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January 06, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-06

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 6, 2005



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.

'' I've been in war
and I've been through
a number of hurri-
canes, tornadoes and
other relief operations,
but I have never seen
anything like this."
- Secretary of State Colin Powell, on his tour
through Indonesia, as reported yesterday by
The New York Times.



- g r

A new way to do foreign aid

The tsunamis that
wracked South
and Southeast
Asia on Dec. 26, as notable
for their unexpectedness
as the horrific devasta-
tion they unleashed, have
helped launch an impor-
tant conversation on the
responsibilities of wealthy
nations. Jan Egeland, the United Nations under-
secretary general for humanitarian affairs, set
off a firestorm when he told reporters "It is
beyond me why are we (Western nations) so
stingy, really." The ensuing debate over the
relative stinginess of the United States when
compared to the other industrialized democra-
cies is a false and dishonest discussion. Con-
tinuing to donate aid the way the United States
has always done it would be worse than coun-
terproductive. What really matters is devising
ways for aid to go to those who most need it
and where it will produce the most good.
In the past, two primary factors have moti-
vated foreign aid donations: political consid-
erations and the ability of a particular crisis
to garner media attention. Unsurprisingly, the
results of these programs have typically been
uninspiring. Corrupt leaders parked much of
their foreign aid in Swiss bank accounts. Zaire's
anti-communist strongman Mobutu Sese Seko
was the outstanding example of the kleptocrat
whose aid receipts had a greater effect on the
well being of German luxury car manufactur-
ers and Italian clothiers than starving villag-
ers. This aid simultaneously allowed leaders

to consolidate their hold on power, preventing
the development of civil society and the reform
of the political system in their home countries.
Nearly as ineffectual is the pronounced ten-
dency of foreign aid to move among crises
du jour in lieu of sustained programs. It takes
years for the economic and health benefits of
aid to be realized and the migratory pattern of
aid flows has prevented legitimate progress.
Some of these shortcomings are inevitable
in an imperfect world of power politics and
myopic citizens. However, recent changes in
the development community offer the possibil-
ity of improvement. The World Bank, under
the leadership of its current president James
Wolfensohn, finally began to take corruption
seriously in the mid-1990s. It's unlikely that
excesses on the Mobutu scale could occur
today. Jeffrey Sachs, the Columbia economic
reform guru who has advised the governments
of Peru, Bolivia, Poland and Russia among
others, has re-tooled himself as a development
expert espousing the need for a major increase
in government aid to impoverished nations.
Sachs hopes to use this money for cost-effec-
tive aid such as malaria vaccines and educa-
tion improvements. Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish
political scientist famous for his contrarian
criticism of environmental regulations, has
organized an international forum for develop-
ment experts called the Copenhagen Consen-
sus. The project has brought together leading
social scientists to identify which aid pro-
grams would have the most significant effect
on human welfare.
The Bush administration essentially got it

right when it launched the Millennium Chal-
lenge Account in 2002. The account aims to
link aid with good governance, making foreign
assistance a much more stable commodity and
will finally sever the connection among the
vicissitudes of politics, media attention and
aid. But in the absence of serious money, like
the $13 billion Florida received after a series
of hurricanes hit the state last summer, these
efforts are essentially for show. The status quo
of sprinkling handfuls of money in far flung
nations is simply unacceptable. If these new
development mechanisms are successfully
implemented, it would finally be appropriate
to increase governmental aid dramatically.
If these increases don't sound especially
appealing in a time of staggering government
deficits, the United States, Japan and the Euro-
pean Union have one lever to pull that would
actually improve their fiscal outlooks: Elimi-
nate all agricultural subsidies. The whole-
sale destruction of price supports and import
restrictions that distort the global agriculture
market would have innumerable salubrious
effects. Permitting farmers in poor countries
to sell their produce and livestock at competi-
tive prices would be an incredible spur to eco-
nomic growth in the developing world while
reducing the price of food in the industrialized
nations and absurd government transfers to big
agribusinesses. These reforms are a bargain
well worth making and keeping with the devel-
oping world.


Peskowitz can be reached at


To argue that homosexuals
have not been victims fails
to address reality
Jason Z. Pesick's points regarding the
lack of appeal of gay rights (Gay activists
misinterpret civil rights history, 12/14/2004)
to more conservative black civil rights lead-
ers seems mired in his own misconceptions
regarding gay rights history. In short, he is
too forgiving.
According to federal hate crime statis-
tics, gays and lesbians are far more likely
to be victims of violence on a per capita
basis than racial minorities. Surely, it is
within the memory of older civil rights
leaders that the last time the extreme Right
had its way in the world, homosexuals were
arrested, worked to death and then sent up
a chimney.
Regarding Pesick's insinuation that gays
have not, and do not, suffer economically
and socially because of their orientation, he
would do well to remember that homosexu-
als can not, by both statute and policy, serve
openly in the defense of this country, in
either the military, or any other governmen-
tal position for that matter that might arbi-
trarily require "proof against blackmail."
Gays can be fired for, or more importantly
never hired, just because of their status.
Denial of the rights of civil union, is on its
face, blatant economic discrimination.
Lastly, in any major U.S. city or even
state, I promise you, everybody who lives
there knows where the gay "ghetto" is. It
may not be destitute, but it still may well be
the only place they can feel safe, and that
too is patently wrong.
Stephen M. Hipkiss
Facilities manager, University Libraries
Smoking an irresponsible
habit that incurs large,
negative costs on society
Joel Hoard's recent column, I can't han-
dle the truth (12/09/2004), was an immature
expression of egoism that blows smoke in
the face of a serious health problem. As a

(mothballs) and hydrogen cyanide.
In October 2004, a congressional tax bill
awarded $10 billion of taxpayer money to
tobacco farmers who are still free to grow
tobacco unregulated by the Food and Drug
Administration. The government bailout
was compensation for loss of protection
against competition farmers enjoyed since
the Great Depression. Taxpayers (mostly
nonsmokers) gave billions to help a few
continue to enjoy cultivation of a public
health hazard.
According to a new book written by
Duke University researchers, "The Price
of Smoking," the societal cost of smoking
comes to an average of $40 a pack for a
male who starts to smoke at age 24. The
longitudinal study found that the private
cost to a smoker aged 24 over a lifetime is
currently $141,181 for men and $86,236 for
women. That's a lot for any rational person
to shell out to poison himself. Nationally,
the total private, lifetime cost is $168 bil-
lion. Big tobacco interests, along with the
tacit approval of government, are the big
winners. Unfortunately, we all lose to irre-
Renoir W. Gaither
Associate librarian, Undergraduate Library
There's a lady from Texas
looking for Bob Hunt ... has
anyone seen Bob Hunt?
Pardon me, Michigan Daily, I'm looking
for a Mr. Bob Hunt (Longhorns poison Rose
Bowl aura, 12/14/2004). On my way into the
country club, I was asked by the concierge
to pass him a message, if I saw him.
Oh, Mr. Hunt, it seems there's a gentle-
man up at the front desk claiming to be your
(grand)daddy. Are you familiar with a Mr.
Vince Young?
Well, no matter ... I'm sure once you
check in up front, the issue will be resolved.
As for me, I have a victory celebration to
attend in the country club's main ballroom.
Sorry you aren't invited, but don't you just
love the smell of Roses? Anyhoo, I've got
to run so would ya'll mind closing the barn
door on your way out of the club?
Smooches from Texas!
C41 T

million acres of national forests from road-
building and logging. Nevertheless, while
road-building, logging, mining and other
development acts destroy important wild-
life habitats and greatly threaten human
health, the Bush administration is rushing
to allow timber, mining and oil and gas
industries to further damage our forests.
Our country's national forests must be
protected. Not only do our forests provide
every single U.S. citizen with numerous
recreational opportunities, solitude and
aesthetic pleasure, over 60 million Ameri-
cans across this country also rely on our
protected lands for clean drinking water.
All of this will be lost once developers take
control of our forests.
Our greatest hope to save our forests lies
in the hands of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Governor, please protect our forests!
Alison Gerken
LSA senior
Gender and sexuality
requirement a misguided
burden on students
I am writing to echo the sentiments that
Clark Ruper expressed in his response to the
gender and sexuality requirement (Required
sexuality course proposed, 12/09/2004). While
the result of the gay marriage ban is no doubt
a hotly contested issue, it is not in any way
beneficial to add yet another general require-
ment to the already long list of classes that the
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
students are required to take. How would this
help the cause of fighting for or against a ban
on gay marriage?
A freshman writing requirement, race
and ethnicity, four semesters of foreign
language ... the list of unnecessary and
undesired classes LSA students must take
is quite long enough. Ask any freshman
or sophomore (or junior or senior, for that
matter) and he will most likely tell you his
freshman year was full of unnecessary gen-
eral requirements, often of little interest.
Forcing me, or any other student, to take
a class on sexuality is a burden, nothing
more. Such a class would do little except
raise my level of aggravation, as the uni-
versity I pay good money to attend forces




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