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October 16, 2003 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-16

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 16, 2003


U ie Adgan &tlg


SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors

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.

For a man who
likes burritos, I'm in
- President Bush, speaking at a political
rally in California yesterday in front of
Ruiz Foods, the national largest
producer of frozen Mexican foods,
as reported on CNN.

ciao ups

The politics of generational warfare
A little less than percent. With a lower proportion of the popu- Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's
two years ago, lation in the work force supporting a glut of recent scrapping with fellow presidential
Newsweek ran a retirees, our generation tax rates will rise or aspirant Dick Gephardt of Missouri is an
cover story that used the our parents' benefits will fall precipitously. intriguing case of the coming conflict over
University's student body The other factor is inflationary. Healthcare the future of entitlements. Gephardt set up a
to examine how our gen- costs will continue their historic growth and cheesy website, DeanFacts.com, slamming
z eration responded to Social Security benefits, tied to the cost of Dean as a sworn enemy of Medicare and
Sept. 11. Apparently, living, will rise as well. This picture is grisly. Social Security. Some of Gephardt's criti-
before the attacks The CBO forecasts that government spending cisms stretch the limits of credibility, but
"careers were their major on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security there is more than a kernel of truth to
concern both during the high-tech boom (how will mushroom to 14 percent of gross domes- Gephardt's attacks. During Dean's tenure as
to cash in) and after (how to get a job)." But tic product in 2030, 17 percent in 2050 and an a sacred-cow-slaying Democratic governor
then, we are told, everything changed. "They unfathomable 21 percent in 2075. with a reputation for fiscal conservatism, he
once dreamed of earning huge bonuses on Wall The United States now has a deficit in the pursued policies that would appear to be
Street, they're now thinking of working for the neighborhood of $450 billion. Government anathema to the diehard liberals now driving
government, maybe joining the FBI or the projections show the deficit disappearing his campaign.
CIA." The return of the prodigal generation. toward the beginning of the next decade. But During the congressional budget show-
Two years later, this interpretation of our if Congress makes the Bush tax cuts perma- down in 1995 Dean supported excising
generation's place in history appears suspect. nent, the outlook changes to permanent over $250 billion from Medicare's budget.
Actually, it's pure rubbish. A terrible tragedy? deficits. Add in a Medicare prescription drug .Ten or 20 years ago Dean's Medicare his-
Of course. An epoch-defining moment? No. benefit, slated to cost $400 billion over the tory would never fly, but the key differ-
Our "defining moment," which the hyperbolic next 10 years and grow rapidly once the ence now is that Dean's supporters are
prose of Newsweek identified as Sept. 11, has Boomers retire, reform of the Alternative young. Dean's rabid opposition to the U.S.
yet to occur. But it's not difficult to imagine Minimum Tax, which will tack on another intervention in Iraq may partially explain
what it will be and what it will look like. $600 billion to the deficit, and massive his support among the party's liberal
For our generation, there's one thing, and defense outlays for the foreseeable future and ranks, but our generation's ambivalence
only one thing, that matters: In 2008, the Baby you have a crisis of the highest order. toward retirement benefits. For our gener-
Boomers will start retiring and collecting Given this messy outlook, members of ation, Medicare and Social Security are
Social Security and Medicare benefits. The our generation have adjusted their expecta- viewed as obscure curiosities, they are not
end of the Baby Boomers' stay in the labor tions. We assume Social Security will be essential programs that our livelihoods
force will set in motion a series of events that kaput within 50 years. You simply cannot will depend upon. In the past, Gephardt
will determine our economic destiny. find a twentysomething who thinks they'll could have siphoned off support from
Two factors have conspired to shape this get a nice return from their tax payments to Dean's liberal flank with his Medicare tac-
gloomy future. The first is demographic. The these programs. The fate of these entitle- tic, but now the strategy poses the risk of
Congressional Budget Office estimates that ments and the struggle between our genera- alienating potential youth supporters.
the 65-and-older population will double by tion and our parents will determine the
2030, and, as a result, the segment of the pop- dimension of political conflict in this country Peskowitz can be reached
ulation of working age will decrease by 15 for many years to come. atzpeskowi@umich.edu.
Blue skies, letter 'B' parking Furthermore, did you ever notice the Ford Motor Co., and that makes him a
parking structures that pervade this coun- Nazi, so that makes me a son of a Nazi,
structures al further evidence try? If you are a rational thinking individ- which I guess makes me a Nazi. There's
of Nazi influence on nation ual, you must agree with me that it reminds no way around it - I think maybe I'll just
you of Hitler's bunker, which was also a have to quit with this self-loathing bullshit,
concrete monstrosity and all that, although and learn to accept the fact that I'm a Nazi
To THE DAILY: it was underground, but what do details and there's nothing I can do about it, and
I cannot agree with Ari Paul's column really matter when I'm trying to make a just embrace my Nazihood. I know that as
more (U.S.A. uber allies, 10/15/03). This point, right? Oh, and don't even get me an American I ought to extricate myself
country is so absolutely filled with Nazi started on the fact that the sky in this coun- from the yoke of the Norman Invasion -
influence that it is sickening. Firstly, so try is sometimes blue. From the color err, Herr Adolf (like the letter B, parking
one day I was walking down the street one videos of the World War II era they show garages, blues skies, mustaches, uniforms,
day and I saw a sign that said "Books for on the History Channel, we can infer that etc.) but how am I to do such a thing when
Sale." I think to myself, "hey, they used the sky was also blue in Nazi Germany, I am fated by association with my father to
the letter B and what other word has the sometimes. When will this country rid be a Nazi, and when this country is just
letter B?" That's right boys and girls: itself of Nazi influences? I feel like I'm filled with reminders that we as people are
Berlin. No, not the noted singer Irving living in the Third Reich all over again - nothing but corporeal correlatives of the
Berlin, but rather the city of Berlin, which I say all over again because I feel certain categorical imperative that is National
was the capital of Nazi Germany. How that in my past life before I was reincarnat- Socialism?
sick is that? How sick is it that in our signs ed I lived under the Third Reich. YIBo LING
we would go so far as to use the letter B? Fifthly, my father is an employee of Engineeringjunior
Perman Honors Commons dishonorable



The opening of the new Perlman Honors
Commons last spring stirred a little debate on
campus about elitism. Here's a quick recap: the
Daily condemned the commons on the editorial
page in an editorial titled Coffee Talk
(03/07/03). Incoming LSA Honors Program
Director Prof. Stephen Darwall and LSA senior
Gwen Arnold responded in a letter, denying the
commons was a "lounge," arguing it would help
stimulate discussion and vitality in the Honors
Program. Longtime graduate student Irfan
Nooruddin claimed in a letter printed March 11,
that in his experience, honors students were no
smarter than everybody else, and "if any differ-
ence does stand out it's the honors students'
higher propensity to complain vociferously
about grades," concluding, "I mean, how arro-
gant (and delusional) does one have to be to
claim as a freshman that one is "exceptional in
their field?" LSA freshman Sowmya Krishna-
murthy applauded the editorial, commenting the
commons' "velvet rope mentality is nothing
short of ostentatious snobbery" in a letter print-
ed March 13.
If anybody at the Honors Program thought
they were experiencing a brief adjustment peri-
od. and now everybody is getting used to the

ters, of course, is exactly how that elite is cho-
sen. This is in part what the admissions lawsuits
have been about: which criteria can and should
be weighed so that the University can achieve
en elite with justice. There exists across campus
a variety of resources for students who seek
them out - from offices geared toward specific
communities to programs like the Undergradu-
ate Research Opportunity Program. These are
entirely appropriate, and in fact, needed. How-
ever, if a program supported by the University's
general funds overtly excludes students from
their resources, we must examine their selection
criteria closely.
Few lounges, offices or classrooms on cam-
pus are overtly advertised exclusively for the
use of only some students. Certainly very few
are situated in a highly visible location at the
center of campus, passed by thousands of stu-
dents every day. In fact, I can only think of one
like that: the Perlman Honors Commons.
I have been a member of the Honors Pro-
gram since I applied my freshman year, and
now I am working on a history honors thesis.
Yet each time I pass the commons I am
ashamed to be affiliated with the program. Until
extremely recently, the Honors Program has
been one of the last, official bastions of blatant
white and class privilege at the University. Until
the admissions changes announced on Oct. 3.

likely than the general population to be wealthy,
white and suburban.
Under these admissions criteria, which
admitted this years' honors freshmen, the hon-
ors lounge institutionalizes these biases and
privileges and tells the student body: Only some
have the right to be here, and other's don't.
Never mind the criteria are little more than a
proxy for wealth, only loosely related to intel-
lectual curiosity or intelligence. Never mind that
honors is partly self-selecting: Many people
have other interests or jobs or families that keep
them from having the liberty or desire to write a
thesis or take more rigorous classes. Never
mind that all students are at least initially
charged the same tuition, live in the same city,
take almost all of the same classes. If honors
had its way, the commons would be for honors
students only. Period.
In four years, after the composition of the
honors program has (hopefully) changed to
reflect a more comprehensive admissions
process, the honors lounge would still be
wrong. Having an office is one thing, delib-
erately closing a large space at the center of
campus to the majority of students, perhaps
because they don't have the time, money or
interest to participate in honors is unaccept-
able. To the extent the honors program
reflects the nragmatic observation that there

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