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October 13, 2004 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-13

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 13, 2004



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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 pieces do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Tax rates
were not cut enough."
- 2004 Nobel Prize winner in economics
Edward Prescott, referring to the Bush
administration's tax cuts, as reported
yesterday by Agence France-Presse.


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Always low prices - always

Wal-Mart's quest
for global
domination is
nearly complete. After
having planted its banner
on the rubble of every
independently owned
business in the United
States, it is becoming
increasingly clear that
it has become master of
the world of men. The next logical step is
to challenge the authority of the immortals
themselves. Wal-Mart is constructing its
latest superstore less than a mile away from
the ancient Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihua-
can, Mexico, whose name means "The Place
Where Men Become Gods." The superstore
chain's divine ascension beyond the con-
fines of this mortal realm has begun.
The new superstore will compete with the
splendor of the Pyramid of the Sun, becom-
ing equally prominent in the skyline that has
been dominated by the pyramid for the past
2000 years. This has rubbed some residents
the wrong way, with a teacher from the area
saying that, "What they are doing in Teoti-
huacan is destroying Mexico's deepest roots
for short-term interests like lower prices."
Community activists burning incense and
blowing conch shells occupied the town
hall and refused to leave until the mayor
addressed their concerns regarding this cul-
tural imperialism.
Sure, Wal-Mart is making symbolic
efforts to preserve the culture it is uproot-
ing. When an altar dating back before the
Spanish conquest was found on the site of
the new superstore, planners realized that
this could cause quite a stir. In order to por-
tray an image of historical sensitivity, the
altar will be encased in plexiglass and put
on display in the parking lot. Everyone wins:
The ancient artifact is safely neutralized and
preserved for future generations of shop-

pers to passively admire while jockeying for
parking spaces. In addition, shoppers will
have the opportunity to buy a rubber replica
of the pyramid along with other goods at the
lowest prices know to God and man, further
preserving its cultural, religious and histori-
cal significance in the form of a shoddily
manufactured trinket.
Of course, it's not as if anyone has the
clout to stop Wal-Mart's audacious move.
With more than 4,800 stores worldwide
and annual sales exceeding $250 billion, the
chain's economic supremacy is unquestion-
able. It employs one and a half million "asso-
ciates" worldwide and is rapidly expanding
abroad. If it were considered a state, it would
rank fifth among China's biggest export mar-
kets, surpassing both Britain and Germany.
Granted, there has been some success-
ful resistance to Wal-Mart expansion in the
United States. Residents in Los Angeles, San
Francisco and Chicago have put up a fierce
fight against the superstore's encroachment
into their communities. The National Trust
for Historic Preservation placed the entire
state of Vermont on the 2004 list of most
endangered historic places in the United
States in order to impede Wal-Mart's expan-
sion. In addition, the company has faced a
variety of lawsuits, including a 1998 case in
which a jury found that a white Wal-Mart
employee was fired for dating a black man
and a sex discrimination class-action law-
suit involving 1.6 million current and for-
mer female Wal-Mart employees. However,
resistance abroad has been much less fervent
than in the United States, leading to projects
like the Teotihuacan superstore.
With 633 outlets employing more than
100,000 workers, Mexico is Wal-Mart's big-
gest market outside of the United States.
The business it does has surpassed that of
the entire tourism industry and accounts for
about 2 percent of Mexico's gross domestic
product. The people of Mexico seem to have

dejectedly accepted the chain, with one man
quoted in The New York Times as saying,
"Sure, I know Wal-Mart is a multinational
company, but what are you going to do?
That's globalization, and Mexico has to play
the game, right? Maybe some of the profit
leaves Mexico, but Mexico gets back some
foreign investment, right?" His statements
are saturated with desperation. He wants to
believe that Wal-Mart's unstoppable expan-
sion will have positive effects because he
doesn't have much power to stop it.
And after all, why should he doubt Wal-
Mart's benevolence? Wal-Mart founder Sam
Walton devotes an entire chapter in his book
"Made in America" outlining all of the fan-
tastic ways in which Wal-Mart gives back to
the community. The specifics are sketchy,
especially seeing as Walton explicitly states
that Wal-Mart "is not, and should not be, in
the charity business," saying instead that the
low prices offered to consumers through the
wonders of the free market serve the com-
munity more than any handout ever could.
He did splurge once when he built a first-
class exercise facility for Wal-Mart work-
ers to show his "sincere appreciation to the
associates." Everyone knows that the big-
gest demand of workers in the stores isn't
fair wages or more tolerable working condi-
tions, but free access to a Stairmaster.
Wal-Mart's brazen expansion onto the
site of the ancient pyramid should come as
no surprise. The chain has crushed virtu-
ally all competition at home and is facing
little resistance abroad, giving it both the
strength and the audacity to completely dis-
regard anything resembling cultural or his-
torical value. Mexico managed to fight off
Spain and France when it was in the throes
of nationhood. Wal-Mart might prove to be
too much of a challenge.
Mallen can be reached
at emmallen@umich.edu.

Fast and loose with our futures

W hen John
Kerry says
that "America
can do better," he's not
lying. Unfortunately,
he's not part of the solu-
tion - he's half the
problem. The American
president, arguably the
most powerful person in
the world, is elected in
a phenomenally stupid manner, with little
regard to anything of substance. Take for
example that prior to the first presidential
debate, political analysts said John Kerry's
chief problem, and thus President Bush's
chief strength, was that Kerry couldn't
condense his rhetoric into catchy phrases.
Can someone explain to me the benefit of
a national security plan that uses parallel
structure and alliteration? Of course, during
the first debate, Kerry shocked the nation
by revealing a new line of snappy one-line
punches and mantras. Consequently, his
poll numbers went up - not because he said
anything of any import, but because people
thought he delivered his sound bites in a
more convincing tone than Bush.
This election cycle, the so-called debates
have become nothing more than simulcast
stump speeches. Because the candidates
cannot directly question each other, the best
they can do is play a game of "You lie! No,
you lie!" Substance has no place in these
debates - it was conveniently neglected
in the first two presidential debates and
the only vice presidential debate, and it
will be neglected tonight. The candidates
make unrealistic promises, confident that
the debate format ensures they will not be

directly questioned. During the debates and
on the campaign trail, these presidential
hopefuls play a fast-and-loose game with
our future, misleading us about Iraq, the
economy and each other in an effort to skim
a few more votes.'
Bush, at his worst, is guilty of simply
inventing an alternative reality to suit his
ends. Bad facts become good facts; dis-
couraging news becomes a sign of hope. On
the same day as the last debate, the Labor
Department issued a dismal job creation
report: Only 96,000 new jobs were created
in September. The Bush team immediately
argued that this slower-than-expected job
growth is a sign of an economy on the rise
and that an economy on the rise is a sign
of a wise fiscal policy - tax cuts followed
by more tax cuts. Nobody at the Bush-
Cheney campaign even bothered to address
economic facts in the real world; at a very
minimum, the economy needs to generate
150,000 jobs a month to merely keep up
with population growth.
On another note, instead of admitting the
Iraq war might have been based on faulty
premises, Bush turned the Duelfer report,
which argued "we were almost all wrong"
about Iraq, into proof that immediate, pre-
emptive war was absolutely vital to American
interests. How does a report indicating that
Saddam was a contained threat who had no
weapons of mass destruction, and further-
more, no intent to use them against the United
States, reinforce the case for a war predicated
on national security? Apparently, because
firm, resolute leadership is politically pref-
erable to flip-floppy indecision, reality is no
longer relevant. If the facts don't support an
assertion, spin the facts until they do.

Not to be left behind, Kerry has made his
own ridiculous contentions. Chief among
them is a promise that is reiterated at every
campaign stop and will be reiterated tonight:
Under a Kerry administration, outsourcing
will not be a problem. His plan: remove any
tax incentives that exist for corporations to
move their jobs overseas. While this sounds
tempting, he pulls a slick trick on voters who
are uneducated about international economics
but concerned about job security. Corporations
do not outsource labor because they have a tax
incentive to do so; they outsource because
labor costs in America are incredibly high in
relation to the developing world. Economists,
the majority of whom .view outsourcing as a
positive extension of economic globalization
and trade liberalization, have reached a fairly
unanimous consensus: Kerry is making a very
large, very empty promise. Even Kerry, with
his talented team of advisors, must know that
he is making a fairly impossible commitment.
Nonetheless, because focus groups have con-
cluded that standing against outsourcing is
politically expedient, substance has gone out
the window.
Iraq will not suddenly transform itself into
a vibrant democracy through blind persever-
ance alone. The American economy will not
return to the glory days of the past decade if
a few tax loopholes are closed. Elections are
about choosing between differing ideologies
and plans, not between different misrepre-
sentations and empty promises. Both Bush
and Kerry claim to have concrete, factually
sound reasons as to why they deserve the
presidency. It is time they were heard.

Momin can be reached
at smomin@umich.edu.



DPS, 'U' take sexual
assault very seriously

As a follow-up to the news article DPS
sees overall drop in crime (10/06/04) and the
letter to the editor Comments reveal 'U' is
not taking sexual assault seriously enough
IAn/n,7/[)n I cary haa rahte-.

the commitment of DPS officers varies
depending on the type of sexual assault. In
fact, during the interview with the Daily, I
was trying to convey that the commitment
of DPS officers extends to all survivors
of sexual assaults and domestic violence
- women, men, children - in connecting
them with appropriate resources, such as
SAPAC, regardless of whether the offend-
er is atranger familv member or other



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