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February 11, 2004 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 11, 2003



opinion. michigandaily .com

SINCE 1890

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.

i was wrong.
I am not pleased
about it at all and I
think all Americans
should be concerned
about this."
- Author and talk show host Bill
O'Reilly, apologizing to viewers for
supporting claims that Iraq possessed
weapons of mass destruction,
as reported yesterday by Reuters.

\ 5 asesomve! ,.


One fallen tower I'm not crying about

Tower Records,
the McDonalds
of music mer-
chants, announced that
it has filed for bank-
ruptcy. The BBC
reported that the chain
"filed for Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection
after illegal music
downloading and heavy competition hit
revenues." After five-fingering at Tower
in my younger years, downloading MP3's
on the web and patronizing independent
record stores, I'm glad to know that I have
done my part in bringing down part of the
juggernaut of the corporatization of the
musical medium.
This all comes amid lawsuits from the
wealthy Recording Industry Association of
America against people, mainly people of
moderate incomes and broke college stu-
dents like you and me, involved in file-
sharing on the Internet. Both the RIAA
and now Tower Records are pointing the
finger at poor suckers like us who make
playlists on Winamp via high-speed Inter-
net for sending platinum jewelry-clad
record company executives on Sunset
Boulevard into financial ruin. Hogwash.
During the carefree days of the late
'90s and the first years of the new millen-
nium, when the economy was roaring and
the prospect of war was a laughable con-
cept, MP3 downloading was in its heyday,
as Napster was the ubiquitous open pro-

gram on computers in dorm room parties
across the nation.
What the RIAA, record companies and
music mega-chains don't want you to know
is that they were not excluded from the
wealth and prosperity of the Clinton years,
and it can be argued that Napster helped
their profits. The economist Michael Perel-
man writes in his book, "Steal this Idea,"
"Napster actually seemed to increase sales
of CDs, by allowing people to become
familiar with new music."
The controversy surrounding file shar-
ing leads into a discussion of the biggest
threats to economic democracy in general:
copyright and patent laws.
These laws, sometimes known as intellec-
tual property laws, like the ones the RIAA
are exploiting, are the ultimate contradiction
of capitalism. Rich industrialists know that
even in a free market, their positions as rulers
are under threat of the potential success of
upstart entrepreneurs. So the capitalist class
has collaborated with the government to set
up a complex system of legislation to protect
its position as the exclusive owner of intel-
lectual property, the means of scientific and
artistic innovation.
The common myth about capitalists is
that they are against all government inter-
vention in the market. In capitalist ideolo-
gy this is true, but in reality capitalists
welcome government intervention with
open arms when that intervention protects
the profits and influence on the market of
the existing capitalist class.

If markets are, indeed, democratic and
the forces that drive the market will raise
the quality of life, then wouldn't copyright
laws get in the way of maximizing
growth? While markets are by no means
democratic, neither are these laws.
Intellectual property laws let record
companies, stores and radio stations pre-
sent only the music they deem fit to
become popular. Through this system,
independent musicians are practically pro-
hibited from promoting their art. This
gives more credence to the theory that
intellectual property laws are a barrier, not
an impetus, to the free exchange of infor-
mation and an enemy to innovation.
File sharing allows for newer artists to
disseminate their work. People will be more
likely to go to their shows and buy their
CDs. And at the same time, as the history
of the market proves, record companies will
still make money. Thus, getting rid of our
copyright laws will provide for a more
robust flow of information allowing for
more variety and innovation in music, pub-
lishing, technology and lots else.
Tower Records did not fall because of
people downloading music. Tower could
have fallen for a variety of reasons,
including that it was out of touch with
younger consumers' desire for diversity in
selection and availability of new art.
Steal this column.


Paul can be reached
at aspaul@umich.edu.

Estoy enojado

overnor Jennifer;
Granholm has
laid down thei
gauntlet: a 5 percent
reduction in state fund-1
ing for all state universi-
ties that fail to keep i
tuition increases below1
2.5 percent. Those that
cut costs and keep
tuition increases under that magic numberI
will only see a 2 percent reduction. The
University administration now has some
tough choices to make. It's clear that cutsl
are going to have to be made, but after
steep cuts in funding last year, what's left
to slash? Let me make a humble sugges-
Cut the LSA language requirement.I
Let me start with a disclaimer: On princi-
ple, I have no problem with the language
departments, their instruction, or their pro-
grams in general. In an increasingly global
economy, it's evident that a second language
can be a valuable asset. However, the big
problem with a four-term language require-
ment, especially at the University, is in its
inherent inefficiency.
It's a waste of the university's money.
I pay the same tuition whether I sit in a
600-person lecture hall or whether I sit in one
of the 30-person discussion rooms typical to
language classes. So if I'm University Presi-
dent Mary Sue Coleman, I try and make sure
that Dan Adams and all the other undergrads
are packed in like so many sardines into lec-
ture halls. That's pretty much how it works,
but due to the inherent intimacy required for
proper language instruction, lecturers who
could and often do teach several hundred stu-
dents in one sitting, instead teach around 30

If the university wanted to cut costs,
instead of requiring foreign language, just
require something else. Pack me and a couple
hundred other kids into the Natural Science
auditorium and hire someone smart to talk to
us for a couple of hours a week. Even with a
full professor making six figures, it'd still be
a more efficient use of the University's pre-
cious time and resources. Sure, if I had my
preference, I'd like all my classes to be small-
er, but the benefits of small classes are some-
what muted when the topic of instruction is
how to ask where the bathroom is in French.
It's a waste of my money.
It's no surprise that the University, the
world's most expensive public university,
has a foreign language department. Then
again, so does Washtenaw Community Col-
lege. This isn't intended to be a knock on the
language instructors here, many of whom are
among the university's best and most dedi-
cated faculty, but their hourly rate is pretty
steep, whether I'm learning advanced game
theory, or how to speak elementary Spanish.
Where is the value in that? Truth be told,
there are dozens of ways to learn a language:
Take night classes at a local school or pick
up a language program for the computer -
virtually anything would be cheaper than
University tuition.
Too little, too late
The University only seems to care enough
to make me go through the motions, but not
enough to force me into actually learning the
language. Do the math: One semester of lan-
guage, at 15 weeks a semester, and four
hours a week, comes out roughly to only 60
hours of total class time spent speaking and
learning a language. Factor in the 120 hours

of recommended study time at home for 60
hours of class time, and you get a generous
estimate of 180 hours spent in one semester
speaking your language. I have an experi-
ment: Cash in that tuition check, and spend
two weeks in Puerto Vallerta drinking beer
and eating tamales on the beach, and you'll
probably speak more Spanish and get more
culture than if you'd spent that time in Ann
Arbor, filling out worksheets and barely
passing Spanish 231.
Tomorrow, though, I won't bolt to
Mexico. Instead, along with the rest of the
damned, I'm going to make my lonely
march up to the Modern Languages Build-
ing and stumble through Spanish as best I
can. Maybe I shouldn't complain - after
all, I did sign up for a liberal arts educa-
tion and the diversity of classes that such a
program entails. But no matter how much
sugar I sprinkle on, the medicine isn't
going down any easier. I have a sneaking
suspicion that this half-assed knowledge of
a language that's being jammed like the
proverbial round peg into my square hole
is going to abandon me somewhere
between fluency and ignorance.
So just let me choose. From how I
understand it, the language requirement
isn't all about language - it's about teach-
ing students about the culture of other
nations through a language-oriented curricu-
lum. If this is the case, give me the culture
and spare me the cost and time of a four-
term language requirement. The language
departments will get students that won't
behave like the condemned, and those who
don't care to learn a language here can opt
out, painlessly and without a peep.
Adams can be reached
at dnadams@umich.edu.




Bible is easily used to justify
intolerance; some passages
should not be taken literally
In a letter published in Monday's Daily
regarding a lecture on Christian values
(Speech was misunderstood, but remained
true to the Bible, 09/02/04), Deborah Wig-

Americans agree that the proper punish-
ment for a man gathering sticks on the
Sabbath day is being stoned to death
(Numbers 15.35)? Would most Americans
agree that a man who marries a previously
divorced woman has committed adultery
(Matthew 5.31)? The Christian response to
these questions will generally be, "No
good Christian would agree with those
passages. They are not central to what
Christianity is about. Christianity is about
finding a loving relationship with Jesus."

people are disgusted by people using the
Bible to promote intolerance in our pro-
gressive society.
LSA Senior

D a r E n o t a o " C O O L LK E IC EM A N

..:: L G4U3

> _, : <:


Il a

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