsuit brought against the University by
George Cantor - in connection with his
daughter Courtney's death from a fall
from her sixth-story Mary Markley Resi-
dence Hall room - serves as a reminder
to the entire University community of the
dangers linked with alcohol. Cantor stated
that he hopes that Greek rush be delayed
until winter term, in order that students
might have had more time to settle into
the environment of a large, public school
with a thriving Greek system.
Delaying rush for first-year students
would be beneficial to those considering
life in the Greek system. Students, after a
semester at the University, will have
become acquainted with life here and will
have independently laid a social founda-
tion. After four months on campus, they
will be more aware of their different
options for activities and will be able to
make a more informed decision about
whether "Going Greek" is right for them.
While some people argue that other

activities on campus that students also
become immediately involved with pre-
sent the same problem as the Greek sys-
tem, these other activities are not
accompanied by the same degree of
social strain that a fraternity or sorority
demands. Also, these other options often


join together to oppose his presence on
campus, especially during Gay Pride
Week. Opposition to Phelps should come
not only from lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and
trans-gendered supporters, but also from
those who may be opposed to homosexu-
ality but still agree that homosexuals are
human beings and shouldn't be treated in
the degrading manner espoused by Phelps.
The reaction to Phelps' presence must
be strong, but not directly confrontational
or militant. Phelps expects that, like
almost all of his protests, there will be
militant opposition from equal rights
advocates and it is essential that the Uni-
versity and Ann Arbor communities do
not resort to hate-filled tactics like those
of Phelps himself. In 1998, when the Klu
Klux Klan held a rally in Ann Arbor, the
intolerance of the Klan was violently
overshadowed by opposition groups. It is
crucial that groups opposing Phelps' mes-
sage do so peacefully without directly
addressing him. He is not worth the time
of day. Phelps and his supporters will
undoubtedly try to antagonize LGBT sup-
porters to spark a violent reaction and it is
imperative that Phelps' attempts are
ignored and offset by a passive presence,
not an aggressive protest. The University
community must rally behind the LGBT
community during the entire week by
attending their programs, supporting their
cause and most importantly, peacefully
opposing Phelps.
I winter
should rush now
do not require the same level of obliga-
tion in terms of demands on the frequen-
cy of involvement and the duration of
commitment and often will not put the
same pressure on a student who wishes
to quit as the Greek system will.
Another argument that is often made
against winter rush is that students will
not be willing to rush after they have
committed themselves to a housing lease
for the next year. This is a risk which stu-
dents who chose to rush should be willing
to accept if they are sincere about joining
the Greek system. Oftentimes students
who are not involved in Greek life at all
will find themselves in a different social
circle in April than they had originally
developed within the fast few months of
the year when they signed their housing
contracts. And if one checks any classi-
fied listings it is clear that there still are
houses and apartments left in the winter.
Housing difficulties are a part of Ann
Arbor life and should not be the basis of
an argument for retaining fall rush.
The elimination of fall rush for first-
year students does not mean the elimina-
tion of a chance to participate in Greek
life. It means that first-year students,
especially those from high schools that
have not sent many students to this Uni-
versity, will be able to form friendships
and grow independently of the Greek
system. Friendships formed in fraterni-
ties and sororities may last a lifetime but
so can those that are made between hall-

mates and other freshmen going through
the same new experiences together. Wait-
ing one semester may feel like a long
time, but in the long run it will not have
been too long to wait to learn about your-
self and your niche at the University.

Resist protesting
hateful anti-gay pastor
with more hate
In regards to the impending arrival of
Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church
("Anti-gay pastor plans to crash Gay Pride
Week celebrations," 1/11/01) 1 hope people
will look at this sensibly and reasonably
and I pray that everyone will greet him
with the respect that he, as a human being,
Don't get me wrong, I strongly disagree
with everything that he believes in. Growing
up in the South, I tried to stand by my gay
friends as they were harassed, worrying
about the possibility that a Fred Phelps-type
would decide to follow through on one of
the many death threats my friends received.
These people are so full of fear of what
they don't understand that they use hate
and intimidation to make others just as
afraid as they are.
This being said, look at it from the per-
spective of the past KKK gatherings here at
the University. These people come here
looking for trouble knowing how ready we
are to defend the other members of this
community. They come here looking for
justification in their twisted beliefs.
So I ask you, when Phelps comes to
Ann Arbor, greet this man with love and
respect. Give him a warm University wel-
come. Fighting hate with hate only breeds
more. The only affective thing is love and
although it will be difficult, that is what
we're going to have to show him. Then, as
he leaves, he'll be highly disappointed and
at the very least won't have more ammo for
his fire.
Please, be sensible and help the mem-
bers of our community in their time of need
like we always have and hopefully always

- US. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) on George W Bush's cabinetpicks.
_ --

'It's almost like a bad dream, all
these people he's dug up.'

Cantor shouldn't
blame 'U' for death
Hopefully the settlement between the Uni-
versity and George Cantor ("Cantor suit settled
for $100,000," 1/11/01) will be the end of all
this nonsensical finger pointing.
A girl falls out of her residence hall room
window after being seen drinking at a fraternity
party. First, we hear the windows are to blame,
yet extensive testing shows that they were not
faulty. Then the Cantor family blames the fra-
ternity where Courtney was seen drinking, then
the maker of the loft she slept on and then the
University for not teaching students about the
perils of drinking.
As much of a tragedy as this situation is,
could it not be possible that perhaps the

"blame," so to speak, lies with the Cantor fami-
ly, or, heaven forbid, with Courtney herself?
Maybe her parents should take responsibility
for teaching (or perhaps not teaching) their
daughter about the dangers of alcohol. Or per-
haps they did sit down with Courtney, but
maybe their words fell upon deaf ears.
I was always taught to take responsibility
for my own actions and the choices I make in
life. And like everyone, I sometimes make stu-
pid mistakes that I later regret.
Maybe that is what George Cantor feels, or
maybe that is what Courtney would feel today
if she had survived the fall. But she did not, so
he blames the windows, blames the fraternity,
blames the loft, blames the University,
blames everyone else. Sometimes, I suppos,
we cannot admit where the blame truly lies.

Dan Korem, Scott and trickery in evangelism

By Rob Goodspeed
Daily Editorial Page Writer
Last Wednesday, Dan Korem came to cam-
pus and spoke in the Rackham Amphithe-
ater. The many posters around campus
proclaimed him an "Investigator, Journalist,
Magician, FBI Profiler, Debunker of Psychic
Fraud." Interesting. I fancy myself a journalist
and general skeptic and decided to go, not really
knowing what I was getting into. Something did
seem amiss however: The posters said in tiny,
tiny letters that his visit was sponsored by the
University chapter of Campus Crusade for
Christ, the evangelical Christian group of the
"Do you agree with Scott" fame. I just figured
they were sponsoring a popular speaker to hand
out their literature and recruit. I was wrong.
Before I describe Dan Korem's speech -
-an it. .-, p r m rm an inten-ana nre,,ntatinn

of Campus Crusade for Christ, believes, among
other things, that God "is eternally existent, all-
knowing, glorious and perfectly loving, just and
gracious" and he believes in the "personal
return of Jesus Christ to this world." The Scott
question prefaced a week of good old-fashioned
Christian evangelism, complete with members
of various Christian groups on campus wearing
shirts reading, "I agree with Scott" and a table
on the Diag. While undoubtedly clever, the
"Scott" campaign contained an inherent trick-
ery. Campus Crusade for Christ members
admitted that part of the motivation for the
advertising campaign was to try to break
through student apathy towards religion and stu-
dent resistance towards more traditional, forth-
coming evangelical efforts.
Korem's visit was similarly misleading. It
began as an interesting discussion of his long
historv aan investioetor of frauds. He showed

endorphins can allow for temporary faith "heal-
ing" to how the most important human valueQ
love. He told the audience that he knew God
loved us. He discussed how the Torah has
remained unchanging since the time of the Dead
Sea scrolls and how in his search for the truth,
he had found it in Christianity and God. The last
ten minutes of his presentation was an unadul-
terated evangelical appeal for each of us to wel-
come Jesus into our lives.
I see nothing wrong with the Campus Cru-
sade for Christ bringing speakers to campus t
speak about whatever topics they desire but th
advertising for Korem's talk didn't mention the
evangelical side to his visit. Like the Scott cam-
paign, there seemed to be an element of decep-
Yet these allegations are almost certainly
at least partly hyperbole. Why can't activist
Prnuns act within their First Amendment

DIi o I
W Rvlr E t1 s 3.1N11L 66 lt
vovu b M*tom

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