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December 02, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-12-02

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4A - The Michigan Daily - December 2, 2004



COLIN DALY Tuv 'iic iAwAN Dix

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.

This is not a
point in my life that
I want to go back to
- Former New York City Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani after announcing on his deci-
sion to start his own investment firm, as
reported by The Wall Street Journal.


Accident of geography

For much of the past
year, the primary
economic debate in
the United States pivoted
around outsourcing. China
and India with their huge
populations, low wages
and educated workforces,
were held up as the new
peril to the American
worker. Labor unions and
Democratic Party activists detected a wedge
issue that could inflame the passions of white-
collar workers who felt threatened by computer
programmers in Bangalore and cell phone
designers in Guangdong. Sen. John Kerry even
made sure to slip the term into his discussions
on foreign policy, with his oft-repeated rumina-
tion that the Bush administration "outsourced
the job" of catching Osama bin Laden "to
Afghan warlords."
Most of this was cheap posturing with a tinc-
ture of jingoism that left out the uncomfortable,
at least for Democratic political candidates, truth
that a major chunk of outsourcing business goes
to countries like Ireland, Poland and the Czech
Republic. It's usually considered a bit impolitic to
pummel countries that have a large number of their
descendents living and voting in the United States
and the Democrats, unsurprisingly, abstained.
Of course, this outsourcing strategy was inef-
fective. Kerry lost the presidency and in an even
more portentous sign, U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-
S.C.) won a hotly-contested race for his state's

open Senate seat. His opponent, Inez Tenenbaum,
sported crass anti-trade arguments in her cam-
paign literature and public appearances while
DeMint championed trade even in hostile settings
like South Carolina's textile regions. DeMint's
triumph as an uncompromising free-trader was
made all the more impressive by South Carolina's
long history of protectionism, a struggling state
economy that lost about 70,000 jobs in a three-
year span and the dire condition of the state's tex-
tile industry. The Democrats bet that exploiting
trade fears would be a successful gambit, but trade
failed to be a major concern for voters.
These disastrous electoral results might have
forced Democrats to re-evaluate the merits of
this strategy. Fresh off their stumbles on Nov. 2,
the party has decided to focus its efforts on the
next culprit of the global economy: Wal-Mart
and its relationship with Chinese manufacturers.
The Center for American Progress, a quasi-think
tank run by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff
John Podesta, has been at the forefront of these
efforts. Unlike labor unions, which have spent the
majority of their energy criticizing the company's
domestic labor practices, CAP has a new twist on
this approach that blames Wal-Mart for the United
States's trade deficit with China and the loss of
American jobs. On a more whimsical side, the
organization is giving away a poster entitled "The
World of Wal-Mart" for a mere $100 donation. The
print features a map of the world with the size of
the countries based on how many Wal-Mart items
are manufactured in each of the countries. While
Wal-Mart has been implicated in some horrendous

labor practices, there is no shame in the company's
reliance on China for much of its production.
The economic assumptions behind the neo-pro-
tectionist arguments reek of discredited mercantil-
ism and can be easily refuted. But the much more
worrying trend for those who still believe in the
Democratic Party is the tendency for the party to
fall back on the cheap appeal of economic jingoism
when it runs out of substantive policy ideas. This
position is made all the more ironic by the Demo-
cratic Party's tradition as a party of immigrants.
n 1950, Earl Browder, the secretary of the
American Communist Party, and Max
Shachtman, the leader of the Workers
Party, had a public debate in New York City
on the Soviet Union and Stalinism. Toward
the conclusion of the debate, Shachtman
recited a long list of party apparatchiks who
had met their deaths after falling into disfavor
with Josef Stalin. Then pointing at Browder,
Shachtman boldly exclaimed, "There, but for
an accident of geography, stands a corpse!"
The central problem with the Democrats' strat-
egy is that it elevates an accident of geography, the
nation of a human being's birth, to an issue of exis-
tential importance. If you live in America (or are
lucky enough to obtain a visa to get here) we will
take care of you. But if, through your own poor
fortunes, you were born impoverished in another
nation, well then you're on your own.
Peskowitz can be reached at



Columnist evokes tyrants
to inflate his own image
While Googling "Lowliness is young ambi-
tion's ladder" from Jason Z. Pesick's A Thanks-
giving wish (11/30/2004), and finding, by the
way, some interesting results like "Lowliness
Is Young Ambition's Ladder: Eighth Concu-
bine Surnamed Ho" at http://www.ubcpress.
ubc.ca/search/itlebook.asp?BookID =2008,
I found that the quote is from Shakespeare's
"Julius Caesar" and is about people pretending
to be humble until they spring to the top of the
heap, and then become scornful for everything

and everybody below them. Is this the kind of
role model Pesick wants to set out if indeed he
"moves up a couple lines" and becomes Daily
Editor in-Chief?
I should hope not, but then Pesick further
gloats, besides his gloating about climbing
the Daily's greasy pole; we get to learn about
his sibling's acceptance to the University,
and then we are treated to the truly mania-
cal "Just wait until I can control page 1." Has
Pesick been watching "Dr. Strangelove" too
much lately?
Pesick's columns have descended over the
past several years into increasing rancor, such
as his April 15 rant End of the Vulcans against
Student Voices in Action-type activists, the

sort who would dare to ... boycott the mighty
Daily. Ooooooh. How dare they, those dirty
activists. His columns also show a repetitive
obsessiveness with the wonders of globaliza-
tion, including the glory of outsourcing any
U.S. job to foreign countries except, apparent-
ly, his own job. Is such one-track-mindedness
healthy? With all that plus his desired "con-
trol" of page 1 and other Daily pages, it is beginning
to smell like those "114 Years of Editorial Freedom"
can kiss their sweet (self) good-bye. Who knows,
Pesick may ironically himself become the cause of
another Daily boycott, and be forced to feel "lowly"
indeed, but without pretending this time.
David Boyle


The grade for LEO contract implementation? F.


Last year, University lecturers (and other
nontenure-track faculty with other titles)
negotiated our first collective agreement
with the University administration. It was
an arduous process. Our union - the Lec-
turers' Employees Organization - fielded
a bargaining team that met week after week
with the University administration. We had
to engage in a one-day strike to show how
serious we were about our core issues: on
job security and salary improvement. In the
end, we compromised on each of our major
demands, but we felt that the contract was a
major step forward. LEO members ratified
the contract by an overwhelming majority
last June. We looked forward to implement-
ing the agreement quickly and effectively.
That was then. Three months into the
implementation process, some schools,
departments and programs are implement-
ing the agreement in good faith. But the
units that treated their lecturers worst before
the contract was signed are playing the same
old games. Though we expected that people
who made unfair use of their power before
the contract would resent and resist its con-
straints, we also expected that the University
administration would explain to these units
that their old ways - which were never pro-
fessional and should never have been accept-
able - are no longer legal and must cease

University administration can still overturn
decisions made by the units that violated the
agreement. We are calling upon the admin-
istration to do just that.
Today, the grievance with the most at
stake will go before the Dean of the College
of Literature, Science and the Arts and the
University Human Resources representatives
of University Provost Paul Courant. This is
the third step for this grievance - the Ann
Arbor English department has already reject-
ed our arguments. Our contract provides that
faculty who are assigned fewer courses than
they wish to teach should go on a layoff list
(provided they are good teachers). When a
new class opens up, departments are to go
first to this list to see whether any of the laid-
off faculty are qualified to teach it. If there
is such a faculty member, he or she must be
hired. If there is more than one qualified
faculty member on the list, the one with the
most seniority must be hired.
What English department decision-mak-
ers actually did was more Byzantine. (The
Oxford English Dictionary defines Byzantine
as "complicated, inflexible, underhand.")
Last year, they scheduled an unusually large
share of the courses taught by lecturers in
the fall 2003 term. This meant hiring new
people that term. Then, because they had
correspondingly fewer courses to offer in
the winter 2004 term, they laid off 14 lec-
turers. In deciding which ones to lay off,

question. Was the department hiring unquali-
fied people all those years? And who was
hired instead of these experienced lecturers?
In the fall term, about 30 graduate student
instructors enrolled in programs other than
English were hired. As well, 2004 graduates
of the .department's doctorate and masters
programs were given one year appointments,
and others were given one-term jobs.
For the English department's hiring deci-
sions to comply .with the terms of our con-
tract, the following would have to be true:
Once the contract came into force, all of the
new hires must have been more qualified to
teach all of the courses assigned than all of
those on the layoff list. If you find that claim
credible, I'd like to talk to you about a bridge
I own in Brooklyn!
The upshot: This blatant contract violation
has resulted in lecturers with many years of
experience receiving fewer courses than they
should have, and three of the department's
most senior lecturers with no work at all in
winter 2005. It is these three LEO members
who brought the grievance, but many others
have also been harmed by the unnecessary
policy of excessive fall-term hiring.
There is more at. stake here, too, than
the livelihood of our English department
members, vitally important though that is.
If the administration accepts the English
department's claims, this key element of our
contract's job security provisions is rendered

T.! L.R.1 ' .i.1n )rM fllr..' J 14 N.I. A.i .:: . .

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